Archive | February 21st, 2012

Trial of Americans in Egypt Shakes Ties Between Nations

NOVANEWS

New York Times

CAIRO — Egypt will begin criminal proceedings on Friday against 19 Americans and two dozen others in a politically charged investigation into the foreign financing of nonprofit groups that has plunged relations between the United States and Egypt to their lowest point in three decades, state news media reported Saturday.

The trial escalates a confrontation that has shaken the 30-year alliance between Cairo and Washington, a cornerstone of the American-backed regional order since the Camp David accords were signed in 1978. American officials have said the prosecution jeopardizes the disbursement of more than $1.5 billion in foreign aid to Egypt, the bulk of which is assistance to the military, which has governed the country since the ouster of the longtime leader Hosni Mubarak a year ago.

The 43 defendants have been charged with operating local offices of international organizations without the requisite licenses and illegally receiving foreign funds, state news media reported.

The American defendants work for four United States-based groups, two of which, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, are chartered as democracy-building organizations and have close ties to leaders in the United States Congress. The other two organizations are Freedom House and the International Center for Journalists.

The state news media report said that the groups’ operations “infringe on Egyptian sovereignty.”

Seven of the 19 Americans are in Egypt and have been barred by the government from leaving.

The prosecutions come against a backdrop of rising xenophobia and a drumbeat of anti-American statements from top officials, suggesting that the country’s problems are the work of American agents handing out cash to sow chaos in the streets.

American officials have sought to resolve the crisis through diplomacy, urging Egypt’s military government to throw out the case or at least allow the Americans to leave. President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have all met or spoken with Egypt’s military leaders in recent weeks. Senator John McCain is expected to lead a Congressional delegation to Egypt this week.

A State Department spokeswoman said the United States had not received official confirmation of the trial date. “We’re still working with the Egyptians on this,” she said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

American officials have threatened to cancel over $1.5 billion of annual foreign aid to Egypt, a central pillar of the bilateral relationship. In retaliation, leaders of the Islamist Freedom and Justice Party, the largest bloc in Egypt’s recently elected Parliament, have threatened to review the country’s peace treaty with Israel.

State news media reported Tuesday that Fayza Abul Naga, the minister of cooperation who is seen as the driving force behind the prosecutions, told prosecutors in October that the United States used the nonprofit groups to hijack the revolution for American and Israeli interests.

The revolution surprised the United States and “slipped from its control,” she said. The United States responded by using “all its resources and instruments to contain the situation and push it in a direction that promotes American and also Israeli interests.”

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Zionist ex-spy chief sees opportunity in Syria crisis

NOVANEWS

latimes.com

Instability in Syria poses stark security risks for Israel, but it also offers a chance to deliver a stinging blow toIran’s regional ambitions and even its nuclear program, Israel’s former national security advisor says.

Israel in recent weeks has been consumed by a debate over the wisdom of launching a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. But Efraim Halevy, who also led the Mossad spy agency from 1998 to 2002, believes Israel should also focus on exploiting the opportunity to strike Iran politically and diplomatically through the fall of Syrian President Bashar Assad, a staunch ally of Iran.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Halevy, now a leading intelligence analyst here, said Israel should start to look at Iran and Syria as two sides of the same problem.

You’ve called Syria the Achilles’ heel of Iran. What do you mean?

Iran has invested enormous efforts in trying to secure Syria as a major partner. The Alawite [Muslim] minority is very close to the Shiites in Iran. The Syrian army is mainly based on Alawite command and has units that are purely Alawite. This makes the Iranian investment all the more important.
Syria is also the conduit for Iran’s arming of the Hezbollah Shiite forces in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. If the regime falls in Syria and the Iranians are expelled, this is going to be a horrendous defeat for Iran….

How does Israel ensure that Iran is defeated in Syria? Wouldn’t it backfire if Israel were seen to be involved?

Israel shouldn’t be directly involved for obvious reasons. Once Israel enters the fray, this becomes an Israeli-Arab or Israeli-Muslim confrontation, which deflects attention from the main issues of Sunni-Shiite, and the Shiite repression of a majority in a foreign country. Israel should promote through its channels with major powers in the world a dialogue between leaders in Western nations and Russia to try to forge a common policy on Syria, which would entail mutual concessions at the American and Russian level.

Recently Israel has been very focused on Iran’s nuclear program and the debate over a strike. It is doing enough on Syria?

I don’t have any evidence that Israel is working on this, but I hope some work is being done. Israel has certain interests in Syria which have to be taken into account. The ultimate resolution of this crisis should not leave an Iranian presence in Syria with a weakened Assad. I don’t want to see Iran having its own finger on the button of Syria’s strategic weapons. Israel must make sure this does not happen.

You’ve said that a defeat in Syria would deal a blow to Iran’s nuclear program. Why?

The issue of Syria and of Iran’s nuclear capability are interconnected. You cannot divorce them. Iran’s effort to achieve nuclear capability and its effort to entrench itself in Syria are part of the same multifaceted regional problem. One of the mistakes we’ve made up to this point is to deal with these issues separately.

Not that long ago, many in Israel were quietly hoping Assad’s regime would survive because he’s predictable in his relations with Israel and is the “devil you know.” With reports that Al Qaeda-linked terrorists might be seeking a stronghold in Syria, do you worry that Assad might be replaced with an extremist Sunni regime that is even more hostile toward Israel?

I don’t think this is in the cards. The way things are at present, any replacement of Assad is better.

Even an extremist Sunni regime?

The Sunnis have been oppressed by the Alawites. They are looking for freedom and dignity and all the things of the “Arab Spring.” They won’t come to power in order to launch an effort against Israel. Their immediate concerns would be to stabilize the situation inside Syria and move as quickly as possible to alleviate the pressure on the society.

There have been a lot of fears that Assad might try to move Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons and sophisticated missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Though everyone is talking about a military strike against Iran, what are the chances of such an Israeli strike in Syria to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands?

I don’t want to preempt Israeli operations or planning. All I can say is that there are certain things, if carried out in Syria or Lebanon, that would be matters of grave concern to Israel, and Israel would not be able to accept.

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Ten questions Britain’s William Hague won’t answer about Iran crisis

NOVANEWS

By Stuart Littlewood
20 February 2012

Stuart Littlewood argues that behind British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s extraordinary and otherwise inexplicable hostility towards Iran may lie the desire to preserve the imbalance of power in the Middle East so that Israel remains the dominant military force.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, British Foreign Secretary William Hague claims that Iran is threatening to spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East which could be more dangerous than the original East-West Cold War.

William Hague’s double talk

“It is a crisis coming down the tracks,” he says. “Because they are clearly continuing their nuclear weapons programme… If they obtain nuclear weapons capability, then I think other nations across the Middle East will want to develop nuclear weapons.

“And so, the most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented would have begun with all the destabilizing effects in the Middle East.

“We are very clear to all concerned that we are not advocating military action,” he assures us. “We support a twin-track strategy of sanctions and pressure and negotiations on the other hand. We are not favouring the idea of anybody attacking Iran at the moment.”

But, says Mr Hague, “all options must remain on the table”.

David Cameron’s double standards

That same day Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Sarkozy signed a “landmark agreement” committing their two countries to a shared programme of civil nuclear power and setting out a shared long term vision of safe, secure, sustainable and affordable energy.

“We are working together … to stop a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran,” said Cameron, adding:

As two great civil nuclear nations, we will combine our expertise to strengthen industrial partnership, improve nuclear safety and create jobs at home. The deals signed today will create more than 1,500 jobs in the UK but they are just the beginning. My goal is clear. I want the vast majority of the content of our new nuclear plants to be constructed, manufactured and engineered by British companies. And we will choose the partners and technologies to maximise the economic benefits to the UK.

Such freedom of action or benefits must not be enjoyed by Iran, of course.

Some three weeks earlier Mr Hague was clamouring for an “unprecedented” package of measures including an oil embargo and financial sanctions “to increase the peaceful, legitimate pressure on the Iranian government”. It’s tempting to add “as punishment for their peaceful and (so far) legitimate civil nuclear activities”. Such measures are no doubt intended to bring ruin and terror in a way that bombing couldn’t.

Most of us remember only too well how the Iraq sanctions devastated that country’s economy and resulted in widespread hunger and disease among Iraqi people. As John Pilger reported in theGuardian on 4 March 2000:

This is a war against the children of Iraq on two fronts: bombing, which in the last year cost the British taxpayer GBP 60 million. And the most ruthless embargo in modern history. According to UNICEF, the United Nations children’s fund, the death rate of children under five is more than 4,000 a month – that is 4,000 more than would have died before sanctions. That is half a million children dead in eight years. If this statistic is difficult to grasp, consider, on the day you read this, up to 200 Iraqi children may die needlessly.

With this evil still quite fresh in people’s minds Hague successfully obtained his “unprecedented” measures, meaning worse than those taken against Iraq presumably, to inflict on Iranian women and children.

“A mad dog too dangerous to bother”?

There are a number of issues raised by Hague’s extraordinary antics.

“…Israel is the third or fourth largest nuclear force in the world and the only one in the Middle East. But our brave politicians dare not even whisper this fact let alone criticize it.”

Why does he say the Iranians “are clearly continuing their nuclear weapons programme” when there’s no proof?

Why does he say “Iran is threatening to spark a nuclear arms race” when Israel has already destabilized the region with its nuclear arsenal?

And even if Iran really does have a weapons programme his claim that the present situation is “the most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented” is rubbish. The BBC reported recently that back in 2009 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expressed concern about Israel’s nuclear capabilities and called on it to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), open its nuclear facilities to inspection and place them under comprehensive IAEA safeguards. “Israel refuses to join the NPT or allow inspections. It is reckoned to have up to 400 warheads but refuses to confirm or deny this.”

Actually, Israel is the third or fourth largest nuclear force in the world and the only one in the Middle East. But our brave politicians dare not even whisper this fact let alone criticize it. According to a 2006/07 report by the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, most unofficial estimates put Israel’s nuclear arsenal in the hundreds, possibly larger than the British stockpile. “Israel… has an unsafeguarded plutonium production reactor and reprocessing capability and possibly some uranium enrichment capability, along with various other uranium-processing facilities.”

It is the only state in the region that is not a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (Iran is). It has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. As regards biological and chemical weapons, Israel has not signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. It has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Israel just doesn’t care. Who can forget that much-quoted remark by the former Israeli defence minister, General Moshe Dayan: “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother”?

“If Mr Hague’s purpose is to help preserve the imbalance of power in the Middle East so that a rogue regime, Israel, remains the dominant military force, he must be called on to explain the wisdom of it.”

And is anyone surprised at reports that European cities are targeted?

Against this background it is difficult to understand how Hague’s aggressive escalation against Iran is in the British national interest – or anyone’s interest except Israel’s. Do the British people want it? If Mr Hague’s purpose is to help preserve the imbalance of power in the Middle East so that a rogue regime, Israel, remains the dominant military force, he must be called on to explain the wisdom of it.

Hague and Cameron both voted enthusiastically for the Iraq war, and we know the consequence in lives and irreversible damage to the country, its heritage, its social fabric and infrastructure and its survivors – and of course to Britain’s reputation. We want no repetition, surely.

William Hague, according to the Jewish Chronicle, told David Cameron when he became Conservative Party leader in 2005 that a deep understanding of the Middle East would be crucial if he wished to be taken seriously as a statesman… “because you can’t understand it without the history. That’s been one of the failings sometimes with the Western governments.”

The pair’s support for Israel and its Zionist ambitions is such that no sane world would allow them anywhere near the levers of international power. Besides, Hague seems to have jettisoned his history. In March 1951 the Iranian Majlis and Senate voted to nationalize Anglo-Iranian Oil, in which the British government had a majority interest and which had controlled Iran’s oil industry since 1913 under terms that were disadvantageous to Iran. Dr Mohammad Mossadeq, the newly elected prime minister, carried out his government’s wish to cancel Anglo-Iranian’s oil concession, which was not due to expire for another 42 years, and take over its assets.

In a speech in June 1951 (M. Fateh, Panjah Sal-e Naft-e Iran, p. 525) he explained:

The Iranian state prefers to take over the production of petroleum itself. The company should do nothing else but return its property to the rightful owners. The nationalization law provides that 25 per cent of the net profits on oil be set aside to meet all the legitimate claims of the company for compensation…

“It has been asserted abroad that Iran intends to expel the foreign oil experts from the country and then shut down oil installations. Not only is this allegation absurd; it is utter invention…

Considering Britain paid Iran only 16 per cent of the profits during the inter-war years and treated Iranian oil workers abominably, while profiting hugely itself, these were generous terms.

History repeats itself

Faced with nationalization the British government went mad and imposed a blockade and vicious sanctions, quickly bringing Iran to its knees. Mossadeq, popular and highly regarded, was removed in a coup by MI5 and the CIA, imprisoned for three years then put under house arrest until his death. The Iranians were condemned to suffer the reimposition of the hated Shah and his secret police for another 25 years. The Islamist revolution of 1979 was the inevitable consequence.

And Iran has not forgotten.

Perhaps Mr Hague, before pressing the “History Repeat” button too many times, should pause to reflect and answer just ten questions:

1. Have we so easily forgotten the cruel and devastating effect of economic sanctions on civil society, especially children?

2. Would the foreign secretary kindly explain the reasons for his hostility towards Iran?

3. What concrete proof is there of Iran’s military application of nuclear technology?

4. Why is he not more concerned about Israel’s nuclear arsenal, the threat it poses to the region and beyond, and the mental attitude of the Israeli regime?

5. Why is he not seeking sanctions against Israel for its refusal to sign up to the NPT or engage constructively on the issue of its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction?

6. How many times has a British foreign secretary visited Tehran in the 32 years since the Islamic Revolution?

7. Did Mr Hague make an effort to go and talk before embarking on his punitive sanctions programme?

8. Britain’s conduct towards the Iranians in 1951-53 when a previous Conservative government, in cahoots with the USA, snuffed out Iran’s democracy and reinstated a cruel dictatorship, was largely responsible for bringing about the Islamic Revolution and setting the pattern of future relationships. Is it not shameful that this Conservative government is spoiling for another fight? Shouldn’t the Foreign Office focus on exerting influence through trade and cooperation?

9. Iran’s present administration, like others, may not be to our liking but nor was Dr Mossadeq’s democracy 60 years ago. Similarly, the Israel-leaning administrations of the US and Britain are not much to the liking of the rest of the world. In any event, what threat is Iran to Britain? And why is Mr Hague leading the charge?

10. By pulling our people out of Tehran and kicking Iran’s people out of London Mr Hague has shut the door on diplomacy. How can he now communicate effectively with a nation he seems determined to goad into becoming an implacable enemy?

On this last point I hear that Baroness Ashton, the European Union’s ‘foreign minister’, is handling contact with Iran on behalf of the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. So much for Hague’s talk of negotiations alongside sanctions. While playing the role of chief bully he has shut himself out of any direct conversation. As for Ashton, she hasn’t made the slightest impact on the crisis in Palestine, even with the clout of 500 million citizens behind her, so is anyone holding their breath?

Most of those questions were put to Mr Hague through my MP (who happens to be one of Hague’s junior ministers) two-and-a-half months ago and repeated early January, but Mr Hague isn’t replying.

Until he does, the foreign secretary ought to be made to stand in the parliamentary “naughty corner”.

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A. Loewenstein online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Murdoch press excel at bigotry; over to you, Charlie Brooker

 

Posted: 19 Feb 2012

Rupert Murdoch laughably claims The Sun is one of the finest newspapers in the world. Oh sure, if you hate everybody:

 

Assange debuts on Murdoch-run The Simpsons

 

Posted: 19 Feb 2012

How vulture capitalism in the “war on terror” really works

 

Posted: 19 Feb 2012

 

I’m on a number of global email lists that discuss privatised security post 9/11. This is from an anonymous retired navy captain:

Somebody’s civilian friends or benefactors have always been making money on our wars. The funny twist is how the “military industrial complex” of years gone by has evolved into a “personnel support complex” in addition. When I went to Iraq in 09 I brought all the learning CDs for Arabic in anticipation of that being the language I would need to know. When I came home I spoke more Hindi and Swahili. KBR and others take their contracts …and sub-contract to some Arab company,, like in Dubai. They in turn hire “third” world country employees for peanuts..say $500 a month…charge them a finders fee for the job and front them their airfare to Iraq. Then the worker has to work for 5 or 6 months to repay the debt before they can send dollar one home to their starving family in Nepal, India, Peru, Uganda or the Philippines. Sounding like slave labor yet? Hold your horses…then some of them live in unsafe shanty towns built right inside our bases, like Camp Victory. Add insult to that already abusive relationship and some, like from Sri Lanka, get a small portion of some nondescript “chicken” dish two or three times a day as their sustenance. I gave most of my “care” packages from caring US citizens to them, just so they could have something better.

So where did that huge check for the contract go? …in some fat cat’s (corporation’s) pocket…with the second largest payment to the Dubai company. All the time, the workers keep at it for a small pittance of what any soldier or western worker would make. I befriended the Indians and Ugandans the most. The Indians ran all the mess halls and the Ugandans provided armed security for the ECPs (Entry Control Points – to wit: entrance gates and provided the armed guards at the mess hall entrees). Did you get that one? Our personal safety was placed in the hands of someone from a continent where they could likely have been a child soldier….and they had guns with bullets at the entrance of the mess hall to keep you out if you didn’t have the right ID or uniform.

and as for the why? Have you all forgotten? We were downsizing in Iraq. D.C. had to show the numbers of military going down. You have never seen a report in the media showing the numbers of civilians working for the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan unless you dig pretty deep into Google. You also didn’t see the numbers of those civilians killed in the nightly news reports.

When Blackwater got a all the bad press they passed those same contracts over to foreign companies like Aegis (British) who had an excess of UK infantrymen from the IRA war that were unemployed. So get this, US Army generals have all their security detail from the UK. It’s all numbers. Of course, we are entirely out of Iraq now, right? Maybe not! Who is doing the “on the ground” security for the US State Dept now that we have left? I think you get the picture. 

Reinstate the DRAFT! America now has 1% of the population defending our freedom. There is a Warrior Class now that is not understood. When we pull our troops out of Afghanistan how many Americans will thank those in uniform for their service when they travel in the airports? 

As the Roman Empire got weaker, the emperors hired Germanic people to work as Roman soldiers. It all went down from there. Do a Google for “Romans hired Germanics. It’s all academic from there. 

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” George Santayana (1863 – 1952), The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905. When Rome ran out of money, the empire collapsed. 

I hope the USA can last as long as Rome…but I don’t hold much faith in that proposition. 

Let’s start a pool. Which “next” war comes first? Syria, Egypt or Iran? Extra point spread if it is another country.

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Child sex-abuse scandal in Australia’s Jewish community spills into U.S.

NOVANEWS

David Kramer

Members of the Australian Jewish community say suspected child molesters ended up in the United States after community leaders failed to report them to law-enforcement authorities.

forward.com

A child sex abuse scandal in Australia’s Jewish community has spilled into America, as a pending extradition, arrests in Australia and a slew of cover-up allegations put that community’s response to molestation under scrutiny.

Australian police are seeking to extradite convicted child molester David Kramer, currently in jail in Farmington, Mo., on suspicion of having abused children at a Chabad school in Melbourne during the 1990s.

Kramer, who was reportedly spirited out of Australia by one of Melbourne’s Chabad leaders following abuse allegations, is halfway through a seven-year prison sentence for sodomizing a 12-year-old boy in St. Louis.

According to members of the Australian community, he is not the only molester to end up in the United States after Australian community leaders failed to report them to legal authorities. Other molesters fled the country more recently as suspicion of abuse fell on them, community members say.

The Forward has learned that at least two suspected molesters from the Australian Jewish community are living in the United States while they are under investigation in Australia.

Meanwhile, Manny Waks, a former vice president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, accused an Australian living in New York of molesting him when he was a boy.

Waks, 35, who has been the catalyst for revelations about the Melbourne abuse scandal, told the Forward he was molested by Velvel Serebryanski, son of a prominent Chabad rabbi, at two Melbourne synagogues during the late 1980s.

Serebryanski, who goes by the name Zev Sero in New York, did not deny the allegations when a Forward reporter asked him about them at his Brooklyn home.

Related articles at the Forward: • Brooklyn D.A. refuses to name child sex abusers • Child sex arrests spike. Or do they? • Crackdown on child sex abuse unravels

Serebryanski, 47, declined to speak on the record about the allegations. His father, Rabbi Aaron Serebryanski, is one of Chabad’s principal emissaries to Australia.

Waks claims that Serebryanski molested him on several occasions, including when he went to lie down during an all-night Shavuot study session in a synagogue at Melbourne’s Yeshivah Centre, a Chabad institution.

Waks said Serebryanski began to molest him in the synagogue and then said: “This isn’t for a place of worship. Let’s go outside.”

According to Waks, who was about 12 at the time, Serebryanski then led him into a nearby restroom.

The charges are contained in a police report that Waks filed in 1996.

In that same report, Waks details how he was also abused by David Cyprys, a Melbourne karate instructor.

Cyprys is about to stand trial in Australia on dozens of sex charges related to the abuse of 11 boys.

During a magistrates court hearing in Melbourne last year, Detective Senior Constable Lisa Metcher “accused members of the Yeshivah community of lying to police and trying to cover up sex abuse claims,” according to The Age, an Australian newspaper.

”They failed to act in any way to protect children,” the newspaper stated that Metcher told the court.

Waks went public last year with accusations that he was repeatedly molested while attending the Yeshivah Centre’s boys school, Yeshivah College.

His call for other victims to come forward shattered decades of denial. Press reports related how Victoria state police were inundated with testimony from young men who said they were abused.

Australian police are currently investigating more than a dozen Orthodox individuals suspected of child abuse in Australia, according to Joel Berman, a Los Angeles activist who has been in touch with detectives on aspects of the cases in the United States.

Berman said two people under investigation are currently in the United States. Police declined to speak to the Forward.

Many of the charges relate to the 1980s and ’90s, a time when rabbis in a number of Orthodox communities appear to have dealt with abuse by either turning a blind eye or throwing molesters out of the community.

At the center of the controversy is Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, the former head of the Yeshivah Centre.

Waks and other victims and their families claim they alerted Groner about abusers many times, but he failed to act.

In 1991, a child brought allegations of abuse against Cyprys. The following year, Cyprys pleaded guilty to a sexual offense and was fined, but Chabad officials allowed him to remain at the school, where he worked as a security guard until recently.

Waks said he confronted Groner about Cyprys in 1996 and in 2000, but Groner continued to allow him to work for the center. Groner died in 2008.

Even one of Groner’s defenders, Pini Althaus, said the rabbi threatened to report suspected abusers to the authorities — unless they moved elsewhere.

Althaus, a Brooklyn Chabad member whose father is a Yeshivah Centre trustee, stated in a comment posted on the VozIzNeias blog: “In the case of two American citizens who acted inappropriately, Rabbi Groner gave them the choice to leave the country immediately or face criminal action. In retrospect, perhaps the latter would have been more appropriate; however, this was not the ‘culture’ at that time, to masser or turn someone in to the authorities.”

Yaakov Wolf, an Australian who says Cyprys molested him and who now lives in Los Angeles, said of members of the yeshiva community: “They take these people and think they’ve done their job by sending them off to another community that hasn’t heard about them, and that’s what they’ve done for years.

“They end up sending them to another community, so basically they are throwing their problem onto somebody else.”

The identities of the two American citizens to whom Althaus referred are unclear. Kramer came from a Chabad community in the United States, but a spokesman at Farmington Correctional Center declined to confirm his citizenship.

Althaus declined to speak on the record to the Forward.

Meanwhile, a former Yeshivah College teacher told the Forward that the school failed to act on another occasion, too. In this case, the alleged perpetrator, who also subsequently moved to the United States, was a student.

During the early 1980s, the student, then aged 16 or 17, “took advantage” of a boy several years younger, the former faculty member told the Forward. He said the school refused to expel the abusive student.

“The parents of the abused boy were so horrified that the school would not expel him,” the former Yeshivah College teacher said, “that they ended up taking their son, as well as their two other younger boys, who were in the primary school, out of yeshiva and to another, less frum [observant] school.”

That alleged abuser was Mordechai Yomtov, who, almost 20 years later, was arrested in Los Angeles on charges of sexually abusing three boys at Cheder Menachem, a Chabad school.

In 2001, Yomtov pleaded guilty to molesting the boys, aged between 8 and 10. He served one year in prison and was required to register as a sex offender.

Yomtov has been in violation of sex offender registration requirements since March 2003, according to the website of the California Attorney General’s Office. A spokesman for Attorney General Kamala Harris did not respond to requests for clarification on Yomtov’s whereabouts.

The former Yeshivah College teacher, who did not wish to be named, said he also voiced concerns about Kramer to the school, but no one would listen.

Rabbi Avrohom Glick of Yeshivah College, who is a former principal and still teaches at the school, did not return calls for comment. Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler, the current principal of Yeshivah College, did not respond to calls and emails for comment. Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner, head of the Yeshivah Centre, did not respond to questions sent via email.

Rabbi Zvi Telsner, leader of the Yeshivah Centre synagogue and son-in-law of Yitzchok Dovid Groner, said he could not answer any questions about past events because they occurred before his time. “I wasn’t here,” Telsner said. “I have no idea what happened.”

Melbourne parents say they do know what happened.

One mother told The Weekend Australian newspaper that when she informed the school that Kramer, a Jewish studies teacher at Yeshivah College, was abusing her child, she was referred for counseling.

The Weekend Australian reported that after the allegations surfaced, Kramer “was flown to Israel at the school’s expense.” Harry Cooper, a former executive at Yeshivah College, told the newspaper: “At the request of the parents, we shipped him off. I remember it vividly.”

Kramer eventually made his way back to the United States and settled in St. Louis.

He became a volunteer youth leader at an Orthodox synagogue, Nusach Hari B’nai Zion.

The congregation’s rabbi, Ze’ev Smason, said Kramer was a “very attractive, dynamic fellow” who won over parents and their children. Then, one day, parents came to Smason with allegations of abuse.

“When the question was one of safety for children who might come in contact with him, he was immediately reported,” Smason said.

In July 2008, Kramer was sentenced to seven years in jail. He is eligible for parole this April. As soon as he is free, police intend to extradite him to Australia to stand trial, Australian media have reported.

Detectives traveled to the United States last year to gather evidence for this and other investigations, the Forward has learned.

Smason said he was glad he had persuaded at least one victim to report Kramer’s abuse in St. Louis. But, he added, there is still a reticence in the Orthodox Jewish community to speak to law enforcement.

Smason said he knows of another molester in the city, but he cannot persuade victims to contact police.

Sexual abuse is difficult enough for many victims to report, but Orthodox Jewish survivors and their families often find it much harder, because of the tight-knit nature of their communities and because of concerns that they are violating religious laws such as mesirah, which prohibits reporting on a fellow Jew to secular authorities. Many are also worried about committing a chilul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name.

Some Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, organizations, such as Agudath Israel of America, still instruct people that unless one has direct knowledge of abuse, such as being a victim himself or herself or personally witnessing such an incident, that person must consult a rabbi before reporting suspicions to the authorities.

Chabad institutions have taken a more liberal approach. A beit din, or religious court, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn issued a ruling around the time that the Melbourne scandal broke, telling followers who suspect abuse that they are not violating religious laws by reporting their suspicions to the police.

Nevertheless, many survivors and their families fear being kicked out of synagogues and schools, or ruining marriage opportunities because of the taint of an abuse allegation.

Smason said people are often reticent to report because they don’t want to sully Judaism’s name, “not realizing that the ultimate chilul Hashem is that these things are kept quiet — and in the process, individuals bounce from community to community.”

Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, immediate past president of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria, said rabbis’ approach to disclosures of sexual abuse has “definitely changed for the better in recent years.” But Kluwgant added that there has been no attempt to cover up abuse in Australia and that the rabbinate there is committed to addressing the issue.

“A lot [of abuse accusations are] based on rumor and innuendo, unless they’re proven in a court of law,” Kluwgant added. “I could tell you lots of lashon hara [evil talk].”

 

 

Rabbi– “Sexual abuse within Jewish community should not be reported to police”

Agudath Israel of America, Rabbinical Council of America come under fire after rabbi says abuse should be reported to rabbis, not police.

NEW YORK – Two Orthodox Jewish groups have released statements attempting to clarify their positions on reporting child abuse.

Agudath Israel of America and the Rabbinical Council of America were responding to what the former called “misleading claims about our stance on reporting suspected child abusers to law enforcement agencies.”

The statements come in the wake of criticism over comments by a leading American Orthodox rabbi, Shmuel Kamenetsky, that abuse should be reported to rabbis rather than police. Kamenetsky is the vice president of Agudah’s Supreme Council of Rabbinic Sages.

Agudah in its statement referred to rabbinic arguments that authorities should be notified when a certain threshold of evidence is met, but “where the circumstances of the case do not rise to threshold level … the matter should not be reported to authorities.”

However, in order to distinguish whether the threshold has been met, the statement continued, “the individual shouldn’t rely exclusively on their own judgment … rather, he should present the facts to a Rabbi.”

Kamenetsky said in a speech July 12 in Brooklyn — while a search was being conducted for an 8-year-old Brooklyn boy, Leiby Kletzky — that the sexual abuse of a child should be reported to a rabbi, who then would determine if the police should be called. Leiby’s dismembered body was found the following day in a dumpster and in the apartment of Levi Aron, who has been indicted for murder.

The speech came under criticism after a recording appeared July 17 on the Failed Messiah blog, which reported that Kamenetsky was repeating Agudah’s official policy banning Jews from reporting sexual abuse to police.

In the recording, Kamenetsky corrects a man who begins a question to the rabbi by saying, “As far as I know, your yeshiva is of the opinion that victims should report these crimes to the authorities.”

“Only after speaking to a rav,” Kamenetsky said.

Survivors for Justice, an advocacy, educational and support organization for survivors of sexual abuse and their families from the Orthodox world, described Kamentsky’s comments as “dangerous,” and called on Agudah to issue a retraction.

The RCA in its statement said that “Consistent with Torah obligations, if one becomes aware of an instance of child abuse or endangerment, one is obligated to refer the matter to the secular authorities immediately, as the prohibition of mesirah (i.e., referring an allegation against a fellow Jew to government authority) does not apply in such a case.”

It also says that “As always where the facts are uncertain, one should use common sense and consultations with experts, both lay and rabbinic, to determine how and when to report such matters to the authorities.”

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IsraHell Racism Against Non Jews Especially Africans

NOVANEWS

by Laura Stuart

Report for the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) – submitted January 30, 2012

The State of Israel, which demands that non Jews will recognise it as “The Jewish State” has been involved in the ethnic cleansing of non Jews i.e. Palestine Christian and Muslim Arabs since its creation. Whilst the Israeli Government passes more and more laws which disadvantage non Jews, less well known is the situation of immigrants and asylum seekers from Africa. This video by the African Refugee Development Center is being presented to the United Nations today. The video explains in detail the basis for the racism of Israelis against non Jews.

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Abu Qatada – Guilty As Charged

NOVANEWS

by Laura Stuart

Yesterday, Home Secretary Theresa May stood in Parliament and said “The right place for a terrorist is a prison cell. The right place for a foreign terrorist is a foreign prison cell far away from Britain”. A chorus of agreement from M.P.s in the House indicated that her statement met with universal approval.

We are reliably informed by the media and by the Government that Abu Qatada is a ”TERRORIST”, in fact not just a terrorist but a “FOREIGN TERRORIST”, so let us see what acts of terrorism Abu Qatada has been charged with. . . well NONE actually.

In fact, Abu Qatada has not been charged with any act of terrorism or indeed charged with any crime at all in the U.K.  He was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment in Jordon – a place known for using evidence gained under torture.

Despite the fact that Abu Qatada has either been in prison or under control order as a terrorist suspect for almost a decade, he has never been brought to trial for the simple reason that there is no evidence against him – only “intelligence”. The fact that this “intelligence” may have been extracted under torture means that Abu Qatada cannot challenge the accusations in an open court. And remember, Abu Qatada was initially given asylum in the U.K. as he fled Jordanian injustice.

Guilty As Charged

The U.S.A. has already scrapped the notion of Habeas Corpus as, in the case of Anwar al Awlaki and his 15 year old son, it murders its own citizens at will and without trial. The U.K. government is not far behind as we also are now also apparently able to imprison and deport people without either evidence or a fair trial. Is it just coincidence that, since 80% of Conservative MPs are now “Friends of Israel”, we are now labeling Palestinian Muslims as “terrorists” and imprisoning them without any need for due process? Perhaps we can we now also emulate the State of Israel and, when we don’t like them, treat the rulings of such bodies as the European Court of Human Rights or the United Nations with complete contempt.

Abu Qatada may be innocent or guilty, it is certainly not for me to pass any judgment on him and anyway, is this not  why we have a legal system in this country? Perhaps with the continuing Zionisation of the British Government and it’s reliance on security advice from pro-Israeli lobby groups it will mean that in future being Muslim, Palestinian, having a big beard and using a kunya will be all that is needed to ensure the verdict of “GUILTY AS CHARGED”

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Norman Finkelstein on BDS Solidarity Cult

NOVANEWS

by Gilad Atzmon

Arguing the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign with Norman Finkelstein from HuffPoMonitor on Vimeo.

A few comments on recent Norman Finkelstein interview with Frank Barat.

Finkelstein has recently bought himself a few enemies within the Palestinian solidarity movement for openly and enthusiastically advocating the Two States Solution. In the last interview it seems as if Finkelstein defends Israel’s right to exist.

From an academic point of view, Finkelstein has a point. He argues that in order to win we have to operate within the parameters set by international law. However, some points should be made here.

It is far from being clear who sets the parameters of international law. Is it really the international community? Or is it just a few powerful Western countries looking to their own particular expansionist interests.

  1. It is also far from being clear whether the international law is either ethically or sensible. Is it ethical to let the Jewish State celebrate its exceptional symptoms at the expense of the indigenous people of the land i.e. the Palestinians? Is it sensible to maintain an aggressive, expansionist, racist, and exclusivist, nuclear Jewish State in the Middle East? Is it safe? Is it good for world peace?
  2. It is far from being transparently obvious to me why an American Jewish academic or any other Western solidarity activist should have a say about the way or manner in which Palestinians should live on their land. I, for instance, have never come across a Palestinian academic preaching at Britain to divide its island by resurrecting the wall at the Scottish border. The meaning of it is simple, there is something fundamentally pretentious in the solidarity discourse and in the resolution discourse in particular. We, for some reason, like to tell others what is right or wrong.
  3. Do we need to discuss resolution for the conflict? Israel is already a one State, it has a single electric grid, one sewage system, one international pre dial number. Yet Israel is dominated politically by an oppressive and racially exclusive Jewish political philosophy. This has to be changed and it will be changed by means of resistance with our solidarity or without it.
  4. Yet, Finkelstein’s criticism of the solidarity movement is largely valid. The recent expulsion of Palestinians and academics from the UK PSC, proves that we aren’t just dealing with a ‘cult’ discourse as Finkelstein suggests, far worse, we are actually dealing with a rabbinical operation that exercises the most repulsive Judaic excommunication tactics.
  5. Finkelstein is correct when he suggests that the achievements of the solidarity ‘cult’ operations are pretty limited. However, he may fail to realise that solidarity with the Palestinians doesn’t end in the West, in NYC, London or Paris. The recent political triumph of Muslim parties in the region is fuelled by Hamas and Hezbollah victories. It is more than likely, that the Palestinians and the Arabs will liberate themselves.
  6. Unlike Finkelstein, I believe that the solidarity movement is already a mass movement. More and more people out there grasp that the continuum between Israel, AIPAC and the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) is the biggest threat to world peace. More and more Brits are astonished to find out that all the British political parties are controlled by the Israel Lobby (Friends of Israel) – CFI, LFI, & LDFI. How many British politicians are as friendly with Hartlepool or Penzance? More and more Brits and Americans grasp that their politicians are for sale. They realise that on the Israeli shopping list, a Western politician comes out much cheaper than a tank. More and more Brits and Americans have come to realise that, in this crucial battle for elementary freedom, ‘We are all Palestinians.’

Norman Finkelstein

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

News update from day 64 of Khader Adnan’s hunger strike

Feb 19, 2012

Today in Palestine

RAMALLAH (Reuters) — The health of a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike for 61 days to protest against his detention, has significantly worsened, his wife said Thursday after visiting her husband in an Israeli hospital. Khader Adnan, 33, a member of Islamic Jihad, has been refusing to eat since mid-December, shortly after his arrest in the occupied West Bank by Israeli forces.
Jerusalem (CNN) — A 33-year-old West Bank baker who has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance to Israeli detention policies entered the 63rd day of a hunger strike Saturday despite a doctor’s warning that he could die any time. “Mr. Khader Adnan is in immediate danger of death,” according to a report issued this week by the Israeli branch of the nonprofit Physicians for Human Rights, which sent a doctor to examine him. Adnan’s two-month protest is the longest hunger strike in Palestinian history and is a high-stakes gamble that increased scrutiny on Israel’s arrest and detention policies of Palestinians.
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) – Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s Ashkelon prison have started an open hunger strike to support Islamic Jihad affiliated prisoner Khader Adnan, the Palestinian prisoners’ society said Sunday. Prisoner Nasser Hmeid told the society’s lawyer Kareem Ajwah that six prisoners already started a hunger strike and that another group joins them every day, a statement from the society said. In a week, he added, all inmates in Ashkelon will be on hunger strike in an attempt to exert pressure on Israel to release Khader Adnan.

Palestinians rally for prisoner

Thousands have rallied in Gaza and the West Bank in support of a Palestinian on the 62nd day of a hunger strike in protest at his detention by Israel.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/int/news/-/news/world-middle-east-17079461

Today marked the seventh anniversary of protests by the village of Bil’in, in the occupied territories, of Israeli confiscation of village land to make way for a Jewish settlement, but the focus of today’s demonstration was imprisoned hunger striker Khader Adnan.
link to mondoweiss.netkhader-adnan-is-honored-at-bilin-protest.html
Jewish Voice for Peace and Ta’anit Tzedek: Jewish Fast for Gaza are calling for a one day fast (from sunrise to sunset) on Friday, February 17, 2012 in solidarity with Khader Adnan, who today is in his 61st day of a hunger strike. Khader began his hunger strike on December 18th, 2011  after he was arrested  in a nighttime Israeli military raid on his home in the West Bank village of Arraba. Since his arrest, Khader has been held in “administrative detention”–without trial or charges against him.  It has been reported that he is affiliated with Islamic Jihad, but no evidence of that affiliation has been presented.  Regardless of his political beliefs, administrative detention and the interrogations which sparked his hunger strike are entirely unacceptable according to international law.
Today Khader Adnan began the 62nd day of his hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention by Israel. He is chained to a bed in Ziv Hospital in Safed even though he has been too weak to walk for several days. In an interview today with The Independent, Randa Adnan — his wife — said “I know my husband. He will not change his mind. I expect him to die.”
Washing your hands of Khader Adnan: My response to weasel words of EU’s Catherine Ashton, Ali Abunimah
Today my colleague David Cronin wrote about the weasel worded response of the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, for comment on the case of Khader Adnan. Here is my response, which I sent her by email.

If #KhaderAdnan was a Jewish terrorist, he might be free, Max Blumenthal

As I write this, Khader Adnan is near death, on the 63rd day of a hunger strike to protest his detention without charges by Israeli occupation authorities. Having been seized on December 17 in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, jailed without trial, humiliated and abused, Adnan is waging one of the longest hunger strikes in Palestinian history.

Standing in solidarity with Khader Adnan
Nehad Khader – Electronic Intifada “We are in solidarity because we can all imagine ourselves as Khader Adnan. Maybe if his jailers thought for one moment that they could also be Khader Adnan they would have more compassion.”

Day 62 and counting. Adnan’s hunger strike continues. On February 15, Israel let his wife Randa see him for the second time. She said “(h)is health has drastically deteriorated from the last time I saw him” a week ago. “I expect the worst. He insists on continuing with the hunger strike.” He wants to live but will die for justice. PLO official Saeb Erekat said Abbas pressed Russia, China, Britain, and EU authorities to help during meetings with acting EU representative to Palestine John Gatt-Rutter, UK Consul-General Vincent Fean, Russian representative Alexander Rudakov, and Chinese PA ambassador Yang Wei Guo.
Today Khader Adnan entered his 63rd day on hunger strike. A trend has taken place on twitter under the name #hungerstrike63days, in an effort to spread the news of a subject that has gotten little to no attention by western media outlets. Even Haaretz the Israeli left wing newspaper only mentioned the strike as it entered its 60th day. One person commented on the trend saying “freedom is more important than food”, another commented “and the world is still indifferent to the injustice”. This trend has taken place not only to spread the news, but also show solidarity with Khader Adnan and the whole Palestinian people.  It’s not clear whether there will be a  #hungerstrike64days, as Khader Adnan’s health is deteriorating minute by minute, and the Israeli court has already rejected his appeal, and blamed him for his own health situation.  PNN will keep you updated on the situation on our website, and through our twitter page @pnnenglish.
After sixty days on hunger strike, Palestinian detainee Khadr Adnan remains shackled to a bed in an Israeli hospital in Safad. Mr Adnan is not an Israeli citizen and no criminal charges have ever been brought against him. He is a Palestinian who was abducted from his home in the occupied West Bank and taken forcibly to Israel. International humanitarian law prohibits “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not… regardless of their motive.” We must assume that the only reason why this matter has been allowed to continue for so long is because the Israelis believe that in this, as in other instances when they treat international law with contempt, they have the power to act with impunity.

Watch: Huwaida Arraf and Ali Abunimah discuss Palestinian strategy, Khader Adnan and BDS on The Stream, Ali Abunimah
On 16 February, Ali Abunimah and Huwaida Arraf appeared on Aljazeera English’s The Stream. Major topics included Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan, the “reconciliation” deal between Hamas and Fatah, and the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Land Theft & Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing / Apartheid & Occupation

Israel Demolishes Buildings in South Hebron-Area Villages
On 15 February, the Israeli military demolished five buildings in the Palestinian village of Saadet Tha’lah and destroyed a water tank and tore down 50 trees in the Palestinian village of Ar Rakeez.

Israeli national park expropriates Palestinian land
Israel’s use of national parks to expropriate Palestinian land and prevent development in East Jerusalem is the subject of Bimkom’s latest, January, report.
Bedouins in E1: “I said that this was my home, that I was born here, and he told me to go to Ramallah”
Yousef Thayafeen, 37, lives with his wife and their five children in Wa’r al Beik, an area bordering the town of Anata, a suburb of East Jerusalem cut off from the city by the separation wall.

Attacks on Palestinians
Israeli airstrikes early Thursday morning injured six persons, including rescue workers. Meanwhile, area residents say this is not the first time they have been subjected to Israeli strikes.
The Israeli occupation forces carried out a small-scale incursion into northern Gaza Strip on Friday evening and bombed a residential area east of Al-Bureij camp without any reported injuries.

Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that two residents were wounded, on Saturday evening, when the Israeli Air Force bombarded a blacksmith workshop in Az-Zeitoun neighborhood, east of Gaza City.

Detainees

Detained Hamas commander goes on hunger strike
Hassan Salame, a commander in the armed wing of Hamas, has decided to go on an open-ended hunger strike starting on Thursday.

Detainees In Ramon Punished For Protesting Abuse
The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) reported Friday that Palestinian political detainees held at the Ramon Israeli prison, are being punished for protesting abuse against their families, who are being ordered to undergo humiliation and strip search before they visit their detained family members.

Palestinian’s Trial Shines Light on Justice System

As a grass-roots leader goes on trial, having been incriminated by a teenager, questions are being raised about the legal system Palestinians are placed into.

Ex-political prisoner shares journey though Israeli jails
Alexis Thiry–There were 4,937 political prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention centers in November 2011 according to Adameer, a Palestinian non-governmental organization. Yazan Abdulhadi was one of them before he was released on November 28, 2011, between the two swaps of the deal between Israel and Hamas to free Gilad Schalit (not as part of the deal). On January 7, 2012, he agreed to give an interview that would be published in +972 Magazine

Popular Protests

IOF quell peaceful march of Kafr Qaddum village
Dozens of Palestinians and foreign activists suffered different injuries on Friday when their peaceful anti-settlement march were violently attacked by Israeli soldiers in Kafr Qaddum village.

BDS
Veteran British pop star Engelbert Humperdinck faced calls to refrain from returning to Israel on Saturday, ahead of a planned trip to Lebanon in March. Humperdinck, famous for his hits “Release Me” and “The Last Waltz,” performed in Tel Aviv in December despite a campaign led by British university students. He is due to perform at Casino Du Liban in Jounieh on March 9 and 10. A letter from the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon (CBSI) condemned Humperdinck for performing in Israel but did not call for his performances to be cancelled.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) will vote on a resolution to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola at its next General Assembly to be held June 30 – July 7, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pa. The church is considering divestment because “products made by those companies are used in nonpeaceful ways in the Israel-Palestine conflict” and dialogue and shareholder actions with the companies have not yielded results.
A new handbook for BDS activists around the world offers tactical and practical suggestions for strengthening global boycott actions.

Video: right-wing groups attack U.S. professors over Ilan Pappe speaking tour, Allison Deger

A group called the AMCHA Initiative, founded by University of California faculty, launched a campaign against three California professors over an upcoming Ilan Pappe speaking tour.  The organization currently has two campaigns, one against Cal State Northridge professor David Klein (also highlighted in the latest video), and one against the University of California system, both over charges of anti-Semitism.
So Norman Finkelstein gave an interview in London on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign (BDS). I noticed that Finkelstein’s views on the subject have been attracting a lot of attention and criticism. I was asked about such views during my UK university tour last month and in each case I stated that I would not publicly criticize Finkelstein although I disagree with some of the views he holds. But his recent remarks, I felt, went too far.
Bahrain
Bahrain released all females political prisoners bar one on Thursday, with prominent activist Zainab Al-Khawaja detained indefinitely, according to activists. Twelve female protesters were released on Thursday evening in a move welcomed by pro-democracy campaigners. Khawaja, who has become the leading female activist in the country after writing about the protests under the Twitter name @angryarabiya, remains in jail. Khawaja was arrested last Sunday as she tried to approach the Pearl Roundabout, the scene of large-scale protests last year until Bahraini and Saudi security forces crushed the revolt.
Saudi-backed Bahraini security forces have launched a fierce overnight crackdown on anti-regime protesters across several regions of the country, Press TV reports.

Bahrain police, protesters clash, Western activists held (Reuters)
Reuters – Bahraini police detained two Western activists who had joined a women’s protest on Friday, after clashing overnight with protesters in Shi’ite districts of the Gulf Arab state.

People & Power – Bahrain: Audacity of hope 
One year on from the suppression of pro-democracy protests in Bahrain, activists are still hoping that political reform can be achieved. Is the hope that inspired last year’s uprising still shining brightly?

Why Bahrain is not Syria, Pepe Escobar
How poignant that the first anniversary of a true Arab pro-democracy movement in the Persian Gulf – then ruthlessly crushed – falls on February 14, when Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the West. Talk about a doomed love affair. And how does Washington honor this tragic love story? By resuming arms sales to the repressive Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty in power in Bahrain. So just to recap; United States President Barack Obama told Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to “step aside and allow a democratic transition to proceed immediately” while King Hamad al-Khalifa gets new toys to crack down on his subversively pro-democratic subjects. Is this a case of cognitive dissonance? Of course not; after all Syria is supported by Russia and China at the United Nations Security Council while Bahrain hosts the US’s Fifth Fleet – the defender of the “free world” against those evil Iranians who want to shut down the Strait of Hormuz.

Egypt

Moussa: The peace treaty with Israel should be reconsidered

Amr Moussa, a likely candidate for the presidential elections in Egypt, said on Thursday that his country should reconsider some sides of its peace treaty with Israel.
Lebanon
BEIRUT (Ma’an) — A Lebanese military court has handed down three death sentences for spying for Israel, two of them in absentia, the Now Lebanon news website reported Friday. It cited a report from the state National News Agency saying the court ordered the sentences for Haitham Sahmarani, who is in custody, and Sahira Sahmarani and her husband Mohammed Amin Khazaal, who are both at large. More than 100 people have been arrested on suspicion of spying for the Israeli Mossad since April 2009, including members of the security forces and telecom employees, Now Lebanon reported.

Nasrallah: our enemy knows how we avenge Mughniyeh
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said his party was not involved in recent bombings that took place in India, Georgia, and Thailand earlier this month, while reiterating the party’s intention to avenge the killing of its leader Imad Mughniyeh four years ago. “It is insulting for Hezbollah to avenge its great leader by killing ordinary Israelis, as fr those who are our target, they know who they are and they are taking measures and I tell them to remain doing so for we shall avenge Imad Mughniyeh in an honorable way,” Nasrallah said.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi women hold sit-in protest in Qatif
A group of Saudi women have staged a sit-in protest in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province to draw international attention to their sufferings.

Saudi authorities should free Hamza Kashgari and drop any charges against him based on comments he made on Twitter expressing his personal religious views. On the morning of February 12, 2012, Malaysian authorities deported Kashgari back to Saudi Arabia to face charges of apostasy there, hours before lawyers obtained a Malaysian High Court injunction against his deportation.

Those who threaten ‘Twitter blasphemy’ writer Hamza Kashgari should stop and remember what Islam is for | Tehmina Kazi
Islam is not a sword or shield for the global political stage, but a belief system designed to purify the human heart. As of 6pm (UK time) today, 7,894 people had signed a petition urging the Saudi government to drop all charges of blasphemy against Hamza Kashgari, a columnist for the Jeddah-based daily Al-Bilad. Kashgari, 23, had sparked outrage for detailing an imaginary conversation with the prophet Muhammad on his Twitter account, in which he addressed him as an equal: “I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.”

IOC/Saudi Arabia: End Ban on Women in Sport
As the world prepares for the 2012 Olympics, the Saudi government is systematically discriminating against women in sports and physical education, and has never sent a female athlete to the Olympics, with no penalty from the international Olympic authorities. Human Rights Watch called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to make ending discrimination against women in sports in the kingdom a condition for Saudi Arabia’s participation in Olympic sporting events, including the 2012 London Games.

“Mustapha Ouanes, an Algerian-born engineer and a member of the Saudi royal family’s entourage, has been convicted of rape in New York, the Atlantic Wire reported.  Ouanes was charged for bringing two women back to his hotel room after a night of drinking in January 2010 and raping one of them after they fell asleep, according to the Atlantic….Ouanes, a Canadian citizen, works for a firm that contracts with the Saudi royal family, and spent about half his time working and traveling with a Saudi prince, the Atlantic reported.”  Let me tell you what I know about the story and which has not been reported yet: the Prince in question is none other than Prince `Abdul-`Aziz bin Fahd, and the man in question works for Saudi Oger (owned by the Hariri family).
Syria

Syria: Fears for activists arrested in Damascus raid

The Syrian authorities must release or charge a group of at least 14 people arrested on Thursday in a raid on the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression in Damascus, Amnesty International said today. A lawyer based in Syria told Amnesty International that the centre’s director Mazen Darwish and Syrian-American blogger Razan Ghazzawi were among those detained.
Israel’s Efraim Halevy believes a collapse of the Assad regime in Syria could deal a blow to ally Iran’s regional ambitions and nuclear program. Instability in Syria poses stark security risks for Israel, but it also offers a chance to deliver a stinging blow toIran’s regional ambitions and even its nuclear program, Israel’s former national security advisor says.

Analysis / Op-ed

“Four days in Ramallah through the lens of dehumanization” – remembering Anthony Shadid, Paul Mutter

I didn’t know Anthony Shadid personally, but I respected his writing. His last story for the NYT, on militias running amok in Libya, was perhaps the best one I’d read about the country’s internal conflict since it began in 2011. It reminded readers – well, those few who care to recall Libya – that “interventions” do not end when the last bomber flies back to base, whether we’re claiming “mission accomplished” in the name of neoconservatism or the “responsibility to protect.”

The end of the ‘two-state solution’ is the beginning of a more just future

Feb 19, 2012

Jeff Halper

Even as I write this, the bulldozers have been busy throughout that one indivisible country known by the bifurcated term Israel/Palestine. Palestinian homes, community centers, livestock pens and other “structures” (as the Israel authorities dispassionately call them) have been demolished in the Old City, Silwan and various parts of “Area C” in the West Bank, as well among the Bedouin – Israeli citizens – in the Negev/Nakab. This is merely mopping up, herding the last of the Arabs into their prison cells where, forever, they will cease to be heard or heard from, a non-issue in Israel and, eventually, in the wider world distracted from bigger, more pressing matters.

An as-yet confidential report submitted by the European consuls in Jerusalem and Ramallah raises urgent concerns over the “forced expulsion” of Palestinians – a particularly strong term for European diplomats to use –from Area C of the West Bank (the 60% of the West Bank under full Israeli control but which today contains less than 5% of the Palestinian population). Focusing particularly on the rise in house demolitions by the Israeli authorities and the growing economic distress of the Palestinians living in Area C, the report mentions the fertile and strategic Jordan Valley (where the Palestinian population has declined from 250,000 to 50,000 since the start of the Occupation), plans to relocate 3000 Jahalin Bedouins to a barren hilltop above the Jerusalem garbage dump and the ongoing but accelerated demolition of Palestinian homes (500 in 2011).

At the same time the “judaization” of Jerusalem continues apace, a “greater” Israeli Jerusalem steadily isolating the Palestinian parts of the city from the rest of Palestinian society while ghettoizing their inhabitants, more than 100,000 of which now live beyond the Wall. Some 120 homes were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2011; over the same period the Israeli government announced the construction of close to 7000 housing units for Jews in East and “Greater” Jerusalem. “If current trends are not stopped and reversed,” said a previous EU report, “the establishment of a viable Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders seems more remote than ever. The window for a two-state solution is rapidly closing….”

In fact, it closed long ago. In terms of settlers and Palestinians, the Israeli government treats the whole country as one. Last year it demolished three times more homes of Israeli citizens (Arabs, of course) than it did in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The demolition of Bedouin homes in the Negev/Nakab is part of a plan approved by the government to remove 30,000 citizens from their homes and confine them to townships.

None of this concerns “typical” Israelis even if they have heard of it (little appears in the news). For them, the Israeli-Arab conflict was won and forgotten years ago, somewhere around 2004 when Bush informed Sharon that the US does not expect Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders, thus effectively ending the “two-state solution,” and Arafat “mysteriously” died.

Since then, despite occasional protests from Europe, the “situation” has been normalized. Israelis enjoy peace and quiet, personal security and a booming economy (with the usual neoliberal problems of fair allocation). The unshakable, bi-partisan support of the American government and Congress effectively shields it from any kind of international sanctions. Above all, Israeli Jews have faith that those pesky Arabs living somewhere “over there” beyond the Walls and barbed-wire barriers have been pacified and brought under control by the IDF. A recent poll found that “security,” the term Israelis use instead of “occupation” or “peace,” was ranked eleventh among the concerns of the Israeli public, trailing well behind employment, crime, corruption, religious-secular differences, housing and other more pressing issues.

A for the international community, the “Quartet” representing the US, the EU, Russia and the UN in the non-existent “peace process” has gone completely silent. (Israel refused to table its position on borders and other key negotiating issues by the January 26th “deadline” laid down by the Quartet, and no new meetings are scheduled). The US has abandoned any pretense of an “honest broker.” Months ago, when the US entered its interminable election “season,” Israel received a green light from both the Democrats and Republicans to do whatever it sees fit in the Occupied Territory. Last May the Republicans invited Netanyahu to address Congress and send a clear message to Obama: hands off Israel. That same week, Obama, not to be out-done, addressed an AIPAC convention and reaffirmed Bush’s promise that Israel will not have to return to the 1967 borders or relinquish its major settlement blocs in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. He also took the occasion to promise an American veto should the Palestinians request membership in the UN – though that would merely amount to an official acceptance of the two-state treaty that the US claims it has been fostering all these years. No, as far as Israel and Israeli Jews are concerned, the conflict and even the need for pretense is over. The only thing remaining is to divert attention to more “urgent” global matters so that the Palestinian issue completely disappears. Voila Iran.

Oh, but what about the “demographic threat,” that “war of the womb” that will eventually force a solution? Well, as long as Israel has the Palestinian Authority to self-segregate its people, it has nothing to worry about. While the Palestinian Authority plays the “two-state solution” game, Israel can simply herd the Palestinians into the 70 tiny islands of Areas A and B, lock the gates and let the international community feed them – and go about placidly building a Greater Land of Israel with American and European complicity. Indeed, nothing demonstrates self-segregation more than Prime Minister Salem Fayyad’s neoliberal scheme of building a Palestinian …something… “from the ground up.” By building for the well-to-do in new private-sector cities like Rawabi, located safely in Area A, by building new highways (with Japanese and USAID assistance) that respect Israeli “Greater” Jerusalem and channel Palestinian traffic from Ramallah to Bethlehem through far-away Jericho, by expressing a willingness to accept Israeli territorial expansion in exchange for the ability to “do business,” Fayyad has invented yet a new form of neoliberal oppression-by-consent: viable apartheid (viable, at least, for the Palestinian business class). And as in the Bantustans of apartheid South Africa, the Palestinian Authority maintains a repressive internal order through its own American-trained/Israeli-approved militia, a second layer of occupation. (During the 2008 assault on Gaza, one of the few places in the world in which there were no demonstrations was the West Bank, where they were forbidden by the Palestinian Authority. Then-Prime Minister Olmert crowed that this was evidence of how effectively the Palestinians had been pacified.)

Indeed, by clinging to the two-state solution and continuing to participate in “negotiations” years after they have proven themselves a trap, the Palestinian leadership plays a central role in its own people’s warehousing. The reality – even the fact – of occupation gets buried under the diversions set up by the fraudulent yet unending “peace process.” This only enables Israel not only to imprison the Palestinians in tiny cells; witness today’s mini-ethnic cleansing, just one of thousands of micro-events that have the cumulative effect of displacement, expulsion, segregation and incarceration. It also enables Israel to then blame the victims for causing their own oppression! When a Palestinian leadership assumes the prerogative to negotiate a political resolution yet lacks any genuine authority or leverage to do so, and when, in addition, it fails to abandon negotiations even after they have been exposed as a trap, it comes dangerously close to being collaborationist. For its part, Israel is off the hook. Instead of going through the motions of establishing an apartheid regime, it simply exploits the willingness of the Palestinian Authority to perpetuate the illusion of negotiations as a smokescreen covering its virtual imprisonment of the Palestinian “inmates.” Once the current mopping up operations are completed, the process of incarceration will be complete.

Today the only alternative agency to the Palestinian Authority is segments of the international civil society. The Arab and Muslims peoples for whom Palestinian liberation is an integral part of the Arab Spring, stand alongside thousands of political and human rights groups, critical activists, churches, trade unions and intellectuals throughout the world. Crucial as it is for keeping the issue alive and building grassroots support for the Palestinian cause that will steadily “trickle up” and affect governments’ policies, however, civil society advocacy is a stop-gap form of agency, ultimately unable to achieve a just peace by itself. We, too, are trapped in the dead-end personified by the two-state solution, reference to a “peace process” and their attendant “negotiations.” There is no way forward in the current paradigm. We must break out into a world of new possibilities foreclosed by the present options: a “two-state” apartheid regime or warehousing.

In my view, while advocacy and grassroots mobilization remain relevant, several tasks stand before us. First, we must endeavor to hasten the collapse of the present situation and subsequently, when new paradigms of genuine justice emerge from the chaos, be primed to push forward an entirely different solution that is currently impossible or inconceivable, be that a single democratic state over the entire country, a bi-national state, a regional confederation or some other alternative yet to be formulated. The Palestinians themselves must create a genuine, inclusive agency of their own that, following the collapse, can effectively seize the moment. Formulating a clear program and strategy, they will then be equipped to lead their people to liberation and a just peace, with the support of activists and others the world over.

A necessary and urgent first step towards collapsing the otherwise permanent regime of oppression in Israel/Palestine is that we stop talking about a two-state solution. It’s dead and gone as a political option – if, indeed, it ever really existed. It should be banned from the discourse because reference to an irrelevant “solution” only serves to confuse the discussion. Granted, this will be hard for liberals to do; everyone else, however, has given up on it. Most Palestinians, having once supported it, now realize that Israel will simply not withdraw to a point where a truly viable and sovereign state can emerge. The Israeli government, backed by the Bush-Obama policies on the settlement blocs, doesn’t even make pretence of pursuing it anymore, and the Israeli public is fine with the status quo. Nor does the permanent warehousing of the Palestinians seem to faze the American or European governments, or the Arab League. Even AIPAC has moved on to the “Iranian threat.”

Behind the insistence of the liberal Zionists of J Street, Peace Now, the Peace NGOs Forum run out of the Peres Center for Peace and others to hang on to a two-state solution at any cost is a not-so-hidden agenda. They seek to preserve Israel as a Jewish state even at the cost of enforcing institutional discrimination against Israel’s own Palestinian citizens. The real meaning of a “Jewish democracy” is living with apartheid and warehousing while protesting them. No, the liberals will be the hardest to wean away from the two-state snare. Yet if they don’t abandon it, they run the risk of promoting de facto their own worst nightmare of warehousing while providing the fig-leaf of legitimacy to cover the policies of Israel’s extreme right – all in the name of “peace.” This is what happens when one’s ideology places restrictions on one’s ability to perceive evil or to draw necessary if difficult conclusions. When wishful thinking becomes policy, it not only destroys your effectiveness as a political actor but leads you into positions, policies and alliances that, in the end, are inimical to your own goals and values. Jettisoning all talk of a “two-state solution” removes the major obstacle to clear analysis and the ability to move forward.

The obfuscation created by the “two-state solution” now out of the way, what emerges as clear as day is naked occupation, an apartheid regime extending across all of historic Palestine/Israel and the spectre of warehousing. Since none of these forms of oppression can ever be legitimized or transformed into something just, the task before us becomes clear: to cause their collapse by any means necessary. There are many ways to do this, just as the ANC did. Already Palestinian, Israel and international activists engage in internal resistance, together with international challenges to occupation represented by the Gaza flotillas and attempts to “crash” Israeli borders. Many civil society actors the world over have mobilized, some around campaigns such as Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), others around direct actions, still others engaged in lobbying the UN and governments through such instruments as the Human Rights Council, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and international courts. There have been campaigns to reconvene the Tribunal that, under the Fourth Geneva Convention, has the authority and duty to sanction Israel for its gross violations. Dozens of groups and individuals alike engage in public speaking, mounting Israel Apartheid Weeks on university campuses and working through the media. And much more.
And here is where Palestinian civil society plays a crucial role, a role that cannot be played by non-Palestinians. If it is agreed that the Palestinian Authority must go if we are to get beyond the two-state trap – indeed, the dismantling of the PA being a major part of the collapse of the present system – then this call must originate from within the Palestinian community. Non-Palestinians must join in, of course, but the issue of who represents the Palestinians is their call exclusively.

Non-Palestinians can lso suggest various end-games. I’ve written, for example, about a Middle East economic confederation, believing that a regional approach is necessary to address the core issues. The Palestinian organization PASSIA published a collection of twelve possible outcomes. It is obvious, though, that it is the sole prerogative of the Palestinian people to decide what solution, or range of solutions, is acceptable. For this, and to organize effectively so as to bring about a desired outcome, the Palestinians need a new truly representative agency, one that replaces the PA and gives leadership and direction to broad-based civil society agency, one that has the authority to negotiate a settlement and actually move on to the implementation of a just peace.

As of now, it appears there is only one agency that possesses that legitimacy and mandate: the Palestinian National Council of the PLO (although Hamas and the other Islamic parties are not (yet) part of the PLO). Reconstituting the PNC through new elections would seem the most urgent item on the Palestinian agenda today – without which, in the absence of effective agency, we are all stuck in rearguard protest actions and Israel prevails. Our current situation, caught in the limbo between seeking the collapse of the oppressive system we have, and having a Palestinian agency that can effectively lead us towards a just resolution, is one of the most perilous we’ve faced. One person’s limbo is another person’s window of opportunity. Say what you will about Israel, it knows how to hustle and exploit even the smallest of opportunities to nail down its control permanently.

“Collapse with agency,” I suggest, could be a title of our refocused efforts to weather the limbo in the political process. Until a reinvigorated PNC or other representative agency can be constituted, a daunting but truly urgent task, Palestinian civil society might coalesce enough to create a kind of interim leadership bureau. This itself might be a daunting task. Most Palestinian leaders have either been killed by Israel or are languishing in Israeli prisons, while Palestinian civil society has been shattered into tiny disconnected and often antagonistic pieces. At home major divisions have been sown between “’48” and “’67” Palestinians; Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank have been effectively severed; and within the West Bank restrictions on movement among a bewildering array of “areas” – A, B, C, C-Restricted, H-1, H-2, nature reserves, closed military areas – have resulted in virtual, largely disconnected Palestinian mini-societies. Political divisions, especially among secular/traditional and Islamic factions, have been nurtured, not least by Israel. Overall, the Palestinian population, exhausted by years of sacrifice and resistance, impoverished and preoccupied with mere survival, has been left largely rudderless as many of its most educated and skilled potential leaders have left or are forbidden by Israel to return.

For its part, the Palestinian leadership has done little to bridge the wider divisions amongst those falling under PA rule, Palestinian citizens of Israel, residents of the refugee camps and the world-wide Diaspora, divisions that have grown even wider since the PLO and the PNC fell moribund. Indeed, major portions of the Palestinian Diaspora (and one may single out especially but not exclusively the large and prosperous communities of Latin America), have disconnected from the national struggle completely. The Palestinian possess some extremely articulate spokespeople and activists, but they tend to be either a collection of individual voices only tenuously tied to grassroots organizations, or grassroots resistance groups such as the Popular Committees that enjoy little political backing or strategic direction.

Ever aware that the struggle for liberation must be led by Palestinians, our collective task at the moment, in my view, is to bring about the collapse of the present situation in Palestine in order to exploit its fundamental unsustainabilty. The elimination of the Palestinian Authority is one way to precipitate that collapse. It would likely require Israel to physically reoccupy the Palestinian cities and probably Gaza as well (as if they have ever been de-occupied), bringing the reality of raw occupation back to the center of attention. Such a development would likely inflame Arab and Muslim public opinion, not to mention that of much of the rest of the world, and would create an untenable situation, forcing the hand of the international community. Israel would be put in an indefensible position, thus paving the way for new post-collapse possibilities – this time with an effective and representative Palestinian agency in place and a global movement primed to follow its lead.

But given the underlying unsustainability of the Occupation and the repressive system existing throughout historic Palestine – the massive violations of human rights and international law, the disruptive role the conflict plays in the international system and its overt brutality – collapse could come from a variety of places, some of them unsuspected and unrelated to Israel/Palestine. An attack on Iran could reshuffle the cards in the Middle East, and the Arab Spring is still a work in progress. Major disruptions in the flow of oil to the West due an attack on Iran, internal changes in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, instability in Russia and even the fact that China has no oil of its own could cause major financial crises worldwide. Sino-American tensions, environmental disasters or Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban with unpredictable Indian reactions may all play an indirect yet forceful role. Who knows? Ron Paul, President Gingrich’s newly appointed Secretary of State, might end all military, economic and political support for Israel, in which case the Occupation (and more) would fall within a month.

Whatever the cause of the collapse – and we must play an active role in bring it about – it is incumbent upon us to be ready, mobilized and organized if we are to seize that historic moment, which might be coming sooner than we expect. Effective and broadly representative Palestinian agency will be critical. Collapse with agency is the only way to get “there” from “here.”

Media critic calls out pundits for ignoring Khader Adnan, their long awaited ‘Palestinian Gandhi’

Feb 19, 2012

Adam Horowitz

Peter Hart, Activism Director for FAIR, writes in the Huffington Post:

For years prominent corporate media pundits have told us that the world — and the media — would embrace a dramatic, non-violent Palestinian resistance movement. If only such a movement — perhaps led by a Gandhi-like figure — were to finally emerge, we are told, the media coverage will come, and sympathy from across the world will strengthen support for the Palestinian cause.

This is nonsense — there has been non-violent Palestinian resistance for years. But that fact hasn’t stopped pundits like Time’s Joe Klein, as recently as last year, from wondering why Palestinians haven’t found their Gandhi. Or New York Times columnist Tom Friedman from writing a column (5/24/11) arguing that if Palestinians would simply adopt peaceful resistance, “it would become a global news event. Every network in the world would be there.”

Or consider New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, writing (7/10/10) under the headline “Waiting for Gandhi,” that if Palestinians would finally pursue nonviolent resistance, “Those images would be on televisions around the world.”

“So far there is no Palestinian version of Martin Luther King Jr.,” Kristof wrote — though he singled out one possible candidate, activist Ayed Morrar, who “spent six years in Israeli prisons but seems devoid of bitterness.”

Perhaps that is the standard — jailed by the Israelis, but not bitter.

But what about someone, right now, resisting Israeli detention practices? Someone whose hunger strike is attracting attention around the world? That is Khader Adnan.

Hart’s piece ends, “[Adnan’s] plight is sparsely covered in the U.S. corporate media, and would seem to go unmentioned by these pundits who seem eager to tell stories like his. It might lead one to believe that Friedman and his ilk don’t really mean what they write.”

If Khader Adnan was a Jewish terrorist, he might be free

Feb 19, 2012

Max Blumenthal

This post originally appeared on Al Akhbar English:

As I write this, Khader Adnan is near death, on the 63rd day of a hunger strike to protest his detention without charges by Israeli occupation authorities. Having been seized on December 17 in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, jailed without trial, humiliated and abused, Adnan is waging one of the longest hunger strikes in Palestinian history. A 33-year-old baker, Adnan has been an activist in the popular resistance faction Palestinian Islamic Jihad for several years, but has never been implicated in any act of violence. As with the more than 300 Palestinians held by Israel in administrative detention, Israeli military authorities refuse to say why Adnan was imprisoned. Human Rights Watch has demanded that Israel “immediately charge or release” Adnan, as has Amnesty International. But the Israeli authorities continue to ignore the pleas of human rights groups.

Unfortunately for Adnan, he was not a Jewish terror suspect.

ChaimPearlman
Chaim Pearlman (Photo: Getty Images)

In July 2010, Jerusalem police arrested a Jewish extremist named Chaim Pearlman. Pearlman was the prime suspect in a cold-blooded settler stabbing spree that left four Palestinians dead. Pearlman had previously engaged in acts of random violence against Palestinians, while maintaining an active role in the Kach terrorist organization. For ten days, the Shin Bet intelligence service subjected him to harsh interrogations while denying him access to legal counsel. Finally, Israeli High Court Justice Edmund Levy admonished the Shin Bet for refusing to produce evidence of Pearlman’s guilt. “Never in my life have I seen such behavior,” Levy  claimed,  despite having presided over numerous cases of Palestinian Israelis detained in a similarly lawless fashion.

Haaretz, the liberal Israeli daily, reacted with shock to Pearlman’s treatment, proclaiming in an editorial that “the Shin Bet must mend its ways.” The editors declared that while prosecuting Jewish terrorism is important, “the ends do not justify the means.” “Even the war against terror must be conducted using legal means,” the Haaretz editors harumphed. After Justice Levy refused to extend Pearlman’s detention by 8 days, Pearlman was set free and greeted by a cheering crowd of Jewish extremists.

The Israeli High Court has yet to demand evidence of Adnan’s guilt. Nor have any voices in the mainstream of Israeli opinion expressed their indignation at his treatment. Instead, a military appeals court has ruledthat Adnan must stay in detention until at least May. One of Adnan’s hands and both of his feet are shackled to a bed at a hospital in Safed. His wife keeps a poster in the family’s living room that features his image above a caption. It reads, “My honor is more important than my food.”

Troubled Jeopardy!: Travels through Trebekistan

Feb 19, 2012

Nima Shirazi

jeopardy

Back in January, a $1000 first-round clue on Jeopardy!, falling under the category “Judea,” asked, “Galilee, Samaria & Judea in the south were the 3 traditional divisions of this ancient area with a still-current name.” The correct question was “What is Palestine?”

None of the three contestants even buzzed in to respond. (Incidentally, this was a question a number of GOP presidential candidates had been answering incorrectly

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A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Understanding the need for always asking “why”?

 

Posted: 19 Feb 2012

 

America wants “human terrain” to whitewash occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan

 

Posted: 19 Feb 2012

 

Years after 9/11, the US military believed that counter-insurgency meant learning about the countries you were invading and occupying. Sensible decision but nothing could alter the fact that America was conducting a brutal occupation of Muslim lands. Resistance rightly followed.

Human Terrain Systems” were employed – anthropologists, social scientists and others – to be the kinder, softer face of the American war machine. This business is increasingly privatised.

Tonight I watched a documentary about this pernicious trend called “Human Terrain: War Becomes Academic”:

 

The New Yorker featured an essay on this subject back in 2006 and profiled the Australian David Kilcullen. Since then, the mainstream media has been filled with countless stories about Kilcullen about his supposed counter-insurgency expertise. Alas, Iraq and Afghanistan are complete failures, both occupations are rejected and the fact that he now runs a pro-profit consultancy firm in this area is largely ignored.

Welcome to a MSM that loves military figures who give good quotes. Shame they fail miserably in achieving their goals.

Under-resourced PNG police forced to protect foreign resource interests at expense of locals

 

Posted: 19 Feb 2012

 

Mining in Afghanistan unlikely to bring stability to the nation

 

Posted: 18 Feb 2012

 

When the war in Afghanistan is truly over – ie. never – mineral exploitation is likely to bring further strife to the country. Western multinationals aiming to make a killing? Alas, yes, writes McClatchy:

An Afghan-American company that failed to win a multibillion-dollar contract to develop one of Afghanistan’s most lucrative mines alleges that the bidding process was riddled with irregularities and that the winning bidders may not be able to meet production targets.

The claims, which were backed by a former senior Afghan mining official, suggest that a potential key source of revenue for the Afghan government — which will be saddled with massive bills after U.S. forces withdraw from the country — could be in jeopardy.

The Afghan-American firm, Acatco, was one of about two dozen bidders that competed for the right to extract minerals from the Hajigak iron ore mine in Afghanistan’s central Bamiyan province. Industry experts have called Hajigak the jewel of Afghanistan’s mining sector.

Contracts for developing four sections of Hajigak were awarded in November — three to a consortium of Indian firms led by the state-owned Steel Authority of India, or SAIL, and one to Kilo Goldmines, a Canadian firm. But Acatco said that these companies had failed to demonstrate they had the funds to carry out the project.

“This is against the spirit and the letter of the tender documents,” Acatco president Nasir Shansab wrote last month to Afghanistan’s minister of mines, Wahidullah Shahrani. He added that “those bids should have been disqualified.”

Acatco last week asked Afghanistan’s parliamentary complaints commission to investigate the Hajigak contracts, citing illegality and possible corruption in the bidding process. The commission has scheduled a hearing for Saturday and summoned Shahrani, but a spokesman for the minister told McClatchy that Shahrani was departing on an overseas trip and wouldn’t appear at the hearing.

A former Afghan deputy minister of mines, Mohammad Akram Ghiasi, who resigned two years ago after accusing Shahrani of illegal and unprofessional conduct, told McClatchy in an interview, “If I was still deputy minister of mines, I would not have declared SAIL and Kilo as the winning bidders.”

According to company officials, Acatco, based in Herndon, Va., was the only firm among the six that were short-listed in the bidding that had secured the funding to develop Hajigak. Shansab said the company had $1.2 billion in guaranteed funds. By contrast, he quoted numerous international media reports that said the Indian consortium would struggle to raise money for the project.

Afghanistan’s mineral wealth has long been seen as a potential source of income that could sustain the troubled nation after U.S.-led international forces withdraw in 2014. Afghanistan has massive bills to pay — particularly the costs of 300,000 soldiers and police that U.S.-led forces are training — but some U.S. experts believe that the country’s mineral sector could generate as much as $1 trillion in revenue.

 

The awarding of the contracts to a state-led Indian consortium was widely seen in Kabul as a guarantee that India, the economic power in South Asia, would remain committed to Afghanistan after international forces withdraw.

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