Archive | April 27th, 2011

God’s Chosen Slavers–IsraHelli Sentenced to 18 years for sex trafficking


by crescentandcross


According to the court, from 1999 to 2007, Avi Yanai and his accomplices sold hundreds of women for prostitution to Israel, Italy, Spain, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates and other countries.

Ed note–Oh, I can just hear them now, those individuals–both Jewish and Christian alike–saying ‘Well, he’s not a REAL Jew, one who follows the Torah and the bible, because if he was, he would NEVER engage in something as low down and dirty as trafficking in sex slaves…’

Au contraire. Indeed, this person is a “good Jew” from top to bottom, and can use his religion in justifying and exculpating his behavior–

Book of Numbers 31:13-18, 32-35

History: On Moses’ command, the Hebrews kill all the captives, including the boy children; they spare only 32,000 female children to serve as concubines. The attack has yielded 800,000 head of cattle in plunder.

And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp.

And Moses was furious with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.

And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.

Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves and use as you see fit…

And the booty, being the rest of the prey which the men of war had caught, was six hundred thousand and seventy thousand and five thousand sheep,

And threescore and twelve thousand beeves,

And threescore and one thousand asses,

And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him.

Besides, this, we have the adorable story of Abraham selling his wife Sarah into prostitution, not just once, but TWICE, as well as Lott giving his 2 virgin daughters over to a gang of sex fiends, saying “abuse them as you see fit.”

With heroes and role models such as the above-referenced, is it any mystery then why the porn, prostitution and sex slave industries are dominated by Jews?



An Israeli citizen was sentenced yesterday to 18 years in prison by the Moscow military court, for organizing a vast network of sex trafficking. According to the court, from 1999 to 2007, when most of the network’s agents were arrested, Avi Yanai and his accomplices sold hundreds of women for prostitution to Israel, Italy, Spain, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates and other countries. The minimal official estimate stands at 129 women, but some of the states still investigating the network put the number at several hundred. The women were lured from Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Uzbekistan.

Aside from Yanai, 83 people were arrested across Europe, 14 of them in Russia. The network is suspected to have produced tens of millions of dollars in profits for its operators, and some of the women trafficked may have been murdered by the Albanian mafia.

Rape victim - Aug. 8, 2009 - Tomer Neuberg A rape victim.
Photo by: Tomer Neuberg

“Some people, using false documents, registered fictitious companies in Russia promising people legal work abroad, mostly in Western Europe,” a senior Russian Federal Security Service investigator, Vitaliy Danilov, told the Izvestia newspaper. “They put out advertisements and people came in, bringing documents and pictures. By the time they came back to pick up their documents, work permits and Schengen-zone visas, the companies would be gone. Nobody, including the police, had any clue about why these documents were stolen.” Some 2,500 passports were stolen in all. The man in charge of the passports and visas for the network was an officer, Lieutenant Colonel Dmitri Strikanov, who was sentenced by the same military court to 12 years in prison, after prosecution did not manage to prove he knew the forged documents would be used for women trafficking.

The network then recruited women with promises of legitimate work as dancers or waitresses. The women paid 3 to 5 thousand Euros, and received the passports stolen earlier with their pictures. In some cases, fake stamps were used.

“Once they got abroad, the women would end up in real slavery,” Danilov said. “Sexual slavery. They didn’t get any money, their passports were usually taken and there was no way home. The Albanian pimps were particularly cruel, beating them bloody for any attempted escape. From what we’ve heard they may have killed at least one woman.”

Russian media reported Yanai was the brains behind most of the operation. Yanai, who moved to Russia in 2001, was arrested in May 2007, over a month after the rest of the group. His attorney, Karen Nersisyan, insists that his client was completely engrossed in running a legitimate business – a small filters factory – and had not broken any law.

The court refused Yanai’s request to be released on a million dollar bail. The Russian media coverage was not without anti-Semitic undertones: “The Israeli Avi Yanai marched down the hall, concealing the face of a Jewish patriarch and clutching a Torah,” website reported at one stage. The Israeli has previously been arrested in Israel on suspicions of trafficking in women. He was released under bail and had his passport confiscated, but in May 2001 managed to get the passport back under a bail of 30,000 shekels. In the six months since his arrest the Israeli prosecutors did not produce an indictment or even an indictment deadline.

His lawyer and family, however, protest his innocence. Nersisyan said that if Yanay was an organized crime boss he would have vanished in the month and a half that elapsed between the arrests of the other operatives and his own. Yanai’s daughter, Limor Yanai, alleged “absurd” behavior on the part of the prosecution and accused the court of censorship. The Russian prosecutors said that Yanay would frequently accompany the women he sold to Israel, to personally present them to local mobsters. They said he would use a foreign passport on these trips.

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Turkey: Israel shouldn’t repeat its Gaza flotilla mistake



Speaking with the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this week, Turkish FM says it is Israel’s responsibility to lift its blockade on the Strip, saying no one nation owned the Mediterranean.

By Haaretz

Israel mustn’t attempt to stop a planned aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip, Turkey’s Foreign Minister told in an interview on Monday, adding that Turkey could do nothing to stop organizers from launching the flotilla.

Turkey said on Thursday it had received a request from Israel to help stop activists sailing to Gaza on the first anniversary of an Israeli raid on a Turkish ship, but it said the flotilla plan was not Ankara’s concern.


Mavi Marmara - AP - May 2010 The Mavi Marmara off the coast of Istanbul in May 2010.
Photo by: AP


The comment comes after Ankara had already made it clear earlier this month that it would and could not stop the 15-ship aid flotilla, planned to set sail next month, a year after nine Turks were shot dead after Israeli marines stormed a flotilla organized by a Turkish Islamist charity.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu urged Israel not to “repeat the same mistake,” adding that it was “Israel’s responsibility not to implement [a blockade] against Gaza.”

“A fact-finding mission of the UN declared that [the blockade] is illegal,” Davutoglu said, adding that in last year’s flotilla people were killed 72 miles [116 kilometers] from the coast, so this was in international waters. The Mediterranean does not belong to any nation.”

Referring to Turkey’s professed inability to stop flotilla organizers from going ahead with their plans, saying: “We can advise, we can say something, but we cannot stop the flotilla.”

Turkey, a secular Muslim nation, has been an important regional ally of Israel for more than a decade.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party government, which has roots in banned Islamist movements, froze relations with Israel after the deadly raid.

Ankara has demanded an apology as a condition for mending ties, regardless of a UN probe’s findings into the incident.

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For Israelis and Palestinians, the status quo is neither sustainable nor desirable


To suggest Israelis and Palestinians are equally responsible would suggest they hold equal power to shape events. They don’t.

Back in 2008 a Florida couple running a small business that throws children’s parties bought two costumes that looked like Tigger and Eeyore on eBay from a firm in Peru for $500. When Walt Disney saw the characters advertised online, it threatened legal action for an infringement of copyright laws and presented the couple with a seven-point demand to cease and desist.

The couple complied with all but one – instead of sending the costumes to Disney to be destroyed, they sent them back to Peru for a refund. “We needed the money,” explained Marisol Perez-Chaveco, whose family was on public assistance. This was too much for Disney, which responded with a million-dollar lawsuit plus costs.

One would think that a company dedicated to marketing itself as the wholesome home of eternal childhood would regard such a heavy-handed approach as an own goal; as though the magic castle was home not to family fun but a faceless corporation ruthlessly pursuing small family businesses. But for Disney that is precisely the point. They want people to witness the ferocity with which they pursue their interests (they once threatened to sue a daycare centre for painting Minnie, Micky and Goofy on its walls) pour encourager les autres.

After a week in the West Bank participating in the annual Palestine Festival of Literature, you get the feeling Israeli security services are using the same public relations team as Disney. We were kept several hours at the Israeli-Jordan border while three Britons with Turkish and Arabic sounding names were held for questioning.

At the West Bank-Israel crossing on the access highway to Nazarath, only brown-skinned people had their passports held. Our final event in the village of Silwan – an evening of poetry, literature and Palestinian rap – was a riot. Literally. Local youth responded to Israeli teargas with a hail of stones. The British consul, who was to attend, turned back halfway. The rest of us, holding onions to our noses to counter the gas, walked past burning tyres, smoking skips and bricks strewn across the road, to the venue. By the time we got there, most people had fled.

The point isn’t that they should have treated us better because we were foreign. But rather, if this is how they treat foreigners who they know have a voice, imagine how they treat locals. Families with small children waiting for hours before putting the entire contents of their car in shopping trolleys and wheeling that through security so they can get home. Grown men and women being shouted at by teenagers with guns. We got only a glimpse. And even that was an eye opener.

The intimidation, humiliation and harassment that emerge from these encounters are not byproducts of a broader strategy. Like Disney’s legal warnings, they are central to the strategy itself. Occupation on this scale and for this length of time can only prevail by a consistent and persistent effort to crush the spirit of the occupied.

Meanwhile, Tinker Bells sprinkle their fairy dust to blur the view or to beautify the ugly. Witnesses are told they either didn’t really see what they saw, only saw what they wanted to see, should have seen something else as well, or should have gone somewhere else where they could have seen worse.

Elsewhere, a vigorous marketing campaign ensures that when the strip-searching is done the first thing you see when you pull up your trousers are tourist posters of religious sites against azure skies saying “Welcome to Israel”.

Since 2005, a massive rebranding campaign has taken place to dispel Israel’s reputation for religiosity and war and portray it instead as the home of “creative energy”. The trouble is, since then there has been the bombing of Lebanon, the Gaza blockade, the attack on a Gaza aid flotilla, and the escalation of illegal settlements.

To suggest that Palestinians are equally responsible for this state of affairs would suggest the two sides hold equal power to shape events. They don’t. No matter how many rhetorical checkpoints get thrown up, there are some basic facts you just cannot get around. Israel is the occupier; Palestinians are the occupied.

That justifies nothing, and explains a great deal. Israel does not have to be the worst place on Earth for the occupation to be worthy of condemnation. Nor can its actions or existence be understood in isolation from western foreign policy and Europe’s history of antisemitism. Similarly, Palestinians do not need to be beyond criticism for their right to resist occupation to be considered valid.

At the first cabinet meeting after the 1967 war Israel’s justice minister, Yaakov Shimshon Shapira, asked: “In a time of decolonisation in the whole world, can we consider an area in which mainly Arabs live, and we control defence and foreign policy? Who’s going to accept that?”

The truth is that while much of the world didn’t like it, they were prepared to accept it for several decades. That seems to be changing. Israel’s power is not in question. But its influence is clearly waning. Polls show asignificant shift in Europe towards support for Palestinians. In September, the UN general assembly looks set to support the recognition of a Palestinian state within its 1967 borders.

Whether such a solution is even possible at this stage is an open question. Through its land grabs and settlement building Israel has created an ugly patchwork out of the West Bank, which is sewn together with a range of separate and unequal ID cards, access roads and car registration plates for Israelis and Palestinians that would be difficult to unpick without the whole thing unravelling.

Israel’s refusal to talk to Hamas and the effective emasculation of Fatah has left it with no one with any credibility to negotiate with. The Palestinian Authority – an authority without any real authority – is regarded by most as simply another layer of occupation. Last week the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said he opposed another armed uprising. But the truth is that Fatah wasn’t behind the last uprisings, and would be incapable of leading any more. Through the entire week, Abbas’s name did not come up once.

In this regard, the Israeli occupation has been a victim of its own success on its own terms. It has not so much provided security for a Jewish state as created a fortified country in which non-Jews live as a majority either as second-class citizens or not as citizens at all.

“The continuation of the occupation guarantees the nullification of Zionism,” argued the historian Professor Yehuda Bauer last week, the day before a demonstration of prominent Israelis against the occupation. “That is, it rules out the possibility that the Jewish people will live in its land with a strong majority and international recognition. In my eyes, this makes [Israel’s] government clearly anti-Zionist.”

A Palestine that is independent, non-contiguous and home to thousands of foreigners who do not respect its laws is not viable. Given the trajectory of Israeli domestic politics, an Israel that reverses the expansionist impulses of the past 44 years in return for peace is not likely. The status quo is neither sustainable nor desirable. Something has to give.

One need not embrace Palestinian self-determination to challenge this situation. A simple demand for equality and human rights for Palestinians will do.

• This article was amended on 25 April 2011. A phrase in the original read, “At the crossing into Nazareth”. The location of the crossing has been clarified in the text.

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The Mystery Of Joseph’s Tomb



by MW

Truth is one of the first casualties of this conflict, and no one should assume the violence at Joseph’s Tomb will be any different.

JPG - 78.8 kb
Joseph’s Tomb, 2007. Photo by Palestine Monitor.

It could happen any time but it usually occurs under the cover of the night.

Settlers come down from the mountain above the Palestinian city of Nablus to pay their respects to the purported resting place of Joseph, Patriarch and 11th son of Jacob. The early morning of Sunday, April 24th should have been no different. Sometime early in the morning, close to thirty settlers packed in five cars arrived in the area around Joseph’s Tomb to pray. After these established facts, the fog of war obscures. The subsequent events and the circumstances surrounding the death of one of these settlers and the injuries of four others remains shrouded in mystery.

An old mustachioed shopkeeper in Balata village near Joseph’s Tomb did not see or hear anything unusual.

“How often to the settlers come down into the village,” I asked.

“Every day,” he said.

“Always armed?”

“Of course.”

For years midnight visitations to the Tomb were common place, and growing security coordination between Israeli and Palestinian forces had even led to a monthly, chaperoned pilgrimage. Sunday’s fatal settler excursion was, however, not coordinated with the Israeli military.

Illegal since Ehud Barak pulled out of the area in the Second Intifada, the standard response to these visitations by the PA security forces is to stand aside, lay down their weapons and make way for the settlers armed to assert their authority in Palestinian territory. But on April 25, the PA was unaware of the intended settler visit – despite Israeli deployment of the Givati Brigade around the Tomb after intelligence reported a nocturnal visit was likely by the death-focused Breslav Hassidim settler sect.

In the early morning after prayers in the Tomb, Ben-Yosef Livnat’s car attempted to run through the nearby Palestinian checkpoint. Warning shots were fired skyward, then level when the car didn’t stop, killing Livnat and wounding four others.

Born in the nearby Elon Moreh settlement, Livnat is the nephew of “hawkish” Israeli Culture and Science Minister Limor Livnat, claims the killing as cold blooded murder by “a terrorist disguised as a Palestinian policeman.” But doubt has even been cast on this version of the events. The Sources have detailed numerous different accounts of the events that took place that morning. Jerusalem Post reported that the four injured settlers were detained by Israeli police by refusing to comply with the investigation and not telling their version of the events. Meanwhile, the PA detained for questioning the Palestinian police who were on duty during the shooting. An anonymous source, fearful of PA and Israeli reprisal, claimed that, as often occurs, settlers and IDF soldiers shot down from the mountain after seeing suspicious activity near Joseph’s Tomb, thus resulting in an incident of friendly fire. The popular belief among many people in the area is that the entire story is a fabrication.

“Where is the blood, where is the signs of any fighting?” I was asked while being led into the complex of Joseph’s Tom yesterday. All I see are cigarette butts and soda cans in the courtyard of this small and gray structure that, I hate to admit, is far less than impressive.

While conspiracy theories abound, it is hard to find any evidence amongst the involved parties to prove what actually happened that fateful morning. Sometimes it only matters what the people think. This is the most dangerous part.

Politicians like Livnat’s aunt and Likud Knesset member Danny Danon preached hate and retribution at the funeral yesterday, the latter relating Sunday’s shooting to Itamar’s quintuple homicide. While I talked to scared villagers near the Tomb, President Benjamin Netanyahu greeted thousands at the funeral and expressed condolences to the family – Livnat was “cruelly attacked.” Perhaps the hard-line settlers these politicians represent will use this incident to continue to exact their price tag policy against Palestinian civilians. Meanwhile, any Palestinian denial of the events that took place risks damaging their credibility in the eyes of the rest of the world. Recent events in Gaza and the West Bank have already managed to start this process.

The smoke has cleared from the burned tires near Joseph’s Tomb, the only signs of any skirmishes between Israeli soldiers and local youth. The military presence is long gone. Local residents said that, to their knowledge, no one in Balata Village was arrested or targeted by Israeli soldiers; although according to the International Solidarity Movement, the military initially invaded Balata to look for suspects, but handed authority to the PA soon after.

Balata currently breathes easily – this is a relief. If only the Palestinians who wereattacked by settlers near Huwarra checkpoint in Nablus had been as lucky.

As I make my way from Joseph’s Tomb, a Balata villager’s question burns in my mind.

“Why is everything so quiet, why is the IDF gone already?” he said.

It is an interesting question, one that expresses the sort of collective doubt shrouding the circumstances of the incident. We may never know what actually happened. I am told that only a select few do. One thing is certain.

The story presented to the world is murder. The absence of evidence and the silencing fear of people is frustrating anyone seeking the truth about this bloody Sunday. The version of events that is likely to become the public discourse is that a Palestinian policeman shot and killed a devout Jew. Considering how little we know about the events that took place, how quickly the story has become etched in the stone is alarming and potentially portentous for both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

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Costs of arming Israel can no longer be ignored

Josh Ruebner
The Electronic Intifada



US weaponry was used in the flattening of Gaza during the three weeks of attacks in winter 2008-09. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

Israel may be forgiven for failing to realize the current fiscal woes of the United States. After all, US military aid to Israel not only sailed unscathed through this month’s passage of the 2011 budget, but reached the record level of $3 billion.

The US additionally provided Israel $415 million for procurement, research and development of joint US-Israeli missile defense projects, including $205 million to fund Israel’s newly-deployed Iron Dome system.

This anti-missile battery already has altered significantly the strategic balance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when Israel successfully shot down incoming rockets fired from the Gaza Strip earlier this month. With the assured diplomatic backing of the US to prevent Israel from being held accountable by the international community for its illegal blockade, Iron Dome will embolden Israel to tighten its siege and escalate its attacks on the occupied Gaza Strip by providing its citizens with additional protection against retaliatory fire.

US funding of Iron Dome is but one example of many of how US weapons transfers to Israel privilege Israeli military dominance over Palestinian freedom and create perverse economic disincentives for Israel to defy USpolicy goals such as halting Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land, ending its collective punishment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and negotiating in good faith a lasting peace agreement.

As long as US weapons continue to flow, Israel will feel free to disregard the Obama administration’s mild blandishments and half-hearted attempts to bring Israel to the negotiating table. Unfortunately this disincentive structure is set to be reinforced over the coming years.

Under a Bush-era agreement, US weapons transfers to Israel are scheduled to total $30 billion from 2009-2018, an annual average increase of 25 percent above previous levels. With this 2007 Memorandum of Understanding, the US solidified Israel’s position as the largest recipient ofUS military aid this decade. In line with increases proposed under this arrangement, President Obama asked for a record-breaking $3.075 billion of weapons for Israel in his 2012 budget request.

A new online database — “How Many Weapons to Israel?” ( — casts doubt on whether the US can afford, either morally, financially or politically, to continue transferring weapons to Israel at taxpayer expense without examining the ramifications of this policy.

From 2000-2009, the US licensed, paid for and delivered to Israel more than 670 million weapons and related equipment, valued at nearly $19 billion, through three main weapons transfer programs (Foreign Military Sales, Direct Commercial Sales and Excess Defense Articles). These weapons transfer programs accounted for nearly 80 percent of the more than $24 billion in military aid appropriated to Israel during these years. The bulk of the remaining money was spent by Israel on its own domestic arms industry, a unique exemption written into law for Israel. All other countries receiving USmilitary aid are required to spend the whole sum within the US.

Military aid to Israel ran the gamut from the patently absurd — one used food steamer valued at $2,100 — to the lethal — 93 F-16D fighter jets valued at a total of nearly $2.5 billion. With nearly 500 categories of weapons transferred to Israel, the US is pervasively, intricately and comprehensively involved in arming its military.

These weapons transfers also make the US deeply complicit in almost every action the Israeli military takes to entrench its illegal 43-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip and the apartheid policies that undergird its government’s stance toward Palestinians.

From September 2000-December 2009, roughly the same period during which the US transferred these 670 million weapons to Israel, the Israeli military killed at least 2,969 Palestinians, of whom 1,128 were children, who took no part in hostilities, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.

For example, Israel killed 446 unarmed Palestinians, including 149 children, with missiles fired from helicopters. The Pentagon classifies the number, types and value of missiles transferred to Israel; however, the US gave Israel nearly 200 AH-64D Apache, Sikorsky CH-53 and Cobra helicopters from which at least some of these lethal missiles were fired. It was likely one suchUS-supplied missile from a US-supplied helicopter that Israel fired in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on 29 December 2008, which killed five sisters, Jawaher (age 4), Dina (age 7), Samar (age 12), Ikram (age 14) and Tahrir Baulusha (age 17) during an attack on a nearby mosque.

Israel’s misuse of US weapons to commit human rights abuses like these against Palestinian civilians should trigger sanctions against, rather than increasing amounts of military aid to, Israel. The Arms Export Control Act limits the use of US weapons to “internal security” and “legitimate self-defense.” Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip is defined by the US government as a foreign military occupation, and the killing of thousands of unarmed civilians in support of a military occupation cannot be justified as legitimate without distorting the meaning of self-defense.

In addition, the Foreign Assistance Act strictly prohibits US foreign assistance to any country that “engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights.” The State Department’s recently released 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices documents amply, if not comprehensively, Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians.

As Washington now considers raising the debt ceiling and making even more substantial cuts to the 2012 budget, the moral, financial and political costs of arming Israel can no longer be ignored.

If the Obama administration is serious in its efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and genuine in its stated commitment to the universality of human rights, then it must utilize the significant leverage the US wields over Israel through its military aid program. By terminating weapons transfers to Israel at least until Israel upholds its obligations under US and international law, ends its illegal military occupation of Palestinian land and negotiates in good faith a just and lasting peace with Palestinians, the UScan create an incentive structure to achieve its frustrated policy goals.

Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a national coalition of more than 350 organizations working to change US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians to support human rights, international law and equality. He is a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service.

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High Court: Knesset must explain why Arab MK Zuabi stripped of rights



Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,

Chair of West Midland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

In the wake of her participation in last year’s Gaza flotilla, Zuabi was stripped of three key privileges as an MK; Zuabi in turn petitioned the High Court to get her privileges reinstated.

By Jack Khoury and Jonathan Lis

The High Court ruled on Tuesday that the Knesset must explain why they stripped the rights of Israeli Arab lawmaker Hanin Zuabi, which occurred after she participated in last year’s flotilla to Gaza.

In their ruling, the court gave the Knesset 30 days to submit an explanation.

MK Hanin Zuabi MK Hanin Zuabi at a Knesset hearing on her parliamentary privileges on July 13, 2010.
Photo by: Knesset Channel

In the wake of Zuabi’s participation in the flotilla, the Knesset voted to revoke three of her key privileges as Knesset member: her diplomatic passport, entitlement to financial assistance for legal assistance and the right to visit countries with which Israel does not have diplomatic ties.

Zuabi in turn petitioned the High Court of Justice in order to have her privileges returned.

In the petition, Zuabi claims the aim of stripping her rights was to limit MKs’ “political activities, especially those of minority representatives.” The petition also accuses the Knesset of overstepping their authority.

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al-shabaka commentary


The “induced euphoria” that characterizes discussions within the mainstream media around the upcoming declaration of an independent Palestinian state in September, ignores the stark realities on the ground and the warnings of critical commentators. Depicting such a declaration as a “breakthrough,” and a “challenge” to the defunct “peace process” and the right-wing government of Israel, serves to obscure Israel’s continued denial of Palestinian rights while reinforcing the international community’s implicit endorsement of an apartheid state in the Middle East.

The drive for recognition is led by Salam Fayyad, the appointed Prime Minister of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA). It is based on the decision made during the 1970s by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to adopt the more flexible program of a “two-state solution.” This program maintains that the Palestinian question, the essence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, can be resolved with the establishment of an “independent state” in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. In this program Palestinian refugees would return to the state of “Palestine” but not to their homes in Israel, which defines itself as “the state of Jews.” Yet “independence” does not deal with this issue, neither does it heed calls made by the 1.2 million Palestinian citizens of Israel to transform the struggle into an anti-apartheid movement since they are treated as third-class citizens.

All this is supposed to be implemented after the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank and Gaza. Or will it merely be a redeployment of forces as witnessed during the Oslo period? Yet proponents of this strategy claim that independence guarantees that Israel will deal with the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank as one people, and that the Palestinian question can be resolved according to international law, thus satisfying the minimum political and national rights of the Palestinian people. Forget about the fact that Israel has as many as 573 permanent barriers and checkpoints around the occupied West Bank, as well as an additional 69 “flying” checkpoints; and you might also want to ignore the fact that the existing “Jewish-only” colonies have annexed more than 54 percent of the West Bank.

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s “hawkish” government did not even accept the Palestinian “right” to administrative autonomy. However, with the coming of the “dovish” Meretz/Labor government, led by Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, the PLO leadership conducted behind-the-curtains negotiations in Norway. By signing the Oslo Accords, Israel was released of the heavy burden of administering Gaza and the seven crowded cities of the West Bank. The first intifada was ended by an official – and secret — PLO decision without achieving its interim national goals, namely “freedom and independence,” and without the consent of the people the organization purported to represent.

This same idea of “independence” was once rejected by the PLO, because it did not address the “minimum legitimate rights” of Palestinians and because it is the anti-thesis of the Palestinian struggle for liberation. What is proposed in place of these rights is a state in name only. In other words, the Palestinians must accept full autonomy on a fraction of their land, and never think of sovereignty or control of borders, water reserves, and most importantly, the return of the refugees. That was the Oslo agreement and it is also the intended “Declaration of Independence.” No wonder, then, that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes it clear that he “might agree to a Palestinian state through negotiations.”

Nor does this declaration promise to be in accordance with the 1947 UN partition plan, which granted the Palestinians only 47 percent of historic Palestine even though they comprised over two-thirds of the population. Once declared, the future “independent” Palestinian state will occupy less than 20 percent of historic Palestine. By creating a Bantustan and calling it a “viable state,” Israel will get rid of the burden of 3.5 million Palestinians. The PA will rule over the maximum number of Palestinians on the minimum number of fragments of land — fragments that we can call “The State of Palestine.” This “state” will be recognized by tens of countries — South Africa’s infamous bantusan tribal chiefs must be very envious!

One can only assume that the much-talked about and celebrated “independence” will simply reinforce the same role that the PA played under Oslo. Namely providing policing and security measures designed to disarm the Palestinian resistance groups. These were the first demands made of the Palestinians at Oslo in 1993, Camp David in 2000, Annapolis in 2007 and Washington last year. Meanwhile, within this framework of negotiations and demands, no commitments or obligations are imposed on Israel.

Just as the Oslo Accords signified the end of popular, non-violent resistance of the first intifada, this declaration of independence has a similar goal, namely ending the growing international support for the Palestinian cause since Israel’s 2008-2009 winter onslaught on Gaza and its attack on the Freedom Flotilla last May. Yet it falls short of providing Palestinians with the minimal protection and security from any future Israeli attacks and atrocities. The invasion and siege of Gaza was a product of Oslo. Before the Oslo Accords were signed Israel never used its full arsenal of F-16s, phosphorous bombs, and DIME weapons to attack refugee camps in the Gaza and the West Bank. Over 1,200 Palestinians were killed from 1987-1993 during the first intifada. Israel eclipsed that number during its three-week invasion in 2009; it managed to brutally kill more than 1,400 in Gaza alone. This does not include the victims of Israel’s siege in place since 2006 which has been marked by closures and repeated Israeli attacks before the invasion of Gaza and since.

Ultimately, what this intended “declaration of independence” offers the Palestinian people is a mirage, an “independent homeland” that is a bantustan-in-disguise. Although it is recognized by so many friendly countries, it stops short of providing Palestinians freedom and liberation. Critical debate — as opposed to one that is biased, demagogic — requires scrutiny of the distortions of history through ideological misrepresentations. What needs to be addressed is an historical human vision of the Palestinian and Jewish questions, a vision that never denies the rights of a people, which guarantees complete equality, and abolishes apartheid– instead of recognizing a new Bantustan 17 years after the fall of apartheid in South Africa.


See: Al-Shabaka


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The gradual awakening of the Moroccan people


By Miguel Urbano Rodrigues

Global Research,



Translated from Portuguese by John Catalinotto

The wave of confrontation churning though the Arab world came late to Morocco.

It was only on February 20 that the first demonstrations against the regime took place. Announced in advance, they attracted some 8,000 people in Casablanca and Rabat. Police dispersed them with brutal force.

The organizers — intellectuals, trade unionists and young people — explained in their call that the initiative was peaceful and not aimed at the overthrow of the regime. “Less power to the monarchy” and “The King shall reign and not rule” were the timid slogans heard most often.

Two weeks later, on March 9, King Mohamed VI gave a speech that the media greeted with enthusiasm.

Some newspapers characterized the monarch’s speech as “revolutionary,” establishing a basis for a “new monarchy.”

Analysts considered liberals said they saw in his speech a real program that laid out “the path to democracy.”

What did the young monarch say or promise to justify such euphoria?

Very little, almost nothing.

He changed some ministers, created a Consultative Commission on Regionalization and instructed it to prepare a revision of the Constitution. He praised his government’s work, but clarified that, given the popular aspirations, he proposed directing the system toward a parliamentary democracy, delegating powers over time to a prime minister. At a press conference, the chairman of the Commission said it will propose three amendments to the Constitution: repealing the governors’ control of regional councils, allocating legislative powers to the regional presidents and taking measures for the benefit of women.

Praises continued for the king in newspapers, on TV and radio. But after a few days the media gave voice to the legal opposition and there were those who defined the regime as an anachronistic dictatorship.

A university in Casablanca held a roundtable discussion on the theme, “The ferment in Maghreb: logical and geopolitical perspectives.” The participants took different positions with regard to a question: Will Morocco be an exception in the Arab world?

In their answers, most scholars chose ambiguity. El Hossain, professor of International Relations, rejected the claim of exceptionalism [for Morocco], and affirmed that he fears the effects of the economic crisis and rising unemployment, and said he prefers the term “revolution” to “ferment” to characterize the events.

Brahim Fihri, President of the Amadeus Institute, pompously declared that Morocco is experiencing “a revolution of the king and of the people,” aimed toward “a new social contract” without ideological color. To him the danger comes exclusively from the Al Adl Wal Ibsade Islamist movement, which was preparing to “ambush” the king, because [to them] “Arab nationalism is evil.”

There was no intervention of a progressive character during this roundtable.

The language and style of political discourse in Morocco from the personalities there who talk of “revolution” remind Portuguese observers of that of the leaders of Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party in Portugal when reflecting on the Portuguese crisis. For them the solution to national problems will be a balanced redistribution of national wealth and the creation of “anti-poverty funds.”…

They obviously do not explain what to do to redistribute wealth in a society with a semi-feudal class structure, marked by outrageous inequities of the human condition.

On March 13 the police in Casablanca dispersed a demonstration of hundreds of people. There were many injured people. The French-language daily “Les Echos” devoted 16 lines to the subject, along with a photograph, and noted that most participants were Islamists of Al Adl Wal Ibsade.

Shopkeepers from the area, with whom I spoke, played down the protest. But for March 20, the group calling itself the February 20 Movement for Change called for new demonstrations. According to news agencies, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in 20 cities. The police did not intervene this time and the number of incidents was minimal.

The slogans were again weak. Most asked the king to fire the ministers involved in shady business deals. Some protesters wore yellow cards (not red) as a warning to the monarch. The February 20 Movement was becoming more radical, but slowly.

Criticism of despotism

Of the many criticisms of the system I read in the newspapers during my stay in Marrakech, the sharpest was by Fouad Abdelmouni, a human rights activist who, in the 1980s spent years in prison for advocating the proclamation of the republic.

Without mincing words he said in an interview that Morocco has been subjected to an absolute monarchy, carried out continuously in the form of a theocratic Caliphate.

In a head-on critique of politicians who advocate a transition in which the king, as the first of all believers, keeps a firm control of the state as an arbitrator, Abdelmouni demonstrated skepticism. He recalled that Mohamed VI, when he succeeded his father, announced in his inauguration speech that he would create a modern and democratic state. But he did not fulfill the promise and ruled as a despot.

Abdelmouni demands not an alteration of the articles of the Constitution now in force, but the convocation of a Constituent Assembly.

It could be concluded that he is a revolutionary intellectual suggesting radical solutions.

But his project consists of innocuous reformism. In his opinion, “A parliamentary monarchy is the only valid project today.” Abdelmouni identified with the moderate position of the February 20 Movement and all those who contest monarchical absolutism, “from the Islamists to the Communists.”

To understand what that means, one needs to know that the old Moroccan Communist Party changed its name and program twice. When it was legalized, it renounced Marxism. It is a caricature of the revolutionary party of Ben Barka, who was assassinated [in 1965 in Paris] at the behest of King Hassan II with the complicity of the French government. I met this party’s leaders in Kabul at an International Conference. They supported the annexation of Western Sahara [by Morocco] and praised [Portuguese anti-communist] Mario Soares …

Abdellatif Laâbi and a moment of truth

Moroccan intellectuals who support the February 20 Movement say they would like a profound change. But with few exceptions, their words are misleading. They actually want changes that impose little more than a democratic facade on the regime while maintaining almost intact the economic basis of a society that has grown up in the framework of a dependent and anachronistic capitalism.

This attitude appears clearly in the position taken by Abdellatif Laâbi, one of the most talented writers in the country.

This Francophone novelist, winner of the Goncourt Prize, welcomes the people’s aspiration for freedom, dignity and social justice, condemns the privileged minority that has accumulated immense wealth, lashes out at their arrogance and expresses solidarity with the young and the mass of the excluded and exploited who are trapped in misery. Laâbi rejects the thesis of “Moroccan exceptionalism” advocated by the king and his epigones because – he stresses – democracy requires popular sovereignty.

But at the same time he praises the clarity of the monarch and his reformist spirit, concluding that “the moment of truth” has arrived in Morocco and that the only positive option will be “the installation of democracy on irreversible bases.”

What bases? He explains: “The key to change remains, let’s be clear, in the hands of the monarchy.” For the king “is the judge, the guarantor of national unity, national security of the country and its citizens, of individual and collective freedoms, and of cultural and political pluralism.” Only then, he believes, by decreeing a general amnesty and abolishing the death penalty, Morocco may follow “the example of other Arab peoples who took their destiny into their hands and entered into history through the big door.”

He refrained from making the slightest criticism of the policy of maintaining a close alliance with the U.S., a policy that takes the form of vassalage.

Abdellatif Laâbi’s concept of democracy is not very different from that outlined by Mário Soares, a deeply conservative politician masquerading as a socialist.

The almost reverential respect for the monarchy is not identifiable only in intellectuals. It is a sentiment shared by most of the population, especially in rural areas.

While in Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia the protests against autocratic regimes directly affects the discredited descendants of tribal chiefs that Britain put in power in artificial states, turning them into kings and emirs, that is not happening in Morocco. The opposition limits itself to asking Mohamed VI to reform a tyrannical and theocratic regime, “to reign without governing,” the more daring voices suggest.

Will the king show himself as someone with the stature of a great statesman? No. He’s a young man of average intelligence, who took power by inheritance. His father, Hassan II, was a despot who ruled as the medieval sultans did.

The Alaouite, unlike previous dynasties, who were Berbers, swell with pride regarding their Arab origins. Mohamed VI, like his father and grandfather, is said to descend from the Prophet Muhammad and, just as the French Louis XIV and the Prussian Frederick II did, he too claims to exercise power by divine right.

The Moroccan monarchy it is an aberration in the 21st century. It survives only because of the alienation of the masses in a country where semi-feudal social structures persist.

The thesis of the “Moroccan exception,” under which Morocco will not be hit by the great wave of popular opposition that has swept the Arab world, however, is a slogan that distorts reality, invented by the ruling class.

The demonstrations of February 20, repeated in March, though timid, marked the beginning of a process for challenging the despotic power; they will certainly continue. Their course and the forms the struggle will take are not yet predictable, particularly considering the absence of a revolutionary party with roots in the masses.

But the awakening of the people of Morocco is a historical inevitability.

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Financial Heist of the Century: Confiscating Libya’s Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF)


By Manlio Dinucci

Global Research,

Il Manifesto (translated from Italian) – 2011-04-22

The objective of the war against Libya is not just its oil reserves (now estimated at 60 billion barrels), which are the greatest in Africa and whose extraction costs are among the lowest in the world, nor the natural gas reserves of which are estimated at about 1,500 billion cubic meters. In the crosshairs of “willing” of the operation “Unified Protector” there are sovereign wealth funds, capital that the Libyan state has invested abroad.



The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) manages sovereign wealth funds estimated at about $70 billion U.S., rising to more than $150 billion if you include foreign investments of the Central Bank and other bodies. But it might be more. Even if they are lower than those of Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, Libyan sovereign wealth funds have been characterized by their rapid growth. When LIA was established in 2006, it had $40 billion at its disposal. In just five years, LIA has invested over one hundred companies in North Africa, Asia, Europe, the U.S. and South America: holding, banking, real estate, industries, oil companies and others.


In Italy, the main Libyan investments are those in UniCredit Bank (of which LIA and the Libyan Central Bank hold 7.5 percent), Finmeccanica (2 percent) and ENI (1 percent), these and other investments (including 7.5 percent of the Juventus Football Club) have a significance not as much economically (they amount to some $5.4 billion) as politically.


Libya, after Washington removed it from the blacklist of “rogue states,” has sought to carve out a space at the international level focusing on “diplomacy of sovereign wealth funds.” Once the U.S. and the EU lifted the embargo in 2004 and the big oil companies returned to the country, Tripoli was able to maintain a trade surplus of about $30 billion per year which was used largely to make foreign investments. The management of sovereign funds has however created a new mechanism of power and corruption in the hands of ministers and senior officials, which probably in part escaped the control of the Gadhafi himself: This is confirmed by the fact that, in 2009, he proposed that the 30 billion in oil revenues go “directly to the Libyan people.” This aggravated the fractures within the Libyan government.


U.S. and European ruling circles focused on these funds, so that before carrying out a military attack on Libya to get their hands on its energy wealth, they took over the Libyan sovereign wealth funds. Facilitating this operation is the representative of the Libyan Investment Authority, Mohamed Layas himself: as revealed in a cable published by WikiLeaks. On January 20 Layas informed the U.S. ambassador in Tripoli that LIA had deposited $32 billion in U.S. banks. Five weeks later, on February 28, the U.S. Treasury “froze” these accounts. According to official statements, this is “the largest sum ever blocked in the United States,” which Washington held “in trust for the future of Libya.” It will in fact serve as an injection of capital into the U.S. economy, which is more and more in debt. A few days later, the EU “froze” around 45 billion Euros of Libyan funds.


The assault on the Libyan sovereign wealth funds will have a particularly strong impact in Africa. There, the Libyan Arab African Investment Company had invested in over 25 countries, 22 of them in sub-Saharan Africa, and was planning to increase the investments over the next five years, especially in mining, manufacturing, tourism and telecommunications. The Libyan investments have been crucial in the implementation of the first telecommunications satellite Rascom (Regional African Satellite Communications Organization), which entered into orbit in August 2010, allowing African countries to begin to become independent from the U.S. and European satellite networks, with an annual savings of hundreds of millions of dollars.


Even more important were the Libyan investment in the implementation of three financial institutions launched by the African Union: the African Investment Bank, based in Tripoli, the African Monetary Fund, based in Yaoundé (Cameroon), the African Central Bank, with Based in Abuja (Nigeria). The development of these bodies would enable African countries to escape the control of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, tools of neo-colonial domination, and would mark the end of the CFA franc, the currency that 14 former French colonies are forced to use. Freezing Libyan funds deals a strong blow to the entire project. The weapons used by “the willing” are not only those in the military action called “Unified Protector.”


Il Manifesto, April 22, 2011


Translated from Italian by John Catalinotto

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Britain’s Royal Wedding Fiasco and its “Dirty little Secret” in Bahrain


by Finian Cunningham


The British royal wedding is turning swiftly into a public relations disaster, with news that Bahrain’s Crown Prince is respectfully turning down his invitation to the event because of the “situation reigning” in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

However, the real story behind the headlines is that the diplomatic shuffle reveals that the British establishment is well aware of the vicious repression being conducted by the Bahraini rulers along with the armed forces of neigbouring Gulf states, including Western allies Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa reportedly said that that he did not want his presence to “tarnish” the royal wedding due to take place at Westminster Abbey in London this Friday.

The Bahraini prince was among 40 monarchs from around the world who have been invited by the British establishment to join some 2,000 other guests, including government leaders and celebrities, at the nuptials of Prince William and his long-time fiancé Kate Middleton. William is the son of Britain’s heir to the throne, Prince Charles.

Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa

The British royals were in recent days coming under fire in some of the UK press for inviting the Bahraini prince, who is also the deputy supreme commander of the Bahrain Defence Forces.

Despite a lack of coverage in the British and Western mainstream media generally, nonetheless there has been a public outcry in Britain over the brutal crackdown on the pro-democracy movement. More than 30 civilians have been killed in state violence – which escalated on March 16 after Saudi-led forces from the other Gulf countries entered the diminutive island of some 700,000 indigenous population.

Thousands others have been injured from army and police opening fire on peaceful protests. Up to 1,000 people have been unlawfully detained, or “disappeared”, including doctors, nurses, lawyers, human rights workers and bloggers. Four people, including Bahraini journalist Karim Fakhrawi [1], have died while in custody, showing signs of torture. The Shia majority in Bahrain is particularly targeted by the Sunni rulers and their Gulf allies. Hundreds have been sacked from workplaces, accused of being supportive of the anti-government uprising that began on February 14.

While the ongoing violations, including the military take-over of hospitals and unlawful detention of injured patients, have elicited condemnations from the UN Committee on Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders and the US-based Physicians for Human Rights, the British government, along with Washington and other Western governments, has been conspicuously muted.

Bahrain’s former colonial ruler, Britain, and the US government are well aware of the repression. The US Fifth Fleet is based in the strategic Persian Gulf island, which serves as a listening and watching post for Western geopolitical power projection in the region, in particular against Iran. It beggars belief that Western governments are unaware of the repression.  Indeed, it is most likely that these governments have given their approval to the Bahraini and Gulf rulers carrying out the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement and the Shia population generally.

Only days before the Saudi-led forces moved into Bahrain, the Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa received separate personal visits from US secretary of defence Robert Gates and Britain’s top national security advisor Sir Peter Ricketts, the latter reporting directly to British prime minister David Cameron.

Britain and the US are major suppliers of military equipment to Bahrain – including teargas, helicopters and armoured personnel carriers that are being deployed to crush the pro-democracy protests.

Britain has a particularly important role in the repressive policies of the Bahraini regime. When Britain granted nominal independence to the oil-rich shaikhdom in 1971, many of the British state security personnel remained in place. The head of Bahrain’s security between 1968 to 1998 was Colonel Ian Henderson, who is believed to still act as an advisor to the king. Henderson has in the past been the subject of several reports by international human rights groups for his involvement in overseeing torture and repression in Bahrain. [2]

Since the latest crackdown began, the Bahraini rulers and their Gulf allies have sought to legitimize the state of emergency declared on March 14 as a necessary measure to crush a “subversive plot” in the country and the region fomented by Iran. US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has endeavoured to shore up such claims by denouncing “Iranian interference”.

But as the British royal wedding fiasco indicates, Britain (and the US) are acutely aware of the disturbing humanitarian concerns in Bahrain.

Officially, the Bahraini Crown Prince “uninvited” himself. In a statement, he said: “I was hoping that the Kingdom of Bahrain would have a high-profile representation at this glamorous event, thus reflecting the friendship bonding our countries. However, the current situation reigning in Bahrain prevents me from attending.”

The bets are that the British foreign office became alarmed at the growing media controversy in Britain over the planned attendance at the wedding by the Bahraini monarch and advised the latter to uninvite himself.

If the British government really did believe the official justifications for the repression in Bahrain, it would not have made such a move. The Bahraini monarch’s wish not to tarnish the occasion seems to be an off-guarded, inadvertent admission that there are disturbing violations being perpetrated by the regime. And the British government knows full well that it is harbouring a dirty little secret in Bahrain and that more media delving could expose that.

But the British establishment has not limited the damage entirely. Still planning to attend the royal wedding is one of the princes from the House of Saud. Which will bring up more questions about Britain’s connections to the repression in Saudi Arabia against its own pro-democracy movement as well as the latter’s ongoing involvement in Bahrain.

Furthermore, the guest list points to cynical double standards in Britain’s foreign policy. As media analyst Paul Kane points out: “It is so telling, on so many different levels, for example, the contrast between Bahraini rulers, who get invited to the British royal wedding – something that is taken to epitomize and define the gentility and nobility and cultural achievement of the western elites – and Libyan rulers, who get munitions, presumably loaded with depleted uranium, on their heads.”

Finian Cunningham is a journalist and musician. He is Global Research’s Middle East Correspondent.




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