Archive | May 26th, 2014

Far right, Euroskeptics sweep EU vote


Many parties promote anti-immigrant, anti-EU and often anti-Semitic policies; European Commission head calls on pro-EU groups to come together

Nigel Farage leader of Britain's UK Independence Party (UKIP) laughs as he arrives to hear results of the south east region European Parliamentary Election vote at the Guildhall in Southampton, England, Sunday, May 25, 2014. From Portugal to Finland, voters of 21 nations cast ballots Sunday to decide the makeup of the next European Parliament and help determine the European Union’s future leaders and course. (Photo credit: AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Nigel Farage leader of Britain’s UK Independence Party (UKIP) laughs as he arrives to hear results of the south east region European Parliamentary Election vote at the Guildhall in Southampton, England, Sunday, May 25, 2014. From Portugal to Finland, voters of 21 nations cast ballots Sunday to decide the makeup of the next European Parliament and help determine the European Union’s future leaders and course. (Photo credit: AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth).

BRUSSELS — Far-right and Euroskeptic parties made sweeping gains in European Parliament elections Sunday — triggering what one prime minister called a political “earthquake” by those who want to slash the powers of the European Union or abolish it altogether.

Voters in 21 of the EU’s 28 nations went to the polls Sunday, choosing lawmakers for the bloc’s 751-seat legislature. The other seven countries in the bloc had already voted in a sprawling exercise of democracy that began Thursday in Britain and the Netherlands.

European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso called Monday on pro-EU groups to come together, after partial results were announced.

“Standing together as Europeans is indispensable for Europe to shape a global order where we can defend our values and interests,” Barroso said, adding that decisive action to provide growth and jobs would be the best answer to current concerns.

One of the most significant winners of the elections was France’s far-right National Front party, which was the outright winner in France with 26 percent support— or 4.1 million votes.

“The sovereign people have spoken … acclaiming they want to take back the reins of their destiny,” party leader Marine Le Pen said in a statement. She called the results “the first step in a long march to liberty.”

The National Front like other far-right parties across Europe promote anti-immigrant and often anti-Semitic policies.

Le Pen, 45, has been credited with significantly broadening the appeal of a party founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen and long tainted by association with his multiple convictions for inciting racism and denying the holocaust.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, in an impassioned televised speech, called the National Front win “more than a news alert … it is a shock, an earthquake.”

French President Francois Hollande’s office announced he would hold urgent talks first thing Monday with top government ministers in what French media called a crisis meeting.

All of Europe will have to deal with the fallout, analysts and politicians said.

Pro-European parties “have to take very seriously what is behind the vote,” said Martin Schulz of the Socialist group in parliament.

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberal caucus in the European Parliament, conceded as much but said even after the vote, two-thirds of the European lawmakers would be “people who are in favor of the European Union.”

Despite the Euroskeptic gains, established pro-EU parties were forecast to remain the biggest groups in the parliament. The conservative caucus, known as EPP, was forecast to win 211 seats, down from 274, but enough to remain the parliament’s biggest group.

The National Front was not the only party benefiting from widespread disillusionment with the EU. Nigel Farage, leader of the fiercely Euroskeptical UKIP party, believed he was on track for a historic victory.

“It does look to me (like) UKIP is going to win this election and yes, that will be an earthquake, because never before in the history of British politics has a party that is seen to be an insurgent party ever topped the polls in a national election,” he said.

“I don’t just want Britain to leave the European Union,” he added. “I want Europe to leave the European Union.”

The first official results announced late Sunday had UKIP at about 30 percent, some 12 percent higher than the last European elections in 2009.

In Denmark, with 95 percent of votes counted, the main government party, the Social Democrats, retained their five seats to remain the biggest party.

But the big winner in the elections was the populist, opposition Danish People’s Party, which won three more seats for a total of four. A year-old party in Germany that wants that country to stop using the euro single currency reportedly won 6.7 percent of the vote.

In Greece, with a quarter of the votes counted, the leftist Euroskeptic Syriza party led with 26.49 percent. The extreme right Golden Dawn party was third with 9.33 percent.

Doru Frantescu, policy director of VoteWatch Europe, an independent Brussels-based organization, said Europe’s mainstream political parties won enough seats to still muster a majority on issues where they concur.

“The problem comes when the left, the Socialists and EPP will not agree on issues,” Frantescu said.

In the incoming European Parliament, he said, fringe parties will be able to exert more pressure on key topics, ranging from how liberal to make the internal European market for services or the proper mix of energy sources to which clauses should be scrapped in a proposed trade and investment agreement with the US.

In the Netherlands, however, the right-wing Euroskeptic Party for Freedom surprisingly dropped a seat from five to four. Its outspoken leader, Geert Wilders, said in a statement his party looked forward to working with Le Pen in Europe, calling the National Front leader “the next French president.”

In Italy, early projections indicated that the main government party, the Democrats led by Premier Matteo Renzi, had beaten off a challenge by the anti-euro 5-Star Movement of comic Beppe Grillo. The center-left Democrats were forecast to win 40 percent, while Grillo’s anti-establishment movement would garner 22.5 percent.

Despite the gains, unity may be hard to find in the fractured Euroskeptic camp.

Le Pen has said she will work with Wilders’ party but Britain’s Farage has ruled out cooperating with both those parties, which have stridently anti-immigrant platforms.

“We won’t work with right-wing populists,” Alternative for Germany’s leader Bernd Lucke also said after the vote, insisting his party was generally in favor of the EU despite its rejection of the common currency.

Grillo in the past has said his movement wouldn’t ally itself with Le Pen’s party, claiming the 5-Stars have a different “DNA.”

Conservative caucus leader Joseph Daul put a brave face on the results Sunday.

“One thing remains certain: EPP is the responsible political force in Europe, which keeps Europe open,” he said.

The European Parliament estimated turnout was narrowly up from the last election in 2009, at 43.1 percent, reversing years of declining turnouts.

Voters also put new parties in the European Parliament, with preliminary results showing that Sweden elected the first lawmaker from a feminist party and the Dutch returned one representative for the Party for the Animals.

“You know that we have created history don’t you? We inspire the world. This is the force of love!” the Feminist Initiative’s main candidate, Soraya Post, proclaimed in front of cheering supporters in Stockholm.

Posted in Campaigns, UKComments Off on Far right, Euroskeptics sweep EU vote

Palestinians threaten soccer sanctions on I$raHell

A match between the Palestinian and Jordanian national soccer teams in 2008 (photo credit: Michal Fattal/Flash90)
A match between the Palestinian and Jordanian national soccer teams in 2008 (photo credit: Michal Fattal/Flash90)
Palestinian Football Association demands that Netanyahu recognize its international status

The Palestinians will demand that Israel be suspended from soccer’s international association unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recognizes the status of the Palestinian Football Association, PFA Chairman Jibril Rajoub threatened on Monday.

“If Netanyahu does not stand up and declare that he agrees to the status that FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football ASsociation) has granted us, we will demand their removal on the tenth of June in Brazil,” Rajoub told The Times of Israel.

Palestinian soccer officials have long complained that Israeli restrictions on movement inside the West Bank and between the Palestinian territory and Israel, which Jerusalem maintains are necessary for security, have made it difficult for them to compete on an international level. In 2010, Israel’s denial of travel documents to several players and officials caused the Palestinian team to forfeit its place in World Cup qualifying matches, and in 2013 teams from Iraq, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates had trouble entering the West Bank for a youth tournament.

FIFA officials have said they want to see the long-simmering issue resolved, and in February the Palestinian Football Association said that it would seek to expel Israel from FIFA during the FIFA congress this summer in Sao Paolo unless conditions improved.

Jibril Rajoub (Photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

The Palestinians would only hold back their appeal to FIFA if Netanyahu recognizes the PFA’s status as a member of FIFA as well as its right to be a member of the Israel Football Association, according to Rajoub.

Rajoub also said that IFA chairman Avi Luzon had told him in private that Luzon did not have the power to fix the situation, and added that he felt the PFA’s chances with FIFA were “very good”

However, Israel Football Association CEO Rotem Kemer said in April during a European soccer congress in Kazakhstan that he doubted Israel would be sanctioned over of the problem, which he said the IFA was making efforts to solve.

Kemer further maintained that the Palestinians must not threaten to seek Israel’s expulsion because “it has never been the policy of FIFA and UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) to mix politics and sport.”


Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Palestinians threaten soccer sanctions on I$raHell

Iranian women face backlash over scarf-free Facebook pics


Opposing group pops up on the social network, along with protests against females who pose without hijabs

A Facebook post on the Real Freedom of Iranian Women group with photos of three prominent Iranian journalists with the word rape scrawled across. (screen capture: Facebook)

A Facebook post on the Real Freedom of Iranian Women group with photos of three prominent Iranian journalists with the word rape scrawled across. (screen capture: Facebook)Iranian women who since early May have been posting pictures of themselves on Facebook with their hair uncovered have been facing a growing and sometimes threatening backlash both on the internet and on the street over the past few weeks.

When it was launched on May 3, the My Stealthy Freedom Facebook group quickly became a popular forum for Iranian women to express their dissatisfaction with laws requiring that they cover their hair by posting pictures of themselves without the traditional hijab covering. As of Monday it has garnered almost 370,000 likes.

However, with the popularity has also come backlash from those in favor of the hijab. On the Facebook group Real Freedom of Iranian Women, founded shortly after My Stealthy Freedom appeared, many messages were posted in favor of the head-covering law, asserting that the hijab offers freedom and protects women’s modesty.

Some posts were not as innocent. In one, somebody scrawled the word “rape” over the photos of three Iranian journalists who appear in their broadcasts with their hair uncovered, according to the British newspaper Telegraph. Along with the picture was a message warning that women who don’t wear a hijab are more likely to be sexually assaulted.

In addition, Tehran hardliners held two rallies demanding that the government crack down on enforcement of the laws.

In another Facebook group, called Men’s Stealthy Freedoms, Iranian men have taken a comedic approach in responding to their female counterparts by posting pictures of themselves wearing hijabs.

Men's Stealthy Freedoms Facebook page (screen capture: Facebook)

Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, the administrator of My Stealthy Freedom and a journalist in the UK, started the movement when she posted a picture of herself driving without a headscarf on May 2, news website Vocativ reported. Alinejad is an outspoken critic of the Iranian regime, but according to the page’s description, the initiative is not connected to any political group.

Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women Facebook page  (screen capture: Facebook)

Women use the group as a forum to post pictures of themselves in locations across Iran, at beaches, campsites, and mountainsides, with many letting their scarves fly in the winds or draping them across their shoulders. Many also post messages along with their photos.

“Feels like they had already built a box before we were even born, to imprison us within since we were born; and limit us within their own wishes and rules, their own Shoulds and Should Nots! A box full of fear of their presence, and a box which is now empty of us all! Today, thousands of women are coming out of these boxes and try to breathe, even if it is just for a moment! With the hope of their freedom,” wrote one woman, who included a picture of herself walking across a bridge over a river in Javaher-Deh, northern Iran.

Women in Iran can face up to 70 lashes for being seen in public in insufficiently modest clothing. They can also be sent to prison for two months.

Though the punishments are less enforced now than in the decades after the Islamic Revolution, modesty police often crack down before the summer months. Cafes and barbershops deemed immoral are also shut down.

Recently, the topic has come to the forefront as hardliners have sought a public flogging for Iranian actress Leila Hatami, who was pictured at the Cannes Film Festival kissing a male director on the cheek.

In another incident, a group of Iranian women were arrested and forced to apologize to the state after they appeared in a YouTube video singing and dancing with their hair uncovered to the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.


Posted in IranComments Off on Iranian women face backlash over scarf-free Facebook pics

Jenin refugee camp residents show support for Hamas


At memorial rally for slain operative, militants vow to continue armed struggle against I$raHell

Palestinians carry the body of Hamas terror suspect Hamza Abu el-Hija, who was killed in a raid by Israeli troops, during his funeral procession, in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin, Saturday, March 22, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

Palestinians carry the body of Hamas terror suspect Hamza Abu el-Hija, who was killed in a raid by I$rahell troops, during his funeral procession, in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin, Saturday, March 22, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas.

West Bank support for Hamas, particularly among Palestinian youth, was on full display at a recent memorial service in the Jenin refugee camp for Hamas and Islamic Jihad members killed in a raid by Israeli forces two months ago.

“We live between two wars — with Israel and with the [Palestinian Authority],” one youth from the camp told an Israeli Channel 2 reporter. “It’s better to have a problem with Israel than a problem with the Authority. Israel is an enemy that we know well.”

Jenin has long been a bastion of support for Hamas in the West Bank, and residents turned out en masse for a memorial to honor Hamza Abu al-Hija, a wanted Hamas operative who was killed in a shootout during a raid by Israeli forces in March. Also killed in the raid were Islamic Jihad operative Mahmud Abu Zeina, 25, and Yazen Jabarin, 22, a member of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

The IDF said that Abu al-Hija, the son of a Hamas leader currently incarcerated for involvement in at least six deadly bombings in Israel, was killed after he opened fire on forces that had surrounded the house he was in, and that he was “wanted for numerous shooting and bombing attacks as well as planning future acts of terrorism.” A Gaza-based media outlet associated with Hamas tweeted shortly after Abu al-Hija’s death that sources said the dead man was “preparing a major operation” against Israel.

Al-Hija had reportedly been detained by Palestinian security forces over 20 times prior to the raid, and Hamas responded to his death by accusing the Palestinian Authority of collaborating with Israel in the operation.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad members were greeted with cheers, the Channel 2 report showed, as they took the stage, armed with rifles, to address the crowd.

“We are fighting because there is no peace,” a militant, who shot his rifle in the air, said. “With the Jewish Israelis, there will only be peace through the rifle. Only like this do we talk with Israelis and only like this will we liberate our land, with the help of Allah.”

Senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad members encouraged Jenin residents to unite behind them against Israel.

“The one who killed our activists is the occupation,” one man yelled, as armed men around him fired their weapons into the air. “We will avenge this occupation through our unity.”

Their message seemed to resonate with the youth of the camp.

“I want to die in a war with the [Israeli] army because they killed my uncle and we want to free Palestine,” said an eight-year-old boy wearing an improvised weapon.

However, the older generation may not be as eager to push forward with the fight. Jenin resident Abu Qassam, who was a wanted member of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade military wing for years before he was pardoned, said that he has given up terrorist activity to focus on supporting his children.

“Ultimately, I’m 40 years old, I have children that I want to raise and support,” he told Channel 2.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Jenin refugee camp residents show support for Hamas

Putin feels vindicated by Russian approach to Mideast


Though Ukraine may seem far from the Middle East — and even peripheral to it — the two are in fact inextricably linked in the minds of many senior Russian officials. This has important implications that others with interests in the region cannot ignore.

For Moscow, the connection is a clear and dangerous one. As Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu put it during a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Tajikistan earlier this year, “a scenario similar to the Arab Spring was used” to oust former President Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine.

Nikolai Bordyuzha, a former senior official in the KGB and later Russia’s border security agency who serves as secretary-general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (a security association including Russia and five other post-Soviet states), was more explicit several days later, tying together “mechanisms of foreign interference” and “models of provocation” in Russia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria, according to a report in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the official newspaper of the Russian government. According to his press secretary, Bordyuzha’s remarks — at a roundtable discussion in Minsk, Belarus, on the topic of “Government and Social Cooperation to Work Against Foreign Interference and ‘Color Revolutions’” — went on to “underline that no one any longer doubts the planned and directed character of almost all of the world’s recent events connected to the violent overthrow of governments.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin himself articulated a similar view in a high-profile opinion article for The New York Times arguing against US military action in Syria. Referring to the revolutions in both Eurasia and the Middle East, Putin wrote: “Clearly, the people in those nations, where these events took place, were sick of tyranny and poverty, of their lack of prospects; but these feelings were taken advantage of cynically.” Who took advantage? The same people who “hit Afghanistan, Iraq, and frankly violated the UN Security Council resolution on Libya, when instead of imposing the so-called no-fly zone over it they started bombing it, too.”

Russian officials’ anger over Western democracy promotion is twofold and relates to their view of Russia’s security interests and its international role. As Moscow sees it, Russia’s pre-eminent national security interest in the Middle East is combating terrorism and preventing its spread to Russia and its neighboring territories. The Russian government has other goals, of course, including working within the P5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany) to establish reliable guarantees that Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon. But after two wars in Chechnya, and facing regular domestic terrorist attacks, Russia’s leaders see Islamic extremist terrorism as a significantly greater threat.

From the Kremlin’s perspective, the best defense against terrorism is a strong and stable government. Only strong governments can prevent, suppress or combat terrorism and, as a result, it is dangerous for outside players to undermine stable existing regimes and create chaos. As Putin said in December 2012, “Risks will prevail when each player plays their own game, if they are not relieved of the illusion that it is possible to manage chaos (you know there is such a theory). And if people stop sowing such chaos, risks will not prevail.”

According to top Russian officials, US and European efforts to introduce democracy in fact generate dangerous chaos and instability. “We have seen how attempts to push supposedly more progressive development models onto other nations actually resulted in regression, barbarity and extensive bloodshed,” Putin said in an address to the Russian parliament. “This happened in many Middle Eastern and North African countries. This dramatic situation unfolded in Syria.” Putin is not alone in his views; in an interview with Al-Monitor’s Editor Andrew Parasiliti, former UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said that “the Russian analysis was right at the beginning” of the Syria conflict in arguing that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had considerably more support than many in the West believed, and that failing to recognize this early on may have fueled the conflict.

Putin further argues that Russia’s approach is better for the people living in these nations because it protects them. “Of course, this is a conservative position. But speaking in the words of Nikolai Berdyaev, the point of conservatism is not that it prevents movement forward and upward, but that it prevents movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.” Taking into account that Berdyaev was an early 20th century Russian Marxist who became disenchanted with the Soviet system and eventually evolved into a Christian conservative, Putin’s endorsement means implicitly rejecting both of Russia’s 20th century revolutions — 1917 and 1991.

It is from this perspective that the Kremlin does not want Assad to lose in Syria, prefers Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Mohammed Morsi, opposes potentially destabilizing sanctions or military action targeting Iran, and — in extremis, notwithstanding other complaints — would most likely prefer the House of Saud to almost any alternative in Riyadh. It is not so much that Russian leaders want to promote authoritarianism or to cooperate more closely with authoritarian governments; they do not oppose gradual evolutionary change. But when confronted with immediate and stark policy choices, they appear to see stable authoritarian regimes as more secure than unstable transitional/democratic systems. (Interestingly, Putin expressed explicit support for democracy in Afghanistan in one of his first presidential decrees after retaking the presidency, possibly recognizing the difficulty of establishing a sufficiently strong central government there. Of course, Russia has also supported democracy in Syria, so long as it is through a Syrian-led evolutionary process that does not exclude Assad and his supporters.)

In addition to this, because Russia’s leaders see massive political transformations as risky experiments rather than inevitable linear progress after “the end of history” — and believe that the historical record has validated their point of view in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and elsewhere — they find it hard to accept noble-sounding US and European statements of intent at face value. Western officials must either be incredibly naive or, more likely, have some ulterior motive — most probably, to enhance their own strategic position at Russia’s expense. Since the Middle East is the only global region outside Russia’s own immediate neighborhood where Moscow plays a major role, this perceived threat to Russia’s position in the Middle East almost inherently threatens its overall international standing as a great power. When connected to democracy-promotion efforts on Russia’s borders and even inside Russia itself, it looks like an existential threat in the eyes of many senior officials and a large segment of Russia’s nongovernmental foreign policy establishment. This underlies Moscow’s assertive and even aggressive conduct in Ukraine.

Moving forward, one essential question is whether Washington and Moscow will ever be able to agree on a pace for political reform that satisfies each and facilitates cooperation to support and assist governments facing public demands for change in managing these challenging transitions. The most significant obstacle to this kind of convergence in policy is probably the poor and worsening US-Russia bilateral relationship rather than the specific circumstances in any particular country struggling with this problem; US and Russian officials, parliamentarians, journalists, experts and others are on balance simply too suspicious of one another’s ultimate aims in Eurasia, the Middle East and elsewhere to permit serious negotiation. After the US-Russian confrontation over Ukraine, this will probably last for many years to come and will stoke further geopolitical competition. While this is unfortunate for Americans and Russians, who both have many other priorities at home and internationally, it is far more dangerous for those living in the places where the two nations compete — like Ukraine and Syria.

Posted in Middle East, RussiaComments Off on Putin feels vindicated by Russian approach to Mideast

Why boycotting I$raHell is important and necessary

Boycott Zionist Boycott Israel

“DePaul students don’t want their tuition dollars invested in weapons manufacturers who supply the Israeli government, army and prison services”

By Stuart Littlewood

Nothing, it seems, is too ridiculous for Nick Clegg, UK Deputy Prime Minister, to contemplate. See him in this painful video, “Nick Clegg welcomes the Jewish Manifesto”, aimed at European Union election candidates and voters.

Fortunately, Clegg received a bloody nose in the EU elections of 25 May. His infatuation with the EU and all its rotten works caused his party (the Liberal Democrats) to be almost wiped out at the polls. His days as leader are probably numbered.

If you’re wondering what the Jewish community’s EU manifesto says, you can read it here. This propaganda effort is a prime example of the hasbara scribbler’s art. It tries to shrug off Israel’s sickening human rights abuses and unending dispossession and oppression of its Palestinian neighbours and urges Members of the European Parliament to side with the apartheid regime, saying:

We urge MEPs and prospective MEPs to resist calls for boycotts of Israel. By their very nature, such measures attribute blame to only one side of the conflict, and through this stigmatization they perpetuate a one-sided narrative. This in turn prompts intransigence from both sides.

The Palestinians have been robbed of everything, including their freedom. Why should they be asked to make more “concessions” to the thief?

It also whinges about the European Commission’s guidelines that exclude Israeli settlements from EU funding programmes, accusing the EU of trying to dictate Israel’s borders. As most people know by now, Israel refuses to declare its borders because it hasn’t finished expanding them. The EU’s action, it says, is hurting the peace process “by perpetuating intransigence on the Palestinian side and could cause the Palestinian leadership to become less likely to make concessions”. The Palestinians have been robbed of everything, including their freedom. Why should they be asked to make more “concessions” to the thief?

The document also prods MEPs to oppose EU funding to non-governmental organisations that support boycott campaigns.

Campus “lies”?

So, after Clegg’s spineless capitulation, it was heartening to read that students at DePaul University in Chicago have voted in favour of a referendum calling for divestment from companies “that profit from Israel’s discriminatory practices and human rights violations” and help “violate people’s rights to life, movement, healthcare, education and freedom”.

They are calling on the university to divest its funds from “corporations that manufacture weapons and provide surveillance technology to the Israeli government, army and prison services”, including Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Caterpillar.

Students say the vote was won despite a massive counter-campaign of intimidation and disinformation by pro-Israel lobbyist group StandWithUs and the Israeli consulate-general in Chicago. “It is clear that DePaul students do not wish to have their tuition dollars invested in weapons manufacturers,” said a student organizer.

Following the DePaul vote, StandWithUs announced on their website:

We have seen divestment create this toxic campus environment wherever it rears its ugly head, as it has on several American campuses. Divestment advocates bring lies about Israel to campus, and display extreme ignorance about the complexities of the Middle East conflict, about Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas, about the anti-Semitic incitement in Palestinian society, and about Israel’s repeated efforts to make peace. This movement singles out Israel and targets and intimidates pro-Israel and Jewish students, and resonates with anti-Semitism.

The words sound like they are scripted by the Lie Machine in Tel Aviv.

The “world’s most moral army” and it’s war on students

DePaul students are to be congratulated for not flinching under Zionist pressure. Other Western students, and indeed students and academics all round the world, who face the same bully-boy tactics when debating the question of boycott and disinvestment against Israel, need only remember what the Israelis do to Palestinian students.

The last thing Israel wants is masses of bright and clever young Palestinians next-door in the shredded remains of the occupied territories. But that’s exactly what Palestinian youngsters are: bright and clever, given half a chance. So they need repressing. They need humiliating constantly. They need to be discouraged. They need to have their education disrupted big-time, so that they become a broken, dispirited, docile mass without ambition, easily controlled and utterly dependent (as they are now) on a few crumbs of comfort from Western taxpayers.

So, the Israeli authorities make spiteful war on students especially, as well as women and children generally. To get to Bethlehem University, or any other, many students have to run the gauntlet of Israeli checkpoints. “Sometimes they take our ID cards and they spend ages writing down all the details, just to make us late,” said one. Students are often made to remove shoes, belt and bags. “It’s like an airport. Many times we are kept waiting outside for up to an hour, rain or shine, they don’t care.” The soldiers attempt to forcibly remove students’ clothes or they swear and shout sexual slurs at female students.

Some tell how they are sexually harassed and spend the rest of the day worrying what the Israelis will do to them on their way home.

This daily abuse undermines student motivation and concentration. Many other obstacles are put in their way by the occupation. Here are just three cases, about which I have written before, that illustrate why it is so vitally important for the Palestinians to achieve independence and security.


Merna was an honours student in her final year, majoring in English. Israeli soldiers frequently rampaged through her Bethlehem refugee camp in the middle of the night, ransacking homes and arbitrarily arresting residents. They took away her family one by one. First her 14-year-old cousin and best friend was shot dead by an Israeli sniper while she sat outside her family home during a curfew.

Next the Israelis arrested her eldest brother, a 22-year-old artist, and imprisoned him for four years. Then they came back for Merna’s 18-year-old brother. Not content with that, the military came again, this time to take her youngest brother – the “baby” of the family – just 16. These were the circumstances under which Merna had to study.

Israeli military law treats Palestinians as adults as soon as they reach 16, a flagrant violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Israeli youngsters on the other hand are not regarded as adults until 18. Palestinians are dealt with by Israeli military courts, even when it’s a civil matter. These courts ignore international laws and conventions, so there’s no legal protection for individuals under Israeli military occupation.

As detention is based on secret information, which neither the detainee nor his lawyer is allowed to see, it is impossible to mount a proper defence. Besides, the security service always finds a bogus excuse to keep detainees locked up “in the greater interest of the security of Israel”. Although detainees have the right to review and appeal, they are unable to challenge the evidence and check facts as all information presented to the court is classified.

Under huge mental stress, Merna nevertheless determined to carry on with her studies. The “most moral army in the world”, as the Israelis call their uniformed thugs, may have robbed her brothers of an education, but she would still fight for hers. Sleepless and tearful, Merna went to university next day as usual.

A fellow student recalled than when chatting to Merna online in the evenings, she often had to leave the computer because the military had barged into her home. But even if she’d been up all night while Israeli soldiers trashed her house and questioned her family, she always came to school the next day. “Coming to school is a way of getting away from what is happening in the refugee camp,” said Merna. “It’s like an oasis here for me.” But her thoughts were never far from her cousin and brothers. “I only wish they were allowed this opportunity.”

She became a senior member of the Bethlehem University Student Ambassadors Programme and an example to fellow classmates. Young minds like Merna’s continue to persevere against the odds. Though greatly distracted by the cruel fate of her close family, the ordeal forged a steely resolve. The purposeful way she lived her university life, say the Brothers at Bethlehem University, gave her added strength and confidence. Merna managed to turn the tables on adversity. Her loss was actually her gain.


This Christian girl, a fourth-year Business Administration student, was originally from Gaza but lived in the West Bank after receiving a travel permit from the military to cross from Gaza to the West Bank. She was snatched by the Israeli military while returning from a job interview in Ramallah. The 21-year-old, due to graduate in a few weeks’ time, was suddenly deported to Gaza “for trying to complete her studies at Bethlehem University”. She was about to be robbed of her degree at the last minute.

The “most moral army in the world” blindfolded and handcuffed her, loaded her into a military jeep and drove her from Bethlehem to Gaza, despite assurances by the Israeli Military Legal Advisor’s Office that she would not be deported before an attorney from Gisha (an Israeli NGO working to protect Palestinians’ freedom of movement) had the opportunity to petition the Israeli court for her return to classes in Bethlehem.

When they’d crossed the border the world’s most moral army dumped Berlanty in the darkness late at night and told her: “You are in Gaza.”

“I had refrained from visiting my family in Gaza for fear that I would not be permitted to return to my studies in the West Bank,” she told Gisha on her mobile phone before the soldiers confiscated it. “Now, just two months before graduation, I was arrested and taken to Gaza in the middle of the night, with no way to finish my degree.”

The Israeli embassy in London, when asked for an explanation, said that Berlanty held a permit that had expired and she’d been living in the West Bank illegally. “As you probably know, every Gaza resident who stays in the West Bank requires a permit, failing to do so is a breach of the law.” If she wished to complete her studies at Bethlehem she should apply for a permit to the relevant authorities. However, Bethlehem University told me that of the 12 students from Gaza who had applied to attend the university not one had received permission from the Israeli authorities.

Her appeal, handled by Gisha, was turned down. It was a classic example of how Israel’s administrative “laws” are framed to ride rough-shod over citizens’ rights enshrined in international law. For example, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are internationally recognized as one integral territory and under international law everyone has the right to freely choose their place of residence within a single territory. The state of Israel also has an obligation under the Oslo agreements to “respect and preserve without obstacles, normal and smooth movement of people, vehicles and goods within the West Bank, and between the West Bank and Gaza Strip”.

While Israel’s embassy here in London pronounced the ruling on Berlanty’s fate, their ambassador was whining about a warrant issued in London for the arrest of ex-foreign minister Tzipi Livni for alleged war crimes. Livni had overseen the murderous assault on Gaza the previous December/January, which killed 1,400 people, including a large number of women and children, maimed thousands more and left countless families homeless.

If Berlanty, who had committed no crime, could not come and go as she pleased in her own country – the Holy Land – what made Israel’s ambassador think that the blood-soaked Livni, and others like her, should be allowed to come and go as they pleased in the UK? But that’s another shameful story.


A few months before he was due to graduate the Israeli military arrested Samer and threw him in jail – for six long years. Then, at 27, he returned to campus to finish what he started. “I feel like a regular student again,” he said with a wide grin. “I have a university notebook and textbooks. I can ask and answer questions freely. I can communicate openly with students, professors, and staff. It’s a real life, an authentic life.”

When imprisoned he was denied access to a lawyer for 55 days then moved from one Israeli jail to another for more than six years. He was tortured on numerous occasions, he says, and regularly interrogated eight hours a day for four to five days, in just a T-shirt, squatting on the cold ground with his hands tied and an air conditioner blowing on his back. He was held in solitary confinement for more than a year.

Membership of a student group in Palestine is outlawed under Israeli military law, and students who engage in campus politics risk arrest by Israel’s uniformed gangs who barge into Palestinian society and academic life to abduct them. Many Western leaders began their political careers making a name for themselves at the Oxford Union and similar student debating groups or taking part in demonstrations. How would they have reacted to being clapped in irons for it?

A good many of them, to their everlasting shame, are now signed-up Friends of Apartheid Israel. Members of the Israeli cabinet went to university too, presumably. Are we to believe that they never engaged in student politics?

Samer’s experience is similar to that of hundreds of Palestinian students who find themselves political prisoners. Many are left to rot in jail indefinitely, denied due process, a fair trial and legal representation. Some wait up to two years to be charged. Others are charged under Israeli military law, which falls a long way short of the justice standards required under international law.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society reckoned that seven Bethlehem University students were at that time in Israeli prisons for taking part in “student activities”. In Samer’s case, he was abducted for joining Fatah’s resistance movement after the 2000 Intifada (uprising). It is, of course, perfectly legitimate to resist an illegal occupier.

Coming back to university after prison is no easy thing. Samer suffered the cruel effects of six years’ incarceration and was often tired, depressed, stressed and jumpy. But he knew that the university was his anchor, the main hope in his young life.

So there you have it, the evil of Israel’s snatch squads that prey on Palestine’s young people, and the regime’s cruel disregard for their wellbeing and education while in its clutches. The apartheid regime, after 66 years, still hasn’t emerged from the swamp.

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Thousands of Syrian police who joined the rebels are on U.S. payroll


Syrian police armored vehicle in Homs. /AFP/Anwar Amro

Syrian police armored vehicle in Homs. /AFP/Anwar Amro

World Tribune

The United States has been paying thousands of Syrian police officers who deserted the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Officials said the administration of President Barack Obama has approved tens of millions of dollars to pay the salaries of police officers who joined the rebels. They said the officers were working to maintain order in rebel-controlled territory, mostly in northern Syria.

“There are literally thousands of defected police inside of Syria,” Assistant Secretary of State Rick Barton said. “They are credible in their communities because they’ve defected.”

In an address to the Aspen Security Forum on July 19, Barton, responsible for State Department stabilization operations, did not say how many Syrian police deserters were on the U.S. payroll. He said the officers were receiving about $150 per month, a significant salary in Syria.

The address marked a rare disclosure of direct U.S. aid to Sunni rebels in Syria. Congress has approved more than $50 million for the Syrian opposition, much of which has not been spent.

Barton said the police officers remained in their communities despite their defection from the Assad regime. He said the U.S. stipend was meant to ensure that they stay on the job.

“We’d rather have a trained policeman who is trusted by the community than have to bring in a new crowd or bring in an international group that doesn’t know the place,” Barton said.

Barton said the rebel movement was awaiting a range of non-lethal U.S. equipment. He cited night vision systems and medical supplies.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Thousands of Syrian police who joined the rebels are on U.S. payroll

Which I$raHell is greeting Pope Francis?

Pope Francis touches the Apartheid Wall in Bethlehem

By Jamal Kanj

Is it the official diplomatic fanfare and public relations machine parading Israel’s religious “tourism,” or the unofficial welcome decorating Palestinian churches in Jerusalem with slogans like “Jesus is garbage” and “Mary is a cow”?

Would it be the apartheid highways and byways dedicated exclusively to Israelis, or the high separation wall cordoning original Christian and Muslim Palestinians inside the city that cuddled and protected the baby more than 2,000 years ago?

It is highly unlikely Pope Francis, like other Christian tourists, would face the same military barriers that recently blocked the descendants of the first Christians and Western diplomats from performing religious services at the church in Jerusalem.

For the Jews-only state of Israel, the “other” [Christian and Muslim] religious sites are archaeological “tourist” attractions belonging to prehistoric peoples. Just like the pyramids: structures built by the long gone pharaohs.

Robert Serry, along with several European diplomats and hundreds of Palestinian Christians, were almost “crushed” against an Israeli military barricade on their way to attend last month’s Easter services. When Serry identified himself as the United Nations secretary-general’s special envoy to the Middle East and demanded immediate access, an Israeli officer responded: “So what?” adding, “we have orders to that effect”.

It is indisputable that Israel has done a good job opening religious Christian sites for Christian “tourists”. Undoubtedly, it would have done the same for Muslims too, if that made economic sense. For the Jews-only state of Israel, the “other” religious sites are archaeological “tourist” attractions belonging to prehistoric peoples. Just like the pyramids: structures built by the long gone pharaohs.

The Pope’s visit comes 66 years after approximately 800,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes and more than 500 towns and villages were obliterated and wiped off the map. Zionist terrorist groups did not discriminate in 1948 between Christians and Muslims to achieve David Ben-Gurion’s vision of “a state with at least 80 per cent Jews.”

Up until then Christians represented 10 per cent of the population. Today, their number has dwindled to the low one digit. Keeping at the same rate, the original Christians will cease to exist in the land that gave birth to Christianity.

Ironically, Israel continues to court doomsday international Christian tourists, while stifling the resolute few original Christians by expropriating their land, as it did for the town of Beit Jala to build the Jews-only colony of Gilo.

The “Hebrew neo-Nazis” – quoting Israeli writer Amos Oz – are welcoming the Pope with a smashed cross at Tabga church near Lake Tiberias and threatening the life of Catholic bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo if he doesn’t evacuate “land of Israel”.

The “Hebrew neo-Nazis”… are welcoming the Pope with a smashed cross at Tabga church near Lake Tiberias and threatening the life of Catholic bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo if he doesn’t evacuate “land of Israel”.

The anti-Arab Jewish hooligans are able vandalise Christian and Muslim sites with impunity because Israel “doesn’t want” to end it, according to former Shin Bet boss Carmi Gillon. Acts deeply rooted in a twisted religious teaching that “gentiles are outside the protection of the law.”

These hate crimes are not being carried out only by outlawed fanatics. About two years ago elected Israeli Knesset member Michael Ben-Ari tore the Bible in the middle of the Knesset. He insolently dumped it in what he described as the “garbage can of history”.

The Pope’s planned visit to the Cenacle, site of the Last Supper – Israel has restricted Christian prayers since 1948 – has been met with protests. Last week Yitzhak Batzon, who opposed the visit, told the French news agency AFP: “When ‘the crusaders’ come here making the sign of the cross and all kinds of rituals, this place will become idolatrous for us, and we will not have the right to pray there any more.”

This is the real Israel which Pope Francis and Western Christians need to discover. The heirs of yesteryears King Herod are today’s tormentors of the unwavering 2,000-year-old guards of the church. The Pope should challenge Israel to allow Palestinian Christians to go back to their original homes and abandoned churches, and end all restriction on religious freedom.

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In tit-for-tat move Zionist rat in Jordan, Syria expel envoys


After Zionist rat of Jordan ousts Syrian ambassador for ‘repeated insults,’ Damascus kicks out Jordanian charge d’affaires.

Times of Israel

Syria is to expel Jordan’s charge d’affaires, in a tit-for-tat move hours after Amman gave the Syrian ambassador 24 hours to leave the kingdom, state-run television said Monday.

“The Syrian foreign ministry will order the expulsion of the Jordanian charge d’affaires to Damascus, after the Jordanian foreign ministry declared the Syrian ambassador to Amman persona non grata,” said Al-Ikhbariya television.

It quoted a foreign ministry statement as saying that the Jordanian charge d’affaires is considered by Damascus persona non grata.

“In response to the Jordanian government’s baseless decision to declare the Syrian ambassador to Amman persona non grata, the Syrian government has decided to declare the Jordanian charge d’affaires in Damascus persona non grata,” said the ministry.

Earlier, Jordan’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Sabah Rafi said Syrian ambassador Bahjat Suleiman’s expulsion came after “repeated insults to Jordan and its leadership, institutions and citizens, through his meetings, writings and social media websites.”

Rafi said the government in Jordan, which is hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Syrian conflict, had “repeatedly warned Suleiman not to exploit Jordanian hospitality.”

“Suleiman used Jordan as a platform to question its positions and make false accusations and allegations against the kingdom,” she said.

“He also used Jordan to directly insult brotherly and neighboring Arab countries and insult their leaderships.”

Last year, Suleiman attacked Jordan for hosting a meeting of Syria’s opposition backers, the so-called Friends of Syria.

He has also in the past described the around 600,000 refugees ( Zio-Wahhabi rat’s ) in Jordan as terrorists.

In mid-April Jordanian warplanes struck a convoy of vehicles in Syrian territory as they were trying to enter Jordan from Syria. Jordan’s armed forces routinely arrest smugglers trying to cross its desert border with Syria, but the strike appeared to be the first time since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011 that Jordan had openly used military aircraft to hit vehicles along the border.

Jordan’s relations with Syria crumbled after the uprising began in March 2011 to overturn the rule of President Bashar Assad. The desert kingdom is an important conduit for weapons and supplies to reach the rebels, say activists and fighters within Syria.

Jordan has absorbed 600,000 registered Syrian refugees, forming 10 percent of the country’s population. Jordanian officials estimate the real number of refugees is closer to 1.3 million.

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جذور الوصاية الأردنية – دراسة في وثائق الأرشيف الصهيوني


تأليف: د. سليمان بشير
الناشر: قدمس للنشر والتوزيع – لبنان(2001)
يرتكز هذا الكتاب كليا على وثائق الأرشيف الصهيوني المركزي التي أتاحت لي طالبة الدراسات العليا في جامعة أوكسفورد الآنسة م. ولسون، التي تقوم بالتحضير لكتابة أطروحة الدكتوراه عن حياة الملك عبد الله، الإطلاع عليها، لذلك فستبقى هذه الدراسة ناقصة، ولن تكتمل إلا بعد أن يتم كشف أرشفات الأنظمة العربية – فيما إذا وجدت مثل تلك الأرشيفات.
سعر النسخة الالكترونية لدينا : 10.00$
حجم الكتاب الالكتروني : 971KB
صيغة الملف : pdf;

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