Archive | May 17th, 2013

Syrian Oil Becomes Fault Line In War

NOVANEWS
A man works at a makeshift oil refinery site in al-Mansoura village in Raqqa’s countryside, in Syria, May 5, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Hamid Khatib)

MALEKIYYAH, Al-HASSAKAH PROVINCE, Syria — The province of Hassakah is the Syrian oil tank. Before the revolution, its 170,000 barrels per day accounted for more than half of the country’s oil production, thus representing the backbone of those oil exports covering a third of national export revenues. Syrian oil engineers working in the province told Al-Monitorthat the Democratic Union Party (PYD) — affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) — currently controls around 60% of the oil fields, leaving the remaining 40% in the hands of several factions of the Arab opposition. Since the conflict engulfed the route of the pipelines to the refineries, however, the drills have stopped working.

Despite such a fragmented context, the European Union on April 22 decided to lift the oil embargo on liberated regions in Syria in an attempt to support the opposition. The move, though, is likely to stir up Kurdish-Arab strife and catalyze regime raids on a region that has largely remained immune to the conflict so far. The war for control of Syria’s energy resources has not even started, but mutual allegations are already circulating between the parties involved, which accuse each other of cutting power supplies and dealing with the regime.

Exporting crude oil to Europe would encourage ethnic strife, but Syria’s rebel-held areas urgently need to produce or import fuel, electricity and gas to meet the basic needs of the population under its control, unless the undesirable option of trading with the regime is brought back to the table. For the time being, the few energy resources available remain prey to looting and black-market dealing.

In Hassakah, the response to the European call for oil trade with the Arab opposition’s Syrian National Coalition (SNC) has been largely negative. The PYD doesn’t recognize any SNC power over its territories and sees the proposal as an attempt to encourage Arab offensives against Kurdish-held areas. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) compares it to plundering as long as there is no transitional government on the ground.

“We consider the EU offer as if they are spurring Arabs to seize our regions and sell oil through the SNC,” Aldar Khalil, a veteran PKK fighter and one of the most influential PYD leaders, told Al-Monitor. “For us, the only body entitled to take decisions on oil trade is the KNC (Kurdish National Council).”

“We’re against selling oil before the collapse of the regime or until the formation of a transitional government in Syria,” Maj. Muntasir al-Khalid, commander of the FSA Military Council in Hassakah, told Al-Monitor. “For the moment, oil sales would be an organized theft of the wealth of Syria, as the wells are in the hands of different factions.”

To add further complications, the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra, believed to be the best organized within the opposition, is not subject to the FSA leadership. Jabhat al-Nusra already controls the Ali Agha well in nearby Rmelan.

The regime is also not likely to accept any initiative in the oil trade. “In order to accept the EU offer, the PYD and the opposition need a no-fly zone, as the regime would shell any oil cargo,” predicted an electric engineer in the Oil Ministry’s department of Hassakah and Rmelan, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

While the door of foreign exports is temporarily closed, the lack of oil has also affected the production of associated gas and, consequently, electricity. The internal supply routes are hindered by hostilities between Kurdish and Arab factions.

“The Sueidia power plant covers around 200 megawatts, so that before the uprising we used to rely on 150 megawatts from the Tabqa power plant in Raqqa to cover the provincial needs,” the electric engineer told Al-Monitor. “But now Tabqa is blocked by the clashes and the power needs have almost doubled, reaching 700 megawatts, due to the lack of government control over consumption.”

The Baathist regime intentionally compelled oil-rich Kurdish regions to rely on power plants and refineries located in other provinces, but now the Arab opposition is accused of adopting similar practices. “Both Tabqa and Mabrukeh power plants are still supplying Deir ez-Zor, whereas they cut electricity in our direction,” PYD’s Khalil said. Such allegations were denied by an employee responsible for the maintenance of the power plant in Mabrukeh when contacted by Al-Monitor. The outcome is that Kurdish-populated cities such as Amuda only enjoy a few hours of electricity per day.

Despite mutual accusations, power cuts affect all regions regardless of their ethnic composition. “Blackouts are not necessarily planned by one side or another. In the Arab-Kurdish Tell Tamr the mills serving the whole city are suffering from power shortages, even if the electricity comes from the [Arab-controlled] South,” Ayman al-Ahmad, an Arab opposition activist from Hassakah told Al-Monitor.

On the other side, the PYD is accused of cooperating with the regime in managing oil resources. On April 16, some government documents published by the Syrian weekly Jisr indicated an agreement between the Oil Ministry, the military intelligence and the PYD to allow the latter to guard the wells in Rmelan.

“The PYD took over the wells on March 1, but oil kept flowing toward the government refinery in Banyas until approximately March 20, when some Arab phalanxes closed the valves in Tell Hamis,” the electric engineer said.

“We have to choose between the current deprivation and the return to drill and pump oil toward Banyas,” Khalil said.

“Everything imported from abroad has a double cost: We paid $12 for each gas cylinder coming from Iraqi Kurdistan. The Syrian-subsidized price of a gas cylinder is 425 Syrian pounds (less than $3 on the black market), but it’s actually sold at 3,500 Syrian pounds ($25) by PYD supporters,” an employee from Sueidia gas plant who spoke on condition of anonymity told Al-Monitor.

The option of keeping the oil flowing toward government refineries is harshly criticized by the Arab opposition as a form of support to the ongoing massacres. Nevertheless, some oil workers claim that even Arab armed groups are easily corrupted by the regime. “We know that the regime happened to pay some factions of the opposition to protect the passage of oil pipelines between Hassakah and Deir ez-Zor,” an oil engineer working for the same government department in Rmelan told Al-Monitor.

Besides the need to boycott the regime without viable alternatives, smuggling is dramatically affecting the availability of petroleum products. “We monitored the distribution of oil fuel (mazout) coming from Iraqi Kurdistan through the Supreme Kurdish Committee between November 2012 and January 2013,” recalled Zorab Ali, a young activist from the Amuda Group (Tajammu Amuda). “Twenty-five thousand families were supposed to receive the tanks, but only 6,000 actually did.”

The mazout is mainly refined at home through rudimentary dangerous techniques. “Homemade refining could lead to diseases caused by the inhalation of hydrogene sulfide (H2S),” warned the oil engineer from Rmelan.

“The international community needs to put pressure on the Syrian regime to allow us to import petroleum products from Iraqi Kurdistan in exchange for crude oil,” the electric engineer in the Oil Ministry said. “Upon the arrival of the hot season, we will risk a cholera contagion without enough fuel to clean the streets.”

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11 Governments Are Meeting in Peru to Figure Out How They Can Control the Internet

NOVANEWS

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is calling this the “biggest global threat to the internet since ACTA.”

 

by Patrick McGuire

Remember SOPA? Remember how when we the people finally defeated SOPA everyone got so stoked that confetti poured out of their eyeballs and its opponents downloaded films and albums and pirated video games in celebration? Well, shortly after SOPA there was CISPA—the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act—a bill that is both scarier than Zombies and much less well known than SOPA .

On April 18, three days after the Boston Marathon bombing, CISPA passed in the House of Representatives. Obama’s White House has expressed “fundamental concerns about CISPA. They are justifiably a bit turned off by how CISPA doesn’t specify precisely how it intends to spy on the internet—and when it is ok to spy on internet users—and that is a terrifying prospect.

As a Canadian, these American “f#$* up the internet” bills have always been disconcerting. While Canadian sovereignty would ideally save anyone who lives in this country and errs on the wrong side of a SOPA or a CISPA—with so much internet traffic filtering through American-owned web servers—it is not out of the question that American jurisdiction could be called against an international cyber-offender. The state of Virginia, for example, claimed jurisdiction against the Hong Kong-owned Megaupload who was hosting their website in that state.

But now it appears that it’s going to be even easier for international copyright offenders to be tried in court by the interests–and lobbying power–of Hollywood. Starting today, 11 countries—Canada, America, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand—are having a secret (no members of the public and no press) meeting in Lima, Peru to figure out what can be done about copyright offenders who transmit Hollywood’s precious content over the interweb’s tubes without paying for it.

The meeting is held under the banner of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. They’re looking to sign an international treaty that will create world government-esque laws to handle anyone who downloads an early leak of Iron Man 3 illegally.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is calling this the “biggest global threat to the internet since ACTA.” If you remember, ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is an international, internet-policing treaty that was shut down by the European Parliament with a 92 percent nay vote. Luckily for Europeans, no EU country is anywhere near the TPP negotiations in Peru right now—and European politicians are now quick to distance themselves from the policies that ACTA is trying to ram down the world’s throat.

But in North America, the ACTA movement is still very much alive. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government passed a bill in Marchthat makes Canada more ACTA-friendly by allowing customs officers to destroy counterfeit goods and ratcheting up the criminal penalties against copyright offenders. And the United States has seized hip-hop blog domains without warning or trial, because they were alleged to host pirated material.

A leaked chapter outlining some preliminary discussion to re-examine intellectual property has revealed that TPP wants to add further checks and balances to restrict fair use. Those behind TPP want to make sure that if a teacher is trying to show some copyrighted material in their class for the purpose of education, or if a humorist using copyrighted material in an article for the purpose of satire, they’re doing so under what TPP calls a “good faith activity.”

The language in this leaked TPP chapter is incredibly dense and dates back to February 2011—so not only is it a confusing bit of writing, but it will also likely be revised over and over during this meeting in Peru. As it stands, the EFF is worried that the United States is trying to export the worst parts of its intellectual property law without bringing any of the [fair use] protections.” And just like SOPA or CISPA, many people are concerned that the broad language in new legal terms like “good faith activity” will potentially lead to unjust prosecutions.

It may take a while before the results of this TPP meeting in Peru filter out to the press, but it’s crystal clear that even though SOPA died, the Hollywood lobby is more than willing to generate new legislation and international partnerships to protect its interests. SOPA, for a combination of reasons, incited the ire of the public. We saw SOPA blackouts where websites like Reddit and Wikipedia went offline for a day, celebrities spoke out against it on Twitter; there was a bona fide cultural movement.

But now, the language behind international efforts like ACTA or TPP is getting more and more obscure, the reporting on such efforts less and less frequent, and the meetings being held to define these treaties are being held behind closed doors. The wheels of government are moving quickly to restrict international copyright online as much as possible—with the lobby of Hollywood thrusting it forward—in order to preserve the profits of content gatekeepers like the RIAA and MPAA.

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TUT Broadcast: Imam Mohammed Al Asi to discuss Syria

TUT Broadcast May 15, 2013

by crescentandcross

We are joined by Imam Mohammed Al Asi to discuss Syria and the recent events taking place in that country.

tut-broadcast-may-15-2013.mp3

Download Here

THANK YOU FOR ASSISTING WITH THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH PRODUCING THIS PROGRAM

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“The Jewish Question” No Longer Asked

NOVANEWS

220px-Goldwin_Smith (2).jpg

(left. Goldwin Smith, 1823-1920, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University.  Many incorrectly identify him as a contemporary Jewish supremacist for saying ‘The Jew alone regards his race as superior to humanity, and looks forward not to its ultimate union with other races, but to its triumph over them all and to its final ascendancy under the leadership of a tribal Messiah.’ )

SINCE WW2, IT HAS BEEN GETTING HARDER TO ASK THIS QUESTION IN THE WEST, A MEASURE OF TOTAL ILLUMINATI JEWISH HEGEMONY.  THE LAST MOMENT OF LUCIDITY MAY EVEN HAVE BEEN 1921. HERE IS HOW GOLDWIN SMITH PUT THE QUESTION IN 1891.

Mark Weber Introduction: The recurring friction between Jews and non-Jews through the ages, Smith persuasively argues, is due primarily not to the defects or iniquities of non-Jews, but rather is an… understandable reaction to Jewish behavior. The most galling features of this behavior, he contends, are rooted in the distinctively tribalistic character of the Jewish religion as laid out in the Talmud and the Old Testament.

As a solution to this seemingly interminable problem, Smith proposes that Jews should “de-nationalize” themselves by renouncing Jewish tribalism and particularism. In other words, he urges comprehensive Jewish assimilation into society — a “solution” to the “Jewish question” that is also implicit in traditional American liberalism.” 

Makow – To be acceptable today, you must collude in the central banker fraud, i.e. Illuminati Jewish ownership of the national currency & the money supply. Our politicians are all fronts for this “Money Power.” Jews are not going to “de-nationalize” as Goldwin Smith recommended in 1891 because Organized Jewry (as well as Freemasonry) are the main levers in the bankers’ long term agenda, i.e. to translate their credit monopoly into a world monopoly over everything, (i.e. power, wealth, culture and especially information & thought.)  Those who challenge this thought monopoly have committed thought crimes, (i.e. “hate crimes.”) The West is a pathetic, hypocritical, morally bankrupt hand puppet of Illuminati Satanists.

 

By: Goldwin Smith

The Vexing ‘Jewish Question’: A Nineteenth-Century Scholar’s View  (1891)

(Excerpt by henrymakow.com)

Mr. Laurence Oliphant, in his book The Land of Gilead (1880), dwells more than once on the great advantages which any European government might gain over its rivals by an alliance with the Jews. He writes:

“It is evident that the policy which I proposed to the Turkish government [that is, the restoration of Palestine] might be adopted with equal advantage by England or any other European Power. The nation that espoused the cause of the Jews and their restoration to Palestine, would be able to rely on their support in financial operations on the largest scale, upon the powerful influence which they wield in the press of many countries, and upon their political co-operation in those countries, which would of necessity tend to paralyze the diplomatic and even hostile action of Powers antagonistic to the one with which they were allied. Owing to the financial, political, and commercial importance to which the Jews have now attained, there is probably no one Power in Europe that would prove so valuable an ally to a nation likely to be engaged in a European war, as this wealthy, powerful, and cosmopolitan race.” (p. 503)

Perhaps the writer of these words hardly realized the state of things which they present to our minds. We see the governments of Europe bidding against each other for the favor and support of an anti-national money power, which would itself be morally unfettered by any allegiance, would be ever ready to betray and secretly paralyze for its own objects the governments under the protection of which its members were living, and of course would be always gaining strength and predominance at the expense of a divided and subservient world.

The allusion to the influence wielded by the Jews in the European press has a particularly sinister sound. In the social as in the physical sphere new diseases are continually making their appearance. One of the new social diseases of the present day, and certainly not the least deadly, is the perversion of public opinion in the interest of private or sectional objects, by the clandestine manipulation of the press.

A NATION WITHIN A NATION

Such a relation as that in which Judaism has placed itself to the people of each country, forming everywhere a nation within the nation, cherishing the pride of a Chosen People, regarding those among whom it dwelt as Gentiles and unclean, shrinking from social intercourse with them, engrossing their wealth by financial skill, but not adding to it by labor, plying at the same time a trade which, however legitimate, is always unpopular and makes many victims, could not possibly fail to lead, as it has led, to mutual hatred and the troubles which ensue. Certain as may be the gradual prevalence of good over evil, it is a futile optimism which denies that there have been calamities in history. One of them has been the dispersion of the Jews.

As was said before, it is incredible that all the nations should have mistaken a power of good for a power of evil, or have been unanimous in ingratitude to a power of good.

A FRESH INVASION

None of them want to hurt the Jew or to interfere with his religious belief; what they all want is that if possible he should go to his own land. As it is, Western Europe and the western hemisphere are threatened with a fresh invasion on the largest scale by the departure of Jews from Russia.

American politics are already beginning to feel the influence. A party, to catch the Jewish vote, puts into its platform a denunciation of Russia, the best friend of the American Republic in its day of trial. Jews are becoming strong in the British House of Commons and one of them the other day appealed to his compatriots to combine their forces against the political party which had been opposed to Jewish interests.

That the Jew should be de-rabbinized and de-nationalized, in other words that he should renounce the Talmud, the tribal parts of the Mosaic law, and circumcision, is the remedy proposed by M. Leroy-Beaulieu, a writer by no means unfavorable to Israel.

There seems to be no other way of putting an end to a conflict which is gradually enveloping all nations. This being done, whatever gifts and graces may belong to the race of Moses, David, and Isaiah, of the writers of the Book of Job and of the Psalms, of Judas Maccabaeus and Hillel, will have free course and be glorified.

If Israel has any message for humanity, as he seems to think, it will he heard. Jewish merit will no longer be viewed with jealousy and distrust as having a sinister confederation at its back; and no man need fear in the present age that in any highly civilized community he will suffer persecution or disparagement of any sort on account of his religion. But the present relation is untenable. The Jew will have either to return to Jerusalem or to forget it, give his heart to the land of his birth and mingle with humanity.

From The Journal of Historical Review, Jan.-Feb. 1998 (Vol. 17, No. 1), pp. 16-37. – See more at: http://henrymakow.com/2013/05/%20Jewish-Question-No-Longer-Asked%20tion.html#sthash.R3mlilqP.dpuf

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“If you wanted to live, you left”

NOVANEWS 

Ghatheyya Mifleh al-Khawalda (80) was 15 years old when she fled her home during the Nakba of 1948

 

Today is Nakba Day, the day on which Palestinians mourn the loss of their homeland in 1948.  65 years ago, in May of 1948, Ghatheyya Mifleh al-Khawalda was a carefree 15-year-old girl who lived with her mother and sister in the village of al-Qastina in Mandatory Palestine, when they were forced, along with the rest of their village, to flee in the face of imminent threat from Jewish militias. For some time, the people of al-Qastina had received word of terrible attacks against other villages nearby, in which many had died. Fearing a similar fate, they left their home, and would never return to live there again. They became victims of what is referred to as the Nakba, meaning ‘catastrophe’, the mass forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes in order to make way for citizens of the Jewish State of Israel which would be established soon afterwards.

Though Ghatheyya remembers her childhood with joy, her life has been marked by suffering since the day she was born: “While my mother was giving birth to me, my grandmother died. The following morning, it was Eid al-Adha. My father went out for his morning prayers, but he never returned. They found him dead where he had been praying. Still, I had a very happy childhood in al-Qastina. We had a very nice house, a big house with marble floors in the hallway. My father had been a farmer, and we had farmlands with orange trees, apple trees, grapefruit trees and others. I used to spend my days playing with my sister and the other girls in the village. We were very happy.”

This changed dramatically in 1948, with the arrival of Jewish militias, who were attacking Palestinian villages and clearing them of their inhabitants: “We had heard stories about attacks on other villages. Still, the attack on al-Qastina came without warning. Before that, there had been a British military camp nearby, but that year the British left and allowed the Jewish groups to take over. We were terrified of what they might do to us. They arrived, some of them in uniform and some in civilian clothes, and began shooting at people. Three people were killed. They were all civilians. We ran away, afraid for our safety, and went to Tal es-Safi, a nearby village on a hill. It was within walking distance, and we were in a hurry to leave, so we didn’t take anything with us. It was like Doomsday. It was utter terror. People’s minds were imprisoned by fear. We couldn’t think of anything except leaving, not even simple things like bringing food with us. In the chaos, some families couldn’t find some of their children and had to leave without them. Many were too afraid to return to find them, while others snuck down the hill at night-time to try to rescue them. We stayed in Tal es-Safi for a few days, sleeping at night-time in the open air with no blankets, mattresses, food, or water.”

The people of al-Qastina were not able to stay long in Tal es-Safi: “We stayed there for a few nights, maybe a week, but then the settlers came and we had to run again. The choice was simple. If you wanted to die, you stayed. If you wanted to live, you left. We managed to spend one night in Beit Jibrin before the settlers caught up with us. Anywhere we went, they chased us to the next place. Their main aim was not to kill us, but to get rid of us. If they had wanted us all dead, not one of us would have survived. They used fear to force us to leave our land. If a person died, we had to leave the body behind. We couldn’t go back for someone who was dead. We had to focus on surviving. We were joined by people from other villages, from Isdod and al-Majdal Asqalan.[1] We walked along the coast until we reached Gaza.”

The Jewish groups did not follow the fleeing Palestinians to Gaza, where Ghatheyya and her family were forced to make a new life: “Finally, we could stop running. There were many thousands of us. We slept in mosques, on the streets, in the dirt. There were so many people everywhere. Some people stayed with families from Gaza. Others had nowhere to go. The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) began to build tents for families. They gathered the people from my village together in one compound and called us refugees. The size of your tent depended on how big your family was. You weren’t allowed to take in other families to live with you.”

Ghatheyya and Ahmed live with their son, Nehad, his wife, and their three children 

Though she was grateful to have survived and found refuge, for Ghatheyya, the Gaza Strip would never replace her hometown of al-Qastina: “Everyone in Gaza knew I was a refugee. It wasn’t a big deal. But Gaza never felt like home to me. I used to see my aunt sitting in front of her tent every day, crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she said: “Look at us. Instead of a house, we now have a tent. I wish we could have carried our houses with us on our heads.” We lived a fairly primitive life there. There was no work available for the men. We expected the situation to be temporary so we just tried to get by and live through it until we figured out what would happen next. UNRWA gave us cans of food and bags of rice. We used a makeshift stove to heat our food, but it did not work very well. We had to keep blowing on it to keep the flames alive. After a time, UNRWA bought pieces of land from people from Gaza for the refugees. They gave the families the construction materials and we built the houses ourselves. We built our home in Maghazi in the Middle Area.”

Two years after fleeing her home, Ghatheyya received a proposal of marriage from a young man who also came from al-Qastina, Ahmed Sa’id al-Khawalda. She accepted and they were married soon afterwards: “Ahmed’s family were still living in a tent, so I went from living in my family’s new home back to living in a tent with him and his family. When I became pregnant with our first child, he began building our first house in Khan Younis. I gave birth to our daughter in our new home. Altogether, we had four sons and two daughters. There was no work for Ahmed so his father provided for us. He had a job distributing food for UNRWA. Ahmed and I did our best to look after our children.”

Ghatheyya and Ahmed now have 32 grandchildren. All of the family still live in the Gaza Strip, though Ghatheyya becomes emotional when she speaks of how her eldest daughter died of cancer several years ago. The elderly couple live with their son, Nehad (40), his wife, and their three children. Another of their sons lives in the apartment above them. 

Ghatheyya dotes on her 15-month-old grandson, Sale 

Yet, Ghatheyya still dreams of her home in al-Qastina. She has had the chance to see her old village several times since 1948, passing through the town in taxis in the 1980s and early 1990s, when accompanying her daughter to Jordan for medical treatment. “The first time I asked the taxi driver to bring me there, he refused, saying it was too far out of the way. After that, I would pretend I was only going to al-Qastina, to make sure that the driver would bring me there and I could see my home. I didn’t have time to try to find my old house, as we would just pass down the main street in the car. Sometimes, the driver would only drive on the highway nearby, so I just saw the outline of the village. Of course, I recognised my home, although the only place that was still the same was an old car garage. I am not allowed to go there anymore, but I still think about my village after all these years. Al-Qastina crosses my mind very often. It doesn’t make sense that I cannot be in my home, on my land, in the place where I grew up. I still dream of the days of the land.”

It is estimated that some 725,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes during the Nakba of I948. Under the operational definition of the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), Palestinian refugees are people whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. The descendants of the original Palestine refugees are also eligible for registration. As of 1 January 2013, there were 4,919,917 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA. 1,203,135 of them live in the Gaza Strip.

Under international law, all individuals have a fundamental right to return to their homes whenever they have become displaced due to reasons out of their control. The obligation of states to respect the individual’s right of return is a customary norm of international law. The right of return for Palestinian refugees specifically is affirmed in UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948, which “[r]esolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.” The resolution also provides that the responsible authorities should compensate refugees who choose not to return, or who suffered damage or loss to their property.

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Iran to lead UN Disarmament Conference in Geneva

NOVANEWS

ynet 

Iran on Tuesday defended its election as the rotating chair of the world’s sole multilateral disarmament forum after the United States announced that its ambassador to the UN Conference on Disarmament would boycott any meeting led by Tehran.

The UN Conference on Disarmament has been deadlocked for about 15 years. While the chairmanship of the Geneva-based body is largely ceremonial, it is a high-profile position.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is a founding member of the United Nations,” said Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for Iran’s UN mission.

“Its election to the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament, as the most important disarmament negotiating body of the UN, is its right in accordance with the established practice and rules of procedure of this organ,” he said.

Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the US mission to the United Nations, said on Monday that the selection of Iran was “unfortunate and highly inappropriate.” She said countries under UN sanctions for arms
proliferation or human rights abuses should be barred from such formal or ceremonial UN posts.

Iran is under sanctions by the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and other international bodies for refusing to halt a nuclear enrichment program that Tehran says is peaceful but Western nations and their allies suspect is aimed at giving it the capability to produce atomic weapons.

The United States and Europe have also accused Iran of violating a UN embargo on Iranian arms exports in order to supply weapons to Syrian President Bashar Assad. They say Tehran is support Assad’s efforts to defeat rebels seeking to overthrow him in the country’s two-year civil war.

Pelton said the US ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament would boycott any meeting chaired by Iran.

Miryousefi denied that Iran was in violation of any of its treaty obligations, and vowed to uphold its duties as leader of the conference.

“During its presidency, the Islamic Republic of Iran would focus on promoting the goals and objectives of the Conference on Disarmament through according the highest priority to nuclear disarmament and the total elimination of nuclear arsenals of the nuclear-weapon States in an irreversible, transparent and internationally verifiable manner,” Miryousefi said.

Iran will chair the conference for four weeks beginning on May 27. The 65-nation Conference on Disarmament, created in 1978, negotiated biological and chemical weapons conventions but has been unable to carry out substantive work since 1998 because members could not agree on priorities.

A key task proposed for the panel has been to negotiate a halt to production of nuclear bomb-making fissile material. But that step has been blocked by Pakistan, which says it would put it at a permanent disadvantage to rival India.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly urged the disarmament conference to overcome its deadlock.

Hillel Neuer, the head of UN Watch, a Geneva-based advocacy group that monitors the work of the United Nations, said in a statement on Monday that the selection of Iran as the conference chair “is like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women’s shelter.”

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Germany Blocking IsraHell from Serving on Security Council?

NOVANEWS

Israel has issued a formal complaint against Germany for blocking it from serving on the UN Security Council in 2018, reports Israel Hayom.

ed note–hard to make heads or tales of this. Germany does something stupid such as giving Israel submarines capable of carrying/launching nuclear weapons, but then blocks Israel from being on the Security Council?

Israel National News

Israel has never held a position on the council, although nations which violate its citizens’ rights and are a security threat to other countries, such as Syria and Iran, have.

The Security Council comprises five permanent and 10 rotating members, elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms and chosen from regional groups. Due to pressures by the Arab League, Israel was removed from the Asian region and placed in the “Western European and others” regional group, explained Israel Hayom.

For years Israel has tried to be part of the council, and it seemed as if its calls were answered when it was scheduled to sit on the council in 2018. But Germany recently decided to vie for the 2018 spot, and it is clear that Israel has no chance of winning against Germany, the report said.

The Foreign Ministry said that Israel and Germany had an agreement in which Germany said it would not run, but the agreement was now being breached.

Israeli Ambassador to Germany Yaakov Hadas has protested to the German Foreign Ministry, Israel Hayom said. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is set to arrive in Israel over the weekend, will be given the same message.

Iran, meanwhile, is set to take over presidency of the UN Conference on Disarmament. Iran will lead the conference from May 27 until June 23, under an alphabetical rotation among the 65 member states.

The United States said that it will boycott meetings of the conference when Iran takes over the body.

Iran, and any nation facing sanctions for its weapons program, should be “barred” from holding formal UN positions, said Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the U.S. mission at the United Nations.

Iran’s position heading the conference has also angered non-government lobby groups such as UN Watch.

“This is like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women’s shelter,” said Hillel Neuer, head of the Geneva-based UN Watch, announcing that the organization would organize protest events involving Iranian dissidents.

“Iran is an international outlaw state that illegally supplies rockets to Syria, Hizbullah, and Hamas, aiding and abetting mass murder and terrorism,” said Neuer.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, GermanyComments Off on Germany Blocking IsraHell from Serving on Security Council?

Czech Jews document tripling of online anti-Semitism

NOVANEWS

cryingjews

The increase in hate speech, which the community links to a Jewish politician’s presidential bid, among other factors, was documented in an annual report on anti-Semitism.

JTA

The Jewish Community of Prague documented a tripling of online instances of anti-Semitic hate speech last year.

The increase, which the community links to a Jewish politician’s presidential bid, among other factors, was documented in an annual report on anti-Semitism published Tuesday.

The community documented 82 instances of online hate speech on Czech websites in the last year, compared to only 26 the previous year.

According to idnes.cz, a news site, the report attributes the increase to the presidential campaign ahead of elections last January. Jan Fischer, a Jewish politician, was considered a leading candidate but did not make it past the first round.

“The presidential elections have revealed a degree of latent anti-Semitism in some groups, but certainly did not indicate anti-Semitism in the majority or mainstream political speech,” the authors of the report wrote.

Other causes listed were a strategic shift in extreme-right circles to online activity; escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and warm relations between the Czech government and Israel, idnes.cz reported.

The authors recorded no physical assault or threats due to anti-Semitism in 2012, but did register six attacks on property and ten instances of harassment, mainly via email. The report further states that the overall prevalence of anti-Semitism is lower in the Czech Republic than in other European countries.

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Political parties say Palestinians must be allowed to return to Palestine

NOVANEWS
The speakers at a seminar on “Palestinians’ right of return to Palestine” stressed on the need that Palestinians should be allowed to return Palestine.
Those who spoke at the seminar included: former federal minister and a Christian leader J Salik, Jamaat-e-Islami Azad Kashmir chapter chief Khalid Mahmoud Khan, secretary general of Awami National Party Ahsan Wayne, Colonel (Rtd.) Nazir of Jamaatuddawa, Abdullah Gul son of former general Hameed Gul and others.
Apart from others, the students in particular largely attended the seminar to express solidarity with the Palestinians.
“Palestine is not an issue that may be attributed to Muslims or Christians alone but it is a human issue that needs to be taken up globally,” said J Salik speaking at the seminar.
He said that it is duty of all the people to voice their support for the legitimate rights of Palestinians. He vowed that Christians would continue to make sacrifices for the sake of liberation of Palestinians and return to their homeland.
“We condemn the patronage of Zionist regime of Israel by the United States and its allied powers. We demand international community should play a serious role to help Palestinians all their inalienable rights including their right to return and live in Palestine,” said Ahsan Wayne of the ANP.
Khalid Mahmoud Khan, Jamaat-e-Islami Azad Kashmir chapter chief, Colonel (Rtd.) Nazir of Jamaatuddawa, Abdullah Gul son of former general Hameed Gul and other speakers said that the resolutions of the United Nations against Israel proved a futile exercise. Therefore, they urged that armed resistance is the best option left for the Palestinians.
They said that the Unites States-led global imperialism would not leave the region even after 2014. They said that the imperialist powers led by the U.S. have turned their attention to the Southeast Asia after they usurped the resources of Middle East.
پاکستان کی سیاسی و مذہبی جماعتوں نے فلسطینیوں کی فلسطین واپسی کا مطالبہ کر دیا۔
فلسطین، فلسطینیوں کی سرزمین ہے اور اس میں حکومت اور آباد کاری صرف فلسطینیوں کا حق ہے۔ کسی کو یہ حق حاصل نہیں کہ فلسطینیوں کو ان کے آبائی وطن سے نکال باہر کرے۔

اسلام آباد میں فلسطین فاؤنڈیشن پاکستان کے تحت یوم نکبہ سیمینار سے مقررین کا خطابفلسطین فاونڈیشن پاکستان کے تحت یوم نکبہ کے سلسلہ میں جاری مہم ’’فلسطینیوں کی فلسطین واپسی‘‘ کے عنوان سے اسلام آباد پریس کلب میں ایک عظیم الشان سیمینار کا انعقاد کیا گیا۔ سیمینار سے ملک کی معروف مذہبی و سیاسی شخصیات بشمول سابق رکن قومی اسمبلی و اقلیتوں کے رہنما جے سالک ،جماعۃ الدعوۃ کے مرکزی رہنما کرنل (ر) نذیر احمد، عوامی نیشنل پارٹی پاکستان کے مرکزی جنرل سیکرٹری احسان وائیں، جماعت اسلامی کشمیر کے رہنما خالد محمود خان سمیت تحریک جوانان ملت کے رہنما اور سابق سربراہ آئی ایس آئی جنرل (ر) حمید گل کے فرزند عبد اللہ گل نے خطاب کیا۔ فلسطینیوں کے ساتھ اظہار یکجہتی کے لئے طلباء کی کثیر تعداد نے بھی سیمینار میں شرکت کی۔ 
یوم نکبہ کی مناسبت سے منعقدہ سیمینار سے خطاب کرتے ہوئے سابق رکن قومی اسمبلی اور پاکستان میں اقلیتوں کے رہنما جے سالک کاکہنا تھا کہ فلسطین کا مسئلہ صرف مسلمانوں اور عیسائیوں کا نہیں بلکہ یہ مسئلہ ہم سب کا مشترکہ مسئلہ ہے اور ایک عالمگیر مسئلہ ہے جس کے لئے آواز اٹھانا ہم سب کا مذہبی اور سیاسی فریضہ ہے۔جے سالک نے کہا کہ مسیحی برادری نے آزادی فلسطین کے لئے متعدد قربانیاں پیش کی ہیں اور ہم عہد کرتے ہیں کہ فلسطینیوں کی فلسطین واپسی تک جد وجہد کرتے رہیں گے۔
سیمینار سے خطاب کرتے ہوئے عوامی نیشنل پارٹی کے مرکزی جنرل سیکرٹری احسان وائیں نے کہا کہ ہم اقوام متحدہ سمیت تمام عالمی اداروں سے مطالبہ کرتے ہیں کہ وہ فلسطینیوں کی فلسطین واپسی کے عمل کو یقینی بنائیں اور اس راہ میں موجود رکاوٹوں کو ختم کرنے میں اپنا سنجیدہ کردار ادا کریں،ان کاکہنا تھا کہ عالمی سامراجی قوتیں امریکہ اور برطانوی سامراج اسرائیل جیسے خونخوار دہشت گرد کی سرپرستی کر رہے ہیں جو قابل مذمت ہے ۔شرکائے سیمینار سے خطاب کرتے ہوئے خالد محمود خان،کرنل (ر) نذیر احمد خان،عبد اللہ گل اور دیگر کاکہنا تھا کہ آج فلسطین کے عوام صیہونی مظالم کی چکی میں پس رہے ہیں اور مسلم ممالک اپنی آنکھوں پر پٹی باندھے خاموش تماشائی بنے ہوئے ہیں۔انکاکہنا تھا کہ فلسطین کا مسئلہ صرف اور صرف اقوام متحدہ کی قراردادوں سے نہیں بلکہ مجاہدین کی مزاحمت سے حل ہو گا۔انہوں نے کہا کہ آج مسلمانوں مختلف فرقوں میں تقسیم ہیں، اگر وہ آپس میں بھائی بھائی ہوتے تو کافر ہماری صفوں میں نہ گھس پاتا۔ آج کافر اپنے آلہ کار اور ایجنٹ مسلمانوں میں داخل کرکے فتنہ فساد برپا کر رہے ہیں۔ 
ان کا کہنا تھا کہ امریکہ مشرق وسطٰی کے وسائل پر قبضہ جمانے کے بعد اب مشرقی ایشیاء کے وسائل کو ہڑپ کرنا چاہتا ہے۔ ان کا کہنا تھا کہ 2014ء میں امریکہ اس خطہ سے واپس نہیں جائے گا بلکہ اپنے مقاصد کے لئے کوششیں مزید تیز کر دے گا۔ اے این پی رہنما نے کہا کہ ہم جہاد کے خلاف نہیں ہیں، جہاد اسلام کا حصہ ہے لیکن جہاد تنظیموں کو نہیں بلکہ مضبوط حکومتوں کا کام ہے۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ غزہ میں بہایا جانے والا خون امریکی ایماء پر بہایا جا رہا ہے

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Oslo Freedom Forum founder’s ties to Islamophobes who inspired mass killer Anders Breivik

NOVANEWS

An Electronic Intifada investigation uncovers evidence that Thor Halvorssen, the founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, receives significant funding from the same financiers who support the Islamophobes who inspired anti-Muslim Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik. Despite being presented with this evidence, the Norwegian government and Amnesty International are embracing Halvorssen, a long-time far-right activist and the scion of a politically-connected family tied to Venezuela’s US-backed opposition.

This week in Oslo, hundreds of people from around the world are gathering for the fifth annual Oslo Freedom Forum, a human rights conference billed as “a three-day summit exploring how best to challenge authoritarianism and promote free and open societies.”

Produced by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation (humanrightsfoundation.org), the event is sponsored by, among others, Norway’s Labor Party government (in the form of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), the City of Oslo, and Amnesty International Norway. Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide is scheduled to deliver prepared remarks at the forum.

Oslo is still scarred by the murderous rampage carried out by the right-wing extremistAnders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian citizen who fashioned himself as a crusading knight on a mission to save Europe from the scourge of Muslim immigration.

His killing spree began on 22 July 2011 with a bombing that killed eight persons and injured 209 others outside Oslo’s main government building. The violence ended some 25 miles to the north at a summer camp for the youth wing of Norway’s ruling Labor Party, where he massacred 69 persons, most of them children and youths.

Breivik insisted the bloodbath was necessary to stop those he saw enabling mass Muslim immigration — those he called “cultural Marxists” and especially the Labor Party — accusing them of “contributing to a process of indirect cultural and demographical genocide.”

Islamophobe inspirations

The killer outlined his views in a 1,500-page manifesto, listing the far-right Americans who helped radicalize him. They included the most notorious purveyors of anti-Muslim resentment, such as Jihad Watch founder Robert SpencerFrank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, and Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes, whose writings Breivik excerpted at length.

Among the suggestions for “Further Study” provided by the killer were links on YouTube to the 2008 propaganda film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, which has been promoted as “the single most powerful piece of media over the past five years in persuading average Americans to the Islamist threat” (Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, Center For American Progress, 26 August 2011, p. 16).

Breivik clearly thought it was powerful too and would help explain and justify his murderous rampage.

It is of public record that the Oslo Freedom Forum receives substantial financial support from the Norwegian government. But only a tiny handful of people know that one of the largest donors to the Human Rights Foundation — the producer of the Oslo Freedom Forum — are Donors Capital Fund and its affiliate Donors Trust, Inc.

Donors Capital Fund is the same right-wing American foundation that spent millions of dollars to fund the distribution of millions of copies of Obsession, and which has lavished hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years on the network of professional Islamophobes that Breivik cited as his inspirations.

Donors Capital Fund is only one of several major funders to the Human Rights Foundation that have been among the principal donors or conduits for funding to the Islamophobic hate groups and ideologues who helped radicalize Breivik.

One person who certainly knew this is Thor Halvorssen.

Oslo Freedom Forum’s right-wing brainchild

Who is Halvorssen? He is best known as the founder and CEO of the Human Rights Foundation, where he is listed as the lone staff member. The Oslo Freedom Forum is his brainchild, a confab he has sought to brand as “a Davos for human rights.” The theme of this year’s conference is “Challenging Power.”

Halvorssen is also a right-wing activist, film producer and scion of Venezuela’s moneyed elite whose years of involvement in ultra-conservative politics enabled him to corral a small coterie of mostly far-right moneymen into bankrolling his Human Rights Foundation.

The Electronic Intifada has obtained Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 990 forms filed by the Human Rights Foundation that include previously undisclosed information about its donors.

The forms show that the Human Rights Foundation received approximately $600,000 in donations from the Donors Capital Fund from 2007 through 2011. Based in Northern Virginia, Donors Capital Fund is essentially a slush fund for the cadre of rightist donors who bankroll the conservative movement.

The Electronic Intifada’s analysis of IRS filings by Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust shows that the Human Rights Foundation received $764,950 from 2005 through 2011 from Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust, all but about $5,000 coming through the Donors Capital Fund.

“Since the fund handles money from multiple donors and donors names aren’t disclosed, contributions made through the Donors Capital Fund are difficult to trace,” the Center for American Progress noted in its 2011 landmark report “Fear, Inc.” “Potential donors are required to open a minimum $1 million account to utilize the fund’s services.”

In 2009, Donors Capital Fund channeled $60 million to various conservative causes and from 2009 through 2011 a whopping $21,318,600 “to groups promoting Islamophobia,” according to the Center for American Progress.

Shadowy nonprofit funds Islamophobic film applauded by Breivik

In 2008, Donors Capital donated $17,778,600 to a shadowy nonprofit called the Clarion Fund — later renamed the Clarion Project (Mystery of who funded right-wing ‘radical Islam’ campaign deepens,” Salon, 16 November 2010).

The donation paid for the Clarion Fund’s distribution of the film Obsession during the height of the 2008 presidential campaign — an apparent attempt to tar Democrats and then-Senator Barack Obama as weak on terror.

In the film, grainy clips of Nazi youth saluting Adolf Hitler blend into footage of Muslim crowds chanting in unison against Western imperialism. With commentary from a who’s who of anti-Muslim activists, including Daniel Pipes, the film implies that political Islam is today’s version of Nazism, and that between 10 and 15 percent of the world’s Muslim population poses an imminent, existential threat to the West.

Thanks to this support, some 28 million DVDs of the film were tucked into the Sunday edition of local newspapers and delivered to Americans in swing states across the country. Eventually, the film reached Breivik as well and is applauded in his manifesto.

Breivik cited Pipes at least 18 times in his manifesto; in one section, he quoted the far-right scholar commenting, “Self-hating Westerners have an out-sized importance due to their prominent role as shapers of opinion in universities, the media, religious institutions and the arts. They serve as the Islamists’ auxiliary mujahideen.”

Pipes’ Middle East Forum has benefited immensely from the generosity of Donors Capital Fund, reaping $2.3 million from the foundation between 2001 to 2009, according to the Center for American Progress.

Halvorssen responds

In 2010, the Norwegian newspaper Klassekampen investigated what it referred to as Thor Halvorssen’s “secret funding,” which it suspected was “associated with the right side of the United States.” Halvorssen told reporter Sarah Sorheim: “I receive money from a variety of different people and environments. But that does not mean I necessarily support their political views.”

Sorheim asked him: “why not disclose who your sponsors are?” He deflected, explaining, “Since I got so much attention here in Norway, I’m still thinking about whether I can disclose our lists.”

Prior to this investigation by The Electronic Intifada, the full extent of Halvorssen’s right-wing funding was unknown. And contrary to the claims he made to Sorheim and to The Electronic Intifada, his political views appear to align neatly with many of his key backers and with those they support.

In an emailed response to The Electronic Intifada, Halvorssen stated that the $600,000 donated to the Human Rights Foundation through Donors Capital Fund from 2007 through 2011 that is disclosed in the Human Rights Foundation’s 2011 IRS filing actually came from his own family.

“The Harry Halvorssen Fund is an account I set up with Donors Capital/Donors Trust and it is the main vehicle through which my mother and I make our contributions to [the Human Rights Foundation] and other charitable pursuits ranging from ecological concerns and scholarships to inner-city children in New York, to equine rescue,” he stated.

None of the money provided through the Donors Capital Fund, he said, went to support the Oslo Freedom Forum, but he and his mother donate separate funds through the Human Rights Foundation to support the Oslo Freedom Forum. “The Harry Halvorssen Fund has never made any contributions to any film called Obsession,” Halvorssen wrote.

To be sure, the kinds of donor-advised services for living donors and legacies that Donors Capital Fund provides to major philanthropists are also offered by many well-established foundations, such as the Chicago Community Trust or the New York Community Trust, as well as other financial institutions.

Tainted reputation

So why did Halvorssen choose to support the Human Rights Foundation and other causes through Donors Capital Fund, which is tainted by its reputation as a pass-through for anonymous donors to give enormous sums to virulently Islamophobic and anti-gay causes?

“My choice of using Donors Capital Fund/Donors Trust is based on the fact that if I were to pass away unexpectedly I know they will very strictly abide to donor intent,” Halvorssen wrote to The Electronic Intifada. On its website, Donors Trust states that it was established “to ensure the intent of donors who are dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise” is respected even after they die.

Halvorssen offered an analogy to explain his motives: “People I may disagree with may also open a bank account at Chase Manhattan Bank, where I have a debit card; this doesn’t mean that Chase Manhattan Bank is responsible for their activities or that other customers are to carry some kind of collective responsibility for their banking choices.”

But this analogy might not be exact; on its website, Donors Capital Fund states that only organizations “approved by the Donors Capital Fund board of directors are eligible to receive grants from donor-advised funds administered by Donors Capital Fund.”

Anti-Muslim support

Even if Halvorssen were to be taken at his word about his relationship with Donors Capital Fund, he cannot explain why the Human Rights Foundation relies on other key members of the Islamophobia industry’s financial network.

The Sarah Scaife Foundation, one of the four foundations controlled by conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife, donated $325,000 to Halvorssen’s Human Rights Foundation between 2007 and 2011, according to IRS filings.

According to the Center for American Progress, Scaife’s foundations contributed a staggering $7,875,000 to the Islamophobia industry between 2001 and 2009.

Among the major recipients of Scaife’s money was the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which received $3.4 million during the eight-year period documented in the “Fear Inc.” report.

The David Horowitz Freedom Center happens to be the main sponsor of Robert Spencer, the Islamophobic pseudo-scholar who claimed in a video interview with the conservative website Politichicks that the Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated deep into President Obama’s White House inner circle. Breivik referenced Spencer’s work no fewer than 162 times in his manifesto.

Then there is the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which contributed $145,000 to the Human Rights Foundation from 2007 through 2011, according to IRS forms. As The Electronic Intifada recently reported, the Bradley Foundation has helped pay the salaries of some of America’s most virulent anti-Muslim agitators. These include David Horowitz, the creator of “Islamofascism Awareness Week, Pipes and Frank Gaffney, publisher of conspiratorial pamphlets like his 2010 “Shariah: The Threat to America,” in which he warned that American Muslims were engaged in a “stealth jihad” to place the country under the control of “sharia,” or Islamic law.

Breivik cited Gaffney and Horowitz a total of nine times in his manifesto.

False-flag conspiracy theories

Gaffney, for his part, hosted Halvorssen on the 22 April 2013 edition of Secure Freedom Radio show, introducing him as “a remarkable man I’ve had the privilege of knowing for a long time.”

Asked by Gaffney about the recent Boston Marathon bombing, allegedly perpetrated by the Chechen-American brothers Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev, Halvorssen suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to exploit the bombings. Putin, he said, sought to distract from “a legitimate government-in-exile” that “wants to look to the West” — a clear reference to the exiled Chechen politician Akhmed Zakayev, whom Halvorssen hosted at the Oslo Freedom Forum in 2009.

Gaffney asked Halvorssen, “Did he [Putin] have something to do with this attack in Boston — that he was running Tamerlan Tsarnaev?”

“I have questions about it, Frank,” Halvorssen stated in an emphatic tone. “I have serious questions.” With his answer, Halvorssen demonstrated a readiness to indulge wild conspiracy theories that fit his political agenda.

Halvorssen’s hard-right libertarian supporter

Rounding out the small stable of major donors to Human Rights Foundation is Peter Thiel, who contributed $535,000 to Halvorssen’s group through his personal foundation from 2007 to 2011.

Thiel earned his fortune as a venture capitalist, helping to found Paypal and investing inFacebook. He is also a right-wing libertarian ideologue who declared, as reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2012, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” Thiel went on to blame the extension of voting rights to women for “hav[ing] rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.”

Besides Halvorssen’s pet human rights project, Thiel has financed the notorious and now-discredited ACORN video sting by right-wing filmmaker James O’Keefe.

A February 2012 profile of Thiel published by Mark Ames in The Nation noted that the libertarian billionaire “co-authored an anti-affirmative action book, The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus — a book that belittles ‘imaginary oppressors’ of minorities, blames homophobia on homosexuals and attacks domestic partnerships.”

Halvorssen presented Thiel with an award at the 2010 libertarian film festival, Libertopia, hailing him for “revolutioniz[ing] the monetary system.” The following year, he invited Thiel to speak at the Oslo Freedom Forum.

“I support the Human Rights Foundation and the Oslo Freedom Forum because their focus on dissidents engages the intellectual debate as well as the moral cause,” he remarked to the website The Street (Peter Thiel Urges Investing in Human Rights,” 20 June 2011).

Double standards

In response to questions about the Human Rights Foundation’s acceptance of support from Scaife, Thiel and other major donors of Islamophobic and ultra-conservative causes such as the Bradley Foundation, Halvorssen gave this statement to The Electronic Intifada:

Any donation or grant accepted by HRF is done with a categorical understanding that the foundation is free to research and investigate regardless of where such investigations may lead or what conclusions HRF may reach. We encourage funding from anyone who cares about human freedom. This does not mean HRF endorses the views or opinions of its donors. In plain language: We are grateful, privileged and proud that we receive support, as this ultimately means that our mission is being endorsed. This does not, however, mean we agree [with] the views of those who support us. Likewise, some donors on this list may ultimately disagree with the decisions and public statements of HRF. Their inclusion on this list in no way implies that they agree with all of HRF’s positions or activities.

While Halvorssen takes a relaxed view about the activities of his principal funders, he has different standards for where others should get their money.

When actors Hilary Swank and Jean-Claude Van Damme accepted payments to be celebrity guests at the birthday party of Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Russian puppet regime in Chechnya, Halvorssen denounced them. “Hilary Swank obviously has the right to earn a living entertaining the highest bidder, but this sort of venality should be exposed,” he said. “We must remember the disgrace of Mariah Carey, Nelly Furtado, Beyoncé and 50 Cent [who] were exposed … singing for Gaddafi’s family and earning millions of dollars for it” (“Hilary Swank, Van Damme slammed for attending Chechen president party,” Digital Spy UK, 11 October 2011).

As for libertarian ideologue Thiel, Halvorssen wrote to The Electronic Intifada: “Peter Thiel is not just a donor, I consider him a personal friend. … Peter’s devotion to human rights, education and nonviolence are extraordinary. We are thrilled to have him as a donor and as a former speaker at [Oslo Freedom Forum].”

This year, the Thiel Foundation is listed as a main supporter of Halvorssen’s forum.

Norwegian government, Amnesty respond

The Electronic Intifada shared some of the information about the Human Rights Foundation’s donors with Ragnhild Imerslund, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs communications chief and spokesperson for Foreign Minister Eide.

Imerslund acknowledged that the Norwegian government has provided 800,000 Norwegian kroner ($138,000) to pay for “participation by Human Rights Defenders from the Global South to the Oslo Freedom Forum 2013,” which she called “an important arena for discussing human rights issues.”

Regarding the donors to the Forum’s producer and creator, Imerslund said only, “Questions regarding sources of funding for the Human Rights Foundation should be directed to them.”

Similarly, Gerald Kador Folkvord, Political Advisor to Amnesty International Norway, wrote that “To the best of our knowledge, none of the sponsors of the Oslo Freedom Forum (mind you, it’s the Forum we are concerned with; who might or might not support the organization Human Rights Foundation outside the Forum does not really concern us as we have no other dealings with them) has been involved in activities undermining human rights so seriously that we couldn’t be part of an event they are sponsoring.”

“The Sarah Scaife Foundation is not listed among the sponsors of the Oslo Freedom Forum,” Amnesty’s Folkvord added. “When it comes to their support, if any, to The Human Rights Foundation, the latter would have to answer for that.”

Folkvord said that Amnesty had paid for one “human rights defender” to travel to Oslo and, “with the other organizations involved, Amnesty participated in discussions around the program of the Oslo Freedom Forum and suggested issues and speakers.”

The Electronic Intifada asked both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Amnesty how they thought members of the Norwegian public would respond to the fact that the Human Rights Foundation — the producer and originator of the Oslo Freedom Forum — counted among its most generous supporters the same donors that sustain the Islamophobic activists cited by Breivik as inspirations. Neither offered a reply.

The right connections

So how did Halvorssen manage to secure funding from Norwegian government sources? And why are government officials so dismissive when presented with evidence that he is simultaneously supported by rightist forces propagating religious bigotry?

A 26 November 2010 report in Norway’s daily Klassekampen offers some possible answers (“Gir millioner til sine egne).

According to the paper, the Oslo city council increased funding for Halvorssen’s Oslo Freedom Forum in 2010 while slashing social spending amid a worsening financial situation. Leading the effort to ramp up public funding of the human rights forum was a politician from the Liberal Party named Ola Elvestuen — the brother of Per Elvestuen.

And who is Per Elvestuen? As Klassekampen revealed, he has been listed as a “coordinator” and “director” of the Oslo Freedom Forum. He is also is a board member ofNy Tid, the magazine owned by Halvorssen and a spokesman for the Halvorssen-owned Hunter Media Inc.

Thanks to a tangled web of high-level connections and an apparent case of nepotism, the Oslo Freedom Forum has thrived.

Fortunate son of Venezuela’s elite

Halvorssen is the scion of an oligarchic Venezuelan family closely linked to the political opposition that formed against recently deceased former President Hugo Chavez. His mother, Hilda Mendoza Denham, a direct descendant of Venezuela’s first two presidents, is a member of one of her country’s most influential clans.

Halvorssen’s father, also named Thor Halvorssen, was a wealthy heir who gained control over Venezuela’s telecommunications monopoly. In 1989, then-President Carlos Andres Perez appointed Halvorssen Sr. as Venezuela’s “anti-drug ambassador.” That same year, President Perez’s government was responsible for committing one of the worst massacres in modern times: up to 3,000 persons were killed protesting President Perez’s harsh International Money Fund-imposed austerity program (Victims of Venezuela’s Caracazo clashes reburied,” BBC News, 21 February 2011).

Halvorssen Sr. is reported to have helped expose the secret bank accounts his longtime friend Perez used to embezzle public money, allegedly earning the wrath of the president and his inner circle.

As Perez sought to fend off scrutiny and an electoral challenge, a series of bombs exploded around Caracas. Halvorssen Sr. was immediately arrested and accused of orchestrating a terrorist plot to manipulate the Venezuelan stock market. He was imprisoned under harsh conditions and only freed after 74 days thanks in part to intervention from Amnesty International.

With his father cleared of all charges, Halvorssen Jr. refers to him today as a former “political prisoner,” describing him as the force that helped inspire his interest in human rights. But there was another side to the elder Halvorssen that was wrapped in intrigue and which remains shrouded in mystery.

Besides his role as a businessman and government official, Halvorssen Sr. was a part-time spook who, according to a 19 November 1993 report by the Associated Press, “cooperated with the CIA and “was used to funnel money to Nicaraguan Contra leader Eden Pastora” (“Trafficker, Alleged Terrorist Penetrated CIA, DEA in Venezuela”).

In her book Hostile Acts, journalist Martha Honey notes that Halvorssen Sr. served during the early 1980s as president of the Committee in Defense of Democracy in Nicaragua, a CIA front group “used to rally regional public opinion against the Sandinistas …” (p. 237).

A 29 November 1993 article by US News and World Report describes Halvorssen Sr. as a “CIA source” and notes that he was also a US Drug Enforcement Agency informant at the time, but that the agency eventually cut him loose, citing his tendency towards “duplicity and manipulation.” According to the report, Halvorssen Sr. “had unusual ties to and knowledge of drug traffickers” (At play in the fields of the spies”).

Just as the father retreated from the international scene, the son began to make his name.

Anti-feminist, anti-environmentalist, anti-Arab

In a 2010 interview with Klassekampen, Halvorssen said, “Personally, I am no right-wing ideologue, as some have described me. I’m liberal. Period” “Jeg er liberalist”). He described himself in the same terms to The Electronic Intifada.

But a look at the early stages of Halvorssen’s career, which he spent as a conservative operative combating gay rights initiatives, feminism and multiculturalism on US college campuses, suggests otherwise.

Like his father, Halvorssen enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania. He first gained notice in 1994, when he authored a guest commentary for The Daily Pennsylvanian demanding that prospective students be warned before applying to the school that “it may be deadly to live in West Philadelphia,” the mostly African-American area surrounding Penn’s campus.

As editor of the conservative student magazine Red and Blue, Halvorssen courted controversy when the magazine ran a November 1994 column called One Man’s Vision of Haiti that was illustrated with a sketch of a voodoo doll. “To the best of my knowledge,” the article’s author wrote, “the only imports from Haiti we have in this country are exiled dictators and cab drivers.”

The article’s publication stirred the outrage of African Americans and Haitians on campus, eventually prompting Penn administrators to temporarily withdraw school funding from Red and Blue. For Halvorssen, the incident crystallized his sense that conservatives on campus were an oppressed minority.

He emerged after college as the executive director of a newfangled right-wing group called FIRE, or the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, defending evangelical students against charges of anti-gay discrimination and combating hate crimes legislation.

FIRE has been funded by two right-wing foundations that also support Halvorssen’s human rights mini-empire: the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation, an evangelical outfit directed by John Templeton Jr., a veteran right-wing activist who hasdonated more than $1 million to ban same-sex marriage in California. In 2009, HRF notedthat the Oslo Freedom Forum “was made possible in large part thanks to a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.”

Right-wing campus operations

Halvorssen also found work at the time as a program director for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, another prominent right-wing campus operation. Under his direction, the group condemned the establishment of a women’s studies program at Yale University, complaining in an 1 April 1998 press release that the program “delves into the most radical issues of militant feminism and homosexuality while completely ignoring traditional female roles.”

Halvorssen’s political empire expanded with his founding of the Moving Picture Institute, a libertarian film company that produced “Mine Your Own Business.” Financed by a Canadian mining company, the film was promoted as “the world’s first anti-environmentalist documentary” (“A Maverick Mogul, Proudly Politically Incorrect,” The New York Times, 19 August 2007). The Moving Picture Institute received more than $300,000 through Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust from 2005 through 2011, according to those organizations’ IRS filings.

Next, Halvorssen oversaw the making of a 2007 documentary called Indoctrinate U (the entire film is on YouTube). The film features an amateur conservative filmmaker named Evan Coyne Maloney wandering around campuses attempting to interrogate befuddled school administrators and poking fun at feminist students who had established women’s centers on their campuses.

Towards the end of Indoctrinate U, Daniel Pipes and ultra-Zionist scholar Martin Kramersurface as talking heads, warning that Arab donors have been stealthily guiding the anti-American agenda of university departments.

Kramer also appears on the pages of Breivik’s manifesto making remarkably similar statements: the killer quotes him attacking the Palestinian-American scholar Edward Saidand complaining that “academics were so preoccupied with ‘Muslim Martin Luthers’ that they never got around to producing a single serious analysis of bin Laden and his indictment of America.”

Campaign for Venezuela regime change

In 2004, Venezuela’s US-backed political opposition lost a hard-fought 2004 referendum aimed at recalling Chavez, whom it considered illegitimate from the start. The voting results were certified by former US President Jimmy Carter’s Carter Center as “reflect[ing] the will of the Venezuelan electorate.” According to the Carter Center, “balloting day was conducted in an environment virtually absent of any violence or intimidation.”

However, at an earlier opposition protest rally demanding Chavez’s ouster, Halvorssen’s mother was shot and wounded, allegedly by a Chavez loyalist.

It was then that Halvorssen claimed to realize that “defending [college] students’ rights while there were people in Venezuela being shot for disagreeing with the government” was “a little absurd” (“My dinner with Thor,” The Pennsylvania Gazette, March-April 2008).

He embarked on an international campaign for regime change in Venezuela, with his Human Rights Foundation leading the way.

In 2005, Halvorssen took to the neoconservative Weekly Standard to paint Chavez as an anti-Semitic dictator seeking to establish a “resistance bloc” that placed the US, Europe and Israel in grave danger. Halvorssen called for “democratic alternatives to Chavez,” describing him as a key supporter of “terrorist groups in South America and terror sponsors in the Middle East.”

That same year, Halvorssen appeared as a guest on the radical right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson’s television program The 700 Club. A week before hosting Halvorssen, Robertson had urged the US to “take him [Chavez] out,” declaring, “if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.”

When Robertson denied calling for Chavez’s assassination — an obvious falsehood — Halvorssen leaped in to defend his host. “The person who began this, who started the concept of assassination for political reasons, was in fact Hugo Chavez, and his foreign minister is a former guerrilla terrorist,” Halvorssen told Robertson. “They basically have no standing to criticize anyone who made remarks that like — you know, that were misinterpreted, like the ones you made.”

Halvorssen’s obsession with overthrowing Chavez deepened after the president was re-elected. In 2008, Halvorssen railed against the actor and film producer Danny Glover in an editorial for Fox News, accusing him of “coddling Chavez” for accepting financing from the Venezuelan government for two films in development. He went on to accuse Hollywood supporters of Chavez of providing “a terrific boost” to the morale of Palestinian “terrorists.” The source for Halvorssen’s unusual claim was Aaron Klein, a writer for the far-right conspiracy site WorldNetDaily (Hollywood A-Listers Prove Ignorance in Supporting Hugo Chavez,” 31 March 2008).

Venezuelan terror-sympathizer hired by Human Rights Foundation

Also in 2008, Halvorssen’s Human Rights Foundation hired Aleksander Boyd, a Venezuelan opposition representative based in London. Boyd was a notorious promoter of terrorism against Venezuela’s elected government, having written the following on his website:

“I wish I could decapitate in public plazas [Venezuelan politicians] Lina Ron and Diosdado Cabello. I wish I could torture for the rest of his remaining existence Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel … I wish I could fly over Caracas slums throwing the dead bodies of the criminals that have destroyed my country … Only barbaric practices will neutralize them, much the same way [Genghis] Khan did. I wish I was him.” He later declared, “Re: advocating for violence yes I have mentioned in many occasions that in my view that is the only solution left for dealing with Chavez” (“Friends in low places,” The Guardian, 1 September 2007).

When the Norwegian magazine Manifest criticized Halvorssen’s hiring of Boyd in a 12 May 2010 exposé, Halvorssen responded, “We knew of his comments before we hired Boyd and asked him about these comments and he stated, plainly, that it was an entry in his dream diary that was online.” He added that Boyd left the Human Rights Foundation in 2009.

In 2010, Halvorssen invited his first cousin, the Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, to speak at the Oslo Freedom Forum. Lopez, the Harvard-educated mayor of a wealthy district in Caracas, was among the politicians who signed as witnesses in the new government after Chavez was briefly ousted in the failed US-backed coup in 2002.

Lopez is the son of a former oil executive — Halvorssen’s aunt — who allegedly funnelled profits from the state-run oil company into his new political party, leading to corruption charges that placed his political ambitions in peril, as the Associated Press reported in February (Leopoldo Lopez, Opponent Of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Faces Corruption Charges In Venezuela).

Described by the US embassy in Venezuela as “vindictive, and power-hungry” but also as “a necessity,” Lopez received large sums of financial support from the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy.

At the 2009 Oslo Freedom Forum, Lopez was a presented as a “human rights leader,”appearing at an event that had been graced by Nobel Prize recipient Elie Wiesel and Nobel nominee Vaclav Havel. He stirred his audience with lofty rhetoric about peace, democracy and the coming wave of freedom, casting the Venezuelan opposition as “David against Goliath.” “We know that we will overcome,” Lopez proclaimed, “we know that change will come in Venezuela.”

Noting that Lopez’s appearance at the Oslo Freedom Forum was covered far more heavily in Venezuelan media than in Oslo, where it was virtually ignored, Manifest accused Halvorssen of using his human rights confab for the purpose of “whitewashing Leopoldo Lopez … to establish a real contender for the Venezuelan presidency.”

The magazine described the Oslo Freedom Forum as a cleverly crafted “Washing Machine.”

The burden of knowing

Are those who gathered on stage at the human rights “Davos” being used to whitewash the ulterior political agenda of an ambitious conservative operative with ties to sectarian plutocrats and conspiratorial Islamophobes? Do they know about Halvorssen’s real history, about his funders and friends among America’s far-right? Most may not.

Unfortunately for the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and Amnesty International, they are not among those with the luxury of pleading ignorance.

Presented with the revelations uncovered by The Electronic Intifada, they dismissed them as immaterial, and even irrelevant. In a city still scarred by Breivik’s rampage, it is hard to imagine that these facts could be so easily washed away.

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