Archive | June 20th, 2012

‘Al-Qaeda’ Terrorist Takes Hostages In Toulouse Bank

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The Huffington Post UK

Four people have reportedly been taken hostage by a man claiming to be linked to Al-Qaeda in a bank in Toulouse.

The BBC reports the director of the bank is among those taken hostage. AFP reported than one of the hostages – a woman in her 20s -had been freed on Wednesday lunchtime.

french elite police

Elite French police officers are on the scene
 

It is believed that one of the hostages, a woman, was allowed to leave for food and water.

The man demanded to speak to the elite RAID national police force that shot Islamist terrorist Mohammed Merah, who went on a shooting spree in the city earlier this year, killing seven people.

There were reports that two shots have been heard, one this morning and another this afternoon – but the origin of the gunfire has not been confirmed, according to AP.


Agrandir le plan

Huffington Post France reports the bank is not far from where Merah had lived.

Sky News reported that a secondary school close to the bank has been evacuated while the whole area has been cordoned off by police

agencecictoulouse

The bank, as seen on Google Maps
 

A police source told French paper Ouest-France they did not “know if his claim about al-Qaeda is serious or a fantasy.”

A police official told AP that no injuries have been reported as yet and it is still not clear how many hostages the man is holding.

police officers outside

This is a developing story…

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Egypt Election Results: Muslim Brotherhood Declares Mohammed Morsi Victory

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By SARAH EL DEEB and LEE KEATH AP

Egypt Elections 2012

CAIRO, EGYPT – JUNE 17: Egyptian election workers count votes at a polling station on June 17, 2012 in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images)

CAIRO — The Muslim Brotherhood declared early Monday that its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, won Egypt’s presidential election, which would be the first victory of an Islamist as head of state in the stunning wave of protests demanding democracy that swept the Middle East the past year. But the military handed itself the lion’s share power over the new president, sharpening the possibility of confrontation.

With parliament dissolved and martial law effectively in force, the generals issued an interim constitution making themselves Egypt’s lawmakers, taking control over the budget and granting themselves the power to determine who writes the permanent constitution that will define the country’s future.

But as they claimed victory over Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq after a deeply polarizing election, the Brotherhood challenged the military’s power grab. The group insisted on Sunday that it did not recognize the dissolution of parliament or the military’s interim constitution – or its right to oversee the drafting of a new one.

That pointed to a potential struggle over spheres of authority between Egypt’s two strongest forces. The Brotherhood has campaigned on a platform of bringing Egypt closer to a form of Islamic rule, but the military’s grip puts it in a position to block that. Instead any conflict would likely center on more basic questions of power.

In a victory speech at his campaign headquarters, Morsi clearly sought to assuage fears of a large sector of Egyptians that the Brotherhood will try to impose stricter provisions of Islamic law. He said he seeks “stability, love and brotherhood for the Egyptian civil, national, democratic, constitutional and modern state” and made no mention of Islamic law.

“Thank God who led successfully us to this blessed revolution. Thank God who guided the people of Egypt to this correct path, the road of freedom, democracy,” the bearded, 60-year-old U.S.-educated engineer declared.

He vowed to all Egyptians, “men, women, mothers, sisters, laborers, students … all political factions, the Muslims, the Christians” to be “a servant for all of them.”

“We are not about taking revenge or settling scores. We are all brothers of this nation, we own it together, and we are equal in rights and duties.”

Final official results are due on Thursday, and the Shafiq campaign challenged the Brotherhood’s victory claim, saying it was “deceiving the people.” A campaign spokesman on the independent ONTV channel said counting was still going on with 19 of 27 provinces completed and Shafiq slightly ahead so far.

The Brotherhood’s declaration was based on results announced by election officials at individual counting centers, where each campaign has representatives who compile the numbers and make them public before the formal announcement. The Brotherhood’s early, partial counts proved generally accurate in last month’s first round vote.

The group said Morsi took 51.8 percent of the vote to Shafiq’s 48.1 percent out of 24.6 million votes cast, with 98 percent of the more than 13,000 poll centers counted.

At their campaign headquarters, the Brotherhood officials and supporters were ebullient over the turn of fate: The fundamentalist group that was banned for decades and repeatedly subjected to crackdowns under Mubarak’s rule now held the chair that their nemesis was ousted from by last year’s 18 days of mass protests. The uprising was launched by secular, leftist young activists, joined only later by the Brotherhood’s leadership as millions took to the street, seeking an end to the authoritarian, corrupt regime.

Now some in Brotherhood were ready to challenge the generals. “Down with military rule,” the supporters chanted.

The Arab Spring uprisings have brought greater power to Islamists in the countries where longtime authoritarian leaders were toppled – but Eygpt is the only one to have an Islamist president. The Islamist Ennahda party won elections in Tunisia for a national assembly and it leads a coalition government, but the president is a leftist. Libya’s leadership remains in confusion and there is no president, though Islamists play a strong role, and an Islamist party is part of the coalition government in Yemen.

The question now will be how a Brotherhood president will get along with the military generals who have ruled since Mubarak fell on Feb. 11, 2011 and who will still hold powers that can potentially paralyze Morsi. The Brotherhood has reached accommodations with the generals at times over the past 16 months, as it struck deals with Mubarak’s regime itself – gaining it a reputation among critics as willing to sell out for a taste of authority.

But after a highly polarized presidential election and the miltary’s arrogation of powers to itself, the Brotherhood presented itself as willing to get into a confrontation with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the body of top generals headed by Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak’s defense minister for 20 years.

Just before the election, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has ruled since Mubarak’s fall, slapped de facto martial law on the country, giving military police and intelligence agents the right to arrest civilians for a host of suspected crimes, some as secondary as obstructing traffic. Then came Thursday’s ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court dissolving parliament, followed by the interim constitution declaration just after polls closed Sunday following two days of voting.

According to a copy of the document obtained by The Associated Press, the generals would be the nation’s legislators and control the budget.

The president will be able to appoint a Cabinet and approve or reject laws. Notably, the declaration prevents him from changing the make-up of the military council and gives Tantawi the commander-in-chief powers that previously went to the president.

The generals will also name the 100-member panel tasked with drafting a new constitution, thus ensuring the new charter would guarantee them a say in key policies like defense and national security as well as shield their vast economic empire from civilian scrutiny.

Under the document, new parliament elections will not be held until a new constitution is approved, meaning an election in December at the earliest. In the constitution-writing process, the military can object over any articles and the Supreme Constitutional Court – which is made up of Mubarak-era appointees – will have final say over any disputes.

“In freezing the SCAF’s current membership in place and giving it such sweeping powers, the provisions really do constitutionalize a military coup,” Nathan Brown, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, said in an e-mail.

Earlier Sunday, the Brotherhood’s speaker of parliament Saad el-Katatni met with the deputy head of the military council, Chief of Staff Gen. Sami Anan and told him the group does not recognize the dissolution of parliament, according to a Brotherhood statement that pointedly referred to el-Katatni by his title.

El-Katatni insisted the military could not issue an interim constitution and that the constituent assembly formed last week would meet in the “coming hours” to go ahead with its work in writing the permanent charter.

Still, the Brotherhood has no power to force recognition of the parliament-created constituent assembly, which already seems discounted after parliament’s dissolution and is likely to be formally disbanded by a pending court ruling. Lawmakers are literally locked out of parliament, which is ringed by troops.

The generals, mostly in their 60s and 70s, owe their ranks to the patronage of Mubarak. All along, activists from the pro-democracy youth groups that engineered the anti-Mubarak uprising questioned the generals’ will to hand over power, arguing that after 60 years of direct or behind-the-scenes domination, the military was unlikely to voluntarily relinquish its perks.

The presidential race was a bitter one.

Shafiq, a former air force commander and an admirer and longtime friend of Mubarak, was seen by opponents as an extension of the old regime that millions sought to uproot when they staged a stunning uprising that toppled the man who ruled Egypt for three decades.

Morsi’s opponents, in turn, feared that if he wins, the Brotherhood will take over the nation and turn it into an Islamic state, curbing freedoms and consigning minority Christians and women to second-class citizens.

Trying to rally the public in the last hours of voting, the Brotherhood presented a Morsi presidency as the last hope to prevent total control by the military council of Mubarak-era generals.

“We got rid of one devil and got 19,” said Mohammed Kanouna, referring to Mubarak and the members of the military council as he voted for Morsi after night fell in Cairo’s Dar el-Salam slum. “We have to let them know there is a will of the people above their will.”

But the prospect that the generals will still hold most power even after their nominal handover of authority to civilians by July 1 has deepened the gloom, leaving some feeling the vote was essentially meaningless.

“Things have not changed at all. It is as if the revolution never happened,” Ayat Maher, a 28-year-old mother of three, said as she waited for her husband to vote in Cairo’s central Abdeen district. She said she voted for Morsi, but did not think there was much hope for him.

“The same people are running the country. The same oppression and the same sense of enslavement. They still hold the keys to everything.”

___

AP correspondents Hamza Hendawi and Maggie Michael contributed to this report.

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America Is Under Attack!

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William T. Hathaway

 

Vicious fanatics are trying to kill us and destroy our country. They’re blowing up our soldiers overseas. They’ve infiltrated our country. We must defend ourselves against these mad-dog berserkers before it’s too late.

This litany has been repeated by corporate-controlled media and politicians for years now, pumping fear into us. It is used to justify a massive ongoing war that has killed hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings and almost bankrupted the USA.

But is it really true? Who started this war? When did it begin? The history of this conflict reveals a different story than the one continually beamed at us. The Romans were the first Westerners to try to dominate and plunder the Middle East; the Christian crusaders followed, then nineteenth-century imperialists. From the Arabs’ perspective, the barbarians keep descending on them from the north, and they keep throwing them out. In the past hundred years the attacks have intensified as new treasure has been discovered: vast reserves of black, liquid gold under the desert sands.

During World War One, the British persuaded the Arabs to fight on their side by promising them independence. Thousands of them died in battle for the Brits because of this promise of freedom. But after the victory Britain refused to leave. It maintained control by installing puppet kings — Faisal in Iraq and Ibn Saud in Saudi Arabia — to rule in its interest.

After World War Two, Britain and the USA pressured the United Nations into confiscating Arab land to form the state of Israel, making the Arabs pay for the crimes of the Germans. In addition to providing a nation for the Jews, Israel would be a forward base for Western economic and military power in the Middle East. To the Arabs it was another European invasion of their territory.

In the early 1950s, the USA and Britain overthrew the government of Iran because it tried to nationalize its oil industry, which was under Western control. We installed the Shah as dictator, and he promptly gave the oil back to us. Then he began a twenty-five year reign of terror against his own people. His secret police jailed, tortured, or killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians who opposed him. Since they knew he was kept in power only by American military aid, they began hating the USA. They finally ousted the Shah, but then the CIA started subverting the new government, trying to bring it down. At that point the Iranians fought back by holding US Embassy officials hostage, which was a mild response, considering what we had done to their country.

In the mid 1950s, Egypt decided to nationalize the Suez Canal and use the income from it to help their people out of poverty. They were willing to pay its British and French owners the full market value for their shares, but Western governments and Israel responded violently, invading and bombing Egypt into submission.

Countries have the right to nationalize their resources as long as they pay a fair compensation, so what Iran and Egypt wanted to do was legal. The Western response, though, was illegal aggression in violation of international law and the United Nations charter. It roused in its victims a deep resolve for revenge.

The USA and Britain committed similar atrocities in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Indonesia, and Afghanistan. We overthrew their governments, installed dictators, undermined their economies — all to strengthen our business interests. In every nation where we now have terrorism, we had first assaulted them. America is under attack only because it is on the attack. It’s no wonder they hate us. Imagine how we would feel if a foreign country were doing this to us. We’d be fighting back any way we could.

Since they don’t have our military power, they’re resisting with the only weapons they have: guerrilla warfare. As Mike Davis wrote, “The car bomb is the poor man’s air force.” The rich have Stealth bombers, the poor have Toyota Corollas, both filled with explosives. The bombers are much bigger and kill many more people. Since 9-11 the USA has killed over three hundred thousand — a hundred times more than died in the World Trade Center. The overwhelming majority have been civilians. We are the top terrorist, armed to the teeth with weapons of mass destruction. As Martin Luther King stated with simple eloquence: “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government.”

Our politicians and media have created an image of fiendish terrorists who “hate us for our freedom.” But they really hate us for subjugating them. Since we started the aggression, the attacks won’t end until we leave their countries.

Even fanatics like al-Qaeda aren’t really aggressors. They’re fighting a defensive war, trying to force us out. The Western media never publish their demands because they are so reasonable. They basically come down to, “Go home and leave us alone. Pull your soldiers, your CIA agents, your missionaries, your corporations out of Muslim territory. If you do that, we’ll stop attacking you.” Nothing about destroying the West or forcing it to become Islamic. Just that the West should stay in the West.

If people knew this — knew how easy it would be to stop terrorism — they wouldn’t want to fight this war. That’s why the media ignore al-Qaeda’s demands. Western leaders don’t want people to see that the war’s real purpose isn’t to stop terrorism but to control the resources of this region. They actually want the terrorism because that gives them the excuse they need — the threat of an evil enemy.

As Hermann Goering, Hitler’s assistant, declared: “Naturally the common people don’t want war…. But…it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship…. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Goering was right about the democracies that existed both then and now. In these, the people’s influence in politics is regulated to ensure that only pro-capitalist parties have a chance. Corporate financing, winner-take-all elections, ballot-access laws, and slanted media coverage effectively exclude alternatives. Democracy means power is in the hands of the people. But the real power in our society — economic power — remains firmly in the hands of the rich elite, enabling them to control politics — and us — to a large degree.

Capitalism is always at war. The violence, though, is often abstract: forcing us either to accept low-paying, exhausting jobs or starve; denying us adequate health care, education, and economic security; convincing us that human beings are basically isolated, autonomous units seeking self gratification. But when this doesn’t suffice to keep their profits growing, the violence becomes physical, the cannons roar, and the elite rally us to war to defend “our” country and destroy the fiendish enemy. Motivating us to kill and die for them requires a massive propaganda campaign — America is under attack! — which we confront whenever we turn on their media.

Why do they do this? Are they monsters?

No, they’re not. They’re just human beings serving an inhuman system. Capitalism is inherently predatory. It demands aggressive growth. It’s either dominate or go under.

This drive for domination is the root cause of war, and until we eliminate it, we’re going to continue killing one another. Eliminating it requires a global struggle to bring down oligarchic capitalism and replace it with democratic socialism. Political democracy must be expanded and extended into the economic sphere. We, the people of the world, have to take control of the forces that shape our lives. This is the basis for building a society in which we can all fully develop as human beings. Once we achieve this, we’ll have a real chance at lasting peace.

We can do this! It’s no more difficult than other evolutionary challenges humanity has mastered. The best program I’ve found for achieving it is the Socialist Equality Party’s: http://www.wsws.org.

William T. Hathaway is an adjunct professor of American studies at the University of Oldenburg in Germany. His latest book, Radical Peace: People Refusing War, presents the experiences of war resisters, deserters, and peace activists in the USA, Europe, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Chapters are posted on a page of the publisher’s website at http://media.trineday.com/radicalpeace. He is also the author of Summer Snow, the story of an American warrior in Central Asia who falls in love with a Sufi Muslim and learns from her an alternative to the military mentality. Chapters are available at www.peacewriter.org.

 

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ZIO-NAZI TARGET PRACTICE PALESTINIAN’S

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Palestinian target practice for US tourists in the West Bank

albawaba.com

Stay in a kibbutz, go out clubbing in Tel Aviv, say a prayer at the Western Wall and then go to a settlement to practice killing Palestinians. 

This is the new summer camp for American tourists keen to get shooting at ‘terrorists’ in illegal settlements in the West Bank. At Gush Etzion, Israeli residents, who run activities, offer the chance to hear tales of ‘battles’, watch simulated assassinations and fire guns. 

At the end of the thrill-filled day, tourists get a certificate to record that they “completed a basic shooting course in Israel.”

“Suppose that the terrorist in front of me has an automatic weapon,” Shay, one of the guides, told Ynet. “He can spray a cartridge within 2.8 seconds, which means I have less than three seconds to take him down. And that is what I will do.”

The location of the course – over the green line and in Palestinian territory – is the main draw for the danger-seeking tourists. Although guides are clear that there is no actual threat.

Just outside the settlement, Palestinians who live in and around Bethlehem must go through checkpoints manned by IDF soldiers. The security presence means gun-toting tourists would be unlikely to meet a ‘terrorist’.

Conversely, attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians are on the increase. According to The Jerusalem Fund: “Israeli settler violence is growing and is a consistent threat to Palestinian livelihoods.” The attacks span from burning olive trees to breaking into Palestinian homes, carrying automatic weapons.

And it’s not just adult tourists who are taking part in the shooting practice course. According to an investigation by Ynet, children as young as five were allowed to shoot at the range:

Michel Brown, 40, a Miami banker, chose to take his wife and three children to the range with the purpose of “teaching them values.”

Upon entering the range, his five-year-old daughter, Tamara, bursts into tears. A half hour later, she is holding a gun and shooting clay bullets like a pro.

“This is part of their education,” Michel says as he proudly watches his daughter. “They should know where they come from and also feel some action.”

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Mahmoud a-Sarsak, imprisoned in Israel for about 3 years, has been on a hunger strike for some 80 days and in danger of death

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Mahmoud a-Sarask. Photo from football team poster

Mahmoud a-Sarsak, imprisoned in Israel for about 3 years, has been on a hunger strike for some 80 days and in danger of death

Mahmoud a-Sarsak, age 25, a resident of the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza, has been imprisoned by Israel for the last three years under the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law of 2002. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel report that a-Sarsak, who has been on a hunger strike for some 80 days, has lost a great deal of weight and that his life is in imminent danger.

The Israel Security Agency (ISA) did not permit a-Sarsak to be checked by independent physicians, and so PHR-Israel petitioned the court to allow one of its physicians to examine him. The petition was heard on 30 May 2012 in the Central District Court in Petakh Tikvah, and Judge Abraham Tal ruled that the ISA must set a date for the examination. Yesterday, the ISA notified the organization that the examination would take place tomorrow, 6 June 2012.


Mahmoud a-Sarask’s family in a video produced by IMEU

A-Sarsak, a member of the Palestinian national soccer team, was arrested on 22 July 2009 at the Erez crossing on his way to join the Balata soccer club team in Nablus. Since being arrested, a-Sarsak has not been allowed to speak with his family as the ISK prohibits security prisoners from using the telephone, and a-Sarsak’s family has not been able to visit as Israel has completely prohibited family visits for all prisoners from the Gaza Strip.

Kamel a-Sarsak, Mahmoud’s father, told B’Tselem: “As time goes by, we worry more and more about Mahmoud’s emotional state and his health. We know only what we hear from the media. They arrested Mahmoud arbitrarily as a “combatant.” Mahmoud is just a soccer player. He plays on the national soccer team and even played in games overseas. He also used to help his brother ‘Imad who sells vegetables at the market, and was a third-year student in computers at the Al-Quds Open University. His mother and I are very sad and worried about him because of the hunger strike. In April, his mother was hospitalized due to tension and stress she is experiencing.”

On 23 August 2009 an arrest warrant was issued for A-Sarsak under the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law of 2002. This law enables a person to be imprisoned without having been charged and without a trial, resembling what is known as administrative detention. However, unlike an administrative detention order, which is for a maximum period of six months and must then be renewed, a detention order under the Unlawful Combatants Law can be for an indefinite period. The law does mandate a legal review of the detention order every six months, but the burden of proof regarding the level of danger posed by the prisoner is shifted from the State to the prisoner himself, who must prove that he is not dangerous. Yet the prisoners are not informed of the charges against them and as such are unable to refute them. According to data provided by the ISA, A-Sarsak is currently the only person imprisoned under this law.

The Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law of 2002 under which A-Sarsak is imprisoneddoes not comport with international law, is unconstitutional, and is in any event unnecessary, since there are other statutory frameworks under which the persons to which the Law relates can be held in custody, and which infringe their human rights to a lesser extent. As such, B’Tselem has called for the repeal of the Illegal Combatants Law. B’Tselem furthermore demands that A-Sarsak be released or charged and given a fair trial.

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Can a Small Country Have a Big Heart?

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By SHMUEL ROSNER

 

A man took video of African migrants who gathered in Tel Aviv on June 10 to receive a free meal from an Israeli group known as Soup Levinsky.
Jim Hollander/European Pressphoto AgencyA man took video of African migrants who gathered in Tel Aviv on June 10 to receive a free meal from an Israeli group known as Soup Levinsky.

TEL AVIV – A few dozen illegal migrants from a handful of African countries were arrested by the Israeli authorities earlier this week, just as the country was getting ready to deport several thousand other illegal migrants. Government action against illegal immigration is finally noticeable; promises made a long time ago are finally being fulfilled.  A crisis has been averted — or so the government would like Israelis to believe.

Alas, Israel’s problem with illegal immigration will not go away overnight.

The numbers are just too high. More than 50,000 illegal African migrants live here, according to official estimates. One recent report says that southern Tel Aviv, with a population of about 100,000, is 25 percent illegal migrants. And these figures seem to be growing, according to Israel’s immigration authority.

Many migrants come to Israel legally and overstay without a visa extension. But the real problem, which is now in the spotlight, is with the migrants who come into the country illegally through weak spots in the southern border, after grueling, costly and at times violent journeys through Egypt. All come from poor African countries and many from conflict-ridden countries. Israel is the closest and most prosperous destination for Africans in search of a better life.

Often, after catching illegal migrants from Africa, the Israeli government can’t send them back because of unstable political situations that make it inhumane or illegal to deport them (Eritrea), or a lack of relations with the home country makes it technically impractical (Sudan).Thus, many of Israel’s illegal migrants also have a claim on being refugees, complicating  the problem.

Even when the migrants are caught at the border, they are often released into the country for a lack of better options. Israel is not well prepared for this wave of Africans. The country does not have many places to hold illegal migrants, so in most cases they are left to roam freely.

They are, by and large, young, poor, unemployed men. They stay awake late into the night, often drinking on the streets. They make many locals – rightly or wrongly – feel insecure. These migrants have been coming for years, but only recently have Israeli citizens decided they’ve had enough.

A couple of weeks ago, residents in southern Tel Aviv started demonstrating. Why now? That’s a good question. Why not a year ago, or half a year ago are even better ones. I don’t know.

Some of the protests became violent and ugly, with racial overtones or outright racism. A handful of elected officials poured oil on the fire by making harsh comments, calling the migrants “a cancer,” blaming them for spreading AIDS, and worsening an already delicate situation.

The authorities finally took action – resulting in the arrests this week. The government is now hastily striving for a coherent policy. A fence along the Egyptian border is already up, but a second fence on the Jordanian border to the east is under consideration. More deportations are in the works. And there is talk of building a tent city to accommodate those who cannot be currently deported.

It is heartbreaking, even shocking, to see Israelis making racist commentsand taking actions that smack of hate. It is also unsurprising. Israel is a small country, obsessed with the need to guard its Jewish majority. It is also too small to absorb so many poor illegal migrants.

For the last two weeks Israelis have been debating the many complications of this problem. Questions of morality are naturally raised, coupled with considerations of the unique history of their country with its roots in immigration and persecution of the Jews. These issues have no easy solutions, and can perhaps be summed up in one question: Can a very small country have a very big heart?

The answer, sadly, is no. Not always, anyway. Given our history, demography, current political circumstances and values, a serious effort to block illegal immigration from Africa – or any other region — is essential. It is essential if we want Israel to remain Jewish. It is essential if we want Israel to remain prosperous.

Israel can and should absorb a reasonable number of refugees, but it should not be expected to be the ultimate destination for Africans escaping poverty and war. Deportation is necessary to convince the next potential waves of migrants that coming to Israel would not be wise.

Searches and arrests, erecting of border fences, bolstering of guard units, kicking out poor migrants – all these scenes will now become a chapter in Jewish history. Israel has no other choice.

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Are you Jewish?

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Our Government Is Failing to Protect Our Rights

By: James Zogby 

A few weeks ago a Palestinian-American woman, Sandra Tamari, traveling to the West Bank to visit her family, was stopped by Israeli airport officials and ordered to log on to her email account and provide her password so that the Israelis could read her private communications. They insisted this be done before they would allow her to enter the country. From reports we are receiving, this practice has become routine.

Disturbing? You bet it is. But even more upsetting was what happened when Ms. Tamari spoke to a U.S. official. As she relates their conversation:

U.S. Official: Hello. I got your number from_____. You are being questioned by Israeli authorities, I understand.Sandra Tamari: They are threatening to deport me.

U.S. Official: Are you Jewish?

Sandra Tamari: No.

U.S. Official: have you been in contact with the Israeli government or military before?

Sandra Tamari: No

U.S. Official: Have you been here before?

Sandra Tamari: Yes, several times. I am a Palestinian with family in the West Bank.

U.S. Official: Oh, you have family in the West Bank. Then there is nothing I can do to help you. In fact, if I interceded on your behalf, it will hurt your case with the Israelis.

Sandra Tamari: I don’t understand. You are saying you can’t speak with them. You have no influence. They are demanding to access my gmail account.

U.S. Official: If they have your gmail address, they can get in without your password.

Sandra Tamari: What do you mean? How?

U.S. Official: They’re good!

Sandra Tamari: This is crazy. You mean you know about these requests to access emails and you have no problem with it.

U.S. Official: It is in our travel warning. They won’t harm you. You will be sent home on the next flight out…

 

This story is infuriating on many levels. Israeli treatment of Americans of Arab descent is demeaning and disgraceful — though it pales in comparison with the daily humiliation endured by Palestinians at checkpoints and borders. More disturbing is the acceptance of this behavior and the cavalier disregard some American officials have displayed to these violations of the rights of their own citizens.

I have been dealing with issues of this sort for 35 years. And I have, myself, been personally subjected to hours of frustrating and humiliating interrogations by Israeli officials. Since the 1970’s, we have logged with the State Department the complaints of hundreds of American citizens of Arab descent traveling to or within Israel and the Occupied Territories who were: detained for hours of humiliating questioning; denied entry, turned away at airports and made to buy tickets to return home; forced to surrender their American passports and to secure, against their will, a Palestinian ID document; denied permission to exit; strip searched; or had property stolen or deliberately destroyed by airport inspectors. The stories are hurtful and have caused great distress to many. There are many Palestinian Americans who, because of their concern with this treatment, have simply stopped going to visit their families.

We have called successive U.S. administrations to task for failing to hold Israel accountable for these behaviors which are in clear violation of their treaty obligations to the U.S. In the 1951 U.S.-Israel Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation, Israel pledges to permit U.S. citizens “to travel freely, to reside at places of their choice; to enjoy liberty of conscience” and to guarantee them “the most constant protection and security.”

We have also questioned why American officials have failed to deliver on the assurance implied on the opening page of every U.S. passport: “The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.”

Sadly, instead of protecting its citizens, the U.S. has all too often feigned powerlessness, thus enabling Israel to continue to violate the rights of Arab Americans with impunity. This is unconscionable since it relegates Arab Americans to the status of second class citizens.

Does the U.S. “special relationship” with Israel cancel out the right of American citizens of Arab descent to equal protection by their own government? From the comments of the U.S. official to Ms. Tamari, that would appear to be the case. The “travel warning” he pointed out to her specifically notes that “U.S. citizens with Arabic or Muslim names, those born in Muslim or Middle Eastern countries” can be expected to be treated differently by “Israeli border authorities.” To understand just how infuriating this warning is, substitute “Jewish” for “Arabic” and “Jordanian border authorities” for “Israeli border authorities.” Then ask yourself what the reaction of the State Department and Congress would be if that were the case? Would they merely issue a “warning” or “advisory” to American Jews — as if this behavior were some “act of nature” to be lamented but accepted? And yet this is exactly what happened to Sandra Tamari and it is what has happened repeatedly for decades to countless other Arab Americans traveling to and within Israel and the Occupied Territories.

I have been assured by many Secretaries of State that there is but one class of U.S. citizenship, that our rights, as Arab Americans, will be protected and that this matter will be taken up with Israeli authorities. They have done so, and yet the systematic discrimination against and harassment of Americans of Arab descent by the State of Israel not only persists, it has worsened.

This is because after the initial protest is ignored by Israel, our government shrugs its shoulders as if to say “there is nothing more we can do.” Well there is something more they can do. They just either cannot or will not muster the political courage to protect the rights of my community when Israel is involved. And they admit as much with their pathetic travel warning.

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The Outrageous Racist Hypocrisy of IsraHell and World Zionism!

This video exposes how Israel and World Zionism is a hypocritical tribal, racist entity that not only oppresses the Palestinians, but seeks control of the whole world.

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Jewish Supremacists Demand that Switzerland Pay More for Oil

NOVANEWS

The Jewish Supremacists who control the U.S. government, and have forced Americans to pay more for gas prices as a result of their warmongering against Iran, have demanded that the Swiss also pay more their oil supplies and have expressed outrage that the European nation has not succumbed to the Zionist demands.

Sanctions from the United States and European Union against the Iranian energy sector are set to take effect in a few weeks, but the Swiss government hasn’t joined in the Jewish-Supremacist co-ordinated effort. Switzerland is not a member of the EU.

In an email to The Jerusalem Post, Block, who now a senior fellow at the Washington- based Progressive Policy Institute, “It is incomprehensible that the Swiss government would seek to undermine global pressure on Iran that is designed to blunt Tehran’s dangerous nuclear ambitions. A respectable member of the international community would not allow its banking system to help Iran evade sanctions, yet it appears the Swiss government is shamefully doing exactly that.

“It begs the question, whose side are they on, Tehran or the West?” Block asked.

It is unclear how much of Tehran’s oil exports, estimated at below 2 million barrels per day, are traded or financed via Switzerland, where a third of global oil exports by volume is traded.

The Swiss have long been seen as making the least effort in Europe to confront Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. The US sanctioned in 2010 Switzerland’s Naftiran Intertrade Co. a subsidiary of Tehran’s National Iranian Oil Co., for pumping “hundreds of millions of dollars” into energy projects in the Islamic Republic.

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No International Media Outrage over Latest “Price Tag” Attacks

NOVANEWS

The Zionist-controlled international media always goes into a frenzy when even the slightest “anti-Semitic” incident occurs, even over things such as a single swastika painted on a dormitory door—yet there is no “outrage” and international condemnation over the huge number of arson, spraypainting, bombing and other vandalism attacks by Jews on Palestinians.

In Israel, such attacks are so common that they are known as “price tag” attacks (which is the name given to “acts of random violence aimed at the Palestinian population and Israeli security forces” by radical Israeli Jewish settlers, who, according to the New York Times, “exact a price from local Palestinians or from the Israeli security forces for any action taken against their settlement enterprise”)

In the latest incident, a mosque in the village of Jaba in the occupied West Bank was vandalized and set on fire early on Tuesday, in an attack Palestinians blamed on Israeli settlers.

Scrawled on the outside walls in Hebrew were the words “Ulpana War”, referring to the Ulpana hill in a West Bank settlement. Around three meters of the mosque’s interior wall and carpeting were scorched.

“At one o’clock we heard screaming from the people of the village and realized the mosque was on fire. More than three hundred people awoke and we managed to put it out,” said mayor Abdul Karim Sharaf.

“After that we saw the writing, racist writing,” he said. “This is great injustice clear to the world.”

Graffiti carrying messages such as “The war has begun” and “You will pay the price” was spray-painted on the mosque’s walls.

The mosque appears to have been attacked around 1:30 A.M. While none of the villagers saw the arsonists, they noticed the fire following the attack and hurried to extinguish it.

According to villagers, while the incident was immediately reported to the IDF, the army only arrived on the scene around 6 A.M.

Jab’a is located near Highway 60, a central traffic artery in the West Bank, but the access road to the village is blocked by large dirt mounds erected by the Israeli settlers.

Tuesday morning’s attack followed an extensive drill by Israel Police on Monday, held in preparation for the expected evacuation of the Ulpana Hill neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El.

Earlier this month, vandals carried out similar actions in the East Jerusalem neighborhood Shuafat, as well as in the Jewish-Arab village of Neveh Shalom.

According to the Haaretz newspaper, a number of Middle East experts recently warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that continued settlement construction or the burning of a major mosque by Jewish extremists could ignite a third intifada in the West Bank.

The real story is however the fact that there is no international “outrage” or condemnation from the world’s media or the Zionist puppets who masquerade as “western leaders.”

Imagine, for a minute, what the reaction would be if just one synagogue in America were to be firebombed? The coverage would be blanket headline news for months on end—but when, as is the case with the “price tag attacks,” it is Jews carrying out the attacks, their co-religionist wire-pullers in the media and the west make sure there is minimal coverage and no “outrage.”

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