Archive | May 12th, 2012

New French president Francois Hollande, who claims to ‘dislike the rich’, has THREE homes on French Riviera

NOVANEWS

By PETER ALLEN

France’s new Socialist president owns three holiday homes in the glamorous Riviera resort of Cannes, it emerged today.

The 57-year-old who ‘dislikes the rich’ and wants to revolutionise his country with high taxes and an onslaught against bankers is in fact hugely wealthy himself. 

His assets were published today in the Official Journal, the gazette which contains verified information about France’s government. 

Mixed messages: Socialist president Francois Hollande portrays himself as an enemy of the rich - and yet he holds assets worth almost £1millionMixed messages: Socialist president Francois Hollande portrays himself as an enemy of the rich – and yet he holds assets worth almost £1million

To the undoubted embarrassment to the most left-wing leader in Europe and a man who styles himself as ‘Mr Normal’, they are valued at almost £1million. 

It will also reinforce accusations that Hollande is a ‘Gauche Caviar’, or ‘Left-Wing Caviar’ – the Gallic equivalent of a Champagne Socialist.

Among other assets are three current accounts in French banks – two with global giant Societe Generale and one with the Postal Bank – and a life insurance policy.

But it is the fabulous property portfolio which is causing the greatest stir among millions of ordinary French people who voted for Holland over the conservative Nicolas Sarkozy last Sunday. 

Hollande regularly attacked the ‘Bling-Bling’ presidency of Sarkozy, whose multi-millionaire lifestyle with Italian-born heiress Carla Bruni contributed to his humiliating election defeat after just one term in office.

Bling-Bling and Mr Normal: Hollande's campaign was helped by public disapproval of the multi-millionaire lifestyle enjoyed by his rival Nicolas Sarkozy (left)Bling-Bling and Mr Normal: Hollande’s campaign was helped by public disapproval of the multi-millionaire lifestyle enjoyed by his rival Nicolas Sarkozy (left)

As well as the spacious Paris apartment he shares with his lover Valerie Trierweiler, Hollande owns a palatial villa in Mougins, the prestigious hill-top Cannes suburb where the artist Pablo Picasso used to live.

It is valued by the Official Journal at €800,000 (£642,000), and is just a short drive from Hollande’s two flats in the Cannes. They are each priced at €230,000 (£185,000) and €140,000 (£112,000).

Hollande has promised to cut his pay by 30 per cent after he is officially sworn in as President next week, but he will still be on €156,000 (£125,000) a year, plus fabulous expenses and other perks. 

Shacking up: Hollande shares his large Paris apartment with partner Valerie TrierweilerShacking up: Hollande shares his large Paris apartment with partner Valerie Trierweiler

He intends to set a top tax rate of 75 per cent, and to increase France’s controversial wealth tax – moves which have already seen wealthy people threatening to leave the country, and move abroad to places like the UK.

Meanwhile, Hollande wants to pour public money into France’s public service, creating thousands of new jobs.

He has has also threatened to block the eurozone’s new financial treaty unless Germany agrees to renegotiate its stringent austerity measures.

Hollande wants the treaty, seen as crucial to ensuring the survival of the single currency, to focus more on encouraging growth.

Benoit Hamon, spokesman for Hollande’s Socialist Party, said that the ‘politics of austerity’ was failing to improve the continent’s financial crisis.

He said the president-elect was determined to win a ‘trial of strength’ over the new fiscal pact, which aims to impose budgetary discipline on the 25 European Union countries who have signed up.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2142847/Francois-Hollande-French-president-claims-dislike-rich-3-French-Riviera-homes.html#ixzz1ugogCeaa

Posted in France1 Comment

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

State Dep’t has nothing to say about hunger strikers ‘one way or another’

May 11, 2012

Philip Weiss

Today’s State Department briefing. And spokesperson Victoria Nuland has nothing to say about the hunger strikers, even as the news is all over global media. She takes the question. Meaning she might get back with a statement later. These people are on the verge of death. Shameful. Oh but Sec’y Clinton congratulated Netanyahu on his new unity government.

QUESTION: Okay. And one – a couple more. On the Palestinian prisoner issue, I wonder if you are aware of the situation of striking – hunger striking Palestinian prisoners?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything for you on that, Said.

QUESTION: Well, do you have a position on the hunger strike of prisoners who have not been charged with anything and they have been held for a long time? They’ve gone today – their 70th day of a hunger strike. Thaer Halahla and many others, five others, are probably – are likely to – they could face – I mean, they could die in the next day or so. Would the United States Government take a position on that?

MS. NULAND: Well, let me take the question, Said, because frankly, I don’t have anything one way or the other. I don’t know if we have a comment on it.

QUESTION: Because, lastly, I mean, it – if something happens to these prisoners, it could be a flashpoint between Israelis and the Palestinians.

MS. NULAND: No, I understand the question. Let me take it, okay?

QUESTION: Thank you.

Thousands march across the West Bank in support of the prisoners’ hunger strike

May 11, 2012

Popular Struggle Coordination Committee

prisonersmarchPalestinians march in support of prisoners on hunger strike, Nablus, May 11, 2011.
(Photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/ActiveStills)

Press Release
Friday, May 11, 2012

Marches, demonstrations and clashes took place all across the West Bank in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike, on its 25th day.

Thousands took to the streets today in Palestinian cities and villages across the West Bank, in solidarity with over 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike.

Hundreds protested in the town of Beitunia, adjacent to Ramallah, in front of the Israeli Ofer prison and military court, which have become a recent flashpoint with nearly daily demonstrations. Several moderate injuries from rubber-coated bullets and tear-gas projectiles were recorded, including one to the head.

Twenty year-old Majd Barghouti was injured in the eye by a rubber-coated bullet shot by Israeli soldiers who tried to suppress another demonstration, in the village of Aboud, north-east of Ramallah. He was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital, where he is expected to undergo surgery.

In the village of Kufer Qaddoum, south-east of Nablus, hundreds went out to demonstrate despite a tight siege laid over the town from all sides. In their attempt to quell the protest, Israeli forces used tear-gas, rubber-coated bullets and a high-pressure water cannon hosing a foul-smelling liquid, which Israel calls the Skunk. About an hour into the demonstration, a group of soldiers shot live ammunition towards the protesters from a fairly short range, but did not manage to hit anyone.

Some 300 demonstrators gathered in the village of al-Walajeh, east of Bethlehem, which will soon be encircled by Israel’s Wall from all sides. The march advanced towards a nearby settler-road, and for a short time, protesters managed to re-take a house whose residents were expelled by Israel in 1948. As they pushed the protesters back into the village, soldiers used mass amounts of tear-gas and shot rubber-coated bullets.

Additionally, thousands of people marched through the cities of Hebron, Ramallah and Nablus, as well as in the villages of Bil’in, Nabi Saleh, Ni’ilin and al-Ma’asra.

Background
25 days ago, on April 17, some 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails launched an open-ended hunger. Their demands are simple and the strike’s slogan, echoing through the prison walls, is just as plain – liberty or death. The lives of all prisoners on strike are currently in danger, but among them is a smaller group, which has been striking for a longer period and whose lives are under immediate threat.

Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab have not eaten for well over 70 days – since the 29th of February. Israeli courts have rejected their appeals and refused to free them from administrative detention where they remain without charge or trial, subject to secret evidence and secret allegations. They are in critical condition.

Hassan Safadi has been refusing food since the 2nd of March, Omar Abu Shalal, 54, since the 4th of March, Mahmoud Sarsak, the only Gazan to have been incarcerated under Israel’s Illegal Combatants Law, since the 24th of March, Mohammed al-Taj, 40, also since the 24th of March and Ja’afar Ezzadeen, 41, since the 27th of march.

The prisoners’ key demands include:

Ending the policy of solitary confinement and isolation;
End to the use of administrative detentions;
The restoration of visitation rights to families of prisoners from the Gaza Strip, a right that has been denied to all families for more than 6 years;
Canceling ‘Shalit’ law, which restricts prisoners’ access to educational materials as punitive measure. The law remains intact despite a prisoner swap deal last October.
Ending systematic humiliation, including arbitrary strip searches, nightly raids and collective punishment.

Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike have been hit hard with retaliation from Israel Prison Services, including beatingstransferring from one prison to another, confiscation of salt (an act that could have severe health consequences for hunger strikers), denial of family and lawyer visits, and isolation and solitary confinement of hunger strikers.

CNN’s Amanpour interviews Kopty and Pollak on Palestinian prisoner strike

May 11, 2012

Adam Horowitz

The Israeli consul is selling ‘brand Israel’, but very few in one upper west side synagogue are buying

May 11, 2012

Philip Harris

Brand Israel

On Wednesday evening, May 9, Ido Aharoni, the Israeli consul general in New York, spoke at Ansche Chesed, a Conservative synagogue on New York’s Upper West Side to which our family belongs. I attended with two aims: to see how members of our quite liberal but strongly Zionist congregation responded to the talk, and secondarily to ask a question or make a comment if the audience turned out to be too willing to swallow what I was sure would be a large dose of Israeli hasbara. I was pleasantly surprised on several counts.

First, attendance was miniscule, with only 29 or 30 people in attendance out of a congregation of two to three hundred families. When I was growing up in Connecticut in the nineteen fifties and sixties, a talk by the Israeli consul would have packed the auditorium at my Conservative shul. Although there were no doubt other factors, including the fact that the talk was on a week night and not in the middle of one of Israel’s many wars, it had been announced in the synagogue’s newsletter and placed on the events calendar, and the rabbi followed up with an email on the morning of the talk. I interpret the scant turnout as a clear sign that large numbers of liberal, congregationally affiliated Jews are no longer interested in listening to what they probably peg as official Israeli propaganda.

By way of contrast I also note that a couple of years ago our rabbi, Jeremy Kalmanofsky, to his great credit scheduled a talk by Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Israeli-American co-founder of Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel. The talk, on the subject of Israeli house demolitions and anti-Arab violence by settlers in the Occupied Territories, was held in the same room as Wednesday’s gathering, but drew twice as many people.

Second, I expected the audience, which was heavily skewed in an elderly direction, would be very supportive of the Israeli consul, but I was wrong. The consul’s talk was entirely about the “Brand Israel” marketing campaign as the wave of the future in Zionist PR. Aharoni spoke frankly as if we were close allies, which I guess was his expectation. Instead, many in the overwhelmingly Zionist audience were quite dissatisfied with, and even hostile to, the hollow hasbara discourse and marketing plan which the consul described.

Although the talk had been billed as a discussion of the “successes and challenges of Israeli diplomacy,” the consul began by asking Rabbi Kalmanofsky what subject he should focus on. The rabbi specified the“delegitimization” of Israel and what could be done about it.

Aharoni then proposed to the audience a psychological experiment. How would we rate a Mr. Smith, a well-dressed, apparently prosperous man in his early sixties — “he’s actually sixty-four” — who appeared before us if we knew nothing about him? He answered this question by stating that “psychological research” has shown that, knowing nothing about him, we would rate him a five on a scale of one to ten.

Aharoni told us that a Mr. Jones, younger and not well-dressed, apparently poor, would appear next, and tell us that Mr. Smith was his next door neighbor, had built a fence between them that stole part of Mr. Jones’s land, and was settling some of his relatives on the stolen land. Now how would we rate Mr. Smith? Again he answered the question by stating that “research has shown” that we would lower our rating of Smith to a three.

Finally, Mr. Smith re-appears and denies Mr. Jones’s claims, stating that the supposedly stolen land has actually been in his family for three thousand years, and he has a document — the bible — to prove it. According to Aharoni our rating of Smith would now return to a five.

The point of this story is that Mr. Smith (Israel) can never get above a five in this context, that being what Aharoni referred to as the “geopolitical” aspects of the situation. According to Aharoni about seventy percent of Americans support Israel, but actually neither know nor care much about it. This is a result of that seventy percent being bombarded by an endless stream of news about the Arab-Israel conflict, which causes them to turn away from the whole subject.

Aharoni’s solution to the problem — Israel being stuck at a neutral five rating, large segments of the public not really caring about or identifying with Israel — is to completely change the conversation from a broadly targeted campaign selling Israel’s side of the conflict story, to a narrowly targeted campaign that totally ignores the conflict and instead promotes Israel’s positive aspects to specific niche markets. Ths campaign is “Brand Israel”, and unless I misheard him, Aharoni claimed that he had been an originator of the concept. The target markets he mentioned included:

  • Gays — the infamous pinkwashing with Tel Aviv’s gay scene as the lure
  • Runners — Israel has three marathons and one Ironman triathlon each year, as well as a number of half marathons
  • Investors — (see Start-up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer)
  • Birding — many inter-continental bird migration routes meet over Israel, making Israel a birder’s paradise every spring and fall, as hundreds of avian species cross the region
  • Environmentalists (e.g., Green Zionist Alliance)
  • Art, music, film, fashion (e.g. AbbaNibi.com)

Aharoni claimed that “Brand Israel” is having its intended effect, that tourism in Israel is up substantially since the campaign began. Almost as an afterthought, as if to say “we’re getting our money’s worth”, he added that the Israeli government has spent a lot of money on market research to design the “Brand Israel” campaign, including hiring the big four accounting and consulting firm Ernst and Young to do a detailed study. The study included a comparison of Israel’s marketing problem with that of New York City following the city’s fiscal and crime crises in the nineteen seventies.

But when he went on to compare “Brand Israel” to New York City’s “Big Apple” marketing campaign, asserting that the campaign turned the city’s image around and led to a huge increase in tourism, a woman in the back spoke out: “But crime really did decline.” This opened the floodgates. A minute or two later Rabbi Kalmanofsky commented that the woman’s point was a good one, that the consul (and presumably Israel) was not addressing the substantive issues (i.e., human rights) that concern most liberal Zionists.

A man who appeared to be in his late forties or early fifties brought up the issue of Israel’s treatment of J Street. After apologizing profusely for what he was about to say, he complained that the Israeli government did not respect J Street or engage in genuine dialogue with them. Aharoni responded that J Street is a special case because they lobby on behalf of Israel’s opposition parties, activity which he claimed disrespected Israeli democracy and was beyond the pale.

There’s chutzpah and then there’s chutzpah, but this was really too much. I interrupted Aharoni to point out that the behavior he was (I believe falsely) imputing to J Street was in fact what Israeli governments, politicians and AIPAC (de facto agency of the current Israeli government) do in the United States as a matter of routine.

One of the older women present, probably in her eighties, sounding very agitated, accused Aharoni of ignoring the substance of the problem. Others made similar comments. There were a few supportive comments as well, but even a fortyish self-professed AIPAC supporter seemed miffed that what Aharoni was describing was not specific enough — he wanted proof that this plan was working.

At the end of the question period, as people rose and began to leave the room, an acquaintance who has many Israeli relatives turned to me and said in a tone of semi-disgust, “he didn’t say anything about the real issues.” I think that about summed up the night.

While I would not draw any exaggerated conclusions about the declining power of hasbara from this event, I do think that the evening clearly demonstrated the slowly but steadily fading allure of the Zionist project for liberal Jews . And the open and detailed description of the Israeli marketing campaign, “straight from the horse’s mouth,” while not surprising in its gist, was a fascinating glimpse into the official Israeli mentality.

Liberal Zionists are afraid their parents will reject them if they come out

May 11, 2012

Philip Weiss

Ilyse Hogue
Ilyse Hogue

For weeks now I have been meaning to post the speech below, an astonishing speech given at J Street’s conference last March 26 by a longtime progressive activist, Ilyse Hogue. It’s best I get out of the way and let Hogue speak for herself, but a few words in advance.

Hogue’s was the most majestic performance at J St after Mustafa Barghouti’s appearance. Her ten-minute speech was beautifully written, and beautifully delivered. Its thrilling surprise ending brought the crowd to its feet.

But the speech is tragic. You will see in Hogue’s words everything that is problematic in American progressive Jewish identity: our vanguard liberal position in American politics and culture coupled with our reactionary stance on Israel and Palestine and the Arab Spring, our cowardice on the one issue for which we have the greatest responsibility, and our inability to grapple with our wealth and influence, even as we are shouting down the Tea Party. You will see in Hogue’s emotionally-honest account what Israel represents to countless American Jews: family but also sexuality, and connection to a more primal, earthy, less materialistic existence.

When you wonder why Paul Krugman was so afraid to speak out, and why Rick Perlstein was afraid to speak out — big brave liberals– it’s because of these community adhesions and constraints.

Finally, notice that when Hogue does advocate a political position (on prisoners), it is a retrograde position, completely divorced from Palestinian reality, from any awareness of Palestinian conditions, from any interaction with the beautiful young people in Tahrir.

That said, I honor Hogue’s feelings. She was brave to address them so honestly. And she is representative of a huge segment of Jewish life in the Zionist captivity. But listen to her:

I’m Ilyse Hogue, and as I was listening to the incredible rich portfolio of all the speakers that precede me, I have this tune going through my head. Anyone here remember ‘Schoolhouse Rock’? I kept thinking, ‘I’m just a Jew yeah, I’m only a Jew.’ And the reason for that is, while my progressive political resume is long, when I stand here before you today, I stand here as a Jew. I’ve not been involved in progressive Jewish politics the way all the speakers that I follow have. And that’s really important for what I have to say today.

Anyone here ever seen the movie ‘Milk’? About Harvey Milk in San Francisco. Really, really, really powerful movie. For me one of the most incredible scenes in that movie was when Sean Penn playing Harvey Milk gathered all his core community together in his living room after a political loss and said to them, ‘I figured out what our obstacle to victory is. I have it now, it is that until every American knows that they know one of us, we will never win.’ When I got the call from Carinne [Luck, J Street’s vice president of field and campaigns] to be on this panel, my mind went to that scene. My mind went to that scene, because I’m not out, I’m not out as a J street supporter.

So I went to the same place that that man in the scene went to when Harvey Milk handed him the telephone and said, ‘Call your parents now, tell them that you’re out.’ I felt the same determination that now is the time to speak out and that same terrified feeling that I could be rejected by those I most love.

I’m not a shy person. I don’t scare easily. I was the political advocacy communication director for move.on org for six years, I got in my fair share of fights. [wild applause] I have negotiated with bank CEOs for stronger environmental standards on their lending policies. I have stood my ground when rightwing radical activists have shouted down congresspeople supporting the health care law in town halls of 2009. None of that stuff has scared me as much as standing here right today with you all, right now with the cameras rolling and the tweeters tweeting and saying, ‘I’m out, I’m a J Street supporter.’

I come from a very conservative Jewish Texan family. I love my parents. They’re wonderful people. I get my activism from them. My mom was the president of the JCC in Dallas, my dad was the president of the [Jewish] Federation. Some of my earliest memories are of my mom being very involved in Operation Moses airlifting Ethiopian Jews to save them from famine. My dad in his role as as president of the Holocaust Museum in Dallas has expanded the content of that museum from the the persecution of Jews in World War 2 to include the persecution of African Americans in Texas. I’m very proud of that.

My parents as well as most of our tightknit Jewish political community in Texas are also AIPAC supporters. They do lobby days in Dallas. And they are that 7 percent you hear about where Israel does decide their vote in elections. Because I love my parents, I have made sure to avoid this topic at all costs in my progressive activism. I have not wanted to go there, to disappoint them, to make them sad, to make them want to reject me.

But I love Israel, I love Israel with all my heart. The family lore has it that when I was a child and they took me I didn’t sleep for two weeks straight because I was so invigorated by my surroundings and I didn’t want to miss a single thing. I love Israel the way you do when you’re 16 and you’re free from your parents’ grasp for the first time and go on a team tour and you get to go out and experience things on your own. I fell in love with Israel when I fell in love for the first time, with a boy in Israel, drinking Maccabi beers and dancing at the nightclubs in Tiberas. Anyone been there? ‘You spin me right round, right round.’ That was the tune that will always remind me of Israel and my first boyfriend. It will always take me back there.

I remember being young and playing hide and seek in the Old City inside the Dung Gate with my Israeli cousins and teaching them how to shout, ‘Come out, come out wherever you are’ as we ran along the twisty turns in the stone walls. I remember watching my older cousins bargain in the shouk. It was a sport, I wanted to learn it, I wanted to be as exciting and passionate as my Israeli cousins. It was such a contrast to the safety of my strip mall existence back in Texas.

I love Israel with everything I have, and because I love Israel, I can’t not notice that the range is getting smaller. That when American teen tours go, they don’t go to the souk as much. They’re not free to wander the Arab quarter. Many of them don’t go to Bethlehem anymore. And the place that I used to go when I was in my mid 20s and went back to study in college… the night club I went to hang out in Tel Aviv where they played Grateful Dead tunes, that was bombed. That was bombed several years ago. It’s no longer there.

I cant help but notice, we’re retracting, that we’ve taken the unprecedented step of trading one soldier for thousands of Palestinians, emboldening Hamas, and undercutting Fatah.

And I can’t help but notice when I do talk to, when I do venture into political terrain with my Israeli and my American family that hope seems to be retreating and everybody seems to be hunkering down. And it is for this reason that I’m here today. I’m not an expert. I’m not an expert on this issue at all. Everybody who will speak here this weekend will be more an expert than me. I have probably already belied my stature by some of the language I’ve chosen to use in this talk.

It’s part of what’s kept me silent– that nuance, that sophistication that’s required to avoid the rhetorical and political landmines that we don’t even know we’ve hit until we step on them, that’s what’s kept me silent.

But I cant be silent anymore, because I understand that in order to secure the future of Israel so that my nieces can go back and create the kinds of memory– experience the magic of floating in the Dead Sea and the power of watching the sunrise over Masada– we cannot continue with the status quo. We have to open an honest conversation, and opening an honest conversation requires us to challenge the conventional wisdom that questioning– questioning in itself is heresy.

And in order to achieve the questions and the open dialogue, we all need to go somewhere where we fear to tread. When we’re in rooms like this, it’s really easy to feel like we’re the majority. But I know I’m not the only one who has to go home and get nervous and have my heart clutch when I have to have this conversation. But it’s more important than ever– to walk to the seder table, to walk into the living room, to walk into the communities, and say, I’m out, I’m proud, I support J street. And I support an incredibly open conversation, so we can secure a safe future for Israel.

I am the future of pro-Israel and I invite you to join me and ‘come out come out wherever you are.’

Palestinians shut down a second int’l aid organization to demand action on dying hunger strikers

May 11, 2012

Allison Deger

th father
Hunger striker Tha’er Halahleh’s father protesting on Thursday, May, 10, 2012 outside of the ICRC building in Ramallah.

For the second day in a row Palestinians shut down the offices of an international organization in Ramallah, expressing dissatisfaction over a lack of action on behalf of 2500 Palestinians in their fourth week of a hunger strike against conditions of Israeli detention and imprisonment. Families of the dissident prisoners organized today’s action, which follows yesterday’s closure of a United Nations building, also in Ramallah.

And across the region additional protests were staged at Ofer prison, Megiddo prison, el-Krom, Haifa and Yaffa.

icrc
Protestor outside of the ICRC. (Photo: @occupy2gether)

“We are targeting those who we believe can help to bring an end to the hunger strike and save the lives of our prisoners,” said protester and activist Ahmad, who requested his last name not be used.

After the protesters blocked the entrance of the International Committee for the Red Cross, the aid organization issued a video response.

Elpida Papachatzi, with the ICRC’s protection department for Israel and the occupied territories, addressed protesters’ concerns on camera.

“We ask the detainee authority to transfer actually those detainees who have been on hunger strike for long term without delay.” She continued: “We urgently request the Israeli authorities to allow detainees on long term hunger strike to receive visits from their families.”

 

Additionally, Papachatzi said the ICRC meets with prisoners on long term hunger strike and after the visits, “we share oral messages with the families of the detainees.” And, “at the end of each visit we share our findings with the Israeli authorities in a confidential and bi-lateral discussion,” said Papachatzi.

icrc 3
(Photo: @occupy2gether)

At today’s ICRC protest, a group of between 10 and 12 demonstrators were present, including the father of long term hunger striker Tha’er Halahleh, who along with Bilal Diab is now in the 74th day of fast. Both Halahleh and Diab are edging closer to death. In-depth information about their health has not been widely reported, as both hunger strikers have been denied regular visits by independent physicians from Doctors without Borders.

Providing insight on their deteriorating conditions, today the Telegraph published a letter written two days ago by Halahleh, to his family:

To his parents, he wrote: “I salute you from the middle of the battle and from the depth of my suffering. My morale is very high and my will very strong. Do not worry about me.”

Turning to his wife Shireen and his daughter Namer, born a fortnight after his arrest two years ago, he added: “I cannot explain with words my love for you. I do this for the sake of God and my homeland, my wife and my daughter. Take care of her and take care of your health and forgive me that I cannot be there to hug you.”

But in a letter to his lawyer on the same day, he struck a more sombre note, writing that he had lost more than 50lb.

“I have inflammation in my hands. It comes and goes. I’m bleeding in my stomach and from my gums. I have mouth ulcers and my muscles are shrinking — I feel my body has stopped operating normally,” he wrote.

“My excrement is black and I feel very cold. The doctors have been insulting. One told me: ‘I hope you die.'”

Earlier this week, Halahleh and Diab appealed their sentences to an Israeli military judge. The court ruled to extend their detention and re-interrogate both hunger strikers, stating, “hunger strikes are not relevant to decide on length of administrative detention as such.” Without hesitation, activists said the ruling was a “death sentence.” Later that same day reports circulated that both hunger strikers had received an offer from the Israeli authorities to end their imprisonment, conditioned by deportation to Gaza. The Palestine Information Centre (PIC) was notified on the deal through Azzam Diab, brother of Bilal Diab. The PIC reported:

Detainee Azzam Diab, the brother of Bilal, said that he was surprised at the presence of Askalan jail wardens in his cell on Sunday morning. He said that they asked him to go with them to Ramle prison hospital to convince his brother and Halahle to agree to end their strike in return for their deportation to Gaza.

For decades, Israel has used deportation as a mechanism to squash the dissidence of prisoners with rumbling stomachs. During the first Intifada busloads of prisoners, sometimes hundreds were transported over the borders of both Israel and the West Bank into Lebanon.  And in 1992, Israel deposited 400 Palestinians in Lebanon, handing them each $50 and some clothes as they exited their homeland. More recently, former hunger striker Hana Shalabi, whose protest lasted 43 days, was expelled to Gaza upon her release.

Critics of Israel’s deportation policy denounced the practice as a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits moving populations across state lines. Both Halahleh and Diab rejected Israel’s proposal, opting to continue striking against their administrative detention, or imprisonment without charge.

In addition to Halahleh and Diab, six other long-term hunger strikers are in critical condition. They are Hassan Safadi- Day 68 of hunger strike; Omar Abu Shalal; Day 66 of hunger strike; Mohammad Taj; Day 55 of hunger strike_Jaafar Azzedine; Day 51 of hunger strike; Mahmoud Sarsak; Day 50 of hunger strike; Abdullah Barghouti; Day 30 of hunger strike.

Prisoners are demanding their most basic rights from the Israeli authorities, including family visits and an end to solitary confinement, or isolation. There are a total of 19 Palestinian prisoners locked behind iron doors in isolation, including Mahmoud Issa who has spent a decade in solitary confinement. In an unexpected move today, Israeli prison authorities offered to release Issa along with 15 others, from isolation. The terms of their reintroduction into the general prison population are not yet confirmed.

But, for Ahmad who joined the prisoners’ families outside of the ICRC building today, the pressure to release those in isolation did not come from international monitors, rather “all of the pressure came from behind bars.”

‘NYT’ child abuse story is latest episode in a great awakening

May 11, 2012

Philip Weiss

Many readers think that I posted yesterday about the ultra-Orthodox child abuse exposed by the New York Times because I want to embarrass Jews. While it is true that I will use embarrassment (and rage and scorn and anything else in the armamentarium) against Jews who support the oppression of Palestinians (and partly for selfish reasons, to save my religious group from a cult), this was not my motivation yesterday. In fact, I meant to celebrate the progress of social attitudes. So let me clarify.

The Catholic child abuse scandal took me by surprise. When I was covering the Bush-Gore election in December 2000, I ran into a lonely middle-aged guy picketing a Catholic church  in Washington who said he came out there every weekend to protest what was done to him. And from his shirt pocket he got out a photograph of himself as a smiling boy and said, This was me before my soul was crushed… I came home telling my wife I wanted to write about it. In one of her rare errors, she advised me not to, it was too offbeat.

Fast forward. Last Christmas I was at my wife’s cousin’s house in Philadelphia standing outside at a small bonfire with several of her cousins. We were all talking about the Bill Conlin story, which had just broken in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Conlin is a great sportswriter in Philly; I knew him when I worked at the Daily News with him many years ago. And because of the Penn State Sandusky-Paterno story, which had broken earlier that fall, three women and a man had come forward to say that in the ’70s when they were children, Conlin had touched their genitals.

[Conlin’s niece Kelly] Blanchet, now a prosecutor in Atlantic City, and the others said they were speaking out now because the alleged sexual assaults and cover-up at Pennsylvania State University brought back painful memories and reminded them of the secrecy that shrouded their own assaults.

Conlin retired when the story broke, and standing at the fire, I said I found this moving in many ways. I had thought the sexual abuse issue was special to the Catholic church– to the celibacy and hierarchy and authoritarianism of the church. No: it had bedeviled other institutions, including the militaristic sports establishment…

Well, then my wife and her cousins piped up and began talking about sexual abuse in schools they had gone to. In essence, they stated that at every school they had attended a teacher was well known as an abuser. And this had gone on everywhere in the 70s– and from time immemorial. I found their stories shocking.

It struck me that night that because of the Catholic church scandal and its sequels, our society is experiencing an awakening. We are uncovering important new terrain of man’s inhumanity to man. The truth is that sexual abuse has gone on everywhere, in countless institutions where children and power intersect. The discovery of these horrors is now widespread and imperative, and it will make society better. That is why I jumped on the Ultra Orthodox story yesterday.

(H/t ScottRoth76.)

 

Settlers knew Ulpana was built on privately-owned Palestinian land but went ahe

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May 11, 2012

Kate

and other news from Today in Palestine

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Exile

Video: West Bank barrier threatens villagers’ way of life
BBC Magazine 9 May — Anthropologists say Battir and its lands should be given protected status — Israel is being urged to reroute its controversial West Bank barrier away from the lands of an ancient Palestinian village with a unique agricultural system. The BBC’s Wyre Davies visited Battir, whose inhabitants fear their traditional way of life will disappear … For more than 2,000 years, seven natural springs have given life to the village and its fields. Children still play, almost incongruously, in an old Roman bath built centuries ago at the spot, in the middle of the village, where one of the springs emerges. The simple irrigation system used today is as it was in ancient times. Water is shared between Battir’s eight main extended families. A simple system of manually diverting water via sluice gates means that fruit and vegetables from the small plots on the lower slopes are renowned for their freshness and quality.
link to www.bbc.co.uk

Karmei Tsur: Poisoning the vine with Zionism
ISM 8 May by ‘Joseph’ — When Ali Awad visited his orchard on Friday morning before the midday prayer he noticed nothing out of the usual. But eight hours later, when he returned to his land in order to gather grape leaves to sell in the local market, he was shocked to find that his trees had been poisoned. The grape leaves, which Ali depends on substantially for income, had died and shriveled up, making them impossible to sell. Twelve peach trees belonging to Ali’s neighbor were also destroyed. Ali’s three dunums of farm land, where 28 grape trees have been growing for over 30 years, are directly adjacent to the barbed wire fence which separates the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar from the illegal Zionist settlement of Karmei Tsur.
link to palsolidarity.org

The Occupation demolishes a water well near Beit Hanina
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 9 May — The occupation authorities demolished, on Wednesday 9th May, a water well owned by the citizen Walid Dkidk in Al-Merwaha neighborhood in Beit Hanina in occupied Jerusalem. According to local sources, bulldozers of the occupation Municipality, demolished the well under the pretext of being built without a permit, mentioning that the municipality refuses to issue building permits to Palestinians in the region. The sources pointed out that the occupation bulldozers demolished the well without any prior warning
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

IOF soldiers destroy Palestinian crops south of Al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 10 May — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) destroyed vast areas of Palestinian cultivated land lots south of Al-Khalil on Thursday. Othman Jabarin, the coordinator of the popular committee in Janba to the south east of Yatta town, told Quds Press that IOF soldiers deployed in a large area of land and pitched tents to launch military exercises. He said that the soldiers destroyed one thousand square dunum of land cultivated with wheat and barley. Jabarin underlined that the IOF soldiers’ act inflicted heavy losses on farmers who were about to reap their crops.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Settlers prevent farmers from reaching their land
IMEMC 10 May — The General Director of the Tekoa Municipality, Tayseer Abu Mifrih, reported to WAFA News Agency that a group of settlers from the Tekoa settlement, built on Palestinian land in the Roman area, prevented the Palestinian owners of the land from accessing it for cultivation. The land is next to the settlement and is planted with olive trees, wheat and barley  He added that settlers’ attacks on the Palestinian people of the town have been ongoing for approximately one week.
link to www.imemc.org

NPA orders to remove the sign of the Information Center, flags, and the decoration lights in Wadi Hilweh
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 10 May — The Banna family received an order from Israeli national Parks Authority to remove a sign thats written on it “Behind the tourist site” that belongs to Wadi Hilweh Information Centre-Silwan and to remove the flag that says “I love you Silwan” and remove the lights as well. The locals considers this order as a racist move since these kind of orders do not apply on the settlers, the opposite is right, the settlers put signs whenever and wherever they wish without asking anyone or any authority.  The Israeli National Parks  Authority explained that the signs, the flags and the lights are affecting the whole view of their new National Park. The removing order had a deadline, the signs must be removed [by] Saturday 12.5.12
link to silwanic.net

Court injunction delays demolitions of Jerusalem-area Bedouin homes
IMEMC 10 May — The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center obtained on Wednesday an injunction order for Khan al-Ahmar Kurshan community. This temporary injunction prevents the demolition of homes of the eight families that received 24-hour eviction notices on Sunday, 6 May … The injunction does not have an expiry date. However, the Israeli Civil Administration has seven days to provide its response to the court regarding this decision. This response will guide any further decisions of the court …The ICA officers informed those present in the community that “the community had built illegally, and that Area C was not for Palestinians.”
link to www.imemc.org

Court reverses decision, prevents eviction of Palestinian family by JNF / Mairav Zonszein
[photo of family] 972mag 9 May — The Jerusalem District Court ruled in favor of the Ruweidi family from East Jerusalem last week (May 2), accepting the claim that their home is not ‘absentee property’, as the Jewish National Fund has sought to prove in court since the 1990s. The Ruweidi family will thus be able to continue living in their home … Sameer abu Alaa al Ruweidi, Juma‘a’s nephew, expressed the family’s relief at the court’s decision: “This house was one of the first four houses in Wadi Hilweh, built by my great great great great grandfather. First of all, we give thanks to God. We also pray that the rest of the land that we own, which has been taken by the settlers, will be returned to us, and that all of the Palestinian houses that have been taken over by settlers in Jerusalem will be returned to their owners.” The court affirmed that the house, located in the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood of Silwan and referred to as “Plot 51,” is in fact owned by Juma’a Muhammad Saalim al-Ruweidi, now 85 years old, who was born raised in the house.
link to 972mag.com

Settler leaders knew homes were built on private Palestinian land, says Ulpana developer
Haaretz 10 May — Settler leaders knew from the start that Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood was built partly on privately owned Palestinian land, police documents reveal, even though residents claim they bought the houses in good faith. Yoel Tsur, CEO of the company that built the neighborhood and owns 24 of the 30 houses that the High Court of Justice has ordered razed, admitted in a police interrogation three years ago that it was built on land whose purchase was never finalized.
link to www.haaretz.com

Netanyahu: Israeli cabinet to weigh approval of illegal West Bank outpost
Haaretz 10 May — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled Thursday a special cabinet meeting to discuss the possibility of sanctioning the West Bank outpost of Ulpana Hill through High Court-bypassing legislation. The meeting, due to be held on Friday, will be the first to include Kadima head and new Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, following a recently signed unity government deal.
link to www.haaretz.com

Ten years on from Nativity Church siege, deportees ‘forgotten’
[with 2002 video] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 May  — Ten years after Israel exiled 39 Palestinians taking refuge in Bethlehem’s Nativity Church, deportees say they have been forgotten by Palestinian leaders. On May 10, 2002, Israeli forces ended a 39-day siege on the church after striking a deal with Palestinian leaders to send 39 people given sanctuary in the church to Gaza and Europe. When Israeli tanks surrounded Bethlehem on April 2, 2002, around 220 locals — including around 40 priests and nuns — took shelter in the church. Over the next 39 days, eight Palestinians were killed inside the church and 27 others injured. The siege on the site believed to be Jesus’ birthplace sparked outrage in the Vatican as monks sheltering inside pleaded for international assistance. Former Bethlehem Governor Salah Tamari headed the negotiations team to end the siege, and told Ma‘an TV the deportation deal was reached without his knowledge.
After a decade in exile, deportees say they have been abandoned by the Palestinian Authority and all political factions. They have not been allowed to return to their families in the West Bank.
link to www.maannews.net

Israeli rights group: Destroying Palestinian homes illegal
Al-Akhbar 10 May — A leading Israeli human rights group has written to the country’s Attorney General to urge him to abandon plans to destroy the houses of two Palestinians who killed five Israelis. The B’Tselem letter said it was wrong to punish the families of Amjad and Hakim Awad, convicted of murdering five members of the Fogel family in 2011, for actions they did not commit. The Israeli Security Agency had urged the houses to be demolished, punishing the family for the actions of the brothers. B’Tselem stressed that such a decision would be both illegal and immoral.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Gaza

Israeli forces detain Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 May — Israeli naval forces on Thursday detained two fishermen off the northern Gaza coast, Gaza’s Ministry of Agriculture said. The men, from Beit Lahiya, were fishing north of Gaza City, the ministry said in a statement … The ministry said that fishing provides the sole source of income for many families in Beit Lahiya. It said there has been a recent increase in the number of fishermen detained by Israeli forces.

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

Nasrallah: We can hit any Zio-Nazi target

NOVANEWS

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah says ”terror” group has bolstered its capabilities since Second Lebanon War, and can now destroy any specific target within occupied Palestine.

ynet

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened in a speech on Friday that the terror group has bolstered its capabilities and can now destroy any specific target within “occupied Palestine.”

Nasrallah told supporters via a video link that if a new war breaks out, the group will ruin targets in Israel for every building destroyed in Beirut.

“The era in which we are afraid and they are not is over,” he said. “The time has come to declare that we are here to stay, and they must cease to exist.”

He said that Hezbollah is “capable of striking very specific targets not only in Tel Aviv but everywhere in occupied Palestine.”

Nasrallah asserted that Israel’s goal in the Second Lebanon War was to “crush the resistance” – and not to drive Hezbollah away from southern Lebanon’s Litani River or to liberate soldiers captured by the organization, as the Jewish state claimed.

“The war has failed to achieve its goal,” he said.

“The Israeli enemy has tried to make our lives hell,” he added. “The question is, why wasn’t it content with the killings in the battlefield or with bombing military bases? Why did it expand its aggression to destroy homes and schools? It committed war crimes.”

Nasrallah thanks Iran

In 2006, Hezbollah and Israel fought a 34-day war that killed about 1,200 people in Lebanon and 160 in Israel. Hezbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets at Israel during the war and is believed to have upgraded its munitions in recent years.

Nasrallah’s speech focused on the rehabilitation of the Dahiya district in Beirut, an area that was severely damaged in the war.

“Today we celebrate the victory of restoration after the war,” he said. “(…) The homeowners insisted on rebuilding their houses on the same spots where they were previously destroyed, and that’s a message of celebration that is sent to the Israelis. This is the will of the people.”

He mentioned the funds that were allocated by Iran for the renovation of the district.

“Without these funds, we wouldn’t have been able to complete the restoration so quickly,” he said.

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Al Qaeda Bomb Plot: Would-Be Bomber Was CIA Informant

NOVANEWS

By EILEEN SULLIVAN,

MATT APUZZO

and ADAM GOLDMAN

Al Asiri

This undated file photo released Oct. 31, 2010, by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior purports to show Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. (AP Photo/Saudi Arabia Ministry of Interior, File)

WASHINGTON — The CIA had al-Qaida fooled from the beginning.

Last month, U.S. intelligence learned that al-Qaida’s Yemen branch hoped to launch a spectacular attack using a new, nearly undetectable bomb aboard an airliner bound for America, officials say.

But the man the terrorists were counting on to carry out the attack was actually working for the CIA and Saudi intelligence, U.S. and Yemeni officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The dramatic sting operation thwarted the attack before it had a chance to succeed.

It was the latest misfire for al-Qaida, which has repeatedly come close to detonating a bomb aboard an airliner. For the United States it was a victory that delivered the bomb intact to U.S. intelligence.

The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operation. The cooperation of the would-be bomber was first reported Tuesday evening by the Los Angeles Times.

The FBI is still analyzing the explosive, which was intended to be concealed in a passenger’s underwear. Officials said it was an upgrade over the bomb that failed to detonate on board an airplane over Detroit on Christmas 2009. This new bomb contained no metal and used a chemical – lead azide – that was to be a detonator in a nearly successful 2010 plot to attack cargo planes, officials said.

Security procedures at U.S. airports remained unchanged Tuesday, a reflection of both the U.S. confidence in its security systems and a recognition that the government can’t realistically expect travelers to endure much more. Increased costs and delays to airlines and shipping companies could have a global economic impact, too.

“I would not expect any real changes for the traveling public,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich. “There is a concern that overseas security doesn’t match ours. That’s an ongoing challenge.”

While airline checks in the United States mean passing through an onerous, sometimes embarrassing series of pat-downs and body scans, procedures overseas can be a mixed bag. The U.S. cannot force other countries to permanently adopt the expensive and intrusive measures that have become common in American airports over the past decade.

The Transportation Security Administration sent advice to some international air carriers and airports about security measures that might stave off an attack from a hidden explosive. It’s the same advice the U.S. has issued before, but there was a thought that it might get new attention in light of the foiled plot.

The U.S. has worked for years to try to improve security for U.S.-bound flights originating at international airports. And many countries agree that security needs to be better. But while plots such as the Christmas attack have spurred changes, some security gaps that have been closed in the U.S. remain open overseas.

Officials believe that body scanners, for instance, probably would have detected this latest attempt by al-Qaida to bring down a jetliner. Such scanners allow screeners to see objects hidden beneath a passenger’s clothes.

But while scanners are in place in airports nationwide, their use is scattershot overseas. Even in security-conscious Europe, the European Union has not required full-body imaging machines for all airports, though a number of major airports in Paris, London, Frankfurt and elsewhere use them.

All passengers on U.S.-bound flights are checked against terrorist watch lists and law enforcement databases.

In some countries, U.S. officials are stationed in airports to offer advice on security matters. In some cases, though, the U.S. is limited to hoping that other countries follow the security advice from the Transportation Security Administration.

“Even if our technology is good enough to spot it, the technology is still in human hands and we are inherently fallible,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “And overseas, we have varying degrees of security depending on where the flight originates.”

Al-Qaida has repeatedly tried to take advantage of those overseas gaps. The Christmas 2009 bombing originated in Amsterdam, where the bomber did not receive a full-body scan. And in 2010, terrorists smuggled bombs onto cargo jets, which receive less scrutiny than passenger planes.

In both those instances, the bombs were made by al-Qaida’s master bomb maker in Yemen, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. Officials believe this latest bomb was the handiwork of al-Asiri or one of his students.

In the meantime, Americans traveled Tuesday with little apparent concern.

“We were nervous – for a minute,” said Nan Gartner, a retiree on her way to Italy from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. “But then we thought, we aren’t going anywhere near Yemen, so we’re OK.”

___

Associated Press writers Kimberly Dozier, Ted Bridis, Bob Burns, Bradley Klapper and Alan Fram in Washington, Ahmed Al-Haj in Sanaa, Yemen, Verena Dobnik in New York, Paisley Dodds in London, Matthew Lee in New Delhi and Slobodan Lekic in Brussels contributed to this report.

___

Contact the Washington investigative team at DCinvestigations(at)ap.org

AL QAEDA’S MOST-WANTED:

Ayman al-Zawahri
Egyptian cleric Ayman al-Zawahri took over the organization, after Osama bin Laden’s killing last year by Navy SEALs. Presumed hiding in Pakistan, Zawahri has released a near-record number of propaganda videos since the bin Laden raid, exhorting followers to violence. (AP Photo/SITE Intel Group)

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THE 9/11 MYTH: State Propaganda, Historical Revisionism, and the Perpetuation of the 9/11 Myth

NOVANEWS
By Prof. James F. Tracy
Global Research

In the immediate wake of President Obama’s May 1, 2011 announcement of the alleged extrajudicial killing of Osama bin Laden by US military forces, a struggle reemerged over the official 9/11 myth that major journalistic outlets have been complicit in perpetuating over the past decade. The corporate media’s reaction to the robust skepticism over bin Laden’s assumed execution suggested a great deal about the extent to which they are locked in to upholding the broader 9/11 parable and serving the Anglo-American political-economic establishment and status quo.

After Obama’s statement on bin Laden’s fate citizen journalists and activists employing blogs and social media posed questions that should have been asked by professional journalists—specifically pointing to the need for further evidence supporting the president’s claims and the Obama administration’s curiously inconsistent description of events. Many cited reports and commentary by mainstream news outlets, such as CBSCNN, and The New York Times, quoting government sources that bin Laden was in failing health and likely died in December 2001. Nevertheless, once a lie has been put in to motion and accepted as truth by the intellectual class it often becomes a de facto reality the broader society is obliged to endure, for better or worse.

In 2005 author and media critic Normon Solomon contacted the Washington Post to inquire whether its reporting of the 1964 Tonkin Gulf incident alleging the North Vietnamese attacked US ships was ever retracted. Though later proven false, the reports were carried as front page news in US papers and figured centrally in the Congressional passage of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution formally initiating the Vietnam War. Solomon eventually caught up with one especially pertinent Post staffer. “’I can assure you that there was never any retraction,’ said Murrey Marder, a reporter who wrote much of the Washington Post‘s coverage of August 1964 events in the Gulf of Tonkin. He added: ‘If you were making a retraction, you’d have to make a retraction of virtually everyone’s entire coverage of the Vietnam War.’”

A similar dynamic is at play in defending the 9/11 myth. Yet today public skepticism more forcefully presents itself as an unmanageable chorus of disbelief through the internet. Nevertheless, following the lead of official spokespersons when such sources should be vigorously scrutinized, the so-called free press continues its willful immersion in a false historical reality. In so doing it condemns much of society to a constant forgetting and continued existence in a government-devised milieu impervious to conventional reason and logic.

Journalistic outlets exercising true independence and not beholden to maintaining the official 9/11 story would have likewise exhibited skepticism at Barack Obama’s claims, especially in light of the administration’s clearly contrived attempts at selling the event, such as photos of cabinet members allegedly watching it via satellite. Instead, journalists became part of the dutiful cheering section, attacking detractors’ assertions as “conspiracy theories”.

In keeping with a tradition of largely superficial reportage of 9/11 and its aftermath, many stories derided what professional journalists themselves should have been forcefully demanding: more proof of the operation’s authenticity and outcome. In fact, this skepticism is exactly what a variety of bloggers and like alternative news outlets offered.

When such assertions can’t be easily suppressed they must be ridiculed. A LexisNexis search yields over 100 stories and opinion pieces appearing in major newspapers and wire services for the week of May 2,2011 dismissing criticisms and calls for further evidence as “conspiracy theories”. In light of the following one must ponder whether the national media’s output would differ significantly if the US government exercised direct control over them.

“The White House was facing mounting pressure Monday night to release concrete evidence that Osama bin Laden had been assassinated, after conspiracy theories began to circulate suggesting he may have survived the attack.” –Canwest News Service, May 2, 2011.

“[W]hile the watery grave may help diminish bin Laden’s status as a martyr to his followers, it was already fueling conspiracy theories; as the administration resisted releasing even photographs of the slain terrorist leader on Monday, a predictable haze of myth and rumor has already, inevitably, begun to rise around him.” –Politico.com, May 2, 2011.

“While much of America celebrated the dramatic killing of Osama bin Laden, the Sept. 11 conspiracy theorists still had questions. For them and a growing number of skeptics, the plot only thickened.”—Washington Post, May 2, 2011.

“Osama bin Laden had scarcely drawn his last breath when the conspiracy theories sprouted: Where’s the body? Where are the photos of the corpse? Why didn’t they take him alive? The theorists demanded.”—Atlanta Journal Constitution, May 3, 2011.

“Less than 48 hours after the White House announced the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and his burial at sea, ‘conspiracy theories’ are racing across the planet.”—Christian Science Monitor, May 3, 2011.

“As blogs hummed with allegations that the Obama administration had faked the middle-of-the-night raid, the Bin Laden ‘death hoax’ threatened to replace questions about President Obama’s citizenship as the latest Internet rumor to go viral.”—Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2011.

“The news that Osama bin Laden was killed by an American military raid ordered by President Obama is too far from the narrative of those who desperately cling to the twisted notion that our president is a passive, hate-America-first, subversive Al-Qaeda sympathizer, if not operative.”—Palm Beach Post, May 3, 2011.

“The White House says Osama bin Laden is dead and buried deep under the Arabian Sea. But conspiracy theorists in Pakistan, the United States and other countries insist that like Elvis, he’s still in the room.”—Toronto Star, May 4, 2011.

“Like clockwork, the death of Osama bin Laden has ushered in another round of conspiracy theories. The al-Qaida leader’s body may be beyond the reach of his followers’ veneration as it rests on the sea floor, but the lack of a corpse in custody has offered proof of a conspiracy to those inclined to doubt the official narrative.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 4, 2011.

“The decision not to release photographs of Osama bin Laden’s corpse and the way the White House has changed its account of how he died has prompted conspiracy theories about his death. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these theories have proliferated across the web.”—UK Guardian, May 6, 2011.

When the world’s most powerful journalistic institutions resort to name calling there is something seriously amiss in the broader intellectual climate. Much like 1964, it involves a conscious betrayal of the historical record and the attendant consequences of such.

The conspiracy theory/theorist soubriquet is reflexively feared by professional journalists and academics alike who believe (with some justification) their reputations will be undermined by such thought crimes against the state. Thus, like an instrument that would easily be at home in the most extreme totalitarian regimes, intellectual workers self-discipline themselves as the “conspiracy theory” mechanism determines the trajectory and parameters of public discourse, dissent, and recollection.

Intellectual cowardice is reinforced by a set of circumstances whereby even if alternative accounts questioning the official line are exhaustively researched and documented with credible information and sources, mobilization of the “conspiracy theory” label by state censors and their journalistic accomplices will render the counter-arguments suspect. And, in an on-the-go culture where citizens are heavily reliant for information on headlines and sound-bites versus deliberate analysis, such lines of reasoning are destined for the memory hole.

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Extremists Ravaging Syria Created by US in 2007

NOVANEWS

 

US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel funded and have backed regional army of Sunni terrorists since 2007 specifically to overthrow Syria and Iran.

By Tony Cartalucci

May 11, 2012 – A 2007 New Yorker article written by renowned journalist Seymour Hersh revealed a plan under the Bush Administration to organize, arm, train, and deploy a regional army of Sunni terrorists, many with ties directly to Al Qaeda, in a bid to destabilize and overthrow both Syria and Iran. The plan consisted of US and Israeli backing, covertly funneled through Saudi proxies to conceal Washington and Tel Aviv’s role, in building the Sunni extremist front.

According to Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?,” (1) Saudi Arabia, a more credible candidate for openly interfacing with the militants, openly admitted that it was a danger, but that they “created it,” therefore could “control it,” in meetings with Washington. The plan called for not only setting up enclaves in nations neighboring Syria, including Lebanon, Jordan, and US-occupied Iraq, but also for building up the Muslim Brotherhood, both inside Syria’s borders and beyond – including Egypt.

Hersh’s work now holds new relevance as revelations that indeed a Sunni-extremist element is behind the violence in Syria, including a horrific bombing in Damascus (2) that has killed scores and injured hundreds. That these Sunni elements are openly supported by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, with militants and weapons flowing in from the above mentioned Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, (3) just as planned in 2007, shows clearly that the US-Israeli-Saudi plan is unfolding just as intended.

As the West feigns shock and horror over the rise of their Sunni front, from Egypt to Syria, and beyond, along with the resurrection of the Muslim Brotherhood, who Hersh confirmed was already benefiting from US and Saudi aid in 2007, it is clear that in reality this is the fruition of a complex premeditated plan, years in the making.

The accomplices include Neo-Conservatives Dick Cheney, Elliott Abrams, and Zalmay Khalilzad – who also serves on the board of the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy, (4) a chief facilitator of the “Arab Spring” destabilizations that brought the Muslim Brotherhood (purposefully) back into the Middle East’s political landscape after Arab nations fought difficult battles against their brand of violent extremism and anti-secular policies. Martin Indyk of the State Department under former President Clinton, former Ambassador to Israel, and a director at the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, was also mentioned in Hersh’s report, and was a co-author of the infamous 2009 “Which Path to Persia?” report, (5) openly declaring US machinations in bringing down the Iranian government.

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar is noted by Hersh as instrumental in coordinating efforts between the Saudis, Israel, and the United States, while the political party built up around pro-Saudi Lebanese tycoon Rafic Hariri set the groundwork in Lebanon for the creation of a violent Sunni front.

With Sunni-extremists committing increasingly frequent and violent atrocities across Syria, the US and the Western media in general, has attempted to portray it as a natural progression of Syria’s internal conflict – when in reality, based on Hersh’s report and confirmed again more recently as the source of the rebels’ funding and support is revealed, it is clearly the result of this long-planned act of foreign aggression against Syria, perpetrated by the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and their Sunni proxies in the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hersh’s report had warned of the tragic consequences to be expected once this Sunni-front had been unleashed, namely, according to former CIA agent Robert Baer in Lebanon, ” Sunni Arabs carrying out a “cataclysmic conflict.” Baer warned of the need to protect Christians from a predictable onslaught by Sunni extremists – an onslaught now playing out against Syria’s 10% Christian population, according to the LA Times’ “Church fears ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Christians in Homs, Syria,” (6) and more recently in USA Today’s distorted, but still telling, “Christians in Syria live in uneasy alliance with Assad, Alawites.” (7)

Christians are not the only minorities being targeted by the US-Israeli-Saudi terrorist front, but all minorities are as is secularism itself, being systematically targeted, as is the case after the NATO-backed dismemberment of Libya. (8)

As the US State Department, and the US representative to the UN, Susan Rice attempt to portray terrorist violence in Syria as the fault of Syria’s government for not yielding to “international” demands – we must remember that while they are absolutely correct – it is not because the Syrian government has reaped the consequences of inciting its own people into violence, but is instead suffering the consequences of disobeying foreign interests who have at their disposal a vast terrorist army they have been preparing for years – designed solely to undermine and depose the Syrian and Iranian governments.

RELATED–

Syria says attackers came from “well known” countries

Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari told the UN Security Council on Thursday that suicide bombers who struck Damascus and killed more than 50 people came from countries “well known” to the international community, dpa reported.

Jaafari did not name the countries in an address delivered to the 15-nation council, which was meeting on international terrorism. But he had been accusing Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and also al Qaeda, for assisting the armed opposition in Syria.

Jaafari said the twin bombings in Damascus killed 56 people, wounded 372 others and at least 50 people were still unaccounted for.

“Syria expects the UN Security Council to clearly and strongly condemn these cowardly acts,” Jaafari said.

Syria envoy says British, French, Belgian fighters killed

Getty Images/Houndout/AFP 

UNITED NATIONS — Syria’s UN envoy said Thursday that British, French and Belgian nationals were among foreign fighters killed in the country’s mounting conflict and that there was Al-Qaeda involvement.

The ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, told the UN Security Council that 12 foreign fighters had been killed and 26 detained in recent clashes with Syrian forces.

“We have a list that contains 12 names of foreign terrorists killed in Syria, including one French citizen, one British citizen, one Belgian citizen,” Jaafari told the 15-member council.

He said a list of the 26 foreigners detained had been sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and to the Security Council.

The 26 have “confessed they are terrorists and entered Syria to carry out terror operations,” he added. Some were “associated” with Al-Qaeda.

The ambassador later told reporters that those detained were mainly Tunisians and Libyans but there was one Palestinian and one Jordanian.

All of the “confessions” have been shown on Syrian television, Jaafari said.

The ambassador said that recent bomb attacks in Syria “carried the stamp of Al-Qaeda methods.”

Jaafari renewed condemnation of Gulf Arab states and Turkey who he accused of backing the foreign fighters and Syrian rebels.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Extremists Ravaging Syria Created by US in 2007

Cultural Warfare: Judaism Against Humanity?

NOVANEWS

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Illuminati Jewish Bankers and Freemasons have undermined Christian civilization and are replacing it with a world police state dedicated to Satan. Humanity is being inducted into their satanic cult under the guise of being “sexual liberated” and “progressive.”

Jonas Alexis documents this process in his book, Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism: Surprising Differences, Conflicting Visions, and Worldview Implications–From the Early Church to our Modern Time. This is an excerpt from Chapter Two, “Prostitution, Sexual Liberation & Cultural Warfare.”   

The real cause of anti-Semitism is that Cabalist Jews are at the forefront of advancing the Luciferian principle –  the denial of mankind’s highest aspirations (the soul and spiritual ideals)  and instead defining man as an animal. Culture now celebrates man’s lowest instincts and satanic behavior. Culture used to uplift and inspire; now it degrades and destroys. Like their god Lucifer, the Illuminati are in rebellion against God, and are leading humanity to destruction.   

The first prerequisite for healthier human and sexual relationships is the elimination of those moral concepts which base their demands on allegedly supernatural commands, on arbitrary human regulations, or simply on tradition…We do not want to see natural sexual attraction stamped as ‘sin,’ ‘sensuality’ fought as something low and beastly, and the ‘conquering of the flesh’ made the guiding principle of morality!”   Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957, Austrian Jewish psychiatrist) 1.

By Jonas Alexis (jonasealexis7@yahoo.com)
(henrymakow.com)

The bottom line is that sexual liberation is viewed as one of the most effective ways to counteract the Christian principles that still remain at the heart of American culture.

Let’s look at Wilhelm Reich … When he set out to attack Christianity–and Jesus Christ in particular, as his blasphemous book The Murder of Christ demonstrates–he envisioned a complete sexual revolution. Reich not only placed his sexual energy (which he called “orgone”) and Christianity on equal footing, but, based on what he called a “self-repressive side of Christianity” that was in total opposition to his sexual revolution, decided that Christianity had to go.

“For Reich,” biographer Myron Sharaf said, “Saint Paul, the organizer, was to Christ what Stalin was to Marx–the distorter of the truth.”

Reich’s principles of sexual liberation have had a widespread impact on the Jewish community in Hollywood. Many of today’s rising stars see no problem with promiscuity and homosexuality. Jake Gyllenhaal, after the re- lease ofBrokeback Mountain, declared, “You know it’s flattering when there’s a rumor that says I’m bisexual. It means I can play more kinds of roles. I’m open to whatever people want to call me. I’ve never really been attracted to men sexually, but I don’t think I would be afraid of it if it happened…As an actor, I think we need to embrace the times we feel most uncomfortable.”

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Scarlett Johansson, who has worked with Woody Allen on three films, appeared inVicky Christina Barcelona (2008), which is another of Allen’s psycho-analytic explorations of sexuality, marriage, infidelity, and existentialism. The core theme Allen presents here is that life has no meaning, so you should enjoy it while you can, particularly through sex.

When Johansson was asked to defend her real-life promiscuity, she responded, “I do think on some level we are all animals, and by instinct we kind of breed accordingly.”

It seems that being Jewish, to many, is a form of liberation from moral and ethical restraint. So when we watch films like Dirty Dancing, the product of Jewish writer Eleanor Bergstein, or those produced by the Coen brothers, we are reaping a Jewish worldview that has more to do with anti-Christian ideology than art.

Although the Coen brothers say that they aren’t pushing a moral (or amoral) worldview in their work, their movies tell a different story.

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William Rodney Allen writes in his book The Coen Brothers: Interviews, “The bedrock of the Coens’ intellectual world is really good old-fashioned existentialism. Princeton philosophy major Ethan Coen, in addition to writing his senior paper on Wittgenstein, certainly seems to have absorbed his Sartre and Camus. Both of those philosophers argued that man finds himself in an absurd world, where he must act despite having incomplete knowledge, with no moral absolutes to guide him…This bleak metaphysic underlies the film noir of Blood Simple (1984), the gangster milieu of Miller’s Crossing (1990), the theater-of-the-absurd cosmos of Barton Fink (1991), the mechanical though superficially comic landscape of The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), the morose, end- less midwestern snowscapes of Fargo (1996), and, most purely, in the black- and-white existential gloom of The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001).”

If they truly don’t intend to weave messages about morality into their movies, why then do the Coen brothers so frequently make derogatory references to Jesus Christ (The Big Lebowski) and even openly mock Christianity (O, Brother, Where are Thou?) in their movies? Why does the main character in The Big Lebowski keep referring to Nazi Germany as nihilist, but then commits nihilistic acts himself?

Logic dictates that this is an obvious contradiction that the Coen brothers must explain; Talmudic reasoning says they don’t have to.

In general, art has become a weapon aimed at the heart of Western Civilization–its Christian principles. This generation’s Cronenberg appears to be Eli Roth.

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In reviewing Roth’s film Hostel, Jewish writer David Edelstein of New York Magazine opines, “Certainly television has become a place for forensic fetishism…Some of these movies are so viciously nihilistic that the only point seems to be to force you to suspend moral judgment altogether.”

Precisely–when moral judgment is deconstructed, everything is possible: rape, sadistic sex, pornography, and even sexual torture.

The age of Bar Kochba is over; the age of manipulation through the arts is here. The subtle difference is that Bar Kochba used weapons that could only destroy the body. Roth and others use weapons that can destroy the mind–a much more dangerous battlefield, since mind control is the highest form of manipulation. The battle has become spiritual and mental, rather than physical.

1. Wilhelm Reich, The Sexual Revolution: Toward a Self-Governing Character Structure. New York: Doubleday, 1971, page 53.

Posted in EducationComments Off on Cultural Warfare: Judaism Against Humanity?

“Close Guantánamo” Calls on US Communities to Demand Release of Cleared Prisoners in US

NOVANEWS

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January with US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us— just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.

Ever since it became apparent, during the Bush administration, that there were wrongly detained prisoners at Guantánamo who could not be safely repatriated, certain principled groups and individuals have pushed for those men to be given new homes in the United States, the country responsible for their lost years of arbitrary detention and abuse.

From the beginning, however, voices have also been raised in opposition to these calls, even though US officials realized early on that  too many “Mickey Mouse detainees” were being sent to Guantánamo from Afghanistan, as Maj. Gen. Michael Dunlavey, the commander of Guantánamo until October 2002, explained to the Los Angeles Times later that year. Officials also realized that some of these men — and boys — couldn’t be safely repatriated, but no one in a position of authority thought about granting political asylum to any of them.

The situation came to a head with the case of the Uighurs, Muslims from China’s Xinjiang province, who had escaped persecution in their homeland, and had only one enemy — the Chinese Communist government. Twenty-two Uighurs had been seized and sent to Guantánamo, but when the situation became tense for the administration, a third country was found for them instead.

That country was Albania, and on May 5, 2006, just three days before five of the Uighurs were due to have their habeas corpus petitions considered by the Court of Appeals in Washington D.C., they were flown to Tirana, and given new homes in a UN refugee center.

In Bush’s dying days in the White House, the remaining Uighurs were the first Guantánamo prisoners to win their habeas corpus petitions in the District Court in Washington D.C., in October 2008, and Judge Ricardo Urbina went so far as to call their continued detention unconstitutional, and to demand their release in the US. The government appealed, however, andobtained a stay from the Court of Appeals.

When President Obama took over, and promised to close Guantánamo within a year, there were high hopes that he would realize that releasing cleared prisoners who couldn’t be repatriated into the United States would not only be appropriate, but would also send a positive signal to other countries, who were also being asked to offer new homes to those who couldn’t return home safely from Guantánamo.

Unfortunately, the President disagreed. In February 2009, the Justice Department pushed for the Appeals Court to rule that it was not up to the courts to order Guantánamo prisoners to be released into the United States, which they were happy to do, ruling that decisions about immigration were for the executive branch to make, and not for the courts — even when those seeking immigration were innocent men kidnapped and taken to Guantánamo to be held and abused for seven years.

Three months later, when White House Counsel Greg Craig had tried to make amends for this appalling decision, and was close to finalizing a plan to bring some of the Uighurs to live in the US, President Obama ditched the plan when Republicans got wind of it, and threatened to use it against him.

Around the same time, Congress stepped in, turning down a request by the administration for $80 million to close Guantánamo, and in November 2009, as part of a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, lawmakersapproved a measure stating that Guantánamo prisoners could only be sent to the US mainland for prosecution, and not for resettlement.

The Amherst, Leverett and Berkeley resolutions

Just after Congress passed this legislation, the town of Amherst, in the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts, fought back,passing a resolution, at a Special Town meeting on November 4, 2009, in which representatives of the town “urge[d] Congress to repeal the ban on releasing cleared detainees into the United States,” and promised to “welcome such cleared detainees into our community as soon as the ban is lifted.”

The community in Amherst gave the following reasons:

  • because President Obama “vowed to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base by January 2010″;
  • because “many detainees at Guantánamo have been cleared by our government of wrongdoing and have been determined to pose no threat to the United States”; because “many of these detainees cannot be repatriated because they are either stateless or fear the harm awaiting them if returned to their home country”;
  • because “our government has asked other countries to accept cleared detainees but has banned their settlement in the United States”; because “these detainees have suffered unjust imprisonment for many years”;
  • because “the Pioneer Valley has many resources to help such detainees with trauma from their imprisonment”; and
  • because “the Pioneer Valley has welcomed in the past many refugees from a variety of traumatic experiences in other countries.”

Amherst established an important precedent with this resolution, which was also adopted in nearby Leverett on April 24, 2010, and on October 25, 2011, the City of Berkeley, in California, also passed a similar resolution (PDF), stating that Berkeley “supports the closure of Guantánamo as called for by President Obama in January 2009,” and is “unwilling to turn its back on cleared detainees still being held at Guantánamo,” and also that it “urges Congress to remove bans on movement of cleared detainees to the US,” and, “upon the lifting of Congressional bans, would welcome one or more cleared detainees into the Berkeley community thanks to private support.”

The community in Berkeley gave a number of reasons, including the following:

  • because “[t]he residents of Berkeley have welcomed to our City those who have been forced into exile, and who have come fleeing torture and death,” as affirmed by the Berkeley City Council in 1971, when Berkeley was declared a City of Refuge;
  • because “President Barack Obama stated in January 2009 that the prison at Guantánamo would be closed by January 2010″;
  • because “despite US Supreme Court rulings on the right to due process” — in Rasul v. Bush, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and Boumediene v. Bush — “Guantánamo remains open,” and those held include “those who could not be sent to their home countries because of post-transfer treatment concerns”;
  • because “Guantánamo has become emblematic of the gross human rights abuses perpetrated by the US Government in the name of fighting terrorism”;
  • because “Guantánamo detainees have undergone a wide range of interrogation procedures that constitute torture or maltreatment, including but not limited to sensory deprivation and prolonged isolation”;
  • because “Amnesty International USA states: ‘… the indefinite and arbitrary nature of the circumstances of their detention has led to a steep decline in the mental health of many incarcerated at Guantánamo …’ (email May 12, 2011 from AI USA Chair Carole Nagengast to Peace & Justice Commissioner Rita Maran)”; and
  • because “Congresswoman Barbara Lee writes: ‘Guantánamo … has led the world to question America’s commitment to the rule of law, due process, and the rejection of torture as an acceptable interrogation practice …’ (Letter of May 26, 2011 to Rita Maran).”

The Resolution came about thanks to strong support from Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), the Amnesty International USA Board of Directors Chair Carole Nagengast, and Sister Marianne Farina of the Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology in Berkeley.

The ongoing need for US communities to resolve to resettle prisoners from Guantánamo

Over ten years since Guantánamo opened, the need for other communities to follow the example of Amherst, Leverett and Berkeley remains as strong as ever. Despite the failure of the Obama administration, Congress and the US courts to allow any endangered prisoner to be rehoused in the United States, 17 countries in total have, during Obama’s Presidency, taken in 39 prisoners — from Algeria, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Libya, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Uzbekistan, as well as 14 of the 17 remaining Uighurs who could not be safely repatriated.

The most recent releases were two Uighurs, who were flown to a new home in El Salvador last month, 15 months after the last prisoner was released. That huge delay was largely due to Congress, where lawmakers imposed further restrictions on the administration’s ability to release prisoners, banning the transfer of any prisoner to the US mainland for any reason, and also imposing onerous restrictions on releases to any country for any reason.

Those restrictions were defused in the National Defense Authorization Act, which contains a waiver that can be used by the President to bypass Congress, but as the Washington Post explained in an editorial on April 27 — and as we reported herelast week — a home has still not been found for the last three Uighurs, whose release was ordered three years and seven months ago, and therefore they should be given new homes in the United States, to prevent them from — possibly — spending the rest of their lives in Guantánamo.

Here at “Close Guantánamo,” we are concerned that, in total, 87 of the 169 prisoners still held at Guantánamo have beencleared for release but are still held, and we believe it is appropriate that, if these men cannot be safely rehoused elsewhere, then they should be offered homes in the US.

When Berkeley passed its resolution, those who proposed it also stated that they would be happy to accept two prisoners in particular — Djamel Ameziane, an Algerian recently profiled here, and Ravil Mingazov, the last Russian in Guantánamo, who I have written about here. In 2009, Amherst also called for Ravil Mingazov to be welcomed to live in their town, along with another Algerian, Ahmed Belbacha, profiled here, who was cleared for release in 2007, but has spent the last five years resisting his forced repatriation, because he fears that he will be imprisoned on false charges after a show trial.

For further information, please feel free to contact Rita Maran at UC Berkeley, who is a commissioner with the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, and led the effort to draft Berkeley’s resolution, and Nancy Talanian, the executive director of “No More Guantánamos,” the organization coordinating the groups within the US calling for prisoners to be resettled in their communities. When the Berkeley resolution was passed, Nancy commended the City Council and the resolution’s supporters, and said, “Dozens of innocent men remain in Guantánamo simply because they cannot safely return to their home countries, and US allies rightly question why they must welcome all of them when the US refuses to take any. Berkeley’s resolution is a necessary step toward closing the prison with justice and restoring our country’s commitment to human rights.”

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on FacebookTwitterDigg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joiningthe new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation

Posted in USA, Human RightsComments Off on “Close Guantánamo” Calls on US Communities to Demand Release of Cleared Prisoners in US

Israeli activists worry that Netanyahu’s new majority will mean new measures against dissent

NOVANEWS
By Sheera Frenkel
McClatchy Newspapers

TEL AVIV — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cemented his power this week with a strategic coalition shift that makes him the most powerful head of government Israel has seen in nearly three decades.

By adding the Kadima party to his coalition, Netanyau now commands 94 of the Israeli Parliament’s 120 seats, an overwhelming majority that should allow him to push through legislation and motions that other Israeli premiers have only dreamed of.

But how he will use that power has become a subject of speculation and debate in Israel, with many worrying that a wave of anti-democratic legislation might be the result.

“This move happened at a time where it seems like there is a significant rollback on people’s ability to express themselves politically against the government,” said Didi Remez, a prominent Israeli activist.

He pointed to a series of bills passed in the last year by Israel’s Parliament that impose monitoring and reporting requirements on the activities of left-wing organizations and to what many here characterize as increased cooperation between the government and right-wing groups.

“When you combine what has been happening with the new super majority he has in the Parliament, well it begins to look like a Putinzation of Parliament,” Remez said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s tough grip on his country’s politics.

Other activists pointed to anti-government protests this week as an example of the new police crackdown. Less than 24 hours after Netanyahu announced he had successfully created the largest coalition government Israel has seen since 1984, more than 1,000 protesters took to the streets in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Holding signs saying “Bibi’s new government is not what we voted for” and “Bibi = undemocratic,” the protesters demanded new elections.

“I voted for the Kadima party because it represented the anti-Bibi. Now they sit in the same coalition as him?” said Ben Mazor, a 26-year-old law student. “It just goes to show that politicians are all liars and it doesn’t matter who you vote for, they’ll go and join any government that suits them.”

Just as the protest was getting underway, Israeli police arrested its leaders. A spokesman for the police said that the protest was illegal, although legal aid advisors at the protests said that all the necessary permits had been obtained and the protest was lawful.

“They just don’t like the protest because it will make (Netanyhau) look bad,” said Mazor. “But in what kind of democratic country can you stop a protest for those reasons?”

 

Several journalists covering the protest were also detained and complained that police had seized their equipment.

“What the police did doesn’t seem random. It seems pretty clear that this is part of the general trend of the last couple of years,” Remez said. “What used to be sacrosanct _ the right of freedom of expression for Jewish citizens of Israel _ is now in doubt.”

Shaul Mofaz, the leader of Kadima who struck the deal to join Netanyahu’s government, defended the decision, calling the new government a “historic opportunity.”

“When I took the decision to go ahead with this historic move, which is so important for the state of Israel, I knew there would be criticism,” Mofaz told the Israeli website Ynet. “I am completely at peace with the decision. Over the past three-and-a-half years Netanyahu’s government has been unable to advance a number of issues, and now it has a great opportunity to do so.”

 

The new majority would allow Netanyahu maneuvering room to pass even difficult legislation that requires approval of two-thirds of the Parliament, such as changes to the basic laws of the state and advance contentious bills that could alter the nature of Israel’s West Bank settlements.

Israeli political analysts point out that Netanyahu now also enjoys a consensus on the issue of Iran. Talk of an Israeli strike on Iran has picked up in recent days, as analysts pointed out that instead of busying themselves with a national election, Israeli politicians could now form a consolidated front against Tehran.

Yisrael Katz, a minister in Netanyahu’s cabinet, told Israel Radio on Wednsday that Iran should be worried, “because from today the state of Israel will be more united, both in its ability to deter and also, if necessary, in its ability to act.”

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/05/11/148596/israeli-activists-worry-that-netanyahus.html#storylink=cpy

 

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U.S. Military Taught Officers: Use ‘Hiroshima’ Tactics for ‘Total War’ on Islam

NOVANEWS
 
 
 
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Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley’s Joint Staff Forces College presentation on A Counter-Jihad Op Design Model (.pdf) calls for violent measures in a war against Islam. 

The U.S. military taught its future leaders that a “total war” against the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims would be necessary to protect America from Islamic terrorists, according to documents obtained by Danger Room. Among the options considered for that conflict: using the lessons of “Hiroshima” to wipe out whole cities at once, targeting the “civilian population wherever necessary.”

The course, first reported by Danger Room last month and held at the Defense Department’s Joint Forces Staff College, has since been canceled by the Pentagon brass. It’s only now, however, that the details of the class have come to light. Danger Room received hundreds of pages of course material and reference documents from a source familiar with the contents of the class.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recently ordered the entire U.S. military to scour its training material to make sure it doesn’t contain similarly hateful material, a process that is still ongoing. But the officer who delivered the lectures, Army Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley, still maintains his position at the Norfolk, Virginia college, pending an investigation. The commanders, lieutenant colonels, captains and colonels who sat in Dooley’s classroom, listening to the inflammatory material week after week, have now moved into higher-level assignments throughout the U.S. military.

For the better part of the last decade, a small cabal of self-anointed counterterrorism experts has been working its way through the U.S. military, intelligence and law enforcement communities, trying to convince whoever it could that America’s real terrorist enemy wasn’t al-Qaida — but the Islamic faith itself. In his course, Dooley brought in these anti-Muslim demagogues as guest lecturers. And he took their argument to its final, ugly conclusion.

“We have now come to understand that there is no such thing as ‘moderate Islam,’” Dooley noted in a July 2011 presentation (.pdf), which concluded with a suggested manifesto to America’s enemies. “It is therefore time for the United States to make our true intentions clear. This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated. Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction.”

Dooley could not be reached for comment. Joint Forces Staff College spokesman Steven Williams declined to discuss Dooley’s presentation or his status at the school. But when asked if Dooley was responsible for the course material, he responded, “I don’t know if I would classify him [Dooley] as responsible. That would be the commandant” of the school, Maj. Gen. Joseph Ward.

That makes the two-star general culpable for rather shocking material. In the same presentation, Dooley lays out a possible four-phase war plan to carry out a forced transformation of the Islam religion. Phase three includes possible outcomes like “Islam reduced to a cult status” and “Saudi Arabia threatened with starvation.” (It’s an especially ironic suggestion, in light of today’s news that Saudi intelligence broke upthe most recent al-Qaida bombing plot.)

International laws protecting civilians in wartime are “no longer relevant,” Dooley continues. And that opens the possibility of applying “the historical precedents of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki” to Islam’s holiest cities, and bringing about “Mecca and Medina[‘s] destruction.”

Dooley’s ideological allies have repeatedly stated that mainstream” Muslims are dangerous, because they’re “violent” by nature. Yet only a few of al-Qaida’s most twisted fanatics were ever caught musing about wiping out entire cities.

“Some of these actions offered for consideration here will not be seen as ‘political correct’ in the eyes of many,” Dooley adds. “Ultimately, we can do very little in the West to decide this matter, short of waging total war.”

Dooley, who has worked at the Joint Forces Staff College since August 2010, began his eight-week class with a straightforward, two-part history of Islam. It was delivered by David Fatua, a former West Point history professor. “Unfortunately, if we left it at that, you wouldn’t have the proper balance of points of view, nor would you have an accurate view of how Islam defines itself,” Dooley told his students. Over the next few weeks, he invited in a trio of guest lecturers famous for their incendiary views of Islam.

Shireen Burki declared during the 2008 election that Obama is bin Laden’s dream candidate.” In her Joint Forces Staff College lecture, she told students that Islam is an Imperialist/Conquering Religion.” (.pdf)

Stephen Coughlin claimed in his 2007 master’s thesis that then-president George W. Bush’s declaration of friendship with the vast majority of the world’s Muslims had “a chilling effect on those tasked to define the enemy’s doctrine.” (.pdf)  Coughlin was subsequently let go from his consulting position to the military’s Joint Staff, but he continued to lecture at the Naval War College and at the FBI’s Washington Field Office. In his talk to Dooley’s class (.pdf), Coughlin suggested that al-Qaida helped drive the overthrow of Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak and Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi. It was part of a scheme by Islamists to conquer the world, he added. And Coughlin mocked those who didn’t see this plot as clearly as he did, accusing them of “complexification.”

Coughlin titled his talk: “Imposing Islamic Law – or – These Aren’t the Droids Your Looking For!”

Former FBI employee John Guandolo told the conspiratorial World Net Daily website last year that Obama was only the latest president to fall under the influence of Islamic extremists.The level of penetration in the last three administrations is deep,” Guandolo alleged. In his reference material for the Joint Forces Staff College class, Guandolo not only spoke of today’s Muslims as enemies of the West. He even justified the Crusades, writing that they “were initiated after hundreds of years of Muslim incursion into Western lands.”

Guandolo’s paper, titled Usual Responses from the Enemy When Presented With the Truth (.pdf), was one of hundreds of presentations, documents, videos and web links electronically distributed to the Joint Forces Staff College students. Included in that trove: a paper alleging that it is a permanent command in Islam for Muslims to hate and despise Jews and Christians (.pdf). So was a video lecture from Serge Trifkovic, a former professor who appeared as a defense witness in several trials of Bosnian Serb leaders convicted of war crimes, including the genocide of Muslims. A web link, titled “Watch Before This Is Pulled,” supposedly shows President Obama — the commander-in-chief of the senior officers attending the course — admitting that he’s a Muslim.

Dooley added the caveats that his views are “not the Official Policy of the United States Government” and are intended “to generate dynamic discussion and thought.” But he taught his fellow military officers that Obama’s alleged admission could well make the commander in chief some sort of traitor. “By conservative estimates,” 10 percent of the world’s Muslims, “a staggering 140 million people … hate everything you stand for and will never coexist with you, unless you submit” to Islam. He added, “Your oath as a professional soldier forces you to pick a side here.” It is unclear if Dooley’s “total war” on Muslims also applied to his “Muslim” commander in chief.

After the Pentagon brass learned of Dooley’s presentation, the country’s top military officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, issued an order to every military chief and senior commander to get rid of any similar anti-Islam instructional material. Dempsey issued the order because the White House had already instructed the entire security apparatus of the federal government — military and civilian — to revamp its counterterrorism training after learning of FBI material that demonized Islam.

By then, Dooley had already presented his apocalyptic vision for a global religious war. Flynn has ordered a senior officer, Army Maj. Gen. Frederick Rudesheim, to investigate how precisely Dooley managed to get away with that extended presentation in an official Defense Department-sanctioned course. The results of that review are due May 24.

Ironically, Dooley and his guest lecturers paint a dire picture of the forward march of Islamic extremism right as its foremost practitioner feared its implosion. Documents recently declassified by the U.S. government revealed Osama bin Laden fretting about al-Qaida’s brutal methods and damaged bran dalienating the vast majority of Muslims from choosing to wage holy war. Little could he have known that U.S. military officers were thinking of ways to ignite one.

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