Archive | November 12th, 2011

“YOU are Fed Up?”


Uri Avnery


“YOU CAN lie to all of the people some of the time, and to some of the people all of the time, but you cannot lie to all of the people all of the time.”


This slightly altered quotation from Abraham Lincoln has yet to be absorbed by Binyamin Netanyahu. He thinks it doesn’t apply to him. Actually, that is the core of his entire political career.


This week, he was given a very instructive lesson. After being treated to dozens of cordial encounters between Netanyahu and Nicholas Sarkozy, Israeli TV viewers got a glimpse of reality. It came in the form of an exchange of views between the presidents of the US and of France .


Sarkozy: “I cannot stand him (Netanyahu). He is a liar!”


Obama: “YOU are fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day!”


That came after it was leaked that Angela Merkel, the German prime minister, told her cabinet that “every word that leaves Netanyahu’s mouth is a lie.”


Which makes it more or less unanimous.



BEFORE PROCEEDING, I must say something about the media angle of this affair.


The dialogue was broadcast live to a group of senior French media people, because somebody forgot to turn the microphone off. A piece of luck of the kind that journalists dream about.


Yet not one of the journalists in the hall published a word about it. They kept it to themselves and only told it to their colleagues, who told it to their friends, one of whom told it to a blogger , who published it.


Why? Because the senior journalists who were present are friends and confidants of the people in power. That’s how they get their scoops. The price is suppressing any news that might hurt or embarrass their sponsors. This means in practice that they become lackeys of the people in power – betraying their elementary democratic duty as servants of the public.


I know this from experience. As an editor of a news magazine, I saw it as my duty (and pleasure) to break these conspiracies of silence. Actually, many of our best scoops were given to us by colleagues from other publications who could not use them themselves for the same reason.


Luckily, with the internet now everywhere, it has become almost impossible to suppress news. Blessed be the online Gods.



A FEW weeks after Yitzhak Rabin was elected Prime Minister (for the second time) in 1992, I met Yasser Arafat in Tunis .


He was, of course, curious about the personality of the newly elected Israeli leader. Knowing that I was meeting him from time to time, he asked what I thought of him.


“He is an honest man,” I replied, and then added: “as much as a politician can be.”


Arafat burst out laughing, and so did everybody in the room, including Mahmoud Abbas and Yasser Abed Rabbo.


Ever since Sir Henry Wotton said, some four centuries ago, that “an ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country,” it is generally assumed that diplomats and politicians may be lying, and not only abroad. Some do so only when necessary, some do it often, some, like Netanyahu, do it as a rule.


In spite of the general assumption of mendacity, it is not good for a leader to be branded as a habitual liar. When leaders meet personally, in private and face to face, they are supposed to tell each other the truth, even if not necessarily the whole truth. Some personal trust is of great advantage. If a leader loses it, he loses a precious asset.


Winston Churchill said of one of his predecessors, Stanley Baldwin, that (quoting from memory) “the Right Honorable Gentleman sometimes stumbles upon the truth, but he always hurries on as if nothing has happened.” One of our ministers said about Ariel Sharon that he sometimes tells the truth by mistake. People asked how you could tell when Richard Nixon was lying: “Easy: his lips are moving”.


Rabin was basically an honest man. He hated lying and avoided it as much as he could. Basically he remained a military man and never became a real politician.



LAST WEDNESDAY was the 16th anniversary of his assassination, according to the Hebrew calendar.


The event was marked in Israeli schools by speeches and special lessons.  What these citizens of tomorrow learned was that it is very bad to murder a prime minister. And that, more or less, was that.


Not a word about why he was killed. Certainly nothing about the community the assassin belonged to, or what campaign of hatred and incitement led to the murder.


The Ministry of Education is now firmly in the hands of a Likud minister, and one of the most extreme. But the trend is not confined to the education system.


In Israel it is practically impossible to obtain a picture of Rabin shaking the hand of Arafat. Rabin and King Hussein? As many post cards as you might wish. But Rabin’s peace with Jordan was an unimportant matter, like the US peace with Canada . The Oslo agreement, however, was a historic watershed.


Only people branded as “extreme leftists” – one of the worst insults these days – dare to raise the obvious questions about the assassination: Who? Why?


There is tacit agreement that the only person responsible was the actual assassin : Yigal Amir, the son of Yemenite Jews, a former settler and a student of a religious university.


Would he have acted without the blessing of one or more rabbis? Most certainly not.


Amir was led to do what he did by months of intense incitement. An unprecedented campaign of hatred dominated the public sphere. Posters showed Rabin in the uniform of an SS officer. Religious groups publicly condemned him to death in medieval ceremonies. Demonstrators in front of his private home shouted: “With blood and fire / we shall remove Rabin!”


In the most (in)famous demonstration, in the center of Jerusalem , a coffin marked “Rabin” was paraded around, while Netanyahu looked on from a balcony, in the company of other rightist leaders.


And most tellingly : not a single important right-wing or religious voice was raised against this murderous campaign.


By general tacit agreement, nothing of all this was mentioned this week. Why? Because it would not be nice. It would “split the nation”. Honorable citizens do not do this kind of thing.


Rabin himself cannot be acquitted of all blame. After the incredibly courageous act of recognizing the PLO (and thereby the Palestinian people) and shaking hands with Arafat, he did not rush forward to create an irreversible historic fact of peace, but hesitated, dithered, held back and allowed the forces of war and racism to regroup and counter-attack.


When the Kiryat Arba settler Baruch Goldstein carried out his massacre in the ” Cave of Machpela “, Rabin had a golden opportunity to clear out the nest of fascist settlers in Hebron . He shrank back from taking on the settlers. The settlers did not shrink back from killing him.



WHAT HAPPENED next? This week a very revealing document was leaked.


It appears that on the day of the assassination, Netanyahu spoke with the American ambassador (and Zionist Jew) Martin Indyk. Netanyahu, remembering his part in the incitement, was obviously in panic. He confided to the ambassador that if elections were to take place immediately, the entire Israeli right-wing would be wiped out.


But Shimon Peres, the new Prime Minister, did not call immediate elections, though several people (including

myself) publicly urged him to do so. Netanyahu’s assessment was quite correct – the country was outraged, the right- wing was generally blamed for the assassination, and if elections had taken place, the Right would have been marginalized for many many years. The entire history of Israel would have taken a different turn.


Why did Peres refuse to do so? Because he hated Rabin. He did not want to be elected as the “executor of Rabin’s testament”, but on his own merits. Unfortunately, the public did not have the same high opinion of these “merits”.


During the next few months, Peres committed every conceivable (and inconceivable) mistake:  he approved the killing of a major Hamas militant which led to a flood of deadly suicide bombings all over the country. He attacked Lebanon , which led to the Kafr Kana massacre, and had to withdraw ignominiously. And then he called premature elections after all. In his election campaign, Rabin was not even mentioned. Thus Peres managed to be (narrowly) defeated by Netanyahu.


I once wrote that Peres suffered his most grievous insult just a few minutes before the assassination. Amir was waiting at the foot of the stairs from the tribune, his pistol ready. Peres came down the steps, and the assassin let him pass, like a fisherman contemptuously throwing a small specimen back into the sea. He was waiting for Rabin.


The rest is history.

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Dorothy Online Newsletter


Dear Friends,


4 items tonight, but the last is, like ‘Today in Palestine ,’ a compilation.  If you have difficulty reading it, use the link, please, to read it on the internet.  You should familiarize yourselves with ‘The latest headlines from Mondoweiss’ no less than with ‘Today in Palestine .’


Item 1 relates how a colony (here, as usual, mistermed ‘settlement’) is encroaching on a Bedouin encampment.  The Bedouins are no less human beings than the Jewish colonists, but one would never know that from the treatment that these colonists subject the Bedouins to.  Can you imagine going to the lengths of destroying a stove made to bake pita?  That of course is not the worst, but is typical of the small-mindedness of fundamentalist colonists.  Though this item is long, it is well worth reading.   It shows one way in which Israeli colonialism operates.


Item 2, “Don’t tell me that Israeli apartheid doesn’t exist.  My fahther implemented agrarian apartheid policies long before 1967” is Udi Aloni ’s response to Goldstone.


Item 3 “The Real Social Justice movement” by David Sheen rightly takes the Israeli social justice movement to task for seeking justice for Jews only.


Item 4, as I have said, is the Mondoweiss compilation of recent events and commentaries.


All the best,





1.  Haaretz

Friday, November 11, 2011


West Bank settlement is outdoing its neighboring Bedouin village

Dozens of people in Umm al-Khayr live in grinding poverty, next to a few hundred people to whom Israel has generously supplied, in the heart of the desert, the amenities for leading a comfortable modern life.


By Ilana Hammerman

“And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel ; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats; and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel . Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail; and the woman was of good understanding, and of a beautiful form; but the man was churlish and evil in his doings … ” – 1 Samuel 25:2-3


A tall girl emerged from the doorway of the large one-story house and stood on the tiled space in front. Though palm trees and verdant bushes were all around, there was no shade and the girl stood under the broiling sun. Her clothes divided her lean figure into two : a dark blue blouse with a closed collar and long sleeves; this contrasted with the flaring white skirt that reached halfway down her shins. On her feet were rubber flip-flops. Apart from the skirt, everything about her was dark, including her long brown hair loosely gathered at the back, olive skin and large eyes. She reminded me of one of the girls I had seen in the morning in the village on the other side of the fence. We stared at each other.


“How old are you?” I asked her. “I will be 7 on the 23rd of Tamuz,” she replied, lifting one shoulder and tilting her pretty oval head toward it, while charmingly arching her back. “You’re cute,” I told her. She was silent.


I knew I should explain to her my sudden appearance next to her house – a strange woman in this small settlement where everyone surely knows everyone else. “I’m just on an outing here,” I said embarrassedly. “I wanted to see your place. I’m from Jerusalem .”


She said nothing. “Do you live here?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied. “And what’s it like, do you feel good here?” Another stupid question. She gave me a quizzical look and said nothing. “Where do you go to school?” I asked her, trying to find a thread that would connect us across the garden and yard between us. “In Susya,” she said – the neighboring settlement. Her reply reminded me where I was and snapped me out of the vacant state of mind I had fallen into after the electric gate of the settlement of Carmel , the little girl’s home, let me in a little while before. “Shalom,” I said, then went back to the car and hightailed it out of there, first along the access road leading from the house, then onto the street and out of the settlement.


I didn’t know anyone yet in Carmel , a gated community south of Hebron in the West Bank . I had entered alone, and after driving once and then twice through its three streets, or maybe four or five, I lapsed into a kind of reverie brought on by my increasingly surrealistic surroundings. No living creature – neither man, woman, nor child, neither dog nor even a stray cat – could be seen on the clean, tidy streets and tiled sidewalks that curve into convenient parking bays. The garbage bins, too, stand implacably in their appointed places, and on both sides are handsome homes with red-tile roofs, most of them nestling amid lush green lawns, trees and bushes.


The streets end at a no-man’s-land that circles the settlement, demarcated by a barbed-wire fence. On the other, eastern side of one section of the fence, and almost abutting it, are large tents, tin shacks, lean-tos and makeshift goat pens. Between them, walking or running, were boys, girls, women and teenagers. They are from the Hadaleen Bedouin tribe, next to whose meager dwellings Carmel was established some 30 years ago.


Since then the settlement has taken root and grown. It is now expanding again and continuing to usurp the land of its neighbors, who lived at the site decades before the settlers arrived. Amid the desert vastness, the settlers craved precisely this piece of land. The charming little girl I encountered that day was born and raised there, and my faltering conversation with her next to her house – from which neither tin shacks nor tents are visible – hurtled me back to reality.


Right next to the stately country homes – complete with air-conditioning, drip-irrigation gardens and goldfish ponds – a few extended families including old men, old women and infants live in dwellings made of tin, cloth and plastic siding, though there are a few cinder-block structures, too. They tread on broken, barren ground. They have no running water. They are not connected to the power grid that lights up every settlement and outpost in this remote region. They have no access road.


To get to them, take the asphalt road leading to Carmel ‘s large chicken coops that abut the Bedouin site on the north, and turn off amid the rocks and potholes. Then drive until you see them, “the two clusters of Bedouin,” as they are described in an official Defense Ministry document (see box ). Dozens of people live here in grinding poverty, next to a few hundred people to whom Israel has generously supplied, in the heart of the desert, the amenities for leading a comfortable modern life.


Why were they connected in this way – that is, the settlers to the Bedouin? Are there no other places in these expanses for settlement? There is only one reason: They want the Bedouin to leave. They, the settlers. They, the State of Israel . They, us, the people of the State of Israel, all of us. Because the settlers are not alone: Behind them are the powerful, sophisticated forces of a whole country, our country, propelled by its army, laws and all the mechanisms of government that make the Bedouin’s lives so unbearable that they will finally get out.


Demolition order for a stove


The families in the Bedouin hamlet of Umm al-Khayr came here more than 60 years ago after Israel expelled them from the Arad Rift to Jordan . After wandering about, they settled in this arid desert region known as the South Hebron Hills. They acquired the land from residents of the nearby town of Yata in return for camels or money – each family and its story, each family and the legal papers it has or doesn’t have.


People have lived here like this for generations, and no government authority was ever strict with them about ownership. In any case, no one disputes the fact that they were here, in their desert home, when Israel reached them for the second time, after the war in 1967. Still, the state and its citizens didn’t crave their land immediately.


The Bedouin went on living as before for 14 more years until in 1981, when, after decisions by officials, committees and ministers, Carmel arose next to them. As the settlement developed and expanded, so too did its hold on land where the Bedouin lived or grazed their sheep and goats. With the settlers came the infrastructure for electricity, water and sewage, reaching the fence. A few years later, military orders began to rain down on the other side of the fence.


Almost every structure here, even the small lavatories built recently, has a stop-work or demolition order hanging over it. All the orders are based on Article 38 of the Towns, Villages and Buildings Planning Law, which states: “If the local committee or the district planning committee discovers that the construction of any land [sic] or the construction of a building is being executed without a permit or contrary to what a permit stipulates or contrary to valid regulations, orders and directives, or contrary to any approved planning and/or construction project, the relevant committee or its chairman, or any official authorized to act in its name, shall issue an operative warning against the owner, the contractor, the possessor and the foreman …. In particular, the warning shall contain a demand to remove, demolish or change the building or work or to desist from using the said land and to desist from further construction activity.”


In short, all the violations that the law – promulgated by a state that considers itself law-abiding, a properly administered state in a region of backward countries and despotic regimes – sought to terminate via demolitions, changes and stop-work orders were apparently perpetrated by the Bedouin. From tent to urinal, from lean-to to wood-burning outdoor stove, everything here was built illegally, without planning and contrary to regulations, orders and directives. Accordingly, the owners and/or holders of these “assets” received detailed orders citing section and plot numbers – even in this forlorn area there are lawfully measured parcels of land – along with type and size of structure.


One such order, for example, refers to “a tent made of iron poles with a cloth roof and a tent made of iron poles with a total area of 70 square meters .” Another order challenges the legality of a lavatory – “a tin structure of two square meters” – and of two small tents “with an area of 12 square meters and six square meters.” A third, incredibly, takes issue with “a structure made of stone that serves as a tabun,” a wood-burning outdoor stove.


That last injunction, issued a year ago, was a stop-work order. But the tabun had been built many years earlier and had been in constant use by a family living nearby. So what did the order mean? According to the stove’s owner, it was the family’s bad luck that the baking aroma, which is sometimes carried by the wind, irritated the noses of the residents of the new neighborhood in Carmel .


So the settlers took a series of measures. First they threatened their neighbors and made demands, then they broke the structure’s clay vessels, then they turned to the state. The state acceded and issued an order from “the Civil Administration for the Judea and Samaria region, Supreme Planning Council, subcommittee for supervision.” In other words, a standard order representing a whole hierarchy of authorities that the state has ostensibly made responsible for maintaining law and order in the occupied territories. But these authorities, like the laws themselves, are designed to serve the material and ideological interests of a certain segment of the population who are the authorities’ agents and who, for more than four decades, have been implementing every government’s annexationist policies in the West Bank. In Umm al-Khayr the tabun and most structures are still standing because they are the subjects of legal proceedings – lengthy, expensive and absurd – that have been going on for years. But every so often the orders are carried out. The last time was two months ago, on the morning of September 8. People from the Civil Administration arrived at Umm al-Khayr with a bulldozer, and soldiers demolished three of the structures previously mentioned : the lavatory, a tent and a tin shack that was home to a family of 10. The wreckers told the villagers they would be back soon for another round of destruction.


Some structures have been demolished once, twice or three times and then rebuilt. The inhabitants refuse to leave. The settlers, acting as if the Bedouin aren’t there, continue to create facts on the ground. And it’s all sanctioned by law – the state has allotted the settlers large tracts, marked by blue lines on the maps as the regulations require, and the state and its army help the settlers entrench their grip on the land.


So the Bedouin are brutally victimized. Their homes are demolished, the concrete sides of their water cistern are cracked, their fence around a meager plot they are working despite the drought is ripped out, and their shepherds are driven off. Some of these acts are perpetrated by the authorities and the army, some by the settlers. Everything is done openly and is documented on film, though few eyes seek to view the results.


Closed military area


At the settlement of Carmel , why is it that on one side of the fence, roads, homes and public institutions have been built and gardens planted, while on the other side even a stone stove and tin-hut lavatory are fated to be destroyed? Is everything built on one side legal and everything built on the other side illegal? In a word, yes. Precisely for this reason, during Israel’s rule in the West Bank, an array of judicial, legislative and planning tools have been perfected: to legalize – in advance or retroactively – Israel’s civilian takeover of 43 percent of the West Bank. No less, maybe more.


Carmel is just one example, a good one. First the land was grabbed in a “military seizure” order; then, in January 1981, a Nahal paramilitary outpost was set up there. Then the outpost was “civilianized.” The land itself had already been “civilianized” earlier. At the end of 1979, assessors and surveyors assigned the area a new status – “state land” – which, in total contradiction to the international law that applies to occupied territories, koshered Israeli civilian settlement in an area in which the army is sovereign. Most settlements in the West Bank then received the same validation.


The areas designated as state land are made available only to Jews, and they are distributed generously. The land controlled by the settlements extends far beyond their built-up areas and is many times the size of the settlement itself. In Carmel , for example, the built-up area constitutes only one-eighth of the land allotted to the settlement. This “jurisdiction area” has long, grasping tentacles – as can be seen in Civil Administration data – all of it classified in a special order as a “closed military zone.”


Closed to civilians? No. Like all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, it’s open to every Israeli, civilian or soldier, and to whoever “is eligible to immigrate to Israel under the provisions of the Law of Return or possesses a valid entry visa to Israel .” It’s closed to all other human beings. Above all, it’s closed to the Bedouin of Umm al-Khayr, who are not Israelis and are not eligible to immigrate under the Law of Return and don’t have an entry visa to the Jewish state. So these people, who have lived here all their lives, are having more and more problems residing in their dwellings – which are designated for demolition. And they’re also having problems grazing their sheep, their main source of livelihood. The last time I visited the village I saw a herd of goats returning in the heat of day from pasture. I watched them from afar as they took a very long, twisting path. The shorter route passed the spot where I was standing, but here, in the middle of nowhere, there is a standard, albeit tilting, road sign that states: “No entry.” To whom is the sign conveying this information in this wasteland? Someone who must have wondered the same thing pasted the picture of a goat on the sign. In other words, from this point on there is no passage for herders and their animals.


Yes, this empty zone, a long way from Carmel ‘s latest new homes, is in the settlement’s area of jurisdiction. This year, on Tu Bishvat (Jewish Arbor Day ), the settlers planted a few trees and set out wooden tables and benches for anyone who wished to relax here, precisely here. The result is that the shepherds and goatherds must take another wider bypass in addition to the bypasses the built-up area and fence already impose on them.


It’s here that the main violent confrontations have been taking place. Because there is no fence in this zone, the settlers and army show the Bedouin their limits by shouting, pushing and kicking. These actions can be seen in visits to the area or in photos and videos on the Internet.


An idyllic situation, at first


I returned to Carmel a week later – this time, at my request, as an invited guest. My host, Ron Tzurel, received me with genuine cordiality. He has lived in the settlement from its inception and in 1979 worked for a short time with the surveyors who delineated the “state land” where his home was later built. His house is one of the closest to the fence and thus to the Bedouin’s tents and tin shacks. Their desolate soil abuts his garden and he is friendly with a few of them, speaks their language and helps them out occasionally. He says he is grieved by their plight and wants to see their conditions improved.


In the beginning the situation was idyllic, Tzurel told me. The Bedouin worked in the settlement and earned a decent wage; the settlers even hooked them up to their water system. But long ago something bad happened. A Bedouin man named Ibrahim was arrested on suspicion of doing something prohibited. He never returned to his family in Umm al-Khayr, and to this day Tzurel doesn’t know what Ibrahim allegedly did. In any event, the water supply to the Bedouin was cut off and that was the end of the neighborly relations.


Now, years later, all we hear – and see – from the Bedouin across the fence are complaints about harassment by the army and settlers. But Tzurel is a believing Jew and the return of the Jewish people to their land is for him an auspicious development, a great and joyful event. So it’s inconceivable, he says, that it should entail injustice – there is room here for both Carmel ‘s residents and the Bedouin.


Indeed, from his big living-room door that opens onto the garden, the desert’s endless vistas are visible beyond the Bedouin’s nearby hovels. He didn’t ask why the Bedouin don’t move there and I didn’t ask him why he had come to this particular place. I did ask him about the settlement’s new neighborhood, which is also visible from his house and which is causing the Bedouin further problems. He replied by citing a fact about which there’s no doubt : The neighborhood was built legally, within Carmel ‘s area of jurisdiction.


Tzurel is both a law-abiding man and a visionary; the two traits sit very well together here, from his viewpoint and to his satisfaction. The state gave the settlement this land and it must be settled with as many Jews as possible. That’s the great vision, the dream that is coming true. And it’s coming true here on both sides of the Green Line, which is unmarked and unknown in this part of the country.


My affable host showed me this clearly when he drove me in his pickup to see the area’s agricultural wonders, from the cowshed run jointly by the settlements of Carmel and Ma’on, to the crops grown jointly by the settlements of Carmel, Ma’on and Beit Yatir. The cowshed is to the north of the vanished Green Line, atop a hill between Ma’on and Carmel ; the fields stretch out to the south of the line in the Arad Rift.


The settlers have developed a model farm on both sides of the irrelevant line. The cowshed – clean, spacious and state-of-the-art – produces millions of liters of milk a year. Using an innovative method that treats the cows’ solid and liquid wastes, it also produces high-quality compost to be used as fertilizer. The milk is marketed by Israel ‘s giant Tnuva cooperative. The compost is used mainly to fertilize the fields of the three settlements in the Arad Rift. The fields are worked magnificently and are saturation-irrigated with water from purified ponds, originating in the liquid sewage of the nearby city of Arad .


Tzurel showed me all this during the long tour he gave me. He was proud but not arrogant. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool farmer and highly knowledgeable, and his explanations were clear and interesting. In the Arad Rift he also pointed out the Bedouin tent encampments scattered at the fields’ edges. With his accustomed sincerity he told me that the fields had been given to him and his colleagues in the Nahal group back at the end of the 1970s, to place these areas in Jewish hands and prevent the Bedouin from taking them over. They were then also given the land on the other side of the Green Line, because that’s where they chose to settle, where they believe to be the site of the biblical settlement of Carmel . They chose to build their homes in the conquered territories, which they believe were given to the Jewish people, together with the whole land.


The result, as I could clearly see, is that they now have a hold, to their hearts’ and spirits’ content, on both sides of the Green Line. As for the deceptive, abstract line, it has been erased, it no longer exists – not only in their view but in the situation on the ground.


The dairy products and the fruit of the land are marketed by Israeli companies, and no boycott can separate them from the rest of the fruit of the land, while the Bedouin are being evicted. It’s all part of one policy, consistent and systematic. One state rules here in full and its ways have not changed over the years. They are constantly fine-tuned and have long since made a laughingstock of the “peace process” and its stages, from Oslo to the various road maps.


On that day, in the company of Ron Tzurel, I felt defeated, but above all, I was forced to open my eyes. What you see in the land of the settlers, you don’t have to see from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. And even if you know what’s there it’s easy and convenient to ignore it. That was the main lesson I learned that day.


The second lesson is much harder to articulate. It came to me gradually, without coming fully into focus, when, after the tour, we chatted in Tzurel’s living room. We listened to each other politely and patiently. Ron and two of his daughters, who at some point hesitatingly joined us, tried to persuade me in pleasant tones that, contrary to my hard-and-fast opinion, no gulf separates us. They are good, decent folk and advocate the same humane values as I do.


They are not racists, they are not Arab haters, and most of all, they are not extremists or zealots. This they took pains to emphasize. It’s clear that they’re genuinely sorry that I and many other Israelis refuse to see this and instead denounce and shun them.


I told them about the injustice against civilians in the West Bank that I have witnessed and documented for many years. They listened. Occasionally it seemed that Tzurel even grimaced with sorrow. In any event, they didn’t justify those actions and didn’t dispute what I said. They said something else: They simply don’t know about all that. Nor does it especially interest them, Tzurel admitted. In this they are like most Israelis, he said, echoing something I had said a moment earlier. I had said that most Israelis don’t know and don’t want to know about these things. Well, they too are Israelis, so why do I think that the settlers are different from most Israelis? They too don’t know and don’t really want to know.


And I, who all this time could see from the corner of my eye the barbed-wire fence, the tents and the tin shacks on the other side, and also did not forget the military orders, the settlers and the soldiers who kick the goats and chase away the goatherds – I did not find the words to answer him on this. Because I couldn’t see evil and wickedness in him, in this polite person sitting across from me at the family dining table and looking at me with his smiling, honest eyes. Suddenly I wasn’t so sure I had a moral advantage over him: From my home in West Jerusalem I can’t see what’s happening in Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, Ras al-Amud and Qalandiyah – an urban version of the things happening in the South Hebron Hills.


Like him, I too am responsible for the illegal laws of the state whose legislative and executive branches were elected by a majority of the members of my nation. The fact that he supports them and benefits from them directly, whereas I benefit indirectly, is not enough to create a moral buffer between us. He is not one of the shooters, kickers and rampagers under the army’s protection, and he denounces them too.


True, those people are members of his settlement, but by the same token the dispossessors and harassers in the neighborhoods annexed to Jerusalem are residents of my city. And the Jews who turned the center of Hebron into a desolate ghost town, strewn with fences and roadblocks and filled with soldiers, bases and guard positions, are members of my nation and his nation. They’re citizens of my country and his country.


So are the inhabitants of the settlements of Yitzhar and Har Bracha, outside Nablus, for whom infrastructure was built and roads paved on “state land” by the decision of an elected Israeli government “to expand settlement in Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Rift Valley, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights by increasing the population of the existing communities and by establishing additional communities on state-owned land.”


All according to the law, in a law-abiding state.




Source of name: Biblical


Type of settlement and organizational affiliation: Cooperative moshav, Amana (the settlement arm of the Gush Emunim movement)


Population: 417


District: Hebron


Municipal affiliation: Hebron Hills


Local government decisions:

1. September 14, 1980 − approval to establish the settlement

2. July 5, 1981 − approval for a civilian settlement

Date of establishment: As a Nahal outpost, January 1981; civilian status, May 1981

Land status: State domain lands, previously under military seizure order ‏(issued jointly with the Ma’on outpost‏)


Nearby outposts: None


Execution of valid detailed plans:

Plan No. 507 allows for construction of 81 residential units. Many structures do not conform to authorized plan ‏(residential structures in a green area and trailer homes in industrial zone‏). There are also 15 lots.

Builder: Housing and Construction Ministry, Rural Construction Directorate, Amana



1. There are five chicken coops and agricultural structures northeast of the settlement. They are not classified as irregular because they are agricultural structures consistent with provisions of Mandatory plan that applies to this area.

2. There are two clusters of Bedouin east of the settlement.


Source: Database compiled by Brig. Gen. ‏(res.‏) Baruch Spiegel


2. .Wednesday, Nov 9, 2011 8:00 PM UTC2011-11-09T20:00:00Zl, M j, Y g:i A T


Judge Goldstone’s offensive apology for apartheid

Don’t tell me Israeli apartheid doesn’t exist. My father implemented agrarian apartheid policies long before 1967


By Udi Aloni .


Richard Goldstone on Israel and apartheid (Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse/AP)

I write as an Israeli Jew who was brought up and molded at the very center of secular, Zionist Israel. My parents, Reuven and Shulamit Aloni , exemplify everything that is good and just about Israel for humanistic Jews like Judge Richard Goldstone, the noted South African jurist, who in a recent New York Times Op-Ed, denied the practice of apartheid in Israel .


My mother founded the Civil Rights Movement in Israel , was a member of the Knesset and a Minister of Education in Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s cabinet. She fought for equal rights for women, gays and lesbians, and, of course, Palestinian Arabs too. My father helped create the Israel Land Administration and managed all government lands.


As a youngster embedded in a humanistic Zionist ideology I was unaware that my father’ s daily business for the state consisted of, among other things, appropriating land from Palestinians who had been living on it for generations and granting it to Jewish newcomers. Only a strong ideology can explain the degree of blindness necessary to avoid recognizing that my father was implementing agrarian apartheid policies – and long before the occupation of 1967.


As I grew up, served in the army, and participated in efforts to make Israel a better place, the contradiction in my own home between the struggle for civic equality and the ongoing appropriation of more and more Palestinian land made me question the moral and legal compass by which Israel plotted its course. Ultimately, I had no choice but to face the world without the ideological lens I had looked through since childhood.


Apartheid in the state of Israel is different than it was in South Africa . The two states embody different sets of interests and power structures, and while in some ways it has been crueler in Israel , in others it is more liberal. The main difference between the two is that in South Africa apartheid was an explicit tenet of the judicial system, while in Israel the entire judicial system conceals and cleanses the praxis of government-led apartheid.


Judge Goldstone’s arguments not only offend his and my core humanistic Jewish values, they also inflict irreversible damage to the prospects of Israel ’s existence as a democratic state. Goldstone denies Palestinians the right to function as a sustainable cultural, economic and political unit, while fully granting this right to the Jewish community.


The fact is that there is today a single political and geographic space between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea . The whole area has been under Israeli sovereignty and control for the past 44 years. The skies, seas, borders, water rights, the judicial system as well as military and civic government are all controlled by Israel . Palestinians have municipal rule; not sovereignty.


Goldstone’s article inadvertently exemplifies the racist strategy of continued Jewish-Israeli control by means of violent maintenance of a demographic majority and the breaking of the Arab-Palestinian nation into pieces. There are 6 million Jews and almost as many Palestinians living today in this space. While the Jews live as one people tightly linked to world Jewry, and any Jew can become an Israeli citizen at any time, the Palestinians are broken into five separate pieces that cannot function as a people: There are approximately 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, 1.5 million Palestinians holding Israeli citizenship, 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, 300,000 residents of Jerusalem, and finally the Palestinian Diaspora scattered throughout the world that Israel does not allow to return.


Judge Goldstone is, in fact, legitimizing apartheid. He describes the current condition as a precursor for a future two states. That utopian vision of an always yet-to-come future enables the ongoing cruelty of apartheid. Some examples: 1) Half a million Israelis have settled in the area that was conquered in 1967. The lands these settlers occupy have been robbed from Palestinians, simply because of their ethnicity, and have been transferred to Jews simply because of their ethnicity. These seized lands are being settled by Jews from other countries, especially the U.S. , with the help of huge subsidies provided by Israeli and American taxpayers. In contrast, a Palestinian in Ramallah cannot even dream of moving back into his father’ s home in Haifa or Jaffa , nor even marry an Israeli and live with her in Israel . Is that not apartheid?


The Supreme Court issued an evacuation order against Palestinian families in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and gave their homes to Jewish families who showed proof to the titles of the homes predating 1948. Millions of Palestinian refugees, however, cannot regain land or houses on the basis of such proof.


Israel attempts to maintain a semblance of equality under the law for Jews and Palestinians inside the Green Line, but all the zoning plans and investments in infrastructure discriminate unequivocally against the Palestinian Israeli population and thus reveal an administrative apartheid that’s quite distinct from the legal apartheid reserved for Palestinians in the territories. For example, in the mixed city of Lydda there are 700 houses marked for demolition, all of them but one belong to Arab citizens of Israel . llegal Jewish houses, however, received retroactive approval.


Israeli law separates Palestinians into fictitious subcategories. By annexing eastern Jerusalem , Israel applies Israeli law on the physical territory but not on its Palestinian inhabitants, thus creating a new class of “citizens” lacking the right to vote. Even departing their house for a certain period of time can serve as the basis for the state to revoke their already crippled citizenship status and their right to live in Jerusalem . These examples show that a clear policy exists to maintain a Jewish majority, a policy whose execution involves the systematic abuse of fundamental civil rights.


Goldstone claims that the theoretical two-state solution to come provides the legal justification not to consider the Israeli regime as practicing apartheid. Yet the state of Israel created and continues to develop the settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for 500,000 Jews, and only for Jews, while not building for the Palestinians from the refugee camps and elsewhere. This is sufficient to call this Israeli practice a form of apartheid.


A couple of years ago I approached my ardently Zionist mom, a woman who carried a weapon for the Jewish community of Jerusalem in 1948, and asked her a simple question: “Mom, is all this apartheid?”


With the sigh of a betrayed lover she indicated that, yes, this is apartheid. My heart broke.

. Udi Aloni is an Israeli writer, filmmaker, and the author of the new book “What Does a Jew Want?: On Binationalism and Other Specters,” Columbia University Press.


3.  Haaretz

Friday, November 11, 2011

The real social justice movement

True, a 99 percent-strong J14 might only be able to assemble tens of thousands of dedicated activists. But that’s more than enough to occupy the entire Knesset.


By David Sheen

Tags: Bedouin Israel occupation West Bank Knesset Israel protest Israel housing protest Tel Aviv


The organizers of Israel ‘s social protests feared that renewed fire between the Israel Defense Forces and Gaza militants would cool enthusiasm for the cause. But while Palestinian attacks in southern Israel may have reduced the size of recent demonstrations, it may have been a Jewish attack on Arabs in the north that reveals why some say the movement’s moral significance is declining.


Only hours after activists hoped to launch a new round of popular protests in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem , a gang of Jews drummed a group of Arabs out of their rented apartment in Safed. The Arab Israeli teenagers had just moved into the flat, and were about to start a semester at the local Zefat Academic College . The Jewish landlord brushed off the edict of the town’s chief rabbi to refuse to rent to Arabs, but he caved in to the theocratic thugs who threatened him with violence if he didn’t evict the offending Gentiles.


It has been almost a year since dozens of chief municipal rabbis instructed Israeli Jews to “show no mercy” to the Gentiles in their midst, quoting the biblical verses wherein the Israelites’ god instructs them to ethnically cleanse the Land of Canaan, Deuteronomy 7:1-2. Yet there were no media reports of solidarity protests with Safed’s Arabs, nor were there any condemnations of the rabbis or calls from protest leaders for the government to cut off their salaries.


Most Israelis seem unwilling to acknowledge that although a lot of them find it increasingly difficult to secure housing, it’s much more difficult for one specific group: non-Jews. Though the movement brown-washed itself by including Arab faces and voices, it never defended their interests by demanding an end to religious and race-based housing discrimination.


When this critique was raised earlier on, equal-opportunity activists were told it would be strategically unwise. When they begged their fellow protesters to publicly insist on protection of civil rights for all, regardless of race or religion, they were counseled to be patient. But months passed, and these basic axioms were never championed in any public forum.


As the summer heat died down, Tel Aviv City Council agreed to negotiate with the city’s seven protest camps, with the exception of Levinsky Park , which was occupied mainly by non-Jewish African refugees. Instead of walking out in solidarity, representatives of the other tent camps abandoned the asylum-seekers to their fate. In the end, it didn’t win them any reprieves when the repo men confiscated the possessions of every last Rothschild tent-dweller. Most of those protesters had homes to go back to, while the denizens of Levinsky were tossed into the streets.


The sun set on the Israeli summer, without the social protest winning any tangible victories. But it was soon followed by an American autumn that continues to grow. Within less than two weeks, a general assembly of New York City activists, using no electrical amplification, hammered out a manifesto articulating protesters’ grievances. These included not only an end to economic concentration and political corruption, but also to rampant militarism, colonialism, racism and wanton environmental destruction. Occupy Wall Street has demanded no less than equal rights for the whole 99 percent.


On September 11, the Israeli government decided to evict 30,000 Israeli-Arab Bedouin from their homes and lands. Any day now, the Prawer Plan will be presented in the Knesset, essentially paving the way for more ethnic cleansing.


This will be the most critical test for these social protests, maybe even for this entire generation. Will the July 14 movement continue to ignore the housing needs of the non-Jewish minority – 24 percent within the Green Line, or 42 percent if you include the West Bank – or will it rise to the occasion and become a true movement of the 99 percent?


If July 14 aspires to be a social justice movement of the entire Israeli society, and not only the dominant, dominating ethnic group, it must make its voice heard in no uncertain terms and state that housing is an inalienable human right. A real social justice movement would occupy the offices of the chief rabbis if they do not rescind their racist edicts against renting to Arabs and Africans, or until their funds are completely cut off. A real social justice movement would occupy the offices of Interior Minister Eli Yishai until he grants work visas to all asylum-seekers, so they can afford apartments and don’t have to be homeless.


A real social justice movement would stave off the impending dispossession of the Negev ‘s indigenous population and occupy the offices of Ehud Prawer, the architect of the pernicious plan. True, if the movement openly embraces the idea that housing is a human right, not the privilege of any one particular caste, it’s likely that public support would diminish from the reported 88 percent that it enjoyed at its apex. But real social justice is absolute, not a popularity contest. True, a 99 percent-strong J14 might only be able to assemble tens of thousands of dedicated activists. But that’s more than enough to occupy the entire Knesset.


David Sheen is a reporter for Haaretz English Edition and a content editor for



4.  From: Mondoweiss [] On Behalf Of Mondoweiss

Sent: Saturday, November 12, 2011 2:07 PM


Subject : The Latest from Mondoweiss  11/12/2011


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Here are the headlines from Mondoweiss for 11/12/2011:


•           Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places — Why is JDate advertising in the Gaza Strip?

•           Letter to the FM of Sweden from Gaza youth

•           Israeli settlers gas a 10-year-old boy, and stop olive harvest

•           Gorenberg says a one-state solution would produce another Lebanon

•           Fact Check!: DePaul students disrupt ‘ Israel 101′; Northwestern students walk out on Israel propagandist

•           Arab Spring? What Arab Spring?: US policy in the Middle East shows no change since the fall of Mubarak

•           TV won’t tell me why students are occupying Berkeley–

•           Ross’s departure will hurt Obama’s reelection hopes, Abrams explains

•           The story of one young person’s decision to quit his job in the Jewish community over Israel

•           ‘Washington Post’ runs long prominent piece on young Palestinians who reject ‘shriveled’ state and emulate civil rights movement

Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places — Why is JDate advertising in the Gaza Strip?

Nov 11, 2011 03:33 pm | Radhika Sainath


I live in the Gaza Strip, that sliver of land with a 37.4% unemployment rate Israel likes to claim is no longer under occupation.  But whenever I open my laptop and connect to the internet here, I get ads in Hebrew like this one for JDate:

אתר הכרויות לדתיים -‏ מי לא מכיר מישהו שהכיר בג’יי דייט? הירשמו בחינם – מקסימום מצאתם שידוך. ‏  www.JDate

Whether I’m reading the New York Times, perusing Facebook or checking my gmail account, Israeli companies bombard me with deals on manicures and massages beckoning me to “meet Jewish singles in my area.”

But I live in the besieged Gaza Strip, where 77% of the population lives below the poverty line of $2 a day, where 15% of children are stunted from malnutrition and the Israeli blockade has caused 163 key medicines to go out of a stock. The only Jewish singles in my area are those routinely flying F-16s above my apartment, firing at Palestinian fishermen off the coast, driving tanks through bulldozed orchards or shooting at me when I’m taking a Friday evening stroll. I really don’t want to meet them in my area “for dating and romance” or any other purpose.  And, given those bullets that passed eerily close to my head two weeks ago, I’m pretty sure they don’t want to meet me.

So why does . il — the domain for Israel — come up when I connect to the internet in Gaza City ? Why am I enticed to read about Kim Kardeshian in Hebrew or encouraged to download “ the world ’s first Jewish news ipad app?”  Perhaps my laptop is telling me what anyone who spends more than five minutes in Gaza knows — that the Israeli Occupation is alive and well. Just because the Jewish-only settlements are gone, doesn’t mean that Israel no longer controls the sky, the water, the earth — and the internet of the Gaza Strip.

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



Letter to the FM of Sweden from Gaza youth

Nov 11, 2011

Majed Abusalama

Dear Mr Carl Bildt,

My name is Majed Abusalama. I am 23 years old and I live in the Jabalya Refugee Camp, Gaza . I was born during the first Intifada, raised during the second and “found my voice” during the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza in December 2008/January 2009. So many of my friends and family members are dead as a result. However, I have chosen the sentence “never look back” as a motto and I have decided to dedicate my life to a just peace in Palestine .


Majed Abusalama

I have been asked to write this letter on behalf of the new generations in Palestine because my bewilderment and disappointment reflects theirs.

You don’t know me, but I know you. I know that you were one of the first high-ranking political figures to visit Gaza after the Israeli assault at the end of 2008. I know that in the aftermath of another Israeli attack, this time on the Free Gaza flotilla in 2010 (which left nine peace activists dead), you took the time to meet with the Swedish citizens who had been on board and publicly demanded that Israel end its siege on Gaza . I also know that you hosted Sweden’s first official welcoming ceremony for a Palestinian representative just two months ago, after upgrading his office’s status in your country from “general delegation” to “mission.” You have a long track record of fighting for the protection of human rights in the Middle East and in the world , and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

That is one reason why, after I finished a speaking tour in about 20 European countries talking about the dreams of Palestinian youth, daily life in Gaza and the peace process , I spent much time in Stockholm . It mostly felt like home, and we successfully managed to collect donations, such as musical instruments, from the Swedish people for the people of Gaza .

But now, I — we — feel betrayed. I cannot describe the depth of our shock and feeling of abandonment when we heard that you had voted against Palestinian membership in UNESCO. It was like a slap in the face to me and to my generation. We are aware that your reluctance to recognize Palestine as a state now is based on your acknowledgement that there can be no independent state while the occupation continues. However, negotiations have gone nowhere for more than 40 years, and the siege of Gaza is in its sixth year. Just how long are we supposed to wait? Until the right-wing government of Israel decides to finally give us a truly viable, independent state , or at least rights that are equal to those of Jewish Israelis? Do you truly think that will happen without international action that makes it clear that there is no choice? If so, the lesson of history has not been learned.

As we watch our countrymen in Egypt , Tunisia , Libya , Yemen and Syria take their fate into their own hands, we feel it is time for us to do the same. By voting against one of our first independent steps as a people who want to be part of the international community, you signaled that Sweden is now siding with the paternalistic imperialism of the Western countries, led

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Dorothy Online Newsletter

Make money, make war: UK profits from Libya mess


NATO may have ended its operations in Libya, but the Western presence is far from over, with big companies replacing the warplanes. The countries that bombed the oil-rich state are now getting lucrative contracts to rebuild it.

First, British bombs tore it apart. Now, British companies will get paid to put it back together. Libya is open for business, and UK firms are being encouraged to join the gold rush.

“Libya is a relatively wealthy country with oil reserves, and I expect there will be opportunities for British and, indeed, other companies to get involved in the reconstruction of Libya,” British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond has said. He is urging CEOs and sales directors to “pack their suitcases” and head to the North African country.

The UK’s bill for its part in the NATO intervention in Libya is estimated at just under US $500 million. But according to the UK Department of Trade and Investment, the value of contracts to rebuild Libya, in areas ranging from electricity and water supplies to healthcare and education, could amount to upwards of US $300 billion over the next 10 years. And the British government will make sure it takes a leading role in that, just as it did in the war.

And this is what is raising more questions about the UK’s motives in playing such a big role in the recent conflict. John Hilary, the executive director at the War on Want anti-poverty charity, says it has shades of post-war Iraq, when companies from countries involved in the Allied invasion were awarded all the best gigs.

“We bomb, we destroy, and then we get the contracts to rebuild afterwards,” he told RT. “For us [Britain], it’s always been about those commercial interests ever since BP and Shell went back into Libya after the sanctions were lifted 10 years or so ago. For us, it’s got this commercial edge to the entire thing.”

Journalist John Pilger says there was evidence of bartering before NATO even got involved.

“The west is establishing another client in Libya. Libya is the source of more oil than any other country in Africa, including Nigeria,” he said. “The National Transition Council told the French that if they sent in their airplanes they would give Total 35 per cent of the oil reserves. There’s so much evidence for what the thing really is.”

The UK Department for Trade and Investment already has staff on the ground in Libya, ready to welcome British companies awarded contracts. Wanting to get in on the action, are oil firms Shell and BP, whose shares rose on the news they were talking to the transitional government. Engineering firms Arup and Mott MacDonald are also reportedly keen. Both the latter refused to put up spokesmen when asked, preferring instead to send basic statements, which, critics say, is a new tactic to avoid defending their ethics.

“Companies have now seen that it’s a better PR for them not to be involved in any form of public discussion of why they are doing, what they are doing around the world,” John Hilary continued. “It’s about holding them to account for what they do, and not allowing them to get away with putting up a wall of silence.”

So far, the conflict in Libya looks like an excellent investment: US $500 million to oust a dictator, with a return of US $300 billion in business contracts when it is all over. Now that humanitarian goals no longer need to be touted, war suddenly makes great business sense.

Posted in Libya1 Comment

A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

What released Serco contract says about Australian government’s lack of standards

Posted: 09 Nov 2011

Following our world exclusive revelations yesterday about the Serco contract with the Australian government (storiesherehere and here), last night ABC Radio’s PM featured an interview with the editor of the independent publication that ran the articles, New Matilda:

MARK COLVIN: The news website New Matilda has obtained the contracts under which the private company SERCO runs Australia’s detention centres.

The website used Freedom of Information laws to get access to the first publicly available version of the 2009 Immigration Department contract with the British multinational.

The editor of New Matilda is Marni Cordell.

I asked her what the FOI revealed.

MARNI CORDELL: There’s actually quite a lot; there’s 700 pages of information.

So the main things that we’ve picked up on is that general security guards at detention centres can be hired without any formal qualifications. So they have six months before they are required to have a Certificate II which is a base level security qualification.

MARK COLVIN: So no security qualifications and presumably no psychological qualifications or anything like that either?

MARNI CORDELL: That’s right. There is a requirement that staff undertake mental health training but there’s no specific details about what that involves.

MARK COLVIN: Do they get any instruction during the first six months on how to deal with people who are depressed or trying to commit suicide?

MARNI CORDELL: They do undertake some induction training at the start of their contract and that involves mental health awareness training, cultural awareness, conflict de-escalation. But there aren’t many details on what that induction training involves.

MARK COLVIN: But what does the contract tell you about how those things, depression and trying to commit suicide, how those things are seen in terms of priorities?

MARNI CORDELL: There is a listing of different levels of incident; so there were three levels of incident; there’s critical, there’s major and there’s minor incidents and they all have different reporting requirements for Serco.

So critical incidents obviously involve things like hostage situations, riots, mass break-outs, but they also, surprisingly, include things like high profile visitor refused access; so if someone is high profile and has been refused access to a detention centre Serco is obliged to tell the department within 30 minutes of that happening.

MARK COLVIN: Are media visits also critical incidents?

MARNI CORDELL: Also media visits. So an unauthorised media presence at a facility is considered a critical incident.

Minor incidents are things such as voluntary starvation for under 24 hours, childbirth and clinical depression.

MARK COLVIN: Clinical depression is a minor incident?

MARNI CORDELL: That’s right.

MARK COLVIN: What about somebody trying to commit suicide?

MARNI CORDELL: That’s listed in a critical incident, yep.

MARK COLVIN: What about the openness, what about the transparency of Serco and its contracts?

MARNI CORDELL: There are a couple of mentions of their dealing with the media. So Serco employees are contractually obliged not to speak to the media at all. They’re not allowed to make a public statement or deal quote “with any inquiry from or otherwise advise the media”. And they are required to report to the department but there is no contractual obligation for an independent audit of their dealings.

MARK COLVIN: I think Serco has said in the past that it’s wrong to call it a secretive organisation or to say that its dealings with the public are secretive; what do you say now that you’ve seen the contract?

MARNI CORDELL: Well it’s obvious from the contract that they’re not only secretive but they’re also contractually obliged to be secretive and they’re not allowed to discuss any matters to do with the running of immigration detention centres.

MARK COLVIN: Is that their fault or the department’s fault?

MARNI CORDELL: Well it’s in the contract so they’re obliged not to do that.

MARK COLVIN: So it’s the department that’s imposing that on them?

MARNI CORDELL: I would say it’s coming from both parties but yes it certainly is in the contract.

MARK COLVIN: What about the independent audit, you just mentioned that briefly; does that mean that nobody can really oversee them?

MARNI CORDELL: There’s no obligation for there to be an independent audit, so that certainly makes it difficult to know what exactly is going on inside the immigration detention centres. So there are obligations for them to report directly to the Department of Immigration but there’s no requirement that an independent audit takes place.

MARK COLVIN: Was it very difficult to get this FOI request through?

MARNI CORDELL: It took some time yes. We’ve also got the FOI document upon the site; we also have a document that is a leaked version of the same contract. Serco has blocked some sections of the FOI document and some of those sections are actually available in the leaked document which is on our website as well.

MARK COLVIN: So what do they tell us that they don’t want us to know?

MARNI CORDELL: Some of the things are blocked in both documents but some of the things we were able to discover from the leaked document include quite an interesting list of they’re called abatement and incentive requirements; so where Serco is fined for poor performance and also rewarded with higher fees for good performance.

There’s also information about how often guards are required to check the internal and external perimeters of the detention centres.

MARK COLVIN: Other than just as a piece of investigative journalism, what do you hope to come out of this?

MARNI CORDELL: There’s actually a huge amount of information in these documents; there’s more than 700 pages and I would hope that other media pick up on it and really investigate what is going on and demand some more transparency about how Serco runs Australia’s immigration detention centres.

MARK COLVIN: Marni Cordell, editor of the New Matilda news website.

Exclusive: Serco hires untrained guards in Australia

Posted: 08 Nov 2011

The following exclusive, written with Paul Farrell, appears today in Australian magazine New Matilda:

The Gillard Government’s contract with Serco imposes no initial training requirements for security guards, according to documents obtained under FOI – and that’s causing damage to asylum seekers and to the guards themselves

Serco security guards in immigration detention centres are not required to hold any formal security qualifications for six months, according to its contract with the Immigration Department (DIAC).

The contract, obtained under a Freedom of Information request, reveals that the agreement between Serco and the Immigration Department only requires security guards to “obtain a Certificate Level II in Security Operations within six months of commencement”.

A Certificate II is the minimum security requirement for unarmed security guards, and many training organisations fit the entire course into just five days.

In the recent parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s immigration detention network  this issue was raised repeatedly and DIAC officials refused to clearly answer questions about the qualifications of security guards at detention centres operated by Serco.

This is what Labor Senator Trish Crossin asked DIAC representatives:

“If you have, for example, a security guard employed by Serco at your detention centres — that is their job description — what level of qualification are they expected to have?”

A straightforward question. This was their response:

Ms [Jackie] Wilson: We would have to check that. It is a cert II or III.

Mr [Andrew] Moorhouse: There is a cert, whether it is a cert IV or a cert III in security. They are required to have the training for their particular role.

Senator Crossin: What is the minimum? What is the level of classification that each Serco person has? What is the job description and what is their base qualification?

Mr [John] Metcalfe: Essentially they are role based descriptions and qualifications appropriate for those roles. We can take that on notice.

However, New Matilda can reveal that the contract lists only two categories of guards — general security and managerial — and that general security guards are employable at the outset with no security qualifications whatsoever.

This raises serious questions about the capacity of Serco guards to manage detention centres effectively. The recent riots at Villawood Detention Centre and at Darwin Detention Centre last year highlight a growing trend of Serco staff being unable to adequately manage conflict situations.

Some guards have already blown the whistle on the consequences of the lack of training, and these reports just keepcoming. The NT News recently reported that Serco staff working in Darwin’s detention centre are often taking stress leave due to their working conditions. The paper noted that the Certificate II in security operations required by staff to begin work is the same as pub bouncers. One mental health nurse told the NT News that, “we were told at our induction that (Serco workers) could have been making cappuccino or pizza the week before they started. Basically they are not trained.”

These conditions are taking their toll. We have spoken to a number of both former Serco staff and workers of its sub-contractor MSS who have detailed exposure to refugee trauma. Many of them reported developing mental health problems and self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.

According to the contract, Serco must ensure that all personnel attend “mental health awareness training prior to commencing work at the facility” and “a refresher course every two years”.

However, it is not specific in its requirements that staff be properly trained for stressful situations with vulnerable asylum seekers. The recent suicides at detention centres across the country highlight the need for security officers to be trained in handling such complex, stressful situations.

During the parliamentary inquiry, DIAC officers continued to stress the induction training that Serco officers were required to undertake. However, according to the contract, this training does not involve any security specific skills:

“1.1 Induction Training

All Service Provider Personnel must have completed Induction training before they commence

duty at a Facility that includes instruction in:

(a) cultural awareness;

(b) the Immigration Detention Values;

(c) conflict de-escalation;

(d) duty of care responsibilities;

(e) communication and interaction with Department Personnel, Stakeholders and other

service providers;

(f) problem solving and decision-making in the workplace;

(g) skills on interacting with People in Detention; and

(h) record keeping procedures.”

This is a vague set of criteria for training — especially in comparison to the detail set out in other parts of the contract including, for example, an inventory of all loose assets right down to knives and forks.

NM asked DIAC about the terms of the contract relating to security guards. Why were the training requirements not more stringent — and why was the induction training so loosely described? At publication no reply has been received.

Increasing reports of violence and self harm by immigration detainees indicate that there is a growing problem in Australia detention centres. The question for Serco and DIAC is whether these problems could be mitigated with better induction training and more stringent requirements of the staff paid to work with these most vulnerable people.

Exclusive: no audit requirement for Serco in Australia

Posted: 08 Nov 2011

The following exclusive, written with Paul Farrell, appears today in Australian magazine New Matilda:

Running detention centres is an important job. Why are the audit and reporting requirements for Serco so low? Paul Farrell and Antony Loewenstein report

Under the contract signed between Serco and the Department of Immigration (DIAC), which New Matilda has obtained under FoI, Serco is under no obligation to comply with any form of independent audit.

The financial management section of the contract does give DIAC wide ranging abilities to conduct audits of Serco’s management of detention centres but these can be conducted “by a department or its nominee” and there is no periodic requirement for this to occur.

Serco is required to be part of a “Joint Executive Report” compiled with DIAC regional management on a monthly basis that examines its management and performance. But the contract doesn’t specify how this reporting is conducted and in what capacity DIAC is involved.

Serco is required to submit monthly reports on security exercises, OH&S, emergency breakdown and repairs, illegal items, industry development, damage by people in detention and care-taker services.

Serco is also required to submit an annual report for each facility to DIAC. But the content requirements for this report are not onerous:

“Annual Report
(a) The Service Provider must submit an Annual Report for each Facility that:
(i) summarises key events during the year;
(ii) sets out the lessons learned; and
(iii) establishes targeted goals for the subsequent year.”

A recent investigation by Corpwatch reported that even though Serco receives hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts from governments around the world, it has a poor track record as far as financial accountability is concerned.

NM asked DIAC why Serco is not required to comply with an independent audit in the terms of the contract, whether any audits had occurred and if so whether they were conducted by an independent organisation. At the time of publication we had not received a reply.

Serco is also required to compile “Incident Reports” to be filed with DIAC when certain events occur. The contract details three major categories of incidents: critical, major and minor. Critical incidents include death, bomb threats and suicide — but they also include “unauthorised media access” and “high profile visitor refused access”.

Curiously, this was reported several months ago as having been a later amendment to the contract but the document reveals that in fact these categories were always listed in this way and were agreed on by DIAC. These incidents need to be reported verbally within 30 minutes and in writing within four hours to DIAC.

Worryingly, some of the incidents considered “minor” include serious events that could be life-threatening. Clinical depression, substance abuse, voluntary starvation for less than 24 hours and the birth of children are only considered to be minor and only need to have a written report after 24 hours. All critical and major incidents are required to be audited but only 10 per cent of minor incidents need to be audited per month. These audits are internally conducted, and are not required to be independent.

Given there’s no independent oversight, this system relies on Serco fulfilling its reporting obligations. This, in turn, opens the possibility of incident reports simply not being filed.

During the Christmas Island leg of the recent Senate inquiry into Australia’s immigration detention network, Kaye Bernard, the General Secretary of the Union of Christmas Island Workers, told the committee hearing about an incident in which a Serco worker was stabbed — and no incident report ever reached DIAC:

Ms Bernard: The incident report was filed by the officer and when he went to get a copy of it, it had been put in bin 13. Bin 13 is commonly referred to by the detention workers as ‘the shredder’.

Mr Scott Morrison: Tell me a bit more about bin 13 then.

Ms Bernard: Bin 13 is when you have a completely overworked and understaffed facility, because of this client-detainee ratio. You have a huge reporting requirement and paperwork stacked up in boxes under the manager’s desk. It was put through a shredder.

Mr Morrison: So you are telling me that, even though an incident report was filed, to your knowledge, those incident reports are actually not reflected in the number of incident reports that may have been reported by DIAC or Serco?

Ms Bernard: Correct.

Mr Morrison: How many incidents are we talking about here? Given that there are thousands of incidents, albeit ones have been reported already, which is alarming enough, how many incidents do you think are not being reported?

Ms Bernard: If you take one incident — a riot with 200 people, one officer getting stabbed and others being injured, which was described in the media by DIAC as a tiff with unaccompanied minors — I do not know how many reports you could write up about that.

DIAC relies on incident reporting by Serco for real-time updates of what is happening in detention centres. In the absence of other real-time measures to log events, it is worrying if, as the above exchange suggests, the “Incident Management Log” is not an accurate reflection of what is happening inside detention centres.

We have spoken to a number of former Serco staff, who worked in many detention centres. They confirm that many incidents are not accurately reported — if at all — to avoid conflicts with management anger over potential financial sanctions from the federal government.

The Labor government pledged upon winning government in 2007 to implement humane and transparent policies towards asylum seekers. The lack of formal independent audit requirements make it impossible to know exactly what is happening inside immigration detention centres and to achieve the promised transparency.

Exclusive: Australian government contract with Serco revealed

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 07:37 PM PST

The following global exclusive, written with Paul Farrell and Marni Cordell, appears today in Australian magazine New Matilda:

Today NM publishes the contract signed between the Department of Immigration and Serco, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act

New Matilda has gained exclusive access to the first publicly available version of the 2009 Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) contract with British multinational Serco.

The contract was obtained through a Freedom of Information request and reveals the most comprehensive information yet about the running of Australian detention centres.

New Matilda’s analysis of the document reveals that:

  •  General security guards can begin work with no formal security qualifications and are only required to obtain a Certificate II within six months of working with Serco.

  • Clinical depression, childbirth and voluntary starvation for under 24 hours are considered “minor” incidents while unauthorised media access is considered ”critical”.

  • Of these “minor” incidents, only 10 per cent are required to be audited internally by Serco.

  • There is no contractual requirement of an independent audit of Serco’s management of detention centres.

The first 80 pages of the contract can be downloaded here. Links to the remaining sections can be found at the end of this article.

Other issues of note include:

  • Serco is obliged to provide phone services to people in detention but the contract specifies that mobile phone handsets “[must] not have a recording facility (either audio or visual)”.

  • Serco must also “control and limit” detainees’ internet access to pornography, FTP sites, and “prohibited sites in foreign languages”. It is not specified which sites are prohibited and under what law.

  • If a member of the public complains or provides feedback about an immigration detention centre, Serco must notify the department within one day and provide a written response to the person within two weeks, “setting out the action taken of the reason why no action will be taken”.

  • Serco is obliged to provide “tea, coffee, water and biscuits” when detainees have visitors and visiting areas must contain “hot/cold drinks and confectionery vending machines”.

  • Serco must “not provide access to the Facility for media visits unless the visit has been approved by the Department” and must “ensure that media personnel only conduct activities approved by the Department”.

  • Serco indemnifies DIAC from and against any loss arising from or as a consequence of any “death, or bodily injury, disease or illness (including mental illness) of any person including People in Detention” — this clause survives for a period of seven years following the expiration of the contract.

According to a letter from DIAC’s FOI officer, Serco objects to DIAC’s decision to release some parts of this contract and has exercised its rights under FOI law to block access to those sections in the document marked “s27 consultation”.

View the FOI officer’s decision and a full list of the documents that were blocked by Serco here.

However, New Matilda has also obtained a leaked copy of the contract in which some of these blocked sections are visible.

This version of the contract has not been officially released, and reveals:

  • The internal and external perimeter of the detention centres are only required to be checked by security guards twice a day; at the opening of the centre and before it’s locked up.

  • Checks to ensure detainees are “present and safe” are only required to be conducted four times a day.

  • A carrot and stick system of “abatements” and “incentives” where Serco is fined for poor performance and rewarded with higher fees for good performance

Read the leaked version of the contract here.

The fact that this contract has only been released now, more than two years after it was signed, reflects how closely guarded the agreement between Serco and the Federal Government remains.

Last week, Serco’s Australian CEO Bob McGuiness told Perth Now that he was “gobsmacked” to hear Serco described as a “secretive organisation” in the media. “I find that astonishing,” he said.

In fact, the contract prohibits Serco employees from speaking to the media at all. It reads:

“The Service Provider must not, and will ensure that its officers, employees, directors, contractors and agents do not:
Make any public statement;
Release any information to, make any statement to, deal with any inquiry from or otherwise advise the media;
Publish distribute or otherwise make available any information or material to third parties.”

The hypocrisy of McGuiness’s comments is also remarkable in light of Serco’s attempts to block access to information that the DIAC FOI decision maker has argued should be public.

The Labor government and DIAC agreed to the terms of this contract. By privatising immigration detention centres, successive Australian governments have kept these issues out of sight and out of mind, under the pretence of information being “commercial-in-confidence”. Bureaucratic buck-passing ensures little firm information is ever released.

Many parts of the contract have still not been released on the decision of DIAC’s FOI officer — including the names of the Serco directors who manage relations with DIAC and run detention centres.

Read NM’s extended coverage of the contract here and here.

Links to Serco contract (FOI version)

Volume 1, Part 1

Volume 1, Part 2

Volume 1, Part 3

Volume 1, Part 4

Volume 1, Part 5

Volume 1, Part 6

Volume 1, Part 7

Volume 2, Part 1

Volume 2, Part 2

Volume 2, Part 3

Volume 2, Part 4

Volume 2, Part 5

Volume 2, Part 6

New Australian poll shows support for Palestine growing

Posted: 08 Nov 2011

The following press release was issued yesterday:

Three in five Australians believe the United Nations should now recognise Palestine as one of its member States according to a poll conducted by Roy Morgan Research Pty Ltd.

The results are part of an independent national poll done by the respected Roy Morgan Research company.

“This is an outstanding result as it reflects the Australian people’s overwhelming support for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians to be freed from 40 plus years of brutal military occupation” said Ms Samah Sabawi, Public Advocate, Australians for Palestine.

The poll also found that 63 percent of Australians do not support Israeli settlers building homes on occupied Palestinian land.

“Settlement building is without doubt the single biggest obstacle to peace. Israel continues to build and expand these settlements in direct violation of International Law” said Ms Sabawi.

With a vote on Palestine due at the United Nations before the end of November, the support for an Australian ‘Yes’ vote was more than three times that of a ‘No’ vote.

The Morgan poll asked respondents: “In order for Palestine to be recognized as a full member state of the United Nations, existing member Nations must enter a vote of ‘yes’, ‘no’ or abstain from voting. In your opinion, how should Australia vote?”

A majority – 51 percent – agreed Australia should vote “yes”, whilst only 15 percent said “no”. Twenty percent believed that Australia should abstain from voting.

“The strong support for a ‘Yes’ vote demonstrates that Australian voters support the bid by Palestine. This should encourage the Labor Government, led by Prime Minister Gillard, to position itself in-line with public opinion and on the right side of history” concluded Ms Sabawi.

As a collective of broad-based advocacy groups in Australia, we ask that the Government heed the call of the public and condemn the illegal settlements being constructed by Israel and support the rights of the Palestinians.

For comment or further detail, please contact Moammar Mashni (AFP): 0419 999 773.

This survey was commissioned by: Australians for Palestine (AFP, Melbourne), Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA, Adelaide), Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN, Canberra), and Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP, Sydney).

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What next after the latest frustrated flotilla?

Nov 09, 2011

Pam Bailey

 The latest flotilla to try reach the coast of Gaza has been turned back — ships impounded and passengers deported — just like every other one since December 2008 (just before the launch of Israel’s massive attack). And although the effort was covered by some of the so-called “mainstream” media (ranging from CNN to The Guardian), the reporting is starting to treat the repeated forays as predictable events.

As Dan Murphy from the Christian Science Monitor observed, “‘Flotilla’ news is buried inside. That’s not entirely surprising… A repeat of the violence of 2010 is vanishingly unlikely, and such symbolic efforts lose force over time, as the public grows used to them.”

The one flotilla that actually forced a change in Israeli policy was in May 2010, when the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara actively resisted Israeli commandos, resulting in the murder of nine of the activists. I would argue that short of a government promising to take on Israel by sending its own ships as an escort, the same kind of resistance (sacrifice?) is required to achieve any kind of real impact. And perhaps even that tactic is no longer effective, since the international governing elite would likely criticize the activists for ignoring the lessons they should have learned from past experience.

So….is it time to rethink this strategy for breaking the siege of Gaza? To weigh whether the enormous expense of purchasing and outfitting ships that are later confiscated would be better spent elsewhere (like on advertising in support of BDS)?

I cannot help but think that we should work to bring as much media attention to the Palestinians living inside the prison that is Gaza as to ourselves, the “brave foreigners” who stare down the Israeli navy, get thrown into prison and then are deported home. I am well aware that many Western media don’t pay attention unless one of their own is harmed…I remember the relatively massive media coverage attracted by the murder of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni. It was a tragedy indeed; Vik was a personal friend. But meanwhile, the routine killing of many more Palestinians goes virtually unnoticed.

In addition to these high-profile campaigns to “break the siege” by bringing in foreigners, why not put even more effort into helping Palestinians and their goods get out? As much as the Gazans love and welcome internationals who fight to visit their world, they would, I think, benefit even more from a little more help pushing traffic the other way.

The “common knowledge” is that it is impossible to get a single young man between the age of 18 and 40 out of Gaza, particularly to the United States. The assumption appears to be that either he is a terrorist, or will not want to return to his homeland — and the U.S. no longer subscribes to taking the “tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I was told that straight out last year by a desk officer at the State Department, when I tried to get U.S. visas for two young Gazan men so they could join me on a speaking tour.

But that “universal truth” was proven wrong recently when the owners of a cinema chain called the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, managed to bring 23-year-old identical twins Tarzan and Arab (real names Ahmed and Mohamed Abu Nasser) from Gaza to the U.S. for an exhibit of one of their short films. I met the extremely talented pair while I was in Gaza earlier this year, and interviewed them for the Palestinian Gandhi Project. They cut unusual figures even in Gaza: Their hair is long and the word “swarthy” appeared to be coined just for them. They were the last ones you’d ever expect to get U.S. visas. And yet, they did — with the persistent, dogged efforts of the Alamo Drafthouse and the immigration attorney they hired.

The same was true for the DARG Team, a rap group I also interviewed for the project. Their champions were a Swiss group, and the effect of being allowed to see a bit of the world and to experience the comradeship of those on the “outside” is evident in their songs. Before finally making it out of Gaza to tour Europe, their lyrics mostly focused on death and destruction, because that was the sum and total of their lives. When they returned home, however, they wrote songs about “holding your head up high” and “rebuilding Gaza.”

The impossible becomes possible when supporters become committed champions. The videotaping of “Palestinian Gandhis” is just the first step; I hope these too-often-muffled voices of Palestine will be given as much attention as the frustrated flotillas. The next step will be to encourage “twinning” — matching teachers, artists, students, etc. to their counterparts in Palestine. The hope is that they will begin a collaboration that will help break down borders and other barriers. Isn’t that worth as much effort as getting more foreigners in? If you are interested in joining the effort, contact me.

This is not what containment looks like

Nov 08, 2011

Paul Mutter

“To strengthen Iran sanctions laws for the purpose of compelling Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and other threatening activities, and for other purposes,” begins HR1905, aka the 2011 “Iran Threat Reduction Act” that has been advanced in the House of Representatives this week by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  It will increase sanctions on Iran and limit U.S. contact with Iranian citizens, and pressure to enact it will be strengthened by the release of an IAEA report today asserting that Iran has been secretly developing nuclear weapons (and a delivery system for them) since 2003.

But Congress is not really interested in discussing the matter with Iran. One of its measures requires the President to certify that any Iranian official the U.S. wishes to speak to pass a 15 days in advance Congressional background check unless the President can prove there is an urgent need for the White House to meet with that person. The “other purposes” amounts to what William O. Beeman calls an agenda of “making certain that the United States and Iran never achieve formal relations.”

Why bother with that, after all, when we want regime change (which would please the U.S. government, as well as two of the lobbying groups behind HR1905, AIPAC and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies).

Thomas R. Pickering, formerly Ronald Reagan’s second-term ambassador to Israel (and later George H. W. Bush’s UN ambassador) has come out against the move, writing an op-ed with fellow Reagan-era ambassador William H. Luers in the Daily Beast that denounces the move as a step towards an unwanted and unnecessary military conflict with Iran:

“It is fair to say that no official of the U.S. government has any direct knowledge of the Iran of today. That ignorance of this powerful adversary dangerously weakens our ability to know how to achieve U.S. objectives and protect U.S. interests.”

That should be self-evident, but this bill came from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which is fine with cutting funding to UNESCO and USAID to punish Ramallah’s UN bid while maintaining with only limited interruption the flow of funding set aside for the Palestinian Authority’s security forces. We do have priorities, after all (what exactly they are, though, is not exactly clear).

This disconnect between the goal and reality of sanctions is seen in one of the hardest-hitting sanctions, a measure that will block Iranian civil aviation from obtaining replacement parts for their passenger aircraft. This will punish Iranian officials – who have access to military transport – how? Fewer holiday vacations? Longer lines at the check-in counter? It certainly punishes Iranian and non-Iranian civilian passengers, as Iran’s air safety record is poor.

Another measure, as Jim Lobe notes, may merely cripple Iran’s economy by sanctioning the Iranian Central Bank.

Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning Republican presidential candidate, is as incredulous as the Reaganites quoted above, reiterating his August 2011 argument that “At least our leaders and Reagan talked to the Soviets. What’s so terribly bad about this [talking to the Iranians]?” In response to the Iran Threat Reduction Act, which is filled with references to advancing “democracy” and “freedom” in Iran, Paul asked if Congress was not simply seeking to fund an anti-regime movement to take to the streets, regardless of the likelihood of success.

It’s a rhetorical question. Regime change is on everyone’s mind, even though U.S. support for such movements constitutes a poor record indeed.

Would the collapse of the Iron Curtain (and all those accompanying regime changes that didn’t cost the Pentagon even one bullet) have happened they way they did if U.S. officials were restricted from meeting with Warsaw Pact member states’ citizens, or if the U.S. was still refusing in 1980 to even recognize the USSR (as it did from 1917 to 1933)?

Ironically, one of the organizations supportive of this effort to isolate Iranian and U.S. officials from each other is the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD). It’s ironic because some of the politicians associated with the FDD seem to think of themselves (and the organization) as latter-day Reaganites:

“Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) . . . argued that President Obama should reach out to exiled members of the Iranian opposition Green Movement, increase aid to Iranian democracy groups, and make Iranian political prisoners ‘household names throughout America’ like President Ronald Reagan did with Soviet detainees in the 1980s.”

For a man who thinks of the FDD as the possible forum for an Iranian version of the Helsinki Accords, Kirk seems to be ignoring the fact that the FDD has some in-house intellectuals who reject dialogue altogether with Iran (Reagan didn’t just talk to Soviet dissidents, you know). The FDD is vocal about regime change in the Middle East, especially in Iran, and how it cannot occur through diplomacy – the FDD is so hawkish that some of these aformentioned intellectuals have even called for a U.S. military takeover of Saudi oil fields.

The historical vaccum this politicking is taking place in is telling. The U.S. had diplomatic relations with the USSR in the 1980s and that Congress did not impugn Ronald Reagan’s capacity to engage Soviet officials (can you imagine Congress forcing Reagan to submit all his planned meeting agendas with Soviet officials for review 15 days in advance?). Their meetings didn’t in and of themselves end the Cold War and lead to the collapse of the USSR, but they were a part of that process – you’d think “peaceful” regime change advocates aligned with spendthrift Republicans would be all for dialogue. Reagan rattled the saber a lot, but he also went to Reykjavík and Moscow – something not played up in the guns blazing, Fifth Fleet steaming on ahead mentality of those claiming his mantle.

The U.S. did not always have relations with the USSR, though. It was a contentious issue and not until FDR came along did the U.S. formally recognize the USSR in 1933. It would have been pretty difficult for Reagan to meet with Gorbachev (or Eisenhower with Khrushchev, or Nixon with Brezhnev) if they left it to Congress – always worried about appearing weak before Eastern European voters – to decide who gets to meet with who.

Also often left out of that narrative is how badly industrialists like Henry Ford and Fred C. Koch wanted to conduct business with the USSR with the U.S. government’s assurances behind their operations. This is not unlike how we do not hear too much about how Halliburton and the sons of Fred C. Koch have worked to limit U.S. sanctions on Iran.

And, oddly enough for those against economic relations with Iran, economic entanglement did prove to be an effective tool in Washington’s arsenal for contributing to the Soviet collapse. The USSR had become so dependent on Western purchases of its oil (paid for in foreign currency that went to buy grain and service the country’s growing debt servicing) that by the mid-1980s, international oil prices and Soviet mismanagement had severely handicapped one of Moscow’s fiscal cornerstones.

Indeed, the ripple effect of the measures aimed at Iran’s Central Bank (and energy sector) may provoke an international and corporate outcry against the legislation: the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), a trade association comprising such titans of globalization as Boeing, Chevron, Microsoft, AIG and Halliburton, opposes the new sanctions, as well as preexisting ones (the NFTC holds that trade liberalization will help prompt reforms in Iran).

I doubt that normal diplomatic relations with Iran may one day come about at the urging of Wal-Mart, but stranger things have happened. Nor am I arguing that such a corporatist path to diplomatic normalization is advisable (i.e., the People’s Republic of China scenario). I am simply noting the inconsistencies displayed by U.S. conservatives, liberals and neoconservatives in dealing with Iran despite our ostensible commitment to “engagement” with the country and “respect” for it’s people.

What we are doing today is not the sort of “containment” we revere when discussing how we kept the Cold War from turning into WWIII. What we are doing today does not even merit a label, because there is no coherent policy, just a series of actions lurching towards an potential regional war that would, if it occured, draw in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and Saudi Arabia (the latter two are just itching for preemption).

I imagine the sanctions (if not the Congressional notification for meetings) will become law, especially with the new IAEA report now out. After all, who cares about airline safety, or diplomatic relations?

Or averting a third Gulf War.

Note: An earlier version of this post erroneously stated that the Iran Threat Reduction Act had passed the House. It has only been advanced by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Democracy Now correspondent on Gaza flotilla describes Israeli detention

Nov 08, 2011

Adam Horowitz

Israelis respond to Obama snub on Facebook

Nov 08, 2011

Adam Horowitz

Israelis are starting to react to the story that Obama and Sarkozy called Benjamin Netanyahu a liar on the sidelines of a G20 summit. From the U.S. Israeli Embassy’s Facebook page:


There is clearly a campaign going on to post on the Embassy’s Facebook page. Most comments are a version of:

We don’t accept your president insulting our leader
Right and left, we’re all behind our prime minister. Friends don’t insult friends

You can check it out here.

Avigdor Lieberman proposes 45% tax on foreign donations to leftist orgs (no word on funding for settlers from the US)

Nov 08, 2011


Lieberman proposes tax on foreign contributions to Left
Ynet 8 Nov — Yisrael Beiteinu to demand Ministerial Committee on Legislation discuss proposal to impose 45% tax on foreign donations received by non-profit organizations … In what appears to be an attempt to lure more rightist voters, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly agreed to support a proposal which calls for imposing restrictions on foreign funding available to leftist organizations in Israel.

And more news from Today in Palestine:

Palestinians drop Migron damages suit
Ynet 8 Nov — Palestinians who sued state over building of West Bank outpost pull suit. Settlers claims plaintiffs failed to establish ownership of the land …  Attorney Michael Sfard, for the Palestinian plaintiffs, said that “The owners of the Migron lands have decided to suspend their suit pending a later hearing in March, when they will see whether the State upholds the court order to evict the outpost. The documents proving their ownership of the land have been submitted to the court and the representatives of the settlers, making claims that there is something to hide ridiculous.”
link to

Arab League asks UNESCO to open office in East Jerusalem
PNN 8 Nov — Mohammed Aziz Ben Ashour, the general director of the Arab League Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ALESCO) asked UNESCO on Tuesday to open an office in East Jerusalem to document and protect against attacks on Arab Islamic and Christian heritage.
link to

We live here, we exist here / Gary Spedding
PNN 7 Nov — Within the walled enclosure that now surrounds the little town of Bethlehem and its surrounding villages, there can be found up towards the hilltop facing the Mediterranean Sea a small, less famous but still biblical town known as Beit Jala. A once small village with rich Christian history that has lasted to this day, Beit Jala is home to a diverse community of Palestinians. With a majority Orthodox Christian community along with some Catholic and Lutheran Arabs as well as a sizable Muslim population, this peaceful town is known to be the place that the real Saint Nicholas dwelled for a time during the 4th century.
link to

Settlers / Rightists

‘Rabin is waiting for you’ spray-painted on leftist’s building
Ynet 8 Nov — The phrases “price tag” and “Rabin is waiting for you” were spray-painted overnight Tuesday near the residence of Peace Now official Hagit Ofran in Jerusalem.  Tuesday evening marks the Jewish anniversary of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’sassassination.
The unknown vandals also wrote “Hagit Ofran – zal (of blessed memory)” and “Givat Assaf” – an illegal outpost in the West Bank which is slated for evacuation by the State. The Right is protesting against the planned razing of a number of illegal outposts.
link to

Settlers ‘chop down 30 olive trees’ in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 8 Nov — Israeli settlers chopped down more than 30 trees in Madama village south of Nablus on Monday, a local official said. Village council head Ihab Tahseen said residents from Yitzhar settlement destroyed Palestinian-owned trees and sprayed anti-Arab slogans in Hebrew.
link to

Israeli forces

Israeli police harass Palestinian car drivers during Adha Eid
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 8 Nov — The Palestinian natives in occupied Jerusalem complained lately, especially during the days of the Adha Eid of being fined arbitrarily by Israeli policemen and municipal inspectors for alleged traffic violations. Many Palestinian car drivers and pedestrians reported that Israeli policemen and municipal inspectors were stalking them in all traffic areas in the holy city, in an attempt to fine them directly, sometimes without any reason and other times without giving any traffic direction or guidance as it is normally followed by policemen in other countries.
link to Palestinian Information Center

Witnesses: Israel erects flying checkpoints in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 8 Nov — Israeli forces on Monday erected flying checkpoints around Nablus in the northern West Bank, witnesses said. Soldiers were searching cars and checking identity cards at checkpoints put up in Beita village, at the entrance of Yitzhar road and east of Nablus city, locals told Ma‘an. Abdul Abu Reeda told Ma‘an soldiers detained his nephew Ayoub, 25, at a flying checkpoint between Nablus and Huwwara. Ayoub was taken to an unknown destination, his uncle added.
link to


PSCC organizes Palestinian ‘Freedom Rides’ on settler buses next week
PNN 8 Nov — …The rides, planned for the afternoon of November 15 and beginning in Ramallah, are being promoted as an act of civil disobedience protesting Israeli access restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank. Ten of eleven major West Bank cities have at least one entrance blocked off and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says there are currently 522 checkpoints in the territory.“The Freedom Riders seek to highlight Israel’s attempts to illegally sever occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, and the apartheid system that Israel has imposed on Palestinians in the occupied territories,” according to the press release. The riders will “attempt to board” buses on the 15th, but there is no precedent suggesting they will be allowed or prohibited. link to

Freedom Waves flotilla

Video: Democracy Now! correspondent on Gaza flotilla describes Israeli detention
Mondo 8 Nov — Democracy Now! correspondent Jihan Hafiz was among those detained in the Israeli interception of the Gaza-bound ships despite her press credentials. While jailed, Hafiz says an Iraeli official told her, “the Israeli government does not see my reporting, or Democracy Now!’s, as reporting, as journalism. It’s to them activism. They said that this form of journalism is actually activism.” Hafiz had been filing daily reports for Democracy Now! from the Canadian ship named “Tahrir.” She spent three nights behind bars, where she was strip-searched and denied phone calls to relatives for 48 hours.

Reporters without Borders condemns arrest of 5 journalists aboard flotilla
PARIS (WAFA) 8 Nov — Reporters Without Borders firmly condemned on Tuesday the arrest of five journalists who were aboard two Gaza-bound solidarity vessels, according to a press release … The five journalists were Lina Attalah of the English-language version of the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, Casey Kauffmann of Al-Jazeera English, Ayman Al-Zubair of Al-Jazeera, Jihan Hafiz of New-York-based Democracy Now! and Hassan Ghani of Press TV, the Iranian government’s English-language TV news station. Three of the journalists, Attalah, Kauffmann and Al-Zubair, were deported from Israel the next day. None of Attalah’s equipment, which had been taken by the Israeli navy, was returned to her. Hafiz, who is American, and Ghani, who is British, are still being held, the release said.
link to


Siege of Gaza / Orhan Kemal Cengiz
Hurriyet 7 Nov — As I was watching an Internet video that related the story of Gazan fishermen, the word “tragicomic” rolled off my lips. Every tragedy unfortunately spawns its own comedy. This video showed us a fishing trip of a Gazan fisherman who cast his anchor even though he was only halfway through his tea, which he drank from his narrow tea glass. It turned out he had already reached the maritime boundaries drawn by Israel. Fishermen can only venture about 6 km off of the coast. Thus began the tragic comedy. As I was waiting for the fisherman to throw in his fishing lines and nets, he wore the top half of a wetsuit and underwater goggles. He then jumped into the water with his jeans on …  Since they have been entrapped inside this tiny coastal strip and are barred from venturing out into the open sea, they have already depleted the fish stocks, of course. Now they dive in and hunt for the fish that are swimming between rocks and inside sea caves. To adapt, the fishermen have evolved into free-divers.
link to


Parliamentarians slam no-women policy at radio station
JPost 8 Nov — The Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women held a stormy hearing on Monday on a policy of the independent haredi radio station Kol Berama that prevents women from working as radio broadcasters and from being interviewed on the station’s programs. The session, held at the request of MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi), was attended by a number of MKs, including committee chairwoman MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) and Orbach, as well as Kol Berama broadcaster Avi Mimran and Shai Ben-Maor, a representative of the station’s owners.
“The voice of our matriarch Rachel, after whom Kol Berama is named, would not be able to be heard on this station,” Orbach declared.
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Most of Israel’s expendable workers are women / Merav Michaeli
Haaretz 8 Nov — As usual, discussions about subcontracted work, phrased in masculine plural in Hebrew, euphemistically disguise the fact that as in the cases of teachers or social workers, the people in question are exploited women laborers. These women workers earn starvation wages, and are treated like merchandise by their employers.
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Political news

Fund transfer to PA to be renewed
Ynet 8 Nov 07:54 — Israel is likely to renew its funds transfer to the Palestinian Authority following the US Congress’ decision to unfreeze some $200 million in Palestinian security assistance, Jerusalem sources told Ynet on Monday.  Israel collects about $100 million in various taxes on behalf of the PA, which it transfers to Ramallah on a monthly basis. The transfer was suspended following the PA’s pursuit of full membership in UNESCO.
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Lieberman rejects Germany’s request to free up Palestinian tax money
Haaretz 8 Nov 01:44 — Lieberman tells German FM Guido Westerwelle sanctions on Palestinians are necessary because of unilateral steps they were taking, senior FM officials says

No consensus on Palestinian UN bid
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 8 Nov — U.N. diplomats say a report summing up the views of Security Council members on the Palestinian application for U.N. membership concludes there is no consensus among the 15 members. The four-page report says the council is divided between those who support Palestinian membership, those who can’t support it now and therefore would abstain, and those who believe the application doesn’t meet the criteria for membership and oppose it, according to diplomats. Portugal’s U.N. Ambassador Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral, the current council president, sent the report to the committee on admissions Tuesday morning, the diplomats said … The committee, including all 15 members, will discuss the report Friday.
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Quartet to meet Israelis, Palestinians on November 14: US
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 8 Nov — Envoys of the “Quartet” of Middle East peace mediators will meet separately with Israeli and Palestinian officials on November 14 in Jerusalem, their latest effort to jump-start the stalled peace process, the State Department said on Tuesday. “We expect these will again be Quartet envoy meetings with the parties separately,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing, saying the meetings would seek to encourage both sides to offer concrete proposals on land and security concerns.
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Other news

Reporters confirm Sarkozy’s ‘Bibi slip’
Ynet 8 Nov — World media takes interest in French, American presidents’ G20 faux pas, which made their private views of Israeli PM embarrassingly public … Sarkozy was overheard as saying that he “could not stand” Netanyahu and that he believed him to be “a liar.” According to the report, Obama replied: “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!”
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Bibitours: Overseas trips involved 30 Knesset ethics violations / Richard Silverstein
8 Nov — Between 1999-2008 Bibi Netanyah and his family took scores of overseas trips which were paid for, at least in part, by private individuals or Jewish advocacy groups.  There are explicit ethics rules for ministers and Knesset members to follow in financing these trips.  He took scores of such trips and among them Drucker found at least 30 violations of the guidelines. A member must receive permission to take such trips and report who will be funding them.  The trips must be solely for State-related business.  He must also report who, if anyone, is joining him and who is funding their trip.  In some cases, Bibi got proper permission, in some he didn’t.  In some cases, he got permission for himself but not for his wife and family.  In such cases, the member is supposed to pay out of his own pocket for unapproved family members.  On no account, may private individuals or organizations pay for the expenses of someone who hasn’t been approved.  This happened multiple times.
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Israeli planes violate Lebanese airspace
PressTV 8 Nov — Six Israeli planes have reportedly entered Lebanese airspace in violation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1701. The Lebanese army issued a statement on Tuesday, saying that two Israeli reconnaissance aircraft violated Lebanese airspace over the southern village of Ramish at 6:20 a.m. local time (0420 GMT). The two Israeli planes left the Lebanese airspace at 1:50 p.m. local time (1150 GMT). Four Israeli warplanes also entered Lebanese airspace over the southern village of Kfar Kila at 10:00 a.m. local time (0800 GMT) on Tuesday, and circled over the region before they left the airspace from above the southern town of Alma at 11:30 a.m. local time (0930 GMT).  Israel violates Lebanon’s airspace on an almost daily basis.
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Gaza doctor tragedy central in Israeli stage show
ACRE, Israel (Reuters) 8 Nov — An Israeli mother-and-daughter play performed at a recent theater festival climaxed with the tale of the killing of a Gaza doctor’s family, a 2009 event that brought the Israeli-Palestinian conflict deep into Israeli living rooms. “Explosive: War tourism” culminated with the sounds of an audio recording of Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish’s cries, heard live at the time on Israeli TV, as he pleaded in a phone call to an Israeli reporter friend asking him to get the army to stop shooting at his house. Three of Abuelaish’s daughters and a niece were killed by a tank shell during Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 offensive in the Gaza Strip.
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Rattling sabers and beating drums: Fear-mongering over nuclear Iran reaches fever-pitch / Nima Shirazi
Mondo 8 Nov — NOTE: It has been over ten months since I wrote “The Phantom Menace: Fantasies, Falsehoods, and Fear-Mongering about Iran’s Nuclear Program“, a timeline of false U.S., Israeli, and European assertions regarding the supposed inevitability and immediacy of a nuclear-armed Iran, hysterical allegations that have been made repeatedly for the past thirty years. Whenever new predictions and claims about Iran’s nuclear program are released, I have added updates to my original piece. To read all past updates, click here. Culled from the past few months, here are some [of] the latest.

Russia: Swift Iran sanctions ‘serious mistake’
AFP 7 Nov — FM Lavrov urges int’l community to continue talks with Islamic Republic, says military strike would be ‘catastrophic.’ Israeli politician: Delivery of S-300s may compel attack
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IAEA confirms Iran worked on building nuclear bomb
Reuters/JPost 8 Nov — UN nuclear watchdog report finds Iran carried out testing relevant for nuclear weapons; US says it needs time to study report before taking further steps; Israel handed IAEA intelligence for report.
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“No ‘smoking gun’ in IAEA report on Iran”
Ynet 8 Nov — Diplomats say that while UN’s nuclear watchdog’s report on Iran will offer an abundance of evidence as to military nature of its nuclear work, it still lacks truly damning proof …  Diplomatic sources told the Daily Telegraph that a fifth round of international sanctions was “not a slam dunk,” mostly because Russia and China are likely to oppose them. “The current sanctions already cover Iran’s nuclear program and military industries,” a UN source told the Daily Telegraph. “Pursuing more sanctions would mean going after oil and gas resources, which Russia and China won’t abide.”
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Iran vows to pursue nuclear program despite speculation of Israeli plans to attack
DPA 8 Nov — Ahmadinejad advises U.S. and Israel to ‘stop and be ashamed’, as media frenzy debates consideration of military option; Iran president says UN nuclear agency chief is an American pawn … Ahmadinejad was speaking ahead of the publication Wednesday of a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], which is expected to disclose new details of Iranian efforts to build a computer model of a nuclear warhead. Western nuclear experts have told Haaretz, in anticipation of the IAEA report, that Iran will be ready to build a nuclear bomb within a few months if it desires. Israel, the U.S. and some other Western countries were awaiting the release of the report before considering harsher steps against Tehran, while media reports have speculated that Israel may launch a military attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.
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Iranian nuclear program has no military dimension, Salehi says
Tehran (IRNA) 8 Nov — Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Tuesday that Iran has no weapons program and there is no document to prove military dimension for Iranian nuclear program. He told a western media reporter while arriving in Yerevan, Armenia that the International Atomic Energy Agency director general Yukiya Amano has documented his report on counterfeit evidences at the behest of Washington.
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‘Kill one of us and we’ll kill dozens of you’, Iranian army commander warns US
AFP 8 Nov — Iran will kill “dozens” of U.S. military commanders for each Iranian commander murdered, if covert hits urged by two U.S. defense analysts last month are carried out, a senior Iranian military chief warned on Tuesday … In remarks directed to the U.S. military, he stressed “you must not forget that American commanders are present and travel around in Afghanistan, Iraq and regional countries.” His comments referred to October 26 testimony by two hawkish U.S. military experts to a U.S. congressional committee looking at possible ways to hit back at Iran for an alleged plot by Iranian officials to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington. In that session, a retired four-star general who helped plan the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, Jack Keane, and a former CIA agent, Reuel Marc Gerecht, argued for the targeted, covert murders of Revolutionary Guards officers.
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‘Not even 500 Israelis will be killed’
PressTV 8 Nov — Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak has dismissed as “delusional” recent reports regarding the increasing possibility of Tel Aviv launching a military strike against Iran. “Israel had not yet decided to embark on any operation,” Barak said on Tuesday. “War is not a picnic. We want a picnic. We don’t want a war,” Reuters quoted Barak as saying. Barak also criticized reports suggesting that as many as 100,000 Israelis could be killed if Iran attacks Israel in retaliation against Tel Aviv aggression. “There will not be 100,000 casualties, and not 50,000 casualties, not 5,000 casualties and not even 500,” Barak said.
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Justices wary of bid by American born in Jerusalem
AP 8 Nov — The Supreme Court on Monday waded warily into Middle Eastern politics and a dispute between Congress and the president in the case of a 9-year-old Jerusalem-born American who wants his passport to say he was born in Israel. The justices appeared unlikely to rule for Menachem Zivotofsky, whose family sued the government after State Department officials refused to list Israel as his place of birth in his American passport .. The Obama administration says the passport policy is in line with longstanding U.S. foreign policy that says the status of Jerusalem should be resolved in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. But Congress passed a law in 2002 seeking to give Americans born there the right to have Israel listed as their birthplace. The justices seemed reluctant to question the administration’s position that the law was an improper congressional attempt to speak for the country on foreign policy.

Another Eid in Guantánamo Bay / Jeb Sprague
AJ 8 Nov — As the Middle East – and Muslims around the world – complete the celebration of Eid al Adha, it is important to remember that there are almost 200 men who just “celebrated” their tenth Eid behind bars in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, with no end in sight to their imprisonment. Two of those men are my clients, Kuwaiti citizens Fawzi al Odah and Fayiz al Kandari. Both are being held in “indefinite detention without trial”, a category previously unknown under US law until it was adopted by the Obama administration, despite President Obama’s claims that he wants to close Guantánamo. There are many tragic mysteries about Guántanamo, but the one that puzzles me most is why these two Kuwaitis remain there. Obama administration officials say that they would like to release more prisoners, but cannot find countries to accept them. Yet the government of Kuwait, at the highest levels, has repeatedly asked President Obama and the US government to return the Kuwaiti citizens.

Clinton: US interests sometimes clash with Mideast reform
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 7 Nov  – U.S. interests sometimes clash with its support for democracy in the Middle East, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged Monday, but she said democratic freedoms were the best guarantee of stability in the long run.
In a speech on Washington’s response to the Arab Spring that toppled several U.S. allies, Clinton implicitly faulted the military council that succeeded former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for moving too slowly on elections.
She also acknowledged that the United States sometimes deals differently with pro-democracy movements, saying no two situations are the same and that diverging U.S. interests sometimes force it to adopt varying stances.
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From the American South to the West Bank: A Freedom Rider bears witness to human rights in Israel/Palestine

Nov 08, 2011

Rabbi Brant Rosen

On November 15, Palestinian activists will attempt to board segregated Israeli settler public transport headed to occupied East Jerusalem in an act of civil disobedience inspired by the Freedom Riders of the US Civil Rights Movement.

Fifty years after the US Freedom Riders staged mixed-race bus rides through the roads of the segregated American South, Palestinian Freedom Riders will be asserting their right for liberty and dignity by disrupting the military regime of the Occupation through peaceful civil disobedience. Organizers say this ride to demand liberty, equality, and access to Jerusalem is the first of many to come.

Ta’anit Tzedek – Jewish Fast for Gaza will stand in solidarity with the West Bank Freedom Riders with a very special conference call on the day of the demonstration. Please join us Tuesday, November 15 at 12 pm Eastern Time  to join our conversation with Ellen Broms, one of the original Freedom Riders for civil rights in the American South and currently an activist for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.

During our call, Ms. Broms will talk about her own experiences as an activist/demonstrator for civil rights in the 1960′s and why her activism has led her to take a stand on behalf of Palestinian human and civil rights.

Ellen Broms is a retired state worker who resides in Sacramento, CA. Her involvement in the civil rights movement began when, as a student at Los Angeles City College, she demonstrated at Woolworth lunch counters in support of  similar sit-ins by students in the South.

In June 1961, Ms. Brom attended a freedom rally at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the keynote speech.  After hearing a freedom rider speak, she was inspired to participate in the rides herself. On August 11, Ms. Brom was arrested with other freedom riders after they sat down and demonstrated in a Houston coffee shop.

In her words:

The police arrived, having been summoned by the owner and we were charged with unlawful assembly and taken to the Houston city jail. We were fingerprinted, mugged, and classified at the city jail and then transferred to the Harris County Jail. Ironically, I was booked as a “Negro” because of my dark hair and complexion. We declined to state “race” and they classified me as “High Yellow”. Marjorie, a very fair skinned, green eyed female rider of African American descent was classified and booked as white. I was placed in the “tank” for black women and Marjorie went to the white women’s tank. If we did nothing else during that ride, we did succeed in briefly integrating the jail.

After spending eight days in jail, Ms. Brom was released. The riders were found guilty of “unlawful assembly” by an all-white jury and fined $100 each. Their case was eventually appealed to a higher court and overturned.

Ellen Broms has since been honored by Congress, the state of Texas and the city of Houston for risking incarceration and violence as a Freedom Rider. She continues to work as an activist for peace and justice, particularly in the area of a just peace in Israel/Palestine. She is actively involved in the Sacramento branch of Jewish Voice for Peace and is campaigning on behalf of the West Bank Freedom Riders.

To participate in the call:

Dial Access Number: 1.800.920.7487
Enter Participant Code: 92247763#

There will be opportunities for questions and answers during the call.

Please click here for more information about how you can get involved in support of the West Bank Freedom Riders. Please share this information with others you think may be interested in participating.

We looking forward to your joining the call!

Spinozapalooza! Jewish leader says American Jewish community must kick out anyone who supports boycott

Nov 08, 2011

Philip Weiss

Let’s purge, baby! From Aluf Benn’s blog at the Jewish Federations in Denver.

Barry Schrage, Chairman of Combined Jewish Philanthropies: Community is not that polarized. Any rabbi who refuses to talk about Israel is a coward. There is no room in the community for people who support BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions)

Well, of course you’re not polarized if you kick out all those people! Thanks to Bruce Wolman.

Next week, Palestinian freedom riders will board segregated buses in West Bank

Nov 08, 2011

Philip Weiss

How many times have we heard friends of the Palestinians urge them to command American attention by mimicking the freedom riders of Jim Crow? Well the Palestinian movement has imagination, and it is taking just that step. [Will Michael Walzer, who fervently supported such direct actions for equality in the American south, get on board?] From Jonathan Pollak of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee in Palestine:

Palestinian activists will reenact the US Civil Rights Movement’s Freedom Rides to the American South by boarding segregated Israeli public transportation in the West Bank to travel to occupied East Jerusalem.

Next Tuesday [Nov. 15, 11 a.m.], Palestinian activists will attempt to board segregated Israeli public transportation headed from inside the West Bank to occupied East Jerusalem in an act of civil disobedience inspired by the Freedom Riders of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s.

Fifty years after the U.S. Freedom Riders staged mixed-race bus rides through the roads of the segregated American South, Palestinian Freedom Riders will be asserting their right for liberty and dignity by disrupting the military regime of the Occupation through peaceful civil disobedience.

The Freedom Riders seek to highlight Israel’s attempts to illegally sever occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, and the apartheid system that Israel has imposed on Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Several Israeli companies, among them Egged and Veolia, operate dozens of lines that run through the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, many of them subsidized by the state. They run between different Israeli settlements, connecting them to each other and cities inside Israel. Some lines connecting Jerusalem to other cities inside Israel, such as Eilat and Beit She’an, are also routed to pass through the West Bank.

Israelis suffer almost no limitations on their freedom of movement in the occupied Palestinian territory, and are even allowed to settle in it, contrary to international law. Palestinians, in contrast, are not allowed to enter Israel without procuring a special permit from Israeli authorities. Even Palestinian movement inside the Occupied Territories is heavily restricted, with access to occupied East Jerusalem and some 8% of the West Bank in the border area also forbidden without a similar permit.

While it is not officially forbidden for Palestinians to use Israeli public transportation in the West Bank, these lines are effectively segregated, since many of them pass through Jewish-only settlements, to which Palestinian entry is prohibited by a military decree.

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

AIWAA – Against Imperialist Wars in Africa and Asia

AIWAA – Against Imperialist Wars in Africa and Asia – are holding a vigil to commemorate imperialism’s designs on Palestine on:

Saturday 19th November between 11am and 1.30pm.

This vigil is being held at this time because November was the month when two of the defining documents about Palestine were announced: the infamous Balfour Declaration 1917 and the UN Security Council vote in 1947. The effects of these two documents manifest themselves today in wars, dispossession, ethnic cleansing and political double standards.

The vigil is to take place outside Marks and Spencers (High Street, central Birmingham, nr Bull).

Please find the time to come along and show your support for Palestine.


Palestine-November: 1917 & 1947

Currently Palestine is occupied, colonised and under siege.

It’s people disenfranchised, ethnically cleansed and mostly homeless.

However, the plight of Palestine can be traced back to two-Novembers’: firstly, November 1917 and secondly, November 1947.

In November 1917, the British Government issued the ‘Balfour Declaration’ promising a “Jewish National Home” in Palestine. This guaranteed Zionist settlements to flourish.

Lord Balfour, the British foreign secretary, was committed to denying and disenfranchising the indigenous Palestinians their political rights: Palestinians were not allowed to have any say about the zionist colonial settlers.

In 1917, the Zionist numbered less than 5% of Palestine, under the British occupation this increased to well over 30% in the 1940’s.

Between 1936-1939 British and Zionist forces crushed the first national Palestinian uprising against the implementation of the Balfour Declaration.

In November 1947, the recently founded United Nations Organisation, without consulting the indigenous Palestinian population, partitioned Palestine into two.

With the Palestinians still reeling from the British repression of the late 1930’s and the Zionist forces fully trained, this eventually led to the massive Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.

By the end 1948, 750,000 Palestinians were violently dispossessed from their ancestral homes and have been homeless since. At least 400 villages were literally wiped off the face of the earth. This event is known as the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe).

The United Nations security council passed a resolution (194) at the end of 1948 which, resolved “that the refugees wishing to return to their homes…should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which…should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”This resolution like countless others continues to be breached by the Zionist state of Israel.

More so, a Palestinian continues to be denied his/her right to return to his/her ancestral home, yet if you or I were to convert to Judaism tomorrow, a “right of return” to Israel is guaranteed.

What can I do to help?

Please join AIWAA’s ( campaigns to prevent current and future wars in Africa and Asia.

Also write to your MP/MEP  voicing your opposition to our government’s stand in abstaining in the UN vote for the Palestinian bid for statehood.

Posted in CampaignsComments Off on AIWAA – Against Imperialist Wars in Africa and Asia

U.S.–Strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities may have unintended consequences

 by crescentandcross in Uncategorized 

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says attack on Iran enrichment centers ought to be ‘last resort’, and may only delay nuclear program by a few years.

Associated Press

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday that military action against Iran’s contentious nuclear program could have unintended consequences, and ought to be a ‘last resort’.

Panetta said he agreed with earlier assessments that a strike would only set Iran’s nuclear program back by three years at most, adding that military action could fail to deter Iran and also have repercussions for other countries in the region and for U.S. forces based in the area.

The defense secretary’s comments came following a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which said for the first time that Iran is suspected of conducting secret experiments whose sole purpose is the development of nuclear arms.

Iran insists it is pursuing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and has warned it would lash back if attacked.

Israel on Wednesday called on the world to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, after the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Tehran appeared to have worked on designing an atomic bomb and may still be conducting secret research.

Speculation about an attack on Iran was fuelled last week when Israel, widely assumed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, test-launched a long-range missile and by comments by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Tehran’s nuclear program posed a “direct and heavy” threat.

Also voicing his objection of possible military strike of Iran’s nuclear facilities, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon supported earlier Thursday a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff with Tehran.

“He [Ban] reiterates his call for Iran’s compliance with all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.

“The secretary-general reiterates his belief that a negotiated rather than a military solution is the only way to resolve this issue,” he said.

Ban’s comments came as both China and Russia have voiced their support of continued dialogue with Tehran over its contentious nuclear program, calling possible fresh sanctions on the Islamic Republic unproductive.

“We, as always, believe that dialogue and cooperation are the only effective approaches for properly resolving the Iran nuclear issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

“Imposing pressure and sanctions cannot fundamentally resolve the issue,” he added.

Russian officials even went as far as stating earlier Thursday that Moscow was weighing whether to provide Iran with more nuclear reactors, in addition to the one in Bushehr, which recently went into operation.

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Joined once Again by Palestinian Journalist Sammi Ibrahem

TUT Podcast Nov 12, 2011

by crescentandcross

Judaism and the behavior it spawns–the primary and ultimate racism in the world. We are joined once again by Palestinian journalist Sammi Ibrahem from the UK to discuss the educational system in Israel and how information is carefully tailored to foster and-Gentile racism amongst Jewish schoolchildren so as to make the business of genocide all the more easier for them once they ‘come of age’ and join the IDF.


Download Here


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LOL!!! IsraHell police “investigate” vandalized Muslim graves…NOT!


by crescentandcross in Uncategorized 

JERUSALEM – Israeli police say they are investigating anti-Arab graffiti found on Muslim tombs in central Jerusalem.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says vandals scrawled “price tag,” the signature of radical Jewish activists. He says police found the graffiti Thursday, but it is believed to be several weeks old.

Vandals have desecrated some Muslim and Christian holy sites in both the West Bank and Israel. In October, vandals torched a mosque in northern Israel.

Rosenfeld says the police have dedicated a task force to eradicating extremist attacks.

Police arrested an Israeli man Wednesday on suspicion of spraying graffiti and calling in a bomb threat to the Jerusalem offices of Peace Now, an Israeli movement that opposes Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Posted in Human RightsComments Off on LOL!!! IsraHell police “investigate” vandalized Muslim graves…NOT!

Top Zionist firm: World more likely to accept nuclear Iran than pay high cost of war

by crescentandcross in Uncategorized 

Report by one of Israel’s largest brokerage houses, Clal Finance, says military action against Iran nuclear sites will be deterred by forecast of rising oil prices and damage to global trade; UN’s Ban Ki-moon urges against military strike.


A leading Israeli investment firm said on Thursday any military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would exact an economic price too high for the world to accept, and as a result, it would likely acquiesce to a nuclear Iran.

A sharp rise in the price of oil, the costs of war and the damage to global trade would be too great and deter world powers from taking any serious action, said Amir Kahanovich, chief economist at Clal Finance, one of Israel’s largest brokerage houses.

The assessment differed sharply from Israel’s official position that Tehran’s nuclear aspirations are unacceptable and that all options are on the table in preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, which it views as a threat to its existence.

In a report “The Iranian Issue through Economic Eyes”, Kahanovich laid out courses of action — ranging from additional “light sanctions” to military strikes — and told investors the world would likely balk at taking the steps needed to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Even for Israel the economic cost of a military confrontation that could include retaliatory missile attacks by Tehran and proxies in Gaza and Lebanon would be too high, Kahanovich wrote.

“Unfortunately, it appears that a nuclear Iran is the most reasonable scenario,” he added.

Meanwhile, on Thursday UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff with Tehran in an apparent reaction to media speculation that Israel might attack Iran’s atomic facilities.

“He (Ban) reiterates his call for Iran’s compliance with all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.

“The secretary-general reiterates his belief that a negotiated rather than a military solution is the only way to resolve this issue,” he said.

Israel on Wednesday called on the world to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, after the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Tehran appeared to have worked on designing an atomic bomb and may still be conducting secret research.

Speculation about an attack on Iran was fuelled last week when Israel, widely assumed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, test-launched a long-range missile and by comments by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Tehran’s nuclear program posed a “direct and heavy” threat.

Iran, which denies it wants nuclear weapons, said the IAEA findings were “unbalanced” and “politically motivated” and vowed to push ahead with its atomic program.

Kahanovich said even a threat of attack on Iran could take an economic toll by raising risk premiums in Israel.

If Iran were backed into a corner it could take action, such as blocking the Strait of Hormuz, causing the price of oil to jump above $250 a barrel, the report said.

And the burden of funding a military confrontation would be too great with so many countries already hurting in the world economic crisis, it added.

Asked about the likelihood of global consensus for tougher sanctions against Iran, Ephraim Kam, a researcher at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, said China and Russia, which wield veto power in the UN Security Council, would not support such steps and risk economic fallout.

“The most we may see is another round of light sanctions,” he said.

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