Archive | October 30th, 2011

Occupy Fukushima


HELP say Fukushima Women to World

The Fukushima Legislature votes to Close Ten Nukes

by Bob Nichols

(San Francisco) – On Oct 28 it was 232 days since the world’s worst industrial disaster started March 11, 2011 at the six nuclear power plants at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan. Six reactors are involved, four reactors and/or reactor buildings exploded and the two remaining are questionable; they could explode at anytime.

Worse, there are four more giant billion watt reactors 6 miles, or 10 kilometers South at Fukushima Daiani. These were damaged in the 3/11 earthquake

but were idled and are currently decaying. The four troubled reactors are in the Exclusion Zone declared by the Japanese government.

Starting Oct 27 the women of Fukushima organized a demonstration in the capitol city of Tokyo at the controlling government ministry for the nuclear industry, The Ministry of Economy.  Their demands are but two:

  1. Evacuate children in Fukushima to a safer place

  2. Do not restart nuclear power plants that are currently shut off

Fukushima Legislative Body Votes to Kill 10 Nuke Reactors

Fukushima Legislative Body Votes to Kill 10 Nuke Reactors

The Legislature for Fukushima promptly passed a resolution calling for the immediate closure of all ten (10) reactors in Fukushima. The decision on their future is up to the Governor of Fukushima.

The Governor of Fukushima now says they were betrayed by Tepco and the national government of Japan. Watch this column for updates. We’ll see what happens. The traditional Japanese concepts of honor and responsibility would require Hari-Kari or traditional Seppuku, a form of ritual suicide to restore honor in death.

Occupy Fukushima

This is a new Facebook page. It is in addition to many pages on Facebook now about Fukushima. Although you won’t see much at all about this possibly extinction-level event on in CNN, MSNBC, the NYT, WAPO and other corporate advertising outlets, Google: Fukushima. It returns 53,400,000 Google “hits”. Actually, very, very good for a disaster that is kept from the American people. There are also 800 Million Facebook members.

Occupy Japanese Consulate in NY!

Show support for the Japanese Women’s Sit-in at TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) headquarters in Toyko. The NY effort is organized by GreenPeace. The initiator is: One World No Nukes/Todos Somos Japan

When: Wednesday, November 2nd,
Where: Consulate-General of Japan, NY: 299 Park Ave (@ 49th Street) New York, NY

11AM to 5PM : Sit-in in front of the building,
3:00 pm : A delivery of a petition to the Consulate General of Japan.

To read/sign the petition —

We request the Japanese Government Protect People, not TEPCO!

1. STOP spreading/Burning radioactive rubble all over JAPAN.
2. EVACUATE Children from high contaminated area.

Other Fukushima on Facebook pages are:

Ask About Trials for Crimes Against Humanity; A Group to Discuss Nuclear Events at Fukushima Daiichi and Aroundthe World; Ask About Fukushima Now; Concerned Citizens Radiation Knowledge Exchange; – Dialogues and Resources on Nuclear; FUKUSHIMA: “All nuke reactors leak, all the time” Solutions Now;

Also on Facebook:
Fukushima – Future; Fukushima Informations; Give your hands to Stop Radiation from Fukushima. Save Japan. Save Mankind.; K2 Autonomous Society; Mushajee; Nuclear Forensics; RAD Weather Watchers; Radiation Health Solutions; Safe Citizen Inter Agency Group; Stop nuclear industry / atomic;

Also, Stop Jaitapur Nuclear Plant; The Global Brain Project; Translate Fukushima; Water Ceremony with Masaru Emoto; We the People vs. G.E., TEPCO and Hitachi; Fukushima 311 WATCHDOGS; The Think Tank; Rainbows; OCCUPY FACEBOOK; OCCUPY FACEBOOK-UNITED WE STAND; OCCUPY FUKUSHIMA; OCCUPY OAKLAND; and, try The Mercury Project… they are thinkers; OCCUPY EUROPE.

Prisoners Unanimous Embracing All Planetary Prisoners — a reviving group of convict pray-ers, primarily in maximum security penitentiaries in the USA, whose purpose is to promote the spirit of goodwill among incarcerated people and society at large via prayer and pen.

Convicts via a long ago established “8  o’clock, local time” pray-er network have been called upon recently to come to the aid of the people of outside societies (who have heretofore been oblivious to  and in denial of the ‘horrible realities’ of Fukushima.)

There are also many Facebook “individual walls” of people seriously concerned about the out-of-control Fukushima Death Machine. Children of Chernobyl Children of Fukushima is an individual page as opposed to a group on Facebook.  Mushajee is a “group of seven scientists” with a document to discuss.

Is your group listed here? ADD it. Create a new one! Add your comment to an existing Facebook Group!

Fukushima – This is Homicide, isn’t it?

Americans or Japanese – What’s the difference?

The SK-EKF Blog is from Japan. The article is from a large Japanese newspaper and recently published.

Hydrogen Gas explosion aftermath from Nuke 4th floor to sky

Hydrogen Gas explosion aftermath from Nuke 4th floor to sky

The actions of the Japanese Federal government in regard to lethal radiation from Fukushima Daichi’s six crippled power plants are outlined with the benefit of hindsight.

What is notable is the American federal and state governments engaged in the same denial of the radioactive facts on the ground and in the air, on 3/11 and straight through to the present day. Notably, the American federal government with the obliging assistance the New York Times did the same thing in September 1945 after the August 6th and 9th, 1945 atomic bombing of Japan.

The question posed in the Ashai Shinbum, a large and influential Japanese newspaper, article is “This is homicide, isn’t it?” Yea, it sure is. Dead is dead. Thus the Japanese and American governments by words out of their own mouths stand guilty of Crimes Against Humanity in the suffering and deaths of millions from Radiation Poisoning.

“This is a homicide, isn’t it?” – Ashai Shinbum, Japanese newspaper


“There is a computer simulation system called SPEEDI, which the national government has spent 13 billion yen to develop. If you input the amount of radiation, topography, weather, wind direction, etc., the system will calculate where the leaked radioactive materials may go.”

“On March 12, two hours before Reactor 1 had a hydrogen explosion, the SPEEDI simulation was carried out by Nuclear Safety Technology Center under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Science.”

“The simulation showed radioactive materials flowing toward Tsushima District [in Namie-machi]. But the national government didn’t tell the residents.”

“The result of the SPEEDI simulation was known to the Fukushima prefectural government. The Fukushima government even called up Nuclear Safety Technology Center on March 12 night to ask for the simulation result, which was then sent via email. However, the prefectural government never acted on it. The email has been deleted since, and the record of the receipt of the email is lost.”

“Residents evacuated from Tsushima District on March 15, but it was not until May 20 that they were informed of the SPEEDI result by the Fukushima prefectural government, because the subject was brought up in the Prefectural Assembly.”

“A manager in charge at the prefectural government visited the temporary town hall of Namie-machi in Nihonmatsu City on May 20 to explain.”

“It is a homicide, isn’t it?…” – Ashai Shinbum,  End of excerpt.

Radioactive Pollen

We all live at the bottom of the Earth’s atmosphere along with all the other critters of creation. There are a lot of different kinds of particles in the air generally called “atmospheric dust.” Since the atomic bombing of Japan in 1945 by the United States the atmospheric dust has included man made radioactive particles. Many are vanishingly small, they are all radioactive and electrically charged.

Size is so important to the way the radioactive particles function in the atmosphere that it is a so-called “Property” of the particle. That is important to us, plants and animals because, among other things, they can float around the world, go right through our clothes and through our skin.

Since the particles are electrically charged they stick like a magnet to a tiny oppositely charged portion of a tiny grain of pollen. As a result, radioactive pollen gives a whole new meaning to “seasonal hay fever [radiation poisoning.]”

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Killing Gaddafi: Longstanding US Policy


by Stephen Lendman

Absent reliable independent proof, some sources believe a double was killed, not Gaddafi. More on that below.

Nonetheless, clear evidence shows Washington wanted him dead for years.

On October 27, Algeria ISP headlined, “Libya – On what Sarkozy and Obama killed Gaddafi?”saying:

“It’s confirmed, Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy have indeed ordered (Gaddafi’s) assassination….”

“According to Le Canard Enchaine (on October 26), the Americans had located (him) on October 19.”

Claude Angeli’s article “is unambiguous.” Titled “Gaddafi condemned to death by Washington and Paris,” it said both leaders ordered his extrajudicial killing because he knew too much. Preventing a public show trial was key.

US and French Special Forces were involved. Numerous bombing attempts failed. War still rages across Libya. The country “has entered a no man’s land policy, an area of (unpredictable) turbulence….This should worry” Western and regional leaders because eight months of fighting resolved nothing.

Toppling foreign leaders by coups or assassinations is longstanding US policy. William Blum’s done some of the best research on it. His books, including “Rogue State,” are must reading.

He documented dozens of successful and failed US interventions post-WW II, including:

  • toppling Iran’s Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953, its first successful coup after an initial failure;

  • ousting Guatemala’s Jacobo Arbenz in 1954;

  • failing to kill China’s Chou En-Lai in 1955;

  • failing numerous times to kill Fidel Castro;

  • failing to kill France’s Charles de Gaulle; and

  • plotting Gaddafi’s assassination for decades.

Media Freedom International reported howUS and British Intelligence Have Repeatedly Tried to Kill Qaddafi – CIA Involved in Libya’s Civil War,” saying:

In the early 1990s, former UK MI5 operative David Shayler said “he paid a sum of over ($100,000) to Al Qaeda” to kill him.

“A bomb was placed inside what was thought to be (his) vehicle.” It wasn’t and the plan failed.

From 1978 – 1987, CIA operatives were involved in Chad’s intermittent wars with Libya.

In 1981, CIA elements established the anti-Gaddafi National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) and its militant wing called the Libyan National Army based in Egypt near Libya’s border. It was directly involved in NATO’s campaign to oust and kill Gaddafi.

In 1995, the CIA was instrumental in establishing the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) to topple Gaddafi. Ideologically allied with Al Qaeda, latter day elements fought Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

In December 2004, the State Department designated LIFG a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Its members were accused of being allied with bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

In 2007, the State Department said “Libyans associated with the LIFG are part of a broader international terrorist movement. The LIFG is one of the groups believed to have planned the Casablanca suicide bombings in May 2003….The LIFG constitutes a serious threat to US interests and personnel.”

The State Department also said they were responsible for a failed 1996 Gaddafi assassination attempt. At the time, CIA and MI5 operatives were involved. America strategically uses Al Qaeda, LIFG, and other groups as allies and enemies.

Allied with CIA in the 1990s, LIFG often clashed with Libyan security forces. Former LIFG members joined Anti-Gaddafi rebel rats.

Led by US, UK, French and other special forces and intelligence operatives, they comprise the main anti-Gaddafi fighting force.

Well before bombing began on March 19, US Navy Seals, UK SAS Forces, and French Legionnaires were active in Libya with CIA and MI5 elements.

They enlisted, armed, trained and funded opposition fighters in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973, as well as fundamental international and US constitutional law.

Their mission involved regime change and killing Gaddafi. In 1986, Washington falsely accused him of bombing a Berlin discotheque.

In April, Ronald Reagan tried to kill him. At the time, he said US air and naval forces “launched a series of strikes against (Gaddafi’s) headquarters, terrorist facilities, and military assets, (carefully) targeted to minimize casualties among the Libyan people with whom we have no quarrel. From initial reports, our forces have succeeded in their mission.”

In fact, over 100 died, mostly civilians, including Gaddafi’s infant daughter when his personal compound was bombed.

In addition, dozens were wounded, including two of Gaddafi’s young sons. The French, Swiss, Romanian and Iranian embassies were damaged. So were Japanese and Austrian diplomatic residences.

Dozens of residential buildings were also damaged or destroyed. Libya’s Central Hospital reported up to 100 people needing treatment for serious injuries, including infants.

In 1988, Gaddafi was falsely accused of downing Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. So was Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi. Scottish judges knew he was innocent but convicted him under pressure.

Gaddafi never admitted fault. He took responsibility solely to have international sanctions removed. To this day, he and al-Megrahi stand falsely accused. Likely CIA /MI6/and/or Mossad involvement is never mentioned.

Media Lens contributor Richard Keeble discussed “The Secret War Against Gaddafi,” saying:

Soon after he assumed power in 1969, Gaddafi “became the target of massive covert operations by the French, US, Israeli and British” to oust him.

Britain’s 1971 invasion plan failed badly. In 1980, French secret service head Col. Alain de Gaigneronde de Marolles “resigned after a French-led plan ended in disaster when a rebellion by Libyan troops in Tobruk was rapidly suppressed.”

In 1982, the Reagan administration helped install Chad’s Hissene Habre to “bloody Gaddafi’s nose.” It was Reagan CIA head William Casey’s first covert operation. Moreover, “throughout the decade, Libya ranked almost as high as the Soviet Union” as America’s bene noire.

Habre got considerable US military and financial aid to topple Gaddafi. Other countries funding him included Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Iraq, and Morocco. A May 8, 1984 plan to kill him failed. In 1985, Reagan officials asked Egypt to invade Libya, but Mubarak refused.

During the decade, Washington recruited a secret anti-Gaddafi army. Britain was heavily involved.

For decades, America, France and Britain wanted him ousted and killed. Nothing tried earlier worked. NATO’s 2011 war was launched to undue past failures. Nothing so far is resolved. Jamahiriya loyalists continue their liberating struggle valiantly. They’ve tied down NATO’s killing machine for over eight months.

Its rebel rat army would have been routed long ago without air and special forces ground support and direction. NATO claims Operation Unified Protector will end October 31. Its name may change, not daily air and ground attacks against loyalists wanting to live free.

Eight months of terror bombing and rebel rat atrocities took a horrific toll. NSNBC said hardly any Libyan hasn’t lost a loved one and/or friend.

Gaddafi – Dead or Alive?

On October 27, headlined, “Dry your tears and continue the fight: the one you were shown was not Muammar Al-Gaddafi,” saying:

Videos and photos reputed to be Gaddafi have “been identified as….Ali Majid Al Andalus….” A Sirte resident, he closely resembled “the brother Leader of the El Fateh Revolution.”

“The man in the photo with the bullet hole in the head was not (Gaddafi), but his double.” Examining his face closely shows noticeable differences.

Mathaba calls its source “reliable.” Obama, Sarkozy, Cameron, and TNC officials know “they did not kill” him. However, their purpose is served if people believe it.

Mathaba endorses information written in French. Since Gaddafi’s announced October 20 assassination, it’s been skeptical about official reports, not least because accounts shifted from one version to another.

NATO’s credibility is in tatters. Nothing it reports is reliable. Nor are regurgitated major media accounts. Throughout the war, their daily lies were exposed. They continue to be about a war far from resolved. It rages across Libya.

Evidence Mathaba found showed Gaddafi “was no where near Sirte on 19 – 20 October.” He’s also taller and older than the man killed. Photos used are suspect. Specific Gaddafi marks weren’t visible.

An emailer to this writer said here’s “proof” Gaddafi’s alive, saying:

  • his 1971 appendectomy scar was absent in photos;

  • the dead body shown isn’t “a 70 year old man who lived in the desert all his life;”

  • “Gaddafi almost always sent doubles on official business, and almost always remained in secret due to (numerous) assassination attempts;”

  • Gaddafi has (had) a “distinct look, distinct eyes, and that is why his doubles almost always wore sunglasses;”

  • only about 10% of public photos shown are him; nearly all are doubles;

  • “Gaddafi was too smart to walk around looking like a ‘Gaddafi double’ in the middle of” NATO’s war; and

  • he never would have exposed himself in a convoy, let alone 75 vehicles speeding out of Sirte under attack.

A previous article said hopefully he’ll have the last word on Syria’s Arrai TV. It aired previous recorded remarks he made.

If so and he discusses October 20 events, he’ll confirm what some believe is true. Millions of Libyans hope so.

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Anti-Democratic Zio-Nazi Knesset Bills


by Stephen Lendman

Knesset summer session bills grievously harm civil and human rights if passed. Basic freedoms are at risk, including speech, assembly, association, and right to dissent.

On October 16, a Haaretz editorial addressed one measure affecting press freedom headlined, “Free press in Israel is in danger,” saying:

Knesset extremists want to silence it “through the threat of libel suits that would jeopardize the economic foundations of the media outlets.”

Last week, Knesset Law and Justice Committee chairman David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu party) approved MK Yariv Levin’s (Likud) bill for first reading. It calls for more punitive libel compensation from 50,000 to NIS 300,000 (Israeli new shekel) with no need to prove damages.

Moreover, the penalty could rise to NIS 1.5 million if the complainant’s response isn’t published in full.

Levin claimed “freedom of expression is not freedom of transgression.” MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) wants Israelis protected from “the great power of the media.”

Neither addressed core democratic principles. Free expression is fundamental. Feigning support for civil rights, both want press freedom silenced. At issue is preventing criticism of business, government, and other influential figures.

“For years now, democracy in Israel has been under attack from the right-wing parties….(They) control the Knesset and enjoy” protective Kadima support in their efforts to establish ‘Jewish supremacy’ using the tools of law.”

Israel’s “Prohibition on Instituting a Boycott” law prohibits actions against Israeli products, persons and activities connected to Israel and its settlements.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said passage gravely weakened Israeli democracy. So did other enacted measures. Those now pending may destroy it entirely.

ACRI discussed them in its summer Knesset review. They include:

Committees of Inquiry to Investigate NGOs

Two pending bills seek to establish committees of inquiry into NGO financing. So far neither measure passed. Rejecting them as written in July, they may be reintroduced in new form. At issue is targeting NGOs critical of Israeli policies.

An Amendment to the 2002 Civil Service Law

If enacted, applicants with Israeli military or other national service will receive preferential treatment regardless of qualifications. Arabs will be marginalized.

The measure violates Israel’s Equal Opportunity in Employment Law. The bill passed its first reading. So far, no further action was taken.

An Amendment to Israel’s Anti-Defamation Law

Passage will permit libel suits and criminal prosecutions against anyone slandering Israel or its institutions. It would also let affected persons bring civil suits. NGOs critical of Israeli policies are specifically targeted. No action so far was taken.

Amending Israel’s Income Tax Ordinance (Taxation of Public Institutions Receiving Contributions from Foreign Political Entities)

NGOs, mainly human rights ones, are again targeted by imposing a 45% tax on foreign contributions received. State funded organizations will be exempt. No action so far was taken.

Amending the Associations Law (Prohibition of Support from a Foreign State Entity to Political NGOs in Israel)

If passed, human rights organizations will be prohibited from accepting foreign contributions exceeding 20,000 NIS annually. Bill explanatory notes say:

“(M)any organizations operating under the guise of ‘human rights groups’ come here to influence the political discourse, the character, and the policies of the State of Israel.”

Hearings so far were postponed. Foreign affairs and other officials fear the measure harms Israel’s image. So do others reviewed in this article and bills now law.

The Courthouses Bill Amendment (Transparency in the Appointment of Supreme Court Justices and in the Appointment of the President and Vice-President of the Supreme Court)

The measure seeks to establish public hearings and making appointments dependent on the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

At issue is politicizing appointments, violating separation of powers, and further weakening checks and balances. The bill was tabled. No further action was taken.

Return of the Wisconsin Program

The bill aims to give far-reaching powers to corporations at the expense of workers. They include authority to deny them income support benefits that provide social safety net protection for families with no other income source.

Privatizing this power will deprive hundreds of thousands of employees of their right to live in dignity, besides issues of liberty, property and privacy.

Passage also will violate Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. It would expand the program nationwide as fixed policy. ACRI strongly opposed the original Wisconsin Plan. It promises strong opposition to this one. It’s being debated in the Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee.

Planning and Building Reform

This measure would replace the current Planning and Building Law. According to the Council for Responsible Planning, the bill damages the public’s interest and violates environmental standards.

Among other issues, it fails to ensure fair representation on planning councils. It gives no clear authority to government over local concerns. It impairs citizen rights to oppose plans and appeal council decisions.

It excludes provisions for public decision making participation. It also omits mechanisms to ensure social interests such as social consulting, social impact studies, assuring affordable housing, and others.

Under debate, the measure’s preparing for its second and third readings.

The National Housing Committees Law

The bill potentially harms public and social interests by bypassing Planning and Building Law provisions. It excludes local planning committee authority to promote affordable housing in neighborhoods of mixed social character. It’s discriminatory and unfair.

It passed the Knesset plenum last August.

Amending the Entry into Israel Law, it authorizes a “Tribunal for Foreign Nationals” to hear issues relating to legal residency, including for children of permanent residents.

It lets both Interior and Justice ministries rule on immigration and residency status of non-Jews. Concentrating executive, legislative and judicial authority this way violates democratic principles, including separation of powers, public court proceedings, and judicial fairness.

It also harms non-citizen and permanent resident spouses, East Jerusalem children, migrant workers, stateless persons and others. The Interior Committee approved the measure for its second and third readings.

Prevention of Infiltrators Law

It authorizes arrest of asylum seekers and their children for up to three years. Israel’s Entry into Israel Law permits up to 60 days.

If passed, every asylum seeker potentially could face criminal prosecution and imprisonment for up to five years. It also applies to anyone aiding and abetting them. Repeat offenders may face 15 years.

The bill trashes fundamental human rights principles. The Committee on Internal Affairs is debating it in preparation for its second and third readings.

Enforcement and Protection of Public Safety Bill

The measure dramatically expands municipal inspectors’ powers, authorizing them to prevent violence in local jurisdictions. It abrogates state responsibility to provide essential services to all its citizens. Instead, it would transfer core services to local municipalities.

The original text was draconian. It’s now softened but still worrisome. It permits conflict of interest and the politicization of law enforcement. At the same time, it widens the gap between law enforcement in various communities.

It discriminates on the basis of religion, ethnicity, and nationality. It lacks an independent, effective way to handle public complaints. It also gives inspectors police powers.

The Committee on Internal Affairs approved it as a Temporary Order. Valid for two years, it applies only to 13 localities already running a pilot project. A final vote is expected soon.

Prisons Ordinance (Amendment 32 – Preventing a Prisoner from Meeting with a Specific Lawyer)

The measure seeks to prevent security prisoners from consultations with specific lawyers, based on secret information. It also applies without having to prove attorneys committed improper behavior.

Israeli law already prevents lawyer/client meetings in cases involving (secret) suspicions it could be used to commit a crime, endangering public security or prison discipline.

The proposed amendment goes further, and lengthens incarceration periods before judicial oversight is required. It violates fundamental prisoner rights. Approved for second and third readings, a final vote is expected soon.

Criminal Procedures Law (Powers of Enforcement – Bodily Searches and Means of Identification, Amendment 3)

Earlier legislation authorized establishing a genetic database. Doing so raised privacy and dignity issues. It also enhances law enforcement. As a result, balances and limits were imposed on what data could be stored, how, and how it’s used.

The current measure overturns this delicate balance, intrusively affecting privacy. It authorizes more bodies (including international ones) to receive information. It also lets more types of information be collected and maintained.

The bill passed.

Biometric Database Pilot

The measure authorizes establishing it with little attention paid to issues causing other governments to reject similar projects. Nonetheless, regulatory oversight was approved by a special Knesset committee with little debate.

Planning and Construction Law (Proposed Amendment – Financing the Demolition of Illegal Construction at the Expense of the Builder)

The measure proposes doing so without judicial review and without letting builders demolish structures themselves. State costs are much higher.

Second and third readings were approved. The bill is seriously flawed despite moderating its original form. Further Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee debate is expected.

Entry into Israel Law (Amendment 21)

The measure pertains to work permits given migrant workers. It seeks to restore binding them to one employer. Israel’s High Court earlier ruled it illegal, calling it “a modern form of slavery.”

The bill was approved to become law after its second and third readings.

Counter-Terrorism Bill

It seeks to legally anchor “state of emergency” regulations regarding the fight against terrorism into permanent legislation. Its provisions are draconian, threatening irreversible human rights damage.

Administrative detention and control orders are established, authorizing anti-democratic authority to arrest and detain people indefinitely without charge.

Secret evidence may be used. Terrorist organizations and acts of terror are broadly defined. Illegal interrogation methods may be used. New rules contradict basic criminal law standards.

Unchecked executive branch authority is granted without trial based on uncorroborated suspicions. The measure is classic police state extremism. The bill passed its first reading in August.

Authority to Protect Public Safety Bill (Amendment – Police Search Authority)

The measure lets police conduct intrusive searches at places of entertainment and in their vicinity, even without suspicion of wrongdoing. It essentially grants police state authority to discriminate on the basis of religion, ethnicity, nationality and other inappropriate criteria.

Proposed Amendment to the Police Ordinance (Obligation to Wear Identification Tags)

The measure seeks to require police to identify themselves. ACRI supports the bill. Earlier it wrote police authorities about concerns regarding masked police and other disguises.

Police now condone it, especially when confronting demonstrations. The bill passed its first reading.

Discrimination against Women within the National Insurance Law

Under current law, the National Insurance Institute (NII) defines women who haven’t worked for four consecutive years as housewives, regardless of how long previously employed.

Housewives don’t pay insurance premiums. As a result, they forfeit some of rights. A Labor, Welfare and Health Committee raised the problem. The NII assistant director said legislation was being prepared to address it. At this time, nothing further is known.


ACRI calls water a fundamental human right. It emphasizes state responsibility to ensure equitable distribution without discrimination. High water rates charged by private corporations pose problems. ACRI seeks legislative relief.

A Final Comment

Israel’s current Knesset under Netanyahu is its worst ever. Repressive legislation threatens Arabs and Jews. Democracy is illusory, not real. Bad conditions worsen.

Civilized societies accept all citizens as equals, or should. Israel rejects that standard, even for most Jews.

Israeli Arabs never had rights. Increasing numbers of Jews are now affected. Wealthy and privileged ones prosper at the expense of others. Israel resembles America. Social justice and democratic freedoms in both countries are fast disappearing.

Recent and current Knesset legislation gravely endanger them. It’s time for Israelis to rally again like last summer for social justice. Otherwise they may lose out entirely.

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Prisons, Wars, and the Lust for Profit


Prisons, Wars, and the Lust for Profit

by Larry Pinkney

“Jails and prisons are designed to break human beings, to convert the population into specimens in a zoo-obedient to our keepers, but dangerous to each other.”

–Angela Davis

“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

–Howard Zinn

In the 21st century the United States of America has rushed head long in to turning the incarceration of human beings into a thriving profit-driven and increasingly privatized business. This nation, in fact, has the the largest documented rate of imprisonment in the world.

Since 1980, the prison population in the U.S. has more than quadrupled. This did not happen by mere osmosis. The same avaricious components that bring us perpetual war and concomitant corporate war-profiteering also fuel the outrageous and increasing amount of prisons and prisoners in the United States.

The people sentenced to prison in this nation are overwhelmingly economically poor irrespective of their color or gender, though the incarceration rate of Black and Brown persons is irrefutably disproportionately high even considering the enormous and egregious rate of incarceration over-all. The reality is, that just as in the case of perpetual wars abroad, there is financial profit to be made by a tiny elite, by incarcerating people.

Noted journalist, activist, and Black Panther Party veteran Kiilu Nyasha, in her detailed and poignantly informative piece entitled, AMERICAN TORTURE CHAMBERS: A Report On Today’s Prisons & Jails, puts it this way:

“Incarceration is not just about slave labor and the prison industrial complex (to be addressed in another part of this series). A majority of prisoners are just being warehoused in torturous conditions for profit — and for social and population control along economic and ethnic or “racial” lines (There’s one human race.). But classism and White supremacy are alive and well. Removing the reproductive years of young Black and Brown captives precludes reproduction, divides families, and destroys poor communities.”

The above-mentioned report by Kiilu Nyasha, though written in late 2006, is even more relevant today in 2011, as the U.S. prison population has continued to skyrocket and prison conditions have become ever more appalling. (Reference

It should be clearly understood that incarceration has nothing whatever to do with so-called rehabilitation. Indeed, to the contrary, imprisonment debases human beings on every conceivable level. Its horrors are often indescribable. Moreover, law should never be confused with justice, as more often than not, laws and justice have little or nothing in common with one another, particularly as applied to ordinary everyday people.

Notwithstanding the ongoing wrongful incarceration of myriads of political prisoners in the United States who were (and continue to be) hideously framed or otherwise set-up to be “neutralized” and imprisoned; the millions of other prisoners in this nation are, for the most part, the cannon fodder of a corrupt, hypocritical, and unjust judicial system that serves the interests of profit and property, not those of everyday ordinary people. The prison-gulag system of the United States needs to be utterly abolished and replaced with a model of real justice, humanity, and reclamation. Of course, this process can only occur when the corporate/military elite (the actual systemic criminals) have been reined in and dethroned by the everyday people of this nation.

As U.S. ‘educational’ institutions and the corporate-stream media continue to disinform, propagate misguided patriotism, and glorify and rationalize perpetual wars abroad; it is absolutely no wonder that this nation has the most violent society on this planet of Mother Earth. The words of Fyodor Dostoyevsky ring ever truer: “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” It is the blood-sucking, avaricious profit motive that fuels the ruthless emaciation of everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people whether in the brutal, debased, U.S. prison gulag-system or as the bloody cannon fodder of corporate/government-sponsored perpetual U.S. wars abroad.

What the corporate politicians of the U.S. government, and its propaganda arm–the corporate-stream media, refer to as ‘globilization,’ is in actuality nothing more than the global economic blood-sucking by the few wealthy elite of the vast majority of the people of this nation and planet.

The connections between incarceration, judicial ineptness and corruption, militarism/war, and corporate hegemony are inextricably linked, while greed and the profit motive remain at the very heart of the hypocrisy and cruelty within U.S. society. Indeed, prisons, wars, and the lust for profit need to be addressed at their very core–and reversed. It does not have to be this way, but only a conscious and a collectively united everyday persons can change this reality in what is a long and protracted people’s struggle.

It is an open-secret that the real and deadliest criminals of this nation are the de facto, corporately-owned, politicians of the Democrat and Republican parties in service to the corporate/military elite. It is time for we the people to organize–each one teaching one, until this corporate plutocracy which is not a people’s democracy is fundamentally and systemically changed.

Onward, then, my sisters and brothers! Onward!

Posted in Human RightsComments Off on Prisons, Wars, and the Lust for Profit

IsraHell and its U.S. Politicians Humiliate America


by Bob Johnson


Israeli flag choking Statue of Liberty

Israel and their U.S. politicians are using political subterfuge against America.

As U.S. diplomats rush around trying to derail the Palestinian U.N. bid for statehood, U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, requested the freeze of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land. Israel said no. The Jewish state refuses to freeze the illegal settlements even when asked to do so by its “special friend”, the United States. Obama and Shapiro aren’t asking them to stop building illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian land because they think it’s wrong. They are asking them to stop because they think freezing the building of settlements will help to either slow or defeat the Palestinian attempt at statehood. And as traitors to America and good obedient sycophants to Israel, Obama and gang will still veto the U.N. resolution for Palestinian statehood whether Israel freezes its illegal building of Jewish settlements or not.

This shows just how little the terrorist state of Israel and its U.S. politicians think of America’s integrity and of the American people. The whole world knows America is nothing but Israel’s “bitch” and will do whatever Israel tells it to do. This sad situation is because U.S. politicians couldn’t care less about America and her people. All they really care about is their own political career. If that means starting wars for Israel’s benefit, such as the war in Iraq, which costs the lives of thousands of American soldiers, sailors and Marines and bleeds American tax payers dry, then so be it. The political whores know that if they upset the Israel lobby they will soon be out of political office. And Israeli leaders make no secret about it. One Israeli politician openly said that maintaining the status quo of Israel on top in the Middle East is the job of the United States.

Israel now has its sights, and the sights of the U.S., set on Iran. Israeli leaders have Iran as a priority on its hit list. This could be why Obama is removing U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year. If Israel and/or the U.S. strike Iran, those troops could easily be wiped out by a retaliatory attack from Iran. That would not do Israel and its U.S. politicians any good. They need to remove the troops in case they need them after they start a war with Iran.

All of this could be avoided if America had any real leaders who would work and fight to put America’s interests before Israel’s interests. Unfortunately, the Israel lobby and the excessive Jewish influence in the media prevents that from happening.

If America had real American leaders they would use the massive amounts of foreign aid the politicians take from American tax payers and give to Israel every year as leverage. Obama would tell Israel that if they don’t return to their preU.S.S. Liberty slaughter/1967 boarders they will stop giving them the foreign aid handouts.  This is all that can be expected of these politicians. And they can’t even do that!

A true American leader would follow the advice of the Deist and founder of the American Republic, George Washington. Washington said, “My policy has been, and will continue to be, while I have the honor to remain in the administration of the government, to be upon friendly terms with, but independent of, all the nations of the earth. To share in the broils of none. To fulfill our own engagements. To supply the wants, and be carriers for them all: Being thoroughly convinced that it is our policy and interest to do so.” He actually put American interests ahead of the interests of a foreign power! Imagine that!


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Dorothy Online Newsletter


Dear Friends,

The cease fire held for about 8 hours.  Then Israel did it again!  Killed another 2 Palestinians.  I’m furious.  When Israel killed 5 Islamic Jihad men at a training center, Israeli officials—military and government—all knew that the response would come.  Even an Israeli child who lives in the missile range knows that!  But of course Israel ’s officials don’t give a damn about Israeli lives any more than they do about Palestinian ones.  This was a ‘good’ time to hit, so till now 11 Palestinians have been killed, as well as one Israeli, and more on both sides injured.  And who knows how many more will be killed and injured on both sides before this shooting spree ends!    Of course the Palestinians are not standing silent.  But for Israel to have killed 5 in supposed response to a single Grad missile that fell in an empty field and harmed no one or thing was totally irresponsible and asking for trouble.  So now 4 Israeli children have been deprived a father thanks to Israel ’s acts, and many more Palestinian children have also presumably been deprived a father or brother or grandparent!  I’m furious, but that helps no one.  Thus I feel helpless.  Which also helps no one.  Frustrating!


Item 2 returns to a subject that I touched the other day : Israel ’s Hannibal practice—that is to say, its preference for not having to make deals to release captured soldiers.  It’s preference, that is, to have them killed rather than captured, even if it means being killed by one ’s own buddies.


In item 3 Gideon Levy shows that  extreme right-wingers are taking over the country


Item 4  reports that Anat Kamm, a young woman who—depending on who is telling the story—is either a very naughty person deserving of severe punishment or is a whistle blower doing her fellow country people a service—has been sentenced to 4.5 years in jail.


Item 5 “Refusing to Die in Silence” tells about a new organization to protect Palestinians harvesting their olives.  May the day come when all Palestinians will once again (as was true before Israel came into the picture) be able to harvest in peace.


Item 6 brings you more news from Today in Palestine .


Let’s hope that there will be no more killings on either side tonight, or, for that matter, ever.  




1.  Al Jazeera

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Israel launches fresh air strike in Gaza  


At least two people reportedly killed in latest attack, raising Palestinian death toll to 11 and straining truce.


Israel has launched a fresh air strike on Gaza east of Rafah in which two people have been reportedly killed and another civilian injured, raising the Palestinian death toll to 11.


Sunday’s raid came hours after the Islamic Jihad movement in Gaza said it had accepted a ceasefire agreement.


“The Islamic Jihad has responded [positively] to the truce effort, while it reserves its right to react to any aggression [ by Israel] ,” Abu Ahmad, the spokesman for the movement’s armed wing, Al-Quds Brigades, said in a statement on Sunday.


The spike in violence came as funerals were being held for two Palestinians killed in Israeli airstrikes overnight. Egypt had been mediating truce efforts over the weekend and late on Sunday morning.


Meanwhile, Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has blamed Hamas, which governs Gaza , for the violence.


“The Hamas rules Gaza, he is responsible for Gaza, he is responsible for preventing the firing from Gaza, and for keeping the calm in Gaza, even if the attackers are the Islamic Jihad,” he said.


An Israeli military official said on Sunday that three rockets were fired at its territory after the ceasefire deadline had passed.


Two of the rockets were intercepted by Israel ‘s Iron Dome missile defence system and another slammed into southern Israel causing no casualties or damage, the official said.


The Israeli military said more than a dozen mortars and rockets had been fired from Gaza since midnight.


Doubt over truce


Al Jazeera’s Cal Perry, reporting from Al Shojaya in eastern Gaza said that after the latest barrage of fire between Gaza and Israelis, there was an attempt at a ceasefire.


“We heard Islamic Jihad spokesperson saying that they were going to give 48 hours both to the Egyptians and the Israelis to work out some kind of an agreement.


“But as late as Sunday afternoon, there has been further air strike bringing into question if anyone is going to be able to stop the recent spate of violence.”


Gaza residents reported hearing explosions as Al Jazeera’s sources said Israel had embarked on a new round of attacks on Islamic Jihad targets.


Sunday’s violence continued after the airstrikes a day earlier that killed nine Palestinian fighters in Gaza , and Palestinian rocket fire that killed one person in Israel .


A leader of a Palestinian group, who asked to remain anonymous, told the AFP news agency: “The efforts and intensive contacts led by senior Egyptian intelligence service officials led to a national consensus to restore calm [with Israel ].”


But the AP news agency reported earlier that mediation efforts had failed, citing an anonymous Egyptian official.


Gaza fighters ‘killed’


Adham Abu Selmiya, a spokesman for Gaza ‘s emergency services, said on Saturday that five members of the Al-Quds Brigades were killed and three wounded in a first Israeli attack on a training camp near Rafah.


The dead included a commander named as Ahmed al-Sheikh Khalil, the group said.


Israeli aircraft later struck more targets in Gaza , witnesses and Palestinian officials said, killing four more Palestinian fighters and wounding two more people.


At least two of those were killed as they tried to fire a Grad rocket into Israel , an Al-Quds spokesman said.


An Israeli strike east of Gaza City and two in the area of Khan Yunis, in the south, caused no casualties, witnesses said.


As rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel , police raised the level of national alert to its second-highest status.


The Israeli military said the Rafah raid had “targeted a terrorist squad in the southern Gaza strip responsible for the firing of military-use projectiles towards the Israeli home front”.


Rocket fire


Within hours of the attack, at least 20 Palestinian rockets and mortar bombs hit different sites in southern Israel , wounding three civilians, Israeli police said.


One rocket slammed into a community centre and another into a block of flats, setting parked cars and gas canisters alight.


Rockets hit the city of Ashdod , the nearby town of Gan Yavneh and the city of Ashkelon , to the south, police said.


The Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for the rocket fire and posted a video on its website which it said showed the launching of five of the rockets.


The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine also claimed responsibility for the attacks.


And a spokesman for Hamas’ Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades blamed Israel for the escalation.


“The occupation is completely responsible for the crime in Rafah and all of the resistance factions cannot leave the shedding of our martyrs’ blood unanswered,” Abu Obeida, Hamas spokesman, said. “We shall discuss the answer to this crime.”


The air raid and earlier rocket attack were the first violent incidents since October 18 hen Hamas repatriated Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier it seized in 2006, in exchange for the release of more than 1,000 jailed Palestinians .



Source: Al Jazeera and agencies 

2.  Haaretz

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Israel ‘s own sorry version of Islamic paradise

The Hannibal policy is an orphan order, having no parents, no commanders; Its existence is even denied, but it is with us nonetheless, hovering like a ghostly spirit that refuses to leave.


By Yossi Klein


Every order has to have parentage. Every order has a source for its authority, someone whom you believe is after your own good and whom you are prepared to obey because you trust him. The Hannibal policy is an orphan order. It has no parents and has no commanders. Its existence is even denied, but it is with us nonetheless, hovering like a ghostly spirit that refuses to leave. It can be encountered in conversations with the worried parents of soldiers. It can be read about on the Internet. It is present anywhere there are soldiers.


The Hannibal policy is not written down anywhere. It is part of the oral law that provides that a dead soldier is better than a soldier taken captive. As a practical matter, this means that soldiers must not be allowed to be taken prisoner. Their comrades, under such circumstances, must shoot them. That’s policy. That’s the order and that’s how it must be understood. But stop! Wait a minute, you say. Have you ever seen such an order? Has anyone seen it? In fact the Israel Defense Forces spokesman denies it exists. Military reporters don’t write about it. It’s not an order. It’s a fabrication.


There is no official confirmation regarding the Hannibal policy. But there isn’t regarding Israel ‘s nuclear capabilities either. So what? It trickles down. It doesn’t exist on paper, but it does in people’s consciousness. It is undisputed that the policy is illegal, but there is a dispute over its morality. The idea was spelled out 25 years ago by then GOC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Yossi Peled , who is now a cabinet member. He was assisted in its formulation by Col. Ya’akov Amidror, who is now the prime minister’s national security adviser and by Col. Gabi Ashkenazi, who recently completed his service as IDF chief of staff and is now a candidate for some kind of political messiah.


All of them are currently in positions of influence. And all, it can be assumed, would prefer that a soldier be killed rather than captured. It’s possible all of the members of the public are ardent supporters of the Hannibal procedure, unless God forbid the soldier in question is a member of their own families. In a 2003 article in Haaretz by Sara Leibovich-Dar, Peled explained that the intent was not to kill the soldier but to rescue him, but Amidror added: “The army is supposed to maintain the state’s security as the top priority, not the lives of its soldiers.” For his part, Haim Avraham, whose son Sgt. Benny Avraham was abducted in 2000, said: “It’s shocking to think that a soldier would execute his comrade.”


The person who was the sector commander in South Lebanon suggested leaving the decision on a course of action to “the fighter on the ground.” The decision always ends up being passed along to the fighters on the ground, so they are the ones who have to wrack their brains. They can always be accused of faulty interpretation of orders. Over the years, the policy gained force, but it remained vague.


It resurfaces every time a prisoner exchange deal is in the works. Every time one soldier is exchanged for hundreds of terrorists, it is presented as an ideal alternative. The bitterness over the deal for the release of Gilad Shalit raised it again. If the Hannibal procedure had been enacted, people have said under their breaths, we would have avoided this whole mess.


Future messes are the responsibility of more junior ranking people like MKs Zevulun Orlev, Zeev Elkin and Miri Regev. Their proposed law embodies Zionism and patriotism. The Knesset, their proposal provides, would be a full partner in negotiations over a prisoner release. The guiding principle in negotiations over the release of prisoners, they believe, must be one for one : one soldier for one terrorist.


Their proposed law is a kind of political Hannibal policy, but it also reflects the regional context. However much we laughed about the 72 virgins who awaited their “martyred” suicide bombers, now we have our own martyrs for the cause. The bill proposed by Elkin and Co. is just a sorry version of that Islamic paradise. They die awaiting supreme delights. On our side, however, they will happily die because that way it will spare our prime minister humiliating negotiations.

3.  Haaretz

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Settlers succeeding in hostile takeover of Israel

Do you really want to live in a country where the heads of the settlement enterprise allocate its lands, plan its nature sites, rule on its laws and are increasingly controlling its lifestyles?


By Gideon Levy


Phase I was long since declared an unqualified success : The settlers gained control of the occupied territories, using their power and their construction projects to thwart any just arrangement. But anyone who thought they would settle for controlling the West Bank should take a look at Phase II of the plan, which is at its height and already a success story.


Now, after the hostile takeover of the West Bank, comes the takeover of the state. Now that their lust for land has been slightly slaked they have turned their attention to much broader areas than their own considerable domain. From now on, Yesha is truly here. From now on, it’s not enough for them to head the local government councils in the territories – now they’re aiming for seats of power within Israel , so that they can shape its image. After taking the West Bank region of Gush Etzion, now they want the Tel Aviv region of Gush Dan.


They are using the tried-and-true method: acre by acre, outpost by (governmental ) outpost, office by (governmental ) office. A marginal minority, around 100,000 ideological settlers in all, is trying to gain control of a country with a population of seven million. Those turning a blind eye to what is happening now should not be surprised to wake up one day to a different country, just as we woke up one day to a different West Bank .


As usual, the name of their game is occupation, of positions of power rather than territory. Their first target is the Israel Defense Forces: Their soldiers and officers are already nearly everywhere. Now they have turned their sights toward the civilian society. Count on them to rack up resounding victories in this sphere, too, in large measure due to the impotence and complacency of the silent majority. Some recent examples : a settler as head of the Israel Lands Administration, a settler as director of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the first settler is on his way to the Supreme Court. These are sensitive and important positions of power, but they are only the harbingers of autumn that might usher in a winter during which a dangerous and powerful religious, messianic, nationalistic and patently antidemocratic minority will come to run our lives.


Don’t kid yourselves : The settlers are assuming these powerful positions for the express purpose of imposing their ideology. Of course they have the right to apply for them, but anyone with a conscience and anyone who is worried about the character of the state has a duty to try to stop this hostile takeover. There is no need to explain the significance of a settler leader being in charge of the state’s lands or its nature sites and national parks. Bentzi Lieberman and Shaul Goldstein were not appointed on the strength of their skills alone. They were appointed on account of their ideology. But the admission of a settler into the Supreme Court may be the most infuriating of all.


Noam Sohlberg is making his way into the Supreme Court on the wings of his religious beliefs, which have already found expression in his outrageous rulings as a District Court judge – acquitting someone who killed an Arab, releasing rioting settlers and restricting press freedoms. His patrons, chief among then Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, want such a person sitting in the tower of justice. That is exactly why the majority, which opposes the settlers’ modes of action, must object to his appointment. A resident of Alon Shvut, nearly a third of which is on private Palestinian land gained through bald trickery and, later, force or deception, cannot be a judge in a law-abiding country. Not because of the kippa on his head, but rather because he is a criminal in the eyes of international law and universal justice.


Sohlberg the settler comes to the Supreme Court with unclean hands. He will not change the essence of the Supreme Court, which in any case never stood in the way of the occupation: View Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’ incisive, impressive film “Shilton Ha Chok” (“The Law in These Parts” ), and understand the worldview of former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, one of the figures who gave legitimacy to the occupation – but Sohlberg’s nomination has a deep symbolic meaning.


In case anyone has forgotten : The settlements are a despicable enterprise based on violence, ultra-nationalism and breaking the law. Every settler has this mark of Cain on their brow. Now ask yourselves: Do you really want to live in a country where the heads of this enterprise allocate its lands, plan its nature sites, rule on its laws and are increasingly controlling its lifestyles?

4.   Sunday, October 30 2011Independent commentary from Israel & the Palestinian territoriesCategories



|Dimi Reider


Court sentences IDF whistleblower Anat Kamm to four and a half years in prison

This post has been updated.


The Tel Aviv District court has sentenced Anat Kamm to  four and a half years in prison. The sentence writes the final line in a campaign of  scapegoating that has already caused deep and lasting damage to independent Israeli journalism.


Anat Kamm at the Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday (photo: Activestills)


Anat Kamm, the journalist who leaked over a thousands pages of classified IDF documents to Haaretz journalist Uri Blau was sentenced on Sunday by the Tel Aviv District Court to four and a half years in prison. The documents, which Kamm copied while serving as a conscript clerk in the office of then-GOC Central Command Yair Naveh, contained a trove of information, including internal correspondence giving rise to suspicions of war crimes and direct violations of Supreme Court orders committed by senior IDF command. Kamm, who worked as a reporter for new portal Walla from her discharge and until her arrest, was already convicted through a plea bargain last year, with the prosecution agreeing not to ask for more than 9 years in prison for the journalist. A source close to Kamm’s defence team told +972 they are hopeful their client will not be handed a sentence longer than three years imprisonment; I must say I myself expected closer to seven years inside.


As can be seen from the exhaustive timeline compiled by my colleague Noa Yachot, there is a direct line running from the occupation, to executions without trial of suspects who could be detained, to a wider and deeper contempt for the rule of law and the Supreme Court, to the gagging of the press and to persecution of journalists. Kamm’s case is unique in weaving all these elements into a single story; but its real danger lies, of coures, in the unprecedented clampdown on a journalistic source – even more disproportionate than the sadistically vindictive persecution of Mordechai Vanunu.




6.  Today in Palestine

October 28, 2011


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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Refusing to die in silence: Palestinians resist settler violence during the olive harvest

Oct 29, 2011

Ben Lorber

Olive harvesters watch Israeli soldiers after being told to stop picking olives in Burin. (All Photos:International Solidarity Movement)

As this year’s olive harvest sends Palestinian families across all of historic Palestine out to their olive trees, a new nonviolent resistance group called Refusing to Die In Silence is patrolling the West Bank, protecting harvesters from increased settler violence.

A woman picking olives in Qaryut.

The 2011 olive harvest, which began in early October, has seen a troubling rise in settler attacks. On October 20, OXFAM reported that Israeli settlers have already cost West Bank Palestinian farmers $500,000 this year in destroyed olive trees. In September alone,2,500 olive trees were destroyed, out of 7,500 destroyed so far this year (and a conservative estimate of 800,000 destroyed since Israel’s annexation of the West Bank in 1967). This is particularly damaging because this year’s olive harvest is expected to yield only half the oil of last year’s harvest, making each tree all the more valuable more farmers.

An interactive map released by the human rights organization Al-Haq illustrates the “alarming increase in violent attacks” throughout the West Bank in September. In response, Refusing to Die in Silence, launched on September 19 in anticipation of increased violence during the UN vote, has organized daily patrols in the regions between Ramallah and Nablus to protect farmers during the olive harvest. Incorporating Palestinian, Israeli and international activists, armed with cameras and guided by a commitment to nonviolent resistance, the group uses a coordinated system of car patrols, directed from a control room in Ramallah, to respond to settler attacks as they occur.

Israeli soldiers and olive harvesters in Qaryut.

Says Haifam Katib, a coordinator of Refusing to Die In Silence who has been integral to the group since its inception, “we made the group because the settlers attack the villages in Palestine, especially during the month of the harvest. Last year there were many problems and so we decided to protect our people and to help our people pick olives, and to make what is going on well known…to help them, to push them to continue, to not be scared about settlers, to save their land- this is our plan.”

Like September, the month of October has been rife with settler attacks. On October 1, armed settlers uprooted dozens of olive trees in the village of Madama south of Nablus, and settlers from Yitzhar burnt many olive trees in the Einabous and Huwwara villages, south of Nablus. The same day, olive trees were also uprooted and set afire by settlers in the villages of Nabi Saleh and Dier Nidham, in the Ramallah district, and as the trees burned, Israeli soldiers prevented farmers from extinguishing the blaze and salvaging their sole sources of income.

Israeli soldiers checking ID in Qaryut.

Refusing to Die In Silence maintains contact with West Bank Palestinian villages close to Israeli settlements, so that, in case of a settler attack, help is only a phone call away. “We went around to all of the major villages, and we gave our phone number to the local committees and to the popular committees, and to the people close to the settlements who want to pick olives. They have our number, and if they have problems they call us. We go there quickly to see what happened, and all our guys are journalists, they are filming. It’s their job, and they know how to do it.”

On October 6, settlers uprooted 200 olive trees just after midnight in the village of Qusra, south of Nablus, hours before their owners were to reap their fruit. Katib explains, “in Qusra we arrived in the morning, and saw that settlers had come in the night and cut the trees. The land is very important to the Palestinians, and especially the olive trees grow very slowly, and they take care of the trees many years, to take olives after they grow. So it’s very hard [when settlers cut the trees].”

On October 9, dozens of settlers armed with sticks and stones attacked Palestinians from the village of Awarta, east of Nablus, as they attempted to harvest olives close to the boundary of the Itamar settlement. Two days later, on October 11, settlers from the settlement Elon Moreh attacked olive harvesters near the village of Azmoot, east of Nablus, in a fistfight which occurred after a verbal standoff. The same day, settlers set fire to olive trees in the Palestinian villages of Ras Karkar, Beitillu and Deir Ammar, villages west of Ramallah.

Trees partially burnt by Israeli settlers in Burin.

“Always I see the same thing everywhere,” laments Haifam. “The settlers try to cut the trees, to burn the trees, to burn all the area, to stop the contact between the farmers and the land. And after, they can take the land. This is what the settlers do, this is their policy, to build more and more settlements.”

The list continues- on October 12, settlers from the settlement Havat Gilad attacked farmers from the village of Jit as well as Refusing to Die in Silence team members, injuring one; on October 21, settlers gathered to photograph and throw stones at farmers in Burin, as soldiers arrested two harvesters; on October 26, Yitzhar settlers blocked Palestinians from harvesting near the village of Huwwara.

In the midst of this flurry of assaults, the Palestinian Authority released a statement on the 24th condemning Israeli inaction, expressing that “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.” The next day, the Israeli human rights NGO Yesh Din released a new data sheet accusing the IDF of a general failure to enforce the law in failing to protect Palestinian olive trees from settler violence, noting that of the 127 cases under Israeli investigation over the last six years, only one has led to an indictment.

The most serious attack so far this year occurred on October 21, when masked settlers from the settlement Esh Kodesh, armed with metal poles and firearms, descended upon villagers harvesting olives in Jaloud near Nablus, injuring four, including a 12-year-old boy and an Israeli activist. Katib explains that the presence of cameras in Jaloud helped de-escalate a situation that could have turned lethal. “In Jaloud, one international group went to help the farmers to pick olives. When the settlers saw the farmers coming to pick olives they came with guns. But since there was a group that came with cameras, the soldiers came and tried to speak to the settlers, and the soldiers were very nice this time. But be sure, when we do not have cameras, we do not have a good day with settlers.”

By fixing an international eye on the actions of the settlers, the presence of the camera can halt their aggression and de-fuse their violent intentions. “I feel the camera can stop the violence,” says Katib, “because the camera is always a witness in the place…I think the settlers know now that if they want to come and do this, they will be filmed.  Maybe they are starting to be scared by the camera, it is good. ” The camera can also force soldiers to actually adhere to their stated policy of protecting farmers from settler attacks. In the village of Jeet near Nablus, for example, Refusing to Die in Silence accompanied the farmers to their fields “because they were scared to pick olives. Some soldiers were protecting the area, we saw them but we did not care about it, and we started to pick olives. After half an hour the settlers came with covered faces, and they started to throw stones, they started to scare the farmers, and  the soldiers did nothing. But when the group of settlers saw the cameras, in this moment they were surprised, and the soldiers and the police, when they saw the cameras, came very quickly and kicked the settlers out. This was because of the cameras.”

Thom, a British activist working with Refusing to Die in Silence, concurs that the camera can effectively counter settler violence as it occurs. “The idea [of Refusing to Die in Silence] came from there being a lack of media as settler violence is taking place. There are numerous reports of settler violence, you can find alot of media covering violence after it happens and reporting about it, but there seemed to be little or no media trying to cover the violence as it was going on. So we came to try and fill that gap, and also not just to have an observer role but also to use the international solidarity here in Palestine to try to deter the violence.”

The presence of internationals in the organization is crucial. Says Katib, “always we have internationals and Israeli activists to be with us, and it is very important. Nobody can believe Palestinians. Nobody, except sometimes the media here. When the media comes from outside, from CNN and the like, they do not believe the news when we speak about settlers killing two or three or four, and it takes time. But when we have an Israeli activist and international activists speaking about this and showing and writing about this, nobody can tell them it is a lie. This is a very important thing. If they see this from their own yes, they are a witness in Palestine and they can speak to their own country about this.”

The presence of internationals on the scene, however, can not always save the day for Palestinian olive harvesters. In what has unfortunately become a yearly ritual for the conflict-ridden area, Palestinian harvesters in Hebron’s illegal settlement Tel Rumeida could not harvest their 3000-year old olive trees on October 22 without constant harassment from extremist settlers- who taunted them by standing on the Palestinian flag- and Israeli soldiers- who joined in the harassment and blocked the path of international activists, present at the scene to protest the occupation and stand in solidarity with the farmers.

‘James’, from Britain, was one of these international activists.  “We were there to support and show solidarity with the farmers,” he said, “because they are under siege, they are very beleaguered in that area. They are surrounded by four settlements, and they want  outside support. It’s really important to them, so that internationals know what’s happening there.”

Haifam Katib, and the other coordinators and participants of Refusing to Die In Silence, are optimistic about the project’s present and future role in developing a coordinated response network, across the West Bank, to challenge and counter settler aggression as it occurs. “In Hebron they have popular committees also doing the same thing. We have many people in Palestine, doing this everywhere, in Jerusalem, in Bil’in, in Al Masara. Also B’tselem is doing the same thing, giving out cameras and going around to document.

“It is the beginning,” he says, “and we hope to continue and to collect more people, and to have cars all around the West Bank, but its really hard. We have some students, some people have another job, so some people can come today but they cannot come tomorrow, and other people continue, its like this. Hopefully we will continue a long time, and we will grow stronger, and continue to make a difference.”

Ben Lorber is an activist with the International Solidarity Movement in Nablus. He is also a journalist with the Alternative Information Center in Bethlehem. He blogs at

The Israeli army shot at me and 3 Palestinian kids in Gaza today
Oct 29, 2011

Radhika S.

After a lovely day of drinking excessive amounts of tea with a few families in South Gaza (Faraheen and Khuza’a, to be exact), an Italian colleague, Silvia, who used to live in Khuza’a, suggested walking down the road towards the local school.  It was late afternoon, about 4:30 p.m. and dozens of children played in the area.  We walked past  slices of a giant concrete wall placed in the middle of the road.  The slivers reminded me of Israel’s Apartheid Wall in the West Bank — 25 feet of reinforced concrete.   The local villagers had apparently retrieved these sections from a former settlement and placed them there so that children could play outside while being (somewhat) protected from Israeli army gunfire.

Silvia pointed to a school farther down the road.  “That’s where the children go to school,” she said.  The sun was beginning to set and the area was quite beautiful if one didn’t look to hard at the Israeli military towers n the distance.  I took some pictures, and even asked Silvia to take a photo of me.  Kids played nearby and a donkey cart passed us.  I photographed a house that looked like it had been bombed, but the bougainvillea had grown back in vibrant fuchsia.  Two boys playing with a piece of plastic ran towards us from farther up the road and begged me to take a photo.  I snapped a sloppy photo, and they eagerly checked their digital images on my camera.  One in a green sweater thought it was terribly funny that the  boy’s in a red hoodie’s head was missing in my photo.

They ran up ahead, and we walked for about 15 seconds when I heard a strange whiz, a whistle, eerily close to my ear. I paused, a bullet?  Red hoodie and two younger boys up ahead hit the floor as I momentarily pondered the strange sound.

The kids turned around and yelled at us to stupid foreigners to get down.  We bent down and started to walk away — fast — and they yelled at us to get completely on the ground.  The Israeli army left us no time to be scared. No gunshots over our heads.  No warnings.  A second bullet whizzed  past the three kids, and then us.  The Israelis were shooting at us from the towers 500 meters ahead. This time, we were on the ground. I continued to look at these 9-year-olds or 10-year-olds or whatever they were for cues–walking towards their school under Israeli fire was clearly routine for them and they knew what they were doing.  We waited on the ground for several minutes.  As I still had my camera in hand, I snapped a quick photo of them from the ground.

A minute or two later a father and his toddler, also further up on the road came towards us and offered a ride on the back of his motorized cart. We jumped in and he “sped”  back to behind the wall.  Anyway, I got back to my apartment about an hour later, just in time for my Arabic class.  Even though I had actually studied this time, I couldn’t concentrate.  Why was the Israeli army shooting at our heads?

And I realized this is what Palestinian first, second, third, fourth graders experience daily in Gaza.

Radhika S. is a civil rights attorney and a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement.

Israel to extend Ahmad Saadat’s solitary confinement, breaking agreement with Palestinian prisoners

Oct 29, 2011

Adam Horowitz

Shahd Abusalama reports that Israel has extended the solidarity confinement of Ahmad Saadat. Saadat, the secretary-general of the PFLP, was rumored to be included in the recent prisoner swap, but Israel nixed it. The fact that Saadat is going to be kept in solidarity confinement breaks the agreement Israel just reached with Palestinian prisoners in order to end their recent three-week hunger strike.

Abusalama writes:

A friend of mine who had the sit-in tent as a shelter during the hunger strike of our prisoners and who himself joined the hunger strike in solidarity texted me that Ahmad Saadat, the PFLP secretary-general,  is bound to serve one more full year of pain in isolation. They have ignored the worrying health condition of Saadat as a result of the carelessness of medical care along with his solitary confinement which started since March 16, 2009. Saadat was not allowed any visitations and even denied his right to write or receive letters from his family during his solitary confinement.

Saadat was sent to court ignoring his lawyer, who never received a notice regarding this court session. The Ad-Dameer, one of the human rights organizations, stated that by sentencing Saadat to solitary confinement for an additional year, the court violated promises by the Israeli Prison Administration to receive treatment that is guaranteed by the International law. No justification for this criminal and illegal decision has been provided.

My internal conflict and my worries reached its peak as I remembered when I was sitting with Loai Odeh, one of the released prisoners in Shalit’s swap deal and who participated in the hunger strike, and said that “the mental health of the prisoners who are in isolation should be expected to be in jeopardy after two or three years of isolation and that was the first motif for us to take that step; hunger striking till solitary confinement is no more.”

“It would be difficult for a prisoner in a normal jail to pass through his imprisonment without suffering psychological problems or at least depression, so imagine how difficult it would be for a prisoner in the solitary confinement for long time.” Loai continued. No wonder that is true; the mankind is a sociable creature, and if one is totally isolated from the outer world in a very narrow cell in which light could barely sneak, psychological and mental problems are hardly avoidable.

Israel threatens to demolish passage to Al-Aqsa Mosque

Oct 29, 2011


Israeli Municipality to demolish Dung Gate bridge
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 26 Oct — Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem said Tuesday that Bab El-Magharbeh (Dung Gate) bridge in Jerusalem’s Old City is in danger of collapse or fire and must be demolished within 30 days. Israeli authorities issued, five months ago, a permit to demolish the Dung Gate bridge and build another one in accordance with Israeli plans which aim to Judaize the area, but the police postponed the demolition for fear of the outbreak of protests by Palestinians. Israeli authorities are working to change the character of Jerusalem’s Old City, including the demolition of the Dung Gate bridge, which is used by Israeli police and security as well as the Jews when entering Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyards.

Al-Aqsa Foundation warns against demolishing mosque passage
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 26 Oct — The al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage in Jerusalem Wednesday warned of dangerous repercussions if the Israeli municipality proceeds to demolish Magharbe Gate passage to al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City. If implemented, it said, it would lead to the demolition of a section of the Mosque itself.

PLO appeals to UNESCO to prevent demolition of Jerusalem’s Moroccan Gate bridge
MEMO 28 Oct — The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has appealed to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to provide international protection for places of religious and cultural heritage in Palestine. The appeal was made following Israeli approval for the demolition of the historic Moroccan Gate Bridge adjacent to the Al-Aqsa Sanctuary. The Israelis claim that the bridge is unsafe and must be torn down “within 30 days”. A statement by the PLO’s Department of International Relations called upon UNESCO “to take firm action on Israeli policies aimed at the destruction of the cultural and humanitarian heritage of the Palestinian people, especially Israel’s escalation of its Judaisation policy, which is damaging the heritage of the Old City.”

And more news from Today in Palestine:

Attacks on Palestinian culture, history / Land theft / Ethnic cleansing

East Jerusalem school textbooks are a war of words
LATimes 24 Oct — Israel says some passages incite violence. Parents and teachers are incensed …Two sets of textbooks are vying for the formative minds of thousands of Palestinian students in Arabic-language schools in East Jerusalem. One was written by the Palestinian Authority, and the other is a revised version reprinted by Israeli authorities. It’s a textbook war that underscores the long-running battle of narratives in the Mideast conflict, where the fight over the future is often rooted in understanding of the past, and schoolbooks can play a critical role .. Palestinian parents, teachers and officials, however, say Israel’s edits are politically motivated, essentially erasing all references and symbols relating to Palestinian identity, history and nationalism. [See also Jalal Abukhater’s article cited in Monday’s list]
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Arab schools watchdog draws up educational plan for ‘Palestinian minority’ in Israel
Haaretz 28 Oct — Education Ministry: We will not allow the material to be taught in schools — Among the aims presented in the document: “To deepen the Arab-Palestinians identity as a national identity, taking pride in its culture, and maintaining constant and effective contact with its Arab and Islamic roots. This identity will be based on solidarity among members of the Palestinian people, on the strengthening of the Palestinian memory and narrative, on holding firmly to the historic and political rights of the Palestinian people and on cultural, religious and social pluralism. To instill the values of dialogue with the Jewish Israeli other and the search for a horizon of a joint life in a single homeland, without the control or supremacy of any side.”
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Palestinian culture driven underground: Al Quds Underground festival
27 Oct By Nigel O’Connor — The Al-Quds Underground festival that concluded in Jerusalem last Saturday, gave audiences a unique opportunity to experience musical and theatrical collaborations between Palestinian and international artists performed in Palestinian residents’ homes within the Old City. Advertised only by word of mouth, the festival – now in its third year – was the creation of Merlijn Twaalfhoven, from the Netherlands. He said the inspiration for the festival came when Jerusalem was named the Arab world’s Capital of Culture in 2009. “I really wanted to do something as part of the celebrations,” he told The Palestine Monitor.  “However, Israel’s authorities did not accept that Jerusalem could be an Arab cultural capital and so potential donors and supporters were not willing to take the risk of supporting anything.  The official events had to be staged in Ramallah and Bethlehem.” Undeterred, Twaalhoven conceived of the “underground” concept.
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Elad can continue to operate City of David, court finds
JPost 26 Oct — The City of David Foundation can continue to operate the City of David Archaeological Park in Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, despite a petition against the private organization’s right to manage a national park, the High Court of Justice decided on Wednesday. Left-wing group Ir Amim filed the petition in July 2010 to challenge an allegedly secret contract between the Israel National Parks Authority and Elad, a right-wing organization that supports Jewish residents in the predominantly Arab neighborhood of Silwan. Ir Amim charged that Elad’s political agenda was ignoring the Arab history of the site and creating a conflict of interest
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Israeli occupation distributes demolition notices to Silwan residents
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 28 Oct — Occupation municipality employees on Thursday handed demolition notices to a number of residents of the Lauza neighbourhood in Silwan district to the south of the Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem … The sources added that the municipality employees and the accompanying IOF troops headed towards the Wadi Ysoul in Silwan and took photos of homes, open areas and fields. This new aggression on Palestinian property in Silwan comes after the Zionist high court gave Elad, a settler organisation, control of “government lands” and parks in Silwan.
Link to Palestinian Information Center

The land exchange project  / Sawsan Ramahi
MEMO Briefing Paper 25 Oct — Zionist political thought continues to propose projects based on the eradication of the Palestinians as a people or, at the very least, their marginalisation inside the state of Israel. So-called ‘population transfer’ is a fundamental and unequivocally non-negotiable principle of political Zionism. It has been used to devastating effect for more than sixty years to carry out what historians have called the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Palestinians from their land … the Zionist establishment has now added a new dimension to its concept of ‘transfer’. This has come to be known as ‘geographical transfer’ and is intended to destroy Palestine as a viable homeland while still referring to it as a land.
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Trees before humans: Bedouins in the Negev (Part II) / Silvia Boarini
Pal. Mon. 26 Oct — When David Ben Gurion, from the southern Kibbutz of Sde Boker, declared: “It is in the Negev that the creativity and pioneer vigor of Israel shall be tested,” the first settlers rose to the challenge and the blooming desert became a post-war reality. Today, driving through southern Israel on the wide motorway that cuts through the barren landscape, what stands out is not the camels. It is the forests. Out of nowhere, hundreds of trees planted thick — within straight, geometrical borders — come into view, only to be replaced by the dry and mono-color scenery moments later. A forest in the desert is an awe-inspiring sight, but here it serves the same purpose — and has the same consequence — as an eight-meter high wall erected in the West Bank.
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How not to solve the Bedouin problem / Don Futterman
Haaretz 28 Oct — As in the West Bank, the government’s legal firepower has been tasked not with helping citizens or getting at the truth, but with keeping land out of Arab hands by any means possible — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent order to Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to find ways to retroactively legalize illegal outposts on privately held Palestinian land should surprise no one familiar with the coalition’s contempt for Palestinians and our legal system: If we can’t have Greater Israel, at least we can have Lesser Palestine. But the government’s legal arsenal is also being deployed against another target – Israel’s Bedouin citizens in the Negev.
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The Negev’s hot wind blowing / Jonathan Cook
MERIP 25 Oct — Over the past 15 months the dusty plains of the northern Negev desert in Israel have been witness to a ritual of destruction, part of a police operation known as Hot Wind. On 29 occasions since June 2010, hundreds of Israeli paramilitary officers have made the pilgrimage over a dirt track near the city of Beersheva to the zinc sheds and hemp tents of al-‘Araqib. Within hours of their arrival, the 45 ramshackle structures — home to some 300 Bedouin villagers — are pulled down and al-‘Araqib is wiped off the map once again. All that remains to mark the area’s inhabitation by generations of the al-Turi tribe are the stone graves in the cemetery … The struggle over al-‘Araqib has played out many times before in other Negev locations since Israel’s founding in 1948. Then, and in the early years of state building, all but 11,000 of the Negev’s population of 90,000 Bedouin were expelled to Egypt, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank.
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Settler terrorism

Home near Nablus ‘firebombed by settlers’
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 27 Oct — A family in Nablus says Israeli settlers blew up a room in their home and firebombed their jeep early Thursday. Shaheer Hanini, 40, told Ma‘an the family was woken by two blasts at their home in Beit Furik at around 2 a.m. They found a room at the back of the house burnt out and their jeep, parked in front of the home, on fire … Palestinian Authority settlement affairs official Ghassan Doughlas said the attack marked an escalation in settler violence. He urged the international community to intervene.  Palestinian People’s Party politburo member Nasr Abu Jaish told Ma‘an that the incident was an organized and provocative action targeting civilians. Abu Jaish said parties would meet in Nablus on Thursday to form committees to protect homes and guard communities from further attacks.
David Haivri, an advocate for settlements in the northern West Bank, said his community was unaware of the allegations and doubted their validity. “We think they’re making it up,” he told Ma‘an.
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In South Hebron Hills, even sheep are not safe from settlers / Juwaid al-Tamimi
WAFA 27 Oct — The villages of al-Litwani and al-Jawaya, in the south Hebron hills, are suffering from settler attacks and even the sheep are not spared. Settlers from the illegal outposts of Ma’on, Susya, and Karmel, all built on land belonging to the Palestinian village of Yatta, made their latest attack on Thursday and killed 10 sheep. “As always, the settlers attacked the villages under the protection of the army,” said 31-year-old Kamal Ruba‘i. “They detain the citizens to give the settlers time to steal our homes and kill our sheep. And that’s not all, they drove 300 of our sheep to eat the crops we’ve been working in it the whole year.” Ruba‘i said the settlers then stole the sheep.

Suspected right-wing extremists uproot 20 olive trees belonging to Jerusalem Arab family
Haaretz 27 Oct — Twenty olive trees belonging to an Arab family in Jerusalem were uprooted on Thursday, and a sign saying “Price tag” was posted at the scene. The family, who lives near the grove in Beit Safafa, alerted the police who have launched an investigation. The Abu Dalu family is well known in the neighborhood and has lived there since the Six Day War. The father is a doctor at Hadassah Hospital in Ein Karem, and the family owns a number of assets in the neighborhood. The family members declined to comment on the incident.
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Kiryat Arba councilman calls for killing liberated prisoner
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 27 Oct — Kiryat Arba councilman Bentzi Goffstein has called for the killing of a liberated Palestinian prisoner in Al-Khalil, who was recently freed in the prisoners’ exchange deal between Hamas and Israel. Jewish settlers, from the Kiryat Arba settlement built in Al-Khalil city, recently circulated a statement in Al-Khalil in both Arabic and Hebrew calling for the murder of Hani Jaber, who was released after 18 years in jail, with a photo of him attached … Jaber was jailed for killing a Jewish settler who used to pester Palestinian citizens in Al-Khalil especially children on their way to school. The settler used to beat the children, pull the hair of schoolgirls, throw garbage on civilians and insult them, and throw stones at their homes.
Link to Palestinian Information Center

Israeli regime terrorism

PCHR weekly report: 13 abducted in 58 separate incursions this week; settlers attack olive harvest
IMEMC 28 Oct …In 58 separate incursions, Israeli forces abducted thirteen Palestinians. One of those abducted this week [20-26 Oct]  is an organizer in the non-violent campaign against the construction of the annexation wall in Bil‘in village, west of Ramallah. 4 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were abducted at various checkpoints in the West Bank … During the last week, Israeli forces fired at Palestinian workers collecting scraps of construction materials in the northern Gaza Strip … Israeli has continued to construct the annexation wall inside the West Bank territory. During the last week, Israeli forces leveled large areas of Palestinian land in al-Walaja village near Bethlehem. Full report
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Palestinian shepherd wounded in IOF shooting
RAFAH (PIC) 27 Oct — A Palestinian shepherd was wounded on Thursday evening when Israeli occupation forces (IOF) fired at him east of Rafah south of the Gaza Strip. Local and medical sources told the PIC that the 32-year-old shepherd was grazing his sheep when the IOF troops fired at him wounding him in his hand and foot. They said that the shepherd, Mustafa Ermaylat, was taken to hospital in Rafah where his condition was described as moderate.
Link to Palestinian Information Center

Press release: Israeli army raid
At-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills (Operation Dove) 28 Oct — In the early morning of October 26 Israeli soldiers in four jeeps entered the village of Jawwaya, raided one of the homes and took the eldest son. According to statements from the Shwaheen family, at 4:30 AM, 15 soldiers burst into their tent and accused them of stealing sheep from the nearby Israeli settlement of Ma’on. The soldiers threw some of the family’s belongings outside the tent, then released their sheep from the pen and drove them away … After the soldiers left, the family found that 21 of their sheep were missing, four more had broken legs, one was blinded, and one was killed. Additionally, two sheep suffered aborted pregnancies the next day. The loss of the sheep represents several years worth of lost income to the Palestinian family.

Asil Arara, 4, paralyzed in four limbs after being shot in neck by Israeli army
PNN 27 Oct — Specialized medical teams performed nerve surgery on four-year-old Asil Arara on Wednesday night in al-Makased hospital after she was shot in the neck with a bullet fired from the nearby Israeli army training camp of Anatot, near the Palestinian village of Anata, northeast of Jerusalem. … Sami Hussein, head of the neurosurgery department at al-Makased, confirmed she would be quadriplegic if she survived. “The bullet entered the left side of her neck and exited through the other side, above the shoulder,” said Hussein. “It touched the spinal cord, shattered the membrane, and clipped the fourth vertebra.” … The Israeli army’s official spokesperson claimed on Twitter that following an “initial investigation,” it believed the “child’s relative is an arms dealer who accidentally shot the child.” A story in the Hebrew-language edition of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that the shooting may have happened at a wedding … Samiha, Asil’s grandmother, said Asil was playing with her 10-year-old cousin next to the wall near her Anata home, about a hundred meters from the Anatot military camp … The ambulance was delayed at the military checkpoint between Shu’fat refugee camp and Jerusalem for 15 minutes, Samiha recalled.
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Israeli navy detains two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 27 Oct — Israeli navy forces detained two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of central Gaza on Thursday morning, the chief of Palestinian fishermen Nizar Ayesh said. He told the Quds Press that an Israeli frigate fired at the Palestinian fishing boat before steering it and two fishermen on board to Asdod port. The ministry of agriculture in Gaza condemned the incident and held the Israeli occupation authority fully responsible for the lives of both men. It said that the Israeli navy attacked the fishing boat while at work only one nautical mile off the Gaza coast. Israeli warplanes had earlier Thursday raided a container on the Khan Younis beach, south of Gaza Strip, and destroyed it and all fishing equipment inside it.
Link to Palestinian Information Center

PCHR: Israeli blockade limits Gazan fishing potential by 85%
PNN 29 Oct — The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) released a report on Friday saying Israel forbids Gazan fishermen from accessing more than 85% of their potential catch, a result of the Israeli blockade that limits fishing boats to an area of only three nautical miles.
The report comes one day after Israeli airstrikes destroyed a shipping container in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, which Israeli military sources said contained weapons. PCHR claims the container was used to store fishing equipment belonging to 56-year-old Mahmoud Abu Shamaleh. The airstrike took place shortly after the Israeli navy opened fire on a fishing boat, forced 21-year-old Ahmed Taneera and 42-year-old Musa Abu Jayyab to swim toward an Israeli gunboat, and arrested them. The fishing boat was confiscated.
In 2011, PCHR said it has documented 67 attacks against fishermen, injuring eight and arresting 18. Fourteen boats were confiscated and 40 fired upon.
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Funeral procession in Beit Ommar led to shooting of  tear gas
PSP 28 Oct — Loads of teargas was shot into the town of Beit Ommar. Residents of Beit Ommar followed a funeral procession from the mosque in the middle of town to the cemetery close to Route 60 and the Israeli watchtower to bury one of the residents who died of cancer. When the procession arrived at the cemetery, Israeli soldiers surrounded it and Israeli jeeps gathered at the entrance of town. The Israeli soldiers closed the main entrance to town and at some point they started to shoot teargas … At 4:00 pm the Israeli army brought a bulldozer and blocked all the side entrances and exits of the town with cement blocks and closed the gate at the town’s main entrance as a part of the collective sanction policy the Israeli occupation usually imposes on the Palestinian population.
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Israeli soldiers raid Balata refugee camp in Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 27 Oct — Israeli forces Thursday raided Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus in the northern West Bank, according to the camp services committee. It said a number of Israeli military vehicles raided the eastern sections of the camp during the pre-dawn hours shooting in the air and throwing sound bombs around. The soldiers raided 10 homes, searching them and destroying most of their contents.
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Israeli forces declare area near Bethlehem closed military zone
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 27 Oct — Israeli forces shut off the entire area of Um Rokba, an area south of the town of al-Khader, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, declaring it a closed military zone, Palestinian security sources said Thursday. They said Israeli soldiers patrolled all entrances of the area, setting up checkpoints and prevented Palestinians from entering or leaving the area. A resident told WAFA that the army brought a bulldozer and what appears to be special explosives machine to the area. The army prevented people from even looking out through their windows, he said. More than 15 Israeli military vehicles and three ambulances stormed the area of Um Rokba late Wednesday night after a large explosion was heard followed by a heavy gunfire, according to witnesses.
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Detention / Court actions

Israeli forces detain 3 children in Bethlehem village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Oct — Israeli forces detained three children in Bethlehem-district village al-Asakira on Thursday evening, a Ma‘an correspondent reported. Troops took Ahmad Hussam al-Moty, 9, Abdul Rahman al-Moty, 12, and Mutaz Asakreh, 13, to an unknown destination, the reporter said … A Ma‘an reporter said Israeli forces fired tear gas and sound grenades to distract families of the children who were trying to protect them from seizure. The boys were terrified and beaten by troops, he added.
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Prisoner’s family ‘to file suit’ against Israel over isolation
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Oct — The family of a released Palestinian prisoner is seeking to file a lawsuit against the Israeli prison administration after he became mentally unstable after 12 years of isolation in jail.  Oweida Kallab, 48, was released after 24 years but he spent half that time in isolation, the family says. The experience has left him with severe psychological issues and unable to adapt to life outside. His brother Awad told UFree, a European prisoners’ rights network: “My brother has a problem sitting on a chair — he adjusts his body as though he is squatting — after more than a decade in isolation in a tiny space.” … The UN special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez recently called for a world-wide ban on solitary confinement except in extreme circumstances.
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Occupation renews Saadat’s isolation for another year
RAMALLAH (PIC) 28 Oct — Dameer Institute for welfare of captives said that the Zionist central court in Beersheba decided to extend the isolation of the PFLP Secretary General, MP Ahmad Saadat, based on secret evidence supplied by the Shabak. The organisation said. in a statement on Thursday that the so called secret evidence which was submitted to the court was actually issued last August, which means the decision to renew the isolation of Saadat was taken even before he went through the hunger strike.
By this decision, the Zionist court has annulled a promise made by the occupation prison administration to the hunger strikers after 22 days of hunger strike to end isolation, which means that the captives were deceived by the prison administration just to end their protest.
Link to Palestinian Information Center

Eight arrested in Tsur Baher raid
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 28 Oct — Israeli police, border guards and intelligence agents raided a home in Tsur Baher early Thursday morning, 27 October. Eight men were arrested in the raid on the home of the Attoon and Bkeerat families in the village just south of Jerusalem. They are currently being held at the Russian Compound. Family head Abu Ahmad Attoon told Silwanic that a huge number of Israeli forces stormed the house and arrested 7 members of his family … The Jerusalem Prisoners Committee and the families of the returned prisoners have condemned the arrests as a disgraceful attempt to sour a rare moment of celebration for the Palestinian people. The Attoon family’s experience has been particularly bitter-sweet, as Ahmad Attoon’s brother, Legislative Parliament member Mahmoud Ahmad Attoon, was amongst those free as part of the swap deal.
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Donor provides residential land for ex-prisoners
MEMO 28 Oct — A wealthy Palestinian has donated around 120 acres of land in the Gaza Strip where homes can be built for ex-prisoners freed in the exchange deal with Israel. The announcement was made in a statement from the Waed Human Rights Association, which looks after prisoners’ and detainees’ issues. The Association also mentioned that the Abdel-Al family from Gaza has provided the marriage dowry on behalf of freed prisoner Amer Abu Sarhan; he had been serving a number of life sentences before his release last week. These are just two examples of the many offers being made for the benefit of the ex-prisoners by families, individuals and institutions.
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Israeli military court extends activist’s detention
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 Oct — An Israeli military judge on Tuesday indefinitely extended the detention of a protester from Bil‘in village near Ramallah, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee reported. Israeli soldiers detained Ashraf Abu Rahmah on Oct. 21 at a weekly protest in Bil‘in. Abu Rahmah is charged with participating in an unauthorized procession and throwing stones, based on testimonies by two soldiers who claimed to have seen him from 150 meters, the committee says. An employee of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and a lawyer, both present at Friday’s protest, testified in court that Abu Rahmah did not throw any stones.
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PA Security arrest 2 Hamas supporters and extend detention of others
WEST BANK (PIC) 28 Oct …In al-Khalil, the preventive security arrested Sheikh Muhammad Eskafi, who is an ex-captive in occupation jails and a well known preacher and Imam. The preventive security also arrested Muhammad Dhouqan, a student at the Najah University in Nablus and the son of prominent figure Ghassan Dhoqan … Preventive security in Nablus continue to hold political detainees despite court rulings that they should be released as in the cases of journalist Muhammad Anwar Muna, Osama Halawa and Awni Shakhshir.
Link to Palestinian Information Center

Hamas Security Forces arrest a reporter in Khan Younis
IMEMC 28 Oct — The Palestine News and Info Agency, WAFA, reported Thursday that the Hamas-run security forces arrested a reporter identified as Salah Abu Salah, 30, in Abasan Al Kabeera town, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. WAFA added that Abu Salah was arrested after receiving an order to head to a security center for questioning, but the security forces went ahead and arrested him from his home after confiscating his computer, some books and documents. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate issued a press release denouncing the arrest of Salah, and the confiscation of his private property.
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Activism / Solidarity

Israeli troops suppress West Bank weekly protests; five injured
PNN 29 Oct — Israeli forces suppressed Friday’s weekly protests against the wall and settlements throughout the West Bank, using tear gas canisters and rubber bullets that lead to at least four injured Palestinians and one injured international solidarity activist. In the central West Bank village of Bil‘in, 42-year-old Issa Abu Rahma was shot in the hand with a tear gas canister and dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation …
In al-Ma‘sara, south of Bethlehem, two Palestinians were injured when Israeli soldiers responded with close quarters assaults. Mahmoud Ala‘adin and Mohammed Brijiyeh, the spokesman for the Bethlehem governorate Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, both suffered heavy bruising.
In Kafr Qadum, in the northern West Bank, protesters focused on the closure of the village’s main road. In the ensuing demonstration, Palestinian official news wire Wafa reported that hundreds of Palestinians were joined by international solidarity activists in an attempt to walk down the road, whereupon they were fired on.
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Video: Turkey doubles down on Gaza development
AJ 27 Oct — Since the Israeli army’s attack on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in 2010, Ankara has become increasingly outspoken in support of Gaza, the blockaded Palestinian territory the ship was trying to reach. The support has come in financial terms as well: the estimated $2m per year the Turkish government donated to Gaza before the flotilla attack, has now jumped to $48m. Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reports from Gaza.
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In Pictures: The Tent of Nations
PNN 28 Oct –Daoud and Daher Nassar have run the Tent of Nations, an “environmental and educational farm” on a hilltop near the village of Nahalin in the southern West Bank, southwest of Bethlehem, since 2000. Despite sustained pressure from neighboring settlements, lack of electricity and water, the Tent of Nations keeps its doors open to international volunteers, cultural exchanges, and pilgrimage groups throughout the year. On Tuesday, PNN photographer Lo Yuk Fai visited the Tent of Nations to catch a glimpse of what happens on the Nassar brothers’ hilltop:
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Political / Diplomatic / International news

FM: Bosnia-Herzogovina won’t support PA’s UN bid
Ynet 28 Oct — Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is currently on a state visit to Sarajevo, met Friday with the prime minister of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS), who assured him that “Srpska’s position on the matter is definite and will not change. We will oppose the move.Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki also arrived in Sarajevo in an attempt to sway Bosnia’s vote the Palestinian way.,7340,L-4140680,00.html

Bosnia presidents ‘cannot agree’ on UN bid
SARAJEVO (Reuters) 28 Oct — Bosnia’s trio of presidents said on Thursday they could not agree on whether to support a Palestinian bid for full UN membership, with Sarajevo potentially holding a key vote in the UN Security Council. Bosnia’s presidency has been shared by leaders of its Muslim, Croat and Serb communities since its 1992-95 war. In a statement after meeting Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Sarajevo, the triumvirate said it had so far been unable to reach a joint position on the Palestinian application, reflecting the country’s own ethnic divisions … Given the constellation of Security Council members, Bosnia’s vote could be key and potentially force a promised veto by the United States. Thursday’s statement meant Sarajevo would likely abstain.
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UNESCO to vote on Monday on Palestinian entry
PARIS (Reuters) 28 Oct — UN cultural agency UNESCO will vote on Monday on the PLO’s request for membership, part of a wider Palestinian campaign for recognition as a state within the wider United Nations system.
link to

US handwringing plea to Israel: building settlement units will only help Palestinian statehood bid / Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss 17 Oct — I think they talk about this kind of scolding/enabling within families in the recovery movement… Unable to veto Israeli plans for anything (though happy to veto Palestinian aspirations), the U.S. has come up with a new formulation to try and beg Israel not to build out the East Jerusalem settlement/suburb of Gilo further on illegally-occupied land. From Haaretz (thanks to Ilene Cohen):

Abbas says to discuss PA fate with Hamas
Reuters 27 Oct — RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – President Mahmoud Abbas plans to discuss the fate of the Palestinian Authority with his rivals Hamas next month, raising questions over its future with the peace process at a dead end.
link to

Fatah official: There is no plan to dismantle the Palestinian Authority
Haaretz/Reuters 28 Oct — Mahmoud al-Aloul clarifies that Palestinian officials simply regrouping and working to restore the PA to its former stature; denies reports of contingency plan to dissolve PA within a couple months.
link to

Envoy complains to UN over Lieberman ‘incitement’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Oct — The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations has complained to the Security Council that the Israeli foreign minister’s call for President Mahmoud Abbas’s removal constitutes “incitement” and undermines the peace process .. “We consider (Lieberman’s) statement to be the official policy of Israel,” Mansour’s letter stated, calling on the Israeli government to publicly denounce the comments. The foreign minister’s call for Abbas’s removal is “a clear threat against the life of (the president), whose commitment to peace is unquestionable,” the letter said.
link to

Israel slams Abbas in letter to UN following Gaza rocket fire
Haaretz 28 Oct — Israel sent a letter to the United Nations Thursday slamming Palestinian President Mahmous Abbas for failing to condemn Wednesday’s rocket fire from the Gaza Strip

Abbas: Arab world was wrong to reject 1947 Partition Plan
AP 27 Oct — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says in interview with Channel 2, ‘it was our mistake, it was an Arab mistake as a whole,but do they (the Israelis) punish us for this mistake for 64 years?’ [Is he serious?]
link to

King Abdullah: ‘Netanyahu seeks the collapse of the Kingdom’
IMEMC 27 Oct — Media sources reported that King Abdullah of Jordan stated that Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is seeking the collapse of the Hashemite Kingdom by transforming it into an alternative country for the Palestinians.
link to

Israel encouraged by Egyptian cooperation
Ynet 28 Oct — Jordan’s King Abdullah thinks likelihood of peace treaty annulment ‘very, very likely’, Egyptian media touts deal as ‘victory’ yet Israel believes direct negotiations over Ilan Grapel’s release, mediation in Shalit deal, mean Cairo is signaling firm interest in continued cooperation
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Ilan Grapel lands in Israel
Ynet 27 Oct —  US-Israeli national Ilan Grapel has landed safely back in Israel on Thursday as part of a prisoner exchange deal which saw the release of 25 Egyptian prisoners who were incarcerated in Israel.
link to (listserv) (archive)

2 reports say Israel may be preparing Iran attack

Oct 29, 2011

Philip Weiss

An Israeli attack on Iran is suddenly back on the front burner. Threats responding to threa

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A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

Wikileaks influence and how it’s growing

Posted: 28 Oct 2011

Who says Wikileaks is on the back foot? In fact, the group remains supported by millions of citizens around the world for giving us the information our media and governments should be offering.

Interesting piece in Fairfax today by Philip Dorling on this very point:

A trenchant critic of the influence of corporations on political life around the world, [Julian] Assange has been enthusiastic in his support of the Occupy movement, recently observing that ”the politicisation of the youth connected to internet is the most significant thing that happened in the world since the 1960s. This is something new, a real revolution.”

The organisation has also expressed its support for the protests through its Twitter account, with Assange addressing protesters in Trafalgar Square in London on October 8.

What is not well known, and has gone unreported, is the key role that WikiLeaks supporters have played in igniting the surge of internet-based activism that has so far resulted in protests in reportedly more than 1000 cities in 82 countries.

Most accounts of the Occupy movement focus on the Canadian-based Adbusters Media Foundation’s proposal in July for a peaceful occupation of Wall Street to protest against corporate influence on democracy. Activists from the Anonymous hacktivist collective also encouraged followers to take part in the protest, calling on protesters to ”flood lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street”.

However, investigations of the pattern of internet activism over the past year indicate the origins of the Occupy movement are to be found earlier, in the wave of activity generated by WikiLeaks last year as it released US Army helicopter gunship footage from the war in Iraq, US military war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq and more than 250,000 classified US State Department cables.

Twitter exchanges between WikiLeaks supporters in the US, Australia and elsewhere resulted in the establishment in November 2010 of a WikiLeaks news website – WL Central. Editors and contributors to WL Central included Canadian human rights activist Heather Marsh, New York internet activist Alexa O’Brien, well-known Melbourne-based ”Twitter journalist” Asher Wolf and another, Sydney-based Australian activist known by her Twitter account @Jlllow.

While WL Central focused on support for the transparency website, some of its contributors were more ambitious. By her own account, Marsh hoped to ”encourage and facilitate connection and communication for the revolution, both in Canada and around the world”; while O’Brien looked to ”push … the edge of social media for scalable organisation of civil disobedience and non-violent protest”.

In February, prompted by the WikiLeaks banking embargo, and inspired by the role of online activism in the Arab Spring, O’Brien established ”US Day of Rage”, a website to promote US protests along the lines of the mass movements that were overwhelming despotic political leaders in the Middle East. A US Day of Rage Twitter account was established on March 10. Four days later the account had 1077 followers and was reportedly growing at a rate of three followers every 10 minutes. On March 14, Marsh used the WL Central website to promote the new group’s cause.

”Americans are outraged because they realise that there is something terribly wrong with the way our nation is governed, and the way in which our public discourse is conducted,” she wrote.

”The nation’s institutions, meant to underpin the principles of our democratic republic, do not function effectively in the 21st century. Their failure leaves us prey to rampant corruption, unprincipled and abusive government action, and a demoralised populace.”

How Australia is creating mental health crisis with Serco’s help

Posted: 28 Oct 2011

Last week’s ABC TV 4 Corners, on the mental trauma suffered by refugees inside Australia’s immigration detention centre network, was a devastating portrait of dysfunction. We are literally breeding individuals who are going mad, if not worse. Locking people up for sometimes years is both unnecessary and unethical.

And who is making money from all this? British multinational Serco (who only feature in the story occasionally, unfortunately).

Corpwatch has just released a detailed report about Serco’s role in Australia and it is scathing:

Some 1,600 miles from the West Coast of Australia; Christmas Island sits alone, surrounded by the Indian Ocean. The cliff-bound territory, with some 1,400 residents on just over 50 square miles, hosts a detention center where thousands of immigrants who tried to enter Australia illegally are indefinitely detained. The policy of intercepting and holding without charge asylum seekers –including more than 1,000 children–has sparked political debate in Australia. But Serco, the UK company contracted to manage the center, has largely escaped scrutiny.

“[Serco’s] failure to perform is huge,” says Kaye Bernard, an organizer with the Christmas Island Workers Union. Bernard meets regularly with workers from the Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre (IDC). This year, several centers have teetered on the brink of chaos on numerous occasions, with riots at the Christmas Island and the Villawood IDC located in New South Wales. Unable to deal with the situation, Serco has called in the Australian Federal Police force, which has fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesting detainees. Various human and refugee rights groups have accused Serco guards of brutality including beating prisoners.

The privatisation of Australia’s immigration detention had a troubled history even before Serco’s arrival. Australasian Correctional Management and G4S were awarded contracts, in 1997 and 2003 respectively, to manage the country’s immigration detention centers, and both private companies attracted strong criticism.

Then, in 2009, the federal government awarded Serco a $367 million contract (since increased to $756 million) to manage Australia’s Immigration detention centers.

For Serco, the detention center deal “demonstrates our ability to successfully leverage our world-leading home affairs capabilities to further broaden our presence in Australia,” said Serco CEO Christopher Hyman in a media release announcing the 2009 contract win.

The conduct of the British company was controversial from the start. Serco has been fined for breaches of contract for every month that it has managed IDCs in Australia, according to Bernard. In March, The Australian reported that Serco had been fined a total of $4 million in early 2011. “We cannot detail breaches, fines imposed or other issues related to Serco’s contract as they are considered commercial-in-confidence,” a spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship told CorpWatch.

Indeed, the contract itself is confidential and Serco would not provide details even to the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Immigration Detention Network, which has been established by Federal Parliament to investigate the management of Australia’s immigration detention network.

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Dorothy Online Newsletter


Dear Friends,

I apologize for giving you a day off yesterday—not because there was no news.   We visited friends yesterday in the OPT  to see them and to help with the olive harvest.  Towards evening when on the way home we listened to the news,  which depressed me so that I wanted to hear no more nor read any.  I’d anyhow had very mixed feelings about the day.  Not that I didn’t want to harvest or visit.  We are very close to this family—the whole extended family.  We were involved 6 years ago in a kidney transplant of one of the members— a child at the time 3 years old.  [If you don’t know about it, you might be interested to read the final update after the transplan t  ]The child,

Lina, is now 9 years old, and beautiful, and since the transplant she and her older brother have had 2 new sisters come into the family.  My guilt feelings emanated from the fact that we were with a family in an area that till now has not been pestered by settlers and very little also by the army.  The village is small, only about 1500 inhabitants, and sits high on a hill, which might explain why till now the inhabitants have enjoyed relative quiet. 

I  felt guilty, thinking that spouse and I should have been where the going is rough, where Palestinians and also those who come in solidarity to help are harassed by colonists and the Israeli military.   For the most part spouse’s and my  olive harvesting days are over.  I no longer can walk long distances (not due to age but to a bad back and knees), and from my previous experiences usually the harvest is some distance from where we’d leave our vehicles.  Nevertheless, I felt we should be helping where it’s really necessary rather than enjoying ourselves with family we love and in a pastoral setting. It was so peaceful, friendly, and family-like that I kept thinking ‘this is what it could be like,’ ‘this is what it should be like,’ and felt more resentful and angry at the situation here that our Zionist elected officials throughout the years have created,  making life impossible.  The end result was that I forwent reading after we returned home. So I also had nothing to send.


Today’s message has too much.  Do your best.  Also, has too much depressing.  The final items will probably change before I send this message, or slightly after.  But you probably will read about them in your local papers.  There will undoubtedly be more responses to today’s IAF killings in Gaza .  I only hope that not many or any will suffer harm from the responses, and hope that the IAF keeps its bloody planes at home, too!  Not likely, however.  Likely is that Israel will as a result threaten not to release the additional prisoners.  That’s the way it goes here.    Israel ’s leaders could not have been happier after the Palestinians shot a single missile 2 days ago, which landed in a n open field and caused neither damage nor injury.  But it was enough an excuse for Israel to take it out on the Palestinians.  Of course, the military arms in Gaza also know no other response than more violence—and although their missiles cause less losses in life and property than do Israel ’s IAF pilots and drones, nevertheless, they give Israel excuse to do more damage to the Palestinians.  And so it goes.


The initial item of the 9 below uses the Shalit case to reveal Israel ’s superiority complex and racism.


Item 2 and 3 speak about Palestinian education–#2 about education for children of Palestinian citizens of Israel , #3 about the right to education in the Occupied Palestinian Territories .     Israel is attempting to disallow Palestinian children to learn their history and culture.  Imagine that in the United States or elsewhere Jews were not allowed to have Hebrew schools or Sunday schools where their children are taught not only religion but also their culture and history!


Item 4 is an interesting report on Jews requesting German citizenship.  This applies primarily to Jews whose families were German prior to WWII.    Not a few of these have been from Israel .  Very likely that during the years when the numbers of Israelis requesting citizenship were higher than at present were due to the Russian immigrants who had used Israel as a passage way to Europe.


In item 5 Dov Weissglass, Sharon ’s prime aide, assails Netanyahu for not making peace.


In item 6 Ilana Dayan, an investigative reporter, says that free press in Israel is only ostensibly free.


Items 7 and 8 report tonight’s events in Gaza and the Israeli south.


Item 9 is ‘Today in Palestine ’ for October 27th.


And item 10 reports on a 4-year old child who was shot in the neck by a stray IOF bullet, and, consequently, has lost the use of her arms and legs.


Hoping for a better day tomorrow,



1.  Haaretz

Friday, October 28, 2011

Shalit deal reveals Israel ‘s superiority complex

As of October 2011, in the Israeli market, the price of one Jew equals 1,027 Arabs, and the price increases every day.


By Alon Idan

Tags : Gilad Shalit Shalit swap Hamas


One Israeli soldier for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. This equation has fostered more or less the following logic : The life of an Israeli is more valuable than that of a Palestinian. How much more valuable? Much more. In fact, 1,027 times more valuable. After the prisoner exchange, when nobody was looking, there were displays of self-satisfaction. We patted one another on the back and reflected on how sensitive and humanitarian we are. And look at them, we mused.


Yet behind this feeling of superiority lurked a murky, inverted truth. The fact is, the release of one Israeli soldier for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners is not normal; certainly it does not represent an inferior love felt by a Palestinian mother for her son compared to an Israeli mother.


As it turns out, such price lists and equations reflect the Israeli consciousness and what’s inside. In the Israeli consciousness, the relation between the life of a Palestinian and the value of a Jewish Israeli is derived with mathematical certainty, 1:1,027, meaning that an Israeli life is as important as that of 1,027 Palestinians. This equation derives from the way we, not Hamas, view reality: 1,027 Palestinians are worth one Jewish life not because the Palestinians minimize the importance of their own lives, but because we diminish the value of their lives. This is a mirror image of the prejudice we Israelis harbor and which has enabled the immoral activities we have sponsored for dozens of years.


The source of this equation isn’t to be found in the Shalit affair, since that affair just skims the surface of a deeper reality. The source is to be found in our daily lives, where cameras don’t penetrate. After the mass release last week, thousands of Palestinian prisoners remain in Israeli jails. This number, especially the way many prisoners are “collected” into cells in the middle of the night after arbitrary IDF raids (most of them violent, without the option of consulting an attorney ), says something about our disdain for the value of their lives.


Anyone who visits military courtrooms gets a sense of the automatic ease with which the detainees from the territories (many of them minors ) have their detention extended. More importantly, such a visit reveals the incomprehensible truth that the state maintains two separate justice systems for two populations. The military-legal framework gives expression to Israeli prejudice and prolongs the occupation without the occupiers suffering any undue guilt feelings.


Hamas figured out how to exploit these feelings of superiority. If the Jews view themselves as worth more than the Arabs, lots of “Arab goods” can be demanded in exchange for a small portion of “Jewish goods.” By the same token, if the Jews so easily collect “Arab goods” and confine them in their prisons, clearly they will not have a hard time offloading such “goods.”


The equation inherent in Gilad Shalit’s release is a trivial by-product of market economics that features the price of a Jew and the price of an Arab, according to how these values are rated by the wealthy buy-side, the Israelis. This is the capitalism seen in the cottage cheese controversy, only this time it features human beings. Its racist foundations are exploited by the oppressed side to gain bargaining power.


The Shalit deal is, in fact, a public display of Israel ‘s racist price index. The ceremony occurs every few years, and the index is designed to update the market values of the region’s various races. As of October 2011, in the Israeli market, the price of one Jew equals 1,027 Arabs. And the price increases every day.

2.  Haaretz Friday, October 28, 2011


Arab schools watchdog draws up educational plan for ‘Palestinian minority’ in Israel

Education Ministry: We will not allow the material to be taught in schools.


By Talila Nesher

Tags: Nakba Palestinians


The Arab Pedagogic Council has recently completed the formulation of a statement of principles under the heading “The Aims of Education and Teaching of the Palestinian Minority in Israel .” The council was established by 30 academics more than a year ago, with the encouragement of the heads of Arab local councils and the Supreme Arab Monitoring Committee.


The introduction to the document states: “Like the other peoples of the world they [the Palestinians] based the building of Palestine in the city and the village … Then the Nakba [the Palestinian ‘catastrophe’ of 1948] occurred, and is still happening. The Zionist movement’s project to establish a national home for the Jews in Palestine by means of violent and racist actions of scaremongering, uprooting, demolishing, stealing and ethnic cleansing have brought destruction down on the Palestinian people. This process has led to the development of new and intersecting Palestinian experiences and identities, both in the diaspora and in the homeland.”


The document lists 10 aims constituting “a practical step toward the fulfillment of the national, cultural and linguistic uniqueness of the Palestinian minority in Israel ,” and its authors intend to distribute it in Arab and Jewish society and to schools.


Among the aims presented in the document: “To deepen the Arab-Palestinians identity as a national identity, taking pride in its culture, and maintaining constant and effective contact with its Arab and Islamic roots. This identity will be based on solidarity among members of the Palestinian people, on the strengthening of the Palestinian memory and narrative, on holding firmly to the historic and political rights of the Palestinian people and on cultural, religious and social pluralism. To instill the values of dialogue with the Jewish Israeli other and the search for a horizon of a joint life in a single homeland, without the control or supremacy of any side.”


The document further states: “The purpose of this educational project is on the one hand to combat the discrimination on the part of the state and its obstructive effects on Palestinian society in Israel, and on the other hand it is also a struggle against the violence of certain patterns of thinking and behavior, and against some of the ills in Arab society … In order to achieve these goals it is necessary to develop an independent Arab Palestinian educational and cultural system.”


The Education Ministry has responded: “The document has not been submitted for professional approval at the ministry. Therefore the material has not been approved for teaching in the education system.”


According to Prof. Muhamad Amara, the chairman of the council, “If the Education Ministry ignores us and refuses to conduct a dialogue on the matter, we will conduct it in other circles of Israeli society. The education system does not reflect or ignores the culture and history of the Arabs, and therefore there is a feeling of estrangement and alienation from the system.”


“We are calling on the ministry to adopt the principles and recognize the Arab Pedagogic Council,” says council member Dr. Ayman Agbaria. “It has risen as an alternative civic body in response to the ministry’s ignoring of the need to establish a council within the ministry itself and under its supervision, similar to the state religious education council.”

3.  Right to Education


CALL TO ACTION: Right to Education International Week of Action – 15th-22nd November 2010

CALL TO ACTION, Right to Education Campaign, 14 September 2010


CALL TO ACTION: Right to Education International Week of Action

15th-22nd November 2010

We demand that Palestinian rights are recognised.


We demand that the international community insist on Israel ‘s compliance with international law.


We demand that Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is applied to the education of Palestinians as it should be applied without prejudice to any other citizen of the world.


Since the 1970’s the Right to Education Campaign has worked towards the realization of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) Article 26, that states, “Everyone has the right to education”. We now call upon student groups who stand in solidarity with the struggle for Palestinian rights to participate in the Right to Education International Week of Action, a vision which emerged from the recent Right to Education International Student Conference held on the 27th – 28th of July at Birzeit University , Palestine .


A primary goal of the Week of Action is to allow Palestinian students and academics a platform to share knowledge and experience of the Palestinian struggle for education and to call for an end to the denial of Palestinian educational rights as an objective of Israel ‘s occupation of Palestine . These events may include a speaking tour by Palestinian students, documentary screenings, stunts and visuals, demonstrations, lectures and discussions and video conferences with students in Palestine .

The Week of Action will include a unified Day of Action (November 16th, 2010), during which all student groups participating in the call will take part in a common event or demonstration on their respective campuses (details TBA).

To participate in the week, receive additional information, materials or advice, or to submit ideas for the Week of Action, please contact the Right to Education Campaign – Birzeit University .


Right to Education Campaign

Birzeit University

West Bank – Palestine


4.  SPIEGEL ONLINE Friday, October 28, 2011



Regaining Citizenship

Jewish-American Families Reclaim German Roots,1518,793296,00.html


By Mary Beth Warner


An increased number of American children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors have applied in recent years for the German citizenship stripped from their family members by the Nazis. Many are interested in settling elsewhere in the European Union. But one family has found a new home in Berlin .


When Donna Swarthout was a little girl growing up in New Jersey she remembers asking her grandparents about the country they, as Jews, had fled more than two decades before. What, she would ask, what it was like in Germany ?


They had made new lives for themselves in New York . Her grandfather drove a cab, her grandmother made clothes for dolls. Their son, Donna’s father, had graduated from City College and was an engineer. They didn’t want to talk about their lives in Altwiedermus, a village near Frankfurt where the family had owned a tannery. Or about the years they spent in Frankfurt trying to escape Nazi persecution by blending into the larger Jewish community there.


“They didn’t want anything to do with Germany again,” says Swarthout, 52.


But her own interest in Germany remained. And last year, Swarthout did what an increasing number of American Jews of German descent have done in recent years: She applied for German citizenship.


“I’ve always felt German,” she says. “Probably more German than Jewish.”


Under Article 116 of Germany’s constitution, known as the Basic Law, anyone who had their citizenship revoked during the Nazi regime for “political, racist, or religious reasons” is eligible to reapply for German citizenship. The provision also makes allowances for the descendants of Nazi victims, and does not require them to give up the citizenship of their new home countries.


‘Looming Above Everything’


It’s been an option for American Jews with German roots for years, but the number of applicants nearly doubled from 2007 to 2008 and has remained high, according to statistics from the German Federal Office of Administration in Cologne . In 2010, there were 815 such applications from the US . There were more applicants from Israel , but the number has steadily declined — from 3,505 in 2003 to 1,459 last year.


Nathalie Tauchner, director of the German Citizen Project in New York, which has helped more than 120 families apply for German citizenship, says only a fraction of those applicants have wanted to move to Germany itself. More want the option — for themselves or their children — of living in English-speaking EU countries.


Swarthout’s focus, however, has always been on Germany . She learned the language in high school and went on to study it at the University of California , Berkeley . When she met her husband, Brian, himself the grandson of German Jews, it became their private language. They would write notes and e-mail to each other in German. Last year, Swarthout and her husband decided to move temporarily with their three children to Berlin .


Deidre Berger, director of the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), says more and more young American Jews are coming to Berlin and learning German. In the decades after the war, she says, the Holocaust was “looming above everything.” Now, “it’s maybe easier for young people to start posing these questions,” she says. ” There’s a lot of interest and curiosity.”


One major motivation is to learn more about private histories that may have gone unspoken for years. “Among the people I know who are interested, there certainly is a preoccupation with their own family background,” says Berger. “No one does this lightly.”


‘Why Is Mommy Crying?’


Swarthout has focused on her own family history since she moved to Berlin : She’s retraced her father’s family roots in Altwiedermus and those of her mother, Rena Cahn Adler, the daughter of a successful Hamburg exporter who fled to New York and settled on the city’s Upper West Side .


Rena now lives in Montana , but when Donna told her about a visit to Hamburg in February, it triggered an early memory: She remembered sitting in the harbor with her parents, waiting for the ship that would take them to New York . It was 1938, and the five-year-old Rena looked up at her father and asked, “Why is Mommy crying?”


It’s a story Swarthout relates on her blog called “Full Circle,” which she says she created, in part, to give American Jews a more favorable view of Germany. But it also details her path to German citizenship for anyone who sets out on a similar project. “They need to be prepared that it could be a very emotional experience,” she says.


The process — which German officials say takes an average of seven months — requires family documents, such as German passports from the 1930s, which in some cases were confiscated or destroyed years ago. Swarthout’s application process has not been without bureaucratic stumbling blocks and delays, including a period of months when German authorities claimed her file, including some original documents, was lost. After being asked to hand over additional original documents, Swarthout says, she ended up in a local bureaucrat’s office in tears.


“I said, ‘I cannot understand why the German government asks me for these documents when they took everything from my father,'” she says.


Recently, she received an e-mail telling her that, after 15 months, her application for citizenship had been approved. She still is waiting for official confirmation to arrive in the mail.


A Bar Mitzvah in Berlin


Though she does not yet have the official certification of her citizenship, Swarthout and her family recently made their ties to the country stronger as they celebrated her son Avery’s bar mitzvah in Berlin .


Avery chose to have the rite of passage in the German capital, and on the anniversary of his grandfather’s bar mitzvah in 1942. He wore his grandfather’s prayer shawl, or tallit, during the service. It was the first bar mitzvah in her family for two generations, and the first to be held in the city’s Jewish Orphanage since the Holocaust, she says.


The event, already laden with religious significance, took on added meaning for the Swarthout family. “It’s a connection to our ancestral past, but I think it is a reestablishment of our family as Jews on German soil, so it has tremendous significance for the future as well,” she says.


For Swarthout, it was also a defining moment. ” It was the first time,” she says, “I felt more Jewish than German.”

5.  Saturday, 29 October 2011


Sharon’s right-hand man attacks Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister accused of wasting opportunity for peace with Palestinians


Catrina Stewart



The former top aide in Ariel Sharon’s administration has blasted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for squandering an opportunity to make peace with the Palestinians, slamming a policy to marginalise the Palestinian Authority as both “dangerous and stupid”.



The attack by Dov Weissglas, Israel’s most influential political advisor during the Second Intifada, is all the more powerful coming from the man most closely attuned to the innermost political thoughts of Mr Sharon, the hardliner who was prepared to make difficult concessions before he suffered a massive stroke in 2006.


The former aide warned that Mahmoud Abbas, the moderate Palestinian leader, has been near-fatally weakened by a lopsided prisoner exchange deal to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit that strengthened the hand of Hamas, the Islamist rulers of Gaza, and said that it was in Israel’s own interests not to jettison the best partners for peace that the country has ever had.


Mr Abbas, who has done much to restore the Palestinian cause in the eyes of the international community since the demise of Yasser Arafat seven years ago, is reportedly convinced the prisoner deal was timed to punish him for his drive last month to seek recognition of a Palestinian state in the United Nations.


Whether that was the case or not, Mr Weissglas said there should be a counterbalance to the prisoner exchange. “The present government’s policy of weakening the PA [Palestinian Authority] is both stupid and dangerous. I think approaching the UN was a mistake… but I prefer Palestinian resistance in diplomatic measures [to] other modes,” he said. “The PA today is something we dreamed of 10 years ago.”


Mr Weissglas joined Mr Sharon’s government as bureau chief in 2002 during Operation Defensive Shield, the military offensive against the Palestinian uprising. At the same time, Israelis were facing suicide bombers on their own streets. Offering an insight into the man seen as one of the toughest leaders in Israel ‘s history, Mr Weissglas said: ” Sharon said he would resume negotiations after only seven days of quiet. Now we have had not seven days, but seven years of quiet.”


It was, he said, to the credit of Mr Abbas and his Western-educated Prime Minister, Salaam Fayyad, that they were able to stop the terror and convince Palestinians that “non-violence pays”. “A great deal is down to Israel ‘s efforts, but a great deal is also down to Palestinian efforts. In my view , as a graduate of those five horrific years, the present Palestinian government is the best,” he said. “I know the efforts they [Mr Abbas and Mr Fayyad] made, how difficult it was to stand up and speak loudly and clearly against terror when it was very unpopular in Palestine .”


But, he warned, the current calm is fragile, and a leader who is unable to take “courageous” decisions will end up adopting a “more radical position” and demonstrating “less flexibility”, potentially paving the way for renewed violence. “Nobody feels like going back to the old days, but this stability [in the West Bank] is tied together with shoelaces. It’s like a leaf: all you need is one blow and it’s gone,” he said.


It is the Israeli military, fearful that the PA could collapse entirely leaving Israel responsible for West Bank security, that is calling loudest for Mr Netanyahu to bolster the PA, either by releasing prisoners affiliated to Fatah, Mr Abbas’s party, or by transferring more territory in the West Bank to Palestinian control.


But the appeals have so far fallen largely on deaf ears, and Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s ultranationalist Foreign Minister, claimed this week that Mr Abbas was the “greatest obstacle” to Middle East peace for trying to undermine Israel internationally in the UN, and that his resignation would be “a blessing “.


Profile : Dov Weissglas


A lawyer, Dov Weissglas (here with Ariel Sharon ) became friends in 1983 with Israel’s hawkish prime minister, representing him in the investigation of his role in the massacres of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon that nearly ended Mr Sharon’s career. Nearly 20 years later, Mr Sharon brought Mr Weissglas into his government (2001-06) as bureau chief during the Second Intifada, and he was his right-hand man until Mr Sharon’s massive stroke in 2006.


6.  Haaretz

Friday, October 28, 2011

What free press?

While landmark court decisions seem to protect freedom of expression in Israel , power and money impose a very different reality on reporters; in a new book, legal analyst Moshe Negbi warns that this censorship is threatening the democratic foundations of the state.


By Ilana Dayan


Ostensibly, there is freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Israel, entrenched in a sophisticated protective system that any society could be proud of: enlightened Supreme Court rulings; a media environment that for years has been celebrating pluralism and competition; the daily routine of fearless journalists who insist on exposing and writing and objecting and investigating and pushing the powerful to the wall , and demanding that we hear what we ought to know. Anyone who reads Moshe Negbi’s book, “The Freedom of the Journalist and Freedom of the Press in Israel ,” learns a lot about those protective systems – about law and practice, and about the major events that fortified an important bastion of Israeli democracy, freedom of expression and of the press. Anyone reading Negbi’s text receives a full, up-to-date picture of journalistic freedom in Israel, from the case of Kol Ha’am [a 1953 Supreme Court decision supporting a free press] to the 2010 case of Anat Kam [an Israeli soldier who allegedly gave secret documents to a reporter]; from the libel laws to the laws of sedition and incitement; from military censorship to censorship by wealthy capitalists, the laws of cross-ownership of broadcast and print media and the code of ethics.


Negbi leaves no stone unturned. Like a diligent student of architecture, he carefully traces the outlines of the impressive structure built here to protect freedom of the press. And readers are likely to be impressed. Where else would you find such a young and threatened country that insists on maintaining the power of the press and the freedom of its reporters in this way? But those who are listening carefully will also hear the writer’s concern. Ostensibly everything is all right, Moshe Negbi tells us, but only ostensibly.


Glorious foundation

The memory of that encounter, at the Tel Ad Studios in Jerusalem , remains clear and sharp in my mind. It was 7 P.M., and the chair of the Central Elections Committee, Justice Theodor Or, had arrived at the studios especially to view a report that we were about to broadcast that evening. Less than two hours remained until the broadcast. The Meretz faction had petitioned the Elections Committee to demand that we be prevented from screening a report about Rabbi Yitzhak Kadouri, an influential kabbalist who had joined the Shas election campaign. Director Doron Tsabari had filmed the famed rabbi hopping by helicopter from one rally to the next, distributing blessings and amulets and flying off to the next event. We were certain that we had fascinating, original – and, primarily, important – documentation here. The way Shas activated its rabbis and cast a spell on its voters was a central issue in the 1996 election campaign. Not for a moment did we think that this report would be interpreted as election propaganda for Shas.


I explained that passionately to his honor the judge. I was sure that we were creating journalism, not propaganda; that rejecting a news report was a last resort; that preventing the broadcast in advance, certainly according to the Supreme Court precedents, was inconceivable except in genuinely extreme cases. Justice Or interrupted me politely. He decided quickly and explained briefly. The report would not be broadcast. In the balance between exalted legal principles and the frothing election campaign, it was clear to him that he had to decide against us. I would have stayed to argue with him if I’d had the time, but, an hour and a half before the broadcast, the most important thing was to find a reasonable substitute for Tsabari’s report.


The report on Rabbi Kadouri was screened later, two weeks after Shas swept up 17 seats in the Knesset elections. Deri and his disciples achieved a dizzying success without any help from us, but that nerve-racking evening in May 1996 became a kind of watershed for me, a moment of swift sobering up.


Only three years earlier I had returned from studies at Yale University . There I had breathed the great decisions regarding freedom of expression in America : the unforgettable texts of justices Louis Brandeis and Oliver Wendell Holmes, and later William J. Brennan – who coined the phrase “marketplace of ideas,” envisioning a debate that should be “robust, uninhibited and wide open.” Those concepts became the beating heart of freedom of expression in the U.S. and the basis for our Supreme Court’s defense of freedom of expression and of the press in Israel .


Justice Or knew that better than I. But he also knew a thing or two about room to maneuver on the eve of elections. The festive rhetoric of constitutional law does not always dictate the reality. Sometimes it only helps to create an illusion. Negbi does not put it like that, but I believe that that’s the covert message in his book, a message whose main point is the gap between the lofty words and the worrisome reality.


The Supreme Court laid a glorious foundation of rulings that entrench freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Israel . Justice Shimon Agranat did that in the affair of the Communist newspaper Kol Ha’am, when he informed the interior minister that although the law presumably gave him unlimited power to close a newspaper, such power is unacceptable in a democratic society. Without a written constitution, without basic laws, without a well established tradition and without knowing how the government would react to such a harsh challenge, Justice Agranat wrote what may be our most important legal decision – a decision whose every line exudes a spirit of freedom and progress.


“No official yet born on this earth is wise enough or generous enough to separate good ideas from bad ideas, good beliefs from bad ones,” wrote Agranat, citing respected U.S. political columnist Walter Lippmann – and refused to revoke the license of a newspaper that was based entirely on opposition.


Justice Aharon Barak did the same in the case of Universal Studios, when he overturned the decision of the Israel Film Council and permitted the screening of the provocative 1988 film “The Last Temptation of Christ” (because “a society that is based on social pluralism must enable an exchange of ideas, even if that could hurt the feelings of those opposed to those ideas” ).


Barak did it again in the affair of Avneri vs. Shapira, when he permitted the publication of a book despite the fear that it contained libel against a public figure (“It is impossible to maintain freedom of expression, and it is impossible to grant freedom of expression its central place in our system, if publication can be prevented through injunction, even before a decision about the publisher’s responsibility. Such a regime of injunctions would undermine the role of the press and of literature, poetry and the other means of expression” ).


And the same Barak did it once more in the case of HaIr editor Meir Schnitzer vs. Chief Military Censor, when he informed the chief military censor that he could not prevent the publication of an article critical of the head of the Mossad only because the censor said there was “a danger of harm to state security.”


“In a democratic society, leveling criticism against people who serve in public positions should be permitted,” stated Barak passionately, adding: “There is no free regime without a free press. Therefore the press should be allowed to fulfill its function, and only in exceptional and special cases, where there is near certainty that genuine damage will be caused to state security, is there room to forbid the publication of reports in the press.”


The “near certainty” test was born in the Schnitzer ruling, and it is also implemented there with great determination. Barak rejects the claim of the military censor that a discussion in the press of the date when a Mossad head will be replaced is liable to harm his personal security; states that that is an unfounded claim unsupported by any data; asks why there couldn’t be cautionary measures to reduce the risk ; and sums up that, in this case too, the censor did not sufficiently value freedom of expression: “Freedom of expression is also freedom to criticize and freedom to pester those in power with bothersome questions.” Strong words. Yes, the rulings are glorious, well constructed, even breathtaking. Certainly considering the circumstances under which they were handed down.


Agranat wrote the Kol Ha’am ruling in 1953. The state was just five years old and the sense of siege was both fresh and justified. A ruling that supports a subversive opposition is not only courageous, it is almost inconceivable.


Barak wrote the Schnitzer ruling in 1988. Only two years earlier the Supreme Court had approved pardons for the Shin Bet members who were central to the Bus 300 affair. The expression “state security” still mesmerized both judges and presidents. The head of the Shin Bet was known as Y. and the head of the Mossad was called N.; neither their names nor their faces could be published. The text written by Aharon Barak landed like a slap on the face of the censor and the entire government establishment. The decisions were not self-evident.


In the Schnitzer ruling, the Supreme Court actually completed the project launched by Agranat in the Kol Ha’am case. An enormous and dramatic enterprise was now in place: protection for freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Ostensibly everything was all right. But only ostensibly.


The tough question is what remains of the lofty rhetoric, what portion of it has become part of the journalist’s reality. We should not make light of the value of the Schnitzer ruling, but we can wonder what is left of it. And it seems to me that very little is left.


Do all the news items that have been rejected for publication since Schnitzer fall into the category of the “near certainty” test? Is it possible that the courts have learned to treat this test flexibly, and to make it far less friendly to freedom of expression than it was in the hands of Aharon Barak ? And is there a genuine and profound connection between the impressive texts in these rulings, and the daily reality of Israeli journalism?


Private censorship

On Ibn Gvirol Street in Tel Aviv, in an ordinary building with a sleepy doorman and an old-fashioned elevator, sits the chief military censor, Brig. Gen. Sima Vaknin-Gil. She is a wise, enlightened woman who is making a genuine effort to walk between the raindrops, between the people who put the epaulets on her shoulders, and the journalists who try to expose the blunders of those very same people.


Only God, Sima and I know how many phone lines we tied up in interminable arguments: I passionately believing that publication was worthwhile, even essential; she insisting on rejecting it, out of an honest belief that the rejection was essential for the security of the country (“This time it won’t work, Ilana, I’ve received clear indications from those involved that the consequences of publication are liable to be very grave.” “There’s no near certainty here, Sima, nothing even close, and you know it!”; “I can’t allow the publication of this report and I can’t explain to you the damage that is liable to be caused”; “You’re a captive of the VIPs who are pressuring you, they know that the exposure relates to them, it’s no wonder that they prefer to strangle publication!”; “You have no idea how angry they are at the previous item I allowed you to publish, I don’t work for them, but I don’t work for you either” ).


The chief military censor is not a benighted person. But she is part of a system that still sometimes prefers the dark, and has the means of turning out the light. The Schnitzer ruling did not change that. It only created an illusion of change. As with Kol Ha’am, as with Universal Studios, as in other rulings that deal with the press and its freedom to criticize and publish – the texts touch the heavens, while the reality, in many instances, is stuck deep inside the earth.


Our basic, almost sacred duty, to publish what is worthy of publication (responsibly and cautiously, of course ) is battered time after time against the wall of everyday reality. It can be censorship in the name of state security, it can be an arbitrary interpretation of the “substantial truth” defense in the libel laws, it can be a frustrating disregard of the principles of journalistic immunity that were decided in the Supreme Court.


And in the past 20 years, another wall has gone up, censorship in a new garb, which represents what Negbi calls “private censorship” : the censorship likely to be imposed by the owners of the big, strong media outlets.


This new censorship is worthy of attention, not only because of the threat that Negbi sees in the wealthy businessmen who buy newspapers and broadcasting stations; but mainly because of the profound, clandestine connection between this new censorship with the power of money, and the old censorship with the power of authority.


In an era when the large media outlets are in private hands, the new threat no longer wears a uniform, as we know. He buys himself a newspaper, or a franchise , or a radio station. Does the businessman quash news items that don’t suit his business interests? Not necessarily: Sometimes the “spirit of the commander” is clear to the soldiers even without a need to shout it aloud; sometimes the desire for popularity is the most effective censorship of all. It will guarantee avoidance of the controversial issues; it will arrange comfortable and uncritical journalism for the owners.


And then everything is ostensibly all right, but only ostensibly. We ostensibly have a large number of newspapers and stations and lots of investigative programs, even a few real investigative journalists, who here and there release a stunning expose and manage to disturb the complacency of the self-satisfied.


Here’s a personal testimony: “Uvda” (“Fact”), the investigative program I anchor, enjoys tremendous journalistic freedom in Keshet broadcasts. Raviv Drucker proved he enjoys similar freedom when he publicized the investigative report on the prime minister’s travels, “Bibi-Tours,” on Channel 10.


In general, our situation on the commercial channels is far better than that of our colleagues on some of the major newspapers. But the recent affair of Sheldon Adelson and the apology on Channel 10 once again proved how brittle and fragile this freedom is. When I saw Guy Zohar that Friday night, speaking in a tremulous voice about a “black flag” and announcing that he would no longer present the weekend news show “Hashavua,” I could hear the sound of the crackup beneath our feet.


The facts in this drama are not sufficiently clear, but we should present what we do know: In January, a profile of Sheldon Adelson was aired on Channel 10. The billionaire, a close friend of the prime minister, claimed there were inaccuracies, demanded an apology, and threatened to sue. The text of the humiliating apology aired September 9 was forced on the channel’s journalists. The head of Channel 10’s news division, Reudor Benziman, program editor Ruthie Yovel, and anchor Zohar all resigned.


There are quite a few issues that fall under the category of “unclear”: What was the role of another billionaire, Ron Lauder, who is also close to the prime minister, and holds shares in Channel 10? What happened during the course of the investigation itself, and was there an error in the report that was broadcast? And if so, doesn’t Adelson deserve an apology, despite the fact that he has a lot of money and connections?


It’s very important to pay attention to this point. We are committed to reporting the truth, to making corrections when we are mistaken and to apologizing when we have insulted someone unnecessarily. Yes, the journalist must make a supreme effort to avoid any factual error. But his editorial staff will sometimes be measured by their ability to defend him just when he has erred; certainly if he erred in good faith in an attempt to reach the truth in a matter of major public importance.


In America , this rationale led to a law that makes it virtually impossible for a plaintiff who is a “public figure” to succeed in a libel case, even if the report was false, because he must prove malicious intent. As a society, we should prefer “to err on the side of freedom of speech,” wrote one of the greatest American justices, William J. Brennan , and thus entrenched in legal decisions one of the central tenets of freedom of the press in the United States: Libel laws are supposed to protect the journalist even from his own fears; to ensure that his hand won’t shake when he criticizes people with money and power; to protect him when he has made an innocent mistake.


The law in Israel is different. It does not include such extreme protection, although it does include other protections, as well as important rulings and marvelous rhetoric. But that’s not enough. Sometimes it even makes no difference. The Adelson affair was decided long before it reached the courtroom. Before the errors, if any, were examined, before the protections, if any, were invoked. Once again we learned that in a place where the ethos is pushed to the wall , the law won’t rescue it.


Once again “ostensibly” is attacking us from all sides.


Sword of censorship

We ostensibly have marvelous court decisions that protect us from the old-time uniform-wearing censorship, and we even have the first signs of decisions limiting “private” censorship. But it’s as if the monumental rulings were floating in a parallel, sterile and perfect universe, which only rarely affects the sweaty reality of everyday life – in which news items are blocked by the sword of censorship, and others are trampled by a random judge’s miserly interpretation of the law or groan beneath a sea of economic interests and the self-censorship of an editor or reporter who took the hint.


Moshe Negbi does not write about himself in this book, but somehow he is a present absentee in its 360 pages. The talented legal commentator, who defied his publisher at the daily Maariv and paid for it with his job, bears the scars of this reality. This stubborn man has continued for decades to broadcast the voice of sanity to us from Jerusalem , even when ill winds are blowing on his government-owned radio station. You don’t have to agree with his opinions on every issue and all the time, but there is probably nobody who embodies the story he has come to tell as well as he himself. Negbi, you should realize, is personally familiar with the two greatest enemies of freedom of expression : the one that comes with the power of money, and the one that comes with the power of power.


That is why he is concerned. He is concerned by the behavior of the authorities in the Anat Kam affair (Anat Kam was accused of copying documents while doing her compulsory military service and passing them on to Haaretz ), and he is concerned by the weak response of the press in that affair.


And in the last pages of the book his most important insight emerges out of this concern. It turns out there is a connection between the old censorship (which wears a uniform or is practiced on behalf of the government ) and the new censorship (which purchases newspapers and media outlets ). What dictates the behavior of the media today – even in the crucial field of defense coverage – “is not necessarily or mainly the public interest,” according to Negbi, “but first and foremost the desire of its owners-controllers to maximize their profits. A newspaper or a commercial TV station that criticizes the army and the Shin Bet security services and publicizes information about their injustices or blunders is liable to send away readers or viewers, and mainly advertisers, because such criticism annoys the readers and the viewers and disturbs their complacency.”


So the two censorships become combined into one: Military censorship lost in the battle over Schnitzer, but won the war. The military establishment manages to prevent many reports that are inconvenient for it , with the explanation (sometimes unfounded ) that they are “harmful to state security.” “Private” censorship finds it even simpler to achieve a similar outcome.

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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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