Archive | April 30th, 2014




legal insurrection

Her account of life in Bethlehem also contradicts a controversial 60 Minutes segment blaming Israel for plight of Christians in Palestinian areas.

The video below is causing quite a stir, as reported by The Times of Israel:

The video, titled “Christy a Palestinian Christian’s plea to Dr. Saeb Erekat,” was posted to YouTube on Saturday, featuring clips from separate events. In the first, Christy Anastas directs questions at Erekat, a senior Palestinian negotiator, and the second, longer segment, shows Anastas giving a presentation in which she talks about life as a Christian in Bethlehem.

“I believe God has given this land to the Jews as an everlasting covenant,” Anastas said.

Anastas said that Palestinian children are encouraged to violently confront Israel Defense Forces soldiers in order to die as martyrs, and that incentives included payoffs by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and the Palestinian Authority, given to the families of Palestinians that were killed.

“How many Muslim countries do we have in the world?” she said. “Why can’t the Jews have one country?”

After that last quoted statement about Jews having one country, she details how a family member threatened to put a bullet in her head (at 22:35). She also has been threatened in England. (at 25:25)

Pay special attention to the video starting at 3:25 when she details how children were used as fighters during the Second Intifada, and how the wall built by the Israelis separating Bethlehem from Israel has stopped “my people from killing themselves, blowing themselves up.” (at 13:45)

Not surprisingly, her family is abandoning her, as further reported by The Times of Israel:


A Christian family from Bethlehem distanced itself from a video made by their daughter in which she offers a pro-Israel point of view and blames the Palestinians for the drop in the Christian population.

The Anastas family suggested that their daughter, Christy, had made the video at the demand of unnamed sponsors who offered to pay for her university tuition in Britain, Ma’an news agency reported on Sunday.

In statements made to the local Radio Mawwal station. the Anastas family rejected the notion that their daughter had fled to safety abroad and expressed their surprise at the video, the report said.

The Anastas family suggested that their daughter, Christy, had made the video at the demand of unnamed sponsors who offered to pay for her university tuition in Britain, Ma’an news agency reported on Sunday.

In statements made to the local Radio Mawwal station. the Anastas family rejected the notion that their daughter had fled to safety abroad and expressed their surprise at the video, the report said.

There’s an even more interesting angle to this video. Christy and her family were featured in acontroversial 60 Minutes show blaming Israel for the plight of Christians in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

CAMERA has a detailed account of her video contradicts key parts of the 60 Minutes story:

In sum, Christy’s story affirms what CAMERA published in 2012:

Palestinian Christians, like other religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East, are the target of mistreatment, harassment and in some instances, violent oppression at the hands of their Muslim neighbors.

Nevertheless, much of the media coverage about Palestinian Christians downplays Muslim hostility toward this community and falsely portrays Israel as the sole cause of its suffering.

The reality is Palestinian Christians cannot speak freely about the Muslim dominated environment in which they live. Their leaders often publicly condemn Israel while remaining silent about groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Occasionally, they might admit that Muslim hostility is a problem, but not very often and not very loudly.

It is safe for Palestinian Christian leaders to condemn Israel – a democracy that has a tradition of respecting religious freedom and human rights. It is not safe, however, for Palestinian Christians to condemn the misdeeds of their Islamist neighbors who regard Christians as infidels and obstacles to the creation of an Islamic state.

It is time for “60 Minutes” to face the truth. It bungled its story on Christians in Palestinian society and needs to revisit the issue, honestly and accurately this time.


Turkey gave Syria militants anti-tank missiles


Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) provided foreign-backed militants in Syria with US-made anti-tank missiles, a local daily reports.

The Turkish daily Aydinlik said in a report that the former commander of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), Salim Idris, acted as a middleman in the transfer of the TOW anti-tank missiles from Turkey to the militants in Syria.

About a dozen militants have been trained in Turkey on how to use the weapons, the report said.

The decision for the transfer of the missiles reportedly came after a meeting between Idris and US Republican Senator John McCain last year.

Militants fighting against the Syrian government are also seeking to recruit new militants in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

On March 30, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said the Turkish government was facilitating the entry of foreign militants into the Christian town of Kasab in northwestern Syria near the Turkish border.

Zoubi added that Ankara’s move was in violation of international resolutions as it constitutes involvement in terrorism.

Earlier in March, an audio recording uploaded on YouTube revealed a plot by top Turkish officials to conduct a false-flag attack as a pretext to invade Syria.

The recording contained the voices of Turkey’s intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Deputy Chief of Military Staff Yasar Guler and other senior officials discussing the possible assault.

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Boycott I$raHell train moving full steam ahead


Graduate students at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque, USA, have passed a resolution calling for divestment from companies profiting from human rights violations in occupied Palestine and at the US-Mexico border.

According to Electronic Intifada, the resolution singles out the US corporationsCaterpillar and Hewlett-Packard, as well as the Anglo-Danish security firm G4S, French multinational Veolia and Israeli companies Elbit Systems (an arms manufacturer that recently won a USD 145 million contract with the US govermment to further militarize the US-Mexico border wall) and SodaStream (which operates inside the occupied West Bank).

The resolution accuses the six companies of aiding and abetting Israel’s policies of demolishing Palestinian homes, land theft, restrictions of freedom of movement, mass incarceration, control of populations, checkpoints, surveillance systems and services to illegal settlements.

It also says that these companies have been “directly engaged by various public campaigns and concerned investors about their complicit involvement in the previously mentioned human rights violations to no avail”.

Consequently, it calls on the University of New Mexico “to refrain from making further investments, and to advocate that the UNM system not make further investments, in any companies engaged in the violation of human rights or other behaviour deemed unethical by the UNM community”.

The call by UNM graduate students to divest from apartheid Israel follows a similar move last week by the student senate at the University of California at Riverside calling on the university to pull its investments from US companies profiting from Israel’s occupation.

The United States and its allies may wrestle with what choice of weasel words to use to describe Israeli apartheid, war crimes and crimes against humanity for fear of upsetting the Zionist lobby.

But civil society has no such fears. Little by little, it will demolish Israel’s edifice of lies and break its network of liars.

The truth will out and there’s no going back.

Sooner or later, the US and its satellites states will have no alternative but to follow the brave voices coming from the grassroots.

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Zio-Wahhabi Rat’s who received first U.S. missiles of war see shipment as ‘an important first step’



KHAN AL-SUBUL, Syria — Under the leadership of a young, battle-hardened rebel commander, the men entrusted with the first American missiles to be delivered to the Syrian war are engaged in an ambitious effort to forge a new, professional army.Abdullah Awda, 28, says he and his recently formed Harakat Hazm — or Movement of Steadfastness — were chosen to receive the weapons because of their moderate views and, just as important, their discipline. At the group’s base, sprawled across rocky, forested wilderness in the northern province of Idlib, soldiers wear uniforms, get medical checkups and sleep in bunk beds under matching blankets.


This video, posted to YouTube, shows Syrian rebels using U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles.


Syrian rebels gain antitank missiles

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Syrian rebels gain antitank missiles

The scene is a far cry from the increasingly pervasive view of a chaotic, ragtag rebel movement that has fallen under the sway of Islamist extremists. Such concerns have long deterred the Obama administration from arming the Syrian opposition.But the arrival at the base last month of U.S.-made TOW antitank missiles, the first advanced American weaponry to be dispatched to Syria since the conflict began, has reignited long-abandoned hopes among the rebels that the Obama administration is preparing to soften its resistance to the provision of significant military aid and, perhaps, help move the battlefield equation back in their favor.

The small number of BGM-71 missiles, about two decades old and hardly better than similar Russian and French models acquired by the rebels from allies and the black market over the past year, will not change the game in the fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the fighters say. Three years into the war, the government has pushed opposition forces out of many of their most important strongholds, deferring their hopes of victory indefinitely.

However, the shipment “is an important first step,” Awda said during the first visit to his base by a journalist since the missiles arrived.

The weapons were not directly provided by the United States. “Friends of Syria” delivered them, he said, referring to the U.S.-backed alliance of Western powers and Persian Gulf Arab states established to support the opposition Free Syrian Army. The rebels had to promise to return the canister of each missile fired, to not resell the weapons and to protect them from theft.

Awda declined to offer further details of the provenance of the missiles. But he said the donors made clear to him that the delivery had U.S. approval, and U.S. officials have confirmed that they endorsed the supply.

“The most important thing is not the TOW missile itself, it’s the change in the policy,” he said. “It suggests a change in the U.S. attitude toward allowing Syria’s friends to support the Syrian people. It’s psychological more than physical.”

‘I want a democratic state’

It is also something of a test for Awda, a little-known commander who in June 2011 became one of the first officers to defect from the Syrian army and has since fought in many of the biggest battles of the war, mostly under the banner of his former group, Farouq al-Shamal.

With his long hair tucked under an olive cap and his short beard, Awda comes across as a throwback to the kind of rebel who dominated the fight before foreign jihadists and al-Qaeda surged onto the battlefield. His resolutely on-message proclamations of support for democracy match the views that the United States has said it wishes more Syrian rebel fighters would embrace.

“I want a democratic state that rules over all Syria with equality and freedom for all citizens, free of fascism and dictatorship,” he said in an interview.

Other commanders say Awda has earned a reputation as a tough fighter, one who has avoided the allegations of criminality that have tarnished many non-
Islamist rebels.

“I consider him one of the heroes,” said Abu Mustafa, a commander with a Free Syrian Army unit who now lives mostly in Turkey. “He’s moderate, he was one of the first to join us, and he’s a good fighter.”

The arrival of the weapons on the battlefield, revealed this month in YouTube videos , is raising Awda’s profile.

In January, Awda formed Harakat Hazm, under the auspices of the Supreme Military Council, after breaking away from a larger rebel formation that was being touted at the time as the new hope for moderation in Syria, the Syrian Revolutionary Front. It was led by a better-known commander, Jamal Maarouf.

The split has caused some tensions. Awda said he was uncomfortable with the indiscipline of Maarouf’s group, which has acquired a reputation for racketeering and thuggery. “Jamal Maarouf is a warlord, and we reject warlords,” Awda said. “He is a good man, but he is civilian and we are military.”

An adviser to Maarouf called Awda a respected fighter but accused him of pursuing “foreign agendas,” a reminder of the rivalries that can be engendered by efforts to arm the rebels.

With 5,000 fighters, Hazm is one of the smaller rebel groups, but Awda said his goal is to focus on building a quality force, emphasizing the recruitment of former soldiers with military experience. His fighters receive salaries of $100 a month, paid for by the rebels’ allies, and 150 have been given training in Qatar, he said.

Leading a journalist on a tour of his camp, Awda was at pains to emphasize the group’s discipline, structure and moderation, evidently in the hope of receiving further U.S. help. Few fighters were there, he said, because most were on the front lines 10 miles to the south or farther to the west, where rebels have been engaged in a new offensive.

There were plenty of signs of assistance in the form of funds and nonlethal aid from the rebels’ allies, including the United States. U.S. officials said the group was among six rebel units authorized this year to receive nonlethal American aid, including vehicles and medical supplies, after being vetted for its political views, its associations and its capabilities.

“They passed the test,” a U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Training and discipline

At the headquarters, in a requisitioned school on the outskirts of the small village of Khan al-Subul, recruits in beige uniforms performed drills in a tidy yard. Classrooms have been converted into offices as well as storage and distribution areas for food and uniforms, which are carefully recorded on printed forms.

One classroom serves as a recruitment center. On this day, four young men from smaller rebel groups in neighboring Hama province were waiting to be interviewed. Three said that word of the U.S. missiles had encouraged them to apply.

“Harakat Hazm are more organized than the others, and they have better weapons,” said Ibrahim Raslan, 22.

Later, driving into the nearby forest in a new pickup truck, also a gift from foreign “friends,” Awda showed further evidence of his plans to expand.

One clearing serves as a maintenance area for captured tanks and armored vehicles. Another patch of land features a training center. Half a dozen big white tents with logos indicating that they came from Saudi Arabia have been erected to house recruits. A row of concrete latrines is nearing completion. A semi­circle of crouching men was receiving instruction in how to fire automatic rifles; another group was being taught how to launch rocket-propelled grenades.

There are other encampments, too, containing weapons stores and the missiles, which Awda refused to display, citing security concerns. Six missiles have been used so far, he said, to destroy six Syrian tanks.

“They are good,” said Abdul-Karim, one of the fighters pictured using the missiles in a video. “But they are older-
generation models. If we got the latest generation, we could do more.”

Awda blames the rebels’ setbacks on the United States and its allies, which he says failed to provide as much assistance as Assad’s allies Russia and Iran have provided to the Syrian government.

“The government’s friends were more faithful than our friends,” he said.

He said he is under no illusion about the shortcomings of the rebellion.

“We have a sickness of chaos,” he said. “The Syrian people are tired with the state of the war and the disorganization of the military formations. They are tired of the war, tired of the lack of a structure.”

That, however, is what Awda hopes to change.

“Tell the world we are different.” he said, before declaring the visit over and heading back to the war.

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How Many Have We Killed?


The wreckage of a car destroyed by a US drone strike in Azan, Yemen, February 2013. (Photo: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters/Corbis)On Monday, The New York Times reported that “the Senate has quietly stripped a provision from an intelligence bill that would have required President Obama to make public each year the number of people killed or injured in targeted killing operations in Pakistan and other countries where the United States uses lethal force.” National security officials in the Obama administration objected strongly to having to notify the public of the results and scope of their dirty work, and the Senate acceded. So much for what President Obama has called “the most transparent administration in history.”

The Senate’s decision is particularly troubling in view of how reticent the administration itself continues to be about the drone program. To date, Obama has publicly admitted to the deaths of only four people in targeted killing operations. That came in May 2013, when, in conjunction with a speech at the National Defense University, and, in his words, “to facilitate transparency and debate on the issue,” President Obama acknowledged for the first time that the United States had killed four Americans in drone strikes. But according to credible accounts, Obama has overseen the killing of several thousand people in drone strikes since taking office. Why only admit to the four Americans’ deaths? Is the issue of targeted killings only appropriate for debate when we kill our own citizens? Don’t all human beings have a right to life?

In the NDU speech, President Obama also announced new limits on the use of drones “beyond the Afghan theater.” He proclaimed that drone strikes would be authorized away from the battlefield only when necessary to respond to “continuing and imminent threats” posed by people who cannot be captured or otherwise countermanded. Most important, he said, “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured—the highest standard we can set.” Yet in December, a US drone strike in Yemen reportedly struck a wedding party. The New York Times reported that while some of the victims may have been linked to al-Qaeda, the strike killed “at least a half dozen innocent people, according to a number of tribal leaders and witnesses.”

The decision to drop the requirement to report on the number of people we kill in drone strikes fittingly if depressingly came on the ten-year anniversary of CBS’s airing of the photos of torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. To this day, the United States has not held accountable any senior official for torture inflicted during the “war on terror”—not at Abu Ghraib, not at Guantanamo, not at Bagram Air Force Base, and not in the CIA’s secret prisons, or “black sites.” President Obama has stuck to his commitment to look forward, not backward, and his administration has opposed all efforts to hold the perpetrators of these abuses to account. Indeed, the administration has classified even the memories of the survivors of torture in CIA black sites, now housed at Guantanamo, maintaining that they and their lawyers cannot under any circumstance even talk publically about their mistreatment.

To be fair, Obama deserves some credit for both banning torture and achieving some transparency on the subject. In one of his first acts as president, he formally prohibited the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that his predecessor had approved—and that Bush and Cheney both proudly proclaim in their memoirs they would approve all over again. Shortly thereafter, Obama declassified the chilling secret memoranda, drafted by various Justice Department lawyers in the Bush Administration, that were designed to give legal cover to the CIA’s torture program. And most recently, in March, Obama said that he thinks that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s interrogation program, the only comprehensive review based on access to classified information to date of the agency’s treatment of prisoners, should be declassified and released to the public. (The committee has voted to declassify and release a six hundred-page executive summary from the 6,300 page report, and it is now up to the president to live up to his statement and declassify it.)

But it’s one thing to demand transparency for a predecessor’s wrongs. It’s another to support it in regard to one’s own dubious actions. In the past, some have argued that the United States cannot be transparent about targeted killings in countries like Pakistan and Yemen because their governments approved of our use of lethal force within their borders on the condition that we not admit that we were doing so. The morality of such an agreement is itself deeply questionable; presumably the plausible deniability is demanded because no government could openly admit to its people that it had given another sovereign the green light to kill by remote control inside its own borders. But the deniability is no longer plausible.

As long ago as September, 2012, the Yemeni President Abed Raboo Mansour Hadi disclosed that he signed off on every US drone strike in Yemen, and in April 2013, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf similarly admitted that his government had agreed to targeted killings in Pakistan. Following the strike on the Yemeni wedding party last December, the government there conceded that civilians were killed, provided reparations to the survivors, and suspended permission to the United States to conduct further drone strikes until the incident was investigated. But the US has not even publicly acknowledged its own involvement—namely, as the killer.

International law acknowledges that killing is not always illegal or wrong, and that a government has the authority to do so as a last resort in genuine self-defense. But if the US government’s targeted killings are lawful, we should have no hesitation in making them public. Surely the least we can do is to literally count and report the lives we’ve taken. Yet even that, for “the most transparent administration in history,” is apparently too much.

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Drone Attacks Bring Yemeni Government to Brink of No Confidence Vote


Yemeni parliamentarians are today challenging the legitimacy of President Hadi’s government, following the administration’s failure to stop repeated US drone attacks.

MPs are planning a vote of no confidence if President Hadi’s ministers do not attend parliament to answer questions on the drone program; some are calling for an immediate dissolution of the government.

The parliament’s attack on the Hadi administration follows a particularly deadly drone strike on Al Bayda on April 19, in which Reprieve has discovered that four builders were killed on their way to work, leaving 20 children without fathers. The Yemeni government has admitted that their killing was a mistake.

The strike violated last December’s parliamentary resolution banning the use of drones on Yemeni territory. Yemeni lawmakers are furious that the administration has repeatedly failed to enforce the ban, and that President Hadi’s Minister of Defence, Minister of the Interior and Minister of Oil have refused to attend several parliamentary meetings on the subject.

Shawki al-Qadhi, an MP in the Yemeni parliament and a member of the parliament’s Committee on Freedoms and Human Rights said: “How can we talk about the rule of law when another country kills our citizens without charge or trial? How can we talk about governance when Parliament’s resolutions are ignored by the both the US and Yemeni administrations? We Yemenis are the people who suffer most from the unrest in our country, and as we have heard recently, the majority of people causing the unrest are foreigners who come from outside Yemen. We would obviously welcome external help in dealing with the problem, but only if Yemen has clear agreements and control over what takes place. As MPs we have a responsibility to protect our constituents and to uphold the values of our country. Drones undermine both. Our citizens are less safe with drones in the air– not only are they vulnerable to mistaken targeting but we have seen time and time again that when civilians are killed, it immediately swells the ranks of the armed groups. We even lack a clear law about compensating the families of the victims, which is something we urgently need. Drones are undermining our nascent democratic institutions.”

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UK party leader arrested for quoting Churchill on Islam

Sir Winston Churchill (AFP Photo)Sir Winston Churchill (AFP Photo)

Quoting Winston Churchill can get you arrested, as one British candidate in the European elections found out after referring to the iconic wartime leader’s thoughts on Islam from his book ‘The River War’, published in 1899.

The book chronicles young Churchill’s service in Sudan at the time of the Anglo-Egyptian re-conquest, and the passage deals with his observations on Islam. But that passage is now in danger of landing Liberty GB party Chairman Paul Weston in prison for two years.

Weston, a candidate in the May 22 European Elections in the South East, addressed the public in Hampshire on Saturday, speaking through a megaphone, letting loose on Muslims for their“improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property,” which “exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.”

(L-R ) Sir Winston Churchill (AFP Photo) and Paul Weston (image from ) Sir Winston Churchill (AFP Photo) and Paul Weston (image from

“Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it,” he went on.

“No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith,” he declared, sparking outrage in one spectator, who decided to bring in the police.

Authorities didn’t wait for Weston to finish his speech, taking him away from the steps of the Winchester Guildhall – first for refusing to comply with an order for public dispersal, then on the added charge of “suspicion of religious or racial harassment,” police told the newspaper.

“He has been bailed pending further inquiries to report back to police on May 24,” they said.

The scene was handled by about “six or seven officers”, who asked the spectators questions before stopping Weston, mid-speech. He did not possess a permit for public addresses.

They talked to him for about 40 minutes, and at around 3pm took him downtown in a van, where he spent several hours in a cell. Later the dispersal notice was dropped, but Weston was then re-arrested for a racially aggravated crime, which, under the public order act, could land him a two-year sentence.

Liberty GB, outlining its ideas on its website, has as its core mission the promotion of views against immigration – something it calls “the most important issues of our time,” which the Liberal Democrats, Labour and Conservatives “manifestly refuse to discuss” – and the spread of fundamentalist Islam through British culture, whose traditional values they believe have been contaminated. Liberty GB believes that “Britain could be a wonderful country again, but it will take politics bordering on the revolutionary to achieve this vision.”

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