Wednesday, April 16, 2014

US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study

In America, money talks... and democracy dies under its crushing weight.
 study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, "Who governs? Who really rules?" in this country, is: 
"Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, ..." and then they go on to say, it's not true, and that, "America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened" by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead "the nearly total failure of 'median voter' and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."
To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.
The authors of this historically important study are Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, and their article is titled "Testing Theories of American Politics." The authors clarify that the data available are probably under-representing the actual extent of control of the U.S. by the super-rich:
Economic Elite Domination theories do rather well in our analysis, even though our findings probably understate the political influence of elites. Our measure of the preferences of wealthy or elite Americans – though useful, and the best we could generate for a large set of policy cases – is probably less consistent with the relevant preferences than are our measures of the views of ordinary citizens or the alignments of engaged interest groups. Yet we found substantial estimated effects even when using this imperfect measure. The real-world impact of elites upon public policy may be still greater.
Read more

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Then and now..The Presidents of Argentina, Brazil and Chile today, and in the 70s

On the Sarin false flag operation and related matters: False Flags and Imperial Facades: Tales of 'Progressives' in Power

By Chris Floyd 
Sy Hersh has a long piece in the London Review of Books detailing the strong evidence indicating that the Turkish government worked with Syrian rebels in a "false flag" operation of the worst sort: staging a chemical weapons attack near Damascus in August 2013. The intent was to throw blame for the attack on the Assad regime, thereby drawing the United States directly into the conflict; the use of chemical weapons against the rebels was a "red line" repeatedly laid down by Barack Obama as the trigger for an American intervention.

As we know, the gambit very nearly worked. In addition to the deep background behind the sarin attack, Hersh's story also reveals the extent of the military operation planned by Obama. Although at the time, administration officials were speaking of "surgical strikes" and a limited response, the White House was in fact planning a massive attack involving the armed forces of three Western powers (the U.S., Britain and France) that would devastate the entire country and topple the regime. As Hersh writes:
In the aftermath of the 21 August attack Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up targets for bombing. Early in the process, the former intelligence official said, ‘the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently “painful” to the Assad regime.’ The original targets included only military sites and nothing by way of civilian infrastructure. Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers were shifted to airbases close to Syria, and navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles were deployed. ‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The Pentagon planners said we can’t use only Tomahawks to strike at Syria’s missile sites because their warheads are buried too far below ground, so the two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission. Then we’ll need standby search-and-rescue teams to recover downed pilots and drones for target selection. It became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.
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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Israeli forces detain Hebron man after settlers invade his home

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained a Palestinian man on Saturday evening after he tried to defend his family from a home invasion by Jewish settlers in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, a local activist group said.

Mofid Sharbati, 46, was detained by Israeli forces after a group of settlers entered his home on Shuhada street in central Hebron, coordinator for Youth against Settlements Issa Amro said.

His brother Zidan Sharbati was wounded during the incident, which began when Jewish settlers entered their homes and began beating the brothers as well as members of their families.

When the two attempted to respond, Israeli forces who were on the scene came to the aid of settlers and continued the assault, Amro said.
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International treaties and the prospects for justice for Palestinians

A protester wearing a gas mask walks with a Palestinian flag
during a demonstration against the expropriation of Palestinian
land by Israel in the village of Kafr Qaddum, in the occupied West Bank
on March 9, 2012 (AFP/File Jaafar Ashtiyeh)
  ....on April 1, 2014, Palestine decided it will be "joining 15 international treaties including those pertaining to human, civil, women and disabled rights." These include both treaties and sets of treaties, equaling more than 15 in total -- some of which Israel is not yet party to. Palestine's ability to take this step was provided by General Assembly Resolution 67/19 -- which upgraded Palestine to non-member observer state status at the United Nations. The resolution provided the State of Palestine and the Palestinian people a means to pursue justice and accountability at the international level.

So have the Palestinians finally seen their leaders employ our ability to join international treaties and organizations as a right, rather than a threat? Palestine's accessions on April 1 indicate that justice and accountability for the Palestinian people was not the priority.

Analysis: Abbas' move brings out Israeli racism

The decision by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to sign 15 international treaties brought further proof of Israeli racist attitudes towards the Palestinians.

Public statements by senior Israeli officials, as well as commentaries and analyses by Israeli pundits show angry reactions to the Palestinian move, something akin to the anger one would read about when slaves did not show enough respect and actually dared "suggest" that they wanted to be free.

The Israeli prime minister set the tone during the start of the weekly Israeli Cabinet meeting. He argued that Palestinians can only get their coveted state through his style of negotiations and based on his conditions, including his new demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
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The new American reality: An empire beyond salvation

Ramzy Baroud
US Secretary of State John Kerry couldn't hide his frustration anymore as the US-sponsored peace process continued to falter.

After eight months of wrangling to push talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority forward, he admitted while in a visit to Morocco on April 4 that the latest setback had served as a "reality check" for the peace process.

But confining that reality check to the peace process is hardly representative of the painful reality through which the United States has been forced to subsist in during the last few years.

The state of US foreign policy in the Middle East, but also around the world, cannot be described with any buoyant language. In some instances, as in Syria, Libya, Egypt, the Ukraine, and most recently in Palestine and Israel, too many calamitous scenarios have exposed the fault lines of US foreign policy. The succession of crises is not allowing the US to cut its losses in the Middle East and stage a calculated "pivot" to Asia following its disastrous Iraq war.
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Aussie media focus on Carr’s assertion that Israel lobby had ‘direct line’ into Prime Minister’s office

Former Australian PM Julia Gillard
Former Australian PM Julia Gillard
"Yesterday I did a short post on the stunning criticism of the Israel lobby’s influence in Australia coming from a former Australian foreign minister, Bob Carr, whose memoir says that Jewish donors so preyed on the mind of a liberal prime minister that she wouldn’t let him utter a word of criticisms against Israeli settlements.
Well, sunshine is the best disinfectant, and this story just gets bigger and bigger. It’s in Haaretz (my postscript); and the Australian media are taking seriously Carr’s assertions that the lobby’s influence is “unhealthy” and that it has too much access to policymakers. The story has been propelled by lobby charges of bigotry against Carr, who trots out the usual; he recommended a Holocaust book as the most important book of the last 100 years in a book he wrote about reading. And by the fact that Carr published text messages between himself and former P.M. Julia Gillard.

6 DC heavyweights tell Kerry, Netanyahu in West Bank is like Putin in Crimea

"Israel's "expansive territorial agenda" in the West Bank is like Russia's in the Crimea, write a group of heavyweight former U.S. officials in Politico.
They say the U.S. is complicit in "morally unacceptable stances" by Netanyahu because it refuses to criticize Israel."
In a refreshing break from the usual noises inside the Beltway, here’s a piece by six heavyweights at Politico called “Stand Firm, John Kerry,” that likens Israel’s occupation of the West Bank to Russia’s occupation of Crimea. The piece contains one condemnation after another of Netanyahu and the Israelis for “morally unacceptable” positions and says that the U.S. is complicit in its failure to speak out.
The heavyweights are Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank Carlucci, Carla Hills, Lee Hamilton, Thomas Pickering, and Henry Siegman (former national security adviser, Defense secretary, secretary of Housing and trade rep, congressman, ambassador, and Jewish leader).

Controversy over ‘occupied territories’ climb-down

Battle for funding in Republican presidential campaign 
 Chris Christie. Photograph: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Chris Christie. Photograph: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images 
The Irish Times

In a desperate effort to clamber his way back into the race for the Republican presidential nomination for 2016, New Jersey governor Chris Christie last week kowtowed to Zionism and apologised for telling the truth.
Days earlier, Christie had been cleared of involvement in a bizarre plot last September to snarl up the George Washington Bridge between New York and New Jersey for four days in order to punish Mark Sokolich, mayor of Fort Lee at the New Jersey end of the bridge, for refusal to endorse the governor’s campaign for re-election in November. A three-lawyer commission of inquiry appointed by Christie reported to him a fortnight ago that the plot had been orchestrated from within his office by his most senior officials but that he hadn’t been aware it was happening. We know that one.

Israel 'freezes tax transfers' to Palestinians

"Israel has frozen the transfer of taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians in retaliation for their seeking accession to several international treaties, an official said Thursday.
"It has been decided to freeze the transfer to the Palestinian Authority of the taxes collected by Israel on its behalf," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
At the same time, he said, Israel was suspending its participation with the Palestinians in developing a gas field off the Gaza Strip and putting a cap on Palestinian deposits in its banks."

Violence in Iraq grows as polls near

Militant attacks increase in Iraq ahead of this month's elections that could see Nouri Al-Maliki unseated from power
People walk past election campaign posters at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, April 10, 2014 (Photo: AP)
A series of attacks north of Baghdad killed eight soldiers Tuesday as Iraq’s election campaign enters its 10th day, leaving many believing that efforts taken to reach across the sectarian divide have failed.
Iraq’s electioneering campaign officially started 1 April marking a transition in the country's political crisis with the vote set for 30 April.
The campaigning by candidates was matched by an increase in violence in some provinces.
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Jazz guitar legend John McLaughlin plays for Palestine

British Jazz musician John McLaughlin performs with 4th Dimension at a concert in the West Bank city
British Jazz musician John McLaughlin performs with 4th Dimension at a concert in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on April 9, 2014. (Photo: AFP)
 The Palestinian territories are rarely a destination for jazz musicians let alone stars of an art form that is more at home in big cities such as New York and Chicago.

Which makes the performance of jazz guitar legend John McLaughlin before a packed auditorium in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday night all the more remarkable.

McLaughlin toured areas of the West Bank before enthralling the mostly local audience who attended his "solidarity concert" for Palestinians with a fusion of Western and Eastern sounds.

The 72-year-old British musician, who has recorded with the likes of late jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, said proceeds from the concert would go to a local NGO.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Israeli Settlement Plan Derailed Peace Talks, Kerry Says

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that Israel’s announcement of 700 new apartments for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem precipitated the bitter impasse in peace negotiations last week between Israel and the Palestinians.
While Mr. Kerry said both sides bore responsibility for “unhelpful” actions, he noted that the publication of tenders for housing units came four days after a deadline passed for Israel to release Palestinian prisoners and complicated Israel’s own deliberations over whether to extend the talks.
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Sign of the times. Before and after in Tunisia

Top: President Bourguiba receiving a group of women in 1950s.
Bottom: President Moncef Marzouki today.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Amnesty International welcomes Palestinian unilateral moves, calls on PA to join ICC

Human rights group slams Israeli politicians for threatening to sanction the PA for its unilateral moves. 

International Criminal Court in The Hague
International Criminal Court in The Hague Photo: REUTERS
 Amnesty International on Thursday welcomed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's move to seek admission in some 15 UN and international organizations, conventions and treaties. The group further urged the Palestinians to sign up to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Bertrand Russell on Palestine

“The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was “given” by a foreign power to another people for the creation of a new state. The result was that many hundreds of thousands of innocent people were made permanently homeless. With every new conflict their numbers increased. How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty?It is abundantly clear that the refugees have every right to the homeland from which they were driven, and the denial of this right is at the heart of the continuing conflict. No people anywhere in the world would accept being expelled en masse from their own country; how can anyone require the people of Palestine to accept a punishment which nobody else would tolerate?
Israel has expanded by force of arms. After every stage in this expansion Israel has appealed to “reason” and has suggested “negotiations.” This is the traditional role of the imperial power, because it wishes to consolidate with the least difficulty what it has already taken by violence. The aggression committed by Israel must be condemned because every expansion is an experiment to discover how much more aggression the world will tolerate.
We are frequently told, “We must sympathize with Israel because of the suffering of the Jews in Europe at the hands of the Nazis.” What Israel is doing today cannot be condoned, and to invoke the horrors of the past to justify those of the present is gross hypocrisy. “

Uri Avnery: The Monster on the Hill

"With such exciting news to deal with, who can spare the time and energy to think about the crisis in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which never really started at all? The public knows well enough that these negotiations are a farce set in motion by an American administration which does not have the guts to stand up to the hirelings of the Israeli government in Congress and impose anything on Binyamin Netanyahu.
INDEED, IF anyone had any illusions about American politics, they were dispelled this week.
The casino mogul, Sheldon Adelson, organized a public display of his power.
He summoned to his Las Vegas betting paradise the four most probable Republican candidates for the next presidential elections, in order to choose one of them. All the invitees heeded the summons, of course.
It was a shameless exhibition. The politicians groveled before the casino lord. Mighty governors of important states did their best to sell themselves like applicants at a job interview. Each of them tried to trump the others in promising to do the Mogul’s bidding.
Flanked by Israeli bodyguards, Adelson grilled the American hopefuls. And what was he demanding from the future president of the United States? First of all and above everything else, blind and unconditional obedience to the government of another state:

Breaking News: Evidence Proves Bush Defaced Spanish Painting
"As an art lover, I took it upon myself to study the former President’s paintings in detail and came upon a startling discovery. Readers may recall the Jesus fresco in Spain which became art world news in 2012 when it was defaced allegedly by elderly woman who fancied herself an amateur art restorer. I, however, have uncovered undeniable evidence of a conspiracy to cover up the fact that the famed fresco was actually defaced by George W. Bush! Judge for yourselves, but I think the evidence speaks for itself."

Six Syrian artists have set a 2014 Guinness World Record. Using scraps from the streets of war-ravaged Damascus, in January they built the largest mural made from recycled material, beautifying the area outside a primary school in Syria’s capital.

Six Syrian artists have set a 2014 Guinness World Record. Using scraps from the streets of war-ravaged Damascus, in January they built the largest mural made from recycled material, beautifying the area outside a primary school in Syria's capital.
It took Syrian artist Moaffak Makhoul and his team six months to complete the mural in the upscale Al Mazzeh area of Damascus. Guinness announced the win on Facebook on March 26.

It took Syrian artist Moaffak Makhoul and his team six months to complete the mural in the upscale Al Mazzeh area of Damascus. Guinness announced the win on Facebook on March 26.

The team used scrap objects like broken mirrors, bicycle wheels, and aluminum cans to construct the mural, measuring 7,749.98 feet across.

The team used scrap objects like broken mirrors, bicycle wheels, and aluminum cans to construct the mural, measuring 7,749.98 feet across.
The Syrian conflict has killed more than 140,000 and displaced 9 million people since 2011. Damascus has remained largely under government control and relatively shielded from the conflict, which has devastated infrastructure and economic activity.

‘Cease illegal activity against Cuba’: Havana slams Washington for ‘Twitter’ program

Reuters/Enrique de la Osa
"Havana has blasted Washington’s so-called ‘Cuba Twitter’ texting service as illegal and subversive, saying the United States is persisting in its decades’ long plan to topple Cuba’s communist government.
According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, the US government attempted to develop a no frills ‘Cuban Twitter’ using cellphone text messaging to circumvent Cuba’s strict control over the internet. Directly alluding to Twitter, the program is known as ZunZuneo — slang for a Cuban hummingbird's ‘tweet’.
The project was financed by the US Agency for international development (USAID), best known for overseeing billions of dollars in US humanitarian aid. USAID staff had noted that text messaging had been a popular fuse in starting political uprisings in Moldova and the Philippines"

Gideon Levy: Who’s to blame for the collapse of the talks?

"After Israel repudiated its promise to release a handful of Palestinian prisoners and began to set conditions for fulfillment, published another tender for the construction of new homes in the settlements, refused to submit its maps with proposed borders, sabotaged the talks with the ridiculous demand of recognition it as a Jewish state, showed not the slightest inclination to end the occupation and continued to build unabated in the settlements and to kill innocents, also unabated – after all this, the Palestinians took a minor, almost desperate step, so they are to blame.
They turned to the world and asked to join 15 international conventions, perish the thought. The Palestinians had the great temerity to apply to join the Geneva Convention, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and conventions against genocide, racism, discrimination against women and against people with disabilities, the Hague Convention on the laws and customs of war on land and even the international convention against corruption. You broke it, you bought it, dear Palestinians.
The Palestinians did not use terror or violence; they didn’t even sign the Rome convention, which would have opened the door to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. They only approached a few international conventions and were furiously assailed from Jerusalem to Washington."

George Bush's paintings: this is the art of Forrest Gump

George W Bush
A detail of a portrait of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Ehud Olmert
'Bush's portrait of Putin looks like something you would find in one of America's trash-rich Salvation Army stores and buy to laugh at.
The Guardian
"His portrait of Putin actually looks like something you would find in one of America's trash-rich Salvation Army stores and buy to laugh at. It's got a classic amateur clumsiness and oddity to it. Bush has attempted to render shadow and shape in stylish blocks of fawn and woodchip and cookies 'n cream, but they don't sit right and the whole head looks mildly crazed. Perhaps this mad look is what is meant by revealing Putin's "soul", but it seems inept rather than insightful.

It looks as if Bush's art coach has showed him paintings by no less a model that the great pop portraitist Alex Katz, whose semi-abstract, wide-eyed style and flat backgrounds his hamfisted daubs vainly echo. But the results lack coherence or vitality. This is the art of Forrest Gump.

Idiocy in art has its charms. In the man who ran the free world into bloodstained buffers, those charms quickly sour. These empty headed daubs look the work of someone you wouldn't trust to mow a lawn without cutting someone's foot off."

Friday, March 21, 2014

Eyewitness account of Israeli soldier killing Palestinian judge reveals barbarity of occupation

Raed Zuaiter lying dead at the Allenby Bridge on March 10.
Raed Zuaiter lying dead at the Allenby Bridge on March 10.
 Raed Zuaiter, a 38 year-old Palestinian judge residing in Jordan was returning home to Palestine on March 10, 2014. While crossing at the Allenby Bridge border into the West Bank, he was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier. Published accounts of the incident first characterized Dr. Zuaiter – he had a doctorate in International Law – as a “terrorist” who threatened Israeli security personnel.
"Israeli guard pointing his gun against poor Palestinian man in his 38th years, & his only guilt to be killed was just because he told the Israeli soldier do not insult me, he was just smoking out the bus & the soldier pushed him cruelly so once he said no for that he killed him as if he is killing an animal , I saw his hand it didn’t shake at all while he was killing that poor man with out any mercy, who is the only son for his family & who didn’t enter Palestine for 3 years ago to return on that day Monday 10th Mar killed on the hands of those who never been humans, after all that they pulled him on the ground from his legs away & they ignored him for more than half an hour they left him bleeding with the blood almost covered all his body till he left the life"

The ongoing Nakba. Ethnic cleansing as we speak

Iraq invasion was about oil

Maximising Persian Gulf oil flows to avert a potential global energy crisis motivated Iraq War planners - not WMD or democracy
Tony Blair leaves the Iraq war inquiry 
 The Guardian
Yesterday was the 11th anniversary of the 2003 Iraq War - yet to this day, few media reflections on the conflict accurately explore the extent to which opening up Persian Gulf energy resources to the world economy was a prime driver behind the Anglo-American invasion.
The overwhelming narrative has been one of incompetence and failure in an otherwise noble, if ill-conceived and badly managed endeavour to free Iraqis from tyranny. To be sure, the conduct of the war was indeed replete with incompetence at a colossal scale - but this doesn't erase the very real mendacity of the cold, strategic logic that motivated the war's US and British planners in the first place.
According to the infamous Project for a New American Century (PNAC) document endorsed by senior Bush administration officials as far back as 1997, "While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification" for the US "to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security," "the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Larry Derfner: It's the occupation and Israeli bigotry that are anti-Semitic

The funeral of Saji Sayel Darwish, killed yesterday by the Israeli army forces, March 11, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/
The funeral of Saji Sayel Darwish, killed by the Israeli army forces, March 11, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/
"What we do to the Palestinians and Israeli Arabs – in the last two days, for example – has caused more damage to the Jewish people than anything since the Holocaust.
Who knows? Maybe the Jordanian judge, Raed Zueter, killed by Israeli soldiers Monday, went mad from grief over his critically ill 5-year-old son lying in a coma, and really did attack the troops, and maybe they truly had no choice but to kill him in self-defense. Or maybe there was no such attack, maybe there was just an argument and the soldiers got a little trigger happy, not for the first time. Reportedly, there are eyewitness accounts for both versions of what happened at the Allenby (or King Hussein) Bridge border crossing from Jordan into the West Bank yesterday.
And maybe Sael Saji Darwish, the 20-year-old Palestinian killed by Israeli soldiers the same day, really was throwing rocks at passing Israeli cars near the settlement of Beit El, which was built close to Ramallah. Or maybe he was just tending his goats; again; there are contradicting accounts."

Israeli teens tell Netanyahu: We will not take part in occupation

Dafna Rotstein (left) and Roy Lax, two of the refuseniks who signed the letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Lax:
Dafna Rotstein (left) and Roni Lax, two of the refuseniks who signed the letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Lax: ‘If they decide to enlist me by force, I’ll sit in prison.’

Nearly 50 Israeli teenagers of draft age send letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, stating clearly that they will refuse to join the IDF due to the occupation of the West Bank, and the violent effect it has on Israeli society.
Dozens of Israel teenagers signed a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Saturday, in which they announced that they would refuse to serve in the Israeli army come draft time.
According to the letter, the teenagers are refusing to enlist in the army due to their “opposition to the military occupation of Palestinian territories,” where “human rights are violated, and acts defined under international law as war-crimes are perpetuated on a daily basis.” Aside from the ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian citizens of Israel, army service is mandatory for all Israelis (three years for males, two for females).

Israel demolishes blind man's home in Jerusalem-area village

Hani Halabiyya, a spokesman for East Jerusalem's popular resistance committees, told Ma'an that a large number of Israeli troops and military vehicles raided the Jabal al-Baba area of al-Eizariya village early Wednesday.

Bulldozers then proceeded to demolish a house owned by Suleiman Jahalin, a blind man who says he has been living in the Jabal al-Baba area since 1967.

Before starting the demolition, Israeli troops forcefully removed Jahalin and ten of his family members from their home, he told Ma'an.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

For no other reason..

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Little Avi was caught by his settler dad playing peace-games again!

Patrick Chappatte cartoon

"Bad Doggie"

Daryl Cagle cartoon

Alternative cheap gas supply

7 March 2014

The charge of the lite brigade

8 March 2014

Palestinian evangelicals lead shift away from Christian Zionism

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Thu 6 Mar — BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hundreds of peace activists, church leaders, evangelical Christians and academics will meet in Bethlehem on Monday for five days of dialogue and discussion about the role of Christian Zionism in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. First held in 2010, the Christ at the Checkpoint conference has grown in size and stature over the past three years and will welcome over 700 participants from March 10-14 at the Bethlehem Bible College, located a mere 100 meters from Israel’s separation wall. Conference director Munther Isaac says the number and diversity of participants this year, together with opposition to the event from elements of the evangelical right, reflect the growing impact of a forum designed to challenge evangelical theological beliefs which have long legitimized Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
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Pope Francis cancels visit to Israel

Pope Francis
Middle East Monitor Fri 7 Mar — Pope Francis has had to cancel his visit to Israel in May because Israel’s foreign ministry workers are currently on strike and thus unable to make the necessary security arrangements for his visit, a foreign ministry source confirmed on Thursday to the Times of Israel newspaper. Pope Francis had announced in January his intention to visit the Palestinian territories and Israel from 24-26 May, his first visit to the Holy Land since taking office in April 2013 … The source noted that the cancellation will likely cause “large, measurable economic damage, with all the lost tourist revenue that would have accompanied the visit.” 
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BDS costs Israel 100 million shekels in losses
Middle East Monitor Fri 7 Mar — According to Israel’s Maariv newspaper, Israeli sources believe that the international boycott of Israeli settlement products has already caused Israel’s economy financial losses amounting to about 100 million shekels ($30 million), with the agricultural sector in the Jordan Valley suffering the most. One source described the boycott as a “constant war”, while others added that they expect Israel will face an increase in the number of boycott calls, especially if the peace talks with the Palestinians fail and the construction of settlements continues, noting that the European Union will also renew its decision to label settlement products if the negotiations fail, which would cause even more damages to the Israeli economy.
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Israeli women who have stood up to the occupation for 26 years

Women in black cover
Dafna Kaminer (sitting), co-founder of Women In Black and Tamar Leahn, 71, active for 20 years in Women In Black, Jerusalem group.
Ruti Geler, 62, active for 20 years in Women In Black
Noami Morag & Ruth Elraz
Activestills 7 Mar Project by: Keren Manor & Shiraz Grinbaum — In honor of International Women’s Day, Activestills pays tribute to more than a quarter century of anti-occupation activism by the ‘Women in Black’ group in Israel. Every Friday since 1988, the women have stood in the main squares of cities or at highway junctions with signs calling to end the Israeli occupation. Often spat at, cursed or violently harassed by passersby, they have become, for us, a symbol of persistence.
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Official: Israel refused to let Palestinian refugees in Syria return

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) Thu 6 Mar — Fatah central committee member Mohammad Ishtayyeh said on Thursday that the Palestinian Authority had attempted to negotiate the return of Palestinian refugees from Syria, but Israel had refused. Ishtayyeh said in a meeting with diplomats organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Ramallah that the PA had tried with all its might to “end the suffering” of Palestinians in Syria through international mediation. Israeli officials, however, had refused to allow them to come to the Palestinian territories. At least 1,500 Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing Syria conflict, and around 250,000 Palestinian refugees have been forced to leave their homes in Syria due to violence in the country.
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Egypt ban on Hamas could lead to ‘Israeli attack on Gaza’

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Egypt’s decision last week to ban the Hamas movement could lead to a new attack on Gaza by Israel’s military, a Hamas official said Friday. “We want calm, peace, and stability for Egypt, we want its people to achieve the values of justice, freedom and equality and relinquish injustice. We don’t want it to get involved in besieging Palestinians,” Khalil al-Hayya said during a protest in front of the Egyptian embassy in Gaza. Al-Hayya called on politicians and officials in Egypt to stop targeting Hamas and reiterated that the movement does not intervene in the internal affairs of any Arab nation.
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Egypt to ‘revoke citizenship’ of thousands of Hamas members

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Thu 6 Mar — Egyptian security services have started to collect information about thousands of Hamas members who were granted Egyptian citizenship during the rule of ousted president Mohamed Mursi, according to Egyptian media. Egypt’s Day Seven news website reported that Egyptian authorities plan to revoke the citizenship of 13,757 Hamas members for being “affiliated to an offshoot of the terrorist group the Muslim Brotherhood.” Egyptian authorities are investigating whether Hamas members have been involved in what they describe as “terrorist attacks,” adding that the prime minister has the right to revoke the citizenship of Hamas members without a court ruling if it is deemed that they endanger public security. The Egyptian news site blamed Mursi for facilitating the entry of Hamas supporters into Egypt and granting them citizenship.
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Egypt bars Gaza-bound Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Maguire

An October 21, 2013, file photo shows Mairead Corrigan Maguire, 1976 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, as she addresses the 13th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laurates in Warsaw, Poland. (AFP)
CAIRO (AFP) 5 Mar by Samer al-Atrush — Egypt detained and deported Northern Irish Nobel Laureate and peace activist Mairead Maguire on Wednesday and held up others who had been planning to go to neighbouring Gaza, the activists and officials said. Maguire had intended to join a delegation of women activists going to the blockaded Palestinian enclave on Thursday.
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Gaza groups deny Israel claims of Iran weapons shipment

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Israel claimed that it intercepted a ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday carrying Iranian “advanced weaponry” bound for Palestinian militants in Gaza, the military said. Representatives of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, however, denied the accusations, with Hamas officials pointing out that Gaza is under a complete naval blockade by Israel that would make any shipment of arms into the besieged coastal enclave impossible. Gaza Ministry of Interior spokesman Islam Shahwan said in a statement that Israeli claims were a “dangerous move” to justify Israel’s seven-year long blockade.  Shahwan urged journalists to avoid “being tricked by the Israeli narrative about capturing a ship carrying weapons to Gaza,” adding that “the sea is completely besieged and closed by the Israeli navy, and any ship which sails will be obstructed.”
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Eritrean opposition: Arms ship was heading for Yemen, not Gaza

Middle East Monitor Fri 7 Mar — The shipment of weapons seized by the Israeli occupation army on Wednesday was intercepted near the Eritrean coast near Hasmat port, a source from the Eritrean opposition said. The source, who refused to be named, told Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper that the ship “was not heading towards Gaza, but towards the weapons storages in Eritrea and then to the Houthis in Yemen”. The source said that, “despite the fact that relations between Iran and the Eritrean government are excellent, the relations between Eritrea and Israel do not allow them to risk the interception of an Iranian ship carrying arms sent to Gaza”, adding, “the strained relations between Iran and Hamas in light of their positions regarding the Syrian regime does not make it seem likely for Iran to send weapons to Gaza.” The source also said, “The Israeli announcement of the ship’s directions aims to pressure Iran in terms of the nuclear issue.”
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Lieberman denies EU request to visit Palestinian detainee

IMEMC Sat 8 Mar by Saed Bannoura — A request by a European Union official to visit Palestinian political prisoners, held by Israel, was denied by Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, of the extreme right-wing “Israel Our Home” party. Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth has reported that the Chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee of the EU, Elmar Brok, contacted the Israel’s EU Ambassador asking him to set up a visit for an EU delegation to visit Palestinian detainees. The request was denied by Lieberman, who said that Israel would only allow the visit to take place “if the EU would allow Israel to visit prisons in Europe”.
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‘Israeli apartheid week’ events held at over 200 universities, including Hebrew University

Image from photo exhibit at Hebrew University (image by 972mag)
Image from photo exhibit at Hebrew University (image by 972mag)
IMEMC 7 Mar by Celine Hagbard — A week of events organized to bring attention to Israel’s practices and policies which resemble the South African race-based system known as apartheid were held at hundreds of universities from March 2nd to 7th 2014. Among the universities that held events this year was the Israeli Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where a photo exhibit documented some of the issues faced by Palestinians living under occupation. The week of film screenings, cultural events, discussions and lectures was meant to draw attention to the parallels between the Israeli policies, including the more than fifty Israeli laws that explicitly discriminate against Palestinians.
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Israel cuts off water supply to 45,000 Palestinians

Palestinian lady filling a water bottle in Gaza
Some 45,000 Palestinians living in the Shuafat refugee camp and the suburbs of Ras Shehadeh, Ras Khamis, As-Salam and Anata in Jerusalem have had their water cut off for nearly three days.
Middle East Monitor 6 Mar — Some 45,000 Palestinians living in the Shu‘afat refugee camp and the suburbs of Ras Shehadeh, Ras Khamis, As-Salam and Anata in Jerusalem have had their water cut off for nearly three days. The residents said Israel’s water company Gihon started by gradually reducing the water supply nearly two weeks ago until it stopped entirely. A member of Shu‘afat’s popular committee; Khaled Al-Khalidi said on Wednesday that 23,000 refugees had no access to water for three days while the residents of Ras Shehadeh; Ras Khamis, As-Salam and ‘Anata have been without water for 20 days. Al-Khalidi demanded “UNRWA, the camp’s service provider, to fulfil its obligations towards the refugees and prosecute the Jerusalem municipality and Gihon to oblige them to return the water supply.” Al-Khalidi pointed out that “UNRWA and Jordan signed an agreement in 1956 to provide water service to the Palestinian refugees without charge and in 1967 the Israeli Civil administration joined the Convention…”
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Settler caught chopping trees

Nablus farmers capture tree-chopping Israeli settler
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Palestinian farmers on Wednesday detained an Israeli settler after they caught him chopping down olive trees in their fields in the northern West Bank, an official said. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank.
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100s of Hebron families ordered to stop constructing homes

Israeli Occupation forces hand out stop-work orders in Hebron village

HEBRON (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli forces on Friday handed stop-work orders to two families for homes in Ithna village west of Hebron. The orders to stop work on construction were received for a house owned by Wisam Jibril Hittawi, which was built four years ago and is home to six people, as well as a house under construction owned by Sayel Mahfouth Islemiyya. The notices follow a number of stop-work orders handed out in late February in the village by Israeli forces. The head of Ithna municipality Hashim al-Tumeizi said that more than 100 buildings, some of them over 10 years old, have received similar notices as part of a larger Israeli strategy to displace village inhabitants.
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Israeli forces level private Palestinian land in Jordan Valley

NABLUS (Ma‘an) 6 Mar – Israeli forces started a far-reaching campaign leveling private Palestinian lands in the northern Jordan Valley, local residents told Ma‘an. A member of a local tribal committee Abdul-Latif Ishtayya said that more than 40 military vehicles escorted dozens of settlers who brought bulldozers and started to level private Palestinian lands in Beit Hassan neighborhood. The assaulted area, he added, includes more than 700 acres of private land belonging to the al-Masri family.  Ishtayya said settlers are likely to occupy the area and establish a new settlement.
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2013 was record year in new settlement construction, and 2014 rate is already higher

Figures show: Peace talks and settlement construction go hand in hand
Construction of illegal settlement units at 'Elkana,' on the lands of the West Bank village of Masha, near Salfit, July 06, 2013. (Photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/
Construction of housing units in the settlement of ‘Elkana,’ on the lands of the West Bank village of Masha, near Salfit, July 06, 2013. (Photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/

972mag 7 Mar by Noam Sheizaf – Successive Israeli governments have argued for years that settlements are not an obstacle to peace. The data tells a different story. Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics revealed earlier this week that 2013 was a record year in settlement construction, while 2014 has seen the beginning of construction of 2,534 housing projects - a rise of 123 percent from 2013 … The only other years in which the number of building projects surpassed 2,000 structures were 2003, 2005 and 2008. The interesting thing is that aside from 2003, these were all years in which there was so-called “progress” made between Israel and the Palestinian Authority vis-a-vis peace negotiations. For example, 2005 was the year of the disengagement, while 2008 saw direct negotiations between Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert (the Annapolis summit, which began the process, took place in November 2007). And while there is no earlier data on construction in the occupied territories, it is worth noting that during the Oslo process (from the signing of the first agreement in 1993 to the Taba summit in 2001) the number of settlers almost doubled – from 116,300 to 208,300, not including the Jewish neighborhoods in annexed East Jerusalem.
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Saturday, March 8, 2014

If I were an American Jew, I’d worry about Israel’s racist cancer

Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, second from right and near Martin Luther King, in 1965. Heschel is one good role model for American Jews. Photo by AP
(Daniel Blatman is a history professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.)
"When sitting down to Shabbat dinner with my adult children, I would hear that Israel no longer represents the values on which they were raised: human dignity, equal rights, a pluralistic society, and the obligation to fight for the weak and the persecuted. In the eyes of America’s future economic and political leaders, Israel no longer has a place in the family of enlightened nations. It has become the South Africa of the 21st century.
If I were an American Jew, I would recall that Jews made up about 30 percent of civil rights activists in the U.S. South in the 1950s and ‘60s. Rabbis such as Julian Feibelman in New Orleans, Ira Sanders in Arkansas, Perry Nussbaum in Mississippi and Jacob Rothschild in Atlanta opened their synagogues to black activists and supported the movement openly and fearlessly."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Amnesty International calls for arms aid to Israel to be cut off. 22 civilians killed at protests last year.

Bilal Tamimi being attacked by an Israeli soldier during demonstration in Nabi Saleh, May 2013. Photo by Tamimi Press, used in Amnesty Int'l report
Bilal Tamimi being attacked by an Israeli soldier during demonstration in Nabi Saleh, May 2013. Photo by Tamimi Press, used in Amnesty Int’l report

Amnesty International has released a stunning report saying that the international community should cut off military aid to Israel because Israel has killed dozens of civilians at peaceful protests in the last three years “widespread impunity”– including 22 civilians last year. The human rights organization concludes
It urges the USA, the European Union and the rest of the international community to suspend all transfers of munitions, weapons and other equipment to Israel.
“Without pressure from the international community the situation is unlikely to change any time soon,” said Philip Luther [Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International].
“Too much civilian blood has been spilled. This long-standing pattern of abuse must be broken. If the Israeli authorities wish to prove to the world they are committed to democratic principles and international human rights standards, unlawful killings and unnecessary use of force must stop now.”
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I was milking the sheep with the children when...

“This morning, while I was milking the sheep with the children, a bulldozer [with] a military escort got here. …. The workers they brought along started taking our belongings out of the tent. My children and I stopped milking and tried to dismantle the sheep pens, hoping they wouldn't be destroyed, but they wouldn't let us dismantle the pens…. As you can see, they destroyed everything. The saddest thing is that they destroyed the doghouse we left behind in the old location for because our dog recently had puppies. They even destroyed her doghouse. Look, all our belongings are outside. The sheep have no pen. The mattresses are on the ground, the clothing in the dirt and the food is all outside in a pile. They even slashed the tents with knives before they destroyed them… So far, no one has come to help us. We don't know what to do now. We're afraid the military is going to confiscate our cars too, because they've already asked where the keys were. We're afraid that if we drive out to get a tent or wire to build pens for the sheep, our cars will be taken. Our 300 sheep and lamb are out in the open. We're afraid the little lambs will be exposed to the rain and die.”

--Nihad Bani Maniyah, 40, a married mother of eight, resident of Khirbet 'Ein Karzaliyah in the northern Jordan Valley. 


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Iraq Signs $195 Million Arms Deal With Iran

"US State Department officials have expressed “serious concerns” today after it was revealed that Iraq has signed a $195 million arms deal with neighboring Iran. They claim this violates the arms embargo on Iran, though since this was supposed to keep Iran from buying weapons, not selling them, the allegation is unclear.
The deal was apparently reached in November, shortly after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s most recent visit to the US. During that visit, he sought more weapons from the US as well."

A city of devastation: Hebron 20 years after the massacre

By Einat Fishbain / ‘The Hottest Place in Hell’
Streets for Jews only, shuttered stores, spitting, throwing stones and daily harassment by soldiers and settlers alike. Since terrorist Baruch Goldstein committed a massacre at the Cave of the Patriarchs 20 years ago today, the situation of Palestinians in Hebron has only deteriorated.
"Nobody, not even Abraham himself could convince the Palestinians of Hebron that Baruch Goldstein — many of them insist on calling him “the doctor” and sometimes even “professor” — acted alone. Moaz Jaabari, who was an 11-year-old boy when his father was shot to death as he stood next to him in the Isaac Hall, describes how he saw “another Baruch Goldstein” bring the doctor another weapon as he shot in every which direction, and that two soldiers shot at the worshippers as they were fleeing the mosque.
“They took three bullets out of the sheikh’s stomach, each of a different type,” the tour guide swears, pointing at the sheikh who is climbing the stairs to the prayer space. Already in the first days after the shooting, the surviving worshipers testified about “another source of shooting.” “All of the Arabs know,” Abed el-Karim Jaabari, Moaz’s uncle. “He had another three people, two in uniform and one not. Three people walking around freely.”"

A Sketch of the Venezuelan Crisis

By Maracatu
"As reported by Venezuela's Education and Human Rights Action Program (PROVEA), on February 12, student organizations and opposition parties called for marches in various parts of Venezuela to demand the release of students that had been detained in different cities. At much the same time the country's National Executive called on pro-government students to march "For Peace and Life" in observance of the country's Youth Day. The result was at least 16 opposition marches in cities like Caracas, San Antonio de los Altos, Acarigua, Porlamar, Maracay, Valencia, Maracaibo, Merida, San Cristobal, El Vigia, Puerto La Cruz, Puerto Ordaz, Barquisimeto, Cabimas, while government supporters were mobilized in at least 3 cities: Caracas, Merida and Maracay. PROVEA reports that up until 2 pm the marches had developed peacefully."

New Israeli law dividing Christian, Muslim Arabs legalizes inequality

+972 Mag.
"Israel ratified a new law that legally distinguishes between Muslim and Christian citizens of the state, Haaretz reported Monday. The bill, which easily passed by a 31-6 vote in its third and final reading, recognizes the Christian Arab population as a separate, though not national minority for the first time.
The law, which expands the Advisory Committee for Equal Opportunity in the Employment Commission by adding to it a separate Christian representative, was marketed as a way to better integrate Christians into the Israeli workforce. However, in practice, it is being carried out at the blatant expense of Muslim citizens. There are approximately 160,000 Christians living in Israel.
According to the bill’s sponsor, Likud MK Yariv Levin, Christians are “our natural allies, a counterbalance against the Muslims who want to destroy the state from within.” Levin, an outspoken opponent of the establishment of a Palestinian state (like other fellow MKs in Likud and the Jewish Home party) also emphasized that he refuses to call Christian citizens “Arabs.” “I’m being careful about not calling them Arabs because they aren’t Arabs,” he told the Israeli daily Ma’ariv a few weeks ago, despite the fact that the large majority of them are, in fact, Arabs, and many identify as part of the Palestinian nation."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

An 11 years old Palestine child who was shot in the head by Israeli occupation military thugs using a USA tear gas canister during peaceful protest east Jabalia, Gaza, 21 February 2014.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New SodaStream factory could help destroy Bedouin agriculture

Jahalin Bedouins were already forcibly displaced to build the settlement that houses SodaStream’s existing West Bank plant. (ActiveStills)
Andrew Beale Electronic Intifada 
Occupation profiteer SodaStream has attracted much attention lately over its hiring of Scarlett Johansson as a spokesmodel.
The Hollywood actress resigned from her human rights ambassadorship at Oxfam in order to continue to represent the company.
While the massive boycott campaign and controversy between Oxfam, Johansson and SodaStream forced international media to focus on the company’s plant in the Israeli settlement of Mishor Adumim in the occupied West Bank, the manufacturer of the fizzy drink machines says it is moving forward with plans to open a new factory inside present-day Israel.
Like the original factory, this plant will also profit from Israel’s discriminatory policies toward its non-Jewish citizens.