Archive | November 4th, 2013

‘Putting a human face’ on the problem of US drone strikes

Nabila Rehman (L), 9, who was injured by a US drone strike in Pakistan,speaks as her brother Zubair Rehman (R) looks on during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 29, 2013.  (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)Nabila Rehman (L), 9, who was injured by a US drone strike in Pakistan,speaks as her brother Zubair Rehman (R) looks on during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 29, 2013. (AFP Photo/Jim Watson).

Approval of drones by Americans would reduce greatly if people know that innocent civilians are being killed during unmanned strikes, believes Jennifer Gibson, US advocate for the Pakistani family which suffered from the US drone strike.

While the UN claims there have been about 400 civilian victims of American drones in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen in total since 2008, other estimates put that number as high as 900 (Bureau of Investigative Journalism) or even higher, around 3,595 casualties since the drone strikes began.

Whereas the Pakistani defense Ministry has just come out with a shockingly small number of only 67 civilian casualties in drone attacks.

Yet every casualty has a face and a family that mourns its dead. One such Pakistani family has come to the US to face Congress and tell their story.

Rafik Rahim and his children Zubair, 13, and Nbila, 9, who lost their grandmother when she was killed by a drone attack while working in her vegetable garden.

Zubair told RT’s Breaking the Set program that he was walking towards his grandmother when he saw a drone fire two missiles. The resulting explosions killed his grandmother and left him unconscious, with a wounded leg. The same drone made a second attack, injuring more members of their family.

Since that incident, Zubair said he is “living in constant fear” that something similar could happen again.

‘I’ve never done wrong to anyone, so why did I get hurt?’

Rafik Rahim, who lost his mother, says that on that day he was away from the village buying sweets and gifts for a feast on the following day. When he returned, he saw funeral service preparations and asked who had died. When he learnt that it was his mother, he fainted, dropping everything he had bought on the road.

“I’ve never been in a situation like that and I felt as if a limb was cut from my body,” he said.

Rafik’s message when he spoke to the American Congress was that he just wanted them to be aware that something bad is happening in Pakistan.

“We’re innocent people. I’m just a teacher. I’ve never done anything wrong and my children don’t mean any harm to anyone, neither did my mother,” he said.

He shared his dream with the Congress that drone warfare would cease and they can live peacefully.

He expressed the fear that in the current situation his children will have difficulty finishing their education because they are scared of leaving the house after the incident.

“Ever since the death of my mother, we all live life where everything is upside down,” Rafik shared, stressing that he disagrees the drones help in the fight against terrorism and that they bring constant fear to ordinary people.

Being in the country responsible for his grandmother’s death, Zubair feels no hatred towards Americans because he realizes that in every country, “just like in Pakistan”, there are good and bad people.

He pointed out that American President Barack Obama is saying that drones are necessary to fight terrorists, who are definitely bad people.

“But I’m not a terrorist, so that’s why I came here, to tell my story. I’ve never done wrong to anyone, so why did I get hurt?” Zubair questioned.

The Pakistani authorities told Rafik they have nothing to do with drone strikes and redirected him to the Americans.
“That’s why I’m here seeking answers,” he said.

‘We need transparency in the drone program’

Jennifer Gibson, family’s advocate in the US, revealed to RT that previous the advocate working on the case, Shazar Akhbar, was denied an American visa despite the fact that he has previously been granted one many times.
But once he took up the drone case, his visa was denied, permanently.

The obvious conclusion is that the US State Department does not want him to come to the US and speak about the case, Gibson said.

“He is a critical voice in this debate… needed to get to the bottom of the impact of what is going on (in Pakistan),” said the American lawyer.

In the meantime only five members of Congress turned up at the hearing where Rahim’s family spoke out.

Furthermore, it took a whole six months to arrange documents to bring the Pakistani family to the US.

At the same time Gibson expressed surprised that even five Congressmen showed up, some of them influential members of various commissions of the House of Representatives, adding that just a year ago none of them would have attended such a hearing.

Considering the fact that only 26 percent of Americans disapprove of drone strikes, the lawyer hopes “to put a human face” on the problem to inspire Americans to speak out against drones.

Jennifer Gibson acknowledged that approval of drones would reduce greatly if people knew that innocent civilians are being killed during unmanned strikes.

“Here are three civilians impacted by the US drones strikes,” she claimed. “They need answers – we need transparency in the (drone) program.”

“Maybe if we start putting faces to the numbers, engaging with a human side of this discussion rather than just statistics, we can get people to take action,” the lawyer said.

“We’re all human beings and by me coming to share my story with other human beings having natural feelings, they will sympathize and realize that we’re innocent people,” Rafik explained. “We’ve done nothing wrong,” he said.

Those Americans who heard his story could help their case by putting pressure on politicians at home to stop drone strikes.

“Please find a way to end these drones,” Zubair said, adding that he constantly hears drones over his head, and can’t communicate or play with his friends in a normal way because he fears that one day he is going to end up like his grandmother.

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Dear Friends,

7 items below.  I had honestly not intended to send more than 4 or 5.  But some days items turn up that one can’t anticipate and that must be read.

Item 1 is one such!  What nerve!  The Palestinians don’t suffer enough! No, they have to also endure Israeli Occupation Forces training in Palestinian villages!  Imagine!

In item 2 Rabbi Arik Asherman comments on the Begin-Prawer plan, seeing it as a means of stirring hatred between Israeli Jews and Bedouin citizens of Israel.  Indeed, the bill must be stopped, but it is unlikely that this will happen.  Israel is not a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  It is a wolf inside and outside, devouring everything Palestinian possible!

Item 3, “shame” expresses Dr. Eldad Kisch’s feelings about his experience at a checkpoint one day, and depicts the reason for that feeling of shame.

Item 4, from Le Monde Diplomatique, is critical of the EU’s attitude and doings regarding Palestinians, as we all should be.

In item 5 Amira Hass expresses her and Saeb Erekat’s discontent with the PA’s part in the so-called negotiations.

Item 6 brings good news for a change: “St Louis dumps Veolia.”  May there be more such dumps—many more.  This shows that people can sometimes overcome the oligarchs!

Item 7 is, as you may have guessed, Today in Palestine for Sunday, November 3, 2013.  Its summaries are a must read for all who want to know what is really happening on the ground in the OPT and in Israel regarding occupation and Judaization.

All the best,



1 Haaretz

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Israel’s military advocate: IDF training inside Palestinian villages is legal

After NGO files complaint against Israeli military training inside West Bank villages, IDF’s Military Advocate General says legality of training is anchored in principles of ‘belligerent occupation.’

By Gili Cohen

There is no legal barrier to Israel Defense Forces training inside Palestinian villages in the West Bank, according to a document prepared by the IDF’s Military Advocate General.

Maj. Harel Weinberg, the MAG’s deputy prosecutor for operational affairs, wrote that the legality of training inside Palestinian villages is anchored in the principles of “belligerent occupation,” by which the military commander, who is the sovereign authority in the area, is obligated to maintain security and public order in the West Bank, and so must hold occasional training exercises in populated areas.

Still, Weinberg wrote that troops taking part in such training were required to “avoid putting the population at risk, damaging their property or causing unreasonable disturbance to their daily routine.” The document was written in response to a complaint filed by activists of the Yesh Din NGO following a series of incidents involving IDF training in villages.

In one incident last May, troops held an exercise in the middle of the village of Amatin. In another case three months ago, during Ramadan, the army held a training exercise at Tel Rumeida in Hebron while a family there was eating breakfast in their yard. According to a report by family members, about 15 soldiers broke into their yard without permission, scattered throughout both floors of the home, and practiced breaking into a home using special equipment — all while family members were inside.

The IDF Spokesman said: “After looking into the matter, the Military Advocate General found that there was no legal obstacle to holding training in inhabited areas as part of maintaining security in the area. The orders issued for the drills that take place in populated urban areas include a statute requiring coordination with the ones doing the drill. It will also be made clear that as part of the training exercises, the soldiers must avoid putting the population at risk, damaging their property or causing unreasonable disturbance to their daily routine. Anywhere that there are deviations from these rules, the Military Advocate General will order that clarification be given and will take the appropriate measures.”


2 Haaretz

Monday, November 04, 2013

How to stir up hatred between Jews and Bedouin in Israel

The government’s bill to transfer 40,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel from their land, to be debated in a Knesset committee this week, will harm Bedouin women even more than men.

By Rabbi Arik Ascherman

The struggle on behalf of “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in Israel’s Negev Desert comes to the Knesset Interior Committee this week, as its members begin to debate the Begin/Prawer bill.

If this bill is passed, dozens of villages are likely to be demolished. Bedouin will be dispossessed of most of their remaining land. Up to 40,000 Israeli citizens will be transferred from their homes to townships that are magnets for crime and poverty because the Bedouin living in them have been torn from their agricultural sources of income and their culture. In his op-ed “Why don’t Rabbis for Human Rights care about Bedouin women?” Alon Tal attempts to delegitimize Rabbis For Human Rights’ support for this struggle by claiming that we neglect Bedouin women’s rights. But what is planned in the bill, and its consequences, will harm Bedouin women even more than men.

The issues facing Bedouin women are very serious, as we frequently hear from the Bedouin women activists we partner with. But the reality is that these women still choose to fight this bill while struggling in their communities on women’s issues because they know just how deeply they will be harmed by the bill’s passage. Unemployment in townships like Rahat is four times higher than in recognized villages (there are no statistics for unrecognized villages). In addition to suffering transfer and dispossession as Bedouin, women will be the first to be unemployed. The social anomie created by urbanization only increases violence against women.

While fighting the Begin/Prawer bill would be legitimate and necessary were Rabbis for Human Rights doing nothing on behalf of Bedouin women, a quick Google search reveals that we just concluded Women Citizens For Equality, a three-year empowerment program for Jewish and Bedouin women. Tahrir Elatika, the young Bedouin woman who co-coordinated the project, has written to Prof. Tal. After describing the projects that Bedouin women have established in cooperation with RHR to promote women’s rights, she concludes: “Let the women flourish and develop in their own villages, as they do not want to move to townships like Rahat, that offer only poverty and neglect.”

Tal plays on the stereotype that the Bedouin have no legitimate land claims and are illegally taking over the Negev. In 1920, the Palestine Land Development Company of the Zionist movement recorded nearly 650,000 acres as belonging to the Bedouin. When the Bedouin were invited to submit their land claims in the ’70s they submitted claims for less than half of this (many landowners had fled or been expelled). The government said it would not recognize Bedouin claims to 124,000 acres of communal grazing land, and nearly 50,000 acres have been dealt with since then either through arbitration or in court.

Most of these cases have not gone well for the Bedouin. Unlike the Ottomans, British and pre-state Zionist movement, Israel does not honor the internal Bedouin system of land ownership. Some 150,000 to 160,000 acres of land are still unresolved. Altogether the Bedouin land claims amount to around 5.4 percent of the Negev, while the Bedouin compose 30 percent of the Negev population. When stereotypes about the Bedouin “taking over the Negev” are peeled away, an RHR-commissioned opinion poll shows that most Israeli Jews think the Bedouin land claims are fair.

Contrary to Tal’s claims, the courts have not yet determined the status of El-Araqib. He knows this.  As a member of the Jewish National Fund’s directorate, Tal deserves credit for using his influence, backed by thousands of letters to the JNF organized by Rabbis for Human Rights and our partners, to partially freeze the JNF’s work turning El-Araqib into a forest without waiting for a court decision.

El-Araqib has Turkish, British and even Israeli proof of ownership, such as purchase records and tax documents, in addition to the silent testimony of a cemetery with graves dating back to 1914. The state argues that this proof of ownership is irrelevant because the land was expropriated in 1953. In December, the High Court ordered the district court to hear the case. When leaving the court before the decision, one resident said to me, “I hope the judges realize that doing justice here isn’t just good for the Bedouin, but for all Israelis.”

If the Begin/Prawer bill is passed, the courts will no longer be able to help El-Araqib. It is outside the “Pale of Settlement” outlined on the map attached to the bill delineating where it is permissible for a Bedouin community to exist. Courts will be also circumvented for those inside the pale. A special committee will be set up. At best, if the committee decides a Bedouin is entitled to his land, he might receive 50 percent of that claim or alternative land, plus some compensation. If all his neighbors don’t cooperate, the percentage goes down. If he doesn’t agree to forgo all other claims, he gets nothing. The right of judicial appeal will be severely limited.

One might get the impression from Tal’s article that the land taken from El-Araqib will somehow benefit the overcrowded Rahat township. A highway and a new Jewish community separate Rahat from El-Araqib. The Bedouin of Rahat will be no more allowed to live outside the permitted pale than the Bedouin of El-Araqib. If the issue is recreation, the residents of El-Araqib are willing to cooperate on creating a green community. I am sure there could be picnicking arrangements without taking their land. If the state really wants to alleviate Rahat’s overcrowding, that should be done on land closer to Rahat without dispossessing the residents of El-Araqib. If Begin/Prawer is passed, overcrowding in townships will actually get worse because residents of demolished villages will be moved to the townships.

In previous conversations with Tal, I had thought we put to rest the unfounded claims of El-Araqib violence. I have not been able to uncover any case of El-Araqib residents physically attacking JNF workers or torching vehicles. Tal was not able to back up his allegations either. The Bedouin we work with are committed to nonviolence. They point to us when their children say that all Jews are oppressors. While Tal questions our references to Martin Luther King, King’s greatest challenge in convincing his people to struggle nonviolently was despair and disbelief stemming from ongoing injustice.  Our sages taught: “The sword comes into the world because of justice delayed and justice denied” (Pirkei Avot).

Contrary to Tal’s claims, Rabbis for Human Rights’ current focus is not the JNF. The Israeli government is responsible for the Begin/Prawer bill. If this discriminatory legislation is passed, the JNF will need to make a moral decision whether to collaborate. We remain optimistic because our opinion poll shows that we Israeli Jews have a finer sense of moral justice than that expressed in the Begin/Prawer bill.

We recently read in Parashat Lekh Lekha how Abraham, the father of the Jewish and Arab peoples and a figure closely associated with the Negev, provides an example to us all. Rather than imposing his authority on his nephew Lot, when conflict arises between their shepherds, he bends over backwards to avoid enmity, recognizing that there is enough land for everybody. “Let there be no strife between you and me … for we are kinsman.” (Genesis 13:8)  Let our government cause no strife between Jews and Bedouin, for we are all Israelis, and part of one human family.

Rabbi Arik Ascherman is the president and senior rabbi of Rabbis For Human Rights. To help RHR defend the Bedouin, please contact


3 Eldad Kisch, MD

Monday, November 04, 2013


Today I was ashamed, as a physician and as an Israeli. I joined some friends from Machsomwatch as an onlooker at the checkpoint Qalandia, north of Jerusalem on the road to Ramallah. This is the busiest crossing of the Green Line, where during rush hour thousands of persons pass. The passages are narrow, the crush is indescribable, the soldiers are inert and unmoved behind their armored glass windows. In order to experience some of this feeling, outside the rush hour crowd, we went through this route. With strong misgivings I joined, fearing my associations with cattle slaughterhouses and worse. From afar we heard the siren of an ambulance approaching and one of the experienced machsom-ladies said, come, this you must see. Mind you, I came as an interested onlooker to see how Palestinians are herded like cattle, not in any medical capacity. So this column will acquire an unplanned para-medical content.

Palestinian patients who don’t find adequate medical treatment for their ills on the West Bank can obtain permission, in difficult medical problems, to seek treatment in Eastern Jerusalem hospitals that are usually better equipped. Very complicated cases may even be allowed to enter Israel proper to seek treatment in an Israeli hospital. A Palestinian ambulance brings the patient to the checkpoint where he is transferred, back to back, to an Israeli ambulance to travel to his destination. The Palestinian ambulance may enter the control compound only when its Israeli counterpart is waiting physically at the other side of the checkpoint. Only then do transfer formalities begin, and not a moment earlier.

The first case concerned a 16 year old boy from Ramallah who had an accident where some of his dorsal vertebrae were crushed. For medical reasons he was to be treated at Mukasset hospital in Eastern Jerusalem. After a painful and bumpy ride he arrived at the checkpoint Qalandia at 13:00, where the other ambulance was waiting, as is appropriate. It appeared that some very relevant papers of the patient were not in order, and this had to be straightened out in Ramallah. So back to Ramallah in the Palestinian ambulance.

Here is the place to make a short excursion into the intricacies of the rules and regulations of the occupation. The young patient appeared to be “manua” (meaning he was proscribed, and therefore could not enter Israel. This label is easily affixed to any Palestinian who is suspected of harboring anti-Israeli sentiments, although never having been sentenced, but possibly like in his youth having thrown stones at soldiers, or just having been fingered, thus getting onto one of the black lists). It is not easy to lose this label.

The matter had been solved by the appropriate authorities (meaning the secret service) in Ramallah before his departure, according to a relative who was waiting for the patient next to the ambulance on the Israeli side. But apparently not well enough. So the patient was shipped back to Ramallah to straighten out things. The patient returned to Qalandia where he arrived at 17:00. Now new bureaucratic problems arose, causing another delay of one hour at the checkpoint. Luckily, these wrinkles could be straightened out at Qalandia, and finally the patient was transferred in a painful maneuver into the Israeli ambulance and start on his way to Mukasset. The driver of the ambulance told us that this case had progressed rather speedily, and that it could be far worse.

While we were waiting for the resolution of the first case, another Israeli ambulance entered the compound. This driver told us that a very sick man, 26 years old, with infusions, a blood transfusion and on artificial respiration was on his way from Nablus in order to be transferred to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem. That he was warned that the patient might not live under the circumstances. This really was a matter of the utmost urgency. We clearly saw the Palestinian ambulance entering the other side of the compound, with wailing siren, and thus we could time the procedures exactly. Also here a delay of half an hour occurred. Checking a normal car takes a few minutes at most. Ordinary soldiers are in charge here, and they decide supreme. Who is sick or just simulating. And most important, all bureaucratic requirements must be fulfilled to the last dotted i.

In the past attempts have been made to streamline these life-saving transfers, so we were told, but security precedes human life and a smooth execution of the new rules has not been implemented.

I stood by gnashing my teeth, and wanted to speed up matters, but I was warned under no circumstances to cross the line to talk to the soldiers in charge, because the soldiers are stressed and their fingers are light on the trigger.

When the ambulance finally arrived at the meeting point, it was clear to all that this was a very sick person. With a lot of tugging and pulling the patient with all his tubes and apparatus was transferred to the Israeli ambulance, and he could continue his journey. All this under close supervision of two soldiers with their weapons at the ready, who shouted at us not to photograph.

This is the inhuman face of the occupation. This situation must be addressed as soon as possible, and we should enlist all the help we can get.

Eldad Kisch MD; November 3, 2013.


4 Le Monde diplomatique  November 6, 2013

Europe remains Israel’s biggest trading partner

EU’s wary support for Palestine

The EU has only just denied financial backing to Israeli entities that profit from West Bank or East Jerusalem activities. Otherwise, it pays up for the Palestinian Authority, but turns a blind eye to Israeli expansion. President François Hollande’s November visit to Israel and Ramallah is not going to change that.

by Laurence Bernard

Twenty years after the Oslo Accords, the European Union has just taken the first step toward making credible its official support for an “independent, democratic, contiguous and viable” Palestinian state. A directive published in July makes all Israeli entities (businesses, universities, research laboratories or associations) operating outside Israel’s 1967 borders and pursuing activities in the West Bank or East Jerusalem ineligible for grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU from 1 January 2014.

This should end EU support for companies such as Ahava, which exploits the mineral-rich mud of the Dead Sea, to which Palestinian industry is denied access; and for the Israeli Antiquities Authority, through which Israel has a virtual monopoly on the regulation, conservation and presentation of archaeological sites in Palestine.

The EU has never been able, or willing, to apply the many declarations and resolutions that have accumulated since 2009, which exhort the Israeli authorities to “end all settlement activities, including natural growth, in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, and dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001” (1). To date, despite recorded violations of UN resolutions and the Geneva conventions, and the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion on the Separation Barrier (2), the EU has applied no sanctions against Israel.

Dwindling day by day

Yet urgent action is needed, for the politics of the fait accompli continue to erode Palestinian territory, jeopardising the two-state solution. The West Bank has already been reduced to an archipelago of little urban islands by the Separation Barrier, the line of which effectively annexes nearly 10% of Palestine’s territory, and by the fact that 60% of all Palestinian territory — “Area C” (3) — remains under complete Israeli control. This already has 350,000 Israeli settlers living in 35 settlements, compared with 180,000 Palestinian residents. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is concerned at the growth of violence by settlers, the denial of construction permit applications to Palestinians by the Israeli civil administration in charge of the territories, and the systematic demolition of buildings erected “without a permit”.

These demolitions include projects financed by the EU, which sometimes pays for the rebuilding of infrastructure destroyed by the Israeli army, such as Gaza’s port and airport, and administrative and security facilities for the Palestinian Authority (PA), notably in Nablus and Jenin, where the EU has spent €30m ($41m) rebuilding two facilities belonging to the Palestinian Authority, which should be completed next year, and rural infrastructure. Even humanitarian relief equipment (tents, shelters, latrines) is regularly destroyed by the Israeli army or by settlers without the EU claiming damages. Only the European Community Humanitarian Office has requested financial compensation — this year — and the request was denied on the grounds that the structures had not been built in collaboration with the Israeli authorities.

There have been many incidents, some involving European diplomats, mostly unpublicised by governments not wanting to cause trouble. The EU has continued to provide funding to strengthen PA institutions (the donors hope for economic growth in the absence of a political solution) without a murmur. Over the years, the PA has been kept alive on this financial drip — the EU pays the salaries of most of its officials, which cost €150m ($203m) a year.

Water resources have always been a major issue: their allocation is still unfavourable to the Palestinians. The Joint Water Council is supposed to promote joint decision-making by both parties, but is used by the Israelis to block most Palestinian projects. The Palestinians only have 20% of the West Bank’s water resources, the Israelis 80%; on average the Palestinians use only 25% as much water per person per day. The international community, including the EU, doesn’t seem to mind financing water treatment projects where the investment and operating costs are more expensive because of restrictions imposed by the Israelis.

The Israeli authorities have expropriated more than a third of East Jerusalem, which they have declared to be part of Israel’s “national territory”. There are 250,000 settlers living in Palestinian areas of the Old City and the historic basin, and in the huge modern developments that ring the city. Culture, history and heritage are tightly controlled by the Israeli authorities, which withhold licenses for tourist guides, appropriate artefacts and control archaeological excavations. According to the latest joint report by the heads of EU diplomatic missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah, there seems to be “a concerted effort to utilise archaeology to enhance a claimed historic Jewish continuity in Jerusalem, thereby creating a historic justification for the establishment of Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel” (4).

Despite the unequivocal conclusions of this report, sent to the governments of all EU states, the EU has found it difficult to impose anything on the Israeli authorities, such as reopening official institutions in East Jerusalem, especially Orient House — headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Jerusalem until 2000 — and the Palestine Chamber of Commerce.

Blockade of Gaza

In 2010 Israel closed all border crossings into the Gaza Strip, except those at Erez (restricted access) and Kerem Shalom, the only crossing through which certain goods can be imported. With a few exceptions, no exports are permitted. Gaza is already one of the most densely populated territories in the world, with nearly two million people crowded into 400 sq km (4,500 people/sq km), but the Israeli authorities have also imposed a buffer zone along the barrier, between 100 and 500 metres in depth, which denies residents access to 17% of the territory (and 33% of the farmable land). Similar restrictions apply along the coast: the outer limit of the fishing zone, set at 20 nautical miles under the Oslo accord, is now reduced to between 3 and 6 miles. Having failed to get the blockade lifted, the EU’s response has been to provide €15m ($20.3m) to upgrade the border crossing infrastructure at Kerem Shalom.

The plight of Palestinian refugees has also worsened. The UN has registered nearly five million expelled from their villages in 1948 and 1967. A third still live in “temporary” camps in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria; 3.5 million rely on the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for basic health and education. This costs the EU nearly €300m ($406m) a year in funding to the UNRWA, and the situation has been made worse by the recent influx of Syrian refugees and instability in the region.

What the EU could do

The situation in the Middle East demonstrates the EU’s inability to impose conditions as a basis for a lasting peace in the region. Yet it could easily do so (5). It could accept the important step that its recent directive represents, instead of trying to limit its effectiveness, and refuse to bow to pressure from Israel — which has banned EU representatives from visiting Gaza — and the US. Europe is Israel’s biggest trading partner — trade with the EU is worth nearly €30bn ($41bn) a year — and accounts for a quarter of its exports. The EU could threaten reprisals under the EU-Israel Association Agreement, signed in 2000, freeze specific accords that are already in force or being negotiated (Israel is still the main beneficiary of the EU’s Mediterranean programmes), and suspend negotiations on strengthening the Association Agreement.

The EU could also stop importing goods manufactured or assembled in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In 2012 a group of 22 NGOs estimated the value of the EU’s imports of such products at €230m ($311m), around 15 times more than the value of its imports of Palestinian products (6). Since they do not depend on direct EU finance, exports of products made in the settlements are not covered by the recent directive. Products labelled “Made in Israel” — but actually made in the settlements — are also exempt from tax; 13 member states are working on a labelling initiative to make the truth clearer to EU consumers. Some, including Ireland, would prefer to see the EU ban such products.

Finally, the EU could take action on the arms trade with Israel, which continues to grow in spite of the EU code of conduct that prohibits sales of military equipment that “might be used for internal repression or international aggression, or contribute to regional instability”. Israel’s equipment imports, investment in research (partially subsidised by the EU) and recent military operations in Gaza — which has become a testing ground for weapons technology — have allowed it to boost its own arms exports worldwide. In 2012 they reached a record €5.3bn ($7.2bn), and Israel overtook France as the fourth biggest exporter of arms.

5 Haaretz Monday, November 4, 2013

The Palestinian negotiator who cried wolf

Saeb Erekat isn’t to blame for his serial resignation threats; he wasn’t the one who decided to negotiate under such humiliating circumstances.

By Amira Hass

Heartless Palestinians have been expressing scorn for the latest resignation of the Palestinian negotiating team in the renewed talks with the Israelis, especially for its head, Dr. Saeb Erekat. In contrast with his colleague on the team Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh, Erekat is seen as a serial “I threaten to resign” person, just as he is seen as the perpetual negotiator in the Palestinian-Israeli talks that give the impression that they will go on forever.

The letter of resignation, circles in Ramallah are saying, was submitted early last week. Two interconnected issues sparked Erekat’s latest resignation: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration that thousands of additional housing units would be built in West Bank settlements as a response to the second stage in the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons, and the dissemination of the claim that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian negotiating team knew about, and thus tacitly agreed to, the additional construction activity.

That is absolute nonsense. Does anyone think that Netanyahu would not have made that declaration if he had not been given the green light from the PA?

It is easy to spread such an absurd rumor, because the experience of the past 20 years shows that the Palestinian leadership has been unable to prevent Israel from seizing control of land in the West Bank. Many people in Hamas are already exploiting this baseless argument for propaganda purposes − as if Hamas’ tactic of armed struggle has been able to thwart Israeli construction activity in the West Bank.

Compared with other senior Palestinian leaders, Erekat has been the target of immense scorn from the Palestinian public because of the great media interest in the talks with Israel. It is unfair that he should be subjected to such a disproportionate measure of ridicule.

There are perpetual Palestinian negotiators who, for years, have been conducting talks on civilian and ongoing security matters with senior Israeli officials from the Shin Bet security service, the Israel Defense Forces and the office of COGAT, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. There is no evidence that all these meetings have advanced the Palestinian people to independence or that they fill Palestinians with pride over their representatives’ performance in these talks. The spotlights are not aimed at these negotiations and they are exempt from scorn, anger or any demand of accountability.

The letters of resignation submitted by Erekat and Shtayyeh are a clear message to other senior officials in the Palestinian leadership: “You people have abandoned us and left us to face the public’s scorn on our own. In the final analysis, there was a collective agreement to accept Abbas’ decision to return to the negotiating table under such humiliating and hopeless circumstances.”

Even what is being termed a “threat to undertake measures” is a standard Pavlovian reaction on the part of the Palestinians. The term “threat” is a common Israeli exaggeration used to describe the official Palestinian tendency toward hollow declarations that are a cover-up for inertia and a lack of strategy. Nearly every foreign diplomat with whom one talks on condition of anonymity is puzzled by the lack of strategy displayed by the Palestinian leadership under Abbas. Decisions are made without much prior thought, and every political move is an isolated act without any follow-up or contingency plans in the desk drawer. Thus, the public scorn is very important because it just might make some people in the Palestinian leadership actually listen to the content of the criticism, even if only to keep their reputation unsullied.

The foreign diplomats’ puzzlement regarding the lack of strategy is justified, but it must be supplemented by a puzzled interjection: If the countries that these diplomats represent were faithful to their declarations supporting a Palestinian state within the June 4, 1967 borders and opposing the settlements, they would have undertaken a long time ago a few necessary and simple diplomatic measures to make it clear to Israel that what it regards as normative and natural − namely, the domination of another people − is a punishable act. Only then could the consistent Palestinian position in favor of a peace solution with Israel be seen as strategic.

But let’s get back to the “threat.” On Thursday, after an emergency meeting at Abbas’ office, the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization announced that the Palestinian leadership would in the coming days undertake certain measures to deal with the “settlement offensive,” and, in addition, to protect Palestinian national interests and prevent the peace process from hitting a dead end.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry in Ramallah reported that it was “studying [the possibility] of turning to international courts and to the relevant international institutions” (with regard to the above-mentioned housing units in the West Bank). The ministry also, of course, condemned the Israeli decision to engage in such construction activity.

This arrangement has been created over the past two decades for dividing up the work: One side builds and the other side condemns the building activity. How many times has the Palestinian public heard its leaders issue condemnations, promise to undertake measures, and promise to study the issue and turn to international courts? The same number as that of the housing units built in West Bank settlements since 1994.

If there really were letters of resignation, Abbas would have refused to accept them. However, it can be assumed that the separate meeting of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with Abbas and the Palestinian negotiating team is intended to put out the current fire. According to one report, the meeting will take place in Bethlehem.

Here is my modest suggestion for the meeting’s agenda: The meeting should be held on the lands of the village of Khirbet Nahleh, south of Bethlehem. The West Bank settlement of Efrat is busy advancing its plan to establish an agricultural farm there (on an area registered as being owned by a subsidiary of the Jewish National Fund, Himanuta). The route leading to the planned farm would go through land privately owned by Palestinians, although they are opposed to the idea and this would violate their private property rights.

According to publications issued by the settlement of Efrat, its land reserve for construction purposes is located there. The total area is 1,700 dunams (some 420 acres); the 13 Palestinians who own this land have hired a lawyer to fight the Civil Administration’s declaration that this is “state land.” The purpose of the declaration is clear: To gradually link Efrat to the settlement of Tekoa to the east, and thus complete the transformation of the Bethlehem area into a Palestinian “Bantustan,” totally cut off from its surroundings.

Perhaps this is the right time to ask the American secretary of state to use his influence, so that the Palestinian owners of these lands can find employment at the industrial park of the Gush Etzion bloc.


6 Mondoweiss

St. Louis dumps Veolia

Annie Robbins

November 3, 2013

Dump Veolia activists protest at City Hall, St. Louis Missouri  (Photo Suhad Khatib)


This story has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster. A bunch of average ordinary Americans who formed a coalition of social-justice and environmental activism, including civil rights leaders, workers and students, in a large midwestern city, just scored a massive victory over the takeover of their water department and the privatization of their resources by an international corporate behemoth deeply embedded in human rights violations.

Huge BDS win, and massive victory for the people of St. Louis, Missouri.  St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (STL-PSC):

In a dramatic conclusion to nearly one year of effort and vigilance by the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) and coalition partners, the St. Louis mayor’s office announced on October 29, 2013 that Veolia Water North America was withdrawing itselffrom consideration for a contract to consult with the St. Louis Water Division.  Veolia is a major, global target of the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement because of its complicityin Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights. Veolia profits from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank by providing services, such as trash collection, water services and, until recently, bus lines, to illegal Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land.

When the contract came to light, the PSC helped form a local coalition to “Dump Veolia.”   The Coalition included a wide spectrumof the St. Louis community, as well as national organizations.  The broad based opposition caused Veolia to withdraw from our city, reportedlydeciding St. Louis “is not worth it. It is not worth the damage to [Veolia’s] business.”

The St. Louis Dump Veolia campaign shows the effectiveness of local BDS campaigns.   The efforts against the Veolia contract brought Palestine to the St. Louis mayoral campaign last spring as the two leading candidates — the incumbent, Mayor Francis Slay, and his challenger and the head of the Board of Alderman (St. Louis’ equivalent to a city council), Lewis Reed — staked out opposite sides in the Veolia debate.  Mayor Slay, a proponent of the Veolia contract, was forced to admit in a press releasein February that Palestinians find Veolia’s involvement with Israel’s occupation objectionable.

The issue of the proposed Veolia water contract was the top requested question at the second mayoral debate. St. Louis Public Radioand the St. Louis Beaconcovered the issue as part of their debate coverage. Palestine activists bird-doggedMayor Slay during a fundraising event demanding answers on why he supported human rights violations in Palestine through his advocacy for Veolia.  Anti-Veolia flyerssponsored by candidate Reed and his supporters in the St. Louis Carpenters’ Union were mailed to every household in St. Louis during the campaign. Global Water Intelligencecredited BDS in St. Louis with thwarting Veolia’s ambitions for securing public sector work in the United States.

While Mayor Slay handily won the mayoral election, the Dump Veolia campaign put his office and Veolia on the defensive and forced both to expend considerable political clout and resources.  In June, a public hearing on the Veolia contract was called by the Board of Alderman Public Utilities Committee. Over two sessions, the hearing lasted six hours.  At the second session, well over 150 concerned citizens attended to voice their opposition to the proposed contract. The only testimonies in support of the contract were from either Veolia representatives or others who would directly benefit as a subcontractor from the proposed deal. The only pro-Israel opposition to our efforts came in the form of a statementfrom the St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council that did not support Veolia — a seemingly untenable position — but asked the City to not factor BDS demands into their decision-making process.

At the hearing, several PSC members made statements focusing on Veolia’s operation of bus lines on segregated roads in the West Bank, drawing comparisons to St. Louis’ racist practices and to the Board of Aldermen’s strong stance against Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s. Veolia representatives were flustered by the testimonyabout the segregated buses and attempted to deny the allegations. However, PSC testimony had been heard, and it was members of the Board of Aldermenwho refuted the Veolia spokesperson’s inadequate defense.  In September, Veolia Transdev sold off all bus linesoperating in Palestine/Israel, showing the power of BDS.

For more than three years, Veolia attempted to secure a contract with St. Louis, defying the will of the local community through aggressive lobbying, bullying, political interference, back-door deals, and outright contempt for democratic involvement. When public opposition denied Veolia the necessary votes to pass the contract through normal channels, the mayor attempted to circumvent the democratic checks and balancesby claiming the contract did not need approval through traditional means and threatened to sue the city comptroller if she did not sign it.

However, public outrage overwhelmed the St. Louis Board of Aldermen who introduced a resolutionto remove funds allocated for Veolia in the city’s budget — the straw that finally broke the camel’s back, prompting Veolia to withdraw. The proposed Board Bill 216 may be the first city resolution in North America targeting Veolia in response to a BDS campaign.

As the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee celebrates this victory over occupation profiteer Veolia, we wish to thank the many coalition partners and St. Louis citizens who supported the Dump Veolia campaign. While we came to this issue because of Palestine, we soon learned of the many troubling aspects of Veolia’s business practices including privatization of public resources, labor abuses, corruption, environmental degradation and interference in democratic processes.  This is a huge win for BDS in North America and a triumph for the people of St. Louis.


St. Louisans passionate about the environment and rights line corridor to protest Veolia, St. Louis Missouri City Hall January 16.2013

Check out Dump Veolia’s timeline of campaign eventsand In the News, Dump Veolia’s list of media coverage. Notice how one astute local investigative journalist played a role.  From their website:

On December 3, 2012, nobody but a small group of St. Louis insiders knew anything about the proposed St. Louis water consultancy contract with Veolia Water North America. On December 4, the story broke in the Riverfront Timesfollowing a leak from a water department worker. Thanks to the journalistic diligence of reporter Jessica Lussenhop and massive mobilization efforts by St. Louisans passionate about the environment and rights, the contract and campaign to stop it went on to capture headlines and garner significant media attention locally as well as some coverage nationally and internationally.

A true success story.


St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, St. Louis Missouri City Hall January 16.2013


7 Today in Palestine

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on DOROTHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER


Many of you have been asking for a response to Alon Tal’s attack on RHR in “Haaretz” on Monday. We have preferred not to rush to respond to Alon because I have been communicating with him in the hope that he might be willing to himself publish corrections of the factual errors in his piece, and we have suggested setting up a forum to air our differences of opinion. We respect Alon, and I have actually been dialoguing with him intermittently for around two years. Others have chosen to respond more quickly. Here is a piece by Rabbi Jill Jacobs of T’ruah, which fiscally split from RHR and with whom we continue to work on the Bedouin issue. Until we decide how to precede, here is a quick response to some of the factual inaccuracies:

“Why do Rabbis for Human Rights ignore the violation of Bedouin women’s rights in the Negev”

1. I am not sure why concern for the welfare of Bedouin women is a reason not to be concerned about the attempts to displace and dispossess the Bedouin. Clearly, these actions won’t make the lives of either Bedouin women or Bedouin men any better.

2. What RHR does or doesn’t do on one worthy issue shouldn’t be a reason to criticize our involvement in another worthy issue. There are an infinite number of additional issues we would like to be involved with if we had the resources.

3. Anybody who is truly interested in what we do on behalf of Bedouin women should ask us or go to our websiteThey would know that we just finished an amazing three program for Jewish and Bedouin women at Sapir College, Women Citizens For Equality. We have been tutoring English to young girls from the Jahalin tribe in the Occupied Territories since 1997, some of whom have gone on to be some of the first women from the tribe to obtain higher education. Many of the Negev Bedouin’s amazing women activists will attest to the work of RHR.

“Consistently, a range of judges were not convinced by the testimony about historic ownership and called the violent behavior of the petitioning Bedouin families into question.”

4. It is not always easy to know when Alon is writing specifically about El-Araqib, or about “Unrecognized villages in general.” The courts have not yet determined the status of El-Araqib. The State tried to argue that any proofs of ownership are irrelevant because the land was expropriated in 1953. Furthermore, they have argued that the courts have no authority to determine whether or not the expropriation was legal. In December, the High Court ordered the District Court to hear the case. This has been delayed because the State is asking the High Court to rehear the case with an expanded panel of judges. The residents of El-Araqib have Ottoman, British and even Israeli documents attesting to their ownership, in addition to their cemetery with graves dating back to 1914. Their problem is that, if the Begin/Prawer Bill is passed (See below), they live outside the “Pale of Settlement,” the map attached to the bill delineating where it is permissible for a Bedouin community to exist. The entire village was demolished in July 2010, and has been re-demolished some 56 times since then. Tractors with JNF logos have been photographed at some of those demolitions.

5. When Beer-Sheva District Judge Netzer agreed to hear the case, she made a non-binding request to the JNF and the Israel Lands Authority not to continue creating facts on the ground before either the court could rule on El-Araqib land claims, or the Knesset would pass a law on Bedouin settlement. She said that she would not continue to impose a restraining order on planting and demolishing because of the fact that the residents of El-Araqib had been building without permits. (Permits that an “Unrecognized” village could never obtain because they can’t have an approved building and zoning plan. ) There is no mention of violence. Perhaps Alon is referring to some other ruling regarding some other village. In general, accusations that the Bedouin are violent is one of the more widely held stereotypes about them.

6. In 1920 the PLDC of the Zionist movement recorded 2.6 million dunam as belonging to the Bedouin. Much of that land belonged to people who fled/were expelled. When the Bedouin were invited to submit their land claims in the 70′s they submitted some 3,200 claims that fit together without contradiction for 1,250,000 dunam. The government said they would not recognize Bedouin claims to 500,000 dunam of communal grazing land. 200,000 dunam have been dealt with since then in either arbitration of in court. Most of these cases have not gone well for the Bedouin because many Bedouin do not have the same written proofs of ownership that El-Araqib residents do. Unlike the Ottomans, British and pre-state Zionist movement, the State of Israel does not honor the internal Bedouin system of land ownership. Some 600-650,000 dunams are still unresolved, some 5.4% of the Negev. Pre-State aerial photographs from 1945 actually show extensive Bedouin agriculture, and the late 19th century Zionist Levontin notes in his diary extensive agriculture and friendly Bedouin willing to sell land. El-Araqib actually sold much of the land that Kibbutz Lehavim sits on today. Bedouin ownership was not questioned when the Bedouins sold.

“There is nothing in the present campaign that goes to the critical issue of creating economic opportunity for Israel’s poorest citizens.”

7. One of the reasons the Bedouin oppose the desire to move them into the development towns is because they can no longer engage in farming and shepherding that have been a significant part of their income. As mentioned below, poverty and unemployment are 4 times higher in the townships than in recognized villages. There are no statistics for “Unrecognized: villages, because they don’t exist. Those Bedouin who wish to move to an urban setting should be able to do so. Like all of us, they should have choice.

“Even a teaspoon of utilitarian justice requires the preservation of these open spaces to ensure that the citizens of Rahat city today and the future enjoy a green belt around their city.”

8. At some point I hope that Alon and I can have a public dialogue on issues of proper land use. Let me just say that Route 31 and the relatively new Jewish community of Givaot Bar stands between Rahat and the lands of El-Araqib. It would be very difficult to have a greenbelt south of Rahat in the direction of El-Araqib. The government desire is to prevent Rahat from expanding south of Route 31. It is hard to see how Rahat is going to benefit from the lands taken from El-Araqib. At best they could have picnics in the forest replacing El-Araqib’s fruit trees. However, a recreational area could be just as easily created by foresting the lands between El Araqib and Rahat that are not owned by anybody living in the country and/or coming to an agreement with El-Araqib that doesn’t entail confiscating their land. As Dr. Awad Abu-Freikh from El-Araqib told Russel Robinson, CEO of JNF USA, the residents of El-Araqib would be thrilled to sit down without bulldozers and transfer orders, and talk about making El-Araqib into a “Green village.’

It is most infuriating to have the Rabbis for Human Rights campaign focus so much of its energies on discrediting the Jewish National Fund.

9. RHR focuses very little energy on the JNF since we were part of successful letter writing campaigns to get them to agree to not forest over El-Araqib until either the courts or the Knesset determine the status of their lands (Alon supported our position on this) and to not expel the Sumarin family from their home in East Jerusalem. The greatest threat to the Bedouin today is the Begin/Prawer Bill. If passed, tens of villages may be destroyed, up to 40,000 citizens may be transferred from their village homes to artificially created urban townships where poverty and unemployment are 4 times higher than in recognized villages. They will probably be dispossessed of most of their lands. In our video clip on the subject it is true that one woman from El-Araqib asks why her home is slated to be a forest, and there is a sign for one of the forests with the JNF logo.


10. As one can see from my January 2011 op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, RHR acknowledges the many wonderful and holy things that the KKL/JNF does, but we also note the fact that many JNF forests around the country have the remains of Arab villages at their heard. We call upon the JNF not to sully themselves by foresting over villages. We recognize that the KKL/JNF doesn’t set policy, but sometimes “You just have to say ‘no.’

“The level of violence associated with the El-Araqib campaign is enormous. The foresters of the JNF have been attacked on innumerable occasions, their vehicles torched and their lives threatened by the small minority of Bedouin who oppose the afforestation work there. “

11. Much of my dialogue with Alon since his article appeared (And before) has been around the issue of Bedouin violence. Alon has not yet come up with even one incident involving El-Araqib in which JNF personnel were attached or their cars torched. This is not to say that there have been no incidents involving Bedouin violence. RHR condemns such violence. However, I have personally seen only police violence directed at Bedouin. There has certainly been no violence in El-Araqib or elsewhere that would justify the collective punishment of destruction/transfer/dispossession. In fact, these things, as well as uprooting Bedouins from their culture, societal structure and sources of income, explain the high levels of crime and despair in the townships. Our sages taught that “The sword comes into the world because of justice delayed and justice denied.” (Pirke Avot) The rabbis expected human beings to overcome the urge to act violently. However, they were also realists.


Children going hungry in Syria war zones

November 02, 2013
GENEVA: The United Nations’ food aid agency said on Friday that it feared a rise in malnutrition among children trapped in besieged communities in Syria where fighting has halted supply convoys.

“The World Food Programme (WFP) is concerned about the fate of many Syrians trapped in conflict areas and still in need of urgent food assistance,” spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva.

“We are monitoring worrying reports emerging of malnutrition among children in besieged areas,” she said.

The agency delivered rations to a record 3.3 million people in Syria in October, up from 2.7 million the previous month, but Byrs voiced deep concern about civilians in besieged areas that remain inaccessible.

“It is a record for WFP operations since starting in 2011. But it is still short of our target of 4 million,” Byrs said. The WFP works hand in hand with Syria’s Red Crescent to distribute aid supplies to people in need, but their teams have been unable to reach 38 different locations since mid-2012, notably around the capital Damascus, Byrs said.

Among them is the town of Moadamiyet Al Sham, which has been under siege for months by the Syrian army.

“We’ve tried unsuccessfully nine times to reach Moadamiyet since last year,” Byrs said.

Although some 3,000 people were evacuated last week, the same number or more are still thought to be trapped there, according to the UN.

“We are very concerned about the situation of those who remain,” said Byrs.

Fighting and insecurity had hampered its access in parts of Aleppo and Hassakeh provinces during October, she said.

“Elsewhere in the country and especially in the governorates of Damascus and Rural Damascus, more areas are becoming inaccessible due to the intensification of the conflict,” Brys said.

“WFP is concerned about the fate of many Syrians trapped in conflict areas and still in need of urgent food assistance. We are monitoring worrying reports emerging of malnutrition among children in besieged areas,” Byrs said.

There have been increasing reports that barring food aid has been deployed as a tactic by the Syrian regime to starve out areas held by rebel forces.

Byrs declined to comment on that claim, referring to general “insecurity.” But she cited government red tape, as well as the hurdles posed by multiple checkpoints set up by different units on both sides in Syria’s war.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Children going hungry in Syria war zones

On the Warning Track broadcast

On the Warning Track broadcast Nov 1 2013

by crescentandcross


Download Here


Posted in InterviewComments Off on On the Warning Track broadcast

Beleaguered Palestinian village of Wadi Fuqeen


Sandwiched between the Apartheid Wall and the illegal Jewish squatter colony of Beitar Illit in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian village of Wadi Fuqeen has been at the receiving end of Israel’s sewage war, which is causing terrible damage to crops and poisoning the land, and has been told that it must close its only recreational park.

As if that were not enough, the Israeli occupiers have escalated their harassment of the villagers by issuing demolition orders to farmers – the thieves instructing the rightful owners to destroy their own property.

Here are recent pictures from the village, courtesy of Friends of Wadi Fuqeen:

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Beleaguered Palestinian village of Wadi Fuqeen

International report


October 2013


We have received invitations to attend the PTB May Day seminar, which will be next June, on the topic of Imperialism and War; and the 13th Congress of the PCdoB to be held from 13-16 November next month in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Meanwhile, Comrades Harpal and Ella have submitted their presentations for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ forum, which will taking place at the end of this month in Beijing. Representatives from the Korean, Cuban and Venezuelan embassies
have accepted invitations to our October Revolution rally on 9 November. The Chinese ambassador has sent his apologies and best wishes, although this does not rule out attendance by other embassy personnel.



Angela Merkel has been re-elected chancellor for a third term with her party winning just short of an overall majority. Although Merkel is popular in Germany as a champion of maximum austerity for the countries of southern Europe, the fact is that the various rescue funds for southern Europe have pledged in loans and guarantees the equivalent of an entire year’s federal budget. (‘Merkel
is Europe’s misunderstood visionary’ by Gideon Rachman, Financial Times, 23 September 2013)
Despite Merkel’s large majority, her party will still be outnumbered in parliament by ‘left-of-centre’ parties, which, however, would have to be able to cooperate with each other in order to defeat any measure the government was proposing. It is not thought that the social-democratic
SPD will be able to bring itself to cooperate with Die Linke, which, although a small party, is nevertheless very much on the rise.


On 18 September, a massive demonstration took place in Athens to protest at the murder of hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas (known as Killah P) by a supporter of the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn. Although the party denied responsibility for the killing, it has been involved in violence against immigrants and political rivals. Only the week before the murder of Fyssas, Golden Dawn members attacked a group of KKE supporters with  crowbars. The youngsters had been putting up posters advertising an annual youth festival. In the face of public outrage, the Greek government arrested five Golden Dawn MPs, as well as at least 15 others. They are likely to be charged with murder, attempted murder and blackmail. Nikos Michaloliakos, Golden Dawn’s leader, has been charged with forming a criminal organisation.


“I will always be with you”, said Berlusconi to Italian prime minister Enrico Letta at the beginning of
September. A couple of weeks later, Berlusconi sought to pull his party’s ministers out of the coalition government in the hope of forcing a new election – only months since Italy’s last election.
A new election might have enabled Berlusconi to resuscitate his political career following his conviction on fraud charges (for which he has accepted a sentence of community service). However, it turned out that this was too much for even members of his own party to swallow … and so,
at the end of September, Berlusconi’s party supported Letta in roundly defeating a vote of no confidence. Greece On 18 September, a massive demonstration took place in Athens to protest
at the murder of hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas (known as Killah P) by a supporter of the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn. Although the party denied responsibility for the killing, it has been
involved in violence against immigrants and political rivals. Only the week before the murder of Fyssas, Golden Dawn members attacked a group of KKE supporters with crowbars. The youngsters had been putting up posters advertising an annual youth festival. In the face of public outrage, the
Greek government arrested five Golden Dawn MPs, as well as at least 15 others. They are likely to
be charged with murder, attempted murder and blackmail. Nikos Michaloliakos, Golden Dawn’s leader, has been charged with forming a criminal organisation.



The new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has expressed a willingness to negotiate with the West on the issue of his country’s nuclear programme. Western imperialism is sufficiently
interested to want to explore what it hopes will be the possibility bydiplomatic means to set up sufficient controls over Iran’s nuclear industry to ensure it is never in a position to develop nuclear weaponry. It has been Iran’s consistent position that it would be against Islam for Iran to do so, but this has never previously led the imperialist powers to even consider lifting its evermore-crippling sanctions. The hue and cry over Iran’s alleged nuclear weaponry ambitions serves at one and the same time as a ploy to deny any country the right to have these without permission from the US and to use as a standing pretext for any future imperialist military attack on Iran aimed at taking control of Iran’s substantial oil resources. Devotion to Islam does not prevent the Iranian leadership from perfectly understanding this. As a result, is deeply suspicious of Rouhani’s overtures, and its ventriloquist’s dummy, Netanyahu, is screaming that Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing who should not be trusted. However, in view of the gradual alignment of world forces away from the US and Europe – greatly assisted by the economic crisis, which has severely depleted the war chests of
imperialists armies- US imperialism is at least willing to enter into negotiations to try to persuade the Iranian government to ‘see reason’ –ie, to make concessions. Truly freedom-loving people will be keeping their fingers crossed that, whatever else happens, Iran will do nothing to jeopardise its sovereignty and independence, but will, on the contrary, establish the case for demanding that Israel too should be required to decommission its nuclear weapons and the reactors capable
of creating fuel for them.


The threat of immediate direct imperialist intervention in Syria – on the fabricated pretext of the Assad government’s ‘use of chemical weapons’ – has been temporarily averted after the US and Syria both accepted Russia’s proposal that Syria’s chemical weapons should be decommissioned. This does, of course, represent a danger for Syria, as these weapons are a major deterrent of any military invasion from Israel. However, the elements within the imperialist bourgeoisie opposing the overthrow of Assad may be gaining the upper hand. On 25 September, the New York Times ran an article stating that the armed Syrian ‘rebels’ fighting within the country were overwhelmingly controlled by ‘Al Qaeda’ – ie, by islamic groups whose agenda is to impose ‘shariah’ – and that it was unlikely that pro-western stooges in exile – ie, the ‘moderate’ Syrian political opposition led by Ahmad al-Jarba and favoured by US imperialism – would be able to influence them in any way if the common goal of overthrowing the Assad government was actually achieved.


Much to the annoyance of US Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as of US imperialism and Israel, the European Union has issued guidelines restricting EU funding for institutions operating in jewish settlements on Palestinian land. Huge pressure is being put on the EU to water down these provisions. The EU is asked to believe that Netanyahu must be ‘rewarded’ for engaging in peace talks with Palestine, however unconstructively. The DFLP has sent us a communication condemning these negotiations as “useless”. Did anyone imagine they could be otherwise at this stage?



Brazil’s president, Dilma Rouseff, has postponed what would have been her country’s first state visit to the US in protest at the US cyber espionage against Brazil that was revealed by Edward Snowden.


There were widespread strikes and protests by peasants in Colombia during August and September, supported by truck drivers, students, miners, health workers and teachers, because the present economic policy of maintaining a strong currency is bankrupting national producers, especially farmers.

United States

As Democrats and Republicans wrestle with each other over Obamacare, a plan to ensure universal
health cover for US citizens, which Obama is determined not to abandon and Republicans want to force to close, it has proved impossible to pass a budget for the country, with the result that as from 1 October all government functions deemed ‘nonessential’ have ceased and 800,000 US government workers have been sent home without pay, while more than a million have been asked to work without pay!

There is still no resolution to this problem, while the annual debacle over lifting the debt ceiling is due to kick in this month, with the government unable to pay its bills until a suitable resolution is passed – in both houses. Because the two houses are controlled by different parties, the only way of securing the necessary resolution is by agreement by the two parties, which the Republicans are frustrating in order to force their agenda on the president.



The trial has begun of Kenyan deputy president William Ruto at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. He is accused of complicity in crimes against humanity during the period of widespread violence that followed disputed elections five years ago. President Uhuru Kenyatta, a former rival of Ruto’s, has also been indicted on these charges, and his trial is due to start next month. In the meantime, however, the al-Shabaab assault on the Israeli owned Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi has somewhat changed the political situation for the imperialists. The attack was retaliation for Kenya’s continuing involvement as a lackey of US imperialism in suppressing the Islamic Courts – an independent-minded islamic government in Somalia, which had in turn wrested power from what even the New York Times described as a government of CIA-backed warlords.
(See ‘Kenya mall carnage shows Shabaab resilence’ by Nicholas Kulish, Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, 22 September 2013) The Islamic Courts were far more acceptable to the Somali masses than the US puppets that they overthrew. If dozens of innocents were killed at Westgate, it is also true that tens of thousands of innocents have died unnecessarily in Somalia as a result of outside interference – to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands injured and/or forced to flee their homes and livelihoods. The Kenyan government naturally sent in the army to end the Shabaab occupation of the Westgate centre, and managed to dislodge the militants after several days. James Blitz said that those fighting imperialism in the Middle East and North Africa do not have the strength to fight western imperialism on its own territory so they target Europeans in theirs, and he finds their ability to carry out major actions to be truly alarming. (‘Nairobi mall strike signals terrorist rise across Africa’, Financial Times, 23 September 2013) US president Obama hastened to express his support for the Kenyan government in the face of the al-Shabaab attack, and journalist Michela Wrong went so far as to say that the prosecution by the International Criminal Court of Kenya’s leaders is an embarrassment: “By driving home the fact that Kenya for all its faults is a relatively stable friend in a dangerous neighbourhood, the attack has reminded the West why it needs Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, whatever their misdeeds.” (‘The Kenyan attack jeopardises international justice’, Financial Times, 24 September 2013).



Bo Xi Lai has been sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of embezzlement and abuse of power. He will be appealing, but it seems unlikely that this appeal will succeed.



The men who raped and fatally injured a young woman on a Delhi bus in December have been convicted and sentenced to be hanged, a sentence that meets the demands of the vast majority of the people of India. The fifth participant in the rape, being underage, has been convicted of the maximum sentence possible for a person of his age, which is three years in prison. The sentences against the adults have re-awakened the debate in India on whether capital punishment should be retained, since life in an Indian prison is undoubtedly at least a strong a deterrent as hanging.

Posted in Politics, WorldComments Off on International report

The Victory Hour Broadcast

The Victory Hour Broadcast Nov 3, 2013

by crescentandcross


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Posted in InterviewComments Off on The Victory Hour Broadcast

PLF Congrats Palestinian Prisoners

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on PLF Congrats Palestinian Prisoners

Palestine Foundation says credit goes to Islamic resistance for release of prisoners from Zionist jails


Palestine Foundation of Pakistan has congratulated the Muslims across the world and in particular the families for the release of the Palestinian prisoners from the jails of illegitimate state of Israel.

“The release of a number of Palestinian prisoners, imprisoned for long periods of time, forms a space of joy and hope to the people of our nation as well as to the Palestinian people, who suffer on a daily basis of imprisonment and continuous attacks of the occupation,” said a joint statement of the PLF Pakistan.

The PLF leaders namely Muzaffar Hashmi, Qazi Ahmed Noorani, Sabir Karbalai, Allama Sadiq Raza Taqvi, Mehfooz Yar Khan Advocate said in the joint statement that credit for the release goes solely to Islamic resistance such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

They said that Islamic resistance had got released many prisoners from the Zionist captivity by forcing them to do so in the past.

They said that one the one hand, Islamic resistance and their supporters fight the occupation but on the other hand some Arab rulers played proxy wars to benefit Israel that should stop at once.

The PLF officials also expressed concern over the inaction of United Nations to help Palestinians get their legitimate and inalienable rights. They said that had the United Nations played its active and leading role, the issue would have been sorted out.

They vowed that Pakistanis would continue to support Palestinians and their legitimate resistance till the liberation of whole of Palestine and establishment of free, independent and sovereign state of Palestine.


Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Palestine Foundation says credit goes to Islamic resistance for release of prisoners from Zionist jails

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