Archive | December 9th, 2011

An Idiot’s Overview Of Why Western Capitalism Is Crashing


Weiss Rating Agency (WRA) was the only firm in the world to warn of the financial crisis of 2008 more than a year in advance, specifically naming nearly every major company that later collapsed.

ED NOTE: Prophecy, or the simple unveiling of a plan?  If you have God’s Game Plan, which includes the entire scheme, and schedule for events, then it is easy to be a prophet.

by Alan Hart

The idiot of the headline is me in the sense that I am not an economist and have never had any formal association with study of the theory and practise of economics, but… I began to understand why what is today called Western capitalism was bound to crash way back in the early 1970’s when I was researching and producing an epic documentary on the everyday reality of global poverty and its implications for all.

When I reflected on what I had witnessed and learned while researching in 120 countries (as well as at the World Bank and many UN agencies) and filming in 69 of them, I let commonsense be my guide. It led me to the conclusion that capitalism was not of itself the problem. It was the short-sighted and stupid way Western capitalism was managed.

Now I’ll put some flesh on that bone.

By the early 1970’s truly informed development experts were drawing attention to the fact that our one small planet was divided into two worlds – the Rich World containing about 20% of humankind (and known in development jargon as the North), and the Poor World containing about 80% of humankind (and known in development jargon as the South).

In the Poor World an estimated 15 million children under five were dying each year from malnutrition and related and easily preventable diseases such as diahorrea, measles and whooping cough – in a word poverty, abject poverty. And an estimated 300 million more were born brain damaged because of malnutrition in the wombs of their mothers. But those statistics told only a part of the story. The majority of the human inhabitants of Planet Earth were living on the margins of life, without some and in many cases all of the basic necessities for life – shelter, adequate nutrition, clean water, health care, education and work/job opportunities. On each and every continent I asked the poorest parents what was the one thing they most wanted. This was before the age of the mobile telephone and I expected many of them to say a television or some such gadget. What they all said in their various ways echoed one of the poorest Indian women. Her answer was, “Education for my children so they don’t have to live like animals as we do.”

The rich nations were creating their wealth by selling goods and services. It followed that if this wealth creating process was to have a sustainable future and Rich World citizens were to enjoy ever rising material standards of living as promised by their politicians, the global market place needed more and more consumers with the purchasing power to buy what the Rich World nations had to sell.

If the managers of Western capitalism (corporate chiefs, bankers and politicians) had not been short-sighted and stupid, they would have said to themselves something like the following. “If we don’t now invest in the development of the poor of the world and bring them progressively into the market place with purchasing power, we are going to run out customers in the numbers needed to buy what we have to sell in order to sustain our system.”

If the necessary investment had been made over 10, 15 and even 20 years, (it would have needed that amount of time in order to guarantee that the money and other development assistance provided could be absorbed and put to best use with minimum corruption), victory in the war against global poverty and underdevelopment – the only war that matters – would have been assured. To give just one example… The disastrous population drift from the rural areas where there was a future to the urban centres where there was not and is not a future for many of the drifters could have been halted and even reversed.

Making the investment needed on the necessary scale would have meant that the investing Rich World nations would not have grown so rapidly and their citizens would have had to accept a little less in the way of ever rising material standards of living, but that would have been a small price to pay for giving Western capitalism a sustainable future and all of our children wherever they live the prospect of a future worth having. (Whereas today they do not have a future worth having).

Instead of starting down the road  to making capitalism work for the benefit of all in global terms, the system’s Western managers opted to keep things going by flooding the Rich World with credit cards to enable its citizens to live beyond their means and get deeper and deeper into debt. “I need” was replaced with “I want”. (My working class father used to say to me, “Boy, if we can’t afford it, we don’t look in the shop window.”)

There was bound to come a time when Rich World citizens simply could not afford to go on buying on the scale needed to keep Western consumer capitalism going.

Then, partly to fuel debt-driven consumer and government spending, the greed-driven, totally irresponsible bankers drove the final nail into Western capitalism’s coffin by playing their leveraging games, producing debt instruments with a face value of hundreds of trillions of U.S. dollars but which were not backed and supported by real assets. (A good friend of mine was the senior risk manager for one of the world’s biggest banks headquartered in London. She told me that for five years she and her team tried to warn top management that leveraging with Mickey Mouse instruments was creating a catastrophe, but top management didn’t want to listen. It was focused only on bonuses).

If Jeremy Clarkson had said that banking chiefs should have been taken out and shot in front of their families, I would have smiled and said to myself, “If only.”

And I would not have bailed out the banks with taxpayers’ money. I would have let them go bust. (The first rule of capitalism is supposed to be that if you get it wrong you go bust). But before making that decision public I (as prime minister) would have said to my people something like the following. “Don’t panic. The money we would have to put into bailing out reckless and irresponsible banks will instead be used to create a new national bank which, rather like the High Street banks of the old days, will exist only to serve the needs of their customers.”

Presidents and PMs

There’s no question that banking chiefs were short-sighted, greedy and stupid, but… They were not the architects of what future historians will call the crash of Western capitalism. They, the architects, were the politicians who deregulated the banks and financial markets. The leading architect was Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. On 27 October 1986, she initiated the “Big Bang” in the City of London, the sudden deregulation of the banks and financial markets. In the name of “financial liberalism” she truly believed that markets would work better, more efficiently, if they were free of rules and restrictions. In her view millions of decisions made every day by traders in a free market would be better for all of us than decisions that had to be made with reference to rules and regulations drawn up by committees of the great and the good.

Though I might be exaggerating to make a point and may be misrepresenting her to some extent, she seemed to be saying, “We need not bother too much with our old industries and ways of creating wealth, the banks and the markets will do it for us.”

Events were to prove that she could not have been more naive and more wrong, but before they did American presidents starting with Ronald Reagan had followed her lead.

My understanding of the situation today can be summarized as follows. The debts of Western governments are so big that no Western country will be able to generate the growth and so the money needed to repay them. On that basis I can see only two scenarios for the future.

One is that in order to repay the debts, governments slash expenditure across the board, cutting, cutting and cutting back massively on budgets for everything including state pensions and social welfare benefits and services. Unemployment rises to unthinkable levels and living standards plunge to unacceptable levels. Eventually the citizens revolt and violence escalates. What passes for democracy is shut down and martial law is established. Orwell’s 1984 finally arrives. (Soon after Edward Heath ceased to be prime minister, my wife and I had lunch with him. I asked him what his biggest fear for the future was. I expected it to be related to global poverty because he had been a member of the Brandt Commission which studied it. His reply, calm in delivery and matter of fact in tone, was, “That Britain will become the first police state in the democratic world.”)

In the other scenario all debts, including mortgages on homes, are written off and we all start again.

By definition a re-start would have to be based on a rock-solid commitment to fairness with a real intention to make capitalism work for the benefit of all.

Martin Weiss, founder of Weiss Research.

This idiot is in quite good company. American Martin Weiss is the founder of the Weiss Rating Agency (WRA).

In his latest presentation he makes the following claims about his agency’s astonishing success in predicting economic disasters of the past 40 years, a claim which is confirmed by all the major American newspapers and economic journals.

Months in advance WRA warned about the S&L crisis of the 1980’s; the great insurance company failures of the 1990’s; plus the great “Tech Wreck” of the early 2000’s.

WRA was the only firm in the world to warn of the financial crisis of 2008 more than a year in advance, specifically naming nearly every major company that later collapsed.

Today Martin Weiss says this:

Barring a miracle, an historic, world-changing event is about to end the American way of life as we know it. This monumental event will plunge vast numbers of families into the nightmare of poverty, homeless and hunger. In a worst case scenario you will see soaring crime, the confiscation of property, the suspension of civil rights, and even the enforcement of martial law by the U.S. military.”

The world-changing event he is anticipating is a decision by China to stop buying U.S. debt, which will mean, he says, that America will no longer be able to borrow money; and that, he adds, will see the beginning of “America’s Financial Doomsday”.

My own biggest fear which I have been expressing to friends in private for a number of years is that the unfolding economic crisis may take us all the way to World War 111. It could happen for two related reasons. One is the need of governments to deflect the attention of their own people away from the mess within. The other is the need to have an outside party to blame. There’s a case for saying that some American politicians are already setting up China for blame.

We shall see…


European plans to bring in tough budget controls are irrelevant, even a farce. They are designed to stop the present unfolding catastrophe from happening again, but they won’t do anything to solve the present debt crisis. European leaders are shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Edited by : Debbie Menon

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Christmas in a Sea of Time


Gone in the Snap of the Fingers

by Gordon Duff,  Senior Editor

Whatever else is going on in the world, banking collapses, wars, current but forgotten were we to be honest, our lives and memories are of Christmas. 

My own memories, the earliest, would have Harry Truman as president, cars with running boards and an America more than just forgotten, a time really erased, recreated only in movies and television. 

My own childhood was spent in Detroit, the son of an automobile worker living in a neighborhood that, today, may look somewhat as it did.

It isn’t.  Detroit, the city itself, nears death.  A few ethnic neighborhood blossom, Hispanic, Muslim, Polish, but decay is an understatement.

“Post-apocalyptic” is closer to the truth, with entire square miles of burned out homes, abandoned shacks, piles of trash and fearful residents darting from shadow to shadow hoping to evade the random gunfire that brings so many young lives to an untimely end.

Once Upon a Time There Was a Street Called America

Detroit’s streets are like spokes of a wheel, Michigan Avenue, Grand River, Woodward, Gratiot, heading out of the city, across the state.

Each of these main urban thoroughfares I remember ever block of, every mile, from the 1950s onward.

Then, they were lined with businesses, bakeries, butcher shops, restaurants, sidewalks lined with shoppers, curbs lined with cars now only in museums or disappeared from even the junk yards decades ago.

Detroit was always bleak, a city of factories, of brown snow and yellow air, sulphur and smoke, automobile exhaust and cigarette smoke.

Christmas was all that made it different, the only sign that life had any hope, any potential, the only signal that heavenly reward may actually exist, albeit a belief few if any held in all but the most superficial and passing moments.

I was never raised a Christian but accepted, even revelled in the pageantry of the religious holiday that, we are now told, had illegally intruded itself into publicly financed schools.

I enjoyed singing of the baby Jesus or taking the stage, speaking lines heralding the birth of “the savior of mankind.”

Detroit’s Old Train Station – Has Seen Better Days

There was beauty in the mythology, especially in a world of filth and crime, a world of hopelessness where the greatest war in the planet’s history had only recently ended.

Those around you, be they survivors of combat from battle fronts in nearly every continent or war profiteers, grown rich on the “black market,” still defined themselves with the intensity of the decades just passed.

Short decades before, in the 1930s, the world economy had collapsed.  Then there were no “bailouts.”

If President Hoover were to have his way, half of America would have starved to death, a strange task for a man known to have saved so many Europeans from a similar fate at the end of that earlier war, that First World War, the one that made the world “safe for democracy.”

As my mother used to tell me, “you could go to the movies for a nickel…but nobody had a nickel.” 

She grew up in a mining town in Kentucky, “Glomar,” a few miles from Hazard. where barefoot children suffered malnutrition while a parent would work 12 hours a day in a coal mine, breathing poisonous dust, only to have his meager earnings taken by “the company” to pay rent on a shack with neither heat nor toilet and running water.

Hoover Days and Free Enterprise – Take a Good Look – Only Granny Has Shoes

She would speak of these times, when millions of Americans “rode the rails,” searching for a handout or a day’s work, human skeletons often left to rot in ditches or shot down by “private police” hired to protect the prosperous from the reality of horrors around them.

There are many today that would see these times return.  Obama sees it as a debate.  I see this Christmas as one in a sea of time, where years click by, friends, parents, even children die, and I go on and on.

YouTube – Veterans Today –

How Did the Big Guy Get Down the Little Chimney?

Christmas is a time when some, just perhaps, might ask “why?”

Those of who who have lived that long remember Christmas as a child, the mythology of Santa Claus, the reality or mythology of religion, which any honest person will admit is little but “window dressing” for the holiday.

I see the memories clearly.  I see cars change, I see stores disappear, reappearing as shopping malls and even those torn down, replaced by “membership” stores and

I was a child, I was a soldier, sleeping in the mud 8000 miles from home on Christmas morning, I was a student.

I remember being a parent most of all, then a grandparent. Christmas has always been a reminder.

I can remember what I was told about the Christmases that came before, my father’s story of stealing 5 gallons of maple syrup so his family wouldn’t starve. 

This was, I think maybe 1914?  He was a child then, father dead, 8 brothers and sisters and a family business stolen by “helpful relatives.”

He could never touch maple syrup since, the smell itself would drive him away.

There were always movies.  First and foremost was Dicken’s “Christmas Carol,” the Reginald Owen version from the 1930s.  We hear so much about “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmie Stewart.

How Many of You Remember Watching This as Kids? – But It Was Really When We Were Adults

None of us had seen it as it had been banned, seems like the plot line about “evil bankers” was considered “communist.” Now folks lie about having seen it on television, rewriting reality as our society rewrites it history.

Christmas has always been about expectations and we all admit, commercial exploitation, the overpriced and useless toys children are programmed to want, told they must have and that parents must struggle to obtain at any cost or admit “failure.” 

I lived that one for years as have most Americans.

Christmas, for those who admit it, is a time of dishonesty, of anger and impatience, of greed, of envy and mostly of disappointment.

But what is real disappointment?  We define “disappointment” as failure to meet an expectation.  But what is an “expectation?”

Some Died in Detroit on Christmas – And Weren’t Even Missed

The dying work to stay alive for Christmas.  Immediately after the holiday, there is a huge surge in deaths.

For many, Christmas is a time of awareness, where the loneliness suffered on a daily basis suddenly becomes unbearable.

Four years ago, nearing Christmas, I lost both a mother and son within days of each other.  This is a part of Christmas I will always remember.

Christmas is a time of loss for many, of empty chairs, of Christmas cards not received, of holiday visits that will be no more, the broken friendships, the entropy of death and disease, be it cancer or drunk drivers or the suicides, so many suicides, particularly among veterans.

For some, life comes together.  The children grow and prosper, the grandchildren are healthy, for a year or so, grandparents are healthy and fit.  But this is true for fewer and fewer.

More often, the children live with mother or grandmother, no father to be seen.  The family home is replaced by something else, a shelter or no home at all.

The retirement and insurance that was meant to secure the short years of retirement looted by Wall Street and the global kleptocracy it represents.

“Grandpa,” in his 70s now works at Home Depot or Sam’s Club while “Grandma” cleans the homes of the rich.  The children, too often, failed parents looking for jobs that will never exist or being educated for that new “technological America” that went to China decades ago.

Christmas, to most of us, is at its most special with small children, seeing the wonder in their eyes, the trust, their belief in us, believing that parents can keep them safe, that the world is a kind place.

Raquel Welch – Christmas 1967 – Vietnam

Then I think of the parents of sick children or I hook up my “journalist self” and view the world in its entirety.

Worst of all, I remember Christmas in Vietnam and realize that Americans with automatic weapons are pushing themselves into homes in nation after nation, hunting “terrorists.”

The real terrorist, of course, is the American and his hulking presence, his uniform and his weapons.

Saddest, perhaps, is that these same Americans are, not just our children but some of the best of our children, the ones we worked to keep safe.

They live now in danger, thousands of miles away, working to hold onto humanity and decency when our own government finds such things useless and despicable.

We are seen across the world as a land of liars, of thieves and of mindless brutes. 

Real Americans know better but our actions, Abu Ghraib, the raptor attacks, the “search and destroy” missions that cost so many innocent lives speaks so much louder than any act of kindness.

My own expectations?  I wanted an end to war with Vietnam.  I wanted to see children grow, be educated and live meaningful lives, able to have children of their own, all having a special feeling about America as something good and clean, flawed but hopeful.

Theater of the Absurd

I never expected us to be going 300 miles per hour in the wrong direction with millions of Americans openly espousing values they call “conservative” but that I have always recognized as sociopathic and criminal.

I accept our fictionalized history, race hatreds erased, antisemitism never happened, no depression, no struggle for workers rights, no battles to secure our environment or maintain even the most basic political rights for all but the wealthy and powerful.

Now a good parent and successful American is one who can steal enough to allow his children and grandchildren to survive in relative security while millions around them wither and die.

Toward that end, no dishonor is not accepted, no crime not embraced.

This is the standard of humanity today as exemplified by our business and public ethics, as lived as taught in our universities, as seen in everything around us.

Each Christmas I feel more exhausted, more overwhelmed.  I drive to the mall and pass homeless at each corner.  Here in Ohio it is quite cold and 12 hours standing with a sign asking for money for food is not done for amusement.

My phone, my email, each day stories of families of veterans torn apart by bureaucracy that exercises abusive power with utter impunity.  Nobody, nothing is answerable in America today.

What Are We Really Doing This For – And For Whom?

Then I hear so many talk, not just the Republican presidential candidates, largely psychopathic personalities but so many others, some I know personally.

Don’t they know the things they say are insane and this isn’t the anonymous insane that rant on the internet comment boards.

Those of us who watch such things have suspicions, see patterns and don’t have to connect “dots” or make wild conclusions.

Human kind is not meant to survive and man is being programmed to accept this and not care, even if accepting the death of ones own children is a part of it.

Jeff Gates would call it “pre-staging” but even his worst fears are being exceeded.

To enjoy the Christmas season, each year our “blinders” have to become bigger, our hearts smaller, our eyesight less acute, our ability to ignore the cries of the suffering more honed and polished.

Making a difference begins when we stop lying.


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U.S. Politicians’ Priority is IsraHell


by Bob Johnson

Actions speak louder than words. The actions of U.S. politicians let us know their number one concern is not their constituents. And it’s not America. Their number one concern is pleasing the very powerful Israel lobby.

A good example of this is the U.S. Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio. Within days of being elected to the United States Senate he went to the Jewish state of Israel! You would think that with the United States being in an economic depression, and with Rubio’s home state of Florida having an unemployment rate higher than the national average, his priority would be to immediately start working to bring jobs in to his state and to strengthen the U.S. economy, not visit a foreign country.

Another example of a political whore sucking up to Israel and its too powerful lobby is Newt Gingrich. What is Newt’s top priority if he becomes President?

Newt and the other political whores know who to pray to – the Israel lobby!

Is it to stop the loss of American jobs due to corporate greed and outsourcing? Is it to bring the banksters and their Wall Street cohorts who’ve plundered the savings and 401k retirement accounts of countless Americans to justice? Or is it to help the homeless veterans and children and families living in their cars or on the streets of America? NO! Newt’s top priority is to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem!!!

The Yeshiva World reports that the first thing Newt says he’ll do on the very first day he is President is to move the U.S. embassy to the international city of Jerusalem. Newt’s pro-Israel priority is crystal clear. The article reads, “The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) today praised Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich for his pledge to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in the event that he becomes President of the United States.  If elected President, Gingrich committed that he would issue an executive order on his first day in office directing that the U.S. embassy in Israel be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

Newt says that Israel has the “right to choose its own capital.” What Newt seems to forget, or ignore, is Jerusalem is NOT a part of Israel. Israel choosing Jerusalem as its capital is like Mexico choosing Austin, Texas as its capital. Israel is the occupier of Jerusalem. And as the occupier of Jerusalem, the Jewish state is in violation of United Nations Resolution 478. In fact, Israel is in violation of more U.N. resolutions than all other countries combined!

Starting with George H.W. Bush through Obama, U.S. politicians have used violations of U.N. resolutions as excuses to start wars. This was done in the first Gulf war and it was done to start the unnecessary deadly and expensive war in Iraq. Obama will probably use it to start a war with Israel’s remaining two regional enemies of Syria and Iran. Since violation of U.N. resolutions are what wars are started over, isn’t it past time for America to invade Israel???

Remember back in 1982 when Israel withheld information that could have saved the lives of 241 U.S. Marines who were unnecessarily killed in Lebanon

US Marine backed down three jew tanks

A cartoon about USMC Captain Charles Johnson forcing three Israeli thanks to retreat.

(read the important book about the Mossad by a Mossad insider, By Way of Deception)? In that same time period and during that same Israeli invasion of Lebanon, one United States Marine Captain, Charles Johnson, forced three Israeli tanks to retreat while only using his 45! American forces could neutralize Israeli forces in a matter of weeks. (Here is a link to a more in-depth look at how Israel harassed our Marines and put their lives in danger for their own selfish reasons.)

All the pain and suffering the politicians cause America and the world by starting wars for Israel’s benefit, which is done to benefit their own selfish political careers, would be avoided if America followed the advice of the American founder and Deist George Washington. On several occasions Washington warned America against showing favoritism towards other nations as the U.S. now does towards Israel. Washington said, “My policy has been, and will continue to be, while I have the honor to remain in the administration of the government, to be upon friendly terms with, but independent of, all the nations of the earth. To share in the broils of none. To fulfill our own engagements. To supply the wants, and be carriers for them all: Being thoroughly convinced that it is our policy and interest to do so.”

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Iran airs footage of US drone intact

Dec 08, 2011

Annie Robbins

Amazing news,  Moon of Alabama has the story:

To bring down the most sophisticated U.S. stealth drone known nearly completely intact is something very few other countries would be able to achieve. A real technical feat.


Press TV

Iran has announced that it intends to carry out reverse engineering on the captured RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft, which is also known as the Beast of Kandahar, and is similar in design to a US Air Force B-2 stealth bomber.

The most interesting part to reverse engineer is probably not the drone itself but the sensor package and communication equipment it carries. Any decent engineer would love to get her hands on that. Reverse engineering it will save a ton of money one would otherwise have to be spend in research and development costs to achieve that knowledge.

There’s much more where that came from at the link. Thanks b.

For background check out: US loses stealth drone over Iran – accident or mobile jamming?

Lobbyist privately calls on journalists to hector Schumer & Pelosi about ‘anti-Semites’ at Democratic thinktank

Dec 08, 2011

Philip Weiss

Justin Elliott has an important story up at Salon on an email list of rightwing journalists called “The Freedom Community” to which former AIPAC staffer Josh Block sent a call-to-arms yesterday. Block was telling the list to flog Ben Smith’s important piece in Politico on a new rift inside the Democratic Party over Israel, evidenced by bloggers critical of Israel at the Center for American Progress. Block smears them. Elliott:

Block’s email to The Freedom Community list arrived under the subject line “Important piece to echo and the research to do it….” – a reference to the Politico story. He wasted no time throwing around more accusations of anti-Semitism.

“This kind of anti-Israel sentiment is so fringe it’s support by CAP is outrageous, but at least it is out in the open now — as is their goal – clearly applauded by revolting allies like the pro-HAMAS and anti-Zionist/One State Solution advocate Ali Abunumiah and those who accuse pro-Israel Americans of having ‘dual loyalties’ or being ‘Israel-Firsters’ – to shape the minds of future generations of Democrats,” Block writes. “These are the words of anti-Semites, not Democratic political players.”

The email continues by encouraging journalists on The Freedom Community list to ask Democratic members of Congress about the story.

“I wonder if Steny Hoyer or Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid or Chuck Schumer or Dick Durban or James Clyburn agree with CAP?” Block asks. “I wonder if they will say they disagree and condemn this stuff and expect better.    You know how I feel – look at the below — and ask them how they feel about this discourse from CAP and Media Matters.”

He goes on: “YOU SHOULD AMPLIFY this.  And use the below [research] to attack the bad guys.”

What follows is thousands of words of opposition research focusing on CAP writers Eli Clifton, Matt Duss, and Ali Gharib and Media Matters’ M.J. Rosenberg. I’ve posted the full text below.

I asked Ben Smith if he’s on the list. He’s not. But he wrote about them before, declining to name names, last year, but outing

a secret… list of center-right foreign policy writers and thinkers called Freedom Mail.

The list is maintained by Jamie Kirchick and is, as I wrote, actually a secret.

“I know nothing of this ‘list’ you’re talking about,” Kirchick e-mailed me, and I’m told an American Spectator writer was expelled from the list for compromising its secrecy. (The writer declined to comment on the incident.)

The members include many people whose views and work I respect, and it’s composed, I’m told, largely of foreign policy discussion and argument, weighted heavily toward the Middle East. I’m not going to write up a list of names for harebrained conspiracy theorists.

I was struck, though, by the affiliation of one participant: The Daily Caller’s deputy editor Jamie Weinstein, who also weighed in on Fox on the website’s big Journolist scoop, in which the website sought to tar a broad swath of outlets, including POLITICO, as conspirators.

What I find interesting about Block’s call-to-arms is that this stuff transcends party lines: the lobby is there to ensure that neither party can stake out political ground that’s critical of Israel, which is Block’s anxiety now re the Center for American Progress. Salon is right to call this list “rightwing.” But if a rightwing activist on abortion issues sent out an email to rightwing friends saying The Democrats are pro-abortion– no one would care, they’d say, If you care about abortion, vote Republican. But Block’s constituency, the lobby, obviously is much wider than one party or another, it’s its own party and wants to keep it that way. So when he says Call Pelosi, Call Chuck Schumer, he’s asking for the Democrats to excommunicate the good folks at Center for American Progress– just as he’d turn around and ask Republicans to excommunicate writers supporting Ron Paul. He’s enforcing orthodoxy on our political debate. And Democrats fear this assault because they fear they could lose a pillar of the party, Jews. (Remember that LBJ gave up the southern white vote for civil rights…)

A Lebanese shepherd looks at the land of Palestine

Dec 08, 2011

Annie Robbins

AIPAC posterizes Obama in Senate, 100-0

Dec 08, 2011

Philip Weiss

The Israeli consulate in San Francisco celebrates the Senate vote on Twitter.

If you want to understand the pressure that Obama is under from the Israel lobby, consider this greasy story: Last week three high Obama officials urged Senators not to pass an amendment to the huge Defense Authorization Act that would apply far stiffer sanctions to Iran’s central bank than the Obama administration wanted. Two of the officials went to the Hill, and said the amendment would send oil prices higher, among other damaging effects.

But the Senate rebuffed the administration and voted  unanimously, 100-0, for the sanctions.

Why did the Senate put aside appeals from Treasury secretary Tim Geithner, under secretary of the Treasury David Cohen, and Wendy Sherman, #3 at the State Department, all saying that the bill would be bad for business and bad for the U.S.’s efforts to build a coalition on Iran? Why did John Kerry, chairman of Senate Foreign Relations, acknowledge Tim Geithner’s letter against the legislation, and then vote against his president?

The clear evidence is: because the lobby wanted this amendment and these guys feared for their political lives. AIPAC led the charge. AIPAC rolled the amendment out 3 weeks ago, and then led a letter-writing campaign to US Senators on the amendment, known as Kirk-Menendez (in part for the Senator from AIPAC, Mark Kirk of Illinois). Here’s the AIPAC memo from last month:

Time is running out to prevent Iran from obtaining sufficient quantities of higher enriched uranium to facilitate a quick breakout to produce a nuclear weapon. Together with like-minded nations, the United States must act quickly and with the full force of our remaining economic tools to prevent such a nightmare scenario.

The president should immediately designate the CBI [Central Bank of Iran] as a weapons proliferator or terror supporter under Executive Order 13224 or 13338. This designation would prohibit foreign banks with operations in the United States from conducting business with the CBI.

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs also applauded the amendment. And the Israeli government tweeted a celebration of the “UNANIMOUS” vote last Thursday.

And AIPAC took its scalp: It promptly organized a campaign to thank the Senators for voting for the sanctions.

Then after the Senate version passed, Adam Kredo reported that Howard Berman in the House was going to “fall on his sword” for the Obama administration and “water down” the legislation in the House. Stop the presses– Berman then sent Kredo a long email saying I will do nothing of the sort. And why? Because Berman’s district is being redrawn, and he’s in competition with liberal Democrat Brad Sherman, who is even more supportive of sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran.

Jeffrey Goldberg anchors the lobby relay team with this post calling for military strikes on Iran and saying Obama fails to understand the seriousness of the Iranian threat:

I have to say that I’m beginning to have doubts about the Obama Administration approach to this issue… If Iran’s nuclear program is actually unacceptable, then why the hesitancy to sanction Iran’s Central Bank? I know the reason, of course: Such sanctions might lead to a spike in gasoline prices. But either you think Iran’s nuclear program is the most serious foreign policy challenge facing America, or you don’t.

AIPAC famously can get 70 Senators’ signatures on a napkin inside of a day, as Goldberg himself reported. AIPAC got 76 Senate signatures on this letter to Obama rebuking his stance on Israel back in the spring of last year. There were 87 Senate signatures on this Senate letter of June 2010 telling Obama to back Israel’s murderous response to the flotilla. When Gerald Ford thought to “reassess” Israel policy, he got a letter with 71 Senate signatures.

This time AIPAC got 100 against Obama!

The point here is that Obama is actually the most moderate on Israel issues of anyone in high elective office– Ron Paul can’t get arrested in New York. And when Obama tries to do something a little bit helpful, like calling for the settlement freeze a year back, he gets undermined by his own party. Because Likudniks basically control the Congress on these issues.

Reuters tells us what Obama didn’t like about the amendment:

The Obama administration’s chief concerns appear to be that the amendment could be a blunt instrument that might send oil prices higher and undercut support for sanctions among U.S. allies, whose backing has been vital to pass four U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions against Iran.

And Ali Gharib reports on the administration’s efforts to head the legislation off. In essence, businesses would have to stop doing business with the Bank of Japan because the Bank of Japan does business with the Central Bank of Iran.

The Kirk-Menendez amendment, named for the sponsoring Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), would bar any companies or central banks abroad that do business through Iran’s central bank from doing any business in the U.S. Kirk has said the legislation was designed to collapse Iran’s currency and expressed indifference to the suffering of ordinary Iranians as a result of doing so.

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today, two administration officials pushed back against the Kirk-Menendez amendment, offering a critique that while they shared the goals that underly the bill — pressuring Iran — they feared consequences of the legislation might be counterproductive…

Cohen said the “threat of coercion that is contained in the amendment” could alienate even close and cooperative allies like Japan and European countries. The administration believes, Cohen added, that cooperation and coordination can be better achieved “if we approach this issue through an effort to coordinate action voluntarily.”

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who also appeared at the hearing, said the administration’s analysis concludes that “there is absolutely a risk that in fact the price of oil would go up, which would mean that Iran would in fact have more money to fuel its nuclear ambitions, not less.”

Also today, as committee chair Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) acknowledged, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wrote a letter to Armed Services chair Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) stating the administration’s “strong opposition to this amendment because, it its current form, it threatens to undermine the effective, carefully phased, and sustainable approach we have undertaken to build strong international pressure against Iran.”[

Karen Greenberg’s evasion

Dec 08, 2011

Philip Weiss

Karen J. Greenberg

Karen Greenberg, a leading human rights thinker and source for Max Blumenthal’s importantpiece on the Israelification of American security procedures, has now said that Blumenthal made up the quotes, or misquoted her, it’s not entirely clear. She did so at the auspices of the Israel lobby– Jeffrey Goldberg.

Initially, Greenberg told Blumenthal:

“After 9/11 we reached out to the Israelis on many fronts and one of those fronts was torture… The training in Iraq and Afghanistan on torture was Israeli training. There’s been a huge downside to taking our cue from the Israelis and now we’re going to spread that into the fabric of everyday American life? It’s counter-terrorism creep. And it’s exactly what you could have predicted would have happened.”

Now she said to Goldberg:

“I never made such a statement. I’ve never seen any proof of this. I told him I had heard a story out there about this issue, but that he should look into it and see if he could find evidence, because I have no proof of this charge. You have to be particularly careful when it comes to torture, you have to be careful not to overreach. He was looking for corroboration but I told him I didn’t have any.”

Then she told Mother Jones that she might have said this stuff:

“What I remembered saying to him was you ought to look at these allegations that others have made about Israeli training in interrogation techniques. I did not intend to assert these allegations as fact…the entire sense of the quote is inaccurate.”

The story is at once laughable and disturbing.

It’s pretty clear, based on Max Blumenthal’s notes of the interview, which he allowed me to publish at the bottom here, that even if Greenberg was echoing others’ findings, she believes these findings to be true. Greenberg is an intellectual, and intellectuals do this all the time: they echo stuff they think is important, in their own words. Blumenthal says Greenberg brought the subject up, and as for “others,” she mentioned only one other source by name. From his notes of her words:

The Israelification of the entire security apparatus in the US is worth a book…. It’s worth some thought. After 9 11 we reached out to the Israelis on many fronts and one of those fronts was torture. The training in Iraq and Afghanistan on torture was Israeli training. There’s been a huge downside to taking our cue from the Israelis and now were gonna spread that into our cities. It’s counter terrorism creep.

Furthermore, the idea that the U.S. picked up torture techniques from Israel is not even controversial in Greenberg’s intellectual circle. A book that acknowledges Karen Greenberg’s friendship, The Dark Side by Jane Mayer (2008), addresses this issue directly. After 9/11 the CIA reached out to allies who had dealt with terror suspects. “Another former CIA official active at the time said the Agency also consulted closely with Israel….’The Israelis taught us that you can put a towel around a guy’s neck and use it like a collar, to propel him headfirst into a wall.'” Etc.

Greenberg’s own book, The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib, edited with Joshua Dratel, is aimed at documenting the Bush administration’s path to embracing torture. I haven’t read it (it’s 800+ pages) but I see that it includes a discussion of Israeli torture policy. So this book addresses the very issue she brought up with Max Blumenthal: Israeli influence on the US treatment of detainees.

The disturbing part of this story is that any criticisms of Israel are so politically loaded that Greenberg, an insider if ever there was one, has to run away from her own views when they sneak out. That torture book, for instance, opens with an introduction by Anthony Lewis in which he praises the Israeli Supreme Court rulings on torture.

Greenberg is a leading left-lib figure in foreign policy circles because she has been so careful about what she’s said. Until this fall, when she moved to Fordham University, Greenberg ran the Center for Law and Security at NYU and ran it well: which is to say– she criticized the hell out of the United States on such matters as Abu Ghraib, but avoided direct criticism of Israel.

Here’s a list of the Center’s special concerns:

Special Topics in the Middle East and Muslim Communities Concentrating on Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Yemen; the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; radicalization and deradicalization; and al Qaeda.

The Middle East and Islam– but let’s not talk about Israel and Palestine. I looked through the Center’s publications, and Israel and Palestine almost never come up. For instance, this issue of the center’s quarterly review that Greenberg edited on fighting terror is filled with criticism of the Bush administration, but the Israeli penchant for torture is handled with kid gloves: There is a piece by Yigal Mersel, Senior Legal Assistant to President Aharon Barak, of the Supreme Court of Israel— who at the time was a scholar at NYU. (The Israelification of academia is worth a book…)

This typifies Greenberg’s careful approach. She is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations, which is to say part of the pro-Israel Establishment. Last year I heard her introduce a talk by Noah Feldman, a liberal Zionist, at which he said in so many words that Islam and democracy are irreconcilable. She also had Lawrence Wright as a fellow— the New Yorker writer whose trip to Gaza was so disappointing to anyone who cares about human rights.

And lately, just as Greenberg was leaving the Center, it hosted Jane Harman, the diehard Israel lobbyist, to speak. What a coup!

In the end, this is a story about how embedded the Israel lobby is in the Democratic establishment– and how craven even leaders like Karen Greenberg are as a result. Yesterday, for instance, Politico said that the Center for American Progress has Israel critics working for it– and sure enough, CAP issued a clarification by the end of the day, insisting we’re for Israel’s longterm security. I met Greenberg once with Max Blumenthal (they were friends) and remember the three of us sharing some snarky comments about Israel– it’s not a country she adores. But she’ll be damned if she says a public word against it.

Here are Blumenthal’s notes:

The Israelification of the entire security apparatus in the US is worth a book. Coordination of mayors is unprecedented. It’s not of course. It’s worth some thought. After 9 11 we reached out to the Israelis on many fronts and one of those fronts was torture. The training in iraq and Afghanistan on torture was Israeli training. There’s been a huge downside to taking our cue from the Israelis and now were gonna spread that into our cities. It’s counter terrorism creep. And it’s exactly what you coulud have predicted what would have happened. Why don’t we talk about Israeli coordination in public? The reason is the kind of things they taught us would require a major discussion. After 9 11 we had to react very quickly but now were in 2011 and were not talking about people who want to fly planes into buildings, were talking about young American citizens who feel that their birthright has been sold. And were using Israeli tactics on them? If this stuff bleeds into the way we do business at large were in trouble. To put these occupiers in a category of counterterrorism is philosophically dangerous and incorrect. It has implications in terms of who decides who an enemy is. Bit by bit we’ve allowed a creeping broadening of that category and it’s become closer and closer to Americans. It suggests that the walls that we built around this definition of terrorism can be expanded to whatever we want. Kids are not terrorists and it’s inappropriate to label them that way.

US continued arms shipments to Egypt despite proof they were being used on protesters

Dec 08, 2011



US-made tear gas used in Tahrir Square, November, 2011 (Photo: Maggie Osama)

USA repeatedly shipped arms supplies to Egyptian security forces

Data obtained by Amnesty International shows that the US has repeatedly transferred ammunition to Egypt despite security forces’ violent crackdown on protesters. A shipment for the Egyptian Ministry of Interior arrived from the US on 26 November carrying at least seven tons of “ammunition smoke” – which includes chemical irritants and riot control agents such as tear gas. It was one of at least three arms deliveries to Egypt by the US company Combined Systems, Inc. since the brutal crackdown on the “25 January Revolution” protestors.

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Shocking Clip: Israeli Checkpoint Cruelty

More video of Israelis in action…

Israeli Soldiers flirting with underage Palestinian girls
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Land, Property Theft & Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing / Apartheid / Exile

Israel OKs new settler homes in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel has approved construction of a new Jewish enclave in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood of annexed East Jerusalem, state-owned Channel One TV reported Wednesday. The channel said the 14-home project, to be named Maale David, was approved late Wednesday by the Jerusalem city council’s planning committee and was likely to spark fresh international condemnation of Israel’s settlements policy.
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Muzaini slams Israeli demolition orders against two schools in Al-Khalil
Palestinian minister of education Dr. Osama Al-Muzaini strongly denounced the IOA for issuing demolition orders against two Palestinian schools, Manezel and Susya, south of Al-Khalil city.
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MP Tuteh: The Israeli intelligence told us to evacuate our tent in Red Cross
Palestinian lawmaker Mohamed Tuteh said the Israeli intelligence threatened them over the phone to evacuate their protest tent at the Red Cross headquarters within 48 hours.
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Israel hands confiscation, demolition orders in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces handed confiscation orders to ten landowners in villages near Hebron on Thursday, locals told Ma’an. The troops also handed demolition orders for 14 houses in southern Hebron village Susiya, residents said. Israeli authorities told four landowners in Surif village, which neighbors Susiya, that their land would be seized. The lands belong to Ismael Musa Othman Ighnnimat, Atef Atallah Ibrahim Ighnimat, Mohammad Abdullah Ahmad al-Qadi, and Mohammad Ibrahim al-Hour, a Ma’an reporter said.
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Jordan Valley: threat of imminent demolition hangs over the village of Al Hadidiya

Before the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Al Hadidiya, near the Jordan Valley villages of Tubas and Jiftlik, was inhabited by over 100 families. Today, only 14 families remain. Since 1967, the village has been demolished four times, and over 3000 dunums of land, necessary for shepherding and grazing of animals, has been stolen by the nearby settlements of Ro’I and Beqa’ot.
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Troops Demolish Another Home In East Jerusalem

Palestinian sources reported that Israeli soldiers demolished, on Tuesday morning, a Palestinian home in the Al Khalayla neighborhood, north of occupied East Jerusalem. The home was the third to be demolished in just 24 hours.
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Living under threat of demolition in the Jordan Valley

The threat of imminent demolition hangs over the Palestinian village of Al-Hadidiya in the Jordan Valley.

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Jerusalem: Violence feared over Mughrabi Bridge closing
Authorities in capital decide to close hazardous walkway connecting Western Wall, Temple Mount; Muslim clerics warn of protests over measure.

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EU’s Ashton condemns West Bank mosque attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday condemned the attack on a West Bank village mosque a day earlier, which local officials blamed on settlers. “The High Representative condemns the attack against the mosque of Burqin village in the West Bank on 7 December 2011, in which a flaming tyre was thrown into the entrance of the mosque and the mosque’s walls were sprayed with graffiti,” Ashton’s office said in a statement. “Accountability and the rule of law are essential. Attacks against places of worship are particularly troubling. The EU calls on the Israeli authorities to investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice,” the statement added.
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Israeli Terrorism / Aggression

Two Palestinians killed in Israeli raid
Two Palestinian operatives were killed in downtown Gaza city on Thursday in an Israeli aerial raid while two citizens were wounded, medical sources said.
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Settlers Open Fire At Palestinian Shepherds Near Nablus

A group of extremist Israeli settlers opened fired, on Thursday, at a group of Palestinian shepherds tending their sheep in the eastern hills of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
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Witnesses: Israeli troops raid Ramallah villages
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A large Israeli force raided two villages near Ramallah on Thursday morning leading to clashes with locals, witnesses said. Around 300 soldiers in army jeeps, accompanied by bulldozers, entered Deir Ghassana and Beit Rima, ransacking homes and entering mosques in both villages, witnesses told Ma’an.
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Israeli Troops Break Into The House Of Imemc’s Board Member

Israeli soldiers broke into the house of Saher Al-Sous, in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem. Al-Sous is a board member of the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People, the founding organization of the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC).

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Jewish terrorists rolled flaming tires into a West Bank mosque (Hebrew) in an attempt to burn it down.  It was the second such price tag attack on a Palestinian mosque.  They attacked the village of Burkina (or “Brukin”) near Ariel and also scrawled graffiti on its walls mocking the director of the Shin Bet’s Jewish anti-terror unit, Avigdor (Avi) Arieli (see accompanying image).  In Israeli media, the name has been blurred as intelligence officials may not be publicly identified.  Several Palestinian vehicles were incinerated in the latest arson assault.

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TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — An Israeli military court has acquitted a Palestinian defendant after it was found that he and his family suffered abuse and threats to secure a false confession, reports said Wednesday. Israel’s Haaretz daily reported that the Palestinian man was subjected to “physical and psychological abuse and threats involving family members to force a confession from the suspect.”

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Israeli military courts usually accept testimony of Shin Bet security service agents, even in cases where no one disputes confessions were obtained after suspects were beaten.

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Photostory: The brighter side of Gaza, Sami Kishawi

Photographs taken by The Electronic Intifada contributor Sami Kishawi this summer show the color of everyday life in Gaza.

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IN PHOTOS: Jenin refugee camp and Freedom Theater
At first glance, Jenin’s refugee camp seems different from other West Bank refugee camps. The streets are wider, the houses newer, the design of the camp is neater. The scenes of destruction from 2002–when the Israeli army invaded Jenin for 22 days, demolishing almost a third of the homes–are long gone, replaced by the light yellow three-storey houses that were erected in 2006.
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Detention / Court Actions / Prisoner Exchanges

Israeli court imprisons Jerusalemite youths for supporting Hamas
An Israeli court sentenced two Palestinian Jerusalemite youths to imprisonment for allegedly planning commando attacks and for raising money for Hamas.
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Israeli forces ‘detain PFLP members in Hebron raid’
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Thursday arrested three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine during a dawn raid on Sair in Hebron, locals said. Witnesses told Ma’an that soldiers, accompanied by dogs, ransacked several homes before detaining Mohammad Sharif Abdul Ghaffar Jaradat, 23, Khalil Rateb Jabarin and Rami Shalalda.
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Shin Bet Restricts Gag Orders, Detainee ‘Disappearances’, Richard Silverstein
When I first began writing this blog, a question that always nagged at me was: why?  Why write a blog?  Who does it impact?  What does it change?  Now, these questions don’t bother me as much.  But if I ever needed an answer to them I’d have it now, based on an Israeli security source, who notes that the new Shin Bet chief, Yoram Cohen, has ended (according to his/her claim) the agency’s use of gag orders and “disappearances” of detainees.  The new director appears to have learned a lesson his predecessor, Yuval Diskin, did not: that when they engage in such draconian conduct, they only prove the arguments of their detractors, who say they are among the chief violators of civil liberties in Israeli society.
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Solidarity / Activism / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

On International Solidarity Day with Palestine, Israeli Repression Continues

Coinciding with the international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, the weekly protests against the apartheid wall and settlements was suppressed by the occupation forces, who shot protesters with live bullets and metal bullets covered with rubber. The loud shooting, sound bombs, and tear gas bombs caused injuries to protesters and dozens of suffocation cases. Two journalists were arrested and three international human rights defenders.

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Twenty four years ago, on December 9, 2011 a revolution began.  The revolution began in Gaza, it was the First Intifada.  After twenty years of Israeli occupation Palestinian resistance exploded in full force.  Boycotts, demonstrations, tax refusal, all of these were the strategies of the Intifada.  Over one thousand Palestinians would be killed by Israel during the Intifada;over one hundred thousand Palestinians would go to prison during the course of the Intifada.  For six years the Intifada burned, Palestinians were united in a massive nationwide campaign of popular resistance.

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New Lupe Fiasco song honors Palestine, Rachel Corrie and Occupy Wall Street

Monday night, December 5, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, held one of four Northern California events “celebrating innovative lifesaving technology developed in the Jewish state” with the Keynote speaker Ari Sacher, a pro-Israel advocate, whose current profession is designing weapons for Raytheon Missile Systems. Tickets for the event were $95.00, however stipends were available to local youth at Kehillha Jewish High School.

The Swiss BDS Group has announced a statement signed by over 150 Swiss artists calling on artists, cultural institutions and the public to boycott the Culturescapes Israel festival and a “Swiss Season” program which hosts Swiss artists in Israel.

British students reject twinning with Israel’s Hebrew University
Students at Britain’s University of York have rejected a proposal to twin the institution with the Hebrew University in occupied Jerusalem. The vote on the issue was carried out by York University’s Student Union. According to newspaper reports, York student Jacob Campbell proposed the twinning agreement in order to defend Israel and curb what he described as “anti-Semitic” activities in British universities. York University’s Student Union asked its members to vote for or against the proposal, which sought to build links between the student unions of the two universities prior to a full twinning agreement with the Israeli university. The result was that 891 students voted against the twinning proposal, with 144 in favour; there were 127 abstentions. Student leaders said that the quorum for the vote to be carried was at least 5% of the total membership, equivalent to 784 participants. They pointed out that the relatively high turnout of voters reflected the importance of the issue to the students.
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“This Is Apartheid” Poster Contest

Art has always been an important part of liberation struggles. It can inspire and convey concepts beyond and its primary partner, Lajee Center, are sponsoring a competition for artists and graphic designers who are invited to submit posters on the theme of “Israeli Apartheid.” These posters should reflect the nature, realities, and/or consequences of apartheid policies in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Posters will be judged by a panel of distinguished activists and artists. The winning entries will be featured in an online poster gallery and disseminated widely on the internet and various other venues. Youth from refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank will participate in the contest.

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New poster series illustrates trade-offs in sending military aid to Israel

Help us continue to shape the political landscape to end U.S. military aid to Israel by signing up today to educate and organize people in your community. When you do so, you’ll join more than 2,000 people in 49 states and more than 900 cities who have received an organizing packet with fact sheets, flyers, petitions, stickers, and more–everything you’ll need to spark conversations in your community and identify more people who agree with us that we should be funding community needs, not Israel’s misdeeds against the Palestinian people.

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Activists Call on Fashion Icon to Sever Ties with Lev Leviev

In November, US Campaign coalition member groups Adalah-NY,CODEPINK, and Jewish Voice for Peace, along with human rights organizations in the UK, called on fashion icon Daphne Guinness and Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) to sever ties with Israeli settlement builder and conflict diamond purveyor Lev Leviev. Leviev is a principal sponsor of Ms. Guinness’s current fashion exhibition at FIT. In an open letter to Guinness and FIT, the groups detailed Leviev’s sordid complicity in a multitude of human rights abuses that have led a number organizations and governments to distance themselves from Leviev’s companies. Citing Guinness’s own humanitarian work, the groups implored Guinness to sever all ties with Leviev:

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Dutch foreign minister Uri Rosenthal, who tried to stifle The Electronic Intifada, sponsors ‘Internet freedom’ conference, Ali Abunimah

The Dutch Foreign Minister, Uri Rosenthal, who attempted to stifle The Electronic Intifada last year by pressuring on one of its donors, and has directly threatened Dutch civil society for defying his pro-Israel policies, is now supposedly an advocate of “Internet freedom.”

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Update and resolution: Telemundo contractor terminated after racist anti Palestinian & Muslim tweets exposed

The speed and seriousness with which Telemundo responded to this matter is commendable.

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Israeli repression, discrimination, racism, and sexism

Bill aims to silence mosques
New legislation proposes to restrict call of Muezzin, claims that use of public address system disruptive to residents.
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Palestinian journalists’ freedom of speech in Israel threatened by security forces

A new report published by the I’lam Center highlights the difficulties Palestinian journalists face inside of Israel. According to the research, such journalists, who are citizens of Israel, contend with restrictions on their freedom of speech and numerous obstacles that block their professional advancement.

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Political / Diplomatic news / Other News

Israeli army officers ‘urge government to strengthen PA’
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Senior Israeli army officials say the Israeli government should strengthen the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority to avoid Hamas gains in elections next year, the Hebrew-language newspaper Maariv reported Thursday. Israeli officers advocate giving more permits for Palestinians in the West Bank to work in Israel, approving job creation programs and opening more roads between cities in the West Bank, the report says. Coordination between PA security forces and Israel must be preserved, army officers told Maariv, adding that PA forces contributed to the “war on terror” in addition to maintaining law and order. But officers say Israel should focus on civil programs in the West Bank in order to stop Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, gaining a foothold in the West Bank in elections next year, the report said.
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Hamas demands Palestinian elections be held in East Jerusalem

Israel expected to object to May presidential, parliamentary elections taking place in East Jerusalem; Senior Palestinian source accuses Hamas of trying to torpedo election.

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RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad said Wednesday that a unity government must be formed before elections can be held. During a meeting in Cairo on Nov. 24, Fatah leader and President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal approved a two-page document saying they would establish a joint government after elections in May 2012.

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Palestinians’ statehood bid part of Christmas (AP)
AP – At Christmas time the world looks to Jesus’ traditional birthplace of Bethlehem, and this year the Palestinians hope to use some of that attention to boost their quest for independence.

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Palestinian Authority: Bid for statehood is continuing

Representatives of the Palestinian Authority have announced that they will continue with their attempt to achieve recognition as a state by the United Nations, despite the Security Council’s inability to reach a consensus on Palestinian statehood last month.

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Human rights Monitor calls for bringing Obama and Netanyahu to int’l justice

The Palestinian human rights foundation (Monitor)on Tuesday called for prosecuting US president Barack Obama and Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu in an international court as war criminals.

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Muslim charity leaders lose appeal in Hamas case (Reuters)

Reuters – A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of five leaders of an Islamic charity on charges of funneling money and supplies to Hamas, designated a “terrorist” group following a 1995 executive order by President Bill Clinton.

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Palestinian mission considers legal action over ASA censure
Further to my posting yesterday, Palestinian mission breached ASA code by wiping Israel off the map, a spokesman for Palestinian Diplomatic Mission to the UK has been in touch. It followed the censure on the mission by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for carrying an online map promoting tourism

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

Where’s my friend?


By Sam Bahour  

My friend is Walid Abu Rass. He is the Finance and Administration Manager for the Health Work Committees (HWC, at, one of the largest community health service providers in the occupied Palestinian territory. HWC serves over 500,000 patients/beneficiaries per year! More on HWC in a second.  

I had not seen Walid for a while. We are both knee deep in Palestine’s daily rat race. About two months ago, Walid and his HWC colleagues called for a meeting of their circle of friends. They sought assistance. HWC was going through some financial hard times, especially with the financial crisis in Europe, where many of their donors are based.  

Given it was close to the end of year, a season when I usually donate some time to assist a community based organization to fundraise, I offered to volunteer. Walid was my counterpart. During the past weeks, we were in daily phone and email contact, and every few days we met up to visit a potential local donor. Progress was being made. We then started to plan, with a few others, an end-of-year fundraising raffle. Plans were coming together, and there was excitement among the team and staff that we were taking our fundraising needs to our local community to compensate for the loss in European institutional funding. This is even more significant since HWC does not accept funding with strings attached (“conditional donor funds”), so they have to struggle just to keep the doors open in this tainted donor-driven market.  

For nearly a week I was emailing Walid with no reply. This was not like him. He and I nearly live behind our keyboards. The deadline for the raffle details was rapidly approaching and if we did not get started, we would miss the end of year opportunity for fundraising. I started to think Walid was mad at me for some reason. I rethought our last few weeks of working together. There was absolutely nothing there to cause him to just ignore my calls; after all, I was his volunteer counterpart.  

Then, last night I learned why Walid stopped replying to me. On November 22nd, Israeli occupation soldiers arrived at his home at 1:30 A.M. Walid lives in Ramallah with his wife, Bayan, and two daughters, Mais, 13 years old, and Malak, 4 years old, who were all frighteningly awakened during his arrest. Walid was taken into custody and transported in the bone chilling cold of the night to Israel’s Ofer Military Detention Center where hundreds of Palestinians are detained, the vast majority with absolutely no knowledge of why.  

The Israelis have been arresting Palestinians nightly for years now. Israel releases a few hundred prisoners in a media frenzy and then, the same night, starts to refill its prisons, a few Palestinians at a time. Although, as per the Oslo Agreements, the Palestinian side is responsible for security inside the Palestinian cities, Israeli armed forces routinely—read nightly, every night—enter the cities in their armored vehicles in the middle of the night and arrest a dozen or so Palestinians from their homes. Walid was merely the latest victim of this kidnap-by-night strategy.  

The routine then goes something like this. Within eight days he will be brought before an Israeli military “judge” for the sake of processing only, not deliberating. The entire kangaroo court then, without sharing the reason why the Palestinian detainee is being held, flashes the security card to justify not sharing information on why they have acted against a specific individual. Then the court slaps a six month Administrative Detention Order on the detainee. That means you sit in prison for six months for no reason at all. Walid has already been given just such an order.  

Your wife, your children, your work, your end-of-year fundraising campaign, your 500,000 patients/beneficiaries, your life, all abruptly stop. Then, usually, that six month order gets extended a few times before you are released. Walid is not unacquainted with this Orwellian mess. He previously spent nearly five years in and out of detention, never once being charged with anything!  

The Health Work Committees association is registered as a not-for profit organization with the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior and also has a Jerusalem registration since they work in Jerusalem as well. HWC employees over 300 persons and operates 14 clinics throughout the West Bank, providing primary health services via these health clinics, mostly in areas not fully covered by the Ministry of Health. HWC also has a community development aspect of their work and operate the following: Jadal Center for Culture and Social Development, Nidal Center (providing health education to East Jerusalem schools), Community Development Plan, Oasis Rehab Center, Community Based Rehabilitation, and the Elderly Care Nursery and Kindergarten. One of the success stories of HWC is its partnership with the Dunya Women’s Cancer Clinic.  

All of these activities need health care administrators, of which Walid is one. At a time when the Israeli closure system is making life hell for Palestinians, especially those living in marginalized areas or areas directly affected by the Separation Wall, HWC is needed more than ever. Likewise, at a time when international organizations, like USAID, have dramatically cut funding and laid off staff from their heath care programs (such as Flagship) as punishment to the Palestinians for pursuing membership in UNESCO, HWC’s services are needed more than ever.  

The era of silence is over. Also, over for me are the slogans that can’t be operationalized. Yes, we want all 5,000 or so Palestinian detainees released. Yes, the policy of administrative detention is inhumane and must end. However, these slogans, although needed at times, must be matched with action items. Each life being destroyed by the Israeli revolving door policy of detainment is a person with a name and a family and a job. And when the person is my friend or colleague, I refuse to swallow the fact that Israel has carte blanche to act above the law.  

Help me get Walid back to his family and his desk so we can get back to the work of improving the Palestinian health care system. Consider contacting your local Israeli Embassy and any or all of the following and demanding his immediate release. Reference his name, Walid Abu Rass, and his ID # 9-9702819-6.  

Judea and Samaria Region

Office of the Legal Advisor

P.O. Box

5 Beit El, 90631

via Israel

Tel: +972-2-997-7071

Fax:  +972-2-997-7326  

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Office of the Prime Minister

3 Kaplan Street

PO Box 187

Kiryat Ben-Gurion

Jerusalem 91919

Fax: +972-2-651-2631 or +972-2-670-5475

E-mail: or  

Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Defence Ehud Barak

Ministry of Defence

37 Kaplan Street

Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909 Israel

Fax: +972.3.691.6940


For more information on Administrative Detention see ADDAMEER (Arabic for conscience) Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association at  

– Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business consultant from Youngstown living in the Palestinian city of Al-Bireh in the West Bank. He is co-author of “Homeland: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians” (1994) and may be reached via

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Where’s my friend?

Dorothy Online Newsletter

Dear Friends.

So much news and commentary today. Am sure that the 9 items below are too much, and that I should have omitted more than I did.  But as I’ve said before, it’s my job to furnish information.  I trust you to select,  I almost omitted Today in Palestine for Dec7, but didn’t.  Who knows, some of you might have missed it.  So now there are 9 items, plus a few extra links in case you want to know more.

So, item 1 relates that there were reprisals from Gaza for Israel’s killings the past 2 days—a total of 3 dead plus more injured.  I selected the Ynet report because it at least acknowledges that these were reprisals (Haaretz does not).  Every Israeli living in the South in the range of the rockets knows full well that when Israel attacks Gaza, there will be rockets coming from Gaza.  That didn’t happen, however, after Wednesday’s killing.  So Israel had to prod with 2 more deaths to bring about the reactions.  Israel’s leaders can’t bear quiet and calm.  There has to be ‘action’ somewhere.  There has been quite a bit of talk recently from the military higher-ups about the need to go into Gaza and finish the job.  Would it bother them to kill ½ a million or more?  I doubt it.  Anyhow, whipping up the retaliations gives ‘good’ excuse for a military campaign in Gaza.  I hope it doesn’t happen, but I wouldn’t count on it not occurring.  Why else these attacks on Gazans?  And don’t take too seriously the list of ‘terrors’ any of the individuals killed engaged in.  I don’t trust Israeli army reports further than I can throw a rock—and believe me, I can’t throw more than a few feet!

Items  2 and 3 are about discrimination, and item 5 about pure racism.

Item 2 should be enough proof for anyone who doubted it that Jews are not a ‘people’ or ‘nation.’  Israel as a country grounded on one religion-ethos is a tribal society, but that Jews are any more a ‘people’ than are Catholics or Protestants or Hindus or seculars is ridiculous.  And this business of Ashkenazies discriminating against Sphardi girls shows clearly that Jews are not a ‘people.’

Item 3 relates that an East Jerusalem hospital (yes, that’s right, a hospital) has been cut off from all communication (phones, faxes, email, etc) because technicians are afraid to come in to the area without protection.  This is a hospital in Israel, mind you.  It is not in the West Bank.  But it is in East Jerusalem, meaning that most of its patients are most likely Palestinians with Israeli citizenship or residency rights, but Palestinians nevertheless.  Hence discrimintation.  I can’t imagine this happening to a Jewish hospital in Jerusalem.

Item 4 quotes Eli Yishai, who says “Every African ‘infiltrator’ will return home.”  Netanyahu supports this.  Why?  Because of the demographic threat!  That’s what’s wrong with a state or country grounded on a single race, ethos, religion—a tribal society, in other words.  This is pure racism for the purpose of keeping Israel free of non-Jews.

Item 5 is one that I agree with 100%: “How about an Israeli Destruction Freeze,” meaning by ‘destruction’ demolitions.  Well, by now you know where I stand on that subject.

In item 6 Gideon Levy takes to task the fact that ‘peace has vanished from Israeli discourse.’  True.  It’s hardly mentioned any more.

Item 7 and 8 are on the same subject: attacking Iran.  Even their titles are similar, but the gist is different.  Item 7 speaks of Israel, the U.S. and Britain, whereas item 8 focuses mostly on Britain when it says that ‘War on Iran has begun.’   Both articles are worth reading.  I hope and hope and hope that Israel’s leaders and leaders of other countries will not be so stupid as to attack Iran.  ‘No more war,’ said Sadat, speaking of Egypt and Israel.  I wish that Israel’s leaders would make that their motto.  But small chance.

Item 9 is, of course, Today in Palestine.

I hope that these reach you.  Am still having problems.  Someone is evidently playing games with my computer.  But we shall overcome, I’m sure.  Hopefully that’s true also of the occupation.

Nite all,




Thursday, December 8, 2011

Back to Reality

 Back to the bomb shelters in southern Israel Photo: Avi Rokach

    5 rockets hit western Negev; none injured

Following IAF strike on Gaza, which left two Al-Aqsa Brigades’ operatives dead, Strip’s militants fire Qassam rockets at Negev, Beersheba [Actually there were 2 strikes on Gaza, one Wednesday which killed one person and injured more, then today’s.  See and

The link for the present report is,7340,L-4159113,00.html

Shmulik Hadad

Retaliation: Five rockets were fired from northern Gaza at Israel Thursday evening. The fire came several hours after two Al-Aqsa Brigades’ operatives were killed in an IAF strike in Gaza Strip.

A Grad rocket exploded on the outskirts of Beersheba and two other rockets hit an open area between the Sha’ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev regional councils. No injuries or damage were reported.

The Color Red alert did not sound across the western Negev prior to the salvo, a fact which is now being investigated. The Color Red alert sounded in the greater Beersheba area prior to the Grad’s explosion.

Then later two rockets fired from the northern Gaza Strip at the western Negev landed in open areas in the Ashkelon area. No injuries or damages were reported. Air raid sirens were heard in the area.

Earlier, the defense establishment directed the security coordinators at the Negev communities to be vigilant. Residents of the Gaza vicinity communities were asked to remain near their shelters over concerns that rockets will be fired on the area.

“We are on high alert since the strike and are following defense establishment directives,” said Sderot Municipality security coordinator Kobi Herosh.

Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council Head Alon Shuster said that after the IAF strike, all farming operations near the border with the Gaza Strip were halted.

“Residents within seven kilometers from the security fence were directed to remain near their shelters,” he said, adding: “Children will remain within the kindergarten shelters tomorrow and will not be allowed outside.”

Bnei Shimon Local Council Head Sigal Moran said: “We hope their response is over, but we aren’t counting on it. When we heard the news we realized we might not have a quiet night. We hope they don’t start another round but from previous experience, it’s usually more than one salvo.”

Later Thursday,the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported that Israeli Air force jets fired on the Zeitoun area of Gaza City.

The news agency reported that IDF artillery was fired at the area and that drones were circling the region. No injuries were reported.

Roee Nahmias contributed to this report

2.  [just goes to show that talk about Jews being ‘a people’ is nonsense! D]


Thursday, December 08, 2011

Israel’s High Court to hear petition against segregation at ultra-Orthodox girls’ schools

Petition submitted by Noar Kahalacha organization and social activist Yoav Laloum, who headed the fight against ethnic segregation at the Beit Yaakov girls school in the West Bank settlement Immanuel in 2008.

By Tomer Zarchin

Tags: Orthodox Jews Jerusalem Jewish World

A petition against the Education Ministry, Jerusalem and several other municipalities is to come before the High Court of Justice today seeking to stop the “apartheid-like” ethnic segregation at state-funded, ultra-Orthodox girls high schools.

The petition was submitted by the Noar Kahalacha organization and social activist Yoav Laloum, who headed the fight against ethnic segregation at the Beit Yaakov girls school in the West Bank settlement Immanuel in 2008.

At question are mainly Mizrahi girls – those whose families’ origins are in the Arab-speaking countries of the Middle East and North Africa.

The petitioners demand that the Education Ministry and municipalities of Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Modi’in Ilit and Betar Ilit stop the discrimination against Mizrahi girls in these schools and revoke the quotas restricting their admission.

“This is no ordinary petition,” Laloum said yesterday. “This is a grave indictment against the Education Ministry, which is abandoning thousands of girls to the ultra-Orthodox political hacks. The discrimination must end now. We demand a transparent and supervised registration process for the schools. The quotas must be done away with.”

Laloum said dozens of girls are sitting at home after being rejected by ultra-Orthodox high schools merely because of their Mizrahi origin. He submitted lists of 25 Mizrahi girls in Jerusalem, 48 in Bnei Brak, six in Betar Ilit and 11 in Beit Shemesh.

The petitioners submitted papers showing that the quota for Mizrahi girls at 25 state-funded high schools in Jerusalem does not exceed 30 percent and is often much lower. They also submitted a list of ninth-grade students’ names in four randomly checked classes in one Jerusalem high school.

“We may not believe our eyes and ears, but in this school there is apartheid-like segregation between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi girls,” says the petition, submitted by Dr. Aviad Hacohen, dean of Sha’arei Mishpat Academic College.

“You don’t have to be an expert sociologist to know that Bernstein, Korngold and Rothstein … are Ashkenazi names, while Gabbai, Biton, Mualem and Arbiv are Mizrahi. The discrimination screams out from the list and is a shameful mark on the schools’ forehead.”

The best ultra-Orthodox girls high schools practice this discrimination, which is clearly dictated by the local authorities, the petitioners say.

Laloum collected dozens of complaints from Mizrahi girls who were forced to enroll in Mizrahi schools after being rejected by the good Ashkenazi schools because of their ethnicity.

“Instead of measuring a school’s prestige by its academic standards, virtually the only criterion for these schools’ standing is the rate of ‘Mizrahi’ girls in it,” the petition says.

“For this reason the schools don’t examine each candidate’s knowledge or skills but focus on her ethnic origin. If a girl is found to be Mizrahi, her chances of being admitted are almost nil unless she belongs to one of the ‘aristocratic families’ close to the government.”

“We wanted to enroll our girl in high school,” a Mizrahi father in Jerusalem told Haaretz. “We were rejected again and again by six schools, although the girl had an excellent report card. Her grades and qualifications are much higher than the Ashkenazi girls who were admitted right away.

“In one school the interview ended after five minutes and the principal told my wife shamelessly: The Mizrahi quota is full. She said she’d accept her only if we registered her under my wife’s maiden name, Liebowitz.”

According to a girl from Bnei Brak, “They all came to me before registration to study from me, because I had the highest grades. All I wanted was to go to the best high school with all my friends, but they humiliated me, rejected me, just because my skin is a little darker. Friends who got much lower grades were admitted only because they’re Ashkenazi, and I don’t understand, why? I’ve been home alone for almost three months, wasting time.”

A 2009 ruling by the High Court of Justice ordered the Immanuel school to integrate Ashkenazi and Mizrahi girls. In April last year the court fined the parents who violated the ruling and some of them were sent to prison.

3. Haaretz

Thursday, December 8, 2011

East Jerusalem hospital cut off from all communication due to technicians’ fears to visit area

Al-Quds maternity hospital in Kafr Akeb is an Israeli hospital under Health Ministry supervision; technicians will not visit hospital to fix phone line, internet service, outside separation fence, without security escort.

By Nir Hasson

Tags: Jerusalem

Three months ago, the fax line to the Al-Quds maternity hospital in East Jerusalem’s Kafr Akeb neighborhood was disconnected. Two weeks ago, the hospital’s Internet service was cut off, followed by the phone line a few days later.

Apparently, the communications cables were stolen. But Bezeq technicians are afraid to visit the area, which is outside the separation fence, without a security escort, so the hospital has been left without any communications.

On Tuesday, a woman in labor arrived in great distress. She gave birth prematurely in an emergency operation that saved her life. The baby was rushed to Al-Muqaddas Hospital in East Jerusalem. But the medical file, which is usually sent by fax, could not be delivered.

“I went to the pharmacy, located about 100 meters from the hospital, to send the faxes from there,” said Helmi Barak, the hospital’s administrative director. “But it didn’t arrive. They kept telling me to try again. In the end, the baby arrived before the medical reports. Afterward they asked for another report, and I had to go to the pharmacy again.”

The hospital cannot receive the results of routine laboratory tests, so infants are discharged without the test results about diagnosed sensitivities or diseases.

Mothers delivering babies, ambulance drivers, suppliers and staff members are forced to contact the hospital by calling senior doctors’ cell phones.

“At night, the hospital is cut off from the world,” Barak said.

Al-Quds is an Israeli hospital under Health Ministry supervision, within Jerusalem’s municipal borders. Most of its patients are Israeli citizens or legal residents.

The hospital has appealed to Bezeq repeatedly to fix the lines.

“They said the problem was with the underground cables, but the police and the Israel Defense Forces don’t enter the area,” Barak said. “Then a technician came and said the problem lies near Atarot Airport. We’re an Israeli hospital. Is there any hospital in the world without a fax?”

The separation fence has effectively cut the hospital and Kafr Akeb off from the Israeli authorities, but the Palestinian Authority is forbidden to operate in the area. The result is anarchy, residents say.

“There are no laws, no security,” said Munir Zahar, who heads the neighborhood council. “Everyone does whatever he likes. The municipality cannot enter because it needs a security escort; the police won’t enter without the army’s escort; and the army has no time.”

Due to this situation, telephone lines and communication cables are repeatedly stolen, and Bezeq is unable to fix them.

Some 50,000 residents of Kafr Akeb and other nearby neighborhoods suffer from inadequate municipal and state services. They are also forced to wait for hours at the checkpoint on the way to and from Jerusalem.

Following recent improvements, the municipality now collects some 70 percent of the neighborhood’s garbage. The rest the people have to burn themselves.

“Kafr Akeb is a Jerusalem neighborhood,” said Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yosef Alalo. “It is entitled to all basic services. It is unthinkable that 50,000 people should be totally neglected by the municipal and state authorities.”

Bezeq said Kafr Akeb’s communication cables have been “repeatedly stolen in recent months. Bezeq is doing all it can to reconnect its clients there. As for the hospital, Bezeq is looking into alternative solutions to resume service.”

The municipality said that “garbage is collected in Akeb four times a week. Recently the city has increased sanitation work there … The contractor was instructed to pay adequate attention to garbage removal from the hospital.”

4. Jerusalem Post Thursday, December 8, 2011 12:57 IST

 Photo by: Yonathan Weitzman / Reuters

 Yishai: Every African ‘infiltrator’ will return home


Interior minister dismisses notion that some Africans are asylum seekers or refugees: “These are economic migrants”; PM’s plan to face vote.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai vowed Thursday to exert every effort to see that “the last of the infiltrators return to their countries,” referring to the some 50,000 African economic migrants, asylum seekers and refugees currently in Israel.

Speaking with Army Radio, Yishai dismissed the notion that Sudanese, Eritreans and other Africans in Israel have any standing to seek political asylum. “These are not refugees, these are economic migrants who want to come to Israel for work,” he said.

Their presence “is an existential threat” to the State of Israel, he asserted, vowing to “defend the Jewish majority.” The interior minister added, “Each and every one of them will return to their countries.”

The statements come as the government is advancing the construction of a detention center in the South to house asylum seekers and infiltrators and construction of a border fence along the Egyptian border is being accelerated.

Next Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s NIS 630 million plan to complete construction on the fence and build the detention center will be submitted for cabinet approval, the PMO said in a statement released Wednesday.

The cost is in addition to the NIS 1.5 billion that has already been invested. In order not to break the budgetary framework, all ministries will be asked to allocate two percent of their budgets, the PMO stated.

An additional NIS 280 million will be allocated to complete the fence on the Egyptian border, which the government anticipates will be completed within a year’s time. A 70-kilometer section of the fence has already been completed. The fence is expected to be 240 kilometers in length when completed, stretching from the Kerem Shalom crossing in the west to the Taba crossing in the east.

NIS 250 million will be allocated for a new detention center in the South. An additional NIS 100 million will be allocated to operate and maintain the center, which is expected to hold 8,000 people.

Netanyahu said of the infiltrator problem, “Israel is a small country. We cannot allow ourselves to be flooded by illegal work infiltrators. This threatens our society, our economy and our security. Therefore, we must expedite our dealing with the problem.”

5. Al Jazeera Thursday, December 08, 2011

How about an Israeli destruction freeze?

Obama should demand an immediate halt to all Israeli destruction of Palestinian property in the West Bank.

Yousef Munayyer Last Modified: 08 Dec 2011 14:10

Many Palestinians have been left homeless after occupying Israeli forces demolished their homes [EPA]

Washington, DC – Much was made of what many in the media described as a “confrontation” between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama over the building of illegal Israeli settlements (or colonies) in Occupied Palestinian Territory. From the very beginning of the Obama administration, the pursuit of a freeze on Israeli settlement activity was a stated goal – one that was never really accomplished and never adequately pursued.

The idea of a settlement freeze, which was wrongly attributed to the now-resigned special envoy George Mitchell, was actually stipulated in the Bush administration’s Road Map and accepted by the parties in 2003. A freeze on all settlement activity was a first-phase Israeli obligation – not to mention an obligation under international law. It should go without saying that the Israelis failed to fulfill this obligation, and instead the Israeli government, then led by Ariel Sharon, presided over the single largest and most aggressive period of settlement activity in the West Bank since the Menachem Begin government in 1977-83.

Still, Israeli settlement construction is not the only belligerent behaviour conducted by the occupation regime in Palestinian Territory. To paraphrase the now-former US Congressman Brian Baird, if the law is “thou shall not build on territory which does not belong to you”, an equally important corollary of this law is “thou shall not destroy what belongs to others in territory which does not belong to you”. Of course, apart from the regular construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, there is also the regular destruction of Palestinian buildings and infrastructure in the same territory.

Both the construction of illegal settlements and the destruction of the homes and property of the native Palestinians stem from the same origin: Israel’s unbridled assertion of power over the native Palestinians in the context of total impunity.

Much destruction occurs in Area C of the West Bank. This territory comprises roughly 60 per cent of the West Bank, and Israel maintains full control over security, planning and zoning.

The United Nations Organisation for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Territories (UNOCHA) noted in a recent report:

“In the first six months of 2011, OCHA recorded the Israeli authorities’ demolition of 342 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C, including 125 residential structures, displacing a total of 656 Palestinians, including 351 children. This is almost five times as many structures demolished and people displaced as during the equivalent period in 2010.”

Take, for example, the time when 30 Israeli vehicles and 100 soldiers entered the village of Ein al-Duyuk and demolished the homes of four different Palestinian families deep in the West Bank. Or the dawn raid of Jaba’a near Hebron which led to the demolition of another family’s home. Or the demolition of five homes in Khan al-Ahmar, near Jerusalem, which left 71 people, including 60 children, homeless. Or when a mosque, two homes and a barn housing children’s pet rabbits were demolished in the village of Um Fagareh. Or the demolition of wells near Idhna, which debilitated Palestinian farmers. Or Khirbet Susa’s rural primary school, which currently educates 36 Palestinian children and has recently received demolition orders after it was last demolished a year ago. Or the solar panel complex, built by a Spanish NGO for €300,000 ($401,310) in 2009 to provide much-needed sustainable electricity to the isolated Palestinian village of Imneizel, which also has demolition orders pending.

Or, perhaps most disturbing of all, is that all of the above-mentioned Area C demolitions and demolition orders were executed or handed down only in the past 90 days.

Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes and buildings, like the construction of illegal settlements, is part of a matrix of control aimed at limiting Palestinians to an existence on only a fraction of a fraction of their land. No objective observer can take the argument that the destruction of Palestinian village schools, water wells, solar panels and homes provides anyone with security. Likewise, Palestinian villagers left homeless at the hands of an Israeli bulldozer will rightly find claims that Israeli politicians want peace to be farcical.

Yet this destruction persists today at accelerated levels, with little objection from an Obama administration that races to show its support for Israel as we enter an election year.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration should demand an immediate halt to all Israeli settlement construction because it is illegal, and an immediate halt to all Israeli destruction in the West Bank because it is simply inhumane.

Yousef Munayyer is the Executive Director of the Palestine Centre in Washington, DC.

6.  Haaretz Thursday, December 08, 2011

How peace vanished from Israeli discourse

The hope of peace has vanished from the sky of our lives and the Palestinians’ lives, and Israel bears critical responsibility for this.

By Gideon Levy

Tags: Palestinians Mahmoud Abbas Benjamin Netanyahu Middle East peace

It happens a lot. A figure once significant in our lives fades away gradually. Not with a slam of the door or a tough fight, but almost imperceptibly, a kind of slow evaporation, until one day we suddenly notice he has completely disappeared.

That’s how peace has vanished from our lives. Nobody talks about it anymore; even the negotiations about it, the longest in history, are officially dead – and we didn’t even notice. There is no peace, no negotiations, not even a dream. The only context it’s mentioned in, if at all, is the awful danger lurking within it. It doesn’t occur to anyone that there are also conditions of real peace, with few risks and the promise of another reality – that in peace there is no shooting, for example. Only in war.

Last week Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted his detailed answers to the Quartet, failing to elicit even a yawn around here. Jerusalem didn’t even bother to respond. This week the prime minister gave his ambiguous speech at Ben-Gurion’s grave, and it didn’t occur to anybody he was talking about the most forgotten notion in our lives.

Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of “courageous decisions” and said “we are all here today because Ben-Gurion made the right decision.” He spoke about the founding father “who understood that that decision carried a heavy price, but realized that not making that decision had a heavier price” – and everyone knew what he meant.

“Courageous decisions” to advance a peace agreement? Decisions “we are all here because of” to end the occupation? No. Netanyahu was talking about bombing Iran. Until a few years ago we’d still have guessed he was talking about peace. Now it’s clear that when the prime minister talks about historic decisions he is talking about bombing.

Thus peace dropped out of our lives. First the Israelis lost interest in it, then their proteges the Americans did too. Their envoys have scattered in every direction. The obvious condition posed by the Palestinians to finally freeze settlement construction serves as an excuse for Netanyahu not to conduct even make-believe negotiations. The “peace-making” game is over. It may seem a good thing that this masquerade has ended, but a troublesome thought remains – if there’s no peace and no talks, what comes instead? There’s only one certain answer – this void will fill up.

If there is no peace, no dream and not even negotiations, something else will take their place. If the Palestinians’ faint hope of freedom is doomed, they will be forced again to take another path. What else can they do? Wait around doing nothing for an entire generation? Sit idly by for two generations? Of course not. This vacuum will be filled by another circle of bloodshed, more horrible than the previous ones. The first uprising was the stone-and-knife intifada, the second was the suicide bombers’ intifada. The third is likely to be even more violent.

It’s not waiting around the corner. The Palestinian people are divided, bleeding and without fighting spirit. Their lives are relatively comfortable now, but that won’t be enough for the next generation. The Arab states won’t sit idly by either. They are preoccupied with internal affairs, but when these are sorted out, maybe there will be a few free Arab states that mobilize to help their brothers who are not free.

When the storm passes, when the clouds clear, the new Middle East may be one in which the most oppressed Arabs live under “the only democracy in the Middle East.” They will not be silent then. Nor will the world. Millions of people deprived of civil rights are not a matter to be tolerated indefinitely in the new world.

Sometimes even false hopes have value. As long as there was talk of peace here, as long as negotiations were held, we had a horizon. It was deceptive, illusive and receding, but it was there, somewhere. Now it too has vanished from the sky of our lives and the Palestinians’ lives, and Israel bears critical responsibility for this.

The government appears to be pinning hopes on a bombing raid. The only courageous decision the prime minister can imagine is launching another offensive, and the thought that this could go on forever causes a shudder. It’s hard to believe I’m writing this: Where’s George Mitchell when you need him? Where’s the illusion we need now?

Guardian  Wednesday 7 December 2011 20.59 GMT

7. War on Iran has already begun.

 Act before it threatens all of us. Escalation of the covert US-Israeli campaign against Tehran risks a global storm. Opposition has to get more serious

  Seumas Milne

Iranians carry honorary coffins and pictures of a Revolutionary Guards commander killed in an explosion at the Alghadir missile base. Photograph: Reuters

They don’t give up. After a decade of blood-drenched failure in Afghanistan and Iraq, violent destabilisation of Pakistan and Yemen, the devastation of Lebanon and slaughter in Libya, you might hope the US and its friends had had their fill of invasion and intervention in the Muslim world.

It seems not. For months the evidence has been growing that a US-Israeli stealth war against Iran has already begun, backed by Britain and France. Covert support for armed opposition groups has spread into a campaign of assassinations of Iranian scientists, cyber warfare, attacks on military and missile installations, and the killing of an Iranian general, among others.

The attacks are not directly acknowledged, but accompanied by intelligence-steered nods and winks as the media are fed a stream of hostile tales – the most outlandish so far being an alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US – and the western powers ratchet up pressure for yet more sanctions over Iran’s nuclear programme.

The British government’s decision to take the lead in imposing sanctions on all Iranian banks and pressing for an EU boycott of Iranian oil triggered the trashing of its embassy in Tehran by demonstrators last week and subsequent expulsion of Iranian diplomats from London.

It’s a taste of how the conflict can quickly escalate, as was the downing of a US spyplane over Iranian territory at the weekend. What one Israeli official has called a “new kind of war” has the potential to become a much more old-fashioned one that would threaten us all.

Last month the Guardian was told by British defence ministry officials that if the US brought forward plans to attack Iran (as they believed it might), it would “seek, and receive, UK military help”, including sea and air support and permission to use the ethnically cleansed British island colony of Diego Garcia.

Whether the officials’ motive was to soften up public opinion for war or warn against it, this was an extraordinary admission: the Britain military establishment fully expects to take part in an unprovoked US attack on Iran – just as it did against Iraq eight years ago.

What was dismissed by the former foreign secretary Jack Straw as “unthinkable”, and for David Cameron became an option not to be taken “off the table”, now turns out to be as good as a done deal if the US decides to launch a war that no one can seriously doubt would have disastrous consequences. But there has been no debate in parliament and no mainstream political challenge to what Straw’s successor, David Miliband, this week called the danger of “sleepwalking into a war with Iran”. That’s all the more shocking because the case against Iran is so spectacularly flimsy.

There is in fact no reliable evidence that Iran is engaged in a nuclear weapons programme. The latest International Atomic Energy Agency report once again failed to produce a smoking gun, despite the best efforts of its new director general, Yukiya Amano – described in a WikiLeaks cable as “solidly in the US court on every strategic decision”.

As in the runup to the invasion of Iraq, the strongest allegations are based on “secret intelligence” from western governments. But even the US national intelligence director, James Clapper, has accepted that the evidence suggests Iran suspended any weapons programme in 2003 and has not reactivated it.

The whole campaign has an Alice in Wonderland quality about it. Iran, which says it doesn’t want nuclear weapons, is surrounded by nuclear-weapon states: the US – which also has forces in neighbouring Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as military bases across the region – Israel, Russia, Pakistan and India.

Iran is of course an authoritarian state, though not as repressive as western allies such as Saudi Arabia. But it has invaded no one in 200 years. It was itself invaded by Iraq with western support in the 1980s, while the US and Israel have attacked 10 countries or territories between them in the past decade. Britain exploited, occupied and overthrew governments in Iran for over a century. So who threatens who exactly?

As Israel’s defence minister, Ehud Barak, said recently, if he were an Iranian leader he would “probably” want nuclear weapons. Claims that Iran poses an “existential threat” to Israel because President Ahmadinejad said the state “must vanish from the page of time” bear no relation to reality. Even if Iran were to achieve a nuclear threshold, as some suspect is its real ambition, it would be in no position to attack a state with upwards of 300 nuclear warheads, backed to the hilt by the world’s most powerful military force.

The real challenge posed by Iran to the US and Israel has been as an independent regional power, allied to Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas movements. As US troops withdraw from Iraq, Saudi Arabia fans sectarianism, and Syrian opposition leaders promise a break with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, the threat of proxy wars is growing across the region.

A US or Israeli attack on Iran would turn that regional maelstrom into a global firestorm. Iran would certainly retaliate directly and through allies against Israel, the US and US Gulf client states, and block the 20% of global oil supplies shipped through the Strait of Hormuz. Quite apart from death and destruction, the global economic impact would be incalculable.

All reason and common sense militate against such an act of aggression. Meir Dagan, the former head of Israel’s Mossad, said last week it would be a “catastrophe”. Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, warned that it could “consume the Middle East in confrontation and conflict that we would regret”.

There seems little doubt that the US administration is deeply wary of a direct attack on Iran. But in Israel, Barak has spoken of having less than a year to act; Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, has talked about making the “right decision at the right moment”; and the prospects of drawing the US in behind an Israeli attack have been widely debated in the media.

Maybe it won’t happen. Maybe the war talk is more about destabilisation than a full-scale attack. But there are undoubtedly those in the US, Israel and Britain who think otherwise. And the threat of miscalculation and the logic of escalation could tip the balance decisively. Unless opposition to an attack on Iran gets serious, this could become the most devastating Middle East war of all.

8. Independent Sunday, 04 December 2011

Paul Vallely: War on Iran has begun. And it is madness

One of the more embarrassing features of the internet is that, from time to time, I find myself being confused with a namesake. Paul E Vallely is not me. He is a retired US major-general who is now the senior military analyst for Rupert Murdoch’s outrageously right-wing Fox News. Among other things, he wants to bomb Iran, which I decidedly do not.

There is something deeply disquieting about the deterioration in relationships between the West and Iran in recent days. William Hague was well within existing protocol to expel all Iran’s diplomats from Britain after a mob sacked the British embassy in Tehran. But what is proper is not always wise.

Paranoia has long characterised Anglo-Iranian relations. An old Persian proverb warns: “If you trip over a stone in the road, it was put there by an Englishman.” British memories may stretch back to 1989 when Iran’s then Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued his fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie for his blasphemous novel The Satanic Verses. But Persian memories are longer still.

It was MI6, along with the CIA, which orchestrated the overthrow in 1953 of the popular, democratically elected, secular prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq. He had brought about major social reforms but had also had the temerity to nationalise the petroleum company which became BP. Through the Sixties and Seventies, Britain backed the Shah of Iran, a man whose regime rested on secret police and torture but who was seen as a plausible counterweight to Soviet influence.

And so it continued. Britain consistently backed the wrong leader. We favoured Saddam in the Iran-Iraq war. We derided the reactionary mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, so much that when he was elected President, another Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Kham-enei, talked about the British as “the most evil” of diplomats. In 2009, the BBC World Service Persian channel so annoyed Tehran that anyone interviewed on it was harassed or arrested. During the post-election protests that year a member of the British embassy’s Iranian staff was jailed. For the past year, Iran has had no ambassador in London and has failed to explain the vacancy.

So Britain taking the lead in international opinion against Tehran’s nuclear programme – arguing that its goal is not nuclear fuel but nuclear weapons – is perceived in Iran in the context of a long history of British perfidy. London is seen as an intelligence-gathering stooge for Washington, which has no embassy in Tehran. Britain is “the Little Satan” in contrast to the United States, which is “the Great Satan”.

It was the Little Interventionist Tony Blair who first began sanctions on Iran. And the build-up of hostilities has unnerving parallels with the case for war conjured by Blair and George Bush against Iraq. We have another dodgy dossier, in the shape of the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which claims Iran is developing nuclear weapons but says so largely on the basis of intelligence which ends in 2003. It relies on documents on a laptop, found in 2004 by the Israelis, whose reliability prompted deep scepticism among Western intelligence at the time. The foreign scientist said to have worked on a bomb with the Iranians turned out to be a nanotechnologist. And a former IAEA chief inspector has said the type of explosion chamber referred to in the report could not be used in a nuclear test.

On that, is based hawkish noises and sabre-rattling sanctions. Intelligence chiefs publicly say such things as, the West must use covert operations to sabotage Iran’s nuclear programme. Politicians make thinly veiled threats of military attack using weasel words such as “all options are on the table”. Pardon me if it feels like Iraq all over again.

Of course, some political leaders in Tehran do want the bomb. It is not hard to understand why. Everyone else in the region has one – Israel, Pakistan, India and Russia. US nuclear weapons have Tehran within range.

But Iran is a big, politically sophisticated country whose constitution of parliament, president, councils and assemblies of religious experts, creates a system of checks and balances in which change is possible. Reformers have held sway at times in this political pluralism. The Iranian establishment is fragmented into factions; a third of MPs did not vote for the measure to reduce the diplomatic status of Iran’s relations with Britain last Sunday. But it is precisely the wrong reactionary factions which are strengthened by the bellicosity of the West.

And make no mistake, the war has begun. Virulent computer viruses disabled Iran’s nuclear centrifuges last year. Two of the nation’s leading nuclear physicists have been assassinated, and a third was wounded by assassins on motorbikes. The UK’s decision to freeze $1.6bn of Iranian assets – which is what provoked the violence at the British embassy – was the fourth round of sanctions. Hawks like my military namesake talk openly of deploying unmanned drones against nuclear power stations and provoking an uprising against the government in Tehran. And now comes all the EU sound and fury about not bowing “to Iran’s intimidation and bullying”. The hollow laughter from Tehran reflects heightened nationalist resolution and increased hostility to the West.

What is needed is the opposite. Instead of feeding a siege mentality in Tehran we should find ways of keeping open the engagement through trade and cultural exchange as Washington does with Pakistan, whose nuclear weapons appear to have provoked no threats of US attack.

There is another consideration. Iran is the world’s second-largest producer of oil and gas. (Which does make you wonder why it needs to exercise its “inalienable right” to produce nuclear fuel.) Last week, the EU reached agreement in principle to impose an oil embargo on Iran. But it delayed any detailed decision to mid-January in order to allow countries including Italy, Spain and Greece – which import large amounts of Iranian oil – the time to find alternative supplies from Saudi Arabia or Libya.

But what if Iran were to turn the tables and cut off oil to Europe, concentrating on its massive sales to India and China? With Europe already in fiscal turmoil, that could create another oil shock on the scale of those in the 1970s, which deflated the global economy, triggered a stock market crash, caused inflation to soar and led to a wave of unemployment that toppled governments.

Or Tehran might announce a selective oil embargo against Britain, France and Germany – leaving its biggest clients in southern Europe untouched. The markets have already anticipated this: oil went up by $2 in a day after the storming of the British embassy and oil futures are up 4 per cent on the week.

This rush to madness could backfire terribly in so many ways. If we had as long an historical memory as the Iranians we would know that.

9. Today in Palestine for December 7, 2011

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Tottenham primary school opposes becoming forced academy


Parents, teachers and governors at Downhills Primary School, Tottenham have launched a campaign to prevent the DFE forcing the school to become a sponsored academy by September 2012.  Although no Haringey primary schools were identified in Michael Gove’s original list of 200 ‘underperforming’ schools, this hasn’t stopped the DFE targeting schools in the most deprived parts of Haringey.
Things are moving very quickly here in Haringey.  Two schools have been visited by the DFE this week and informed that they have until the second week in January to draw up plans to become an academy or their democratically elected governing bodies will be disbanded and replaced by one selected by the DFE.  It is expected that more will follow.  Our governors met with the DFE this morning and made it clear that they want to hold a full and fair consultation with all stake holders to discuss future plans for the school.

Read more about the campaign here

Downhills Primary School launches a campaign against being forced to become a sponsored academy

Haringey primary schools told they must become academies

Call for a Public Enquiry into the Academy and ‘Free’ schools programme

The Anti Academies Alliance is today calling for a public inquiry in the the Coalition’s academy  and free school programme. The revelation in the Financial Times of significant financial errors in the funding of academy converters suggests that DfE ministers and officials do not have a proper grasp of either the cost or impact of the programme.

Call for a Public Enquiry into the Academy and ‘Free’ schools programme

Coventry Council oppose forced academy conversions

Coventry Council have voted to opposed the forced conversion of Local Authority maintained schools to academies.
Their motion includes:
Oppose the forced conversion of Local Authority maintained Schools to Academies.
Publish a statement to all Coventry School Governing Bodies and Headteachers outlining the reasons for the City Council’s concerns about maintained schools converting to Academy status and re-iterating the benefits of being part of the Local Authority family of schools.
Read the full statement here Coventry Council oppose forced academy conversions 

Anti Academies Alliance Annual General Meeting

Saturday 14th January, 1pm – 4pm

Chancellors Room, Hugh Parry Hall 19-26 Cartwright Gardens London WC1H 9EF
Introduction by : Melissa Benn, author of School Wars & Alasdair Smith, national secretary Anti Academies Alliance
There will be sessions on Forced academies, Labour and academies and ‘Free’ schools.

Click here for more details and to register

Academies received extra money ‘by mistake’

The Financial Times reports that “Hundreds of state schools that took part in the government’s flagship academies reform programme last year were accidentally given large incentives to do so, often worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.”

‘Free’ schools have to contribute to council infrastructure costs

Another loophole in the government’s ‘Free’ schools policy has come to light, leading at least one ‘Free’ school to have to pay out £27,729 to Reading Council.

Academy figures for December 2011

The latest government figures on Academies, released on 2nd December 2011, show that there are now 1463 academies open. 57% of secondary schools have not applied to become academies. Only 3.5% of primary schools have applied or become academies

OASIS MediaCity Academy teachers to strike for 4 more days

OASIS mediacity teachers were on strike for 2 days this week. They will be on strike on 13 / 15 December. Messages of support for the strike should be sent urgently to and

New Briefing – Why you should say no to ‘Free’ schools

Free to parent groups and local campaigns

Click here to download the order form
Or email orders to: and we will invoice you.
Click here to download a PDF of the Briefing
Briefing: Why you should say no to ‘Free’ schools

Other news

Gloomy day for ministers as parents snub choice

Academy has Government blessing to charge for childcare during closure

Darlington academy plans to open satellite primary schools

Academy chains swoop on failing schools

‘No evidence’ for England’s schools falling behind

Free School is ‘a waste of money’

Stephen Twigg: ‘I worry that Gove has put all his eggs in one basket’

Williton free school proposals criticised

Charter schools no silver bullet, warns US expert

Labour’s acadamies legislation laid the ground for free schools’ marriage moralising

More news stories here

Anti Academies Alliance Financial Appeal
The Anti Academies Alliance has launched a Financial Appeal to help build the opposition to Academies and ‘Free’ Schools.
Read our Appeal, and download the leaflet, here

Having trouble keeping up with the news on Academies and Free Schools?
You can follow the Anti Academies Alliance on
Facebook –!/pages/Anti-Academies-Alliance/178831804728?ref=ts
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Summary of Twitter news –
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A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter


*When the dark PR arts are designed for only one thing; denial and money

When the dark PR arts are designed for only one thing; denial and money

Posted: 07 Dec 2011

If you think PR’s image couldn’t sink any lower, you’d be wrong. Reading the stunning series this week published by the London Independent and the The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveals a litany of reasons the industry is in desperate need of sunlight. And how many despotic regimes (and some supposedly friendly ones, such as Israel) hire such firms to make them cool and human rights friendly?


A despotic regime could continue using child labour for up to 20 years and still improve its international standing as long as reforms were under way, according to strategy prepared by senior executives from the lobbying firm Bell Pottinger.

While repeatedly insisting to undercover reporters posing as businessmen from Uzbekistan that it would be necessary to instigate reforms in the country they suggested that slow progress need not be an impediment to better international relations.

“No one is suggesting it would be realistic to say tomorrow the problem will disappear,” said Tim Collins, managing director of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs.

“But we need to put some flesh on the bones of what movement in the right direction looks like.

“So it might be step by step, something like this, set a timeframe, 10, 20 years in the future when it will all be gone completely, but we take it step by step.”

He stated that a minimum age for child labour and a limit on the number of days schoolchildren could work in the cotton industry could be introduced to improve the country’s standing.

Mr Collins suggested an independent survey of the number of children working every six or 12 months: “It doesn’t mean it’s got to zero, maybe it takes quite some time to get to zero. But the number is clearly moving in the right direction. That’s a story you can tell.”

His colleague, Sir David Richmond, Britain’s former special representative to Iraq, added: “So you don’t necessarily have to make huge leaps all the time but there must be a sense in which there is constant progress.”

Both men were recorded as part of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s investigation into lobbying for The Independent.

Keen to attract business from the fictitious cotton industry representatives with links to the Uzbek government they laid out what the company could offer the regime in terms of bringing the country out of international isolation with only gradual degrees of change.

They suggested that if that was the case, the Prime Minister David Cameron might in future be prepared to increase Britain’s links with the country.

“Obama and Cameron… both in different ways to their domestic audiences said that they don’t believe democracy can be parachuted from 4000ft and they’re less inclined to try to impose particular models of government on other countries,” said Mr Collins. He went on to add: “To some extent that’s an asset from your point of view because they’re more interested in realpolitik.”

And he used the example of Libya, under Colonel Gaddafi, to suggest how it might work. “It’s not a parallel that we would draw a lot but Tony Blair for a time played very strongly on the fact that he had been able to open up Libya and Colonel Gaddafi was now becoming much more cuddly.

“That didn’t turn out too well in the long term but for a time, it actually illustrates that it might be what David Cameron, or even President Obama, would quite like – neither of them are at the moment festooned with lots of overseas policy successes that there is a middle ground that can be [formed].”


The extent of Bell Pottinger’s internet manipulation to alter its clients’ reputations online can be revealed today.

Evidence seen by The Independent and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) shows the company made hundreds of alterations to Wikipedia entries about its clients in the last year. Some of the changes added favourable comments while others removed negative content. Several Wikipedia accounts have been suspended pending an investigation by the co-founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, who last night expressed his dismay at Bell Pottinger’s “ethical blindness”.

Among the changes made in the past year by a user – traced to a Bell Pottinger computer – who made the alterations under the pseudonym “Biggleswiki” were:

* Removal of the reference to the university drugs conviction of a businessman who was a client of Bell Pottinger;

* Edited material relating to the arrest of a man accused of commercial bribery;

* Editing of the entries for prostate cancer expert Professor Roger Kirby and his firm, The Prostate Centre. Both are clients of Bell Pottinger. The user added Mr Kirby into a separate page on “prostatectomy” as a notable expert, and edited the entry on the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to include comments made by Mr Kirby about Megrahi’s cancer.

* Editing the articles of both Chime Communications, parent company of Bell Pottinger, and Naked Eye Research after the former company bought 55 per cent of the latter.

In other cases, damaging allegations against clients of Bell Pottinger, which The Independent cannot publish for legal reasons, were removed from Wikipedia. The connection was first spotted by the blogger Tim Ireland, after reading the joint investigation into Bell Pottinger by the BIJ and The Independent on Tuesday. Undercover BIJ reporters, posing as agents of the Uzbek government, were told that “sorting” negative coverage and criticism on Wikipedia was a service the company could provide.

Washington sends men to war and then expects them to shut up

Posted: 07 Dec 2011

Project on Government Oversight uncover a terrible tale of the US establishment punishing somebody who dared tell the truth about the US war machine:

On a hot, parched day in June 2004, a convoy of Humvees was making its way across Iraq’s Sunni Triangle when a roadside bomb exploded, mangling the head vehicle and knocking lead gunman Mike Helms unconscious. The force of the impact blew 2,000 rounds of ammunition from the Humvee. The other soldiers, seeing Helms’ limp frame, thought he was dead.

Helms, an intelligence specialist deployed to the Army’s 902nd Military Intelligence (MI) Group, was alive—but he was wrongfully denied military medical care. When he tried to speak out about the U.S. military’s poor treatment of deployed civilians in Iraq, he plunged into a whistleblower’s worst nightmare: as he was losing his health, reprisal against him caused him to lose his livelihood.

A previously undisclosed Department of Defense (DoD) InspectorGeneral (IG) report obtained by POGO and dated October 2010, substantiates Helms’ claim that the military retaliated against him because of his whistleblowing. As the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2011 makes its way through Congress, there is no better time to shed light on Helms’ story.

“I just told the truth about what happened to me,” Helms told POGO in an interview. “But I didn’t have any protection. If it was up to some people, I would never work in the federal government again.”

Helms was hired as a federal civilian employee, but was eventually authorized to work as a lead gunman, partly because of his former soldier experience. According to Helms, there were not enough personnel for the convoys, so he was moved to the position to ensure there was enough trained military crew on the task force. The U.S. military treated Helms as a soldier: he ate military rations, worked alongside troops and came under enemy fire. 

But all that changed when Helms was actually injured by enemy fire. According to DoD policy, civilians who are injured while deployed are supposed to receive the same treatment as military members. However, according to anunclassified DoD paper from 2005 on Helms’ case, this policy is often overlooked, because it is uncommon for DoD civilians sustain war-related injuries that require extensive recovery periods.

Remembering Hitler’s chilling vision

Posted: 07 Dec 2011


On Thursday, a Manhattan auction house will be accepting bids on one of the more disturbing books to come onto the U.S. antiquarian book market in some time: Adolf Hitler’s personal copy of a city-by-city, state-by-state guide to the location of America’s Jewish population.

The book includes detailed data on towns like Peabody and Brookline, Massachusetts, the boroughs of New York City, as well as the farther-flung population clusters in states like Arizona, Arkansas, Minnesota and California. It also provides details of several hundred Jewish organizations, including B’nai B’rith and the Anti-Defamation League, along with names of key individuals and their addresses.

In light of the Holocaust, it is a disquieting compendium.

The 137-page report, “Statistik, Presse und Organisationen des Judentums in den Vereinigten Staaten und Kanada” (Statistics, Media, and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada), was compiled in 1944 by Heinz Kloss, a German linguist who specialized in minorities and visited the United States in the early 1930s.

Like many Nazi-era publications, the Kloss report, printed on cheap, highly acidic paper, is brittle and chipping. The cover, which bears a diagonal warning “For Official Use Only,” has become detached. On the verso is a bookplate with a stylized eagle perched on an oak branch clutching a laurel-wreathed swastika in its talons. It is framed, in bold-face type, “Ex Libris Adolf Hitler.”

Assange on mass

surveillance state: “You are all screwed”

Posted: 07 Dec 2011

Thank God the New York Times asking White House permission is good “journalism”

Posted: 07 Dec 2011

How very revealing. Former State Department spokesman PJ Crowley speaks at an American university, praises the New York Times for co-ordinating with the White House on which Wikileaks documents should be revealed but argues that Julian Assange should not be prosecuted (from around 30:30):

Rick Perry, Christian Zionism on crack over Israel

Posted: 07 Dec 2011

Some would Perry is simply being honest. Successive US Presidents have condemned colonies in the West Bank and done nothing but enable them:

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SAUDI REGIME Mouthpiece for Zionist propaganda


end note: “Gendelman’s response most have caught the attention of Arab media, as he was soon after featured in a profile report on Asharq Al-Awsat – one of the leading newspapers in the Arab World.”

This is hilarious.  Mouthpieces of House of Saud, like Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat–the mouthpiece of Prince Salman, open their pages for Israeli propaganda so Israeli media decide to exaggerate the significance of the much mocked Saudi newspapers to this Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat becomes “a leading newspaper in the Arab world.”


Netanyahu woos Arab world on Facebook

PM to chat with Arab web surfers on social networks, answer questions about Israel’s policy

Itamar Eichner



“Hi, my name is Faisal from Saudi Arabia, and I would like to ask Mr. Netanyahu what’s going on with the military strike on Iran?” If this sentence sounds imaginary to you, it might not be in the near future.

Prime Minister

Related stories:

To that end, Netanyahu plans to hold chats on Twitter and Facebook, where he will answer questions of web surfers from the Arab world, his replies simultaneously translated into Arabic.

The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson to the Arab media Ofir Gendelman held a similar chat recently, answering questions about the Arab Spring, the future relations with Iran.

However, along with many curious participants, some took advantage of the forum in order to lash out at Israel.

“I wrote them thank you very much for teaching me new words in spoken Arabic,” said Gendelman, adding that “I told them they paid a great service to the 

Online chats with the Arab world is not a new phenomenon in Israel. Adel Hino and Lior Ben Dor, who head the Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s unit to the Arab world, also chat with Arab web users on a regular basis.

“In effect, we operate a virtual embassy in 22 Arab countries,” said Ben Dor, adding that their virtual initiative “bypasses censorship and crosses borders.”

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SYRIA : ABC exclusive: Defiant Assad denies ordering bloody crackdown


“Congratulations to brittle newsmatron Barbara Walters on landing a blockbuster exclusive with Syrian madman Bashar Al Assad, who is responsible for the wanton murder of 4,000 of his own men, women, and children. Or as Walters put it, a “mild-mannered ophthalmologist.” It’s time for her to go.

That’s how Walters referred to Assad in her introduction to their interview, portions of which were broadcast this morning on Good Morning America and posted to yahoo news! He is a “mild-mannered phthalmologist” who became “dictator by accident” after his father and brother died.

One of her questions for Assad was prefaced with this ludicrous bit of praise: “You were widely seen as a fresh pragmatic leader—a doctor whose life was in healing people. Now, sir, much of the world regards you as a dictator and a tyrant. What do you say to that?“”

By Yahoo! News | Newsmakers – Wed, Dec 7, 20 11


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad defiantly denied any suggestion that he has ordered a bloody crackdown against protesters who are demanding that he resign, and claims instead that most of the people who died in the unrest were his supporters and troops.

Assad, whose regime has been condemned by the West, the Arab League and former allies, dismissed suggestions that he step down and scoffed at sanctions being imposed on Syria.

His defiant stance was on display in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Barbara Walters who confronted the Syrian dictator in Damascus with stories and evidence of civilians being tortured and killed, some of them children.

“People went from house to house. Children were arrested. I saw those pictures,” Walters said to Assad.

“To be frank with you, Barbara, you don’t live here. How did you know all this…? This…you have to be here to see,” Assad said.

Walters asked Assad about the case of Hamza al-Khateeb, a 13-year-old boy detained by Syrian forces after a protest whose lifeless body was returned to his parents shot, burned and castrated. The boy’s death galvanized protesters, and photos on the internet inflamed world opinion.

Assad Tells Barbara Walters Violence Is By Terrorists, Not His Troops

Assad denied the boy had been tortured. “No, no, no. It’s not news,” he insisted. “I met with his father, the father of that child and he said that he wasn’t tortured as he appeared in the media.”

The tide of pro-democracy protests sweeping the Arab world reached Syria in mid-March and news of violent clashes between protesters and government agents have leaked out of this tightly controlled dictatorship and on to the Internet. The bodies of the dead, some of them children, have been found bearing the marks of torture.

According to a United Nations report released last week, more than 4,000 people have been killed and the country is embroiled in an undeclared civil war, an assessment Assad dismissed with the question, “Who said that the United Nations is a credible institution?”

In an unprecedented condemnation of a fellow Muslim nation, the Arab League recently imposed sanctions, and last month one-time ally Turkey called on Assad to resign the presidency, an office he’s held since 2000.

In his interview with Walters, his first sit down with an American journalist since the protests began, Assad denied he ordered a crackdown and blamed the violence on criminals, religious extremists and terrorists sympathetic to al Qaeda he claims are mixed in with peaceful demonstrators.

He said the victims of the street violence were not civilians protesters battling decades of one-party rule, he insisted.

“Most of the people that have been killed are supporters of the government, not the vice versa,” he said. The dead have included 1,100 soldiers and police, he said.

Assad conceded only that some members of his armed forces went too far, but claims they were punished for their actions.

“Every ‘brute reaction’ was by an individual, not by an institution, that’s what you have to know,” he said. “There is a difference between having a policy to crackdown and between having some mistakes committed by some officials. There is a big difference,” said Assad.

“But you have to give the order,” countered Walters.

“We don’t kill our people… no government in the world kills its people, unless it’s led by a crazy person,” Assad said.

At another point he said, “There was no command to kill or be brutal.”

Syria’s Assad Scoff as Threat of Sanctions

In an echo of recently deposed Arab strongmen, Assad said he was introducing reforms and elections, starting with local elections this year. The vote on his presidency isn’t scheduled until 2014, a wait that may be too long for Syrian dissidents. But the elections can’t be rushed, Assad said.

“We never said we are democratic country… We are moving forward in reforms, especially in the last nine months… It takes a long time, it takes a lot of maturity to be full fledged democracy.”

Assad said the threat of sanctions did not worry him. “We’ve been under sanctions for the last 30, 35 years. It’s not something new.”

Despite the decades of economic sanctions, “We’re not isolated. You have people coming and going, you have trade, you have everything,” he said.

Walters asked Assad if he regretted the violence that has wracked his country, left thousands dead and make Syria a pariah state.

“I did my best to protect the people,” he said. “I cannot feel guilty when you do your best. You feel sorry for the lives that have been lost. But you don’t feel guilty when you don’t kill people. So it’s not about guilty.”

(Editor’s note: Due to a transcription error, the initial version of this story misstated Syrian President Bashar al-Assad quote in response to Barbara Walters question about Syrian forces allegedly going from house to house, arresting children. His actual quote was: “To be frank with you, Barbara, you don’t live here. How did you know all this…? This…you have to be here to see.”)

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