ATFP Organizes Meetings With Zionist Groups: Hussein Ibish, Washington Concierge To The PNA

>Posted on September 30, 2010 by Ikhras


Fayyad and Zionist Propagandist Mizrahi

The ANTI-PALESTINE Task Force operating under the misnomer American Task Force on Palestine describes itself as an “independent voice for Palestinian-Americans and their supporters…”, but as was clearly demonstrated during Mahmoud Abbas’ recent visit to the US, when he couldn’t find any Palestinian community leader willing to meet with him, the overwhelming majority of Palestinian-Americans refuse to associate with the Palestinian National Authority or the ATFP which operates as the Washington public relations firm for the Israeli-sponsored, Western-funded, and American-supervised PNA.  During that visit Abbas did meet with representatives of 50 Zionist organizations.

Last week the unelected, American-approved Prime Minister of the PNA met with Pro-Israel, Jewish groups in New York.  The meeting was hosted by The Israel Project, an organization founded by Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, and dedicated to defending Israel’s occupation of Palestine and all its war crimes.  Mizrahi defended her meeting with a Palestinian by pointing to the imprimatur Benjamin Netanyahu has bestowed upon Fayyad:  “The prime minister of Israel said that this is his partner for peace,” Mizrahi said. “If the supposedly right-wing prime minister of Israel says this is partner for peace, it is.” Operatives for The Israel Project don’t deny their “recent aggressive outreach — to Palestinians in particular and Arabs and Muslims generally…” which they describe as an indication of “Netanyahu’s seriousness in his direct talks with Palestinian leaders...”  Hadar Susskind of J Street, another extremist Pro-Israel lobbying group formed to provide, in contrast with the obnoxious leaders of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a more polite defense of Zionism, said “You’ve got to welcome anyone who reaches out,” How magnanimous these Zionists must feel when they look across the table and see a smiling Palestinian.


Ibish: “The ATFP also dialogues with AIPAC”

As meetings between PNA officials and members of the Zionist lobby become a recurring feature in the peace process show, and with the ATFP acting as facilitator and organizer, its no surprise Hussein Ibish is found helping arrange the recent meeting between The Israel Project and Fayyad.  The ATFP’s “Senior Fellow” made it clear “his organization sees engaging with the mainstream of the American Jewish community as critical to making negotiations work.”  Ibish did not hesitate to add “The American Task Force on Palestine also dialogues with AIPAC…”  Describing these fanatical Zionists as the “mainstream of the American Jewish community” is first, and foremost, an insult to American Jews, the majority of which are not pre-occupied with Israel and have no emotional or political attachment to it.  It’s also an insult to the intelligence of anyone remotely familiar with the role these extremist organizations play in the U.S., and quite possibly to the leaders and members of these groups themselves who don’t pretend to be anything other than anti-Arab extremists, and fanatical Zionists.

Supporters of the Palestinians should not be bothered too much by these meetings.  On the contrary, they actually highlight the inevitability of the collapse of the Zionist project.  Sure, it’s disappointing when they can find even a single Palestinian or Arab to meet with them, but Palestinians or Arabs that attend such meetings immediately place themselves outside the Palestinian and Arab popular consensus, and lose any legitimacy they may have enjoyed.  Fayyad and Abbas don’t have to worry about that.  Israel and her supporters in this country are caught in a Catch-22.  Such meetings may offer a quisling leader the seal of approval from the occupier, but that also seals his fate making it impossible for him to deliver his own people’s acquiescence.  In the final analysis, the occupying power is denied the legitimacy it seeks through signed agreements with the occupied which are born null and void.

Anwar Sadat and King Hussein were in a far better position than Abbas and Fayyad relative to Israel and they failed in their attempts to force their people to accept the legitimacy of the signed agreements or the usurping Zionist entity.  They continue to consider those so called “peace treaties” signed by unelected dictators null and void.  As these regimes moved closer to Israel over the years they have increasingly resorted to harsher measures in the face of sustained domestic opposition.  In fact, a direct correlation is found between the extent of an Arab regime’s relationship with Israel and the level of brute force and raw power that must be applied by those regimes to maintain their rule. This same dynamic can be seen today in the occupied West Bank with an increasingly repressive PNA security apparatus, acting as an extension of Israeli occupation, and presided over by American General Keith Dayton, with the only distinction being the PNA is a police state without a state.


America’s Favorite Palestinian

In the meantime Salam Fayyad has become everyone’s favorite Palestinian, everyone other than the Palestinians that is.  Israeli war criminal Shimon Peres, known outside of the US for his central role in establishing Israel’s nuclear program which currently includes an arsenal of 200 to 300 nuclear warheads, and the butcher of Qana 1 (There have been so many Zionist massacres over the decades we can no longer refer to them solely by the names of the cities and villages) has described Fayyad as “the Palestinian Ben-Gurion.”  Fayyad himself seems to have taken pride in this description and has on several occasions compared his economic plan for the West Bank to the policies of the early Zionist colonizers in Palestine 48 describing it as a blueprint to eventual statehood.  Tony Blair, another war criminal with Arab blood on his hands, and whose appointment as a “peace envoy” underscores the West’s moral bankruptcy and contempt for Arabs, described Fayyad as “absolutely first class — professional, courageous, intelligent.”

Glowing reviews for someone willing to surrender all Palestinian rights and adopt the American-Israeli vision of peace should come as no surprise to anyone.  Fayyad has signaled (not that it was necessary) his willingness to abandon the Palestinian right of return.  In an interview with Haaretz earlier this year he said “Of course, Palestinians would have the right to reside within the State of Palestine” by which he means three to four, South-Africa style Bantustans he and a small, corrupt gang of  business associates hope to preside over in the West Bank under Israeli auspices. Fayyad has also adopted Netanyahu’s arrogant notion of “economic peace”, and with economic funding from the West, has attempted to repackage it and sell it to the Palestinians as a first step towards the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

The Abbas/Fayyad vision for a future peace that surrenders Palestinian rights, under the empty slogans of “realism” and “pragmatism”, is exactly what Ibish and the ATFP have been promoting in Washington.  This identical framework for a future arrangement with Israel is currently being peddled by Ibish and Ziad Asali through a recently released book by the ATFP leaving no doubt this outfit is the unofficial voice of the PNA.

For those who may be wondering, yes, this is the same Ibish who not too long ago co-authored an articulate defense of Palestinian rights, including the right of return, and was later hired by the ATFP only to argue with equal rigor for the abandonment of Palestinian rights with a special emphasis on the need to abandon the right of return.  Now, as meetings between PNA officials and Zionist organizations become routine business, Ibish has been further reduced to an events organizer tasked with the responsibilities of a concierge for visiting PNA officials.

For some Arab-Americans, morally grounded, and principled activism on behalf of a just cause and an oppressed people simply has no chance against the lure of mainstream media acceptance, hobnobbing with US officials, and galas attended by Arab royalty or the “The Honorables” in Congress.  But the better informed US officials and Israeli leaders are well aware the PNA does not speak on behalf of the Palestinian people.  Likewise, here in the US the ATFP does not represent “Palestinian-Americans and their supporters.”  As long as that’s clearly understood the ATFP may continue with preparations for its upcoming annual “gala” at which Ibish will exchange his professional, concierge attire for a dashing black-tie tuxedo as he, and the debonair Ziad Asali, take the stage together on October 20, 2010 at the Ritz Carlton.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

"Elliott Abrams? worse than disingenuous. Dishonest!"

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“Elliott Abrams? worse than disingenuous. Dishonest!”

The problem with Abrams’ op-ed is in his sourcing. He writes:

The World Bank reported this month that “If the Palestinian Authority (PA) maintains its current performance in institution-building and delivery of public services, it is well-positioned for the establishment of a state at any point in the near future.” The West Bank’s economy will grow 8% this year, said the bank. Meanwhile, tax revenues are 15% above target and 50% higher than in the same period last year.

 

Good news, right? Absolutely. But Abrams left out one of the other major findings of the report (.pdf) — the one that undermines his entire op-ed:

Sustainable economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza, however, remains absent. Significant changes in the policy environment are still required for increased private investment particularly in the productive sectors, enabling the PA to significantly reduce its dependence on donor aid. 

h. The obstacles facing private investment in the West Bank are manifold and myriad, as many important GoI restrictions remain in place: (a) access to the majority of the territory’s land and water (Area C) is severely curtailed; (b) East Jerusalem — a lucrative market — is beyond reach; (c) the ability of investors to enter into Israel and the West Bank is unpredictable; and (d) many raw materials critical to the productive sectors are classified by the GoI as “dual-use” (civilian and military) and their import entails the navigation of complex procedures, generating delays and significantly increasing costs. … Unless action is taken in the near future to address the remaining obstacles to private sector development and sustainable growth, the PA will remain donor dependent and its institutions, no matter how robust, will not be able to underpin a viable state.

The point of the whole friggin’ World Bank report was that the very real economic gains we have witnessed in the West Bank over the past few years will turn out to be ephemeral if they are not followed by a political settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Abrams continues:

Regarding security, cooperation between Israeli and PA forces has never been better. This month the International Crisis Group acknowledged that “In the past few years, the Palestinian Authority (PA) largely has restored order and a sense of personal safety in the West Bank, something unthinkable during the second intifada. Militias no longer roam streets, uniformed security forces are back, Palestinians seem mostly pleased; even Israel — with reason to be skeptical and despite recent attacks on West Bank settlers — is encouraged.”

Again, nothing wrong with that paragraph, and you can read that report as well. But again, Abrams doesn’t mention a key finding ofthat report:

The undeniable success of the reform agenda has been built in part on popular fatigue and despair – the sense that the situation had so deteriorated that Palestinians are prepared to swallow quite a bit for the sake of stability, including deepened security cooperation with their foe. Yet, as the situation normalises over time, they could show less indulgence. Should Israeli-Palestinian negotiations collapse – and, with them, any remaining hope for an agreement – Palestinian security forces might find it difficult to keep up their existing posture. … Without a credible Israeli-Palestinian peace process or their own genuine reconciliation process, Palestinians will be stuck in their long and tenuous attempt to square the circle: to build a state while still under occupation; to deepen cooperation with the occupier in the security realm even as they seek to confront it elsewhere; and to reach an understanding with their historic foe even as they prove unable to reach an understanding among themselves.

The Crisis Group report that Abrams cites, like the World Bank report, only supports the thesis of Abrams’ op-ed if you very selectively cut and paste from the reports. Otherwise, the reports he cites actually undermine the central argument of his op-ed. (And it goes without saying that Abrams did not similarly endorse this Crisis Group report. Or cite the 2009 address by Keith Dayton to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (.pdf) in which Dayton similarly warned that security gains in the West Bank were ephemeral absent political progress.)

Abrams has to know this. I mean, even assuming Abrams did not himself read the entire Crisis Group report, that bit above was from the executive summary….

I have heard from many people I admire and trust that Abrams is one of the most brilliant people in Washington. But this is the kind of stuff that gives think tank researchers a bad name. I simply cannot believe that Abrams was not aware of the conclusions of the reports he cites when he cited them. Not mentioning those conclusions in his op-ed, then, is worse than disingenuous….

  

“Welch & Abrams meet Siniora … “The Dishonorablly Dishonest & Disingenious Club!” 

The point of this post is that unlike most readers of the Wall Street Journal, those paid to study security issues in the Middle East for a living (and are thus familiar with the sources Abrams cites) know when an author is selectively sourcing his argument and deliberately avoiding evidence or conclusions that might weaken his thesis. Again, this is worse than disingenuous. This is dishonest.”

Posted by G, Z, or B at 3:09 PM

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Israel kidnaps about 500 Palestinian children every year – 70,000 Palestinians jailed since intifada

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[ 30/09/2010 – 12:31 PM ]

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Prisoner Studies Center issued Thursday on the tenth anniversary of the Aqsa intifada a comprehensive report which found that Israeli authorities have since the intifada arrested 70,000 Palestinians, around 6,800 of whom remain scattered in more than 20 prisons and detention centers in inhumane conditions.

The center said there are nearly 300 minors in the Damon, Megiddo, Hawara, and other prisons and 35 female inmates in the Hasharoun and Damon prisons. There are around 210 prisoners in administrative detention, dubbed “unlawful combatants”, whose terms have ended, or who are held without charges or tried under undemocratic emergency laws.

There are a number of politicians and dozens of prisoners who have been in solitary confinement for long years and more than 1,000 sick prisoners. There are 750 war prisoners from the Gaza Strip and hundreds of others from the West Bank who have been denied visits from family for the last four years.

Violations against the prisoners include banning visits against hundreds of prisoners, denying them the right to finish secondary studies, ill-treatment of minor prisoners, night searches, unreasonable rulings in the military courts, serving unclean food, moving prisoners repeatedly from room to room, sector to sector, or prison to prison, and violations of courts’ extensions of detention.

The report highlighted that the prison administration uses solitary confinement as a punishment for the most minor cases, adding that the length of seclusion may range from hours to years depending on the verdict of prison officials. There is a solitary confinement section and areas designated for long-term seclusion in each jail.

Ansar Al-Asra: Israel kidnaps about 500 Palestinian children every year



[ 30/09/2010 – 12:44 PM ]

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Ansar Al-Asra, a human rights organization, reported Thursday that Israel kidnapped about 500 Palestinian prisoners under age 18 every year and there are still 310 of them in its jails.

The organization affirmed that Israel invented racist military laws allowing it to arrest and torture Palestinian prisoners, adding that the repeated international condemnations did not deter it from its violations against them.

It noted that Israel identified Palestinian children as those under age 16, while Israeli children as those under age 18 and uses its law number 132 to justify the arrest and prosecution of Palestinian children.

Some of the Israeli violations mentioned in its report said that Palestinian children in Israeli jails are threatened if they do not cooperate they will be raped and killed or their families will be harmed, and sometimes they are placed in private rooms with grown-up criminals to pressure them.

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>Conference: Toxic munitions used against protesters in O. Jerusalem

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[ 30/09/2010 – 09:50 AM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– A conference was held by the Silwan defense committee and the Quds Information Center on Wednesday to discuss forming a probe into bombs Israeli soldiers used in crackdowns against Palestinians and other demonstrators during last week’s protests throughout occupied Jerusalem.

Protests erupted last week after an Israeli settler shot and killed Palestinian man Samer Sarhan and wounded others for allegedly throwing stones at his vehicle. The perpetrator was released on bail.

Members of the meeting offered evidence that Israeli forces used expired gas and stun grenades, which caused immediate effects such as fatigue, breathing difficulties, and vomiting, and may lead to other long-term effects against the environment.

Sheikh Ikrema Sabri, head of the Islamic supreme court, said that Israel “contravenes all international laws and norms, which prohibit the use of gas and toxic weapons.”

Silwan defense committee member Fakhri Abu Diyab said: “We collected some of the grenades that were tossed to determine their type, and we discovered that they had been expired for a year or six months; and doctors confirmed that the gas found inside them was oxidized and could cause serious damage to humans and the environment.”

In turn, Quds Information Center director Mohammed Sadiq called for an international investigation into the types of weapons used in Jerusalem during the protests, saying: “Jerusalem has turned into a laboratory to test weapons, gas, and bullets, and has also become an arena for them to be used indiscriminately.”

Rajih Horin, vice-president of the Arab paramedics federation, cited a decision issued by the central court of Tel Aviv in 2005 classifying tear gas as a very toxic substance used against people intended to cause deliberate harm to them. The Israeli Supreme Court recognized tear gas as a poisonous chemical in 2006, he added.

In a separate development, clashes broke out on Thursday in the Isawiya district of occupied Jerusalem when the Israeli army raided and launched an arrest campaign in the district.

Local residents said the Israeli forces arrested three men after storming their homes in Isawiya. The arrestees were taken to an unknown destination.

Israeli police and border guards carry out regular arrest campaigns against Palestinians in Jerusalem for allegedly throwing stones at cars belonging to Israeli settlers and participating in demonstrations and marches opposing the occupation and continued demolitions of the homes of Palestinians in the holy city.

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Our Man in Palestine

>Source

Nathan Thrall

On August 31, the night before President Obama’s dinner inaugurating direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Hamas gunmen shot and killed four Jewish settlers in Hebron, the West Bank’s largest and most populous governorate. The attack—the deadliest against Israeli citizens in more than two years—was condemned by Palestinian and Israeli officials, who said that it was meant to thwart the upcoming negotiations.

According to a Hamas spokesman, however, the shooting had a more specific purpose: to demonstrate the futility of the recent cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces. This cooperation has reached unprecedented levels under the quiet direction of a three-star US Army general, Keith Dayton, who has been commanding a little-publicized American mission to build up Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.1

Referred to by Hamas as “the Dayton forces,” the Palestinian security services are formally under the authority of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and chairman of Hamas’s rival, Fatah; but they are, in practice, controlled by Salam Fayyad, the unelected prime minister, a diminutive, mild-mannered technocrat. Abbas appointed Fayyad following Hamas’s grim takeover of Gaza in June 2007—which occurred seventeen months after the Islamist party won the January 2006 parliamentary elections—and entrusted him with preventing Hamas from also seizing the West Bank.

Fayyad received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin and held positions at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the World Bank, and the IMF before becoming finance minister under President Yasser Arafat. His reputation as a fiscally responsible and trustworthy manager ensures the steady supply of international aid on which the Palestinian economy depends. Though he has neither a popular following nor backing from a large political party (his Third Way list received a mere 2.4 percent of the votes in the 2006 legislative elections), today he is responsible for nearly every aspect of Palestinian governance. Yet he is not participating in the negotiations over a settlement with Israel, which are the province of the PLO (of whose leadership Fayyad is not a member) and are handled by its chairman, the seventy-five-year-old Abbas.

Fayyad is criticized at home for many of the same reasons he is lauded abroad. He has condemned violence against Israel as antithetical to his people’s national aspirations, stated that Palestinian refugees could be resettled not in Israel but in a future Palestinian state, and suggested that this state would offer citizenship to Jews.2

He is praised in the opinion pages of The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, and has good relations with foreign leaders unpopular in Palestine: on Fayyad’s first visit to the Oval Office, in 2003, George W. Bush greeted him with index and pinky fingers extended to display UT Austin’s “Hook ‘em Horns” sign.

When the daughter of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s chief of staff was married several years ago, Fayyad sat next to Sharon at the wedding and talked with him at length.3 In February, Fayyad spoke before Israel’s security establishment at the annual Herzliya Conference, where he was compared by Israeli President Shimon Peres to David Ben-Gurion.4 Much of Fayyad’s speech concerned his ambitious plan, made public in late August 2009, to establish unilaterally a de facto Palestinian state by August 2011. By that time, according to Fayyad, “the reality of [a Palestinian] state will impose itself on the world.”5 Fayyad’s plan to “build” a state—he does not say he will declare one—has been endorsed by the Quartet (the US, EU, UN, and Russian Federation) and supported eagerly by international donors.
Some Palestinians have rejected it as too closely resembling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s notion of “economic peace,” which proposes that development precede independence. And a number of Israelis have expressed suspicions that Palestine will seek UN recognition of its statehood when the plan is complete. Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, has warned that any unilateral steps Fayyad takes toward a state could prompt Israel to annul past agreements and annex parts of the West Bank.6

Fayyad has said that his plan to build a new state “is intended to generate pressure” on Israeli–Palestinian negotiations, and the direct talks recently started by the two parties have a late summer 2011 deadline that coincides with Fayyad’s.7 Mike Herzog, former chief of staff to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, told me, “Ultimately, I think Fayyad calculates that political negotiations will not succeed and his plan [to establish a state] will be the only game in town.” The danger, for Israel and the Palestinian Authority alike, is what will happen if negotiations fail and Fayyad’s plan does not produce significant concessions from Israel. “We are not going to withdraw from certain areas just because there was a declaration or a UN resolution,” Herzog said. In that event Hamas will be able to present a persuasive argument that violence is the only means of achieving national liberation. “Fayyad sets an arbitrary date and says, ‘Okay, now all of you break your heads if you want to avoid a catastrophe,’” Herzog said. “What he did is very risky but also very smart.”

So far, Fayyad’s strategy is succeeding. His administration has started more than one thousand development projects, which include paving roads, planting trees, digging wells, and constructing new buildings, most prominently in the twin cities of Ramallah and al-Bireh.8 He has reduced dependence on foreign aid and started to carry out plans to build new hospitals, classrooms, courthouses, industrial parks, housing, and even a new city, Rawabi, between Ramallah and Nablus. But “reforming the security forces,” Ghassan Khatib, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, told me, “is the main and integral part of the Fayyad plan. Many of the government’s other successes, such as economic growth, came as a result.”

To its citizens, Fayyad’s government has presented reform of the police and other security forces as principally a matter of providing law and order—apprehending criminal gangs, consolidating competing security services, forbidding public displays of weapons, and locating stolen cars. But its program for “counterterrorism”—which is directed mainly against Hamas and viewed by many Palestinians as collaboration with Israel—is its most important element: targeting Hamas members and suspected sympathizers is intended to reduce the likelihood of a West Bank takeover and, as important, helps Fayyad make a plausible case that he is in control and that Israel can safely withdraw from the territory.

In 2009, Palestinian and Israeli forces took part in 1,297 coordinated activities, many of them against militant Palestinian groups, a 72 percent increase over the previous year.9 Together they have largely disbanded the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a principal Fatah militia; attacked Islamic Jihad cells; and all but eliminated Hamas’s social institutions, financial arrangements, and military activities in the West Bank.
According to the latest annual report of the Shin Bet, Israel’s FBI, “continuous [counterterrorist] activity conducted by Israel and the Palestinian security apparatuses” reduced Palestinian attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to their lowest numbers since 2000.10
Today’s level of cooperation, Herzog said, “is better than before the second intifada even—it’s excellent.” Mouna Mansour, a Hamas legislator in the Palestinian Parliament and widow of an assassinated senior leader of the movement, told me, “The PA has succeeded more than the Israelis in crushing Hamas in the West Bank.”

At the center of the Palestinian government’s security reforms are several “special battalions” of the National Security Forces (NSF), an eight-thousand-member gendarmerie that makes up the largest unit of the 25,000-strong Palestinian armed forces in the West Bank.11 The officer in charge of the vetting, training, equipping, and strategic planning of these special battalions is Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, the United States security coordinator (USSC) for Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In a desert town sixteen miles southeast of Amman, more than three thousand Palestinians have completed nineteen-week military courses under Dayton’s supervision at the Jordan International Police Training Center, built with American funds in 2003 for the instruction of Iraqi police. In Hebron, Jenin, Jericho, and Ramallah, the Dayton mission is organizing the construction and renovation of garrisons, training colleges, facilities for the Interior Ministry, and security headquarters—some of which, like the one I visited on a hilltop in central Hebron, were destroyed by Israel during the second intifada. The office of the USSC plans to build new camps in Bethlehem, Ramallah, Tubas, and Tulkarm. It offers two-month leadership courses to senior PA officers, and has created and appointed advisers to a Strategic Planning Directorate in the Ministry of Interior.12 Over the past three years, the State Department has allocated $392 million to the Dayton mission, with another $150 million requested for 2011.13

At its headquarters in a nineteenth-century stone building at the US consulate in West Jerusalem, the USSC has a forty-five-person core staff composed primarily of American and Canadian but also British and Turkish military officers. In addition, it employs twenty-eight private contractors from the Virginia-based DynCorp International.14 State Department rules require the mission’s US government staff to travel only in large, heavily armored convoys, though these restrictions do not apply to its private security contractors and foreign military officers, some of whom are based in Ramallah. By late 2011—a date that dovetails with Fayyad’s deadline—the USSC plans to have supervised the training of ten NSF battalions, one for every West Bank governorate except Jerusalem.15

General Dayton reports to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He advises George Mitchell, special envoy for Middle East peace, and has been praised by influential senators, congressmen, and Middle East analysts, who view the work of the USSC as a singular achievement.16 Israel has granted greater responsibility to Palestinian security forces, expanding their geographical areas of operation, sharing higher-quality intelligence with them, and lifting their midnight-to-five-AM curfews in several of the largest West Bank cities.17 According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel has also reduced the travel time between most urban centers in the West Bank by opening roads, relaxing controls at checkpoints, lifting vehicle permit requirements, and removing physical obstacles, which are expected to be reduced in the near future to their lowest number since 2005.18

Colonel Philip J. Dermer, a former member of the USSC, wrote in a March 2010 report circulated among senior White House and military staff that “the USSC mission has arguably achieved more progress on the ground than any other US effort in Israeli- Palestinian peacemaking”19 Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, has said, “You can send George Mitchell back and forth to the Middle East as much as you like, but expanding what [General] Dayton is doing in the security realm to other sectors of Palestinian governance and society is really the only viable model for progress.”20

The first United States security coordinator, Lieutenant General William “Kip” Ward, arrived in Jerusalem in March 2005. Elliott Abrams, formerly the deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush, told me that Ward’s mission was organized in response to three closely coinciding events: the reelection, in November 2004, of Bush, who wanted to rebuild Palestinian security forces as a part of his 2003 road map to Middle East peace; the death, nine days later, of Yasser Arafat, who had resisted American attempts to reform the Palestinian security services; and the victory of America’s favored candidate, Mahmoud Abbas, in the January 2005 presidential election.

  1. For an excellent report on Palestinian security reform, see “Squaring the Circle: Palestinian Security Reform Under Occupation,” International Crisis Group, September 7, 2010.
  2. “Fayyad: Jews Can Be Equal Citizens in a Palestinian State,” Haaretz, July 5, 2009.
  3. For an example of the sort of approbation Fayyad receives, see several recent columns by Roger Cohen, who has called Fayyad “the most important phenomenon in the Middle East,” and Thomas Friedman, who has coined a term for the prime minister’s brand of “transparent, accountable administration and services”—”Fayyadism”—which he thinks “the most exciting new idea in Arab governance ever.” Roger Cohen, “Beating the Mideast’s Black Hole,” The International Herald Tribune, April 27, 2010; Thomas Friedman, “Green Shoots in Palestine,” The New York Times, August 4, 2009.
  4. Akiva Eldar, “A Day in the Life of the Palestinian Ben-Gurion,” Haaretz, February 11, 2010.
  5. Fadi Elsalameen, “Fayyad: ‘Build, Build Despite the Occupation,'” The Palestine Note, July 30, 2010.
  6. Merav Michaeli, “Lieberman: Israel’s Gestures to Palestinians Met with ‘Slaps in the Face,'” Haaretz, May 13, 2010.
  7. Fadi Elsalameen, “Fayyad: ‘Build, Build Despite the Occupation.'”
  8. Much has been made of a report by the International Monetary Fund stating that real GDP in the West Bank grew by 8.5 percent in 2009. For a source arguing that the IMF’s report of West Bank economic growth is greatly exaggerated, see Bassim S. Khoury, “Putting the Palestinian ‘Carriage Behind the Horse,'” ForeignPolicy.com, July 1, 2010.
  9. Measures Taken by Israel in Support of Developing the Palestinian Economy, the Socio-Economic Structure, and the Security Reforms,” Report of the Government of Israel to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, April 13, 2010.
  10. “2009 Annual Summary—Data and Trends in Palestinian Terrorism,” Israeli Security Agency, 2009. See also previous Israeli Security Agency reports and “Four Years of Conflict: Israel’s War Against Terrorism,” Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 3, 2004.
  11. On the size of the NSF, see the estimates made in “Palestinian Authority: US Assistance Is Training and Equipping Security Forces, but the Program Needs to Measure Progress and Faces Logistical Constraints,” Government Accountability Office, May 2010; and “Squaring the Circle: Palestinian Security Reform Under Occupation.” The number used in this piece falls between the figures provided in those two reports and represents a slight adjustment, presented to me by a spokesman for EUPOL COPPS (the European Union Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories) in April 2010, of a previous estimate made by US officials. See “West Bank: Palestinian Security Forces,” US Security Coordination Road Warrior Team, June 2008.
  12. These courses are open to members of each of the seven security services: the National Security Forces, Presidential Guard, Civil Police, Civil Defense, and three intelligence services—Military Intelligence, General Intelligence, and Preventive Security.
  13. “Palestinian Authority: US Assistance Is Training and Equipping Security Forces, but the Program Needs to Measure Progress and Faces Logistical Constraints.”
  14. “Palestinian Authority: US Assistance Is Training and Equipping Security Forces, but the Program Needs to Measure Progress and Faces Logistical Constraints.”
  15. The State Department, however, expects the forces to be deployed in only nine governorates, with one battalion as a reserve force. (The PA security sector treats the governorates of Jenin and Tubas as a single unit.) See “US Security Assistance to the Palestinian Authority,” Congressional Research Service, January 8, 2010; and “Squaring the Circle,” International Crisis Group, September 7, 2010, p. 11.
  16. Dayton served alongside the national security adviser, General James Jones, who was special envoy for Middle East security in 2007–2008; wrote a glowing blurb for a recent book coauthored by Dennis Ross, a senior director at the National Security Council and special adviser to the President; and has given presentations to influential senators, congressmen, and interest groups visiting Israel.
  17. “Squaring the Circle: Palestinian Security Reform Under Occupation.”
  18. West Bank Movement and Access Update,” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Occupied Palestinian Territory, June 2010.
  19. Colonel Philip J. Dermer, “Trip Notes on a Return to Israel and the West Bank: Reflections on US Peacemaking, the Security Mission, and What Should Be Done,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 39, No. 3 (Spring 2010).
  20. James Kitfield, “United They Fall; Divided They Stand,” National Journal, March 28, 2009.

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Protection by any means necessary

>Matthew Cassel, The Electronic Intifada, 29 September 2010

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon insist on their right to bear arms. (Matthew Cassel)

This month, Palestinians in Lebanon commemorated the 28th anniversary of a crime whose perpetrators remain unpunished and whose victims still wait for justice. In September 1982, the Israeli army surrounded the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut. For nearly three days, Israeli forces allowed their allies in the right-wing Lebanese Christian Phalange militia to enter the camps and massacre more than a thousand Palestinian refugees and Lebanese citizens. All of the victims — men, women and children — were unarmed civilians.

The massacre was the culmination of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and more than two months of siege of West Beirut which eventually forced the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to withdraw from the country. PLO fighters relinquished their heavy weapons to the Lebanese army and in a symbolic act of resistance, left Beirut with their small arms still at their sides. However, the majority of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, exiled since 1948 when Israel was established on top of their homes, remained behind. Dispersed throughout the country’s dozen or so refugee camps, Palestinians were left virtually unprotected.

The PLO withdrew from Beirut only after agreeing to a US-mediated ceasefire with Israel. They were given reassurances by Washington that Israel would not harm Palestinian civilians remaining in the camps. However, these reassurances proved to be shallow, and after waging an invasion of Lebanon that killed nearly 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians and devastated much of the country, Israel invaded and occupied the practically defenseless Lebanese capital.

Prior to this somber anniversary, a writer argued in the Guardian’s Comment is Free site that Palestinian weapons were the key issue preventing Palestinian refugees from obtaining basic civil rights in Lebanon, which the state has denied them for 62 years. He described the camps as “heavily armed” and the refugees living there as gripped by an “illusion of martial security” (“Disarming Lebanon’s Palestinians,” Ahmed Moor, 8 September 2010).

As someone who has lived in Lebanon for several years, I was struck by these assertions. Anyone familiar with Lebanese politics recognizes them as the typical refrain of the right-wing, whose adherents object not only to providing Palestinian refugees with basic rights but their very presence on Lebanese soil. Nor do these characterizations come close to accurately describing the camps or the Palestinians in Lebanon I know. The camps today are far from being heavily armed, especially when compared to the various Lebanese militias or the Lebanese army.

I thought I would visit the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, which today are essentially one camp resembling a slum, and speak with Palestinian refugees about the issue of trading in their weapons for rights.

Inside a small call center in the camp, frequented by mostly Palestinians without credit on their mobile phones and foreign workers calling home, I spoke to a young man named Osama. He told me: “The issue of our arms and our civil rights are unrelated. Lebanese should give us rights as Arabs, as human beings living among them like Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Syria.”

“Our weapons don’t necessarily make me feel safer,” he added, “especially with the internal problems that we have in the camps here like in Palestine. But if we were to give them up, we’d have no protection. At least with our weapons if we die, we die standing and not like in Sabra and Shatila when we were massacred without even one weapon to resist. If the Lebanese army was able to protect us from Israel, then there would be no need for Palestinians to have weapons.”

At the headquarters of the Najdeh Association just outside the camp, I spoke with executive director Laila al-Ali. Founded in the 1970s, Najdeh is an nongovernmental organization that runs social programs in Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps and is the leading organization behind the “Right to Work Campaign” for Palestinian refugees. Al-Ali, a Palestinian refugee who grew up in Shatila, explained, “It’s not the Lebanese who are looking for assurances or guarantees from the Palestinians, it’s the Palestinians who need this guarantee from the Lebanese. Palestinians don’t feel safe.”

Al-Ali said that only a few groups and individuals have weapons in the camps. She added that the argument claiming these small arms are a prerequisite to granting Palestinians rights is merely “Lebanese [rhetoric] trying to deny Palestinians their human and civil rights.”

I asked her about a recent law passed by the Lebanese parliament that made minor changes to the restrictions on the ability of Palestinian refugees to work in the country. Al-Ali stated bluntly: “It gives them nothing. The Lebanese mentality needs to be changed, they cannot continue dealing with Palestinians from the security perspective [alone].”

Back in Shatila, others shared her sentiments. I walked into a barbershop owned by Ahmed, who explained while snipping away at a man’s hair that “We keep weapons for protection. Even between the Lebanese there is no stability. Today they are together and tomorrow they’re not. In the past we only had our weapons to protect ourselves. Like during the [1985-88] war of the camps, our weapons protected us from the [Lebanese Shia] Amal movement.”

I turned to a young man named Omar who was finishing a deep pore cleansing. Bearing a pistol on his hip, Omar is a member of one of the camp’s security branches. “The weapons are not the reason for denying us rights, this is a pretext for the Lebanese to take our weapons,” he said. “If we lose our weapons, we lose the right to go back to Palestine. I carry my weapon because it’s not worth throwing away. The weapons are the peoples’ property.”

Unprompted, a taxi driver named Mahmoud with a freshly trimmed mustache jumped in. “Once we lose the weapons we’ll be slapped from all directions,” he said. “I will never accept to give up our weapons. The Lebanese will never be able to protect our cause. It’s not their cause, and nobody can protect it but ourselves.”

After speaking with dozens of individuals in the camp, all of whom refused to give up their right to bear arms, I asked a friend to take me to someone in the camp who he thought would disagree. He brought me to his 66-year-old grandmother, Miyasar, a refugee who has been forced to flee her home at least five times since 1948 and now lives in Shatila.

Before I could even finish asking her the first question about trading rights for arms, Miyasar closed her eyes, shook her head and said: “The Lebanese cannot give us rights, they can’t even give themselves rights. Each group is by itself with its own weapons — Hizballah has guns, Amal has guns, the Future [movement] has guns. The Lebanese are the ones who need help, not the Palestinians.”

She added, “When the Israelis came they said, give up our guns. We did and look what happened! Even a donkey that falls in one spot learns not to fall in that same spot again. We have no faith in Lebanese to give us rights. We will keep our weapons until we go back to Palestine.”

Matthew Cassel is based in Beirut, Lebanon and is Assistant Editor of The Electronic Intifada. His website is justimage.org. A version of this essay was originally published by the Guardian’s Comment is Free and is republished with permission.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Israel’s Reasoning Against Peace

>

It would be misleading to assume that the only major obstacle to the success of the negotiations is the right-wing political ideology the settler movement represents. Equally important are deeply entrenched economic interests shared across Israeli society, notes Jonathan Cook.

Deal comes at high cost to Jewish privilege

With the resumption of settlement construction in the West Bank yesterday, Israel’s powerful settler movement hopes that it has scuttled peace talks with the Palestinians.

It would be misleading, however, to assume that the only major obstacle to the success of the negotiations is the right-wing political ideology the settler movement represents. Equally important are deeply entrenched economic interests shared across Israeli society.

These interests took root more than six decades ago with Israel’s establishment and have flourished at an ever-accelerating pace since Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip after the 1967 war.
Even many Israeli Jews living within the recognised borders of Israel privately acknowledge that they are the beneficiaries of the seizure of another people’s lands, homes, businesses and bank accounts in 1948. Most Israelis profit directly from the continuing dispossession of millions of Palestinian refugees.

Israeli officials assume that the international community will bear the burden of restitution for the refugees. The problem for Israel’s Jewish population is that the refugees now living in exile were not the only ones dispossessed.

The fifth of Israel’s citizens who are Palestinian but survived the expulsions of 1948 found themselves either transformed into internally displaced people or the victims of a later land-nationalisation programme that stripped them of their ancestral property.

Even if Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, signed away the rights of the refugees, he would have no power to do the same for Israel’s Palestinian citizens, the so-called Israeli Arabs. Peace, as many Israelis understand, would open a Pandora’s box of historic land claims from Palestinian citizens at the expense of Israel’s Jewish citizens.

But the threat to the economic privileges of Israeli Jews would not end with a reckoning over the injustices caused by the state’s creation. The occupation of the Palestinian territories after 1967 spawned many other powerful economic interests opposed to peace.

The most visible constituency are the settlers, who have benefited hugely from government subsidies and tax breaks designed to encourage Israelis to relocate to the West Bank. Peace Now estimates that such benefits alone are worth more than $550 million a year.

Far from being a fringe element, the half a million settlers constitute nearly a tenth of Israel’s Jewish population and include such prominent figures as foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Hundreds of businesses serving the settlers are booming in the 60 per cent of the West Bank, the so-called Area C, that falls under Israel’s full control. The real estate and construction industries, in particular, benefit from cut-price land — and increased profits — made available by theft from Palestinian owners.

Other businesses, meanwhile, have moved into Israel’s West Bank industrial zones, benefiting from cheap Palestinian labour and from discounted land, tax perks and lax enforcement of environmental protections.
Much of the tourism industry also depends on Israel’s hold over the holy sites located in occupied East Jerusalem.

This web of interests depends on what Akiva Eldar, of the Haaretz newspaper, terms “land-laundering” overseen by government ministries, state institutions and Zionist organisations. These murky transactions create ample opportunities for corruption that have become a staple for Israel’s rich and powerful, including, it seems, its prime ministers.

But the benefits of occupation are not restricted to the civilian population. The most potent pressure group in Israel — the military — has much to lose from a peace agreement, too.

The ranks of Israel’s career soldiers, and associated security services such as the Shin Bet secret police, have ballooned during the occupation.

The demands of controlling another people around the clock justifies huge budgets, the latest weaponry (much of it paid for by the United States) and the creation of a powerful class of military bureaucrat.
While teenage conscripts do the dangerous jobs, the army’s senior ranks retire in their early forties on full pensions, with lengthy second careers ahead in business or politics. Many also go on to profit from the burgeoning “homeland security” industries in which Israel excels. Small specialist companies led by former generals offer a home to retired soldiers drawing on years of experience running the occupation.

Those who spent their service in the West Bank and Gaza Strip quickly learn how to apply and refine new technologies for surveillance, crowd control and urban warfare that find ready markets overseas. In 2006 Israel’s defence exports reached $3.4bn, making the country the fourth largest arms dealer in the world.
These groups fear that a peace agreement and Palestinian statehood would turn Israel overnight into an insignificant Middle Eastern state, one that would soon be starved of its enormous US subsidies. In addition, Israel would be forced to right a historic wrong and redirect the region’s plundered resources, including its land and water, back to Palestinians, depriving Jews of their established entitlements.

A cost-benefit calculus suggests to most Israeli Jews — including the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu — that a real solution to their conflict with the Palestinians might come at too heavy a price to their own pockets.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

“Israel’s” Political Firewall against the Truth

>Via Silver Lining

Posted on September 29, 2010 by realistic bird

by Carlos Latuff
by George Polley, source 

In an article published in the September 6th edition of The Palestine Chronicle (“Imagining Palestinians as Equal”) I began with this quote from novelist Aldous Huxley: “The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” It is the key to separating out what is blatant propaganda and what is fair and honest communication.

The purpose of Israel’s political firewall is blocking out and discrediting the testimony of the people it abuses on a daily basis and their supporters, through using high level elites.

In my mental health career working with abusive systems was a main interest, and this is classic abusive system behavior. The example I used in the article was The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA), formed earlier this year. Billing itself as dedicated to the scholarly research of the manifestations of antisemitism globally, as well as other forms of prejudice, it fits snugly into the propaganda format promoted by Israel’s Reut Institute.

The Friends of Israel Initiative (FII) led by former Spanish PM José María Aznar and directed by Rafael Bardaji, Sr. Aznar’s former national security advisor is a second example. Founded in May of this year, it is made up of a group of high level personalities supported by a large network of influential opinion formers such as William Kristol, Dore Gold, Alan Mendoza, Joao Spada, Eliot Abrams, Allen Roth, Pablo Kleinman, Jeffrey Gedmin, Robin Shepherd, among many others.

Where does FII’s support come from? That is difficult to say, as donors are not listed on their website, and I’ve unable to locate any information about them on the internet, other than they are a dozen private donors from Spain, America, Israel, France, Italy and Britain, and provide the FII with a working budget of almost £1 million a year, which translates to over $1,550,000 US dollars (Source: The Jewish Chronicle Online, July 22, 2010).

FII’s declared purpose is a familiar one if you are familiar with Israel’s propaganda initiatives: Combating “the deligitimization of the State of Israel at home, abroad and inside the institutions of the international community”; publicly showing solidarity with Israel’s democratic institutions which are “the legitimate expression of the Jewish people’s millennial aspiration to live in peace and freedom in its national homeland (emphasis added); supporting Israel’s inalienable right to secure borders “so that its citizens can continue living with the same guarantees that our own societies enjoy; consistently and firmly opposing the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran; working to ensure that Israel is fully accepted as a normal Western country, which they see as “an essential and indivisible part of the Western world to which we belong (emphasis added)”; and “reaffirm[ing] the value of the religious, moral, and cultural Judeo-Christian heritage as the main source of the liberal and democratic Western societies.”
Not one word about the Palestinian people and wha
t has happened to them from 1948 to the present day. Not a single word or syllable anywhere on FII’s website. The clear message is that the Palestinian people do not exist except as terrorists and delegitimizers who refuse to accept Israel’s continued stealing of their lands, murdering their people and treating them like dogs. The sole purpose of the FII is to delegitimize Israel’s critics and dismiss the Palestinians as dogs.
Is this a bit harsh? When the Palestinian people are ignored to this degree, I don’t think it is. The message of The Friends of Israel Initiative is a message that Israel’s propaganda machine very much wants everyone, especially the power brokers in the West to hear … and believe. What the rest of us believe is irrelevant, because to the propaganda machine and power brokers, “the people” do not count. By now that should be eminently clear to anyone who follows the daily news. Am I being needlessly cynical? Sadly, I don’t believe I am.

There is more. Marcello Perla, former president of the Italian Senate remarked at the launch of the FII that Israel was viewed “as the father of human rights”, and that “attacking Israel is attacking the culture of human rights” (The Jewish Chronicle Online, 22 July 2010). (It took me a minute after reading that before I could say “You have got to be joking!”) On FII’s website’s home page, Mr. Perla is quoted as saying that “The campaign of demonization against the State of Israel must stop. All men and women of goodwill should join together to say that enough is enough” (almost a word-for-word quote from the Reut Institute’s report “Building a Political Firewall Against Israel’s Delegitimization”).

On the same date, former Spanish PM José María Aznar published an article in The Jewish Chronicle Online titled “We in the West need to regain moral clarity, complete with a head shot of Sr. Aznar looking very serious and morally clear. Claiming that Israel is an integral part of the West, he makes this astonishing claim: “The one thing setting it apart from the rest of us is its status as the only democracy whose existence has been questioned since inception.” He then makes this incredible, whiplash-inducing statement: “[I]f Israel fell into the hands of its enemies, the West as we know it would cease to exist.” Say what?

Take a moment to sit back and take three deep, slow breaths to clear your mind and unclench your jaw. Go to this link and read the article for yourself (http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/comment/36089/we-west-need-regain-moral-clarity), take three deeper, slower breaths to calm the hysterical laughter or rage that’s beginning to well up inside and overwhelm your thinking mind, refocus your eyes and move on.

What Mr. Aznar has done is declare war against Israel’s enemies whom he declares are enemies of the West. Worse, he uses the rhetoric of cultural warfare, a “clash of cultures” between the virtuous West and the evil and cynical Muslim world. This is so bizarre that it makes my hair stand on end. Does he really not see how dangerous this Reut-think is? Are he and his friends fools, or just suicidal idiots bent on dragging all of us into a neocon war to defend a state that, from its inception has been morally indefensible?
We in the west do need to regain moral clarity, which is the point the growing legions of Israel’s critics are making eminently clear. But refusing to even mention the Palestinian people is morally reprehensible to all men and women of good will, to say nothing at all about good sense.

Mahmoud El-Yousseph said it best in a recent article in The Palestinian Chronicle titled “The Hesder Quiz: Where is Israel?”. “‘Where is Israel’?” he asks. “The more accurate answer would be: It is located in the heart of the Arab world. It was built illegally in 1948 on stolen Palestinian land and on the ruin of hundreds of towns and villages that have been erased from the face of the earth so the native inhabitants will never have a chance to return back home and to what is rightfully theirs.”

Until Sr. Aznar and his friends understand that, the West has no moral clarity at all. Moral clarity comes to us courtesy of people like Mahmoud El-Yousseph and others who call Israel out on its racism and violence toward the Palestinian people. To quote from a recent article by Gilad Atzmon, Israeli expatriate, jazz musician and activist, “reconciliation is the surest way to peace.” And this is true wherever injustice exists, which is to say wherever one group of people treat another group or groups of people as if they are nothing at all.

I will say this for Sr. Aznar and his friends: They do know how to parrot their lines. Wouldn’t you love to know who their financial backers are? Now that is a worthy subject for someone to research and publish at least one article on.

– George Polley is a Japan-based writer.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Imperial Israel

by Stephen Lendman

In his book “Against Empire,” Michael Parenti defines imperialism as “the process whereby the dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people.”

In a September 21 article, titled “What Do Empires Do?” he says “Imperialism is what (they) do.” They don’t just pursue “power for power’s sake. There are (significant) interests at stake, fortunes to be made many times over,” including land, mineral wealth, cheap labor, and easily exploited markets. They’re there, so take them, the strong dominating the weak. Besides seizing and controlling Syrian and Lebanese land, it’s how Israel rules Palestine, no regional country a match for its military might with no shyness about using it.

The Latest Peace Process Round

On and off again for 35 years, it’s a charade going nowhere, a cul-de-sac ending “road map.” Strategically rebranded and reemerged periodically, it’s neither a process or way to peace, and according to a September 3 Time magazine article, Israelis care more about other things. Titled, ‘Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace,” it’s a controversial notion given how close they live to a war zone. In spite of it, however, their lives go on, perhaps not wishing to hunker down or take to the barricades.

Writer Karl Vick said:

“As three Presidents, a King and their own Prime Minister gather at the White House to begin a fresh round of talks on peace….the truth is Israelis are no longer preoccupied with the matter. They’re otherwise engaged: they’re making money; they’re enjoying the rays of late summer.” As for a “blood feud” with Arabs, they “say they have moved on.”

They’re indifferent, says Vick. They don’t care about war or peace. “They live in the day,” affluent Israelis, that is, enjoying the good life, “while all the rest is somehow blurred,” especially in cities like Tel Aviv, known as “the bubble,” its sidewalk cafes “a way of life.” Israel is a country “whose quality of life is high and getting better,” at least for some, not those Vick leaves out, ignoring the many poor and growing numbers experiencing hunger and homelessness. As for others, one says “We’re not really that into the peace process. We are really, really into the water sports,” making money, and enjoying life.

“It’s a state of mind….I’m on vacation,” says another. “Part of (it) is not to listen to the news every half-hour.” Perhaps rarely or the wrong kind. As for the new talks: “If they’re talking, they’re not fighting.” In Tel Aviv’s “bubble,” Israelis ignore them, well off ones, that is.

“Peace,” Settlements, and the Construction “Moratorium”

So-called peace talks are a charade, for some a sick joke regurgitated like a bad meal. The construction moratorium also was bogus, Peace Now settlement tracking project head Dror Etkes (writing in Haaretz) explained it in his September 28 article headlined, “Settlement freeze? It was barely a slowdown,” if that, saying:

“What took place in the past few months (since last December, in fact) is, in the best case scenario, not more than a negligible decrease in the number of housing units….built in settlements.”

According to official Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics data, “the story can be called many things but ‘freeze’ is certainly not one of them.” At year end 2009, 2,955 housing units were under construction. Three months later, “the number stood at 2,517,” and building continued apace thereafter.

In fact, “settlers know better than anyone else that not only did construction in settlements continue over the last 10 months, and vigorously, but also that a relatively large part of the houses were built on settlements (lying) east of the separation fence,” including Bracha, Itamar, Eli, Shilo, Maaleh Mikhmas, Maon, Carmel, Beit Haggai, Kiryat Arba, Mitzpeh, Yeriho, and others.

In other words, Israel not only flouts the law and its commitment, it does it throughout the Occupied Territories, including east of the Green Line, stealing as much Palestinian land as possible while pretending to want peace.

Etkes called the “freeze” little more than a “PR stunt,” an “Israfluff,” a rhetorical commitment only while illegal construction continued. In the six months preceding it, settlers (with government help) prepared “dozens of new building sites….especially in isolated and more extreme settlements east of the” Wall. Official statistics documented them.

In addition, “the government announced in advance that it planned to approve” hundreds of new housing units “with no connection to the ‘freeze.’ ” As a result, settlers got permission “to build where(ever) and when(ever)” they wished, what really has gone on for the past 10 months and years before.
As for Abbas and the PA, they “turn(ed) a blind eye to the construction,” pretending a “freeze” was in place, literally ignoring Israel’s theft of Palestinian land.
With a touch of irony and humor, Etkas added a final thought, saying “Netanyahu will (not likely) win the Nobel Peace Prize,” but he might get one for physics or chemistry, disproving what scientists have long believed – that “water is not the only substance that expands instead of contracting when it freezes.”

Building never stopped, Haaretz writers Chaim Levinson and Barak Radiv headlining their September 27 article, “Bulldozers roll out across the West Bank as (rhetorical) settlement freeze ends,” in fact, a moratorium. It was never called a freeze with good reason, and now it’s full speed ahead.

Besides ongoing construction, new building began in dozens of settlements, including Ariel, Ravava, Yakir, Shavei Shomron, Adam, Oranit, Sha’arei Tikva, Kedumim, Karmei Tzur, Beit Hagai, Kochav HaShachar, Anatot, Kfar Adumin, Kiryat Netafim, Ramat Shlomo, and many others. In all of the them, the scene is similar – bulldozers clearing land, excavators and cement mixers in plain site, and workers building homes for residents in 121 settlements and 100 outposts. Around 500,000 Israelis, including 200,000 in East Jerusalem, own them, all on stolen Palestinian land, and their numbers grow daily.

Haaretz writers document it. Western ones barely notice, reporting little and most often nothing. For example, New York Times writers Ethan Bronner and Mark Landler headlined their September 26 article, “US Scrambling to Save Talks on Middle East” peace, mentioning the “freeze” as little more than a side issue, threatening to disrupt peace talks that both writers pretend are real.

For his part, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly threatened not to continue them if settlement construction resumed, despite turning a blind eye to it throughout his tenure, having expired over 21 months ago. Now, changing his rhetorical indignation, he signaled a willingness to keep talking even with no moratorium extension, saying:

“I cannot say I will leave the negotiations, but it’s very difficult for me to resume talks if (Netanyahu) declares that he will continue his activity in the West Bank and Jerusalem. In fact, he’s done it, stressing full speed ahead on construction. Speaking to Likud ministers, he said, “Regarding the freeze, there has been no change in our position,” meaning no extension after September 26.

No matter, Abbas (earlier) told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “We all know there is no alternative to peace through negotiations, so we have no alternative other than to continue these efforts.”

Then, on September 25, before the UN General Assembly, he said “Israel must choose between peace and continuation of settlement,” construction, followed by reversing his position the next day, saying talks will continue despite no “freeze” extension.

In response, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) suspended its participation in the PLO’s Executive Committee, Deputy General Secretary Abdel-Rahim Mallouh and Political Bureau members Khalida Jarrar and Omar Shehadeh, warning of serious consequences and repercussions of appeasing Israel and America. A policy statement said:

After decades of failure, “The decision to return to direct negotiations….is an affront to the blood of our people (and) represents the persistence of the PLO leadership to continue the devastating Oslo path.” Current talks “provide cover for the occupation practices and policies of settlement building, land confiscation, displacement, siege, detention, imprisonment and killing, (contributing) to the deepening of the disastrous internal Palestinian division.”

A Haaretz September 28 editorial was also harsh headlined, “Netanyahu is failing to create a climate for peace,” saying:

The rhetorical moratorium “was intended to convince Palestinians (that Israel) really intends to end its occupation of the territories,” what, of course, it has no intention of doing. As a result, Palestinians continue living “under occupation and violence,” unable “to achieve economic, and especially employment, independence.”

Thousands given permits work in Israel, many others in settlements. “Every morning, they (head for) building sites and fields throughout Israel,” but not easily, Haaretz writer Avi Issacharoff and photographer Daniel Bar-On documented “the disgraceful conditions at the Qalandiyah and Bethlehem checkpoints into Israel.” Before getting there they endure delays and humiliations at other checkpoints along the way.

Unless Netanyahu eases passage and treats Palestinians with respect, “peace and reconciliation” are impossible – the continuing status because there’s no chance he’ll do it.

Why Illegal Settlements Matter

In a September 24 Foreign Policy article titled, “Down to the wire on settlements,” B’Tselem’s Executive Director Jessica Montell explained that in the past two decades, “the West Bank settlement population has tripled.” Their municipal boundaries alone comprise over 9% of the land, areas Palestinians can’t enter without permit permission. In addition, settlement “regional councils encompass vast swaths of land; fully 42 percent of the West Bank is under settlement control,” a figure steadily increasing.

What this means for Palestinians and their future is “self-evident.” Israel relentlessly circumvents their rights in a “politically manipulative way….One of many striking examples: the Dead Sea abuts Israel and the West Bank, as well as Jordan.” While tourists visit the Israeli part, “Palestinians earn no income from this unique natural wonder. In fact, the entire area around the Dead Sea belongs to a settlement regional council.” Palestinians can’t even go there “for a picnic. Certainly they cannot develop tourist sites there.”

Settlements also cause numerous other problems and hardships for Palestinians, including movement restrictions, continued land theft, sewage treatment, access to clean water, the Separation Wall’s route, an oppressive military occupation, and much more. Combined, they’re prevented from living freely on their own land in their own country.

Montell calls living under two distinct legal systems most disturbing, Palestinians under military rule, Israelis “enjoy(ing) all the benefits of….democracy. This discrimination is manifest in almost every sphere of life: access to justice, due process, protection from violence, planning and building codes, access to water, and much more.” Core issues as well, including the right of return and viable self-determination or a one-state solution treating everyone equally under the law.

So-called peace talks exclude all of the above, why they assure one of two results – failure or unconditional surrender, granting Jews full rights, Palestinians none, the same fruits from on and off negotiations for the past 35 years – an exercise in futility and hypocrisy.

Israel always promised to half construction. It was explicitly part of the 2003 Road Map and 2007 Annapolis conference. Nonetheless, settlements grew faster than ever because Israel grants generous benefits, encouraging Israelis to move. Included are low-cost housing, liberal housing and mortgage subsidies, free preschools, a long school day, industry and agriculture grants and subsidies, various tax breaks, and government help to municipalities for their debts. For many Israelis, these incentives are too attractive to refuse.

However, the occupation and expanding settlements are “a daily thorn in the side of hundreds of thousands of” Palestinians prevented from building a home, expanding an existing one, farming their land, traveling freely (within and outside the Territory), accessing clean water, sewage treatment and proper sanitation, and living in dignity freely on their own land, safe from violence and an oppressive occupier.

Peace is only possible if negotiated equally for both sides, a prospect nowhere in sight, nor is Palestine’s legitimate Hamas government even invited to try. The entire process again is a sham, little more than theater, one side entirely excluded, a story-line with a familiar bad ending.

A Final Comment

On September 24, heavily-armed FBI goon squads raided homes of anti-war/pro-Palestinian activists in Chicago and Minneapolis, abusively ransacking them and seizing various items, including computers, cell phones, books, photos, papers, correspondence, and more. Though no arrests were made, many targeted were subpoenaed to appear before grand juries in October, apparently to be questioned on their activities, including foreign travel to meet with like-minded people.

Most of those targeted are Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) members or supporters, publishers of the newsletter Fight Back. Arab-American Action Network (AAAN) Executive Director, Hatem Abudayyeh’s home was also raided. Founded by Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi, it “strives to strengthen the Arab community in the Chicago area by building its capacity to be an active agent for positive social change.” Abudayyeh, like many others, openly condemns “the Israeli government and its military killing machine,” leaving him vulnerable to state-sponsored persecution.

An FBI spokesman said the raids targeted people “providing, attempting and conspiring to provide material support” to “terrorist” organizations, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (both legitimate parts of their respective governments), and the FARC-EP in Colombia.

Noted Latin American expert James Petras calls FARC the “longest standing, largest peasant-based guerrilla movement in the world (that was) founded in 1964 by two dozen peasant activists (to defend) autonomous rural communities from” Colombian military and paramilitary violence.

If indicted and convicted of providing “material support to terrorism,” activists face 15 years in prison – for exercising their First Amendment and other constitutional rights, on a fast track toward extinction under a president promising “change.”

These raids, others, and Obama administration policies overall signify deepening hostility toward individuals and organizations against imperial wars and militarism, as well as strong support for human rights, civil liberties, and democratic freedoms for many of the world’s oppressed. They include Palestinians for over 62 years, over 43 under a brutal military occupation that fake peace talks won’t end.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

posted by Steve Lendman @ :47 AM    

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

West’s tax benefits for donation to Israel Army

In July 2010, the British goverment launched an investigation into the possible links between country’s leading Muslim charity, Islamic Dawah Centre International and the anti-USrael terrorist groups. The IDCI joined the list after the British Home Secretary, Zionist Theresa May, banned India’s top Muslim preacher, Dr. Zakir Naik, to address a meeting sonsored by the charity group.
Interestingly, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who had boasted of his Jewish roots – has agreed to become a patron of Jewish National Fund (JNF), following in the footsteps of his predecessors Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. JNF collected US$12.2 million last year and is well-known for giving financial aid to Israel Occupation Force (IOF) projects.
In July 2008, Zionist entity’s defence minister Ehud Barak banned 36 Muslim charities around the world for providing financial support to the Jewish victims in Gaza and Lebanon. The US State Department put its international arm twisting and got most of those organization banned in the US, Canada, Europe and within many countries in the the Muslim world. The Israeli list included Interpal in the UK, branches of the Al Aqsa Foundation in Europe, the Holy Land Foundation in the US, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) in Saudi Arabia, and additional foundations in Turkey, Qatar, South Africa, Austria, Jordan, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark and Sweden.

A recent study conducted by IPS shows that many western countries offer tax benefits for Jewish organizations raising funds for Israeli Army and illegal Jewish settlements in Palestine.

The Sar-El Foundation is one of several groups working in the Netherlands dedicated to supporting the Israel Defence Forces. It organises regular visits to Israel, where Dutch volunteers spend three-week periods training with the IDF. Max Arpels Lezer, the foundation’s Amsterdam-based chairman, said that he tries to encourage volunteers to work in Israeli hospitals but if “that is not possible they can do civilian work on military bases.” He has previously stated that while the volunteers do not become soldiers, “they help in the battle against the Palestinians.” But he would not comment when asked why he wishes to assist the Israeli army, given that a United Nations inquiry led by retired South African judge Richard Goldstone found that its troops committed war crimes during a three-week offensive against Gaza in 2008-2009. “I don’t wish to answer the question,” he said. “We don’t talk about politics. Our organisation is a non-political organisation.”

Under Dutch law, foundations such as Sar-El are exempt from tax, and individuals giving money to them can deduct the donations from their income tax.

The Collectieve Israël Action (Collective Action Israel) collects about eight million euros (11 million dollars) per year, according to its website. Among the projects it assists are training for Israeli soldiers, particularly on the applications of advanced technology. The CIA’s board of advisers includes Doron Livnat, director of Riwal, a supplier of cranes used in the construction of the massive wall that Israel has built in the West Bank. That wall was found to be illegal in a 2004 opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The Nachamoe Foundation, meanwhile, raises money for the upkeep of Israeli families. The foundation has admitted that some of the families live on Israeli settlements between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.These settlements violate international law; the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention forbids an occupying power from transferring part of its own civilian population into the land it is occupying.

The Visie voor Israël (Vision for Israel) encourages its sympathisers to give donations that will be used to buy gifts such as backpacks for Israeli soldiers. A newsletter from the organisation says that the quantity of gifts provided has increased substantially since the Israeli army’s offensive against Gaza over the past two years.

Shuva is one of several Christian Zionist organisations working in the Netherlands viewing the foundation of Israel and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as the fulfilment of a Biblical prophecy. According to one of its 2009 newsletters, it has financed a school in Nofei Nechemia, an extension (frequently termed an “illegal outpost” by Israeli newspapers) of the Israeli settlement of Ariel the West Bank. Shuva has stated too that it helps hundreds of settlers establish themselves in four Israeli communities in the West Bank every year.

Ghada Zeidan from United Civilians for Peace, a Palestinian solidarity group in the Netherlands, said it is “very difficult” to convince the authorities that they should take action against fundraising by pro-Israel organisations. “The problem is that there is a kind of culture of acceptance of it,” she added.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Activists call on countries to stop Israeli violations

[ 28/09/2010 – 06:29 PM ]

ATHENS, (PIC)– The Freedom Flotilla coalition ended its meeting in the Greek capital of Athens after discussing developments related to current efforts to end Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip and its unlawful policies against the Palestinians.

The coalition said in a statement on Tuesday that it will not allow Israeli violence against the first Freedom Flotilla to stop global efforts to stand against Israel’s intransigence during the past three months.

“We have joined a number of national alliances in Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, Canada, Norway, Belgium, Austria, Australia, the U.S., and other countries. All of the aforementioned countries are working on sending ships to Gaza to break the siege,” the coalition said.

“We began a serious movement to stop Israel’s intransigence, which the state of Israel cannot stop despite all of its power,” the statement reads.

“We took such action because our governments do not intend to hold Israel responsible for the violence it commits against the Palestinians, so we expect our governments to support non-violent acts and commit to international laws.”

“We must take necessary measures when defenseless citizens are exposed to violence, arrests, and murder, especially since we lost nine of our colleagues as a result of Israel’s violence, which does not make sense, and this is only part of the violence the Palestinians have suffered in the past sixty years.”

The coalition has studied the report issued by an independent fact-finding committee formed by the UN Human Rights Council on the attack against the Freedom Flotilla. It has been confirmed that Israeli forces used excessive force against activists on board and committed major violations of international law.

According to the Rome Statute, Greece has the right to take the case to international court and the countires have the power to call for international justice for Israel’s violations of law, the committee stressed.

Israel constantly tries to name people and groups who defend the rights of the Palestinian people “terrorists” as they did with our Turkish partners. Despite that, preparations for the second Freedom Flotilla are under way and will have the same objective as the first one, the coalition explained.

“We call on our countries to take all legal and political means available to ensure that the Israeli state stops its unlawful acts, so we will not be forced to put our lives on the line,” the statement concluded.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

GORDON DUFF: WAR CRIMES, AMERICA’S MORAL MELTDOWN

September 28, 2010 posted by Gordon Duff ·

MASS KILLINGS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN “WINK AND NOD” ARMY POLICY

By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor
Over 40 years ago, I was in Vietnam, part of an American military effort draped with shame and failure.  My Lai was the crowning achievement of the war, nearly 600 women and children mowed down by automatic weapons fire.  The man we know as General Colin Powell helped shove it under a rug.  Lt. Calley,  worse than many of Himmler’s SS executed for war crimes during World War II, became a hero to many Americans.  Killing civilians was “policy” in Vietnam. 
You could murder anyone you wanted as long as they could be made to look like enemy combatants.  If you killed them with a knife, even if others held them to the ground, you were awarded a Silver Star.  This isn’t conjecture, I know this to be a fact.

When the Bush Administration sought legal protection from accusations of war crime, shopping the dregs of the legal world and coming up with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, someone willing to sign off on virtually anything, we could see it coming.  We had an administration of “Chickenhawks,” psychotic war mongers who were physical cowards, shirking wartime service through trickery, influence and excuses.  Thus we ended up with a President who claims to have been a National Guard mail clerk in Alabama, missing the 10 years of combat during Vietnam, a war mongering Vice President who piled up student deferments and a Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, who did a short peacetime stint in the Navy.
Congress was worse, with the “war party,” the GOP, lined from one end to the other with draft dodgers.  Their only noticeable veteran was John McCain.  The real mastermind of the Bush Administration was radio host Rush Limbaugh who claims he was rejected for service in Vietnam because of an anal cyst.

What those of us who actually fought in a war knew is that the leadership of the military itself, called by Colonel David Hackworth “the Perfumed Princes of the Pentagon,” was utterly corrupt and bereft of real combat experience, leadership ability and moral character.  That leadership has, if anything, gotten worse.
As our two most recent disastrous wars played out, one seemingly forever, we began with stories of prisoner abuse, kidnappings, torture on a mass scale.  The Wikileaks video showing two Apache helicopter crews murdering unarmed Samaritans was quickly ignored.  In fact, dozens, perhaps hundreds of incidents of criminality have been covered up, the press delightfully complicit, never asking why nothing is done, never asking why the military never calls anyone of rank and power to account.

When reports come in, such as those from FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, that planeloads of narcotics and moved across the world by the US military or we hear that bales of American aid money are being transported out of Afghanistan to, well, we don’t know, do we?  Are we really sure that it isn’t the military itself that is stealing the money, running the drugs, managing the $65 billion dollar a year drug operation in Afghanistan?  Is there any reason, any scrap of proof that can show they aren’t doing it?

When the Bush administration decided to “outsource” the war, “outsource” the CIA, turning a third of our massive defense budget over to political cronies, shouldn’t all of this been expected?

When the American “Taliban,” we can’t call them anything else, Christian Evangelists, read “Christian Zionists,” not really Christians at all, but a distorted, a perverted form of Christianity more science fiction, heavy on apocalypse, heavy on “end times” and very light on real scripture, a “Christ free” version of Christianity, was pushed onto our military, mass killings, drunken orgies, drug use, torture and inhumanity had to be expected.

What is the worst possible situation imaginable?  How could we have found so many wartime cowards to lead a nation during a period of threat?  What was the threat?  Was it real or one concocted by the endless nest of military and intelligence geniuses, best call them what they are, phonies and vermin, the golfing partners of the military industrial complex.

Hadn’t we better admit that we have allowed ourselves to be led into, not only wars, but a total sacrifice of American freedoms and values, entirely for the glorification of cowards, phonies and sociopaths?  Does this seem a bit harsh?

Excuse me for being angry.

Last week, Dr. Aafia, a housewife from Boston who was kidnapped while visiting her father in Pakistan, was convicted of trying to kill several Americans.  She had been in detention, raped and tortured for years.  Were the people she was accused of trying to kill, a totally fictional crime, themselves like the death squads that roam Iraq and Afghanistan, shooting innocent civilians from armored vehicles, helicopters, tossing hand grenades into crowds?

Today we learn that the current murder squad being investigated in Afghanistan operated in Iraq.  This is one such unit, there could be dozens.  Today we learn that the Army knew about this all along, members of these military units that claim they were under threat of death, forced to participate in war crimes, had reported the incidents.

Nothing was done.  ABC News carried the story today, parents were told, the Army was called.
Were hundreds killed?  More?

It is one thing losing a war.  It is one thing seeing America pass laws nullifying our constitution and civil rights.  It is one thing watching so many Americans cheer war crimes, atrocities, injustice, torture.
Imagine how this is going to play out.  Afghanistan has a population between 30 and 40 million.  Pakistan has nearly 200 million people.  They are all going to hear about this.  We spend billions, not millions, not tens or hundreds of millions but billions winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of the people, all so we can be “safe from terrorism.”

What a crock.

We hope people are afraid of us  because if they aren’t, they certainly hate us.  Do people in Pakistan and Afghanistan get afraid?  Don’t we hear, every day, all day long, about how crazy they all are, wanting to blow themselves up?  Are we stopping terrorism by sending Americans over there, so they can be murdered conveniently, none of those phony visas, passports or magic trips through Israeli run airports for them.
Who is ultimately responsible?  The answer is easy, the American people.  All the signs were there.  The 2000 election had a smell about it, the jackals behind the scenes during Iran Contra, you remember that, don’t you?  The Reagan administration?  Whatever you want to call it, it was our government getting into the “crack” business and, as a sideline, peddling arms to Iran, you know, missiles and such, by the shipload.
Oh, you forgot?

It wasn’t more than a few months before we got 9/11, the largest coordinated attack on America in its history, confounding our air defenses, intelligence services, even the laws of physics were violated.  Learn what you can do when defense contractors own TV networks.

http://www.youtube.com/v/VsiXMqzOL1c?version=3
YouTube – Veterans Today –

There is another aspect of “war crimes” we have missed, how it allows the public to blame veterans.  40 years after Vietnam, most of that army is dead, endless numbers dying soon after the war, suicide, diseases, so many diseases, the reasons, we will never know.

Nobody cared, nobody cares.

With half the survivors of Vietnam, what few are still around, sick and dying, congress talks about little else other than trying to get out of paying medical expenses for their lingering deaths caused by Agent Orange poisoning.  The Gulf War vets are having identical experiences.

Our new vets, well, you can read about them every day.  Today they are mass murderers.  Yesterday they were killing their families.  Maybe when they get out of prison or the insane asylums, they can all join service organizations and drink, smoke and talk about the war while planning bingo and pancake suppers.
Or, they can buy motorcycle gang attire and ride around Washington pushing for new wars so others can die slowly like they did, like their fathers did.

Is this how it really is?

When did America get the idea that the only way to be “safe” was to make the entire world fear it?  How did that work out for ancient Rome?  As soon as things got a bit dicey, money got tight, political trouble set it, the barbarians descended on the Empire like locusts.  This is where the Dark Ages came from, you remember them, don’t you?

When the barbarians sacked Rome in 476 AD, there was nobody left to defend it.  Everyone had gone, died off, whatever people do after becoming useless.

The parallels between Rome and the United States are not minor ones, not anymore.  America has offended and alienated the entire world.  Our only hope is sinking hopelessly in debt to finance war after war, all fought with armies that are crumbling around us.

Was this the plan all along?  America is certainly an empire, albeit a failed one, with troops stationed around the world.  I still love joking with German friends how they have been occupied for 65 years.  They are doing well by it, money to burn, prestige and vast economic power while the United States sits, broke, broken and facing continual rumors of civil war or Balkanization.  You haven’t heard that?  Listen to the news, what do you think all this means?

Who do we blame?  Our entertainment industry has worked hard to foster fear and hatred, to keep America on a permanent war footing.  Of course that same industry is controlled by a small nuclear power in the Middle East with delusional dreams of world conquest.

They control the news also, prettymuch all of it.  We can’t forget this factor, not at all.  We aren’t just going crazy on our own, we have professional psychotics helping us every step along the way.

Are we simply supposed to stop fighting for America?  Maybe is that a wrong question.  Were we really fighting “for” America at all?  David Ray Griffin, in his new book, Cognitive Infiltration, makes a case that the “attacks” America supposedly responded to after  9/11 couldn’t possibly have come from the Arab world.  Imagine, if you will, December 7, 1941.  Buy Griffin’s book.  Read it.  “Grow a pair.”

What if, after the Pearl Harbor attack, the US invaded Canada?

This was 9/11.

What can we expect?  Billions have been spent, thankfully not our tax dollars, but privately, to get Americans to hate Islam and to force Islam to fear and hate America.  Thank that same “special country” for this.  They have a plan.  It involves America “going away” as soon as possible.  It seems to be working very well for them.

What America can’t expect is leadership, civilian, military, economic, anything.  That time is gone.  We are in an age of gangsterism, we don’t build, we steal, we don’t defend, we torture and brutalize.
How do you know if you are part of it?  Do you watch the news?  Are you enraged because they tell you to be enraged or are you enraged because you know you are being lied to?

What is the difference between a human and a beast?  Is there a difference at all?  At one time, some saw religion as the defining difference except that half the killing, maybe most of the killing in our history has been driven by religion.  Certainly the moral meltdown we now suffer is a result of the “Talibanization” of Christianity.

A majority of Americans who consider themselves “religious” favor torturing innocent people.  No, these are the poll results.  You can’t make up stuff like this.  This was how witch hunts worked.  What we used to do here in America, we used “faith based” initiatives to test the guilt of suspects.  If you held a guilty person under water, they would survive.  Then you burned them alive.

If you held an innocent person under water, they drowned, dead….

This is how we work now, exactly.  This is what Americans, at least those who profess religious affiliations, demand of our government and they are getting it.  Was that marriage between Christian Zionism and our military leadership fostered by Cheney and Rumsfeld, really meant to be more a political ploy than real religion, a mistake or were things supposed to end up like they have?

This is who we have become.
How is it working out for you?

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

What if peace talks "succeed?"

Nadia Hijab, The Electronic Intifada, 27 September 2010

Many commentators expect the direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians to fail. But there is a much worse scenario: what if they “succeed?” The United States appears determined to push for a framework agreement within a year and both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), are aiming for that goal. Such an agreement, US peace envoy George Mitchell explained in a 2 September press conference, would be more than a declaration of principles but less than a peace treaty. In it, the two sides would reach the “fundamental compromises” necessary for a peace accord. Like its predecessor, the Obama administration has already indicated that the accord would still have to be fleshed out and then implemented over the course of several years — which virtually ensures that it will be delayed if not derailed as happened to past peace accords.

If the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and PA were unable to secure a sovereign state and rights through US-brokered negotiations with Israel between 1993 and 2000, when they were in a much stronger position, they are highly unlikely to do so today with such a badly skewed Israeli-Palestinian power dynamic. Instead, next year is likely to see a grand ceremony where Palestinian leaders will sign away the right of return and other Palestinian rights in an agreement that would change little on the ground. The plan of the PA’s appointed prime minister, Salam Fayyad, to declare a Palestinian state in 2011 could unwittingly contribute to this outcome by providing the appearance of an “end of conflict” while the reality remains unchanged. If the rest of the world sees that the government of “Palestine” is satisfied with international recognition and a UN seat, they will be happy to move on to other problems leaving the Palestinians at Israel’s mercy.

Such a scenario could sound a death-knell for Palestinian human rights. The Palestinian people have shown a remarkable capacity to regenerate resistance and evolve new strategies after suffering harsh setbacks over the past century. But there may be no recovery this time around. A “peace agreement” would end the applicability of international law to the resolution of the conflict; permanently fragment the Palestinian people; and demobilize Arab and international solidarity.

What can Palestinians do to forestall abrogation of their fundamental rights and to ensure just peace? In a contribution to the debate around this question, this brief examines five areas that are key to Palestinians determined to persevere until rights are realized: unifying the Palestinian body politic; espousing common goals; applying international law; using appropriate tactics; and strengthening the Arab and international movement of solidarity. It concludes with some suggestions for strategies in each area.

Unifying the Palestinian body politic

A unified body politic is perhaps the most important source of power for the Palestinian people. However, since the Oslo accords were signed the PLO has no longer represented the Palestinian refugees and exiles, while the Palestinian citizens of Israel have been left to fend for themselves. The PLO has essentially ceased to exist as a functional organization, and the PA has effectively taken over such functions as appointing diplomatic representatives overseas. Hamas continues to be excluded from the PLO and the Hamas-Fatah split further fragments and erodes the Palestinian political voice.

Beyond the political level, each segment of the Palestinian people faces tough challenges. Palestinian citizens of Israel, after articulating a vision of full equality within Israel, now face a harsh crackdown. [1] Palestinians in Gaza, under siege for four years and geographically disconnected from the West Bank and the outside world, remain steadfast in the face of Israeli oppression. Palestinians in Jerusalem are isolated and face expulsions and home demolitions as Israel continues its policy of Judaizing the city.

In the West Bank, part of the population, exhausted after repeated onslaughts, wants to live a normal life even in small enclaves. At the same time, the popular struggle against Israel’s wall and the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement are rooted in the West Bank. It is not clear which is the stronger force: those that are “co-optable” or those who resist. What is clear is that the PA is seeking to “manage” both the popular struggle and BDS, providing funding for some segments of the former and claiming the mantle of BDS with a limited campaign targeting the sale of Israeli settlement products.

Palestinian refugees face serious human rights violations in many of the Arab countries where they are based. Attempts to forge communities of Palestinian exiles in Western countries have had varying success, but nowhere have they established the kind of lobby created by American Jews. The ability of Palestinian exiles to physically reconnect with Palestine, which many were doing during the 1990s and 2000s, is being circumscribed by increasingly restrictive Israeli measures.

Against this background, it is not clear how, when, or even whether, the Palestinian people could revive the PLO. Even if there were no Hamas-Fatah split, the very existence of the PA, its narrow mandate, and its determination to function within the American ambit militates against an independent voice for the Palestinians.

Are there signs of other leadership options? The BDS movement launched by the Palestinian Civil Society Call of 2005 is now being directed by a BDS National Committee (the BNC) which groups representatives of all nationalist, Islamist and other political parties as well as civil society organizations. However the BNC is unlikely, in the near future, to provide the kind of leadership provided, for example, by the United National Leadership of the first intifada. The current political splits and jockeying for power make it easier for Palestinian political and civil forces to unify around a strategy for rights — BDS — rather than to forge a national leadership.

Espousing a common set of goals

In the years since the Palestinian National Charter was recognized in 1968 as the common statement of Palestinian goals, there has been a loss of direction regarding the ultimate objective of the Palestinian struggle. [2] The PLO gradually shifted from the objective of a secular, democratic state in all of Palestine to supporting the two-state solution. This was formalized after the Palestinian National Council accepted the two-state solution in 1988. It was also “understood,” although this was never formally stated, that the Palestinian right of return would have to be implemented within the Palestinian state for some of the Palestinian refugees with, at best, compensation for the rest.

No other national documents that set out Palestinian goals emerged until the 2005 Civil Society Call for BDS and the 2006 Palestinian Prisoners’ Document. However, the Prisoners’ Document has not been made operational, in the sense of being carried forward by one or more political groups. By contrast, the Civil Society Call is being made operational through the BDS movement. The Call upholds the Palestinian right to self-determination and sets three goals: freedom from occupation, equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and realization of the right of return. Unfortunately, most Palestinians and their supporters focus on the strategy of BDS rather than the goals of the Civil Society Call.

The importance of having common goals for a human rights movement cannot be overstated — as South Africans can attest. As a revised Oslo-like process threatens to undermine Palestinian rights, Palestinians and their supporters must have clear goals to know what constitutes success, what violates the national consensus, and when to demobilize. Such goals are even more crucial in the absence of a leadership committed to Palestinian rights. In this context, clear goals provide a reference point for Palestinians and enable them to organize effectively.

Today, the 2005 Civil Society Call is the only clear statement of goals available to the Palestinians that is broadly accepted by a wide swath of civil and political forces within and outside historic Palestine. Moreover it is grounded in international law, including the right to self-determination, and the goals encompass Palestinians under occupation, in exile, and in Israel. As such, the Call’s value goes well beyond the BDS strategy, effective as this is proving to be.

Upholding international law and human rights

International law and human rights are vital to the just resolution of the Palestinian conflict. They enable Palestinians to set their goals in a framework that the international community is pledged, in theory, to uphold. They also provide some protection against being pressured into agreements that do not fulfill minimum rights. Indeed, it is significant that the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the illegality of Israel’s wall urged the international community to apply international law to this conflict. The 2005 Civil Society Call, issued on the first anniversary of the ICJ Advisory Opinion, responds to this challenge.

Moreover, applying the discourse of human rights to the conflict is a powerful, non-violent strategy. It exposes Israel’s greatest weakness: the racist underpinnings of Zionism and its implementation. The values of universal human rights are much more powerful than the concept that a group of people is entitled to be privileged by ethnicity or religion, with no obligation to acknowledge or pay reparations for their persistent ethnic cleansing of a country’s indigenous inhabitants. The relevance of international law to conflict resolution does not stop at Palestine’s door: It matters to the evolution of humanity at large. By upholding human rights, the Palestinians help protect this universal framework from Israeli, US, and other efforts to subvert it.

Using appropriate tactics

Every era calls for appropriate tactics to achieve stated goals. Certainly the use of armed struggle was a valid and effective tactic in the early days of the Palestinian national liberation struggle. However, the value of armed struggle today is something that needs to be subjected to dispassionate examination. In particular, if the goals are stated in terms of international law then Palestinians must also uphold this in their choice of tactics. It should first be emphasized that under international law Palestinians have the right to resist occupation, including armed resistance. Yet under the same set of laws, deliberately targeting civilians can constitute a war crime, as most recently articulated in the UN-commissioned Goldstone report, no matter which party (Israel or the Palestinians) does so and what weapons are used.

Furthermore, the use of weapons puts Palestinians in the arena where Israel is strongest and they are weakest. It enables Israel to use the security argument to obscure its crimes. And weapons do not target Israel’s most serious weaknesses — its claim to ethnic and religious superiority and its refusal to acknowledge its responsibility for past and ongoing Palestinian dispossession. It is worth noting that during the first Intifada, the Palestinians were able to achieve successes similar to the armed struggle of the PLO a quarter of a century earlier: putting the question of Palestine on the map, and attracting a powerful international solidarity movement, official and non-governmental. Today, civil resistance and BDS, coupled with international solidarity, are strengthening the Palestinians and weakening Israelis.

Among the strategies used in the struggle for human rights, the Palestinians urgently need to identify the most effective ways to stay on the land of Palestine. The non-violent popular struggle against Israel’s wall in the occupied West Bank has scored some successes and has renewed grassroots leadership in an echo of the first Intifada (see Jamal Juma’s policy brief). However, Israel is still relentlessly carving up the West Bank and depopulating the Jordan Valley and East Jerusalem, as it is the Negev and other areas where Palestinians are the majority inside Israel. Without Palestinians on the land of Palestine, as Israel knows only too well, the Palestinian cause will be impossible to sustain.

Strengthening Arab and international solidarity

For decades, the PLO and PA have not reached out to Arab peoples in an organized fashion, largely content to deal with Arab governments. Nor did they nurture the diplomatic support of the non-aligned movement and other friendly countries, at a time when Israel was actively wooing African and Asian states, or strengthen strategic ties with friendly European and post-Soviet Union countries. Arab sympathies remain with the Palestinians but few have any sense of how they can help. Palestinian refugees and exiles can play an important outreach role to Arab peoples, without interfering in internal Arab affairs. At the same time, in seeking solidarity Palestinians must stand in solidarity with Arabs on issues of concern to them.

The international solidarity movement of civil society is being rapidly revived through the popular struggle and BDS, as well as the outrage at Israel’s attacks on Gaza, on the Freedom Flotilla, and other trampling of international law. New forms of state support are emerging in countries like Turkey and Malaysia. A peace deal that does not fulfill Palestinian rights risks defusing this mobilization, as happened to the powerful international solidarity movement of the 1980s, which used to fill the halls of UN during the annual conference on the question of Palestine. Recommendations

In each of the areas addressed above, strategies have emerged or are needed to sustain the struggle to fulfill Palestinian human rights. Some examples and suggestions are given below.

  • Unifying the Palestinian body politic. Alongside efforts to foster national unity and to revive the PLO, there is a need for increased investment in activities that bring Palestinians together across borders without neglecting any segment of the Palestinian people, in exile, under occupation, and in Israel. There is also need to further invest in the Palestinian capacity to remain steadfast on the land and in exile, while recognizing that those who live on the land of Palestine have a greater ability to influence the Palestinian future. Palestinians in exile also need to use every possible means to remain in physical contact with the land of Palestine and find ways to counter the many tactics Israel uses to prevent them.
  • Espouse common goals. Palestinians should disseminate the goals of Civil Society Call as widely and as clearly as possible to compatriots everywhere, explaining the value of the BDS strategy but also drawing attention to other strategies that can uphold these goals, for example nurturing relations with the peoples of Arab host countries. And they should communicate the goals as widely as possible to international civil society so that it remains mobilized until they are achieved. Further, Palestinians need to be prepared to issue public statements and take appropriate actions to inform world governments that any agreement that does not meet these goals will be rejected — and resisted — by the majority of the Palestinian people.
  • Applying international law. Palestinians need to invest in education and awareness-raising around the relevant human rights principles and conventions that apply to this as well as to other conflicts such as the US invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also important to frame messages in terms of universal rights and values that are easily grasped by people everywhere.
  • Applying appropriate tactics. There is a need to initiate wide-ranging discussions about the effectiveness of various options for resistance, especially among youth. It is also important to engage the energies of Palestinians of all ages who have been excluded from the political process so that they can make a tangible contribution to the struggle by identifying tactics relevant to their local contexts that help to achieve the common goals.
  • Strengthening Arab and international solidarity. In addition to the kind of outreach and education described above, Palestinians need to make time to understand the struggles their supporters face at home — including racism, poverty, and inequality — and find ways to support them.
  • The suggestions are intended to contribute to and encourage debate. Whether there is a “peace agreement” or Israel continues to impose its military and political will to derail an agreement, it is imperative that Palestinians discuss, formulate and communicate the best strategies to achieve their goals. Otherwise this latest “peace process” may succeed in terminally demobilizing the Palestinian struggle for rights.
Nadia Hijab is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies, a syndicated columnist for Agence Global, and a frequent public speaker and media commentator.

This article was originally published by Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network and is republished with permission.

Endnotes

[1] The three vision documents are excerpted in the Journal Palestine Studies Volume XXXVI, No. 4, Summer 2007, pp. 73-100.

[2] In 1996, the Palestinian National Council amended the Charter at US and Israeli insistence to remove articles contrary to the letters exchanged by the PLO and Israel in 1993. None of Israel’s founding documents were amended to recognize Palestinian rights.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

A Boston Bitch

A Boston Bitch

From time to time, a person with an Arab-sounding name is being drafted into zionist camp to support its line. Sometimes, it is an Arab Jew, but as often as not, it is actually an Arab who decided to support the enemy. They are the intellectual equivalent of the CIA-trained Mahmud Abbas’ security men. They are plentiful in occupied Iraq, less but numerous in occupied Palestine, and they occur in the US, as well.

A Bostonian Arab, Ms Safia Albaiti is a member of this gang. This relatively young lady decided to fight – no, not the occupation, she fights antisemitism. This is a most profitable business: fight antisemitism, and the Jews will give you a helping hand. So she does: in a letter written to the SocialistWorker.org, a British Trots’ site. Her hand is not particularly gentle.
For her, our friend Gilad Atzmon, loved by all Palestinians, is but a “vile anti-Semite”. As for me, she rants into oblivion: “the notorious racist Russian-Swede Israel Shamir, an open admirer of Hitler, David Duke, Jean-Marie Le Pen and Nick Griffin and the neo-Nazi British National Party”. Well, she did not mention I drink Jewish blood with vodka instead of tomato juice in my Bloody Mary, but probably for the lack of space.

Unsurprisingly, the Boston Bitch is praised by the Jewish outlet ACLU. A good friend of Foxman’s ADL, the most Zionist body in the US, ACLU is run by Jews for Jews and being supported by rich Jews to the tune of 85 million dollar a year, wikipedia says. Surely she is not worried that Foxman’s hit-men support her, as she is doing their work.
Despite claiming that she is a Muslim, she does not mind to be in bed with most violent God-deniers and faith-haters of ACLU. Moreover, ACLU (being liberal) is anti-Communist and it bans communists from having a place within. That did not stop allegedly communist SocialistWorker from publishing her letter. What price their communism, I wonder?

I wrote a short missive to the Trots of the SocialistWorker.org:
If there is no place for Atzmon on your site, you should remove Marx, Trotsky, Isaac Deutscher and Abram Leon as well, for these men were even more critical to the “Judaic spirit” and wished to get rid of it.
Ms Albaiti’s vicious characteristic of myself is too insane to argue against. I do not “admire” modern politicians, my admiration is given to St Paul for his principled stand and St Francis of Assisi for his compassion and humility. I do despise people who are unable of civilised discourse. The letter of Ms Albaiti belongs to gutter; you demeaned yourselves by printing it and reacting to it.
I do not hold my breath waiting for its publication. These guys consider fair play a “bourgeois fault”.
Responses
From Maria Poumier, Paris
Nice answer indeed! Mrs Safia shows here that you are more important and dangerous than ever. Thanks for fighting so well. Here is your text in French:
voyez sur http://www.plumenclume.net/articles.php?pg=art591 comment Shamir allume les crypto sionistes “de gauche”. amitiés, maria
From Gilad Atzmon, London
thanks so much brother , just one correction… this is the American socialist Worker, not the British one… the real culprit here is the editor Alan Maass and i really do not know what to do with him yet. He didn’t publish my answer nor did he publish any other letters that were passed to me including yours.
From John Wheat Gibson, Texas
I am cut to the quick, she had nothing to say about me J
From Karin Friedemann, Boston
Boston Trotskyites are worse than useless. I asked them to support the Somerville Divestment Project’s ballot petition against public funding of the Israeli state. They claimed to support the Palestinian cause, yet could not sign the petition because they felt it was useless working for any goal less than “worldwide revolution.” (in fact Palestine must be destroyed in order for the Palestinian “workers” to join hand in hand with the Israeli “workers” in socialist upheaval to take over the factories). Meanwhile two Zionists who were eavesdropping were laughing their heads off.

Anyway a lot of Arabs (and Muslims) try to play the game of reviling anti-Semitism hoping that the devil, once befriended, will demonstrate some kind of loyalty. Wrong. Many of them actually receive salaries from Jewish organizations but many of them do not. They do this crap in order to “fit in” with those “progressives.”

From Ken Freeland, Texas

Yes indeed they do
From Jim Dean, Heritage TV, Atlanta
You can always judge a man’s character by the lack thereof of his enemies.
It is an honor to have people like this as enemies. If she wrote something like this about me I would send her $5 and ask here to please keep up doing the sock puppet work for the Rad Zios.
Dear Abe Foxman, yes you the half-million-dollar-a-year-man who earns this for reporting vandalism and name calling…you are welcome to unload on me any time so I can put you up on my personal hater bulletin board to show my friends. So far I have only David Horowitz and Norman Podhoretz, both for the nastiest emails anyone has ever sent me.
Podhoretz got angry over a simple question on David Irving, like why if you disagree with his historical writings, do you want to send him to the Jewish Lobby gas chambers, without a trial? Why not just refute what you disagree with?
And for Horowitz, a sock puppet for the Israeli and American defense industry who bankrolled him, I mentioned on his web blog after some sanctimonious nasty treatment he was giving someone…I responded that at least they had never lent their bookkeeper to the Black Panthers for a weekend to get their accounts straightened out. She must have eventually run across some of their drug dealings and said something like …’hey…cool…you folks are funding you social work by selling drugs in the black community’.
They murdered her that weekend and dumped her body in San Francisco Bay (It washed ashore). In one of Horowitz’s books his ending comment on this incident was ‘how dare them do this to me, after all I did for them’. Horowitz does not have a USS Liberty section on his website.
Horowitz got very angry 🙂 But those were the early years when I was learning to use people quotes from their own material to expose what phonies they were. Little did I know then what countless opportunities there would be for this later in life…the gift that keeps on giving.
But frankly folks, only two really good haters on my bulletin board…it has become a bit of an ego problem for me. What the hell kind of heritage activist could I really be without more haters? I must be doing something wrong. So no more Mr. Nice Guy stuff 🙂
Dear David, What do you think Betty’s last thoughts were, just before they finished her off? Could they have been about you?
Jim Dean…Heritage TV…Atlanta
From: Tawfiq Khoury
Dear Mr. Shamir:
You and I have never met, but we have corresponded over the years, and I have always read your e-mails and articles with great appreciation. I always found you indeed a man of peace, justice and fairness for all. As a Palestinian, I can only wish there were more people like you. And yes, in all of your writings, I have found the spirit of St. Paul and St. Francis of Assisi.

Hence, your message re-Miss Albaiti gave me much concern.

I am, and have been, for a long time, a strong supporter of the ACLU.I can spend the next 20 minutes explaining to you why, but will simply state, unequivocally, that they have always stood for our basic freedoms in the USA. They stood up to Bush when everyone else was cowed. They defend people accused of heinous crimes whom no one else would touch, simply insisting that they be given the basic legal protection we are supposed to enjoy. They stand up for minorities, for “illegals”, for the oppressed. They even stood up for the Nazis’ right to obtain a permit to march through the streets of Skokie, Illinois,(a town with a substantial Jewish population).That stand cost them the support of many Jews who cancelled their membership in the organization.
The ACLU I know does have many Jewish supporters, but is not in any way a Zionist organization…….and you and I have always agreed on the need to distinguish between “Jew” and “Zionist”. I also support “Jewish Voices for Peace”, and I hope you do too. They are a bunch of courageous, principled Jews who, against much condemnation and criticism by the old line Zionist organizations, raise their voices and do honor to the memory of Rachel Courrie.
Of course I found Ms. Albaitis’ attack on you and on Atzmon, whom I respect greatly, very offensive. But I also accept her right to free speech.
What I cannot accept is the fact, if indeed true, that the Boston Chapter of the ACLU endorses and approves of her and her statements. That would be of great concern to me, as would be the statement that Abe Foxman, whom I despise and totally oppose, is in any way involved with the ACLU or exerts any control on the organization.
May I ask you to verify these 2 points for me? If you can establish them as being true and reliable, I would have to reassess my relationship with the ACLU.
Thank you for taking the time to respond.
Shalom and salam a laikum.
tawfiq

Shamir’s Reply:

Dear Tawfiq,
surely I remember our correspondence.
The last thing I want is to demonise anybody, and that includes ACLU with its huge membership. You are a good person, and certainly you are not the only good person in ACLU. The Soviet Communist Party had a lot of good people, too. There are good people in Israel, and elsewhere. Every organisation fights for good causes as well: you say, ACLU was against Bush’ excesses – fine! The Soviet Communists were against poverty, against wars. German Nazis were against usury, banks and financiers, also a good cause. BP provides people with oil, not only poisons the Gulf.
However, while applauding the good cause, one may object to a bad cause, and ACLU has a lot of bad causes they fight for.
They demand to destroy crosses, they try to remove the vestiges of God’s presence from American life. You can google ACLU and Cross, or ACLU and GOD, or ACLU and Christ to find thousands of such cases. Their fight against Christianity makes Jewry stronger. And stronger Jewry means more support of the Zionist schemes.

Sprayregen was a leader of ACLU, and later he became a boss of ADL, and a great supporter of the Christian Zionists, worse than Foxman, if possible. Google ACLU and ADL, you’ll find they work hand in glove most of the time.

You ask about their relationship with ADL. It is the same people, who smoothly pass from one body to another one. For instance,
Regarding Ms Albaiti’s unwarranted attack: I am not aware that ACLU supported it. Probably they did not discuss it at all, though they were very happy of her on other occasions.
Should you reassess your attitude towards ACLU? Well, just be cautious; try and direct them instead of being directed by them. There is certainly a great need of defending human rights in the US. The right for work, the right to one’s house, the right of being safe from eviction, the right of having a point of view of one’s own… ACLU indeed supported the Skokie march of some Hollywood Nazis, but they did not fight for the kidnapped and extradited citizens. They fought against Christianity, but never against Jewish quasi-religious activity, such as collecting funds for Israel in the synagogues, though this is certainly against the spirit of the US constitution.
In comradeship,
Posted @ 17:40

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Justice and politics in the Melhis Report

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Justice & politics in the Melhis Report

David Khairallah, Professor of International Law at Georgetown University, lectured at the GU’s CCAS, back in January 2006′.This piece goes to the heart of the judicial politicking plaguing Lebanon today, and threatening a …conflagration.
“Syrian hegemonic control in the post Taef period has generated deep popular resentment among Lebanese of practically all sects and segments of society. The fact that they entered the country to put an end to the blood shed and the civil war which plagued Lebanon for over fifteen years; that they have helped reunite and rebuild the army, and that for many years they were perceived as elements of stability by American and Lebanese officials, all that has given way in the collective Lebanese memory to the transgressions committed by the symbols of the Syrian hegemony in Lebanon. . 
The Hariri assassination has caused an angry uproar and created opportunities for many parties, inside and outside Lebanon, to seek concessions from, or settle scores with the Syrian regime.
In Lebanon, the majority within the Christian communities, especially among the popular leadership, already held a strong resentment to the Syrian presence. The death of Mr. Hariri, and the assassination attempt on Druze member of parliament Marwan Hamadeh before him, have alienated Sunna and Druze and turned their leadership, former partners and apologists for the Syrian presence, into the most vociferous enemies of the Syrian regime
 
Certain leaders and a powerful media have effectively translated resentment of the Syrian hegemony into Syrian responsibility for Mr. Hariri’s murder.  Mr. Jumblat, the Druze leader, accuses the Syrian leadership of being behind the murder of Mr. Hariri and all political assassinations that followed, and calls for the overthrow of the Syrian regime even if it takes direct American intervention. 
The leadership of Al-Mustaqbal, Mr. Hariri’s group, which controls the largest representation of the Sunna and some Christian representatives in parliament, are allies of Mr. Jumblat and have joined forces with the US in flagging the Hariri’s assassination to increase pressure on the Syrian regime. The magic expression that connotes Syrian guilt is a call to “unconditional compliance with the international investigation committee”.
 The Shia, represented overwhelmingly by Hizbullah and the Amal Movement, along with some secular nationalist parties and traditional leadership such as Suleiman Franjieh and Omar Karami in the north of Lebanon and others, make a clear distinction between the need to diligently and professionally pursue an investigation to find and punish the guilty party, and the acting against the Syrian regime based on unsubstantiated accusations. 
General Aoun, the most popular Christian leader, as has been demonstrated by the last parliamentary elections (and next, in 2009′), and who has the most consistent stand against the Syrian presence in Lebanon, has withheld accusation of the Syrians pending the conclusion of the investigation. 
Responsibility for Mr. Hariri’s murder, the wave of assassinations that followed, and the collapse of the security system are all pinned, at least by some very vocal leaders and a dominant media, on the Syrians notwithstanding their withdrawal from Lebanon. 
Justification for most pronouncements or advocated actions against the Syrians is increasingly linked to declarations, verbal or written, emanating from the Investigation Commission established by the UN Security Council. 
One can easily observe that all political interests and objectives, internal and external, have been cloaked with an irresistible desire to see justice prevail and that the guilty party pay for his crime; hence the importance of the role of the international investigation Commission. 
It is objectionable that leaders achieve political objectives through deceitful means, though history is replete with such occurrences; but it is infinitely more offensive when justice, through deviant legal processes, is used as a vehicle to achieve such objectives. 
Seeking true justice is the only probable justification for the intervention of the UN Security Counsel in the investigation of a political murder totally within the internal jurisdiction of a member country. This is a precedent in the operations of the institution established for the sole purpose of maintaining international peace and security. 
The question I propose to focus on for the remainder of my talk is: To what extent has the international Commission tried to immunize its work against political contamination by adhering to professional legal processes and safeguards that would guarantee the integrity of the investigation?  
Let us consider the legal framework that should guide the Commission’s work. S C Res. 1595 established  “an international independent Commission based in Lebanon to help the Lebanese authorities in their investigation of all aspects of this terrorist act..”.  Section 6 of this Resolution “Directs the Commission to determine procedures for carrying out its investigation, taking into account the Lebanese law and judicial procedures”. 
A memorandum of understanding, in implementation of Res. 1595 was subsequently concluded on June 13, 2005 between the UN and the Lebanese Government. It provides for the full cooperation of the Government with the Commission “within the framework of the Lebanese sovereignty and its legal system”. 
And, that as part of this cooperation the criminal division of the Lebanese Supreme Court will, inter alia, “advise the Commission on the appropriate procedures for the collection of evidence in accordance with the Lebanese law.”
 Several points made in the memorandum deserve particular attention. In general the “Commission will make request for all witnesses and or persons of relevance to the investigation to be summoned …through the competent Lebanese authorities”. However the Commission has the discretion of interviewing witnesses without the intervention of the Lebanese authorities”. 
While the Commission may, during the investigation and “when it finds it suitable, provide the Lebanese investigating magistrate a copy of the “evidences that are collected” , it has the discretion of denying the Lebanese investigating magistrate access to judicial evidence that it has collected during the investigation until the end of its work. 
 
Let us keep in mind that only the Lebanese judicial authorities, particularly the investigating magistrate, have the right of incarcerating suspects. Under existing arrangements, however, they may have to order arrest and incarceration without being fully aware of the evidence justifying such incarceration. 
This seems to be the position taken by the Lebanese judiciary because SC Res. 1595 “calls upon the Lebanese Government to ensure that findings and conclusions of the commission’s investigation are taken into account fully”. 
This is at least part of the legal framework that should govern the Commission’s work. Let us review the work of the Commission thus far and see to what extent it reflects professionalism and adherence to applicable norms in criminal investigation. 
I will leave aside the leakage to foreign and Lebanese media attributed to members of the Commission and to the different versions of its first report that found their way to the public. 
Even if one could assume good faith on the part of the Commission in this regard, one can’t attribute to its members, especially Mr. Mehlis, a high degree of professional competence. 
 
Due to time limitation, I will focus only on the content of the first of its two reports presented to the UN Security Council. The report of the Commission is void from legal value except probably as evidence of an act of obstruction of justice on the part of the Commission.
First, the content of its report violates the fundamental principle of confidentiality that governs criminal investigations in all developed legal systems. It certainly violates Article 53 of the binding Lebanese code of criminal procedure which states:
“The investigation should remain confidential unless the case is referred to the trial court through an indictment verdict”.
Has anyone heard of a district attorney or a special prosecutor make public the testimony of witnesses he has heard, or evidence he has collected and other he is pursuing before the end of his investigation? This is the content of the Commission’s report. 
Some have said, in defense of the Commission, that its report fulfills a requirement of the resolution establishing it. SC Res. 1595 “requests the Commission to report to the Council on the conclusions of its investigation and requests the Secretary General to update orally the Security Council on the progress of the Commission every two months during the operations of the Commission or more frequently if needed.” 
In its report, however, the Commission stated that the investigation is far from being complete. It requested and was given additional time to complete its investigation. So one can hardly talk about the conclusions (and almost 6 years in counting!) of an investigation in progress. 
Nor can one reasonably conclude that the Security Council meant for the Commission to commit what is known as an obstruction of justice. For any participant in the crime under the ongoing investigation who is still at large would benefit from every detail revealed in the Commission’s report to take measures that would mislead the investigation and remain out of the Commission’s reach.
One wanders in what ways the details revealed in the Commission’s report could possibly be helpful to the investigation. How much less embarrassing it would have been to Mr. Mehlis and members of his Commission if the testimonies of two principal witnesses were not made public in his report and the leakage that preceded it, when later it became known that their testimony was false and could not be relied on. 
On substantive grounds, the Commission’s report has adopted serious conclusions not substantiated or justified by the findings revealed in the report. The report clearly states that the Commission’s findings do not enable it “to establish firm ground for a potential trial of any accused individual”.
In fact many of the witness testimonies it lays out in detail in the report would most likely be rejected in a trial as hearsay testimonies. And the two most important witnesses, according to the report, turned out to be unreliable as previously mentioned. 
Furthermore, any one who would look in the report for any evidence in the form of confessions, fingerprints, DNA, or any reliable evidence that could corroborate witness testimonies would find none. Nevertheless, the report reveals that the Commission has reached a conclusion implicating involvement of the Syrian and Lebanese security officials to a point of saying that “it would be difficult to envisage a scenario whereby such a complex assassination plot could have been carried out without their knowledge”.     
One would hope the Commission has in its possession evidence that would justify its conclusion. The content of its report, however, does not justify such assertion. Besides, what conclusion should we draw from this statement? Could we ignore the high likelihood that the investigator has already decided to exclude any scenario, proof or evidence that other parties may be behind such heinous crime and consequently stopped looking in any other direction? 
The Commission admits that its report does not amount to an indictment verdict that could be introduced before a trial court. Such court would not be able to determine guilt based on information and evidence revealed in the report. 
This does not mean, however, that the report could not be a very useful tool to achieve political objectives. Mr. Mehlis’ report, it seems, has brought to the attention of the controllers of the world legitimacy such a threat to world peace and security as to justify resolutions by the UN Security Council under chapter VII of the UN Charter. 
No wonder the International Investigation Commission’s reports have received such a lavish praise from certain politicians, Lebanese and non- Lebanese, but were so totally neglected by qualified jurists.” 
Posted by G, Z, or B at 8:38 PM

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Palestinian Authority Recommends Whitewashing Gaza War Crimes

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It’s clear from the sham peace talks and a new development. The Mahmoud Abbas-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) wants Israel absolved of accountability for Cast Lead crimes of war and against humanity. No matter that conclusive evidence exposed them, the result of the IDF’s 23-day day rampage, killing over 1,400, injuring over 5,000, many severely, and practically leveling wide areas of Gaza, affecting mostly civilian and non-military related targets.

Besides other investigations, two UN Human Rights Council (HRC) ones unequivocally condemned Israel’s lawlessness, each demanding accountability.
On September 21, the HRC’s independent fact finding Committee issued a stinging indictment, among other conclusions, saying:
“It was clear to the Committee that the IDF had not distinguished between civilians and civilian objects and military targets. Both the loss of life and the damage to property were disproportionate to the harm suffered by Israel or any threatened harm.”
Israel clearly violated Fourth Geneva and other international laws. Responsible officials must be held accountable.
“Israel’s actions could not be justified as self-defense.” It was unequivocal aggression.
“The Committee found that the IDF was responsible for the crime of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians….It rejected Israel’s determination of who is a civilian.”
“The Committee found that the IDF was responsible for the crime of killing, wounding and terrorizing civilians.”
The Committee called the IDF “responsible for the wanton destruction of property and that such destruction could not be justified on grounds of military necessity.”
The Committee called Cast Lead crimes so outrageous, “it was compelled to consider whether (genocide) had been committed.”
The Committee thus concluded that Israel “committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and, possibly genocide in the course of Operation Cast Lead.”
In 2009, the Goldstone Commission highlighted the gravity of Israel’s crimes, saying:
Its “report concludes that the Israeli military operation was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole….(It was) a deliberate policy of (collective punishment and) disproportionate force (to) willfully (kill) hundreds of civilians,” and inflict extensive “disproportionate” destruction of hospitals, homes, mosques, schools, and other civilian structures.
“As a service to the hundreds of civilians who needlessly died and for the equal application of international justice, the perpetrators of (these) serious violations must be held to account.”
Mahmoud Abbas said no. His permanent Geneva Human Rights Council envoy, Ibrahim Khraishi, presented a draft resolution not to pursue Israel’s accountability, wanting coverup and whitewash instead.
It did it by requesting more time for further investigations, despite exhaustive evidence finding Israel culpable beyond a shadow of a doubt. Abbas, a disgraced collaborator, insulted Gaza’s victims and those still suffocating under siege.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned him, saying he’s:
“holding justice hostage to politics, and extending de facto impunity to the Israeli military and political leadership.”
By so doing, he shares culpability, complicit with Israel’s war machine, guilty of not struggling against it. He’s a traitor, rewarded for betraying his own people. It’s been his longstanding practice for decades, notably for his Oslo Accords role, an inexcusable sellout he may repeat in the current sham round.
PCHR condemned his leadership saying;
By passing this (disgraceful) resolution, (he sent) a dangerous message: that what happened in Gaza in 2008-2009 is acceptable. With such impunity, there is no guarantee for Palestinians that these crimes will not be repeated.” In fact, it’s virtually certain. In small ways, they continue daily throughout the Territories.
Israel Responds
On September 27, Haaretz published a Reuters report headlined, “Israel calls on UN to end ‘obsessively biased’ Gaza war probe,” saying:
On Monday, Israel called “for an end to United Nations Human Rights Council (Cast Lead) investigations.” However, Islamic countries and their allies on the Council urged otherwise. Nonetheless, Israel’s ambassador Aharon Leshno Yaar said the Council:
“has continually been one-sided and obsessively biased….It did not matter that steps were taken by Israel to protect its citizens while limiting damage whenever possible to Palestinian civilians.”
Both Council investigations show he lied, the above conclusions explaining it unequivocally. Israel also whitewashed its own inquiries, absolving culpable government and military officials.
On September 27, the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) demanded that the Council and UN General Assembly continue focusing on Cast Lead and its aftermath. Turkey’s delegate said:
“Israel must put an end to its culture of violence….and show a new face to the world.” Its Gaza siege and May Flotilla massacre show the futility of that likelihood.
On September 29, Ma’an News Agency headlined, “UN vote backs limited Goldstone follow-up,” saying:
“The UN Human Rights Council endorsed on Wednesday some of the recommendations in a UN-backed inquiry into Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, but the vote drew criticism from human rights groups” for not going far enough.
Despite clear evidence of Israeli lawlessness, the Arab and Islamic blocs tabled a decision, “demand(ing instead) that the UN secretary-general and general commissioner for human rights follow up with” Goldstone Commission recommendations.
A key one involves referring culpable parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) “if they fail to undertake credible investigations on their own.” The HRC said they hadn’t, so “the next logical step is to establish a tribunal.”
However, the PA’s resolution obstructs it, a decision human rights organizations condemned “as another violation of the rights of Palestinian victims.”
The HRC also denounced Israel’s intransigence for failing to cooperate, and refusing to “conduct investigations in conformity with international standards of independence, thoroughness, effectiveness and promptness into the allegations.”
According to one human rights official:
“They killed the Goldstone process. There will be nothing to follow up on.” They plan the same thing for the HRC’s Committee of experts. “The decision of the PA not to pursue international criminal justice perpetuates this practice and denies victims’ rights.”
Their action is inexcusable, absolving Israel, effectively letting its killing machine maraud freely – murdering, destroying, and plundering with impunity, Palestinians again denied justice.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
posted by Steve Lendman @ 1:17 PM  

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

>Age of Censorship and Internet Trade Wars

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Francis Anthony Govia

Activist Post

New U.S. legislation will impact every user of the Internet. The “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” would empower the U.S. Department of Justice to shut down, or block access to, websites found to be dedicated to infringing activities. The bill also contains provisions to block sites with domain names and Top-Level Domains (TLDs) that are maintained by overseas companies, which exist outside the U.S. legal jurisdiction and enforcement mechanism. The Justice Department would obtain court orders directing United States-based Internet Service Providers to stop resolving the IP addresses that allow customers in the United States to access the infringing websites. As a result, the sites will be inaccessible to U.S.-based Web users who do not use some sort of proxy service. The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary last Monday; it is sponsored by Senators Hatch, Leahy, Klobuchar, Whitehouse, Schumer, Kohl, Specter, Durbin, Bayh, Voinovich, and Feinstein.
The legislation is expected to have strong support in Hollywood, labor unions and manufacturers, but in some circles — namely grassroots political organizations, alternative press, and Internet start-ups — the response has been lukewarm, and even questioning. They are concerned that the “other purposes” of the legislation include censorship and, if made law, will employ the Justice Department to police the Internet, eventually resulting in the disruption of the free flow of information and trade globally.
To some extent, their concerns are formed by experience. There have been examples of business censorship, and government legislation to curtail what is viewed on the Internet. Infowars reported recently that “London’s St. Pancras International, one of the biggest transport hubs in the West,” implemented “stringent filters that block users of their Wi-Fi service from accessing even mildly political websites.” Sites like prisonplanet.com and thinkprogress.org were not available to customers in some areas. There are plans in Australia to promulgate legislation to institute a “mandatory, countrywide filtering system,” which supporters say is “designed to keep out child abuse content, but which blocks a much wider variety of content and topics.” And recently when media reported about an Iranian website with cartoons denying the Holocaust, some viewers in the U.S. discovered that access to the site was blocked.
Granted, there is recognition in Washington that the Internet is the new frontier for global enterprise, but some perceive that Washington still views the world through the lens of a bygone era. A critic of the bill told me that many nations, including the United States, legislate for businesses founded in a brick-and-mortar world; and attempts to regulate the Internet would be like turning back the clock.
“Nations will act independently and this will be detrimental to customers that use the Internet near and far,” advised the critic.
A similar sentiment was echoed by former Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, in a speech at the Foreign Ministry Faculty of International Relations in Tehran. Mr. Prodi suggested that Italy within Europe must play a greater role in matters of global importance, and that may entail Europe’s acting with greater independence of the United States. The message, though given on a different topic, is not one that instills confidence to those who see governments encroaching on their privacy, and would prefer unrestricted use, or less regulation, of the services for which they pay.
The U.S. legislation for infringement is written to tackle many concerns, and is certainly not archaic in regard to lawmakers’ ambition to affect what goes on well beyond the scope of U.S. jurisdiction.
For infringing sites outside the United States, it provides for in rem action in the District of Columbia to prevent the importation into the United States of goods and services directed to U.S. residents. The effect of this “importation” must be that the owner or operator of the infringing site must harm intellectual property rights holders that are residents of the United States.
The Justice Department will be granted power to serve court orders upon the registry where the domain name registrar is not located in the United States, and upon receipt of such an order, the domain registry must suspend operations of, and lock, the domain name of the infringing site.
During the action intended to “lock the domain name,” a court may determine, at a minimum threshold, that an Internet site is not conducting business to residents in the United States if the Internet site “states that it is not intended, and has measures to prevent, infringing materials from being accessed in or delivered to the United States,” including other provisions in subsection (d)(2)(B). The owner or operator of the “infringing site” shall also have recourse to petition the Justice Department to remove his domain name from an offending list, or petition the court to modify, suspend, or vacate the order in accordance with subsection (h)(1)(B).
The bill has an immunity clause which protects any entity from a cause of action in U.S. courts or administration agency for any action reasonably calculated to comply with an action intended to prevent the infringing site from continuing to do business with U.S.-based customers, receive financial transactions, and other matters under subsection (e)(3).
The U.S. legislation does not appear to put the onus on any businesses, such as Internet Service Providers, to stop known infringement from occurring. This is an interesting stance. In February, an Australian ISP won a precedent-setting copyright infringement lawsuit (Down Under) against the Motion Picture Industry. The bill sponsors may be cognizant of this ruling.
Softpedia reported that 34 U.S. movie studios and broadcasters filed a lawsuit in Australia against iiNet after the ISP refused to send warning letters to its customers who illegally downloaded movies using BitTorrent. The Australian Justice, Dennis Cowdrey, ruled that while iiNet had knowledge of infringements occurring, and did not act to stop them, such findings do not necessitate a finding that the ISP authorized the infringing activities. Possibly, Hollywood supporters of the U.S. infringement legislation now agree with Cowdrey’s ruling that to ask ISPs to police the Internet would “open them any number of legal claims for anything that might happen over their pipes,” and that would engender strong opposition to the legislation among ISPs in the United States. However, to take on the responsibility of policing the Internet may not seem a burden to Obama’s Justice Department.
Certainly, Hollywood will welcome any new infringement legislation aimed at stemming the loss of royalties through piracy and copyright violation in the digital age. Infringers often meet efforts to protect intellectual property with resilient and thought-out action to thwart the law. As a law intern in Thailand I learned, for example, that illegal duplication facilities for CDs and DVDs existed in mobile transportation. Persons engaged in copyright violations avoided the ability of local enforcement to easily locate them and shut them down. It is a sure bet that those engaged in infringing activities overseas will find ways and new technology to evade laws promulgated by a foreign government (like the U.S.) that will have no jurisdiction over them.
The Obama Justice Department, which tapped Hollywood lawyers, may be charged to police Intellectual Property — an assignment to which attorneys for President George W. Bush were “strongly opposed.” The Republican President threatened to veto a previous version of the bill sponsored by the same Sens. Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter.
In correspondence to the Senators, attorneys for President Bush wrote that they “strongly opposed” expanding the powers of the Justice Department. Doing so, they said, could undermine the Department’s prosecution of criminal cases and transform it into an office “serving as pro bono lawyers for private copyright holders.”
It is obvious during this era when citizens’ rights are curtailed and infringed upon, with the bipartisan sponsorship of the bill and the composition of the current administration, that the infringement legislation has a better chance of becoming law. But will it open a Pandora’s Box? Will it do exactly what critics suspect it is intended to do: censor more of the Internet, create bottlenecks that will allow governments to intrude on the flow of information and services around the world, and do possible damage to a wider spectrum of businesses (other than those it is intended to protect)?
Many of the dynamic economies that U.S. businesses now compete against were born out of things other than a free market; and other economies are driven, or manipulated by State controls, as is the case of China. Foreign nations may follow the U.S. lead in writing laws to regulate the Internet and address their concerns, but not with the results U.S. legislators necessarily hope to engender.
Through retaliation, or even pretext, governments may decide to regulate, or shut down legitimate Internet traffic and services to violate human rights, hinder trade, and to engage in industry espionage. We already have examples of these developments with China’s efforts to regulate Google, and the recent firestorm when India and other nations, acting within their security concerns, decided to take action to regulate Blackberry and gain access to users’ encrypted corporate e-mails and messages. The offices of Sen. Byron L Dorgan and Rep. Sander M. Levin of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China undertook a hearing in March to investigate if China’s efforts to regulate the Internet contravene free trade and human rights. Delegates to the hearing cited that:
China’s Internet users remain subject to the arbitrary dictates of state censorship. More than a dozen agencies are involved in implementing a host of laws, regulations, and other tools to try to keep information and ideas from the Chinese people . . .
China’s censorship practices and control of the Internet have had a terrible impact on human rights advocates. These include ordinary people who promote political freedoms or try to organize online . . . attempting to share information about ongoing government repression.
Internet censorship and regulation in China have serious economic implications for many U.S. companies . . . [and] often run against basic international trade principles of nondiscrimination and maintaining a level playing field.
To these charges, China responded that it laws regarding the Internet are not much different than those of the West, and that critics are applying a double standard.
Perhaps U.S. lawmakers have forgotten a cause it often champions: that respect for human rights, deregulation, and open trade are important to a dynamic and properly functioning global community. As ownership of patents, trademarks, and copyrights becomes a contested grey area, nations may block business occurring over the Internet through the guise of copyright infringement. Only the rich and powerful will have the resources to go through the legal hurdles at home and/or abroad to clear their domains of actions to lock them, and resume operations. Damage would be done to a business during the course of a legal action brought against it; its customers may simply believe that the domain ceases to exist, with transactions lost forever.
Small businesses could be shut out of that presumptuous dream of going global and becoming rich, while the elite, big businesses and powerful governments can dominate cyberspace. Many micro-states and individuals could be harmed, and educational pursuits stifled through this world of more legislation, regulation, and censorship.
Why should we be concerned about this future for the Internet?
Well, because the Internet is now everyone’s classroom; and perhaps more-so it has become individuals’ business personality. A properly set up website for a Mom-and-Pop enterprise can look as good as that of a billion dollar company’s front-store. The ramifications of more regulation will result in the free and booming frontier of cyberspace, now functioning as the gold rush for enterprise, ceasing to exist.
The U.S. may find it useful to confer with trading partners in the North and the South, and come to an understanding that perhaps unilateral action is not the way to address concerns in regard to a frontier in which everyone has an interest. President George W. Bush may have gotten it right when his attorneys writing on his behalf to Sens. Leahy and Specter implied, when taken altogether, that U.S. law already provides owners of Intellectual Property with effective legal tools to protect their rights. It need not go in the direction proposed by the Senators.
No one wants Washington’s efforts to backfire and force us to return to a world where we have to resort domestically to find the goods and services that we need, such as cheap medicine. Or, to have to wait on someone in a dusty library to find a book or paper we once could have accessed readily over the Internet. Or, in some far corner of the world men will cower in fear of infringing before they cite links as sources of information. A Big Brother that will censor access to the latest celebrity sex videos, or certain religious texts or even Osama bin Laden’s latest rant (however misguided they may be). The result of this could be that owners of presumed “infringing sites” must raise ungodly sums of money to hire attorneys to clear their domain names, while good sites like WikiLeaks (which make governments accountable for their actions) are shut down or blocked here and abroad through a pretext; and Mom-and-Pop operating a start-up Internet business within the cornfields of America are locked out through action suggested by a smooth operator with deep pockets who knows how to play the system and use it against his competitor, blocking sites because somebody with power did not like the owner’s point of view.
Francis Anthony Govia received a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations at Boston University where he studied U.S. National Security and Foreign Policy with teachers who inspired him, such as General Fred F. Woerner (Ret.), Ambassador Stephen R. Lyne (Ret.), and Joseph Fewsmith. He received a law degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is a contributor to Activist Post.
September 29, 2010

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Review: Norwegian doctors’ "Eyes in Gaza"

Raymond Deane, The Electronic Intifada, 27 September 2010

Eyes in Gaza is a detailed and harrowing account by the Norwegian doctors Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse of their experiences in al-Shifa Hospital during Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009. For a time, they were not just the only western doctors in Gaza, but the only western witnesses to what they repeatedly call Israel’s “massacre” of some 1,400 Palestinian men, women and children. Hence the book’s title, bearing witness to their status as witnesses.

At noon on New Year’s Eve 2008, four days after the start of Israel’s onslaught, Gilbert and Fosse entered Gaza from Egypt. On the morning of 10 January 2010, with Israel’s campaign still having a week to run, they returned to Egypt and were replaced by another Norwegian medical team. During the intervening period they assisted their Palestinian colleagues — whose “historic heroism” (112) they praise unstintingly — in performing an average of twenty operations daily on the civilian victims of Israel’s orgy of shooting and bombing. In the absence of western media they also acted as reporters (“white voices” — 121-122), giving ten to fifteen interviews daily.

These doctors make no claim to neutrality; they are political activists, committed to advocating Palestinian rights and to condemning western complicity with Israel’s crimes. “We are doctors, but we do not want to be only doctors,” Gilbert asserts proudly (306).

Not surprisingly, it is this aspect of their activities in Gaza that proved most controversial, causing FOX News to describe Gilbert, shamefully, as “[t]he Hamas propaganda doctor” (123), simply because he described the horrors he witnessed rather than keeping quiet about them. Mordantly, Gilbert asks whether there “[s]hould not then be a limit to the number of times that members of the international press who were not let into Gaza allow themselves to be bussed by Israeli press officers to places just north of the border in Israel where Palestinian rockets had landed, on the whole resulting in holes in the ground?” (130).

In their foreword (jointly written, whereas otherwise they contribute separate chapters on a roughly 50/50 basis) they spell out their refusal to hide behind the “smokescreen” of conventional language that is “laid down over power relationships and political realities.” Thus the West Bank and Gaza are “Palestine” or “occupied Palestine,” “settlements” are “colonies” and “settlers” are “occupiers,” the “Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)” are “the Israeli military forces,” “terrorists” (invariably Palestinian, of course, in western discourse) are “combatants,” and so forth (16-17).

Despite the authors’ relaxed style which sometimes — particularly in rather stilted stretches of dialogue — seems modeled on popular fiction, this book is not an easy read. There are many vivid descriptions of grisly wounds, sometimes caused by illegal munitions such as Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME, 85-7, 118, 140) or white phosphorus (284), and forensic accounts of surgical instruments the very names of which make this reviewer queasy. Furthermore, on almost every second page there are photographs of victims, sometimes during or immediately after surgery.

Ultimately, of course, this meticulous documentation contributes both to the authenticity and to the grinding power of the book. Take the account of “[a]n eight-year-old girl wearing a pink jersey … being treated for a wound on her head.” In the absence of a chair, she is treated standing up, “squashed up against the wall” as is “[t]he doctor who was cleaning her wound …”

Fosse ponders: “What could she be thinking? She was probably terrified. She knew that she had survived this attack, but that she could be hit again. There were no safe havens in Gaza … The family had sought refuge in the UN school, and she had been playing with the other children … when the tank shells hit. What sort of fear and psychological damage does that cause to an eight year old?” (149-150).

This is moving stuff, but its effect is enhanced indescribably by a photograph on the following page showing precisely the scene that has just been described, pink jersey and all.

Reflecting on the possible motives of an Israeli soldier who shot a 53-year-old Palestinian woman in the back “as she was being escorted … to the waiting ambulance which was due to evacuate her to a place of safety,” and speculating on the prospects “for her and for her family’s lifelong rehabilitation,” Gilbert concludes that only “an unequivocal international trial where the responsible political leaders can be held to account for the war crimes in Gaza” will give the wounds a chance to heal (217-8). For, in the words of a Palestinian doctor, “[w]e don’t have 5,400 injured. We have one and a half million injured. Everyone in Gaza is traumatized.”

According to one commentator writing on a site that claims to examine the “anti-Semitism and the anti-Israel lobby in Norway,” the effect of Eyes in Gaza “is is to instill in the heart of the reader not only the firm conviction that [Operation] Cast Lead was unjustifiable, but a passionate dedication to the Palestinian cause and a vehement disgust with Israel. In this the authors succeed extremely well” (““Eyes in Gaza” – the politics of emotion,” Norway, Israel and the jews blog, 22 December 2009)

A rave review, you might think. In fact this is a quotation from one of many pieces of venomous defamation to which the two doctors have been subjected since the publication of the book in Norway last year. Within a perspective that sees Israel’s crimes as virtues, the authors’ very success is deemed reprehensible.

Another example comes from Ricki Hollander writing for CAMERA, the self-styled “Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America” which, like most such organizations, aims at the exact opposite of what it announces. In an article called “Norwegian Doctors in Gaza: Objective Observers or Partisan Propagandists?” Hollander tells us that the doctors “entered Gaza … ostensibly to provide medical assistance to Palestinians at Shifa Hospital.”

That “ostensibly” says it all, but Hollander goes on to claim that “Gilbert is a radical Marxist” and “Fosse’s passion to work on behalf of Palestinians was sparked by his time in Lebanon” (during Israel’s murderous assault on that country in 1982), therefore “[g]iven the partisan … perspective they represent, Fosse’s and Gilbert’s testimony must be weighed with extreme caution” (“Norwegian Doctors in Gaza: Objective Observers or Partisan Propagandists?,” 6 January 2009)

Since Eyes in Gaza was written, this testimony has been massively supported by the findings of the UN’s Goldstone Commission. Given that the outburst of very public vilification of Gilbert and Fosse may well have helped their book become a massive best-seller in Norway, one can only hope that the vituperation that will inevitably follow its publication in the Anglosphere will achieve similar blowback.

This is a book that deserves to be widely read. It should be force-fed to those who believe that Israel’s army is “the most moral army in the world,” and to all those western politicians who facilitate the ongoing martyrdom of the Palestinian people.

Raymond Deane is an Irish composer and political activist.

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River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

South Africa’s Israel boycott

Ronnie Kasrils
An international boycott helped end apartheid – now South Africans are leading world opposition to racism in Israel
Ronnie Kasrils guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 29 September 2010 08.00 BST

Desmond Tutu
Prominent South Africans including Desmond Tutu have endorsed recent moves to boycott Israeli institutions. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian
When Chief Albert Luthuli made a call for the international community to support a boycott of apartheid South Africa in 1958, the response was a widespread and dedicated movement that played a significant role in ending apartheid. Amid the sporting boycotts, the pledges of playwrights and artists, the actions by workers to stop South African goods from entering local markets and the constant pressure on states to withdraw their support for the apartheid regime, the role of academics also came to the fore.
One significant move was the resolution taken by 150 Irish academics not to accept academic posts or appointments in apartheid South Africa. In 1971, the council of Trinity College Dublin took a decision not to own shares in any company that traded or had a subsidiary that traded in the Republic. The council later resolved that the university would not retain any formal or institutional links with any academic or state institution in South Africa.
Almost four decades later, the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions is gaining ground again in South Africa, this time against Israeli apartheid.
Earlier this month, more than 100 academics across South Africa, from over 13 universities, pledged their support to a University of Johannesburg initiative for ending collaboration with the Israeli occupation. The campaign has since grown to include up to 200 supporters. The nationwide academic petition calling for the termination of an agreement between the University of Johannesburg and the Israeli Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has attracted widespread attention. With the recent endorsement of some of the leading voices in South Africa, such as Kader Asmal, Breyten Breytenbach, John Dugard, Antjie Krog, Mahmood Mamdani, Barney Pityana and Desmond Tutu, the statement confirms the strength of the boycott call in South Africa:

“As academics we acknowledge that all of our scholarly work takes place within larger social contexts – particularly in institutions committed to social transformation. South African institutions are under an obligation to revisit relationships forged during the apartheid era with other institutions that turned a blind eye to racial oppression in the name of ‘purely scholarly’ or ‘scientific work’.”

Israeli universities are not being targeted for boycott because of their ethnic or religious identity, but because of their complicity in the Israeli system of apartheid. As the academics who have supported the call clearly articulate in their statement, Ben-Gurion University maintains material links to the military occupation. Israel’s attacks on Gaza in 2009, which saw the killing of more than 400 children, drew immediate and widespread international condemnation. Israel’s violation of international law was further confirmed by South Africa’s Justice Richard Goldstone in his report to the United Nations. Ben-Gurion University directly and indirectly supported these attacks, through the offering of scholarships and extra tuition to students who served in active combat units and by providing special grants to students who went on reserve duty for each day of service.
The principled position of academics in South Africa to distance themselves from institutions that support the occupation is a reflection of the advances already made in exposing that the Israeli regime is guilty of an illegal and immoral colonial project. South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council, in a response to an investigation commissioned by the South African government in 2009, issued a report confirming that the everyday structural racism and oppression imposed by Israel constitutes a regime of apartheid and settler colonialism similar to the one that shaped our lives in South Africa.
More recently, the international response to the shameful attack on the flotilla carrying medical supplies and other basic goods to the ghettoised population of Gaza was a sign of the erosion of Israel’s legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. In South Africa, the recall of our ambassador to Israel and the issuing of one of the strongest forms of diplomatic condemnation, the démarche, to Israel’s ambassador in Pretoria was a strong statement of recognition by the South African government that Israel’s actions deserve our utmost contempt.
The campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel has now launched in South Africa. Trade unions in South Africa have publicly committed their support; most notably with the action by South African Transport and Allied Workers Union dockworkers early last year to refuse offloading Israeli goods at Durban harbour – a commitment that was renewed in July this year.
The consumer boycott has also been gaining ground, including the launch of the recent public campaign by leading South African activists to boycott Ahava Dead Sea Cosmetics and to join the international movement to boycott Israeli products.
The boycott and sanctions campaign ultimately helped liberate both black and white South Africans. Palestinians and Israelis will similarly benefit from this international non-violent campaign – a campaign that all South Africans can take forward.
The petition to terminate the relationship between University of Johannesburg and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev can be accessed at www.ujpetition.com.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Obama and His Pro-Israel Speech at UN: More of the Same

Redress
—————————————————–
By Stuart Littlewood

28 September 2010

Stuart Littlewood looks at how modern terrorism was in fact pioneered by the Zionists and how Israeli and the US behaviours fit the US definition of terrorism like a glove.

If it wasn’t for the “war on terror” America and Israel wouldn’t be enjoying such military fun and games and reaping such fat rewards. Whole new industries are flourishing thanks to the considerable effort they’ve devoted to sowing the seeds of terror.

The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR), for example, is an American-Israeli corporation “created to help organizations succeed and prosper in a world threatened by terrorism”.

Its partners include The Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute – “your gateway to business in Israel”. Their global intelligence division even maintains a presence in London where, they claim, “our intelligence-gathering and analysis, research, training and consulting services reduce your vulnerability to global and regional forms of terrorist threats and mass-casualty events”. It’s just a coincidence, of course, that Britain’s most important security bodies – the Intelligence and Security Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Defence Committee – are all headed by senior Israel flag-wavers with access to highly classified material.

ITRR recently staged a Mass Casualty and Terrorism Workshop in Jerusalem attended by students from Philadelphia University. Topics included mass casualty management, security and counter-terrorism, forensic medicine as it relates to terrorism and visits to suicide bomber sites. “These site visits include actual video footage of the events… One student was amazed with the resiliency of the Israeli people and how quickly they are able to return a site ‘back to normal’.”

Just across the border in Gaza is the mother of all mass-casualty sites far more serious than anything Israel has had to cope with, although it caused it. A visit there would have opened students’ eyes to how the Palestinians are never given the chance to return to ‘normal’ after Israel’s endless terror onslaughts, robbed as they are of medical essentials and reconstruction materials.

I bet ITRR’s workshop didn’t cover that.

“First used by Zionists”

The other day I was sent a list of Zionist “firsts” pulled together in a handy aide-memoire. Let’s call them claims for the time being. I’ve seen evidence for some, but others are new to me. A friend who watches things closely says the listing has been posted in forums repeatedly, with requests for any corrections.

Let’s ask again. Can anyone refute these claims on delphiforums?

Here’s the roll-call on who introduced terrorism (along with biological, chemical and nuclear weapons) to the Middle East:

•Bombs in cafés: first used by Zionists in Palestine on 17 March 1937 in Jaffa. (actually grenades).
•Bombs on buses: first used by Zionists in Palestine on 20 August-26 September1937
•Drive-by shootings with automatic weapons: IZL and LHI in 1937-38 and 1947-48 (Morris, Righteous Victims, p681.)
•Bombs in market places: first used by Zionists on 6 July 1938 in Haifa. (delayed-action, electrically detonated)
•Bombing of a passenger ship: first used by the Zionists in Haifa on 25 November 1940, killing over 200 of their own fellows.
•Bombing of hotels: first used by Zionists on 22 July 1946 in Jerusalem (Menachem Begin went on to become prime minister of Israel).
•Suitcase bombing: first used by Zionists on 1 October 1946 against British embassy in Rome.
•Mining of ambulances: first used by Zionists on 31 October 1946 in Petah Tikvah
•Car-bomb: first used by Zionists against the British near Jaffa on 5 December 1946.
•Letter bombs: first used by Zionists in June 1947 against members of the British government, 20 of them.
•Parcel bomb: first used by Zionists against the British in London on 3 September 1947.
•Reprisal murder of hostages: first used by Zionists against the British in Netanya area on 29 July 1947.
•Truck-bombs: first used by Zionists on January 1948 in the centre of Jaffa, killing 26.
•Aircraft hijacking: world-first by Israeli jets December 1954 on a Syrian civilian airliner (random seizure of hostages to recover five spies) – 14 years before any Palestinian hijacking.

The only form of violent terrorism not introduced into Palestine by the Zionists was suicide bombing, a tactic used almost entirely by people fighting occupation of their “homeland” – think 1000s of Japanese in 1945, 100s of Tamils and 38 Lebanese in the 1980s – most of the latter being motivated by socialism/communism, not Islam – see http://amconmag.com/article/2005/jul/18/00017.

•Biological warfare – pathogens used by Zionists in 1948, prior to the seizure of Acre, putting typhus into the water supply.
•Chemical warfare – nerve gas very likely used by Zionists in February/March 2001 in at least eight attacks in Khan Younis and Gharbi refugee camps (Gaza) and the town of Al-Bireh (West Bank).
•Nuclear threats – made by Zionists e.g. 2003: “We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen, before Israel goes under.” – Remarks of Martin Van Creveld, a professor of military history at Israel’s Hebrew University, 1 February 2003.
And, if you think only Muslims need worry, then see http://www.masada2000.org/sharepain.html – “Israel has nuclear weapons and MUST use them and all those arming the Arabs must share the pain!”. Comes with cute music.

To these we could add “sofa slaughter” with armed drones. The Israelis use this armchair technique extensively in Gaza, unleashing death and destruction on civilians by remote control at no personal risk to themselves. There are interesting variations too. For example, during the 40-day siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002 the Israeli occupation force set up cranes on which were mounted robotic machine guns under video control. According to eye-witnesses, eight defenders, including the bell-ringer, were murdered, some by armchair button-pushers and some by regular snipers.

Right now we’re witnessing a cyber-terror attack against Iran with an ultra-sophisticated virus that disables thousands of industrial computers, including those controlling Iran’s nuclear programme. This is an extremely sinister development with frightening global implications. The presumption is that it’s Zionist inspired and implemented by Israeli stooges and sympathizers since no-one else hates and fears the Iranians this much, but the truth may never be known.

Banned horror weapons spread terror

There’s also the use, suspected or real, of prohibited weapons. In July 2006 doctors in Lebanon and Gaza were saying: “We never saw before wounds and corpses like those that arrive in the ward…” The majority of victims were women, children and elders caught in Israeli attacks in the street, in the market place and at home.

What they saw led doctors to believe that a new generation of weapons was being used. Common to all victims was the lack of visible wounds, but they had serious internal edema and hemorrhage with loss of blood from all orifices. All the bodies had a covering of dark powder, making them look black, but they were not burnt. Clothes and hair were not damaged or burnt.

Electron microscope scans showed the presence of phosphorous, iron and magnesium at below normally detectable levels. Elements that are used as additives to boost the blast of thermobaric (fuel-air energy) bombs and grenades were found on skin samples, but none of these could be seen by instruments normally used in hospitals and emergency wards.

Thermobaric weapons leave no fragments on or in the victims’ bodies, making it all the more difficult to provide proper care for the injured. “This fact already puts them outside established conventions of war, regardless of whether they are used against military or civilians,” say the doctors.

The effect of a thermobaric shell or grenade, according to the GlobalSecurity website, is devastating. “Those near the ignition point are obliterated. Those at the fringe are likely to suffer many internal, and thus invisible injuries, including burst eardrums and crushed inner ear organs, severe concussions, ruptured lungs and internal organs, and possibly blindness. The destruction, death and injury are caused by the blast wave.”

Another report, published by Defense Technology, says: “Each tissue type … is compressed, stretched, sheared or disintegrated by overload according to its material properties. Internal organs that contain air (sinuses, ears, lungs and intestines) are particularly vulnerable to blast.”

The United States uses 40mm thermobaric grenades developed for the war against “terror” in Afghanistan. These little beauties produce a thermobaric overpressure blast and “all enemy personnel within the effective radius will suffer lethal effects as opposed to the conventional fragmentation round.”

The grenades are fired from a specially developed weapon. “You can put six rounds on target in under three seconds,” one Marine Corps corporal said. “I thought this thing was sick.”

America is reported to have lost nuclear bombs, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to mislay shipments of thermobaric grenades, which in the wrong hands would wreak havoc in the metro or London’s Underground.

Hoist by their own petard
A perfectly good form of words is used to brand, outlaw and crush any organization, individual or country the US doesn’t like.

Under Executive Order 13224 (“Blocking Property and prohibiting Transactions with Persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support Terrorism”), Section 3, the term “terrorism” means an activity that:

(i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and (ii) appears to be intended
(a) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(b) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(c) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping or hostage-taking.”

The order was signed 23 September 2001 by George W. Bush, the irony being that his definition of terrorism fits the United States and its bosom-buddy Israel like a glove.

Since then, of course, we’ve seen the Zionists commit the foulest act of state terrorism in recent times. During their Cast Lead onslaught they butchered at least 350 more children, and Gaza has been under daily attack ever since. So the “most moral army in the world” must have blown to bits, shredded, incinerated or smashed with snipers’ bullets at least 1,400 Palestinian youngsters in the last 10 years. The numbers left maimed or crippled don’t bear thinking about.

And let’s not forget the assassinations and extra-judicial executions. In the US there’s a presidential prohibition on assassination except in war situations, but if they can conjure up an intelligence “finding” that enables them to label the target a “terrorist”, and claim the murder was an act of self-defence in a war situation, they’re in the clear.

Assassination became official Israeli policy in 1999. Their preferred method is the air-strike, which is lazy and often messy, as demonstrated in 2002 when Israeli F-16 warplanes bombed the house of Sheikh Salah Shehadeh, the military commander of Hamas, in Gaza City killing not just him but at least 11 other Palestinians, including seven children, and wounding 120 others.

According to the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, 408 Palestinians have been killed in the course of targeted assassinations since the second Intifada (uprising) began in 2000. This systematic extermination is regarded as legal and legitimate by Israel’s attorney-general.

In a sane world you’d expect the American and Israeli administrations to be hoist by their own petard, branded as “persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism”, and punished in the same way they seek to punish others.

——————————————————————————–

Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit http://www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk/.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

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