Archive | June 16th, 2014

Obama’s Attempt at Intimidating Russia

NOVANEWS
Dispatching B-2 Stealth Bombers to Europe


by MIKE WHITNEY

“This deployment of strategic bombers provides an invaluable opportunity to strengthen and improve interoperability with our allies and partners.”

– Admiral Cecil Haney, commander, US Strategic Command on the deployment of B-2 stealth bombers to Europe.

“Against stupidity, no amount of planning will prevail.”

– Carl von Clausewitz

Less than 24 hours after Ukraine’s new president Petro Poroshenko announced his determination to retake Crimea from Russia, US Admiral Cecil Haney confirmed that the US Air Force had deployed two B-2 stealth bombers to Europe to conduct military exercises. The addition of the multipurpose B-2, which is capable of delivering nuclear weapons, is intended to send a message to Moscow that the United States is prepared to provide backup for Ukraine’s fledgling government and to protect its interests in Central Asia. News of the deployment was reported in the Russian media, but was excluded by all the western news outlets.

The B-2 announcement was preceded by an inflammatory speech by Poroshenko at the presidential “swearing in” ceremony in Kiev. In what some analysts have called a “declaration of war”, Poroshenko promised to wrest control of Crimea from Russia which annexed the region just months earlier following a public referendum that showed 90 percent support for the measure. Here’s part of what Poroshenko said:

“The issue of territorial integrity of Ukraine is not subject to discussion…I have just sworn ‘with all my deeds to protect the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,’ and I will always be faithful to this sacred promise…

“Russia occupied Crimea, which was, is and will be Ukrainian soil…Yesterday, in the course of the meeting in Normandy, I told this to President Putin: Crimea is Ukraine soil. Period. There can be no compromise on the issues of Crimea, European choice and state structure…” (New York Times)

On Thursday, the day before Poroshenko was sworn in, “President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron set a deadline for Russia to comply with its demands or face harsher economic sanctions that would be imposed by members of the G-7. Once again, the threat of new sanctions was largely ignored by the western media but was reported in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“To avoid even harsher sanctions.. Putin must meet three conditions: Recognize Petro Poroshenko’s election as the new leader in Kiev; stop arms from crossing the border; and cease support for pro-Russian separatist groups concentrated in eastern Ukraine.

“If these things don’t happen, then sectoral sanctions will follow…”

Obama said the G-7 leaders unanimously agree with the steps Cameron outlined.” (Haaretz)

The United States is ratcheting up the pressure in order to widen the conflict and force Russian president Vladimir Putin to meet their demands. It’s clear that the threat of sanctions, Poroshenko’s belligerent rhetoric, and the steady buildup of military assets and troops in the region, that Obama and Co. still think they can draw Putin into the conflict and make him look like a dangerous aggressor who can’t be trusted by his EU partners. Fortunately, Putin has not fallen into the trap. He’s resisted the temptation to send in the tanks to put an end to the violence in Donetsk, Lugansk and Slavyansk. This has undermined Washington’s plan to deploy NATO to Russia’s western border, assert control over the “bridgehead” between Europe and Asia, and stop the further economic integration between Russia and the EU. So far, Putin has out-witted his adversaries at every turn, but there are still big challenges ahead, particularly the new threats from Poroshenko.

If Poroshenko is determined to take Crimea back from Moscow, then there’s going to be a war. But there are indications that he is more pragmatic than his speeches would suggest. In a private meeting with Putin at the D-Day ceremonies in France, the Ukrainian president said he had a plan to “immediately stop the bloodshed”

Here’s how Putin summarized his meeting with Poroshenko:

“Poroshenko has a plan in this respect; it is up to him to say what kind of plan it is… I cannot say for sure how these plans will be implemented, but I liked the general attitude, it seemed right to me, so, if it happens this way, there will be conditions to develop our relations, in other areas, including economy.

“It’s important to stop the punitive actions in the southeast without a delay. That’s the only way to create conditions for the start of a real process of negotiations with the supporters of federalization. No one has yet said anything concrete to the people (living in the southeast of Ukraine) and nothing practical has been offered to them. People there simply don’t understand how they’ll live in the future and what the parameters of the new Constitution will look like.” (Poroshenko tells Putin of plan to immediately stop bloodshed in Ukraine, Itar-Tass)

If the report is accurate, then there’s reason to hope that Poroshenko is moving in Russia’s direction on most of the key issues which are; greater autonomy for the people in East Ukraine, Constitutional provisions that will protect them from future abuse by Kiev, and an immediate end to the violence. Putin has sought assurances on these issues from the very beginning of the crisis. Now it looks like he might get his way. Of course, it is impossible to know, since Poroshenko is sending mixed messages.

So why is Poroshenko sounding so conciliatory in his private meetings with Putin, but so belligerent in public?

It could be any number of things, but it probably has a lot to do with Monday’s scheduled tripartite meetings of representatives from the European Union, Ukraine and Russia. These meetings will have incalculable impact of Ukriane’s economic future. They will resolve the issues of price for future gas purchases as well as a plan for settling all previous claims. (Russia says that Ukraine owes $3.5 billion in back payments for natural gas.)

On April 1, Gazprom cancelled Ukraine’s discount and raised the price of gas to 485.5 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters nearly doubling the rate of payment. (It had been $268.5 per 1,000 cubic meters) It is impossible to overstate the impact this will have Ukraine’s economy. Even Ukrainian hardline Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was candid in his dire assessment of the situation. He said, “I could have made a populist statement but it is not true. We cannot refrain from using Russian gas.”

If Poroshenko sounds conciliatory, this is why.

Putin refused to discuss the gas issue with the media, but implied that political developments in Ukraine would factor heavily into any decision by Gazprom.

“Russia will be compelled to enact economic protection measures to defend its market if Ukraine signs the association agreement with the EU. “As soon as that accord is signed, we’ll start taking measures to defend our economy,” Putin said. (Itar-Tass)

In other words, if Ukraine doesn’t play ball, it’s going to have to go-it-alone. Kiev cannot expect “most favored trade partner-status”, gas discounts, or other perks if they’re going to stab Moscow in the back and jump into bed with the EU. That’s just not the way things work. Putin is merely warning Poroshenko to think about what he’s about to do before taking the plunge. ( “Average gas prices for Ukrainian households began rising by more than 50 percent in May, and heating prices are expected to climb by about 40 percent, starting in July.” World Socialist Web Site)

This is a much more important issue that most analysts seem to grasp. Many seem to think that IMF, EU and US loans and other assistance can buoy Ukraine’s sinking economy and restore it to health. But that’s a pipedream. In a “must read” report by the Brookings Institute, authors Clifford G. Gaddy and Barry W. Ickes spell it out in black and white, that is, that “Ukraine is a prize that neither Russia nor the West can afford to win.” Here’s a clip from the text:

“It is clear to most observers that the West would not be able to defend Ukraine economically from a hostile Russia…The simple fact is that Russia today supports the Ukrainian economy to the tune of at least $5 billion, perhaps as much as $10 billion, each year…

When we talk about subsidies, we usually think of Russia’s ability to offer Ukraine cheap gas — which it does when it wants to. But there are many more ways Russia supports Ukraine, only they are hidden. The main support comes in form of Russian orders to Ukrainian heavy manufacturing enterprises. This part of Ukrainian industry depends almost entirely on demand from Russia. They wouldn’t be able to sell to anyone else…

If the West were somehow able to wrest full control of Ukraine from Russia, could the United States, the other NATO nations, and the EU replace Russia’s role in eastern Ukraine? The IMF, of course, would never countenance supporting these dinosaurs the way the Russians have. So the support would have to come in the way of cash transfers to compensate for lost jobs. How much are we talking about? The only known parallel for the amount of transfer needed is the case of German reunification. The transfer amounted to 2 trillion euros, or $2.76 trillion, over 20 years. If Ukraine has per capita income equal to one-tenth of Germany’s, then a minimum estimate is $276 billion to buy off the east. (In fact, since the population size of eastern Ukraine is larger than East Germany’s, this is an underestimate.) It is unthinkable that the West would pay this amount.” (Ukraine: A Prize Neither Russia Nor the West Can Afford to Win, Brookings)

The authors go on to show that “a NATO-affiliated Ukraine — is simply impossible under any real-world conditions” because it assumes that Russia will either “become an enthusiastic EU and NATO member itself” (or) “will it return to being the bankrupt, dependent, and compliant Russia of the 1990s.” In other words, the Obama administration’s strategic objectives in Ukraine do not jibe with economic reality. The US cannot afford to win in Ukraine, that’s the bottom line. Even so, we are convinced the aggression will persist regardless of the presumed outcome. The train has already left the station.

At the D-Day ceremonies, Putin and Poroshenko also met briefly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande although the content of their discussions was not revealed. Public support for the two leaders’ Ukraine policy is gradually withering as the fighting continues in the East without any end in sight. An article in the popular German newspaper Die Zeit indicates that elite opinion in Europe is gradually shifting and no longer sees Washington’s Ukraine policy as being in its interests.

Here’s a brief summary from the WSWS: “It goes on to argue that Washington’s aggression is laying the foundations for a Chinese-Russian-Iranian axis that “would force the West to pursue a more aggressive foreign policy to secure its access to important but dwindling raw materials such as oil.” In opposition to this, the commentary insists that Germany’s independent interests lie “with preserving and deepening Europe’s relations with Russia,” while pursuing similar ties with Iran.” (D-Day anniversary: Commemorating the Second World War and preparing the Third, World Socialist Web Site)

This is an important point and one that could put a swift end to US aggression in Ukraine. Washington’s objectives are at cross-purposes with those of the EU. The EU needs a reliable source of energy and one, like Russia, that will set its prices competitively without resorting to coercion or blackmail. Washington, on the other hand, intends to situate itself in this century’s most prosperous region, Eurasia, in order to control the flow of oil from East to West. This is not in Europe’s interests, but promises to be a source of conflict for the foreseeable future. Case in point: Just last week Bulgaria’s prime minister, Plamen Oresharski, “ordered a halt to work on Russia’s South Stream pipeline, on the recommendation of the EU. The decision was announced after his talks with US senators.”

According to RT News, Oresharski stopped construction after meeting with John McCain, Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson during their visit to Bulgaria on Sunday.

McCain, commenting on the situation, said that “Bulgaria should solve the South Stream problems in collaboration with European colleagues,” adding that in the current situation they would want “less Russian involvement” in the project.

“America has decided that it wants to put itself in a position where it excludes anybody it doesn’t like from countries where it thinks it might have an interest, and there is no economic rationality in this at all. Europeans are very pragmatic, they are looking for cheap energy resources – clean energy resources, and Russia can supply that. But the thing with the South Stream is that it doesn’t fit with the politics of the situation,” Ben Aris, editor of Business New Europe told RT.” (Bulgaria halts Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline project, RT)

Once again, we can see how US meddling is damaging to Europe’s interests.

Western elites want to control the flow of gas and oil from East to West. This is why they’ve installed their puppet in Kiev, threatened to levy more sanctions on Moscow, and moved B-2 stealth bombers into the European theater. They are determined to succeed in their plan even if it triggers a Third World War.

Posted in USA, RussiaComments Off on Obama’s Attempt at Intimidating Russia

Google’s Shareholder Theater

NOVANEWS
Never Mind the Corporate Spying

by BILL BLUNDEN

Scanning over the headlines of the New York Times this past Saturday, June 6th, the public relations team at Google scored a splashy front page spot which confidently boasts that the company is working hard to impede the NSA (e.g. to “erect barriers”) by comprehensively encrypting data in transit through Google’s networks[1]. Other hi-tech companies, like Yahoo, have implemented similar measures[2]. Of course, there are a number of particulars that this story fails to acknowledge…

Encryption is Not a Panacea

One thing Google’s PR team fails to acknowledge is that encryption represents little or no defense against hi-tech subversion. Specifically, hardware and software bugs (accidental or otherwise) as back doors trump encryption every time. As witnessed in both the cases of the Heartbleed bug[3] and the malware used in the recent breach of Target[4], if an attacker can leverage buggy code to compromise a computer and scrape its memory for cryptographic keys (i.e. passwords) it doesn’t matter how strong the encryption is; attackers can walk right through digital bulwarks and sink your battleship.

Oh, and get this, thanks to Ed Snowden we know that one of the NSA’s strategic goals is to industrialize the process of subversion: to launch mass attacks on millions of computers simultaneously using a system codenamed TURBINE and install software implants (also called rootkits, something your author is intimately familiar with[5]) that allow the government to maintain a concealed presence and covertly collect data[6]. The new director of the NSA, Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers, has openly advocated this technology[7]. Does this sound like a tenable countermeasure for ubiquitous encryption?

It’s part of the public record that hi-tech companies have placed back doors in their products as part of an industry-wide effort conducted by the NSA known as the Signal Intelligence Enabling Project. A document published by the Guardian states that[8]:

“The SIGINT Enabling Project actively engages the US and foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products’ designs. These design changes make the systems in question exploitable”

Please understand, this mindset emphasizes security for the 1%, where society’s collective security is completely undermined on behalf of a small cabal of spies.

Though Microsoft stridently claims that it does not insert back doors for the NSA[9] there is evidence to the contrary. For instance, it’s been revealed that Microsoft provides the NSA with early access to zero-day exploits (unpatched bugs) that arise in products like Windows[10]. After all, Microsoft recently signed a $617 million contract with the Department of Defense[11]. Don’t think that this sort of gift comes without strings.

Never Mind The Corporate Spying…

Another subtle manipulation that’s being employed is to frame the narrative so that focus is placed entirely on government surveillance. This is the same caveat that haunts surveillance reform efforts like “Reset the Net.” Pando Daily’s Yasha Levine spells it out[12]:

“Reset the Net is deeply flawed. The reason: the campaign is not against online surveillance, just government surveillance. It has nothing to say or critique about the massive for-profit dragnet operations run by telecoms and Silicon Valley megacorps that target every woman, man and child in the United States and beyond”

In contrast to the inflated fanfare about disrupting terrorist plots[13] the global surveillance apparatus is essentially being driven by powerful corporate interests[14]. This is the elephant standing in the corner that no one (especially hi-tech companies like Google) wants to talk about. Roughly 70 percent of the intelligence budget

,blunden

which is in the neighborhood of 70 billion dollars, goes to the private sector[15]. So most of what we think of as government surveillance actually transpires in the private sector. How, exactly, do you think a Booz Allen Hamilton consultant named Ed Snowden got all of those classified documents? The NSA is a mere appendage of a much larger private sector data aggregation panopticon that rakes in $200 billion every year[16].

Though Eric Schmidt has railed against government surveillance in public[17], Google has extensive long-standing connections with the defense industry[18]. Not to mention that WikiLeaks has released cables that describe some rather odd dealings between Google, the State Department, and the U.S. Military. Trips to the border of Iran[19] and signal intelligence in Afghanistan[20]. Google and the government are far more tightly linked than most people suspect. Is it any wonder that Google now spends more than Lockheed Martin and Boeing to lobby for influence in D.C.[21]? Something on the order of $16 million in 2013.

Denouement

Google has exerted a lot of effort into creating the impression of revolt. But Google hasn’t switched sides. Remember, the strategic goal of Google’s public relations effort isn’t necessarily to stymie government spies, but rather to give voice to the general sense of public betrayal and at least offer the perception that Google has switched sides; to courageously fend off the big bad government on behalf of irate users. More susceptible members of the audience who believe this storyline will continue to use Google services. This will reinforce the bottom line and subsequently reassure investors. Google will do what it’s always done: follow its fiduciary responsibility to generate profits. The public be damned!

Bill Blunden is an independent investigator whose current areas of inquiry include information security, anti-forensics, and institutional analysis. He is the author of several books, including The Rootkit Arsenal , and Behold a Pale Farce: Cyberwar, Threat Inflation, and the Malware-Industrial Complex. Bill is the lead investigator at Below Gotham Labs.

End Notes


[1] David E. Sanger And Nicole Perlroth, “Internet Giants Erect Barriers to Spy Agencies,” New York Times, June 6, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/07/technology/internet-giants-erect-barriers-to-spy-agencies.html

[2] Seth Schoen, “Yahoo Protects Users with Lots More Encryption,”Electronic Frontier Foundation, April 2 2014, https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/04/yahoo-protects-users-lots-more-encryption

[3] Jordan Robertson, “Heartbleed Hackers Steal Encryption Keys in Threat Test,” Bloomberg, April 15, 2014, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2014-04-14/heartbleed-hackers-steal-encryption-keys-in-threat-test.html

[4] Jim Finkle and Mark Hosenball, “Exclusive: More well-known U.S. retailers victims of cyber attacks – sources,” Reuters, January 12, 2014,  http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/12/us-target-databreach-retailers-idUSBREA0B01720140112

[5] Bill Blunden, The Rootkit Arsenal: Escape and Evasion In the Dark Corners of The System, Jones & Bartlett Learning; 2 edition, March 16, 2012, ISBN-13: 978-1449626365

[6]  Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald, “How the NSA Plans to Infect ‘Millions’ of Computers with Malware,” Intercept, March 12, 2014, https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/03/12/nsa-plans-infect-millions-computers-malware/

[7] David Sanger, “N.S.A. Nominee Promotes Cyberwar Units,” New York Times, March 11, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/12/world/europe/nsa-nominee-reports-cyberattacks-on-ukraine-government.html

[8] “Sigint – how the NSA collaborates with technology companies,” Guardian, September 5, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/sep/05/sigint-nsa-collaborates-technology-companies

[9] Brad Sams, “Microsoft fights back, calls out China on its Windows 8 claims,” Neowin, June 6, 2014, http://www.neowin.net/news/microsoft-fights-back-calls-out-china-on-its-windows-8-claims

[10] Michael Riley, “U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms,” Bloomberg, June 15, 2013, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2013-06-14/u-s-agencies-said-to-swap-data-with-thousands-of-firms.html

[11] Nick Taborek, “Microsoft’s Windows 8 Lifted by $617 Million Defense Deal,” Bloomberg, January 5, 2013, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2013-01-04/microsoft-s-windows-8-lifted-by-617-million-defense-deal.html

[12] Yasha Levine, “Reset the Net wants to end NSA snooping, is fine with Google snooping,” Pando Daily, June 6, 2014, http://pando.com/2014/06/06/reset-the-net-wants-to-end-nsa-snooping-is-fine-with-google-snooping/

[13] Justin Elliott and Theodoric Meyer, “Claim on “Attacks Thwarted” by NSA Spreads Despite Lack of Evidence,” ProPublica, October 23, 2013, http://www.propublica.org/article/claim-on-attacks-thwarted-by-nsa-spreads-despite-lack-of-evidence

[14] “Segment: Heidi Boghosian on Spying and Civil Liberties,” Bill Moyers and Company, November 8, 2013, http://billmoyers.com/wp-content/themes/billmoyers/transcript-print.php?post=48454

[15] Tim Shorrock, “Put the Spies Back Under One Roof,” New York Times, June 18, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/18/opinion/put-the-spies-back-under-one-roof.html

[16] Yasha Levine, “What Surveillance Valley knows about you,” Pando Daily, December 22, 2013, http://pando.com/2013/12/22/a-peek-into-surveillance-valley/

[17] Deborah Kan, “Google’s Eric Schmidt Lambasts NSA Over Spying,”Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2013,http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304391204579177104151435042

[18] Yasha Levine, “The revolving door between Google and the Department of Defense,” Pando Daily, April 23, 2014, http://pando.com/2014/04/23/the-revolving-door-between-google-and-the-department-of-defense/

[19] Julian Assange, “Op-ed: Google and the NSA: Who’s holding the ‘shit-bag’ now?,” WikiLeaks, August 27, 2013, https://wikileaks.org/Op-ed-Google-and-the-NSA-Who-s.html

[20] “WikiLeaks claims Google director helped the NSA spy on Afghanistan,” RT, May 28, 2014, http://rt.com/usa/162036-wikileaks-google-nsa-afghanistan/

[21] Center for Responsive Politics, Influence & Lobbying/ Lobbying / Top Spenders,  https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?showYear=2013&indexType=s

Posted in EducationComments Off on Google’s Shareholder Theater

The Battle to Establish an Islamic State Across Iraq and Syria

NOVANEWS
A Wave of New Attacks

by PATRICK COCKBURN

Islamic fundamentalists have opened new fronts in their battle to establish an Islamic state across Iraq and Syria as they launch attacks in cities which were previously under the control of the Baghdad government.

A multi-pronged assault across central and northern Iraq in the past four days shows that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) has taken over from the al-Qa’ida organisation founded by Osama bin Laden as the most powerful and effective extreme jihadi group in the world.

Isis now controls or can operate with impunity in a great stretch of territory in western Iraq and eastern Syria, making it militarily the most successful jihadi movement ever.

Led since 2010 by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, also known as Abu Dua, it has proved itself even more violent and sectarian than what US officials call the “core” al-Qa’ida, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is based in Pakistan. Isis is highly fanatical, killing Shia Muslims and Christians whenever possible, as well as militarily efficient and under tight direction by top leaders.

In Iraq in the past four days, it has fought its way into the northern capital of Mosul, sent a column of its fighters into the central city of Samarra and taken over Iraq’s largest university at Ramadi, in the west of the country. In addition, it launched devastating bombings targeting Shia civilians in Baghdad that killed at least 52 people.

The creation of a sort of proto-Caliphate by extreme jihadis in northern Syria and Iraq is provoking fears in surrounding countries such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey that they will become targets of battle-hardened Sunni fighters.

The well-coordinated attacks appear designed to keep the Iraqi security forces off balance, uncertain where the next attack will come. They started on Thursday when Isis fighters in trucks with heavy machine guns stormed into the city of Samarra, which is mostly Sunni but contains the golden-domed al-Askari shrine sacred to Shia. Destruction of this shrine by al-Qa’ida bombers in 2006 led to wholesale massacres of Sunni by Shia.

The Isis tactic is to make a surprise attack, inflict maximum casualties and spread fear before withdrawing without suffering heavy losses. On Friday, they attacked in Mosul, where their power is already strong enough to tax local businesses, from family groceries to mobile phone and construction companies. Some 200 people were killed in the fighting, according to local hospitals, though the government gives a figure of 59 dead, 21 of them policemen and 38 insurgents.

This assault was followed by an early-morning attack on Saturday on the University of Anbar at Ramadi that has 10,000 students. Ahmed al-Mehamdi, a student who was taken hostage, told a news agency that he was woken up by the sound of shots, looked out the window and saw armed men dressed in black running across the campus. They entered his dormitory, said they belonged to Isis, told everybody to stay in their rooms but took others away.

One leader told female students: “We will teach you a lesson you’ll never forget.” They turned the science building into their headquarters, but may later have retreated. On the same day, seven bombs exploded in an hour in Baghdad, killing at least 52 people.

Isis specialises in using militarily untrained foreign volunteers as suicide bombers either moving on foot wearing suicide vests, or driving vehicles packed with explosives. Often more than one suicide bomber is used, as happened yesterday when a vehicle exploded at the headquarters of a Kurdish party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in the town of Jalawla in the divided and much fought-over province of Diyala, north-east of Baghdad. In the confusion caused by the blast, a second bomber on foot slipped into the office and blew himself up, killing some 18 people, including a senior police officer.

The swift rise of Isis since Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became its leader has come because the uprising of the Sunni in Syria in 2011 led the Iraqi Sunni to protest about their political and economic marginalisation since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Peaceful demonstrations from the end of 2012 won few concessions, with Iraq’s Shia-dominated government convinced that the protesters wanted not reform but a revolution returning their community to power. The five or six million Iraqi Sunni became more alienated and sympathetic towards armed action by Isis.

Isis launched a well-planned campaign last year including a successful assault on Abu Ghraib prison last summer to free leaders and experienced fighters. This January, they took over Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, and have held it ever since in the face of artillery and air attack. The military sophistication of Isis in Iraq is much greater than al-Qa’ida, the organisation out of which it grew, which reached the peak of its success in 2006-07 before the Americans turned many of the Sunni tribes against it.

Isis has the great advantage of being able to operate on both sides of the Syrian-Iraq border, though in Syria it is engaged in an intra-jihadi civil war with Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and other groups. But Isis controls Raqqa, the only provincial capital taken by the opposition, and much of eastern Syria outside enclaves held by the Kurds close to the Turkish border.

Isis is today a little more circumspect in killing all who work for the government including rubbish collectors, something that alienated the Sunni population previously. But horrifically violent, though professionally made propaganda videos show Isis forcing families with sons in the Iraqi army to dig their own graves before they are shot. The message is that their enemies can expect no mercy.

The violence continued yesterday as at least 18 people were killed in two explosions at the headquarters of a Kurdish political party in Iraq’s ethnically mixed province of Diyala. Isis claimed responsibility.

Most of the victims of Sunday’s attack were members of the Kurdish security forces who were guarding the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party in the town of Jalawla.

The explosions were the latest in a show of strength by militants who in recent days have overrun parts of two major cities, occupied a university campus in western Iraq and set off a dozen car bombs in Baghdad.

Jalawla lies in disputed territory, and is one of several towns where Iraqi troops and Kurdish peshmerga regional guards have previously faced off, asserting their claims over the area. Both are a target for Sunni Islamist insurgents.

Posted in IraqComments Off on The Battle to Establish an Islamic State Across Iraq and Syria

Unity on I$raHell’s Terms Won’t Help

NOVANEWS
Hamas / Fatah Reconciliation


by JONATHAN COOK

Nazareth. 

In the celebratory atmosphere last week as the Palestinian unity government was sworn in, ending a seven-year feud between Fatah and Hamas, it was easy to overlook who was absent.

Hamas had agreed to remain in the shadows to placate Washington, which is legally obligated to refuse aid to a government that includes a designated terrorist group. The new Palestinian cabinet looked little different from its predecessor; Hamas’ input was limited to three independents, all in low-level ministerial positions.

And because this transitional government is still operating within the confines of Israeli occupation, the three ministers from Gaza were refused permits to travel to the West Bank for the swearing-in ceremony on June 2.

The appointment of a temporary government of technocrats is likely to be the easiest phase of the reconciliation agreed in late April. The deal has endured so far – unlike earlier agreements – because Hamas, in even more desperate straits than its rival, Fatah, has capitulated.

For that reason, the United States and most of the world hurried to offer their blessing. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, made dire warnings about the “strengthening of terror” and okayed 3,300 settler homes to punish the Palestinians.

A far trickier stage is still to come: the Palestinian cabinet under President Mahmoud Abbas needs to oversee a bitterly contested national election between Fatah and Hamas expected early next year.

The elections are seen as vital. Palestinians have had no say in who rules them since 2006, when Hamas was victorious. A year later, after brief and vicious fighting, Hamas and Fatah created separate fiefdoms in Gaza and the West Bank. Both need to prove their legitimacy at the ballot box.

Should voting take place, and Hamas win again, the US and others can be expected to boycott the new government – withdrawing desperately needed aid – as they did back in 2006.

But far more likely, Israel will not allow the elections to take place.

Eight years ago, in the months prior to voting, Israel initiated a wave of arrests of Hamas leaders in an attempt to stymie the democratic process. Israel also hoped to block voting in occupied East Jerusalem, which it considers part of its “eternal, indivisible” capital. But the White House – realising a ballot without Jerusalem would lack credibility – pressured Israel into grudging acquiescence.

Less well remembered is that Fatah quietly conspired with Israel to try to postpone the national vote. Fearing that Hamas would sweep the board, Fatah hoped to use Israeli intransigence in Jerusalem as the necessary pretext to delay the wider elections to a time more favourable to its candidates.

Netanyahu has already announced that he will not allow an election in East Jerusalem, as well as indicating that Hamas will be barred from running elsewhere. That is hardly surprising: Israel has spent the past eight years eradicating Hamas from Jerusalem by jailing its leaders or expelling them to the West Bank.

But Fatah’s behaviour in 2006 hints at an even bigger obstacle to consummating the reconciliation. The reality is that Hamas and Fatah have entered the process only out of mutual despair.

Hamas’ political and geographical isolation in Gaza has plumbed new depths since the Egyptian regime turned hostile. Blockaded on all sides, Hamas has seen its support erode as the enclave’s economic crisis has deepened. A deal with Fatah seems the only way to open the borders.

The credibility of Fatah and Abbas, meanwhile, has been steadily undermined by years of cooperation with Israel – all while the settlements have expanded – in the hope of extracting a concession on statehood. With little to show for it, Fatah is increasingly seen as Israel’s craven security contractor.

Abbas’ new strategy – creating a momentum towards statehood at the United Nations – requires that his government-in-waiting establish its democratic credentials, territorial integrity, and a national consensus behind the diplomatic option.

The priority for Netanyahu is not only to void the elections but to weaken the two sides’ commitment to unity by punishing them for their insolence. He can do so given Israel’s control over all aspects of Palestinian life.

Israel has begun not only with another glut of settlement building, but by declaring war on the Palestinian economy, refusing to accept shekel deposits from Palestinian banks, and by imposing collective daily blackouts on Palestinians for unpaid bills to Israel’s electricity company.

Abbas, now responsible for paying the salaries of tens of thousands of public employees in Gaza each month, will be even more vulnerable to Israeli threats to refuse to transfer tax and customs revenues. On Monday it was reported that Israel had also been lobbying foreign capitals to ensure the Palestinian president is held directly responsible for any rockets fired from Gaza.

Hamas faces a no less difficult period ahead. If it strays too far from Fatah’s dictates, it will be blamed for destroying the unity pact; but if it adheres too close to Fatah, it will lose its identity and risk being outflanked by more militant groups like Islamic Jihad.

Samah Sabawi, a political analyst, observed of the unity government: “What we need more than ministries and authorities is resistance and liberation.” The unity government – whether of technocrats or elected officials – will still operate within the limitations imposed by Israel’s occupation.

In fact, the unity government simply breathes new life into the illusion – created by the Oslo accords of two decades ago – that good governance by the Palestinian Authority can change the Palestinians’ situation for the better. In practice, such governance has entailed submitting to Israel’s security demands, a Palestinian obligation Abbas termed “sacred” last week.

As Sabawi suggests, an occupied people needs not better rubbish collection or street lighting but an effective strategy for resistance.

Palestinians will not benefit from a PA that polices the occupation simply because it becomes more “unified”. Rather, their struggle to attain real freedom will grow that bit more daunting.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Unity on I$raHell’s Terms Won’t Help

The Rabbit Hole of Mainstream News

NOVANEWS
The Curse of the Informed


by KATHLEEN WALLACE

I am thinking about the most discerning of us in terms of what we choose to allow in our minds (by that I mean those most likely to be rounded up and tossed in a volcano when the full on Idiocracy takes hold). Those of us who avoid mass infotainment like CNN, Fox, MSNBC (who names a network for a terrible autoimmune disease, by that I mean Microsoft automatic updates?)  “Witch!” “Literate” “Non-Litterer/Literate” “Middle School Graduate”–you know, all the categories that will get you sent down the volcanic vent in an attempt to appease the Climate Gods who for some reason are going to be really angry here in about 60 years or maybe next Tuesday. So yeah, us.

A reader and friend pointed out a hilarious clip (in that funny way that you giggle at the grim reaper when he trips on his sassy gown coming at you) that shows no less than 16 news anchors reciting (all Stepford like) “Economic factors may take some spring out of the Easter Bunny’s step this year.”…..this to prove the obvious—that they are purveyors in nonsense, yes, but not even original nonsense. They were all reciting the same lines! Some asshole with the sense of humor of an edgy member of a Drink More Orange Juice PAC writes this stuff and evidently sends it by pigeon (assuming the economic factors have not taken the flight out of the pigeon) to every incest riddled television station across this land for full contagious dispersal. It’s all pretty ridiculous since the Easter Bunny really shouldn’t get involved in economics anyway; fuck him. He had one job.

But a few measures beyond this bring a grim reality. Ask around about Putin and the Ukrainian issues…you will get an answer as pat as “Economic factors may take some spring out of the Easter Bunny’s step this year.” Maybe not if you happen upon a soon to be volcano crisp friend, but there aren’t many of us. I doubt it will happen; you will hear an amazingly similar take that conveniently agrees with the agenda of folks like Biden’s son who was placed on the board of Burisma, the area’s largest natural gas producer. Mass agreed upon spin has made its way out from all of the usual suspects. The proof is in the dye that took. The level of skill is fairly amazing on these larger than bunny issues. The disruption of a nation is now viewed as honorable, even when many of the new allies are seriously Nazis. Now that is some masterful work. It may not have been the same exact words on the script but the overall theme is regulated. Try telling someone that yes, you think Putin is a horrible human (like all the human detritus that seems to find its way up to the leadership realm), but not the black and white plastic that forms agreed upon narratives. They will not get it as there is no room for nuance.

None of this is new, but in the past I’m not really sure where a person could easily go to dig for truth, like when Kermit Roosevelt and company knocked out Mossadegh in Iran. Now this magical thing called the internet makes so much information available if you are cautious and diligent, but so few use it for that. Hilariously some net neutrality proponents started using a “don’t let them slow down your porn” theme to get  more people on their side. Sad and funny (like when the grim reaper drops his scythe and looks all awkward). There is some conscious avoidance of truth going on in some groups who should know better; it’s not simply tied up diners being force fed cotton candy in every case.

Another: Try explaining that you don’t like the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare to just about anyone. They will think you are a teabagger; it’s the only option! Even which of those terms you use is supposed to reflect your slant.  I tried “because we won’t do universal coverage since that would imply a concern for each other that is just not okay, not competitive and vicious enough ……..we are going to give the insurance companies a continuing line on our toil as well as our blood and tissue so they can be perversely wealthy and we can still have many dying for lack of coverage due to things like states not enhancing Medicaid.” Alas, that did not take off. The subtlety of anything beyond A or B is not really digested in this, 2014 America. And I should have shortened the definition, yes, probably that too.

The devil of it is the Bernays-esque way they have so many convinced that they are actually selecting out from real choices when this is not really the case for the overwhelming majority. This is some serious voodoo, convincing so many that they have come to conclusions and opinions on their own, though most were selected for them and crafted to fit prior. The only strife and noise allowed is the picking on of each other, those not wealthy, vying for some measure of hierarchy, just anyone to feel superior to, with a preference for anything that feels soft in this world that is supposed to be hard. A symptom of the broader disease, each subset and symptom. And the WWE quality of it certainly helps the neoliberal cause. Decent people are fighting medieval mindsets about love and equality while the oligarchy moves forward. Picketty numbers are your needed proof if you are that freaking obtuse…… that of a practical enslavement for all but a smarmy few.

Comedian Lee Camp calls billionaires hoarders who should be viewed with the same pathology as anyone collecting a metric shit-ton of anything. Certainly not people to accommodate or revere. Small scale hoarders cause concern for neighbors due to rats, stink and fires, while billionaire hoarders cause exponential harm to the planet. They are certainly more filthy than the sad old soul placed on television to make fun of for keeping urine in 4,000 squeeze honey bears after snapping when they found out Liberace was gay.

It may sound nutty when you come out and say there is a very real push to fully realize a Randian world. But that is because they have steeped us all in a self loathing, deny your own experience and intellect game. Do not say class warfare and do not refer to nebulous out-to-get-you groups; you will just sound crazy. Now suck it up and pay that 1200% increase in your college tuition, that happened over the last 30 years…. and get a Koch a sammich when you’re done with your 50 hour a week part-time job. Does it really matter how the whole thing is formed? Again the proof is in the dye that is taking.

So where to go with all of this? Yes. It is obvious that the left/right, science/religion, sane/batshit paradigm keeps us occupied with things other than Occupy, and it was a clever move on their part. Don’t engage a bit and you might find yourself chained to a vagina minder or maybe people will get buried under bibles for being some loathed group. I defer to better minds to figure out how to maneuver that problem. It’s like ignoring a bully, sometimes it works and they quit, but sometimes they really do psychopathic harm when you turn your back. So many problems.

Meanwhile those in power are destroying our climate, our land, our health. Many of the decent have simply dropped off the map, just so overwhelmed by the enormity of it. How many before have had to contemplate the annihilation of their species being possible? The thought of methane finding its way out of the arctic gives me and my limited imagination a real hard stop. I can’t imagine out of that one. So really (and this is my humble answer)……. all there is to do is to continue being assholes who don’t agree, don’t believe and continue bothering others, and yes, possibly get thrown into volcanoes at some point because it’s a worse fate to simply watch the news and hear “”Economic factors may take some spring out of the Easter Bunny’s step this year.” and nod or even worse, giggle. Let alone sit and willingly allow the fullness of it all to seep in until that undefinable spark is put out. I don’t know that it is a goal oriented worldview, more simply what might be tolerable during the years left. So we have to be kind to each other; so many out there really are out to get us. Yeah, I said it. Those of us who understand this are few and far between. And by that I mean cursed, of course.

Posted in USAComments Off on The Rabbit Hole of Mainstream News

So long, I$raHell, and thanks for nothing

NOVANEWS
As a  Palestinian  Israeli  married to a  Palestinian, we've been waiting for Israel to grant us permission to live together. 15 years later, forced to choose between homeland and family unity, we have finally left.
Carol Daniel Kasbari and husband Osama with two boys.
Carol Daniel Kasbari and husband Osama with two boys. /
By Carol Daniel Kasbari
Published 16:51 15.06.14
After fifteen years of waiting, my husband and I have finally begun our life together. We have left Jerusalem for good.

I am a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, raised in Nazareth. My husband is also a Palestinian, but unlike me, he is not a citizen of Israel. In fact, he is not a citizen of any country.

I met my husband, Osama Kasbari, in Ramallah in 1997 when I was a student at the Hebrew University, and the connection was immediate. After that first meeting, we spent three hours talking on the phone – about life, identity, language, home – and within a year, we were married.

We began the process of building a normal life, applying for “family unification,” a process under which non-citizens married to Israelis could gain temporary residency status and further on down the line become permanent residents or citizens. At the Interior Ministry office in Nazareth, we were told that the process would be quite simple: We were to live inside of Israel’s borders, pay taxes, obey the laws and within four years, my husband would be granted permanent residency. This is what we were told, and this is what we believed, so this is what we did.

My husband was granted an Aleph/5 permit, a temporary status which enabled us to live together. He was one of those “good Arabs,” according to the Shin Bet, who reviewed our application to renew his permit. Every year, before the permit expired, I would spend an entire week on the phone, until I finally reached the clerk who would schedule an appointment for us at the Interior Ministry. The grilling would begin on the phone, and end in a day-long visit to an office where we submitted a pile of papers that revealed every detail of our life: Three months of a protracted, demanding and exhausting process. It involved explaining every move and every payment we made. We felt we were at the mercy of clerks and strangers who passed judgment on our life choices. My husband couldn’t leave the country, buy a house and or even open a bank account or pay his own cellphone bill.

In 2003, weeks before my husband was scheduled to receive permanent residency, our dreams were shattered, along with other Palestinian couples like us. On July 31st, 2003, then-Interior Minister Eli Yishai successfully passed the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) which categorically denied Palestinians from “the hostile areas,” meaning, Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, the ability to receive residency or citizenship as a result of their partnership with a citizen of Israel.

The initial reason provided was purportedly connected to security: One man in such a situation had been involved in a bombing in Haifa. The law was scheduled to last for a year, with the option to be renewed for an indefinite period at the end of the year. No other Palestinian who is in a family unification process has acted any act of terror or assault since 2003, yet the emergency law has been renewed every year until this day.

We were devastated. We had come so close to achieving some degree of normalcy for our family, which by then had expanded to include my two little boys, and suddenly we found ourselves waiting, again, for a political decision that would directly affect our personal lives.

And we tried everything to change it: We appealed to the Interior Ministry; I met with people involved in politics, people of influence with whom I worked with as facilitator for groups in conflict. Everyone would say, yes, yes, that’s terrible, but they would not lift a finger to do anything for us. One senior consultant for the government told me, “You know, Carol, this is the most sensitive issue for the Jewish people, the demographic one. It will be very hard for anyone to help you.”

Eventually, we filed a petition to the Supreme Court. The judges, too, expressed sympathy for our case. They said it was terrible, it was unfair, that we deserved better, and they suggested to the State Attorney that we find a compromise outside of the court that would allow my husband receive permanent status. The latter rejected this suggestion immediately: If we find a compromise with them, he said, we will open up the floodgates, and set a “dangerous precedent.” Our appeal was rejected.

So was this law truly about “security,” or was it about demography? In 2012, the Supreme Court collectively rejected every appeal against the law. They acknowledged that the law violated the principles of equality, but, as Judge Asher Grunis wrote, “[H]uman rights are not a prescription for national suicide,” referring to the “demographic threat” to the Jewish State posed by people like my husband. The treatment of our issue was humiliating and dealt with as a disease and a threat to Jewish existence. We couldn’t tolerate it anymore.

This year, after 15 years of waiting and struggling, of living with insecurity, fear, and harassment, we decided that enough was enough. We did not renew my husband’s temporary residency. Instead, we left the country and started looking for a permanent life in a place where would be welcome, wanted and respected. We moved to the United States, and bought a house in Virginia, something we had realized we may never have been able to do in Jerusalem. We knew this decision would possibly carry life-long consequences, as my husband would not be allowed to return to Jerusalem or Nazareth anymore. I have given up my right to bring up my boys in this country or to live my life close to my family and friends. I haven’t given up on my Palestinian roots or on my homeland, but on the suffering of being minority in a country that doesn’t respect the rights of others who are not Jewish.

Now, when I return to Jerusalem for a visit, I feel numb. My family – and the thousands of other families like ours – had to make the choice between a normal, full life abroad and a temporary life in our homeland. That is a choice no family should have to make.

Carol Daniel Kasbari is a conflict transformation specialist and veteran facilitator for groups in conflict in the Middle East since 1995 and has spoken about her work in this TEDx talk in Jaffa. Born in Nazareth, she holds a Masters degree in NGO Administration and Public Policy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is pursuing Ph.D studies at George Mason University in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. She currently lives near Washington, D.C., with her husband, Osama Kasbari, and their two children.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI1 Comment

THE JEWISH PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST AND BEYOND

NOVANEWS

By Gilad Atzmon

Surely, what’s happening now in Iraq and Syria must serve as a final wakeup call that we have been led into a horrific situation in the Middle East by a powerful Lobby driven by the interests of one tribe and one tribe alone.

Back in 1982, Oded Yinon an Israeli journalist formerly attached to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, published a document titled ‘A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties.This Israeli commentator suggested that for Israel to maintain its regional superiority, it must fragment its surrounding Arab states into smaller units. The document, later labelled as ‘Yinon Plan’, implied that Arabs and Muslims killing each other in endless sectarian wars was, in effect, Israel’s insurance policy.

Of course, regardless of the Yinon Plan’s prophesies, one might still argue that this has nothing to do with Jewish lobbying, politics or institutions but is just one more Israeli strategic proposal except that it is impossible to ignore that the Neocon school of thought that pushed the English-speaking Empire into Iraq was largely a Jewish Diaspora, Zionist clan. It’s also no secret that the 2nd Gulf War was fought to serve Israeli interests –  breaking into sectarian units what then seemed to be the last pocket of Arab resistance to Israel.

Similarly, it is well established that when Tony Blair decided to launch that criminal war, Lord Levy was the chief fundraiser for his Government while, in the British media, Jewish Chronicle writers David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen were busy beating the drums for war. And again, it was the exact same Jewish Lobby that was pushing for intervention in Syria, calling for the USA and NATO to fight alongside those same Jihadi forces that today threaten the last decade’s American ‘achievements’ in Iraq.

Unfortunately, Yinon’s disciples are more common than you might expect. In France, it was the infamous Jewish ‘philosopher’ Bernard Henri Levy who  boasted on TV that ‘as a Jew’ campaigning for NATO intervention, he liberated Libya.

As we can see, a dedicated number of Jewish Zionist activists, commentators and intellectuals have worked relentlessly in many countries pushing for exactly the same cause – the breaking up of Arab and Muslim states into smaller, sectarian units.

But is it just the Zionists who are engaging in such tactics? Not at all.

In fact, the Jewish so-called Left serves the exact same cause, but instead of fragmenting Arabs and Muslims into Shia, Sunnis, Alawites and Kurds they strive to break them into sexually oriented identity groups (Lesbian, Queer, Gays, Heterosexual etc’)

Recently I learned from Sarah Schulman, a NY Jewish Lesbian activist that in her search for funding for a young ‘Palestinian Queer’ USA tour, she was advised to approach George Soros’ Open Society institute. The following account may leave you flabbergasted, as it did me:

“A former ACT UP staffer who worked for the Open Society Institute, George Soros’ foundation, suggested that I file an application there for funding for the tour. When I did so it turned out that the person on the other end had known me from when we both attended Hunter [College] High School in New York in the 1970s. He forwarded the application to the Institutes’s office in Amman, Jordan, and I had an amazing one-hour conversation with Hanan Rabani, its director of the Women’s and Gender program for the Middle East region. Hanan told me that this tour would give great visibility to autonomous queer organizations in the region. That it would inspire queer Arabs—especially in Egypt and Iran…for that reason, she said, funding for the tour should come from the Amman office” (Sarah Schulman -Israel/Palestine and the Queer International p. 108).

The message is clear, The Open Society Institutes  (OSI) wires Soros’s money to Jordan, Palestine and then back to the  USA in order to “inspire queer Arabs in Egypt and Iran (sic).”

What we see here is clear evidence of a blatant intervention by George Soros and his institute in an attempt to break Arabs and Muslims and shape their culture.  So, while the right-wing Jewish Lobby pushes the Arabs into ethnic sectarian wars, their tribal counterparts within George Soros’s OSI institute, do exactly the same – attempt to break the Arab and Muslims by means of marginal and identity politics.

It is no secret that, as far as recent developments in Iraq are concerned, America, Britain and the West are totally unprepared. So surely, the time is long overdue when we must identify the forces and ideologies within Western society that are pushing us into more and more global conflicts. And all we can hope for is that  America, Britain and France may think twice before they spends trillions of their tax payers’ money in following the Yinon Plan to fight ruinous, foreign wars imposed upon them by The Lobby.

Posted in Middle East, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on THE JEWISH PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST AND BEYOND

Elderly American couple held hostage in their home by I$raHell soldiers

NOVANEWS
Submitted by Ali Abunimah

Last week, dramatic video showed villagers expelling Israeli soldiers who had occupied the home of an elderly couple in the West Bank village of Silwad.

That couple were Palestinian Americans Muhammad Ali Ayad, 76, and his wife Nagma, 68, who were held hostage in the house by the soldiers for 14 hours until their friends and relatives freed them.

They gave their testimony – in the video above – to the human rights campaign group Euro-Mid, which also published a comprehensive account of the incident.

Screenshot of security camera footage that captures Israeli soldiers approaching Ayad home.

Euro-Mid’s video report includes security camera footage of the soldiers approaching the house in the early hours of Friday, 6 June, as Muhammad Ayad explains:

At 3:00am, the Israeli army knocked on the door, I opened and eleven soldiers pushed me out of the way and entered the house. They closed the doors, shut down the windows and held us captive. We didn’t know at that time what they wanted from us. I told them that only I and my wife live in this house and that there is no one else. They told us to shut up and took our cell phones, the keys of the house, and everything else. They locked us up in the living room for fourteen hours. From 3:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon. We both didn’t eat during all this time; we were very stressed and terrified. I had some coffee and my wife had some juice. Luckily, after fourteen hours, our neighbors suspected that we are being held captive as they saw the soldiers on the roof of our home.

Footage of their liberation, parts of which are included in the above video report, shows how distressed Mrs. Ayad was after the captivity. Euro-Mid calls the use of the couple effectively as “human shields” an “apparent war crime.”

Damage caused to Ayad home by tear gas canisters fired by Israeli occupation forces.

Ayad said that he and his wife, who reside in the United States, were spending the summer in their familial village, and that occupation forces frequently attack their home with tear gas, smashing windows and causing other damage, forcing them to seek refuge elsewhere.

 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Elderly American couple held hostage in their home by I$raHell soldiers

Sinead O’Connor says she’s trying to cancel I$raHell gig after boycott calls

NOVANEWS
Submitted by Ali Abunimah

Screenshot of Sinead O’Connor’s now deleted statement.

Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor has said she is trying to cancel a September gig in Tel Aviv after appeals to her to observe the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions  (BDS).

“I was not informed by my booking agent, and was unaware myself, that a boycott of Israel had been requested by the Palestinian people. I agreed to perform having been unaware any such boycott had been requested. Had I been aware I would not have agreed to perform,” O’Connor said in a statement posted on her website and apparently removed some hours later.

Google cached version is still available.

“As things stand I have requested to pull out of the show but may not be legally entitled to do so.

Article regarding my scheduled performance in Israel in September is now on my site.

— Sinead O’Connor (@YesitsHerself) June 13, 2014

O’Connor adds:

If I cannot remove myself from the show without cost to myself then I will perform because I can’t afford the legal costs involved in not performing.

No one should assume musicians can afford not to work. Neither should anyone assume we can afford to pay the legal costs involved in pulling out of shows. We have children. we need to feed them. Period.

I do not appreciate being bullied by anyone on either side of this debate any more than I appreciate not being properly informed by my booking agent of the potential ramifications of accepting work in war zones.

Appeals heard

While it’s unclear what O’Connor was referring to by “bullying” – a claim often made by artists asked to respect the Palestinian call for cultural boycott of their oppressors – the artist heard a number of appeals, including from Irish composer and activist Raymond Deane, who responded on Facebook to an earlier statement justifying the show:

Your statement re your proposed Israel gig leaves out so much, Sinéad. But mostly, what it omits is acknowledgement that Palestinian civil society has called for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – including a cultural boycott – against the Israeli state. Not forever – only until it abides by international law and international humanitarian law. By ignoring this you are spitting in the face of the oppressed.

You cannot disguise this by talking about the poor suffering Israelis who will have the privilege of attending your concert, a privilege denied to Palestinians locked behind the illegal Apartheid wall or illegally under siege in Gaza. You will be spitting in the faces of the abused Palestinian mothers forced to give birth at Israeli checkpoints, lying in the dust. You will be spitting in the faces of the abused Palestinian children kidnapped by brutal Israeli soldiers and brought to torture cells in Israeli prisons.

Your presence in Israel will be exploited to the hilt by the Israeli regime which stated, in 2005, that it “sees no difference between culture and propaganda.” Please reconsider your decision – please look at the list of 265 Irish artist(e)s who have pledged to accept no such invitations to Israel until it abides by international law. Please don’t sing for the oppressor, and disdain the oppressed!

Deane then responded to O’Connor’s most recent statement:

Sinéad – our fingers are crossed that you will make the right decision re Palestine. Nobody is “bullying” you – the bullying is all on the other side. Everyone knows you care about social justice, you care about abuse and oppression. You were misinformed by your agent (and no doubt by the Israeli promoter), but now you know the truth – you’ll do the right thing, and you will be supported and respected for it. Our Irish government, as part of the EU, is complicit in Israel’s crimes – it’s up to us, representing civil society, to stand up for truth and justice.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Campaigns, UKComments Off on Sinead O’Connor says she’s trying to cancel I$raHell gig after boycott calls

Name ‘Israel’ an “apartheid state” and divest, Tutu tells US Presbyterians

NOVANEWS
Submitted by Ali Abunimah

Desmond Tutu: “Israel has created an apartheid reality” (Joseph Wanyama/Flickr)

As the Presbyterian Church USA holds its 2014 general assembly in Detroit from 14-21 June, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu has issued this call on delegates to vote in favor of divestment from companies that assist “apartheid” Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people:

As the Presbyterian General Assembly gathers for its biennial meeting, I reach out in prayer and solidarity that the Assembly will make a strong witness for reconciliation, justice and peace. I am aware that the Assembly will consider eight overtures on the confounding and intractable conflict in Israel and Palestine, however I am especially urging the Assembly to adopt the overture naming Israel as an apartheid state through its domestic policies and maintenance of the occupation, and the overture calling for divestment of certain companies that contribute to the occupation of the Palestinian people.

Both are worthy of adoption, by speaking truth in the first instance, and owning up to the Church’s complicity in maintaining the occupation through its investments in the second.

The sustainability of Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people has always been dependent on its ability to deliver justice to the Palestinians. I know firsthand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed. Realistic Israeli leaders have acknowledged that Israel will either end its occupation through a one or two-state solution, or live in an apartheid state in perpetuity. The latter option is unsustainable and an offense to justice. We learned in South Africa that the only way to end apartheid peacefully was to force the powerful to the table through economic pressure.

The overtures proposed at the General Assembly are not about delegitimizing the State of Israel, but about ending its suppression of four million Palestinian sisters and brothers. It’s about naming an unjust system and refusing to participate in it. The stubbornness of Israel’s leaders in wanting to hold onto and settling land that is not theirs can only lead to tragedy for both peoples. For the sake of them both as God’s cherished, the strong witness of the two overtures is the only peaceful route left in the cause of justice and ultimate reconciliation. My prayers today are with the members of the General Assembly and with all the peoples of the Holy Land in Israel and Palestine.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
10 June 2014

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Africa, ZIO-NAZI, CampaignsComments Off on Name ‘Israel’ an “apartheid state” and divest, Tutu tells US Presbyterians

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