Friday, April 30, 2010

Chas Freeman: Israel is useless to US power projection

"The other day Stephen Maher published a piece on Electronic Intifada saying that American thirst for hegemony in the region, and not the Israel lobby, is the prime motivator of US policy in Israel and Palestine. What follows is an excerpt of a private email exchange responding to Maher's post, reprinted by permission of the author, Chas Freeman, a former assistant secretary of defense."
Chas Freeman(Mondoweiss)

A more dishonest man than Dershowitz? Try Elie Wiesel

"A few weeks ago there was talk that Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu had enlisted Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel to pressure US Prez Barack Obama on Jerusalem, where 1,600 new housing units for Jews have been authorized against international law. Shortly afterwards, Wiesel published an ad in The International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal under the title "For Jerusalem." Basically it was a regurgitation of Hasbara clichés designed to explain why the Jews have more right to the city than others. The piece has been thoroughly picked apart and responded to elsewhere, so I'll only give you a taste of it before I proceed with my own critique of the paragraph that particularly irked me."
The Hasbara Buster

Why Israeli Jew Uri Davis joined Fatah to save Palestine

(Uri Davis, left, at a Fatah meeting in Ramallah.)
The Guardian
The first Jewish member of the Revolutionary Council of Fatah talks about a unique political journey

Uri Davis is used to denunciations. A "traitor", "scum", "mentally unstable": those are just some of the condemnations that have been posted in the Israeli blogosphere in recent days. As the first person of Jewish origin to be elected to the Revolutionary Council of the Palestinian FatahDavis has tapped a deep reserve of Israeli resentment. Some have even called for him to be deported. movement, an organisation once dominated by Yasser Arafat,

He has been here before, not least as the man who first proposed the critique of Israel as an "apartheid state" in the late 1980s. Davis's involvement in the first UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 2001 was condemned by the Anti-Defamation League. During a career of protest he has been described – inevitably – as a "self-hating Jew". He calls himself an "anti-Zionist". And his personal history is a fascinating testimony to the troubled history of the postwar Israeli left and forgotten trajectories in the story of Israel itself.

The man elected to the Revolutionary Council in 31st place from a field of 600 has been as much shaped by the tidal forces of recent Jewish history – not least his own family's sufferings in the Holocaust – as any fellow citizen of Israel. But he disputes a largely manufactured account of that experience that he believes has been used deliberately "to camouflage" its "apartheid programme". Now he enjoys an extraordinary mandate to explain his own views. And he hopes, too, that just as the small number of white members of the ANC widened its legitimacy during the apartheid era in South Africa, other Jews can be attracted to participate in Fatah, transforming it into a broader-based movement that stands for equal rights for both Arabs and Jews in a federated state.

Death Squads in Afghanistan

A US-Sponsored Terror Network
It should no longer be a matter of dispute that US Special Forces in Afghanistan are responsible for an increasing number of murders, whether part of targeted extra-judicial killings or the result of bad intelligence. From the attack on a bridal shower in Gardez on February 12, 2010 that killed numerous civilians, including two pregnant women, to the growing list of executions of insurgents in the Kandahar area, Special Forces have become the US military version of death squads.
As noted in an April 25 article in The New York Times, the offensive against supposed Taliban forces in Kandahar has already commenced, with the “opening salvos of the offensive…being carried out in the shadows by Special Operations forces.” It’s as if Dick Cheney, who asserted that the US would have to operate in the shadows in prosecuting its global war on terror, is still the guiding political force behind such military operations, notwithstanding the fact that the Obama Administration has dispensed with references to the war on terror. Nonetheless, it is terror, promoted by Washington policymakers and perpetrated by Pentagon planners, that is spreading throughout Afghanistan.

On a certain level, it should not be at all surprising that military campaigns under the command of Gen. Stanley McChrystal engage in such terrorist tactics. Death squads and ethnic cleansing were part and parcel of the “surge” strategy that McChrystal oversaw in Iraq. Now, in Afghanistan, the promulgation of what’s called the Joint Prioritized Engagement List (JPEL) gives license to execute extra-judicially anyone whose name shows up on the list. If bribing or coercing Afghan tribal leaders fails to convince them that they need to align with the occupiers against indigenous insurgents, they may then be consigned to the JPEL.

Israeli tourism maps annex Palestinian lands

"A look at the most recent Israeli campaign to promote tourism to Israel is a strong answer to this. The 2009 Israeli ministry of tourism campaign eliminates any Palestinian presence. Stas Misezhnikov of the radical rightwing Yisrael Beiteinu (Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman’s party) is the current minister of tourism. This ministry, made up of extreme elements, has completely wiped the West Bank and any Palestinian areas from its materials. Mandatory Palestine is declared as Israel without any borders or demarcations. All maps included in the campaign omit Palestinian areas and towns."
Daoud Kuttab
List of scientists who became creationists after studying the evidence

Belgian lawmakers pass burka ban

Belgium's lower house of parliament has voted for a law that would ban women from wearing the full Islamic face veil in public.
Belgium's lower house of parliament has voted for a law that would ban women from wearing the full Islamic face veil in public.
The law would ban any clothing that obscures the identity of the wearer in places like parks and on the street. No-one voted against it.
The law now goes to the Senate, where it may face challenges over its wording, which may delay it.
If passed, the ban would be the first move of its kind in Europe.
Only around 30 women wear this kind of veil in Belgium, out of a Muslim population of around half a million.
My view on this complicated matter:
The hijab (in all its varieties and interpretations above)= "soft core"
The Niqab and its severe version, the Burqa = "hard core".
I find the last two to be unsettling.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sen. Levin Grills Goldman Sachs Exec On "Shitty Deal" E-mail

Ethnic cleansing as we speak!

Israel has given itself the right to forcefully move Palestinians out of the West Bank who don't have a permit. 'Permit' is not defined at all, it can be anything the person in charge wants it to be. This is setting precedent to force thousands of Palestinians to move to Gaza (

Israeli Soldier Sprays Pepper Directly Into The Eyes Of Handcuffed Palestinean Youth

An Israeli border police officer sprays colored pepper spray in the eyes of a handcuffed Palestinian youth as Israeli security forces scuffle with Palestinians during a demonstration against the construction of Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank village of Walajeh, outside occupied Jerusalem, Tuesday. – AP

The Happiest People ..Costa Rica

"Hmmm. You think it’s a coincidence? Costa Rica is one of the very few countries to have abolished its army, and it’s also arguably the happiest nation on earth.

There are several ways of measuring happiness in countries, all inexact, but this pearl of Central America does stunningly well by whatever system is used. For example, the World Database of Happiness, compiled by a Dutch sociologist on the basis of answers to surveys by Gallup and others, lists Costa Rica in the top spot out of 148 nations.
That’s because Costa Ricans, asked to rate their own happiness on a 10-point scale, average 8.5. Denmark is next at 8.3, the United States ranks 20th at 7.4 and Togo and Tanzania bring up the caboose at 2.6.

More than half of Jewish Israelis think human rights organizations that expose immoral behavior by Israel should not be allowed to operate freely

Poll: Majority of Israel's Jews back gag on rights groups

More than half of Jewish Israelis think human rights organizations that expose immoral behavior by Israel should not be allowed to operate freely, and think there is too much freedom of expression here, a recent survey found.
The survey, commissioned by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University, will be presented Wednesday at a conference on the limits of freedom of expression.
The pollsters surveyed 500 Jewish Israelis who can be considered a representative sample of the adult Jewish population.
They found that 57.6 percent of the respondents agreed that human rights organizations that expose immoral conduct by Israel should not be allowed to operate freely.
Slightly more than half agreed that "there is too much freedom of expression" in Israel.
The poll also found that most of the respondents favor punishing Israeli citizens who support sanctioning or boycotting the country, and support punishing journalists who report news that reflects badly on the actions of the defense establishment.
Another 82 percent of respondents said they back stiff penalties for people who leak illegally obtained information exposing immoral conduct by the defense establishment.

Sickening! Creationism propaganda for children caught on camera

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Feeling the Hate in New York

Max Blumenthal presents part three in a running series: 1500 Jewish extremists rally on 4/25/10 in Midtown Manhattan against President Barack Obama's call for an Israeli construction freeze in East Jerusalem and demand unlimited rights to colonize the occupied Palestinian territories.

Mustafa Barghouti's Open Letter to UC Berkeley Students --Passing the Israel Divestment Bill

Dear Berkeley students and the ASUC Senate:

I commend the effort of the wide coalition at Berkeley to pass the Bill in Support of UC Divestment from War Crimes. American students can play a powerful role in Palestinian liberation by supporting divestment from companies that enable the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territory.

I urge you to seize this moment as an opportunity to help secure Palestinian freedom and a just peace, but most particularly as an opportunity to help Palestinian students you may never meet. These students struggle to achieve their educational aspirations under an occupation that blocks opportunities and destroys dreams. Embrace your freedom and your incredible opportunities at one of America's finest schools by doing your utmost to protect the many Palestinian students working by candlelight in Gaza to reach where you are today. The war crimes they were subjected to by the Israeli military in 2008-2009 were appalling. Their perseverance will be aided by your vote tonight against war crimes.
The Huffington Post

Jonathan Cook: Israel's Big and Small Apartheids

Israel’s apologists are very exercised about the idea that Israel has been singled out for special scrutiny and criticism. I wish to argue, however, that in most discussions of Israel it actually gets off extremely lightly: that many features of the Israeli polity would be considered exceptional or extraordinary in any other democratic state.
That is not surprising because, as I will argue, Israel is neither a liberal democracy nor even a “Jewish and democratic state”, as its supporters claim. It is an apartheid state, not only in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza, but also inside Israel proper. Today, in the occupied territories, the apartheid nature of Israeli rule is irrefutable -- if little mentioned by Western politicians or the media. But inside Israel itself, it is largely veiled and hidden. My purpose today is to try to remove the veil a little.
I say “a little”, because I would need far more than the time allotted to me to do justice to this topic. There are, for example, some 30 laws that explicitly discriminate between Jews and non-Jews -- another way of referring to the fifth of the Israeli population who are Palestinian and supposedly enjoy full citizenship. There are also many other Israeli laws and administrative practices that lead to an outcome of ethnic-based segregation even if they do not make such discrimination explicit.
So instead of trying to rush through all these aspects of Israeli apartheid, let me concentrate instead on a few revealing features, issues I have reported on recently.
First, let us examine the nature of Israeli citizenship.
A few weeks ago I met Uzi Ornan, an 86-year-old professor from the
Technion university in Haifa, who has one of the few ID cards in Israel stating a nationality of “Hebrew”. For most other Israelis, their cards and personal records state their nationality as “Jewish” or “Arab”. For immigrants whose Jewishness is accepted by the state but questioned by the rabbinical authorities, some 130 other classifications of nationality have been approved, mostly relating to a person’s religion or country of origin. The only nationality you will not find on the list is “Israeli”. That is precisely why Prof Ornan and two dozen others are fighting through the courts: they want to be registered as “Israelis”. It is a hugely important fight -- and for that reason alone they are certain to lose. Why?
Far more is at stake than an ethnic or national label. Israel excludes a nationality of “Israeli” to ensure that, in fulfilment of its self-definition as a “Jewish state”, it is able to assign superior rights of citizenship to the collective “nation” of Jews around the globe than to the body of actual citizens in its territory, which includes many Palestinians. In practice it does this by creating two main classes of citizenship: a Jewish citizenship for “Jewish nationals” and an Arab citizenship for “Arab nationals”. Both nationalities were effectively invented by Israel and have no meaning outside Israel.
This differentiation in citizenship is recognised in Israeli law: the Law of Return, for Jews, makes immigration all but automatic for any Jew around the world who wishes it; and the Citizenship Law, for non-Jews, determines on any entirely separate basis the rights of the country’s Palestinian minority to citizenship. Even more importantly, the latter law abolishes the rights of the Palestinian citizens’ relatives, who were expelled by force in 1948, to return to their homes and land. There are, in other words, two legal systems of citizenship in Israel, differentiating between the rights of citizens based on whether they are Jews or Palestinians.
That, in itself, meets the definition of apartheid, as set out by the United Nations in 1973: “Any legislative measures or other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups.” The clause includes the following rights: “the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression.”
Such separation of citizenship is absolutely essential to the maintenance of Israel as a Jewish state. Were all citizens to be defined uniformly as Israelis, were there to be only one law regarding citizenship, then very dramatic consequences would follow. The most significant would be that the Law of Return would either cease to apply to Jews or apply equally to Palestinian citizens, allowing them to bring their exiled relatives to Israel – the much-feared Right of Return. In either a longer or shorter period, Israel’s Jewish majority would be eroded and Israel would become a binational state, probably with a Palestinian majority.
There would be many other predictable consequences of equal citizenship. Would the Jewish settlers, for example, be able to maintain their privileged status in the West Bank if Palestinians in Jenin or Hebron had relatives inside Israel with the same rights as Jews? Would the Israeli army continue to be able to function as an occupation army in a properly democratic state? And would the courts in a state of equal citizens be able to continue turning a blind eye to the brutalities of the occupation? In all these cases, it seems extremely unlikely that the status quo could be maintained.
In other words, the whole edifice of Israel’s apartheid rule inside Israel supports and upholds its apartheid rule in the occupied territories. They stand or fall together.
Counterpunch April 26, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

UC divestment spreads – UC San Diego to vote on bill tomorrow

UC San Diego will be joining Berkeley in holding a vote on divestment tomorrow evening. The San Diego bill under consideration is slightly different, and organizers seem to have learned from some of Berkeley's challenges.

Artist and poet Gil Scott Heron cancels Israel gig

Gil Scott-Heron, whose political poetry influenced a generation of rap artists, last night sensationally announed the cancellation of his planned gig in Tel Aviv. Speaking on-stage at London's Royal Festival Hall, Scott-Heron told the audience he “hated war” and, in a lengthy monolougue, told the packed audience his Israel tour date would not be going ahead. His concert had earlier been disrupted by fans dismayed at the booking, repeatedly heckling the performer and asking him to cancel. Security was called and audience members threatened with removal. A Facebook page was set up to urge the legendary perfomer against going ahead with his Israel appearance. It stated:

"This is a huge mistake from an enduring cultural and political hero. Let’s see if we can change his mind."

EXCLUSIVE REPORT: American military creating an environmental disaster in Afghan countryside

America plans to withdraw its troops but leave behind a toxic mess
The American military presence in Afghanistan consists of fleets of aircraft, helicopters, armored vehicles, weapons, equipment, troops and facilities. Since 2001, they have generated millions of kilograms of hazardous, toxic and radioactive wastes. The Kabul Press asks the simple question:

"What have the Americans done with all that waste?"

The answer is chilling in that virtually all of it appears to have been buried, burned or secretly disposed of into the air, soil, groundwater and surface waters of Afghanistan. While the Americans may begin to withdraw next year, the toxic chemicals they leave behind will continue to pollute for centuries. Any abandoned radioactive waste may stain the Afghan countryside for thousands of years. Afghanistan has been described in the past as the graveyard of foreign armies. Today, Afghanistan has a different title:

"Afghanistan is the toxic dumping ground for foreign armies."

Bio-artificial trachea made in Iran..A world's first

"Iranian doctors have carried out an in situ transplant of bio-artificial trachea in humans for the first time in the world.
A team of tissue-engineering scientists at the Lung and Tuberculosis Center at Tehran's Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Health Services carried out the transplant on a 29-year-old woman who had lost her trachea in a car accident two years ago.
The researchers used bio artificial materials instead of stem cells and injected them directly into the trachea to make a good architecture of the organ.
Doctor Jalaladdin Anghavi, the head of the tissue-engineering team, told Press TV on Monday that a scaffold and Nanocapsules, with growth factors inside them, were injected to the patient's trachea.
"The Nanocapsules are designed in a way that could open and release the growth factors at the required time, with pre-determined density to build the needed tissue," he noted.
We injected Nanocapusles in a period of 21-28 days to rebuild the trachea, resembling the natural procedure of cure in the body, added Anghavi.
He said the patient is now in good state and breathing easily.
The innovative breakthrough was carried out without surgery and does not have any side effects.

Iraqi Court Bans 52 Candidates(!)

(BAGHDAD) — An Iraqi court threw the nation's disputed election into deeper disarray Monday by disqualifying 52 candidates, including one winner, in a legal ruling that cast doubt on the slim lead of a Sunni-backed alliance over the prime minister's political coalition.

The decision by the three-judge election court intensified political turmoil and dealt a new setback to efforts to form a new government in Iraq nearly two months after the vote for a new 325-member parliament, which must select the next prime minister. (See pictures of Iraq's revival.)

U.S. officials had hoped the elections would boost efforts to reconcile Iraq's divided ethnic and religious groups as American military forces prepare to withdraw combat forces by September, with the rest to follow by the end of next year. But the maneuvering following the inconclusive vote instead has created a giant political vacuum and fears of new violence.

Bin Laden was surprised by US response to 9/11

WASHINGTON - Osama bin Laden had no idea the U.S. would hit al-Qaida as hard as it has since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, a former bin Laden associate tells WTOP in an exclusive interview.

"I'm 100 percent sure they had no clue about what was going to happen," says Noman Benotman, who was head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in the summer of 2000."

Naughty officers who killed four Palestinian "rioters" get a slap on the wrist

Two IDF officers reprimanded over deaths of 4 Palestinians
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi on Tuesday reprimanded two senior officers over shooting incidents last month that killed four Palestinians in the West Bank.

In his reprimand, Ashkenazi said the deaths could have been avoided. In one case, two Palestinian rioters were fatally shot during a violent protest. In another, a soldier shot dead two Palestinians he believed were attacking him.

The soldiers could have handled the situation differently, said Ashkenazi, adding that their commanders should have prepared them better to deal with such incidents.
Ashkenazi reprimanded a colonel and a lieutenant colonel - a punishment that will likely hurt their career advancement.

Ashkenazi also removed a first sergeant from his post, saying he could no longer serve as a commander.

Iraq poll uncertainty threatens civilians, says Amnesty

"Continuing political uncertainty in Iraq is contributing to a rise in the number of civilian deaths, a new report by Amnesty International has warned.
The human rights group said that more than 100 civilians were killed in the first week of April alone.

Many were targeted by armed groups because of their religious, ethnic or sexual identity, it said."

Israel jails man for 'holy semen' sex abuse

An Israeli man has been imprisoned for 10 years for tricking women into sexual acts by claiming his semen was holy and had healing powers.
Nissim Aharon, a former employee at the Israeli defence ministry, was convicted of rape, sodomy, indecent acts and aggravated fraudulent acquisition.
Women paid him large sums of money, believing he was a holy rabbi who could heal body and soul, the court said.

Creators of 'Everybody Draw Muhammad Day' drop gag after everybody gets angry

On Friday, Norris told a radio talk show host in Seattle that she came up with the idea because "as a cartoonist, I just felt so much passion about what had happened..." noting that "it's a cartoonist's job to be non-PC."
That passion, it appears, has lessened. And fast.
Her stark website today reads: ""I am NOT involved in "Everybody Draw Mohammd [sic] Day!"
"I made a cartoon that went viral and I am not going with it. Many other folks have used my cartoon to start sites, etc. Please go to them as I am a private person who draws stuff," she writes.
It went viral, however, because she was the one who passed it around. Sending it to people like Dan Savage, a popular Seattle-based blogger and nationally syndicated sex advice columnist.
Once it became a national story she reeled back, asking Savage -- in an email he provided to The Ticket -- if he would "be kind enough to switch out my poster" with another one -- a much tamer version which has no images attributed to Muhammad.
"I am sort of freaked out about my name/image being all over the place," her e-mail reads.
He didn't change it, nor did he post the tamer version. Besides, after Savage posted it, many other sites picked it up including The Atlantic and Reason.
When asked about her change of heart, Norris told The Ticket that she didn't intend for the cartoon "to go viral."
Then why did she send the cartoon to the media in the first place? "Because I'm an idiot," Norris replied.
"This particular cartoon of a 'poster' seems to have struck a gigantic nerve, something I was totally unprepared for," she said.

Kahanists organize burning of Obama effigies in ritual bonfires

"Today the enemy of Israel, even though he does not pretend to be an enemy of Israel, is Barack Hussein Obama. Just like you said that you used to burn pictures of Israel’s enemies. That is how I remember that I too used to burn pictures of Arafat, Sheikh Yassin, Hussein. Today our enemy is Obama."

Danish MPs humiliated in Israel

A group of Danish parliamentarians and members of their Foreign Policy Committee visited Israel recently. The influential group, which comprised members of the pro-Israeli Conservative People’s Party expected to meet senior Israeli policymakers. In practice, however, the Foreign Ministry was unable to convince any senior official to meet with the distinguished guests.All the attempts to arrange a meeting with one of Israel’s 15-member diplomatic-security cabinet or other leading politicians have failed. Only after great efforts were made did the Foreign Ministry manage to arrange a meeting for the Danish visitors with Transportation Minister Israel Katz. The Danish Embassy in Tel Aviv notified the visitors that a meeting with a transportation minister will not match their wish to meet foreign affairs policymakers. The angry delegation went on to visit the PA and Syria, where hospitality was properly bestowed upon them and they were received by leading government officials.

Don't laugh, love of Israel makes people act dumb!

Zionist/Christian protest against Obama's "criticism" of Israel, in New York. DUMB! What's even more of a concern is this despicable use of the Holocaust to garner sympathy!

Larry Derfner: Yasher Koah, Judge Goldstone

"He is the absolute best of the Jewish tradition. He stands up for justice, he stands up for the oppressed and he speaks truth to power – no matter who holds the power and no matter what it costs him. This is one of the great Jews of our time. Goldstone is the secular equivalent of a Jewish prophet, and by trying so hard to dishonor him, Israel and the Diaspora Jewish establishment have succeeded only in dishonoring themselves.

...One day, if Israel ever ends its tyranny over the Palestinians, it will be difficult to find a Jew in this country or the Diaspora who ever supported Operation Cast Lead. It will be difficult to find a Jew in this country or the Diaspora who ever said a bad word about Judge Richard Goldstone.

If Israel ever ends its tyranny over the Palestinians, a whole lot of proud, patriotic Zionist Jews are going to be loaded down, searching frantically for the memory hole."

Message to non-Jews: don’t mention Jews unless you say you love them every five seconds

Antony Loewenstein
God help the Zionist lobby.
This joke, told by US National Security Adviser James Jones at a Zionist think-tank, has offended the Anti-Defamation League. Seriously. Yes, it’s impossible to tell a joke about Jews without some Zionist group thinking a non-Jew is straying into inappropriate territory.

Another own goal by the Zionist Diaspora:

Non Violent Resistance in Palestine Growing in Numbers by the Week

Non violent resistance to the occupation is beginning to spread to villages across the West Bank. In addition to the regular weekly protests in Nilin and Bilin this weekend, Nabi Salih, Walage and Beit Umar held non violent protests against the Wall and the crippling occupation. Below are two videos shot by Israel Putermam from Walage and Beit Umar. Be sure to note the violent arrest of an Israeli protester at the end of the Walage video.

Why does the IDF allow officers to live in illegal outposts?

Akiva Eldar
The death of Maj. Eliraz Peretz, who was killed in an action in an operation in the Gaza Strip, brought the Givat Hayovel saga back into the spotlight.

As in the story of the heroism of his neighbor in the illegal outpost in the settlement of Eli, Roi Klein, who was killed in the Second Lebanon War while saving his troops, his settler friends and his patrons on the right have enlisted the Peretz family's tragedy in the fight to save his widow's home from demolition.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak was required to inform the High Court of Justice by May 1 of last year about when he intends to demolish the houses in the outpost (which Palestinians claim is built on private land). He has now announced he will ask the court to postpone the execution of the order.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ritual terrorism: Hating Obama as a new form of religion

By Bradley Burston-Haaretz
When I was young, I was taught that the purpose of religion was to foster compassion through lovingkindness, to seek peace by example, to perform with human hands the work of angels.

Then I moved to the Holy Land.

If ever the history of religion were written in blood, it was here. If ever religion has drowned history in blood, this is the venue. If ever the sword has beaten the plowshare, whether brandished along with the Old Testament, the New, or the Koran - we can show you the spot. And, more recently, if ever religion has succeeded in keeping peace, reconciliation, even the United Nations and the United States, at bay, ours is the place and time.
So it should have come as no surprise, I suppose, that a cluster of people here, people who cloak themselves in the garb of the pious, have decided to marry their furious loathing of Barack Obama to the custom of their faith, and to do what some in America have been doing for more than a year now: Hating Barack Obama as a new form of religious observance.

WTH! Another thankgodimatheist in cyberspace!
Copyright © 2010 TGIA. All Rights Reserved.
And on YouTube!

All that time I was thinking my nic was original!

Is Sweden Socialist? — The Rise and Fall of the Swedish Model

Within the left internationally, the question often arises about the politics and economy of the Nordic states, particularly Sweden, and whether these societies represent a form of ‘socialism’ or an alternative to neo-liberal capitalism. Per Olsson of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden) dissects the ‘Swedish model’, or what is left of it.

"Sweden has always been a solid market economy", states the present right-wing government on its website. And that is certainly true. Sweden has never been a socialist society - based on public ownership of production, workers’ control and management, social equality and a democratic plan of production. Neither has Sweden been a ‘mixed economy’ or provided a ‘third way’ - an alternative to both capitalism and socialism, if such a thing were possible.

However, in the 1960s and in the early 1970s, thanks to the worldwide capitalist boom and a working class movement at home, a welfare system was created that became a model for the rest of the world. Universal welfare financed by public means (through taxation) provided a highly developed education system, world class healthcare, pensions, a childcare system second to none, and numerous other social benefits and insurance cover. The ‘welfare state’ and the social harmony that existed in those days became known as the "Swedish model", although that term already entered circulation in the 1930s.
Socialist Alternative(via Fenian Rising)

Who killed the Mideast peace process?

Akiva Eldar-Haaretz
It is hard to believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu genuinely assumed that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would buy the used goods he was selling, a "state with temporary borders." Even the man who came up with the idea, President Shimon Peres, had stashed it along with his other shelved plans. He told Netanyahu that no life-loving Palestinian leader would accept temporary borders without a deadline for permanent ones.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a formula that would give the Palestinians territory equal to that that Israel occupied in June 1967 (including, of course, the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem). If Netanyahu were sitting in the Muqata today, would he agree to anything less?

In an interview with Channel 2, Netanyahu, perhaps inadvertently, revealed that he has no intention of giving up Israeli control over all the territories. If Israel were to withdraw from the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, they would be taken over by hostile elements who would threaten the capital's residents, he said. Unfortunately, the interviewers neglected to remind him that Ramallah is a Qassam's trajectory away from French Hill, and that the distance between the Shoafat refugee camp in "unified" Jerusalem and the city center is the same as that between Qalqilya and the Kfar Sava mall.

Lebanon's women warriors

During Lebanon's civil war - and Israel's invasion and occupation of Lebanon - some women fought on the front lines.
These women proved determined and were often resourceful in the weapons they used.
In Women Warriors, Lebanese Muslim and Christian women reflect on the days when they were fighters and talk about how it has impacted their lives.

Through the eyes of women who fought on the front lines, this film offers a fresh perspective on the Lebanese civil war and a contemporary insight into Lebanon today, the role of women there, and the relationship between women and violence.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq says leaders dead

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has confirmed the deaths of two of the group's senior leaders, a week after Iraqi and US authorities announced they had been killed, according to a US-based intelligence-monitoring agency
Abu Ayub al-Masri, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the purported head of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an al-Qaeda affiliate, were reportedly killed in a joint raid by US and Iraqi soldiers on April 18.

SITE, the intelligence-monitoring service, said on Saturday that the Islamic State of Iraq, had confirmed the deaths of the two men in a statement on internet forums believed to be used by the group.

"The ISI shariah minister, Abu al-Walid Abd al-Wahhab al-Mashadani, informed that both leaders were attending a meeting when enemy forces engaged with them in battle and launched an air strike on their location," SITE said.

Al-Mashadani was quoted as saying: "If Allah fated that the two sheikhs be killed at this particular time, know that they left a unique generation behind, one that was raised before their eyes."

Fascist settlers stage a march for Palestinians to be deported and their homes demolished

Clashes as Israeli settlers march
Palestinian protesters and Israeli police have clashed after Jewish settlers marched in the Arab neighbourhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem.
The hardline settlers, who live in illegal housing units on occupied Palestinian land, want Arabs removed from the area and their homes demolished to make way for Israeli construction projects.
Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland, reporting from Silwan, said that the demonstration had been "extremely provocative."

"[It is] a highly aggressive gesture on the part of the settlers - people really hell-bent on driving Palestinians from their land," she said, adding that Israeli police had allowed the protestors to march around 200 metres into the Palestinian neighbourhood.
The settlers view Jerusalem as their "eternal capital" and want to rid it of Arabs residents "affirming Jewish sovereignty over the whole city".
But the Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of any future Palestinian state, and have refused to take part in peace negotiations while Israel continues to build on the occupied land.
Israel occupied the area after the 1967 Middle East war in a move not recognised by the international community.
The march had attracted criticism from Israeli politicians, including the government of Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, who tried to stop it from being held.
Uzi Landau, Israel's infrastructure minister and a member of the hardline Yisrael Beitenu party, said he regretted the event.
in depth
"It's a shame that a provocation of this sort takes place," he told reporters. "I would rather it didn't happen."
Mustapha Barghouti, an independent Palestinian member of parliament, told Al Jazeera that the demonstration showed the dynamics of power within Israel.
"I don't think Netanyahu is governing the settlers. The settlers are governing Netahyahu," he said. "This is a well planned provocation."
The march, organised by settler leaders Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir, comes as Israel prepares to declare the beginning of US-mediated indirect talks with the Palestinians brokered by George Mitchell, the White House Middle East envoy.
"We have come to say to Obama and to George Mitchell that Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people and not to the Arabs," Ben Gvir told the AFP news agency.
Israeli officials involved in efforts to renew the peace process have been quoted by the Haaretz newspaper as saying that so-called proximity talks between Israel and Palestinians will start no later than mid-May.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has received an invitation to talks at the White House in May as part of Washington's latest push to broker peace in the region.
But Barack Obama, the US president, acknowledged he was unable to extract a commitment from Netanyahu to freeze construction of housing units in East Jerusalem, Haaretz said.
Mitchell told Netanyahu on Friday that Washington was committed to Israel's security and wanted a peace settlement that would give the Palestinians a state.
"That has been American policy. That is American policy. That will be American policy," Mitchell said.
Abbas said on Saturday that Obama should impose a peace deal but rejected the idea of establishing a state within temporary borders.
"Since you, Mr President and you, the members of the American administration, believe in this, it is your duty to call for the steps in order to reach the solution and impose the solution - impose it," Abbas said.
"But don't tell me it's a vital national strategic American interest ... and then not do anything."
The Palestinians pulled out of talks with the Israelis during Israel's 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and have refused to return until all settlement activity is halted.

Lebanese march in Beirut to demand secularism

Hundreds of civil society activists have marched on the Lebanese parliament in an unprecedented rally in Beirut.

The protesters are calling on all Lebanese to help bring an end to the country's divisive sectarian system and replace it with a secular system.

The organisers say it is time to redefine what it means to be Lebanese.

Demonstrators blocked the main road leading to parliament, waving Lebanese flags and chanting "secularism" as security in the city was stepped up.

A leader of the march, which was organised by an independent grassroots movement, Laique Pride, addressed the crowds through a loudspeaker outside the building.

For nations living the good life, the party's over, IMF (International Monetary Fund) says

"To keep the global economy on track, people in the United States and the rest of the developed world need to work longer before retiring, pay higher taxes and expect less from government. And the cheap imports lining the shelves of mega-chains such as Wal-Mart and Target? They need to be more expensive.

That's the practical meaning of a series of policy papers and statements issued in recent days by IMF officials, who have a long history of stabilizing economies and solving global financial problems, as they plot a course to keep the world economy growing and reduce the risk of another "great recession."

Has Chuck Schumer EVER Criticized Israel or its Leadership in the Way He Just Unloaded on Obama?

Schumer's screed gets to the edge of sounding as if he is more a Senator working in the Knesset than working in the United States Senate.

This is the 2nd time I know of that Schumer has publicly crossed the line when it came to zealously blaming his own government and colleagues in delicate matters of US-Israel-Palestine policy.

During the third of three major efforts of the George W. Bush administration to get the recess appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton confirmed in the US Senate, Senator Schumer launched a passionate personal campaign to help Bolton succeed.
(thanks vza)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Judge Goldstone barred from grandson's bar mitzvah

Source: Tikun Olam

Right of return not negotiable

Ahmed Moor, The Electronic Intifada.
Washington insiders are now touting a misguided Obama-dictated plan to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Most recently, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Stephen Solarz took to the pages of The Washington Post to float the idea of an imposed peace, which largely undermines non-negotiable historic Palestinian rights. The authors call for the annulment of the Palestinian right of return, and the creation of a "demilitarized Palestinian state."

Watch the Zionist gate-keepers, Nick Clegg

Here’s how corporate and Zionist smearing works. British Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg is surging in the polls and this makes the old hacks, who can only imagine a two-party reality, nervous. Besides, anybody that dares challenge Israel and the US is clearly beyond the pale. For the record, Clegg is hardly some radical (for example, he backs the current war in Afghanistan.)

Stark images from the Gaza Strip

"So much of the Western press refuses to publish the most gruesome images of our wars (must protect the kiddies, of course) but it’s encouraging that some are not shying away from our complicity:
Photojournalist Khalil Hamra of the Associated Press is the winner of this year’s Robert Capa Gold Medal Award from the Overseas Press Club for his powerful photographs, “War In Gaza.”"
Antony Loewenstein

Israel's messianic terrorists

In a few years, religious soldiers will make up majority of brigade commanders in all areas - from F-16 fighter jets to submarines

Our place in the universe

AMNHorg — December 15, 2009 — The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world's most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


What is it with all those young, scantily clad too "good" to be true demoiselles requesting my friendship on Facebook? Not a single friend in common, not a single line of info about themselves, no other photos, notes, groups and causes they've joined and no status to start with and no posts on their wall!
How stupid do they think we are?

Sheep also malnourished in Gaza

Herders in central Gaza walk all day to find food for their sheep. "They are ill, their hair is falling out," says one herder. "We can't feed them like we used to, they are malnourished."
Eva Bartlett

It's all becoming clear. Israeli policies to push Palestinians to emigrate

By robbing Palestinians of their resources, Tel Aviv intends to see that they will wither away or emigrate into oblivion

Israel's criminal water policy
Stipulated: Since 1967, when it occupied the Palestinian territories, Israel has been progressively robbing Palestinians of their land, thus pauperising them and stultifying their economy. A given. But what seems to have passed largely unnoticed here is the robbery of these people's water supplies, a more reprehensible crime with a more devastating impact on the quality of life in the occupied territories.

The world's most precious resource, when you get down to it, is not oil, but water. Rob a people of their water resources, or dramatically reduce their access to them, and you transform them into a community living in the manner of beasts.

The United Nations has appointed Pittsburgh the North America host for World Environment Day 2010, a series of conferences book-ended by Earth Day on April 22 and The Water Matters! Global Water Conference on June 3, the latter being the marqee event, with keynote speakers from different countries around the world and panel discussions on water-based topics, highlighting our dependence, as human communities, on water for public health, energy and economic prosperity.

Who will protect Palestinians from growing settler extremism?

For Palestinians in the West Bank, the sense of helplessness and frustration must be enormous. When they are attacked, they can almost never hope for justice within the framework of the legal system. Nor are they allowed to defend themselves. Nor can they expect the IDF to protect them. And even when they protest these injustices using nonviolent methods - marching, chanting and waving flags - they are punished with arrests and violence, with dehumanizing skunk gas and beatings. So what happens when there is no legal recourse or justice for the injured and no real civic structure, and when the moderates are systematically crushed? Surely these are the ideal psychological circumstances that make people vulnerable to the beckoning finger of extremism.

Israelis shoot Maltese photographer as she films Gaza demonstration

Eva Bartlett of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) reports:

"Bianca Zammit, shot in her outer thigh (leg) by armed Israeli soldiers as she filmed, unarmed, at a Palestinian demonstration against the Israeli-imposed "buffer zone". Bianca, about 3 metres to my left, was standing stationary, filming the IOF soldiers shooting on unarmed Palestinians between us and the border fence. As she was stationary, it is very unlikely that Bianca's shooting was an accident."

Goldman knew it profited in crisis

Internal Goldman Sachs e-mails released on Capitol Hill Saturday show firm used bets on mortgage securities in a bid to profit as the housing market began to plummet several years ago. Documents show that Goldman executives knew their bets would profit the firm.

The “Radical” Muslim Group That Threatened South Park Creators Was Founded and Run by Joseph Cohen, a radical West Bank settler

"South Park ran an unedited image of Muhammad in 2001 in an episode called “Super Best Friends“… and nothing happened.

In fact, the episode had been on the South Park website for viewing at any time for the past few years (they just removed it)… and nothing happened.

For 4 seasons they had that image in their opening segment for every single show… and nothing happened.
So for years on end no Muslim group, “radical” or otherwise, has threatened Matt and Trey or Comedy Central about the image of Muhammad that has been available for all to see every single day.

All of a sudden last week a group called “Revolution Muslim” threatened violence against Comedy Central if they aired an image of Muhammad which forced Comedy Central to censor the show and now you have even liberals talking about those “radical Muslims” and their threats of violence. Karl Rove couldn’t have done it any better.
Problem is, Revolution Muslim was started and run by a “converted” Israeli settler who studied at an orthodox rabbinical school in Israel before becoming a settler in the occupied territories.

First Palestinian Expelled (from WB to Gaza) under new Policy

The new Israeli policy of deporting Palestinians from the West Bank on arbitrary grounds has kicked in with Ahmad Sabah, who has just been deported to Gaza and separated from his family in the West Bank. The measure contravenes the Geneva Convention of 1949 on the treatment of occupied populations, and it also goes contrary to the undertakings Israel made toward the Palestine Authority in the course of the Oslo peace negotiations.

The episode underlines the ways in which their forced statelessness leaves Palestinians (almost uniquely among major world nationalities) completely vulnerable to loss of the most basic human rights. That he was forcibly moved to Gaza by the Israelis suggests that many of those singled out for potential deportation from the West Bank may be moved to the small slum along the Mediterranean, which the Israelis have cut off from its traditional markets and which they keep under a blockade of the civilian population (a war crime). The Israeli establishment has decided not to try to colonize Gaza, and its isolation and hopelessness make it an attractive place for them to begin exiling West Bank residents, thus making more room for Israeli colonists.
Juan Cole

Millions of poor Indians are considered criminal by tradition. Most are nothing of the sort

If they were crooks, wouldn't they be richer?

"This stigma goes back over a century. Mostly itinerant—some blue-eyed Pardhis look like they might come from the far north-west—India’s “criminal tribes” have always lived on society’s edge. Yet their plight was made worse by a series of 19th-century changes, including rapid deforestation, which stopped them from hunting, and the imposition of a tax on salt, which many had traded. No doubt this drove many to crime—which encouraged India’s British rulers to a harsh conclusion. Imbued with a bureaucratic aversion to nomadism and a Victorian relish for the Hindu caste system, they adjudged many Indian tribesmen, Pardhis included, to be preordained crooks. According to an 1880 report of the Bombay Presidency, an area dominated by the modern states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, members of a Pardhi sub-tribe are “always ragged and dirty, walking with a sneaking gait”.
The Economist

Lebanon: Syria has not supplied Scud missiles to Hezbollah

Israeli claims that Syria has enabled Hezbollah to further destabilise the region angrily denied by Lebanese government
The Lebanese government today angrily denounced Israeli claims that Syria has supplied Hezbollah militia with Scud ballistic missiles, comparing it with the misinformation about weapons of mass destruction in the leadup to the Iraq war.

The prime minister, Saad Hariri, was speaking after the US state department gave credence to the Israeli allegations by summoning a senior Syrian diplomat late on Monday to explain what it called "provocative behaviour".

Five Israelis charged with organ trafficking Ring 'exploited desperate condition of sick people', say Israel police

Israel has charged five of its citizens, including a retired army general, with operating a nationwide organ trafficking ring that ensnared dozens of potential victims. The charges include human trafficking for the purpose of organ harvesting and money laundering.

The indictment says that the ring exploited the desperate condition of sick people and called it a "form of modern slavery." The traffickers allegedly offered up to $100,000 per kidney but in at least two cases did not pay the donors, who were sought through advertisements and then flown from Israel to Europe, South America or Southeast Asia, where the organs were extracted in illegal procedures. Israeli law bans organ sales.
The Guardian UK

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Huge relief: Lebanese TV psychic condemned to death in Saudi to be reprieved

Saudi justice minister tells Ali Sibat's lawyer that there will be no execution over charges of witchcraft
A Lebanese TV psychic condemned to death for witchcraft by a Saudi court while visiting the country will not be beheaded, his lawyer said today.
May al-Khansa said that the Saudi ambassador in Beirut informed the Lebanese justice minister that the execution of Ali Sibat would not take place.
"He confirmed to me that there will be no execution," al-Khansa said after her conversation with Ibrahim Najjar, Lebanon's justice minister. She refused to go into details but said "matters are going in the right direction".
"We have faith in Saudi Arabia's judicial system," she added, noting that Sibat's actions are not considered a crime in Lebanon.

Minnesota students lock-down a Caterpillar plant, citing ‘ethnic cleansing’ and occupation

From Mondoweiss
"Wow, another sign that Israel/Palestine is coming home, and that the American left has taken on the issue: a half-dozen Macalester College students, in St. Paul, Minnesota, participated in a lockdown of a Caterpillar distribution plant yesterday, and managed to block a driveway at the plant for some hours. The students know the issue.
"Specially armored Caterpillar bulldozers are Israel's tools for the relentless, slow-motion destruction of Palestinian lives, homes, and livelihoods. Israel uses Caterpillar to demolish Palestinian homes, rip up Palestinian olive groves, and to build new settler homes with manicured lawns and central air. Since 1967, Israel has demolished 24,145 Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories; in the same time period, Israel has built 214 settlements and erected a separation wall which cuts deep into the West Bank. Time after time, settlements 'spring up' right where they are most disruptive to local economies, while Israel further shatters trade routes and freedom of movement with Apartheid walls, Israeli-only roads, and pervasive checkpoints. The goal is to push Palestinian's off the land, leaving it open for Israeli settlement. This is not a complicated issue--Israel is enacting a policy of ethnic cleansing and Apartheid onto the Palestinian peoples.

We've put our bodies here today to oppose Caterpillar's participation in occupation and injustice."

Why doesn’t the US release innocent Gitmo prisoners?

As Gitmo Detainees’ Legal Victories Mount, Obama Administration Resists Orders to Release
"The government is failing in more and more cases to produce evidence that the men it has imprisoned at Guantanamo belong there, according to ProPublica's latest look at the lawsuits [1] that some 100 captives have filed in federal court to seek their freedom. But the Obama administration continues to challenge the courts' authority to make it release the prisoners."
Pro Republic

More Jews who reject the "God-given" right of return

Breaking the Law of Return

This law is an abomination to a Palestinian who's denied the right to return to a land he was kicked out from a bit more more than 60 tears go. A Jew is automatically allowed to "return" after 2000 years away.

Jews for Goldstone

Rabbinic Letter to Goldstone: ‘your report is a clarion call to Israel and the Jewish people to awaken from the slumber of denial and return to the path of peace.’
Dear Judge Goldstone,

As rabbis from diverse traditions and locations, we want to extend our warmest mazel tov to you as an elder in our community upon the bar mitzvah of your grandson. Bar and Bat Mitzvah is a call to conscience, a call to be responsible for the welfare of others, a call to fulfill the covenant of peace and justice articulated in our tradition.
As rabbis, we note the religious implications of the report you authored. We are reminded of Shimon Ben Gamliel's quote, "The world stands on three things: justice, truth, and peace as it says ‘Execute the judgment of truth, and justice and peace will be established in your gates’ (Zekharya 8:16)." We affirm the truth of the report that bears your name.

Tony Judt on dissing Israel but liking Judaism

A moral Jewish voice, Tony Judt, has long refused to be bound by Zionist tribalism. Human rights matter more than blindly following Israel.

But he’s fiercely proudly of being Jewish. I agree:

I reject the authority of the rabbis—all of them (and for this I have rabbinical authority on my side). I participate in no Jewish community life, nor do I practice Jewish rituals. I don’t make a point of socializing with Jews in particular—and for the most part I haven’t married them. I am not a “lapsed” Jew, having never conformed to requirements in the first place. I don’t “love Israel” (either in the modern sense or in the original generic meaning of loving the Jewish people), and I don’t care if the sentiment is reciprocated. But whenever anyone asks me whether or not I am Jewish, I unhesitatingly respond in the affirmative and would be ashamed to do otherwise.

Antony Loewenstein


I do not have to tell them about their occupation. My duty is to fight it. I have always known that. As for the Israelis? Well, ask them. A surprising number of them already know.

Don`t Tell Them, They Already Know
Joharah Baker

It has always been my strong conviction that any real change in Israeli politics must inevitably come out of Israel itself and not solely as a result of external pressure. Don`t get me wrong, the United States in particular could drastically change the balances of power with the swift stroke of a pen (across its Israel foreign aid check to be precise) and is thus in no way exonerated from its responsibility of playing a positive role in the resolving the conflict. My point, however, is that for the Israeli government to change, it must be pressured from its own people. It is not for us, the oppressed and occupied Palestinians, to teach them the ways in which they occupy us or the means with which they oppress us. That never has been and never will be our job.

Lib Dems Leader Clegg: Britain Must Stop Doing US Bidding

With Party's Stock Rising, Is Britain in for Foreign Policy Shakeup?
Clegg, seen by many as an outsider, is running on platform of dramatic cuts in the size of government, scrapping the nation’s massive new nuclear weapons scheme, and perhaps just as importantly, an independent British foreign policy.

Openly dismissing the “special relationship” with the US as outmoded, Clegg is campaigning for an end to the days of UK foreign policy being “joined at the hip” with America’s, condemning the Iraq War as an example of “Tony Blair and Gordon Brown doing America’s bidding.”

An Empire Decomposed: American Foreign Relations In the Early 21st Century

Chas Freeman (first casualty in the Israel lobby’s efforts to rein in what in its early days might have looked like a dangerously independent Obama administration)

Americans are accustomed to foreigners following us. After all, for forty years, we led the industrial democracies against the former USSR and its captive entourage. After the Soviet collapse, we bestrode the world as its sole colossus. For a while, we imagined we could do pretty much anything we wanted to do on our own. This, in the opinion of some, made followers irrelevant and leadership unnecessary.

Still, on reflection, we thought things might go better with a garland of allies and a garnish of friends. So we accepted some help from NATO members and some other foreign auxiliaries in Afghanistan. And, when we marched into the ambush of Iraq, we recruited a few other nations eager to ingratiate themselves with us to tag along in what became known as "the coalition of the billing." In the end, however, in Iraq, it came down to us and our faithful British collaborators. Then, without even a "yo! Bush," the Brits too were gone. And when we looked for other allies to follow us back into Afghanistan, they weren't there.

All this should remind us that power, no matter how immense, is not by itself enough to ordain leadership. Power must be informed by vision, guided by wisdom, and embodied in strategy if it is to inspire companions and followers. We're a bit short of believers in our leadership these days, not just on the battlefields of West Asia but at global financial gatherings, the United Nations, meetings of the G-20, among human rights and environmental activists, in the world's regions, including our own hemisphere, and so forth. There are few places where we Americans still enjoy the credibility and command the deference we once did. A year or so ago, we decided that military means were not always the best way to solve problems and that having diplomatic allies could really help do so. But it isn't happening.

Speculation dismounts on Obama Middle East peace plan

by Paul Woodward on April 20, 2010

"I claim no special knowledge of the inside workings of the Obama administration — merely an ear that notes the difference between substance and flatulence and to my ear what sounded like a farting contest started on April 7 with a column by David Ignatius: “Obama weighs new peace plan for the Middle East.”

According to Ignatius — which is to say, according to the nameless officials he had been talking to — Obama was “seriously considering” proposing a peace plan. Chatter, chatter, chatter.

Even as late as Thursday, Ignatius wasn’t ready to completely pull the plug on the story he’d started. After all, one of the primary reasons it had been taken so seriously was because it came from such an august columnist. A Middle East peace plan is on Obama’s foreign policy checklist and he’s “still working on it,” Ignatius wrote last week.

Even yesterday, Agence France Press reported: “Washington’s foreign policy echo chamber is reverberating with speculation that President Barack Obama could try to blow open the deadlock between Israelis and Palestinians with his own peace plan.”

Enough. The man has now spoken — Rahm Emanuel, that is."
War in Context

American kleptocracy — How fears of socialism and fascism hide naked theft

At TomDispatch, William Astore writes:

America is not now, nor has it often been, a hotbed of political radicalism. We have no substantial socialist or workers’ party. (Unless you’re deluded, please don’t count the corporate-friendly “Democrat” party here.) We have no substantial fascist party. (Unless you’re deluded, please don’t count the cartoonish “tea partiers” here; these predominantly white, graying, and fairly affluent Americans seem most worried that the jackbooted thugs will be coming for them.)

What drives America today is, in fact, business — just as was true in the days of Calvin Coolidge. But it’s not the fair-minded “free enterprise” system touted in those freshly revised Texas guidelines for American history textbooks; rather, it’s a rigged system of crony capitalism that increasingly ends in what, if we were looking at some other country, we would recognize as an unabashed kleptocracy.

Recall, if you care to, those pallets stacked with hundreds of millions of dollars that the Bush administration sent to Iraq and which, Houdini-like, simply disappeared. Think of the ever-rising cost of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, now in excess of a trillion dollars, and just whose pockets are full, thanks to them.

Dare Israel go it alone in attacking Iran?

As some senior Israeli officials see signs the US may be willing to live with a nuclear-armed Iran, the Wall Street Journal says Israel is now considering unilateral military action.

"Many Israeli military experts say Israel can easily cope with any military retaliation by Iran in response to a strike. Iran’s medium-range rockets would cause damage and casualties in Israel, but they aren’t very accurate, and Israel’s sophisticated missile-defense system would likely knock many out midflight. Israel has similarly proved it can handle attacks against Israel by Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel also hosts a contingent of U.S. troops attached to a radar system to help give early warning against incoming rocket attacks.

More worrying to Israeli strategic planners examining possible attack scenarios is the possibility that Iran would respond to an Israeli attack by ramping up support to groups battling U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to recently retired officials familiar with the military’s thinking on Iran. If American soldiers start dying in greater numbers as a result of an Israeli unilateral attack, Americans could turn against Israel.

Iran could also disrupt the world’s oil supply by cutting off exports through the Persian Gulf, roiling international oil markets.

“What will Americans say if Israel drags the U.S. into a war it didn’t want, or when they are suddenly paying $10 a gallon for gasoline and Israel is the reason for it,” says retired Brig. Gen. Shlomo Brom, former director of the Israeli army’s Strategic Planning Division."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A boulevard (esplanade) in Paris to be named after Ben-Gurion. Ilan Pappe writes to the Mayor

Dear Mr. Delanoé !

On the face of it one can understand the wish of the Counsel of Paris to honour David Ben Gurion with a boulevard. He was the founding father of the state of Israel and its prime minister for many years. And indeed as mentioned in the communique he was responsible for the development of good relationship with France in the attempt to topple President Gamal Abdul Nasser in 1956 and oversaw the improvement of the military and strategic ties between the two countries up to 1967. And one can see how the supporters of Israel in the Jewish community and beyond would welcome such a move. But I am writing to you today to consider the other side of the argument. One which to my mind outweighs the positive reasons for such a decision. David Ben Gurion was the architect of, and the mastermind behind, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948. An operation that begot the Palestinian problem as we know it today and dragged not only Arabs and Jews into an endless and bloody conflict, but the Middle East as a whole.

He was not alone but he was the most important figure in the systematic expulsion of almost one million Palestinians from their houses, fields and homeland. He also oversaw the demolition of thundreds of their villages and dozens of their towns and personally ordered their transformation into either Jewish settlements or recreational parks.

He then oversaw the imposition of a ruthless and cruel military rule over the Palestinian minority left in Israel, which included the expropriation of their lands, the exile of many and the Kafar Qassim massacre of November 1956 in which dozens of innocent Palestinian were killled by the Israeli border police.

Had contemporary Israel come to terms with the criminal side of his policies and strategies, as did the White community in Apartheid South Africa, then one could consider some sort of a more comprehensive commemoration of the man and his achievements. But as this crime, the Palestinian Nakbah, is still denied today by official Israel, that act of calling an avenue after him would mean accepting and legitimizing the denial. This would undoubtedly seem as an offensive and insensitive act to the vast majority of your citizens, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or cultural affiliation.

I beseech you as an activist and as a historian of the Nakbah, born in Israel and teaching today in the United Kingdom rethink that decision and leave it until both Palestinians and Israelis would be able to face the unpleasant past and reconcile. Any other decision would alas contribute to the continuation of the conflict and cast a doubt on French politicians’ sincere commitment to

Yours sincerely,
Professor Ilan Pappe
The European Centre for Palestine Studies
Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
University of Exeter
United Kingdom
(Thanks v)


IDF officer: Settlers who attacked soldiers are ’scum’
By Chaim Levinson, Haaretz Correspondent

Israel Defense Forces officers have lashed out at rioters who clashed with soldiers at the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar on Tuesday.

“These people are scum,” one senior officer told Haaretz after three soldiers were wounded by stones thrown near the hilltop settlement, known for its hard-line yeshiva, or Jewish seminary.

It was seminary students who had instigated the violence, the officer said.

“They don’t even represent the settlers of Yitzhar. Most of the problems in the area stem from yeshiva students in the settlement. People think they come there to study Torah – but the only reason they come there is to incite riots and provoke the Palestinians.”
(Thanks vza)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Walt and Mearsheimer just scratched the surface

"Are you watching MSNBC?!? Donny Deutsch is hosting (I guess he's in for the suspended David Shuster) and he's doing a segment on Israel/Iran. Sole guest: Alan Dershowitz, who calls Israel "the perfect ally" and suggests Obama is another Neville Chamberlain. Deutsch laps it all up. His first follow-up:

"Alan, as a Jewish-American, I don' t think there's any disagreement that we need to stand together against Iran. I just want to war-game it a little..."

[P.S. Alan Dershowitz, in Chutzpah:

My generation of Jews was too young to fight against Nazism or for Israeli independence, too American to make aliyah (emigrate to Israel), too comfortable to put our bodies on the line for anything Jewish. Instead, we observed, contributed... We became part of what is perhaps the most effective lobbying and fund-raising effort in the history of democracy.]

Gazans fired upon with live rounds at nonviolent demo

20th April 2010

Israeli army shot several rounds of live ‘warning’ fire at about 150 peaceful protesters who entered the so called ’security belt.’ This belt consists of 300 meters of Palestinian land alongside the borderline. Israelis enforce a no-go ‘rule’ for Palestinians with lethal weapons.

A ship named "Rachel Corrie"

On March 31, 2010, the Free Gaza Movement bought her at auction for €70,000 and will send her to the imprisoned Palestinians of Gaza loaded with cement, paper, and medical equipment, all banned by Israel from this battered and bruised slice of the Mediterranean.

ITF Inspector and Union organizer Ken Fleming was ecstatic: “We are pleased to announce that this vessel which was used to subject workers to modern day slavery, will now be used to promote human rights for the people of Palestine”.

Added Derek Graham the bidder for Free Gaza and one of the organizers of the flotilla, "We are doing this to show the people of Gaza that they are not alone. There's nothing going into Gaza, no aid. We are prepared to run the blockade to try and get aid in. We have done it before. Out of eight previous attempts, five were successful.”

World wide poll: Only 19% see Israel in positive light. US in progress to 46%

Survey conducted in 28 countries on 29,000 respondents reveals that only Iran, Pakistan, North Korea have more negative perception than Israel. Most 'loved' country is Germany. 'Obama effect' has resulted in improvement in relations towards US for first time since 2005

Only Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan are viewed in a more negative light than Israel, according to a poll conducted in 28 countries and published Tuesday by the BBC.
The poll shows that just 19% of the 29,000 respondents questioned view Israel positively versus 50% who perceive the country in a negative light. Together with Israel at the bottom of the list are Iran (15% positive, 56% negative), Pakistan (16% positive, 51% negative), and North Korea (17% positive, 48% negative).

The poll also showed that world perceptions of the US are improving with 46% of respondents viewing the country favorably and 34% viewing the country negatively. Only two countries saw a decrease in the perception of the world's number one superpower – Turkey and India.
One comment by an Israeli on this article says it all: 81% of the world is anti-semetic. ..Hehe.

US: Scud delivery uncertain ( You mean the Israelis were LYING?!)

"officials expressed doubts Saturday as to whether Scud missiles were recently delivered to Hizbullah from , as has alleged.
While senior American officials told Reuters that the “intent” was probably there and that some sort of transfer may have taken place, it was unclear “if the rockets themselves have changed hands."

Everything you need to know about lobotomy

Monday, April 19, 2010

Saudi Woman Challenges Religious Order with Poetry

Hissa Hilal was the first woman to reach the final of Abu Dhabi world-famous poetry competition, "The Million's Poet," which attracts a massive television audience across the Arab world. But the success of the veiled Saudi Arabian poet, who criticized fatwas in one verse, has also made her unpopular.

The show is called "The Million's Poet." It follows the same format as casting shows like "American Idol." The winners are eventually chosen from among several thousand candidates, and the program is broadcast live. There are also qualifying rounds, audience voting via text message and a jury.

But there are differences, of course. For instance, the jury consists of poets, not celebrities from the world of pop. Instead of looking at contestants' personal appearance or singing voice, the judges consider their use of rhetorical devices and metaphors. And in this show, it's not easy for the audience to clap along with the rhythms.

"The Million's Poet" is probably the only poetry mega-show in the television age. It attracts a TV audience of 18 million viewers, from Cairo to Muscat to Amman. The winner receives an unusually large cash prize of about $1 million ($745,000), which is more than the Nobel committee awarded the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature last fall.

Hissa Hilal knows what she would do with the money, but she prefers not to reveal that just yet.

British ban Israeli tourism ad

JERUSALEM (RNS) A British decision to ban an Israeli tourism ad because it includes holy sites in disputed( occupied) territory has angered Israel's supporters.

Britain's Advertising Standards Authority nixed an ad sponsored by Israel's tourist agency after it received a complaint that the photograph featured the Western Wall in East Jerusalem, according to ASA's Web site.
The complainant "challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that East Jerusalem was part of the State of Israel," the ASA said.
Israel captured East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. The international community has never recognized Israel's control over this part of the city, though visiting heads of state often visit the wall during official trips to Israel.
The ASA told Israel "not to imply that places in the Occupied Territories were part of the state of Israel. "
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat accused the ASA of a "complete ignorance of history." Israel's Ministry of Tourism said it was "entirely accurate" to assert that a visitor could visit East Jerusalem as part of a trip to Israel.
More than 2,000 people have joined a Facebook group denouncing ASA's ruling. The ASA said it has received "lots of feedback" over its decision. "We do appreciate that some people strongly disagree with our decision."

Your tax dollars

From 1967 to 2006, Israel uprooted an estimated 2.5 million trees in the occupied territories

From 1967 to 1999, Israel uprooted an estimated 1,000,000 trees in the OT, and an additional 1,405,658 trees from 2000-2006 (source: Status of the Environment, Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), 2007)

On the uprooting of trees following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Meron Benvenisti wrote:

"The destruction of hundreds of thousands of dunams of fruit-bearing trees does not fit Israel’s self-image as a society that knows how to “make the desert bloom.” And the contention that the green Arab landscape had been destroyed because of the necessity of adapting the crops to the agricultural practices of the Jews only underscores the conclusion that it was not the war that had caused this devastation, but rather the disappearance of the specific human community that had shaped the landscape in accordance with its needs and preferences. (”Sacred Landscape,” Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000; p. 165)
Report: 14000 Palestinian olive trees subjected to Israeli aggression in 2009
A Palestinian research centre, specialised in monitoring Israeli violations, revealed that the Israeli occupation authorities destroyed 14000 olive trees in the Palestinian territories during 2009. Such assaults included the uprooting of thousands of olive trees, for the sake of expanding the Israeli settlements, and the burning and cutting of thousands more by settlers.


(Contributed by Maracatu)
The Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued its annual black list of countries that do not respect human rights. For the first time since 2006, a new country appears on the list, Honduras. The inclusion of Honduras is based on the report of the IACHR visit to the country last August. Chapter 4 of the report, which can be downloaded here, is an executive summary of the longer IACHR report on Human Rights and the Coup, issued in December, 2009. Compare that report with the rather sparse State Department report on Human Rights in Honduras.

Global Peace and Justice Groups Threaten Israel's Legitimacy

(Human rights activists protest in Tanzania, January 2, 2009.)
By Stephen Lendman

Working pro bono for Israeli government agencies, the Tel Aviv-based Reut Institute (RI) provides "real-time strategic decision-making" support in areas of national security and socioeconomic policy.
Saying global peace and justice groups threaten Israel's legitimacy, its recent series of articles, policy papers, and presentations counterattacked - a combination of damage control and rethink despite legitimate criticism showing Israel delegitimizes itself, and no amount of policy paper makeover will change it. Only Israel can do that, but in its 62 year existence never tried.
In a January 28 brief, RI said Israel:

"face(s) a dramatic assault on the very legitimacy of its existence as a Jewish and democratic state. While the ideological framework for this delegitimacy was solidified after the first Durban" World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, "the trend (got) a boost by the perceived lack of (political) progress, coupled with Operation Cast Lead in Gaza," followed by the damning Goldstone Report.
Groups "making the fundamental delegitimacy" claim want to internationally isolate Israel and ultimately turn it into a pariah state by:

-- demonizing it in public protests, the media, on campuses, and through events like the annual Israel Apartheid Week and World Social Forum, asking its affiliates to excommunicate Israel;
-- promoting the Global BDS Movement (boycott, divestment and sanctions) in areas of the economy, academia, culture, sport, and security; at risk is it achieving equivalency between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa, yet legitimate critics, including Jimmy Carter, accuse Israel of being worse than apartheid; and
-- targeting the state and its officials legally, including through the International Criminal Court (ICJ) and universal jurisdiction (UJ) to charge Israeli generals and politicians with war crimes.