Archive | November 2nd, 2016

The War on UNESCO: Al-Aqsa Mosque is Palestinian and East Jerusalem is illegally occupied

Image result for Al-Aqsa Mosque PHOTO
By Ramzy Baroud 

Did Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, actually read the full text of the UNESCO resolution on Palestine and Israel, before he raved with anger?

“I think this is a mistaken, inconceivable resolution,” he said.

“It is not possible to continue with these resolutions at the UN and UNESCO that aim to attack Israel. It is shocking and I have ordered that we stop taking this position (his country’s abstention) even if it means diverging from the position taken by the rest of Europe,” he added.

Renzi, who became Prime Minister in 2014 at the relatively young age of 39 knows exactly how the game is played. In order to win favor with Washington, he must first please Tel Aviv.

His country has abstained from the October 12 vote on a resolution that condemns Israel’s violations of the cultural and legal status of Occupied East Jerusalem. This decision has ignited the ire of Israeli Ambassador to Rome, Ofer Zaks, who riled up the Jewish community in Italy to protest the abstention. Renzi, in turn, was converted into a champion of the ‘Temple Mount’, the name Israel uses to describe the Palestinian Muslim holy site.

Renzi cravenly went on damage control mode without truly understanding the nature of the resolution, which merely condemned Israel’s obvious violations of international law, and only calls for Israel to respect the status of Palestinian culture in the occupied city.

None of procedures that led to the vote on the UNESCO’s resolution – voted by 24-6, with 26 abstentions – violated protocol, nor was any of the wording inconsistent with international law. In fact, UNESCO was merely doing its job: attempting to protect and preserve the historical and cultural heritage of the world.

Jerusalem is a sacred and a holy city to a majority of humanity, simply because it is significant to the spiritual wellbeing of the adherents of the three monotheistic religions. In fact, the resolution stated so:

“Affirming the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions …”

Renzi’s outburst is quite disappointing, to say the least, for the young, eager politician simply tried to score cheap political points with Israel – thus the United States – without a full, or even partial comprehension of what the UNESCO resolution resolved. Nor did he seem aware of the fact that such text is largely a repeat of what has been discussed by the world’s leading cultural organization in April, and repeatedly before that date.

“If anyone wants to say something about Israel, let them say it, but they should not use UNESCO… To say that the Jews have no links to Jerusalem is like saying the sun creates darkness,” he said, paraphrasing the sentiment displayed by the Israeli Prime Minister.

It would be rather sad if Renzi sees a mentor in Benjamin Netanyahu, for the latter is one of the least liked world leaders who has made a mockery of international forums and derided the United Nations itself as anti-Semitic and its process as ‘theater of the absurd’.

This is what Netanyahu had said in response to the resolution and shortly before he suspended his country’s membership in UNESCO. Using a language that is as amusing as his cartoon depiction of the Iranian nuclear bomb in his famous UN spectacle in 2012, he said:

“To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the Pyramids.”

Other Israeli officials followed suit with a chorus of denunciations, included Israeli President, Reuven Rivilin, who described the decision as an “embarrassment” for UNESCO. Culture Minister, Miri Regev, cut to the chase, by labeling the resolution “shameful and anti-Semitic.”

In fact, it was neither.

In addition to Renzi’s odd reaction, the United States and other western governments reacted with exaggerated anger, again without even addressing the situation on the ground, which prompted the resolution – and numerous other UN resolutions in the past – in the first place.

Even the Czech parliament jumped on board, voting to condemn what they described as a “hateful, anti-Israel’ sentiment.”

I have read the resolution repeatedly to pinpoint the specific text that could possibly be understood by Israel’s friends as hateful, to no avail. The entirety of the text was based on past international conventions, resolutions, international law, and refers to Israel as the Occupying Power, as per the diktat of the Geneva Conventions.

The Italian, Czech, American anger is, of course, misdirected and is largely political theater.
But, of course, there is an important context that they refuse to address.

Israel is working diligently to appropriate Muslim and Christian heritage in East Jerusalem, a city that is designated by international law as illegally occupied.

The Israeli army and police have restricted the movement of Palestinian worshipers and is excavating under the foundation of the third holiest Muslim shrine, Haram al-Sharif, in search of a mythological Temple.

In the process of doing so, numerous Palestinians, trying to defend their Mosque from the attacks staged by Israeli occupation forces and extremist Jewish groups, have been killed.

How is UNESCO to react to this?

The resolution merely, ‘called on Israel’ to “allow for the restoration of the historic status quo that prevailed until September 2000, under which the Jordanian Awqaf (Religious Foundation) Department exercised exclusive authority on Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif.”

Moreover, it ‘stressed’, the “urgent need of the implementation of the UNESCO reactive monitoring mission to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls.”

Where is the ‘hate’ and ‘Anti-Semitism’ in that?

Israel’s anger is, of course, fathomable. For nearly fifty years, following the illegal occupation and annexation of the Palestinian Arab city, Israel has done everything it could possibly do to strip the city of its universal appeal and Arab heritage, and make it exclusive to Jews only – thus the slogan of Jerusalem being Israel’s ‘eternal and undivided capital.’

Israel is angry because, after five decades of ceaseless efforts, neither UNESCO nor other UN institutions will accept Israel’s practices and designations. In 2011, following the admission of ‘Palestine’ as a member state, Israel ranted and raved as well, resulting in the US cutting off funding to UNESCO.

The latest resolution indicates that Israel and the US have utterly failed to coerce UNESCO.

What also caused much fury in Tel Aviv is that UNESCO used the Arabic references to Haram al-Sharif, Al-Aqsa Mosque and other Muslim religious and heritage sites. The same way they would refer to Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza and China’s Great Wall by their actual names. Hardly anti-Semitic.

Since its establishment atop Palestinian towns and villages, Israel has been on a mission to rename everything Arabic with Hebrew alternatives. Recent years have seen a massive push towards the Judaization of Arab Christian and Muslim sites, streets and holy shrines, a campaign spear-headed by the Israeli right and ultranationalist groups.

To expect UNESCO to employ such language is what should strike as ‘absurd’.

Not only should the UNESCO resolution be respected, it should also be followed by practical mechanisms to implement its recommendations. Israel, an Occupying Power should not be given a free pass to besiege the holy shrines of two major world religions, restrict the movement and attack worshipers, annex occupied territories and destroy what is essential spiritual heritage that belongs to the whole world.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on The War on UNESCO: Al-Aqsa Mosque is Palestinian and East Jerusalem is illegally occupied

Anonymous Releases SHOCKING Video Of Huma Abedin

 Image result for huma abedin cartoons

Huma Abedin has found herself right in the middle of an FBI investigation due to the finding of more emails from her husband’s (Anthony Weiner) laptop that may be connected to Hillary Clinton’s investigation, which has caused the FBI to reopen Hillary’s case.

However, emails just might be the least of our worries when it comes to Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton. Specifically, what you are about to learn from the group Anonymous will chill you to the bone.

Bizpac Review reports, a popular video circulating social media claims to show Abedin, who was raised in Saudi Arabia between the ages of two and 18, her family, and by extension Clinton, have ties to groups and people who fund terrorism.”

The narrator of the video names the “four main players” as Clinton, Abedin, Saudi Arabia and Abdullah Omar Nasseef.

The video alleges that the Abedin family business, The Institute of Minority Muslim Affairs which, as we reported, is a pro-Sharia Law newsletter where Abedin used to work, is “owned by the Muslim World League, Saudi Arabia’s global organization that promotes violent Wahhabi Islam.”

I think it’s fair to say America deserves answers about this.

H/T: Proud Cons

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The Pathologization of Dissent


Photo by Jamelle Bouie | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Jamelle Bouie
By CJ Hopkins | CounterPunch 

According to the mainstream media, in a recent speech in West Palm Beach, Donald Trump finally completely lost it. Sawing the air with his tiny hands in a unmistakeably Hitlerian manner, he spat out a series of undeniably hateful anti-Semitic code words … like “political establishment,” “global elites” and, yes, “international banks.” He even went so far as to claim that “corporations” and their (ahem) “lobbyists” have millions of dollars at stake in this election, and are trying to pass the TTP, not to benefit the American people, but simply to enrich themselves. He then went on to accuse the media of collaborating with “the Clinton machine,” presumably to benefit these “global elites” and “international banks” and “lobbyists.”

Now, a lot of folks didn’t immediately recognize the secret meanings of these fascistic code words, and so mistakenly assumed that “global elites” referred to the transnational capitalist ruling classes, and that “lobbyists” referred to actual lobbyists, and that “banks” meant … well … you know, banks. As it turned out, this was completely wrong. None of these words actually meant what they meant, not in anti-Semitic CodeSpeak. So the mainstream media translated for us. “Political establishment” meant “the Jews.” “Global elites” also meant “the Jews.” “Banks” meant “Jews.” “Lobbyists” meant “Jews.” Even “corporate media,” meant “Jews.” Apparently, Trump’s entire speech was a series of secret dog-whistle signals to his legions of neo-Nazi goons, who, immediately following Clinton’s victory, are going to storm out of their hidey holes, frontally attack the US military, overthrow the US government, and, yes, you guessed it … “kill the Jews.”

OK, maybe I’m exaggerating the mainstream media’s reaction just a little bit. Or maybe Trump’s speech really was that fascistic. Judge for yourself. Read the transcript. (NPR offers a complete version of it here.) Then compare the reactions of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post, The Inquirer, The Guardian, and other leading broadsheets, and magazines and blogs like Mother Jones, Forward, Slate, Salon, Vox, Alternet, and a host of others, most of which rely on Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and former Special Assistant to the President, as their authoritative source on Trumpian cryptology. (Mr. Greenblatt, incidentally, should know better, given the treatment he has received from hard-line Zionist publications for refusing to demonize Black Lives Matter, and for “taking sides against” the State of Israel.)

Look, I’m not defending Donald Trump, who I consider a self-aggrandizing idiot and a soulless huckster of the lowest order, and whose supporters include a lot of real anti-Semites, and racists, and misogynists, and other such creeps. I’m simply trying to point out how the corporate media have, for months, been playing the same hysterical tune like an enormous Goebbelsian keyboard instrument, and how millions of Americans are singing along (as they were before the invasion of Iraq, which posed no threat to the USA , but which according to the media had WMDs), and how terribly fucking disturbing that is. In case you didn’t instantly recognize it, the name of the tune is “This guy is Hitler!” and it isn’t the short vulgarian fingers of Donald Trump that are tickling the ivories. And no, it isn’t “the Jews” either. It’s the corporate media, and the corporations that own them, and the rest of the global capitalist ruling classes … in other words, those “global elites.”

The thing I find particularly disturbing is how these rather mundane observations — i.e., (a) that a global ruling class exists, (b) that it’s primarily corporate in character, (c) that this class is pursuing its interests and not the interests of sovereign states — how such observations are being stigmatized as the ravings of unhinged anti-Semites. This stigmatization is not limited to Trumpists. Anyone to the left of Clinton is now, apparently, an anti-Semite. For example, Roger Cohen, in The New York Times, riding the tsunami of condemnation of the insidious verbiage of Trump’s West Palm speech, executed an extended smear-job on Jeremy Corbyn and his “Corbynistas” (they’re fond of coining these epithets, the media), denouncing their virulent “anti-Americanism,” “anti-Capitalism,” “anti-globalism,” and “anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.”

Which, let me hasten to add, and stress, and underscore, and repeatedly emphasize, is not to imply that the Labour Party, or the British Left, or the American Left, or any other Left, is anti-Semitism-free. Of course not. There are anti-Semites everywhere. That isn’t the point. Or it isn’t my point.

My point is that this stigmatization campaign is part of a much larger ideological project, one that has little to do with Trump, or Jeremy Corbyn, or their respective parties. Smearing one’s political opponents is nothing new, of course, it’s as old as the hills. But what we’re witnessing is more than smears. As I proposed in these pages back in July, political dissent is being gradually pathologized (i.e., stigmatized as aberrant or “abnormal” behavior, as opposed to a position meriting discussion). Consider the abnormalization of Sanders, back when he was talking about “banks,” “global elites,” and other things that matter, or the media’s portrayal of British voters as racists in the wake of the Brexit referendum. And, yes, the charges being leveled against Trump, much as we might despise the man. Anti-Semitism, inciting violence, paranoid conspiracy theorizing, insurrection, treason, et cetera — these are not legitimate arguments one needs to counter with superior arguments; they are symptoms of deviations from a norm, signs of criminality or pathology, which is increasingly how the corporate ruling classes are dismissing anyone who attempts to challenge them.

A line is being drawn in the ideological sand. On one side of it are the decent people, the normal people, in their business wear, with their university degrees, and prescriptions, and debts. On the other side are … well, the deplorables, the ignorant, racist, anti-Semitic, neo-nationalist, populist extremists. This line cuts through both the Left and the Right … supersedes both Left and Right, making bedfellows of supposed adversaries like Obama, Clinton, Kagan, Wolfowitz, Scowcroft, and their ilk on the Normal team, and a motley crew of Trumpists, Putinists, European populists, Corbynistas, Sandernistas, socialists, anarchists, Wikileakers, anti-Zionists, anti-capitalists, neo-Nazis, Black Lives Matterers, angry Greek pensioners, environmental activists, religious zealots, the Klu Klux Klan, David Graeber, most of the contributors to CounterPunch, and various other “extremist” types, many of whom detest each other, in the Deplorables’ current starting line-up.

The corporate media is sending a message … a message aimed at a much broader audience than undecided American voters (assuming such creatures really exist). The message is, “get with the fucking program, or get stigmatized as an anti-Semite, or a racist, or a Russian spy, or whatever.” The message is, “drop the populist rhetoric, shut the hell up about the Wall Street banks, and the corporations, and the ‘one percent,’ and … actually … forget about politics completely, except for identity politics, of course. Go ahead and knock yourself out with that.” The message is, “you’re either with us or against us … and it doesn’t matter why you’re against us, or what it is you think you’re for. Right, Left … who gives a shit? It’s one big Basket of Deplorables to us.”

This message, of course, displays many of the hallmarks of the classic authoritarian mentality, the need for nearly total conformity, mindless allegiance to one’s so-called superiors, delegitimization of all opposing viewpoints, and the infantile type of hero-worship figures like Obama and Clinton inspire … not the old-fashioned authoritarianism that would-be despots like Trump represent, but, rather, a more attractive version, a hopey, changey, lovey version, where there are no frightening Hitlerian leaders barking out anti-Semitic code words, and no one is exterminating thousands of people in faraway countries they want to destabilize in order to entirely dominate the region. No, this is the version where Obama sells the TPP on the Jimmy Fallon show, and wars of aggression are not wars of aggression, but “humanitarian interventions.” It’s also the version where universal healthcare is, regrettably, “unrealistic,” but $38 billion for the State of Israel so it can operate its Apartheid State, and weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, so they can bomb the shit out of farmers in Yemen, and cut off people’s heads for blasphemy, is somehow in “America’s vital interests.”

But what do I know? I’m just a satirist. I should probably leave all this complex stuff, like what is and isn’t in my interest, and what words really mean and all that, to the experts in the mainstream media. Since they did so well decoding Trump’s speech, maybe they could translate some of these other code words I’ve been having trouble with, like the ones I put in scare quotes above, or other such code words, like “enemy combatant,” “free trade agreement,” “security barrier,” “indefinite detention,” “targeted killing,” or “troubled asset relief program.”

I could go on, but I probably shouldn’t. Odds are, I’m already on the list of Putin-worshiping, anti-Semitic, racist, misogynist, neo-nationalist, non-standing up for the National Anthem, conspiracy theorizing America-haters. The last thing I need to do at this point is start jabbering about how the United States is an authoritarian corporatist dystopia ruled by a global capitalist elite that couldn’t give less of a shit about Americans (or any other actual people living in any other actual countries), where the corporate media can whip up mass fanatical support for wars of aggression, or corporate puppets, by pointing their fingers at yet another bogeyman and shouting “Hitler” at the top of their lungs. Next thing you know I’d be writing about “banks,” and “global corporations,” and “national sovereignty,” and we all know what that’s about, don’t we?

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Clinton adviser wants US to intercept Iranian ships to help Saudi Arabia

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Hillary Clinton’s campaign adviser, former CIA director Chris Morell – known for recommending killing Russians in Syria, and opposing the Iran nuclear agreement – has emerged with a new idea: forcibly boarding Iranian ships to help Saudi forces.

The idea to escalate support for the Saudis by engaging in such open aggression against Iran was voiced by the Democrat during a speech given to Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s liberal think-tank, Center for American Progress (CAP), on Tuesday.

“Ships leave Iran on a regular basis carrying arms to the Houthis in Yemen,” he said, speaking on the Iran-aligned Shia rebels fighting the government there. “I would have no problem from a policy perspective of having the US Navy boarding their ships, and if there are weapons on them, to turn those ships around.”

These ideas, as well as the former CIA director’s supportive stance on waterboarding, may sound like something out of the Republican camp, but Morell is indeed with Clinton, and in the event of Clinton winning the election, he is poised to become a driving force in American foreign policy.

He did, however, express some worry that forcibly boarding Iranian ships in foreign waters might pose some problems with regard to international law. But according to Morell, who has accused Iran of “malign behavior in the region,” taking things to the next level is exactly what is needed to “get the attention of our friends in the region to say the Americans are now serious about helping us deal with this problem.”

The Iran-aligned Houthi rebels captured Yemen’s government institutions and exiled President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2014. The Americans believe him to be the country’s legitimate leader, and are in league with Saudi Arabia over expelling the rebels from Yemen.

Gulf countries then set about bombing Yemen in the spring of 2015, with no protests emanating from the Americans, who have engaged in active support. The death toll topped 4,000 in late October, as the Saudi-led coalition used tens of billions of dollars in US weapons aid – including laser-guided bombs and internationally-banned cluster bombs – creating a humanitarian catastrophe that has put millions of lives in danger.

One of the latest Saudi bombings hit a funeral hall and killed 140 people.

Washington, however, is careful not to brand the Houthis terrorists. Aside from enjoying a tenuous alliance with Iran, the Houthis have also been committed to fighting against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Al-Qaeda is, after all, considered a terrorist group by Washington.

Podesta’s CAP released a fresh report last week, entitled ‘Leveraging US Power in the Middle East,’ calling for continued cooperation with the Gulf alliance and expanded action against Syria, which is allied with Iran in all of this. According to The Intercept, the report was received with open arms by UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba.

The ambassador’s position has been that the US is not doing enough to help the Sunni monarchies expand their influence, adding that he would like to see Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Jordan enjoy renewed support from Washington, “to get the band back together,” as he put it, according to The Intercept.

The US has sold more than $20 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia in the past 18 months.

Morell, for his part, believes the Middle East conflict is not a struggle between Iran and the Gulf monarchies, but instead “a desire on behalf of the Iranians to be the hegemonic power in the region… and it is the Sunni Gulf states pushing back against that. That is what’s happening.”

In August, Morell told Charlie Rose in a PBS interview that Russia and Iran should suffer in Syria for their support of the government of Bashar Assad.

The former CIA director said: “What they need is to have the Russians and Iranians pay a little price. When we were in Iraq, the Iranians were giving weapons to the Shia militia, who were killing American soldiers, right? The Iranians were making us pay a price. We need to make the Iranians pay a price in Syria. We need to make the Russians pay a price.”

He suggested that the killing be done “covertly, so you don’t tell the world about it, you don’t stand up at the Pentagon and say ‘we did this.’ But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran.”

In the same vein, he proposed US forces bombard Syrian government installations to “scare Assad.”

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‘Good’ vs ‘Bad’ Bombs: Shocking Commentary of German Newspaper on Middle East

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One of the largest German newspapers, Das Bild, seriously claimed that there are “good” and “bad” bombs that are being dropped on Middle Eastern countries.

According to the newspaper, the first ones were used in Aleppo by “bad” Putin whose goal is “to level the city with 300,000 residents to the ground in order to increase his personal power and that of his regime.”

The good bombs, as the newspaper claims, are on the contrary used by the US and its allies in the Iraqi city of Mosul. Their motive, according to the article, is “to liberate the city of millions from the terrorist regime of Daesh.”

The author, Julian Reichelt, made every effort to draw things black and white: he repeatedly contrasted the Russians with the Americans and even wrote odd comments in brackets, apparently making sure that the reader is “on the right side.”

“Bombs are clearly better in the hands of those who respect elections, follow laws and are controlled by the free press (for example Obama), than in the hands of despots who react to criticism with violence and oppression and are not accountable to anyone (for example Putin),” the article said.

In his attempt to turn the situation upside down, the author went even further, saying that “American nuclear weapons have always been better than the Russian (Pakistani or Chinese) ones because they have been controlled by politicians who have much more respect for human life and the will of their voters.”

Apparently, the author seems to have forgotten that the US is the country that killed 450,000 innocent people by dropping nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In addition to his outstanding comment, the author also mentioned that Russian media, including Sputnik and RT, alongside with respected German experts like Jürgen Todenhöfer, Jakob Augstein and Gabor Steingart always distort reality and publicly spread lies.

Apparently, Mr. Reichelt seems to ignore the fact that his controversial attempts to “demonize” Russia and “idolize” the West do not resemble much of “the truth” either.

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Western leaders grow deaf to Nazi abuses

Western leaders grow deaf to Israeli abuses
Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian toddler

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

Israel has just emerged from its extended, three-week high holidays, a period that in recent years has been marked by extremist religious Jews making provocative visits to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

Many go to pray, in violation of Israel’s international obligations. Most belong to groups that seek the mosque’s destruction and replacement with a Jewish temple – and now enjoy support from within the parliament, including from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s party.

A rash of such visits last autumn outraged Palestinians and triggered a wave of so-called “lone-wolf” attacks on Israelis. The attacks only recently abated.

Powerlessness, oppression, humiliation

Taking advantage of the renewed quiet, Israel allowed a record number of ultra-nationalists to visit the mosque, figures released last week show.

Parties of Israeli soldiers are also now entering the site.

The police, whose recently appointed commander is himself from the extremist settler community, has recommended too that restrictions be ended on visits by Jewish legislators who demand Israel’s sovereignty over the mosque.

Israel’s treatment of this supremely important Islamic holy site symbolises for Palestinians their powerlessness, oppression and routine humiliation. Conversely, a sense of impunity has left Israel greedy for even more control over Palestinians.

The gaping power imbalance was detailed last month at special hearing of the United Nations Security Council. Hagai El-Ad, head of B’tselem, which monitors the occupation, termed Israel’s abuses as “invisible, bureaucratic, daily violence” against Palestinians exercised from “cradle to grave”.

He appealed to the international community to end its five decades of inaction. “We need your help… The occupation must end. The UN Security Council must act. And the time is now,” he said.

Israeli politicians were incensed. El-Ad had broken one of Israel’s cardinal rules: you do not wash the country’s dirty linen abroad. Most Israelis consider the occupation and Palestinian suffering as purely an internal matter, to be decided by them alone.

Netanyahu accused B’tselem’s director of conspiring with outsiders to subject Israel to “international coercion”.

With the US limply defending El-Ad’s freedom of speech, Netanyahu found a proxy to relaunch the attack. David Bitan, chair of his party, both demanded that El-Ad be stripped of his citizenship and proposed legislation to outlaw calls for sanctions against Israel in international forums.

Unsurprisingly, El-Ad has faced a flood of death threats.

Meanwhile, another UN forum has been considering Israel’s occupation. Its educational, scientific, and cultural body, UNESCO, passed last month a resolution condemning Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian holy sites, and especially Al-Aqsa.

Again, Israelis were enraged at this brief disturbance of their well-oiled machinery of oppression. The abuses documented by UNESCO were overshadowed by Israeli protests that its own narrative, one based on security paranoia and Biblical entitlement, was not the focus.

While Israel exercises ever more physical control over Palestinians, its moral credit is rapidly running out with foreign audiences, who have come to understand that the occupation is neither benign nor temporary.

The rise of social media has accelerated that awakening, which in turn has bolstered grassroots reactions like the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Muzzling critics

Aware of the dangers, Israel has been aggressively targeting all forms of popular activism. Facebook and YouTube are under relentless pressure to censor sites critical of Israel.

Western governments – which joined the chorus of “Je suis Charlie” after Islamic State group’s lethal attack on the Paris office of Charlie Hebdomagazine last year – have cracked down on the boycott movement. Paradoxically, France has led the way by outlawing such activism, echoing Israeli claims that it constitutes “incitement”.

And left-wing social movements emerging in Europe face loud accusations that any criticism of Israel is tantamount to an attack on all Jews. Notably, a British parliamentary committee last month characterised as anti-Semitic parts of the opposition Labour party under its new leader Jeremy Corbyn, a champion of Palestinian rights.

Israel and its enablers have successfully engineered a hollowing out of official discourse about Israel to blunt even the mildest criticism.

In these ways, European governments – fearful of upsetting Israel’s patron in Washington – have been trying to hold in check popular anger at a belligerent and unrepetant Israel.

Illustrating that caution, UNESO was forced last week to vote a second time on its resolution, this time removing the word “occupation” and, against normal practice, giving equal status to the occupier’s names for the sites under threat from its occupation.

Even with the resolution neutered, UNESCO’s usual consensus could not be reached. The resolution – pushed by the Palestinians and Arab states – passed by a wafer-thin majority, with European and other governments abstaining.

Israel and its enablers have successfully engineered a hollowing out of official discourse about Israel to blunt even the mildest criticism.

Gradually, as the UNESCO vote and Corbyn’s experiences in the UK highlight, Western powers are accepting Netanyahu’s doubly illogical premises: that criticising the occupation is anti-Israel, and criticising Israel is anti-Semitic.

Incrementally, Western leaders are conceding that any criticism of Netanyahu’s policies – even as he tries to ensure the occupation becomes permanent – is off-limits.

El-Ad called for courage from the UN Security Council. But his words have fallen on deaf ears.

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The Big (non)Event in Croatia – Kolinda Spoke, but Said Nothing

Adelina Marini

Greetings from festive Zagreb, where today is a holiday because of All Saints Day! Regardless of the day being a holiday, there is a lot to be found in Croatian media. In today’s edition we are also following who is in opposition to the new/old majority in the Croatian Parliament and we continue the subject of Pernarism. We also keep an eye on the development of the latest Serbian drama – the “Jajinci” case and the “Montenegro” spy affair, as well as the ongoing dilemma of whether the Belgrade-Priština dialogue will survive.

A long awaited and badly spent interview

Croatian journalists and Twitter activists have been asking for months when will they finally hear from the Croatian president. They marked the weeks and then the months since her last press conference. All this amidst a process of turbulent political transformation in Croatia. The silence of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was deafening. And behold, she finally spoke. Last night Croatian television channel RTL aired an interview with her by the very experienced and famous for her sharp questions journalist Mirjana Hrga. The interview, however, was disappointing, for it left the impression of being too accommodating. It looked more like an interview for a women’s magazine, than serious journalism, which is to be expected from a serious journalist in prime time.

Watching the interview one cannot help but ask oneself who wrote the questions – whether it was the experienced journalist, or the PR team at Pantovčak (the address of the president’s office). Questions varied from support for abortions, women’s rights, and what is it like being the head of state and mother of two, to the tax reform, proposed by government, but also how many countries has Mrs Grabar-Kitarović visited. 20 minutes, in which the president was not held accountable for the fulfilment of commitments she made during the presidential elections, no account was asked for on the past year and ten months in office, on her sometimes controversial decisions, and also about her silence. In all of the diversity of questions, asked of a celebrity it seemed like, not a civil servant, some Croatian media singled out a gaffe.

To a question about the presidential elections in the USA Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović made a slip in saying that “The Americans will decide who our next president will be, I mean their next president”. The slip was picked up by media of the region as well. Serbian national television RTS reported that the Croatian president made a gaffe during her interview for RTL. Bosnian website 6YKA also reports that the Croatian president said that Americans will decide who will be president of Croatia. Actually, the gaffe was the interview itself, and a heavy journalistic gaffe at that, which shows that Croatia still has a long way to go before it shakes off journalistic subservience to those in power. Actually, the interview with Mrs Grabar-Kitarović was also indicative as timing, for the previous government, headed by Tihomir Orešković, became famous first of all with its attempt at putting harness on the state media. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković promised during the campaign for the snap elections of September 11 that he will work for media independence. Obviously it is the president’s turn as well.

How did Pernarism appear?

Croatian media keep looking for an answer to the question how did Pernarism appear, named after the most vocal MP from the anti-Europe and anti-NATO party Live Wall Ivan Pernar. Political scientist Boško Picula writes in his column for tportal that the reason why Ivan Pernar is so outspoken is that he is practically the sole strong opposition to the new majority. The former PM and still leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Zoran Milanović made a mistake by not throwing his resignation immediately, but turned into a leader who has been withdrawing for months, while the campaign for electing a new leader is ongoing. Currently, PM Andrej Plenković has no strong opponent in the Sabor. The only one is Ivan Pernar, writes Boško Picula.

The Vecernji list correspondent to Brussels Tomislav Krasnec, on the other hand, reports that now more than ever the debates for the EU will turn into an integral part of the domestic political debate in Croatia. After the new government gave a clear sign that it intends to report and debate on a regular basis in Parliament on the results of every meeting of the European Council, it would mean that the radical and anti-EU positions of Live Wall will become more and more heard. “All this has the potential to start a discussion, which would answer the question that many citizens have had not answered, or answered with not sufficient arguments, or at all: exactly what is the benefit to Croatia from its membership in the Euro-Atlantic structures?”, writes Tomislav Krasnec.

Traces of unknown DNA and … GRU

It is not a non-working day in Serbia, but it is another non-working day in a row in the sense that everyone is busy with something that is of no benefit to anyone – scandals, affairs, theories. There is hardly any new information around the bizarre “Jajinci” case – the weapons cache discovered in close proximity to the family home of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić in the Belgrade neighbourhood of Jajinci, although the PM is already backing down on this. Danas reports that, according to the PM, it is unlikely that it will become known who left the weapons. “I trust the agencies and the state of Serbia, but I am afraid that it will be difficult to find out who the people who brought these weapons are and what was their goal”, said Vučić to journalists during his one-day visit to Hamburg on Monday. He believes the case to be too complicated to be resolved easily.

After that he once more got into the role of a drama queen by stating that he will talk on this subject no more. “We are spending too much time on ourselves, instead of on our country and our citizens and I have no right to allow myself this”, said he in his typical style. His Minister of Internal Affairs Nebojša Stefanović reported in the meantime that traces of DNA from three people was found, but they are so mixed up that they will be difficult to identify. In a commentary for the same newspaper, titled “Terror attack on trust”, Ivan Radak writes that it would be a mistake to view the story of the claims that a terror attack is being prepared in isolation from the increase of salaries and pensions and the resolution of the problem with several mega companies, who are heavily in debt.

According to the author, Vučić has once more demonstrated his inability to deal with the debts of those giants. “Should one sum the debts of not just these enterprises, but other sectors as well, like healthcare for example, it will become evident very fast (and the IMF and the EU have already warned about this) that our financial stability is fragile”, writes Ivan Radak. The author reminds that the problem of enterprises in debt has not been solved during the four years in power of the PM. “If we find ourselves, after such a period, still looking for personnel who are capable to do something, what are we discussing anyway? Four years were sufficient enough to clear out the largest of garbage piles. However, in all this mess, it seems like we are losing track of time”, ends his commentary for Danas Ivan Radak.

Vecernje novosti reports on its first page that the PM will resign from his post as boss of the Security Bureau because of the “Jajinci” case. The newspaper has learned from its sources that over the next few days the prime minister will notify the president of his decision. This is the first specific political consequence from the “Jajinci” case, which revealed the cracks in the security system for the first man in the government, writes the newspaper. Agencies are for four days unable to put their finger on who left the weapons cache in close proximity of the house of Vučić. According to Vecernje’ssources, the PM is not happy with the fact that agencies have failed to assure him that they have control, giving him full five different versions so far.

Montenegro Pobjeda reports, quoting the Montenegro website Pink, which has the same symbols as the Serbian tabloid TV channel of the same name, that the GRU (Russia’s military intelligence agency) stands behind the attempts to organise terrorist attacks in Podgorica for the October 16 parliamentary elections. According to Pink, intelligence officers from the famous Russian army intelligence agency have left Belgrade last week. They had planned attacks, which were to be executed at the closing of the election day in Montenegro on October 16, right after the results are announced.

Three scenarios for continuing the negotiations between Belgrade and Priština

Blic today offers several scenarios for the negotiations between Belgrade and Priština, which for the last few days have been among the leading subjects in the Serbian political discourse. The newspaper reports that negotiations are ever more prolonged, because there are questions at the table which are ever more national-political. After Belgrade pulled back the Law for Trepča (a mine in Kosovo, which Serbia has claims for), on which the parliament in Priština provided for all the assets of this complex be Kosovo property, new requirements appeared from the Kosovo side, among which is the payment of war compensations and guarantees that Serbia’s membership to the EU will only happen after the recognition of the state of Kosovo. In such an environment, writes Blic, it is difficult to forecast the direction in which the relations between Serbia and Kosovo will take.

According to analyst Bojan Klačar from the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy CESID, a radical scenario is out of the question. He believes that negotiations will continue because the EU insists on it, and at the moment the status quo is not beneficial for anyone. On the other hand, however, he says for the newspaper it is difficult to forecast the path that negotiations will take. He sees two levels. At the first one, essential questions are to be resolved, and on the lower one answers will be given to vital and local questions. The highest ranking civil servants need to participate on the second level, believes the analyst. The Kosovo political scientist Albinot Maloku believes that prime ministers need to negotiate on the political issues and the economic or sports ones are to be discussed by the corresponding ministers. Both states are using the dialogue for political advertisement and practically very little is really accomplished, says the Kosovo analyst.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

Posted in CroatiaComments Off on The Big (non)Event in Croatia – Kolinda Spoke, but Said Nothing

Keep your kids away from Israel

Keep your kids away from Israel – it’s dangerous for Jewish children, says American Jewish father.
Tzion - Jewish father suffering injustice in Israel

Marianne Azizi writes:

“Dad, they are hurting me, beating me, help me.”

The screams for help are then muffled from behind the barred windows of the institution.

Tzion’s 14-year-old US-born daughter has tried to escape many times. She is now locked up in a mental hospital in Israel, and her father cannot come within 5km of her.

“Dad, I can hear the social workers plotting. They are making up stories about you. It’s dangerous for you in Israel,” whispers Tzion’s 13-year-old son to his father. He is separated from his sister, locked up in an institution over one and a half hours away from her.

What did Tzion do? He immigrated to Israel in August 2014, having raised his children as a single dad in the USA, successfully and without the authorities ever intervening in his parenting. The mother had relinquished her children to him nearly seven years earlier, having gone down the route of drugs, and had moved to Las Vegas to live with her new boyfriend.

In this video, Tzion described his plight and warns people: Don’t come to Israel unless you are fully informed of the dangers and risks.

Tzion had been loyal to Israel and had worked at the highest levels, handing confidential matters. He thought it would be beneficial for his children to get to know Israeli culture and the Hebrew language.

But then Tzion rejected the sexual advances of an old friend. She retaliated by making a false complaint against him to the welfare authorities anonymously, though her identity was later revealed, as was the fact that this was not the first time she had made similar complaints against other people.

Child prisons

In May 2015 Tzion’s children were taken from their school by Israeli police and social workers who never even checked with their father or asked any questions about his life or his income. They were just seized.

The institutions to which Tzion’s children were taken are child prisons. His daughter stopped eating. The social workers claimed she was anorexic and declared she had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which they alleged had been caused by repressed memories of sexual abuse by her father. They then contacted his former wife and invited her to come and fetch the children! Some eight years after she had last seen or had contact with them, she flew to Israel and was granted daily access to the children who didn’t even know her. Meanwhile, the father was not allowed such visitations.

Tzion is in a surreal world. His comfortable life in the USA, where he and his children lived a good and healthy life, has turned into a nightmare. Testimonies sent from the USA in his support have been ruled inadmissible. His children’s school in the US fully supports him, but he cannot call witnesses in his defence.

What Tzion does know is that his ex wife was informed that his children were homeless, not attending school and hungry. The Israeli authorities claimed he was under investigation from the moment he arrived in Israel. Yet, at no time did they ever visit his home, and all accounts coming from the USA are different. Tzion has no way to defend himself.

Given the runaround

When I interviewed Tzion, he received a call at 2pm from the manager of the institution holding his son. Tzion recorded everything. He was told that his son was sick and that they were sending him to an emergency unit in Beer Sheva. Tzion asked if he could go with him but was told to just wait and that he would hear in time.

Sitting with me in the cafe in Jerusalem, Tzion was going into shock. At 2.45pm he was called again and told to wait, and that they would inform him about the condition of his son. He is still the official guardian of his children – but you wouldn’t have thought so by the way he was being treated. At 4.10pm he was called yet again, and told that he would receive another call from the emergency unit to clear up any questions regarding medication for his son.

Tzion stressed again that his boy was epileptic and that he would need to talk to a doctor. Minutes later, the emergency unit called, just a courtesy they said. He was told that his son had only just arrived at the hospital. When he informed them about his son’s medical condition, he was brushed off with: “We know, we know, don’t worry.” Tzion asked if he could go to the hospital but was told that his son would be leaving within a few minutes, even though he had just arrived. Minutes later the manager called again to check if Tzion had spoken with the hospital. Tzion asked if his son was OK, and whether he could see him. He was told not to worry, and that it wasn’t a good day for visiting, it being a Friday, the day before the Sabbath. He asked if he could speak to him on the phone but was refused.

Tzion recorded all the calls, but no one cares. I heard for myself the multitude of lies he was told. Any parent would feel disempowered in such a situation, to not be able to speak to or comfort one’s child.

The previous week Tzion had been admonished for calling his son on his appointed day – the authorities claimed he was stalking his son! The boy was refused his bar mitzvah,1 the most important day in his young life.

A warning come true

Tzion knows the game. He has learned over the past 18 months how it works. If he fights, he loses, and if he doesn’t, he loses.

Most of all, his children lose. They have no rights, which contravenes the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Tzion had worked at the highest levels in Israel, but he refused to do certain tasks. They told him that his refusal would come at a price. He believes he is now paying that price.

All he can do now is warn others: don’t come to Israel unless you are fully informed of the dangers and risks.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Keep your kids away from Israel

Russian MoD Provides Proof That Moscow Wasn’t Behind Idlib School Attack

The Russian Defense Ministry has released drone images clearly showing that neither Russian aircraft nor Syrian warplanes could have inflicted damage to a school located in the Syrian town of Haas, the Idlib province, in an attack on October 26 that left at least 22 children and six teachers killed.

Russian MoD Provides Proof That Moscow Wasn’t Behind Idlib School Attack © REUTERS/ Ammar Abdullah

“The video footage published by a number of foreign media outlets of an alleged strike on the residential area of Hass consists of more than ten pieces mixed together that were shot with varying resolution at different times of the day,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.

A general view shows a damaged classroom at a school after it was hit in an air strike in the village of Hass, in the south of Syria's rebel-held Idlib province on October 26, 2016.

© AFP 2016/ OMAR HAJ KADOUR A general view shows a damaged classroom at a school after it was hit in an air strike in the village of Hass, in the south of Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province on October 26, 2016.

The photo released by the AFP news agency, the spokesman explained, showed that a single side wall was damaged, with desks remaining in place. Moreover, “a pinkish-colored fence in the picture is intact and lacks even shrapnel damage,” the spokesman added. If the school was damaged in an airstrike, the picture would have been different. “The fence and all the walls of the building would have been destroyed and damaged with fragments from an air-delivered weapon, while the furniture would have been swept away by the shock wave,” he detailed.

The Russian Ministry of Defense pinpointed the exact location where the photo was taken and sent an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to make detailed images of the area. The first photo was taken at 8:42 GMT on October 27, a day after the alleged aerial attack took place. A white check mark shows where the school is located.

School  in the village of Hass, in the south of Syria's rebel-held Idlib province

© PHOTO: MINISTRY OF DEFENCE OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION School in the village of Hass, in the south of Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province

The second photo, taken at 8:40 GMT on October 27, shows areas affected by the attack encircled in yellow.

School in the village of Hass, in the south of Syria's rebel-held Idlib province

School in the village of Hass, in the south of Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province
“The photo taken by a Russian UAV shows that the roof of the school has not been damaged,” Konashenkov said. In addition, “there are no shell craters in the surrounding area.”

Furthermore, the spokesman noted that planes operated by the Russian Aerospace Forces did not fly over the entire Idlib province on the day of the attack. “This is an absolute fact,” he stated.

Konashenkov further said that Washington could confirm these findings since the Russian military spotted a US-operated MQ-1B Predator attack drone in the area at a time when the Russian UAV was taking images of the school. Despite evidence to the contrary, the White House has blamed Moscow and Damascus for the attack.

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