Archive | October 16th, 2012

Revolt of the Plebs Broadcast

Revolt of the Plebs Broadcast Oct 16, 2012

by crescentandcross

The one and only Keith Johnson interviews the one and only

 Chuck Carlson.

revolt-of-the-plebs-broadcast-oct-16-2012.mp3

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THANK YOU FOR ASSISTING WITH THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH

PRODUCING THIS PROGRAM

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PCHR submits an Individual Complaint to the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

NOVANEWS

On Monday, 15 September, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has made a written submission, in the form of an Individual Complaint, to Mr. De Schutter the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, which draws attention to the case of Abu Mghasib (38) from Wadi el Salqa, in Deir el Balah, Gaza Strip (Palestine).

On 12 June 2012, Israeli army bulldozers conducted an incursion into the central Gaza Strip, on the eastern side of Deir el Balah.  They razed 43 dunums of farming land belonging to Palestinian farmers.  On 17 June, the bulldozers and tanks returned to level what was left of the farming lands.  One of the plots of land belongs to Youssef Abu Mghasib (38) from Wadi el Salqa.  On his land, he grew olives and an assortment of fruits and vegetables to support his family.  Abu Mghasib lives with and is the sole breadwinner for his wife, 9 children, mother and sister.  Their home is located approximately 500 meters north-east of their farm.  As a result of the land razing, the family lost its access to food and its source of income, violating their right to attain an adequate standard of living.

The razing of Abu Mghasib’s land is part of a larger pattern of attacks carried out by the Israeli forces positioned on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.  Israeli authorities have unilaterally and illegally established a so-called ‘buffer zone’ along the border, which officially extends 300 meters into the Gaza Strip.  However, in reality, the ‘buffer zone’ can extend up to 1,500 meters from the fence, and is enforced with the use of lethal force. From October 2000, at the beginning Second Intifada, until November 2010 PCHR has documented the bulldozing of 55,833 dunums of land in the Gaza Strip, of which 50,193 was agricultural land and 2,646 was forest land.

By denying Youssef Abu Mghasib access to his farming lands, which are his and his family’s primary source of food and livelihood, the Israeli authorities have taken away the family’s ability to feed and sustain themselves.  This is a violation of their right to an adequate standard of living, as codified under Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and Article 24 (2) (c) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Furthermore, the denial of farmers’ and fishermen’s right to freedom of movement, which results in the lack of access to their livelihoods, violates these workers’ right to food, as well as various employment rights, which are guaranteed under the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in particular Article 6 and 7.

PCHR will be submitting either Memorandums or Individual Complaints on a bi-weekly basis to UN Working Groups and Special Rapporteurs, to draw attention to issues facing the Palestinian people.

Supplementary documents:

Individual Complaint: Individual complaint related to the right to food in the Gaza Strip (pdf)

http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/2012/un/Individual%20Complaint%20-%20SR%20Right%20to%20Food%20-%20Gaza%20Strip%2015Oct12.pdf

Briefing Note: The Right to Food in the Gaza Strip (pdf)

http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/2012/un/Briefing%20Note%20Gaza%20Strip%20-%20SR%20food%2015Oct12.pdf

Factsheet: Gaza Strip: Destruction of sources of food and livelihood in the Gaza (pdf)

http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/2012/un/Factsheet%20SR%20Food%20Gaza%20Strip%20(15Oct12).pdf

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Outside New York, controversial Jewish circumcision rite goes unregulated

NOVANEWS

Jewish groups are trying to block a new New York City rule requiring parental consent for a mohel, or ritual circumciser, to use direct oral-genital suction.

Haaretz

As New York City health authorities and ultra-Orthodox groups clash over metzitzah b’peh, officials in other cities are making no effort to regulate the risky oral suction technique sometimes used during ritual circumcision.

In fact, unlike in New York City, health authorities elsewhere often have no mandate to monitor the incidence of the herpes strain known as HSV-1 that babies can contract from the procedure. The disease’s consequences for adults are seldom serious, but HSV-1 can cause developmental disabilities, nerve damage and occasionally death in infants due to the underdeveloped state of their immune systems.

Assessing the possible risks and rate of infection is further complicated by the fact that outside the New York City area, even some ultra-Orthodox mohels and the families they serve appear to accept use of more sterile procedures, which are endorsed by local governments and rejected by many ultra-Orthodox groups in New York.

In Baltimore, which has a large ultra-Orthodox population, a representative for the county department of health said her office doesn’t “have anything to do with” tracking herpes or circumcision rites, and referred questions to the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality. A spokesperson from the state office confirmed that neonatal herpes was not mandated to be reported. “The Department agrees that this is not a safe practice,” the spokesperson wrote in an email, adding, “We are not aware of any cases associated with this practice in Maryland.”

The department’s lack of awareness could reflect the absence of mandated reporting of the illness. It might also reflect caution about antagonizing the community. In March, Helene King, a spokeswoman for Sinai Hospital, which serves Baltimore’s large ultra-Orthodox population, declined to answer even a general question from the Forward about babies with HSV-1 being admitted soon after their circumcisions. “With such a close-knit community as the Baltimore Orthodox one is, I would not want to chance that any family or families would realize they were in an article like this,” she wrote.

The Forward contacted several prominent mohels from Baltimore’s ultra-Orthodox community, including Rabbi Michael Henesch. None would agree to be interviewed about whether they used metzitzah b’peh.

Other cities with sizable ultra-Orthodox populations, such as Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, do not mandate that herpes cases be reported to the state. In Canada, officials in Montreal and Toronto confirmed that herpes was a communicable disease to be reported, but they were not aware of any cases.

On September 13, the New York City Board of Health and Mental Hygiene passed the first known government regulation of metzitzah b’peh, a technique in which the mohel applies his mouth directly to the genitals of a male infant after the circumcision to suck the blood away from the site of the cut. The new regulation requires parents to sign an informed consent form before allowing a mohel to perform direct oral-genital cleansing.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, metzitzah b’peh carries a high risk of HSV-1 transmission. As a result, the Board of Health suggested the use of sterile glass tubes, known as pipettes, as an alternative.

But efforts by the board to promote this method in the ultra-Orthodox community have been criticized by community leaders, who accused the city of infringing on religious freedoms.

Dr. Aaron Jesin, an Orthodox mohel who lives outside of Toronto, has practiced brit milah, — the Jewish circumcision ritual — for 34 years, including for Hasidic and other ultra-Orthodox families. He wrote in an email to the Forward that residents were “not as acutely aware of the problem of metzitzah b’peh and the [local] Board of Health has not been involved.”

Jesin said he used metzitzah b’peh in his circumcisions for approximately five years before an encounter with Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a Yeshiva University rabbinic school leader with a doctorate in microbiology. Tendler advocated the use of gloves and a sterile glass tube, and Jesin said he has since performed circumcisions with those accessories. Jesin said that in the rare case that a family insists on metzitzah b’peh today, he asks the father to perform that part of the ritual.

The increase in the use of sterile pipettes coincided with the rise in AIDS awareness during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Rabbi Mendel Altein, who has been a mohel since 1992, began performing circumcisions in Montreal in 1994. One year earlier, Altein, a Lubavitch rabbi, sought the advice of Lubavitch’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, about performing circumcisions with a pipette, due to his concern about transmitting diseases. Altein said Schneerson told him that according to kabala, it was preferable to perform it “directly by mouth for spiritual reasons” and that Hasidim should do it “the most preferable way.”

Altein said, however, that today the majority of mohels in Montreal perform the technique with a tube, although the very religious parents still want the ritual executed through direct oral contact.

“We don’t need a consent form. I think that’s a bit much,” Altein said. “But every mohel, as a responsible mohel, should make sure parents are aware of it.” Altein said he notifies parents of the risks and, despite his own rebbe’s directive, uses a tube unless specifically asked not to. “For people who clearly want a b’peh [direct oral contact], the yeshivah and really religious, we still still do a b’peh,” he said. “If it’s Lubavitcher families, it’s understood I will do it with a tube.”

In Los Angeles, Rabbi Yehuda Lebovics, who has been a mohel for more than 30 years, related that he has performed circumcisions using a sterile pipette for many Hasidic families with no complaints from them. For his clients, “it hasn’t really been an issue,” he said. Lebovics said that the local health department had done “absolutely zero” to regulate metzitzah b’peh, but since it is not a common practice, there was little call for officials to do so.

Lebovics said that at one time he regularly performed metzitzah b’peh, but stopped after the rise of the AIDS epidemic, which was heavily publicized in southern California. He advocated the use of sterile pipettes to suction blood.

In an email to the Forward, Avi Shafran of Agudath Israel of America, the organization that has threatened legal action against the city, wrote that New York, having more ultra-Orthodox Jews than any other region in the United States, was a likely place for the issue to “come to a head,” and that “any mohel is entirely free to use whatever suction method he chooses, based on whatever authorities he looks to for guidance.”

But Shafran said that mohels who believe metzitzah b’peh is a “matter of religious conviction” should not be compelled to “‘re-examine’ their religious beliefs.”

New York City’s regulation goes into effect on October 21. Since 2004, there have been only 11 suspected cases of herpes transmission after circumcision; two of the infants died. Earlier this year, two New Jersey infants from the Orthodox community were infected after having had metzitzah b’peh, but they both survived. Dr. Margaret Fisher, chair of pediatrics at Monmouth Medical Center, told the Forward in March that the incidence of infection was “certainly a minuscule number, however, you could make that number be zero by not using your mouth to suction the blood.”

The city’s ruling did have an effect in nearby Rockland County, home to a large ultra-Orthodox population in and around Monsey. Commissioner of health Dr. Joan Facelle said her department was not implementing any method of informed consent, but was working with two local hospitals to share an informational brochure adapted from data gathered by the New York City Board of Health. From 2003 to 2004, three infants contracted herpes after circumcisions were performed by Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer from Monsey. In an August 2005 New York Times article, Fischer said through his lawyer that two of the infants had “herpes-like rashes before they were circumcised and were seen by a pediatrician who approved their circumcision.”

Samuel C. Heilman, an author and sociology professor at the City University of New York, said that metzitzah b’peh had become, “a cause célèbre” amongst some ultra-Orthodox Jews, or Haredim, as they are sometimes known. As a result, he said, “If someone wants to demonstrate they’re truly Haredi, they will have their child circumcised through metzitzah b’peh.” In a follow-up email, Heilman wrote that he wasn’t surprised the practice was not as widespread in other communities, but believed, “the more politicized it gets the more it has the potential to spread.”

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Man headed to jail in NYC Torah fraud

NOVANEWS

Charity co-founder, who billed himself as ‘Jewish Indiana Jones’, sentenced to more than four years in prison for conning donors out of about $1 million

ynet 

A Jewish charity co-founder who billed himself as a “Jewish Indiana Jones” bent on rescuing vintage Torahs across the globe was sentenced to more than four years in prison on Thursday for conning donors out of about $1 million.

Menachem Youlus told a judge in federal court in Manhattan that he was ashamed of his scam, but still hoped for leniency.

“I will carry that shame and dishonor with me for the rest of my life. … I know I have lifetime of atonement ahead of me,” he said.

US District Judge Colleen McMahon gave Youlus 51 months behind bars – the maximum under sentencing guidelines. She imposed the term after hearing some the victims express anguish over discovering that their donations – given to help to save the sacred scrolls in Europe and Israel – instead went into his pocket.

“We’re here because Mr. Youlus is a liar and because he lied in order to obtain money,” the judge said.

Youlus – a 50-year-old father of nine children and owner of a book store in Wheaton, Maryland – had told donors he traveled the world to recover Torahs lost or hidden during the Holocaust, including at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland and the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.

At a 2004 Torah dedication, Youlus wrote: “I guess you could call me the Jewish Indiana Jones,” a criminal complaint said, referencing the action-adventure hero played by Harrison Ford in the 1981 Stephen Spielberg classic “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

But prosecutors said Youlus rarely went abroad during the years he had claimed to go Torah hunting. They accused him of instead distributing Torahs he bought from US dealers to synagogues and congregations nationwide, sometimes at inflated rates.

Authorities also alleged Youlus put some of the donations into his personal accounts, spending the funds on private school tuition for his children and on personal expenses, including meals and health care.

Defense attorney Ben Brafman insisted Thursday that Youlus actually had “squirreled away” most of the funds. He also sought to assure victims they would get back all their money.

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Prosecutor: French terror cell planned Syria trip

NOVANEWS

New details about French Islamists behind grenade attack on kosher market reveals they left wills, were ‘lured by prospect of jihad in Syria’

ed note–so, in other words, these same individuals who attacked Jewish targets in France are the same individuals who are going to Syria to try and unseat Assad from power?

Just a small illustration as to how this all works. Israel uses angry muslims to carry out ‘terror’ attacks against Jewish targets in order to evoke sympathy from the public and then uses these same characters to go to places like Syria to carry out bigger objectives.

ynet 

A network of French Islamists behind a grenade attack on a kosher market also planned to join jihadists fighting in Syria, a state prosecutor said Thursday, calling the suspected terrorist group potentially the most dangerous established in France since the 1990s.

Five of the 12 people arrested in sweeps in cities around France have been freed, said the prosecutor, Francois Molins.

He said seven people remain in custody a day after police discovered bomb-making materials in an underground parking lot as part of a probe of an “extremely dangerous terrorist cell.” The seven, aged 19 to 25 years old, were all born in France, he said.

The Sept. 19 attack on the market in Sarcelles, outside Paris, shattered windows and injured a customer at the store.

It has revived French concerns that home-grown Islamic militants want to link with international Jihad and carry out terrorism in France – this time, notably, against Jewish targets.

“The intent was to kill,” Molins said. “It was just lucky that it (the attack) didn’t have the consequences desired by the culprits.” He noted that despite five days of questioning, when those held were mostly uncooperative, it was not clear whether the two culprits of the attack were in custody.

Nonetheless, the prosecutor hailed “the dismantling of a terrorist group that is probably the most dangerous brought to light in France since 1996.” Back then, Islamic militants linked to a bloody insurrection in former French colony Algeria carried out a series of bombings in France.

Molins said that the bomb-making materials turned up in the underground garage could have been used in “exactly the same type of construction and mechanism used in 1995 by GIA activists” – the French acronym for the now-disbanded Armed Islamic Group in Algeria.

In the garage, investigators found rifles, ammunition, a bottle of candle wax, 3 kilograms of potassium nitrate, a bag of charcoal, 1-1/2 kilograms of sulfur, electric cables, batteries, five car headlight bulbs, and a pressure cooker, Molins said.

“We aren’t underestimating either the internal or the external threat,” French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said in an interview with Europe 1 radio In Syria, most of those fighting against President Bashar Assad’s military are believed to be ordinary Syrians fed up with the authoritarian regime and soldiers who have defected, analysts say.

French authorities have been on high alert for possible terror attacks by radical Islamists after Mohamed Merah, a Frenchman who claimed links to al-Qaeda, shot and killed three Jewish children, a rabbi and three paratroopers in southern France in March.

French authorities opened a judicial investigation Thursday over the Sarcelles grocery attack for attempted murder, notably on the basis of the potential victims’ religion and in connection with a terrorist organization, the prosecutor said.

Related potential charges included the illegal possession of explosive devices, theft, use of stolen property, and illegal possession and transport of firearms.

It’s now up to investigating judges whether to file preliminary charges.

Terrorists left wills

The case involves two components: The kosher grocery attack, and the recruitment network. The prosecutor wants seven charged in connection with the alleged network, and six of them in the grocery attack.

Two suspects “had the mission of recruiting and sending individuals to carry out jihad in some countries – notably Syria,” Molins said. Two members of the cell had recently spent three months each in Tunisia and Egypt, though police interrogations haven’t turned up why they were there, he said.

DNA traces found on the grenade led anti-terror police to Jeremie Louis-Sidney, a 33-year-old convicted drug dealer who, Molins said, converted to radical Islam in prison. Louis-Sidney was killed in a shootout with police on Saturday.

The only other suspect identified by name was Jeremy Bailly, who – instead of Louis-Sidney, as first thought – appeared to be the group’s ringleader, Molins said. Bailly had rented the garage where the explosives were found, and investigators found a key to it in his home.

Police investigators turned up five wills that contained “religious recommendations that consisted of saying, ‘the day that I won’t be here… respect your Muslim duty, give my iPod to my sister, such-and-such item to my brother-in-law,’ etc.,” Molins said.

French investigators believed they headed off a potentially deadly terror attack, though it was unclear what the target might be. Bailly told investigators that “he wanted indeed to build a bomb, but without naming either his accomplices or his target,” according to Molins.

A French counterterrorism official told The Associated Press on Wednesday that authorities have noticed a recent trend in which young French militants have been lured by the prospect of jihad in Syria.

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Khamenei: Iran won’t give in to Western ‘bullying’

NOVANEWS

Iran’s supreme leader says West is ‘too weak to bring Iran to its knees’ and its leaders are ‘stuck in mindset of the colonial 19th century’

Ynet

Iran will not give in to “bullying” at the negotiating table with world powers over its disputed nuclear program, despite new economic sanctions, its supreme leader said on Tuesday.

The West “keeps saying pressure against Iran is aimed at forcing the Islamic Republic to return to the negotiating table” about its nuclear program, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in remarks carried on state television.

“But when did we leave the table that now we need to return?” he asked during his visit to the northeastern province of North Khorasan.

“Their real objective is (forcing) the Iranian nation to surrender to their bullying at the negotiating table…(but) you are too weak to bring Iran to its knees,” Khamenei said.

His remarks came a day after the European Union toughened sanctions against Tehran, targeting its dealings with Iran’s banks, shipping and gas imports and banning trade in metals.

Without directly mentioning the sanctions, Khamenei accused the European leaders of seeking to bully Iran.

“European officials are still stuck in the bullying mindset of the colonial 19th century, but they will face many problems in the face of the resistance of the Iranian nation and officials,” he said.

On Monday, European governments agreed on further sanctions against Iran’s banking, shipping and industrial sectors, cranking up financial pressure on Tehran in the hope of drawing it into serious negotiations on its nuclear program.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman described the new sanctions as “illegal, unwise and inhuman.”

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IsraHell to be featured in second US Presidential debate

NOVANEWS

Exactly three weeks before US presidential elections, candidates prepare for what could be deciding factor in vote’s results. New York debate to focus both on foreign policy and domestic affairs

ynet 

Exactly two weeks after the first presidential debate that enabled Republican candidate Mitt Romney to close the gap with President Barack Obama, the two will battle it out in the second of three debates on Tuesday.

The New York debate which will focus both on foreign and domestic policy will be held exactly three weeks before Americans cast their ballots. The losing candidate will have very little time to fix the damage.

The two candidates have spent the past few days intensely preparing for the debate, Obama in Williamsburg, Virginia and Romney in Massachusetts. Romney wife’s Ann recently told a Philadelphia radio station that her husband is enjoying tremendous momentum.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that Obama remained ahead on some core issues such as healthcare and has a small advantage in the swing states. Early voting has already commenced in 43 of the 50 states. The race will be closest in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Nevada.

On Monday, the Obama campaign released news ads focusing on the economy – the single most crucial issue in the elections. The president tried to highlight the drop in unemployment which recently reached its lowest point since the beginning of his term.

Romney’s advisors, on the other hand, hinted that the Republican candidate will continue to soften his message, as he did in the Denver debate.

Romney has recently been seen promising that his tax plan will not benefit the rich and highlighted his work to curb anti-abortion laws as the governor of Massachusetts. Romney said he will not promote anti-abortion legislation if elected.

Tuesday’s debate at the Hofstra University in Long Island will be moderated by CNN’s Cindy Crowley but the candidates will also be asked to answer some questions by US citizens. The candidates will have two minutes to answer those questions and Crowley will be able to follow-up.

Israel is likely to be one of the issues the candidates will be asked to comment on, together with other foreign policy issues such as the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, the Syrian civil war and the Iranian nuclear issue.

The third and final debate which will be held in Boca Raton, Florida next week will be solely devoted to foreign policy.

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The Madness Continues: Ann Wright Disinvited to Sail

NOVANEWS

Introduction by Gilad Atzmon: The adorable solidarity activist Ann Wright, former US Army Colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War and support of Palestinian rights, is now also subject to Palestinian solidarity internal war.

On her way to meet up with the Swedish Estelle, the next boat to challenge the Israeli blockade, Colonel Wright was called by a board member of the Estelle who ask her to abort the journey.  She was disinvited. The explanation was embarrassingly lame – Ann Wright is a member of the new Free Gaza Movement’s Board. She supports Greta Berlin.

It didn’t take me more than a few minutes to find out that the leader of the current attempt to sail to Gaza is Israeli Jewish activist named Dror Feiler.  Feiler is the chairman of the Jews-Only Swedish organization Jews For Israeli Palestinian Peace (JIPF) and the European Jews for Just Peace (EJJP). Once again it is the Jewish activist  who decides who should be on board in the Palestinian Solidarity movement. I can’t make up my mind whether this is funny or tragic. It is certainly very bad news.

Read Ann Wright’s statement:

http://www.freegaza.org/

Statement by Ann Wright on the “Dis-Invitation” of her by the Swedish Boat to Gaza “Estelle” steering committee to be on the boat

Two days ago, on October 13, three hours before I was to board a flight to Europe to meet up with the Swedish boat to Gaza, the “Estelle,” the next boat to challenge the Israeli blockade, I was called by a board member of the Estelle who said that because of the furor around Greta Berlin’s posting and because I am a member of the new, 2 week old board of the Free Gaza Movement,  I was no longer invited to be a passenger on the “Estelle.”

The board representative acknowledged that the reason for their invitation to me to be on the “Estelle” was that I am a retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war, that I am a vocal critic of Israeli and United States policies on Palestinians and that I have been to Gaza 4 times in the past 3 years, assisted 7 groups to go to Gaza in 2009, helped organize the December, 2009 Gaza Freedom March, was a passenger on the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, helped organize the 2011 US Boat to Gaza and am an organizer for one of the latest initiatives, Gaza’s Ark.

But, because I am a member of the new board of the Free Gaza movement, and despite the fact I, and Greta and all members of the new board have made public statements posted on the Free Gaza Movement’s website that neither Greta, nor members of the current or previous board are anti-Semitic, bigoted or racist, the fact that I am on the new Free Gaza board was the reason the board of the “Estelle” was withdrawing the invitation for me to sail on the Estelle due to allegations of anti-Semitism of the Swedish Boat to Gaza by pro-Israelis groups in Sweden.

I am saddened by the decision of the board to withdraw its invitation and I believe it is wrong.  All of our projects that have challenged Israeli policies toward Palestinians have been called anti-Semitic by pro-Israeli groups. This is not a new tactic used to scare pro-Palestinian groups.

Phil Weiss and Adam Horowitz in an article posted on Mondoweiss http://mondoweiss.net/2012/10/no-room-for-racism-in-a-movement-working-for-equality-and-freedom.html said – “there is no room for racism in a movement working for equality, justice and freedom for all in Israel/Palestine”—and they are right, but at the same time, there is no room for throwing long-time international activists for Palestine “off the boat,” so to speak.

Greta Berlin is not an anti-Semite, a bigot or a racist, and neither am I.

I wish the passengers and crew on the “Estelle” a safe voyage in challenging the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza and call for all who support Palestinians to keep their eyes on the prize—justice, dignity and freedom for Palestinians who are suffering under unjust Israeli policies and actions.

Peace to all and among us all,

Ann Wright

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PAKISTAN’S MOMENT OF TRUTH: A CAGEPRISONERS REPORT ON THE ANTI-DRONE MARCH

NOVANEWS

LAUREN BOOTH

Pakistan’s Moment of Truth: A CagePrisoners report on the anti-Drone March

“What about the security of those taking part in the anti drones protest” was the only question asked by journalists at the press conference held by Imran Khan, in Islamabad, on the subject.  It was tiresome to witness the agenda of Pakistan’s rulers on such public display. Namely, to derail the growing mass movement in Pakistan opposing US drone attacks on its regional villages. To prevent the momentum of this movement, the spectre of foreigners being harmed was hyped up across the local media.

As political leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI), Imran Khan called for people of all age, gender and class to head to Waziristan and witness the real terror there; the terror being visited on one of the world’s poorest regions by the world’s richest, most heavily armed, superpower.
As the weekend of the historic convoy approached; Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve and members of US group Code Pink, all taking part, called for the rights of Waziri civilians be recognised, supported and protected.
South Waziristan is one of seven Pakistani Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Frontier Regions (FATA). Sixty percent of the population lives below the national poverty line, the region is inhabited almost entirely by Pashtuns. The governance is under the direct authority of the Pakistani President, who has the sole power to regulate ‘for the peace and good governance’ of FATA.
That ‘good governance’ includes refusing to condemn (or indeed supporting) Barak Obama’s drones policy in the region. Since Obama became President, drone attacks have surged in the FATA region; from an average of one strike every 40 days before 2007, up to one every four days by mid-2011.
Stanford University and New York University released their major study recently. This shocked the world, revealing that a mere 2 per cent of those murdered and maimed by unmanned American drones, were (accused) ‘terrorists.’ So much for the narrative that drones attacks in Pakistan (and Gaza and Yeman and elsewhere) are surgical, precise and thus, effective against ‘extremism’. Instead, their imprecision and their increasingly casual use, not only fail to contain resistance to American hegemony in the region, they fuel anti-US sentiments in Pakistan and destabilize the lives and safety of tens of millions of people. People who may be, as a result, genuinely at risk of militant attack.

Overwhelming the majority of those killed, injured, and handicapped by drones are innocent civilians going about their daily lives. Independent research puts the number of drone-related deaths over 3,000, including 175 children. During my time in Pakistan, an awareness of the massive impact of drone strikes became clearer. What is too little mentioned in the international media is the displacement of people from South Waziristan. Estimates now put the number of IDP’s (Internally Displaced Persons) at almost fifty per cent of the entire population. That is 300,000 people, unable to live in their homes as a direct result of America’s policy of launching random attacks on civilian villages and gatherings.
I remember being in Gaza earlier this year, hearing the drones overhead, trembling inside at the creepiness of being spied upon, judged for injury or death from afar. Israeli and US militarists have boasted in the past that drone attacks are so precise that ‘the colour of a woman’s hijab’ can be detected (the point here is not the colour – images are black and white – but the boast). This is the lie which keeps the US public supporting drone policy. This imaginary scenario where scary bearded terrorists are obliterated by ‘surgical’ attacks that somehow do no damage to ‘innocent’ people living, eating or sleeping, alongside them.

So what is like living under these wonderfully controlled killing machines? As in Gaza, the people of North and South Waziristan live with their skies constantly abuzz with flying metal destruction. Clive Stafford Smith reports that his mother remembered the buzz of ‘drones’ aka ‘doodblebugs’ used by the Nazis in WWII over London. ‘So long as they made a sound you were alive’ she remembered seventy years later, with a shudder. Today again, weapons of Fascism buzz in the skies over towns and villages. Breaking up the very fabric of community life. Women in Waziristan are afraid to shop at the markets, their children are kept home from school, funerals of those already killed, avoided (these have been targeted as ‘militant gatherings).

And here in Europe our media gets all excited about the sexy sounding ‘double tap’ strikes. How we love the rhetoric of war these days. But ‘double taps’ should not be thrilled over. For what it refers to is America’s use of secondary strikes on the same target – at the time when medics come to rescue the injured and family members are giving comfort to the dying. As a result, a leading humanitarian agency now delays assistance to victims of drone attacks by an astonishing six hours.

Saturday 6th of October, hundreds of vehicles set off from Islamabad towards the Pakistan border region with Afghanistan.  I had my own media shaped preconceptions about the people I would see there; specifically the men.  I expected not to leave the car for ‘security reasons’ and that my white face (despite the hijab) would be met with suspicious glares from those modern bogeymen aka ‘tribal elders’. Hundreds of cars, buses and scooters, packed with people to suspension-bearing limits, travelled 400 sweaty, slow kilometres before stopping overnight in the city of Dera Ismail Khan. The plan for the second and final day was to travel another 120 kilometers to Kotkai in South Waziristan.
The next morning, thousands of every day Pakistanis from cities as far apart as Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore, set off towards the border provinces. The Pakistan military had been told to block the roads at certain points causing long delays. Undeterred, men simply joined together and removed the massive containers, and on we drove.

And then it began.

The greeting by the impoverished in the provinces – to the convoy members. The love and affection exchanged between Pakistan’s city dwellers and their rural people, a truly rare and special event.

Imran Khan is a visionary – whether you like or agree with that vision is neither here or there – this is what he is.

‘We are making history’ he told supporters. And I believe that last weekend, this is what happened. The reunifying of Pakistan’s people; an ethical revival, begun. The Government could only watch on. For the military men posted all along the rooftops of the mud buildings as we chugged onwards did not glare at the convoy.

They waved, giving ‘V – for victory signs.

‘We are with you’ shouted an older man in uniform.

‘Stop America attacking the people’ a younger soldier, smiling at me and waved.

At the village of Tank, I left the car, spurred on by the constant line of smiles and friendly cheers along the dusty, humble, streets. Here were the old men in long beards and turbans of TV footage, but nowhere were there scowls or threats or mutterings of ‘haram’ for women taking part in the protest. Islam was in the air in a way I have felt before only in the Gaza Strip. Truly Allah SWT is with the poor and the oppressed.

Sometime later, the military stopped the convoy in the town of Kawar. Their constant road blocks had made us too late to reach Waziristan and to return before nightfall.
But this was not a victory for the Pakistan government.
It was a victory for the people of Pakistan.

An impromptu rally of some ten thousand was assembled in a field in “Jahazi Ground” in Tank, a town of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, near the border. Imran Khan, advised the Zardari government to abandon the double standards concerning drones – saying one thing to America another to Pakistan’s people. The crowd cheered and called for America to leave them alone; huge chants of ‘Go America Go!’ rang out.

Khan said the convoy had sent the message to the world that drone attacks were unacceptable. He raised cheers with his certain words; “America is not God, Allah is God,”

Back in Karachi, the following day, the Pakistan government tries to seize the political moment. Interior Minister Rehman Malik claims that U.S. officials have given him an assurance to review the policy of using drones in tribal areas of Pakistan, following opposition (not from protestors of course) but from the country’s government.
Whatever.

The list of countries facing remote attacks will only grow. The US and UK governments are working on doubling the number of armed drones in their arsenals. Plus there’s the wonderful bonus that drone attacks kill civilians whilst protecting the security of military personnel who can be thousands of miles away.

Meanwhile, a few miles beyond the government’s machinations, hundreds of thousands of people continue to wonder what it is they can actually do to make themselves safe. You see no one has told the rural people, WHY they are actually being targeted. After all what can you say to a three year old child, or a wedding party of hundreds, or the sick and elderly injured and murdered by unmanned machines from a country they know little about? That they are terrorists by dint of their place of birth, their religion, their facial hair? No one knows who is on the American kill list. And on one knows what they can do to get themselves off.

Suddenly, and without warning, a missile launches. Women, men, babies, homes, everyone and everything is annihilated within a 15 metre radius.
Random and indiscriminate murder is the definition of terrorism.
Drone attacks are terrifyingly random.

Source: 
http://www.cageprisoners.com/our-work/opinion-editorial/item/5150-cage-prisoners-report-pakistan.

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on PAKISTAN’S MOMENT OF TRUTH: A CAGEPRISONERS REPORT ON THE ANTI-DRONE MARCH

REEDOM OF SPEECH ENTERS DARK AGE: GILAD ATZMON ON PRESS TV

NOVANEWS
The concept of freedom of speech and tolerance enters a dark age as the Europe Union’s executive body orders a ban on several Iranian channels, an author tells Press TV. European satellite provider Eutelsat SA says it has stopped the broadcast of several Iranian satellite channels following an order by the European Commission. The company ordered media services company, Arqiva, to take the Iranian satellite channels off one of its Hot Bird frequencies on Monday.

Press TV: Firstly, I wanted to get your reaction to this decision.

Atzmon: It obviously doesn’t take me by a big surprise. The old concept of ‘freedom of speech and tolerance’ is in a serious decay in Europe. In Britain, it already disappeared completely. We are living in a very dark age and it is now official.

Press TV: How does this all tie in with the fact that the European Union was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the various contradictions that that also brought up for the EU?

Atzmon: This is just there to prove how ridiculous is the Nobel Prize concept is. The whole concept of the Nobel Prize for peace has proven to be very misleading. But this is not the issue.

The issue is that we are living here and seeing our most elementary rights being jeopardized. Now, the West has prided itself with human rights for quite a few decades, and we’re obviously in a serious moment of regression on that front.

It’s pretty astonishing to see that Europeans themselves have for the time being kept silent about it. One of the reasons is because they are facing a financial turmoil, so probably are more concerned with bread and butter.

For me, the most crucial question as the person who specializes in analyzing and monitoring Jewish lobbying around the world is to try to identify the lobbies that are pushing for these measures. It seems to me, at least in Britain, you know, we have proved it beyond a doubt, it was the Jewish lobby that was pushing for silencing Press TV.

I guess that in the EU, the situation is very similar though…

Press TV: Mr. Atzmon, why exactly are we seeing this attack on the human rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of expression, etc’?

Atzmon: Because freedom of expression is the freedom to say what you think, feel and see. 

At the moment it is clear beyond a doubt that the country I’m living in, Britain, is involved in more than a decade of an illegal war that left more than a million Iraqis dead. 

The situation in Afghanistan is (also) very grave.

It is clear beyond a doubt that at least in regard to Palestine, to Iraq, to Afghanistan, Press TV delivered a story that cannot be seen in Britain because it really contradicts everything the government here claims to support or present.

 

Posted in CampaignsComments Off on REEDOM OF SPEECH ENTERS DARK AGE: GILAD ATZMON ON PRESS TV

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