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.

Israel is losing the fight against BDS

Ali Abunimah- Electronic Intifada
From 24 February this year, through the month of March, campuses and organizations all over the world, including in Brazil, Europe and across North America will be marking the tenth annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).
IAW, an international series of events, has become a major focal point to rally support and build up organizing for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel.
The tenth IAW comes at a time when the BDS movement has seen unprecedented growth and attention from world media as well as from Israel and the governments and institutions complicit with its ongoing crimes against Palestinians.
Yet Israel is losing its fight against BDS.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Let’s salute Tunisia and emulate it

By Rami G. Khouri- The Daily Star 
Many significant things are taking place around the Arab world these days, some violent, some peaceful, some within one country and some across several different countries. History will look back on these days and record a variety of noteworthy episodes, whether concerning the war and negotiations between Syrians, Salafist-takfiri networks across the Levant, Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, continued military dominance in Egypt and slow transitions in Libya and Yemen. However, the most important and truly historic recent event must be the passage of the new constitution two weeks ago by Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly. This marked a moment of profound significance for the entire Arab world, because it was the first time in modern or ancient history that ordinary citizens of an Arab society agreed on the substance of their constitution through a consultative process that achieved a credible national consensus after significant debate and compromise. Tunisia was the first Arab country ever to draft its own constitution – the qanoon al-dawla al-tunisiyya, or “law of the Tunisian state” – which came into force in 1861, and, fittingly, it is now the first Arab country to draw up a meaningful and legitimate constitution after a popular revolution that removed a long-serving autocratic government. I have always felt that if the Arab world had just one country with a credible, homegrown pluralistic democracy, then other Arab societies would seek to emulate this historic leap forward. Well, thanks to Tunisia and its heroic people, we now have that one Arab constitutional democracy that is being born, after a messy and erratic process. The elected representatives of Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly took two years and three months to complete their work. Three drafts were needed to reach this culminating moment of consensus, and the road was marked by intense arguments and compromises on almost every issue of public or private concern. Precisely because the assembly members and many interested Tunisians debated every draft word by word, the final approved version enjoys popular legitimacy –which is unprecedented in the Arab world. Beyond this, the document is historic also because it encapsulates a national consensus on the most important and contentious issues that define the identity and spirit of Arab societies – Arabism, Islam, gender, civil-military roles, individual rights, minorities, separation of powers and other such big sticker items that had never before been seriously and credibly debated by Arab publics. The letter and spirit of the constitution will continue to be discussed for many years, as should be the case with any such document that plays at least four critical and foundational roles in any society: it reflects the core values of the citizenry, it affirms their collective identity, it lays out the framework of governance that includes both the exercise and the limits of public power and it affirms the equal rights of all individual citizens while providing mechanisms to guarantee that those rights are enjoyed and protected. No other constitution in Western democracies, even pioneers such as those in the United States, France and Switzerland, was as ambitious as this Tunisian constitution in insisting from the start on equal rights and common values and identities for all citizens – rather than waiting a century or more to give women and minorities equal voting and other civil rights. The Tunisian constitution calls for parity for women in elected public bodies, for example, while also affirming universal freedoms and rights for all citizens, which no Western democracy did at a similar stage. Some blurred areas allow articles of the constitution to respond to issues of profound concern to different groups of Tunisians. So the document notes that “ Tunisia is a free, independent and sovereign state, Islam is her religion, Arabic her language and a republic her regime.” But it also underlines that “ Tunisia is a state of civil character, based on citizenship, the will of the people and the primacy of law.”
 Read more

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

British MP Gerald Kaufman: “We must impose sanctions (on Israel)

“If the spineless Obama will not do it, we must do it – even unilaterally”

 Gerald Kaufman

Stuart Littlewood
"I’d like to share, especially with American readers, a great moment in the British parliament on 5 February when the MP for Gorton, Manchester, Sir Gerald Kaufman rose to speak in a debate on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Here is what he said word for word so that you get the full flavour:
I once led a delegation of 60 parliamentarians from 13 European parliaments to Gaza. I could no longer do that today because Gaza is practically inaccessible. The Israelis try to lay the responsibility on the Egyptians, but although the Egyptians’ closing of the tunnels has caused great hardship, it is the Israelis who have imposed the blockade and are the occupying power. The culpability of the Israelis was demonstrated in the report to the UN by Richard Goldstone following Operation Cast Lead. After his report, he was harassed by Jewish organizations. At the end of a meeting I had with him in New York, his wife said to me, “It is good to meet another self-hating Jew.”

BDS. A campaign that is gathering weight

The Economist
"ONCE derided as the scheming of crackpots, the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, widely known as BDS, is turning mainstream. That, at any rate, is the fear of a growing number of Israelis. Some European pension funds have withdrawn investments; some large corporations have cancelled contracts; and the American secretary of state, John Kerry, rarely misses a chance to warn Israel that efforts to “delegitimise” and boycott it will increase if its government spurns his efforts to conclude a two-state settlement of its conflict with the Palestinians. Israel, says Yair Lapid, Israel’s finance minister, is approaching the same “tipping point” where South Africa found itself in opposition to the rest of the world in the dying days of apartheid. “Let’s not kid ourselves,” he told a conference of security boffins recently in Tel Aviv. “The world listens to us less and less.”

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sharon ordered expulsion of 3,000 Bedouin, new biography reveals

Dozens of Bedouin - mainly children and the elderly - died following an IDF drill in 1972 in the Sinai Peninsula, according to David Landau's biography of the recently deceased prime minister.
"Neither the leaders nor the thousands of soldiers taking part were aware that a few weeks earlier, the man whose idea the exercise was, head of Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Ariel Sharon, had ordered the expulsion of three thousand civilians, members of two Bedouin tribes whose encampments and grazing grounds were in the exercise area. The expulsion took place without warning, during a freezing desert cold snap, without time for the Bedouin to take their belongings, causing around forty deaths, mainly of children, babies and old people.
The story has not been told for 42 years and even after it was revealed to Lt. Gen. David Elazar who ordered to return the Bedouin to their homes, no-one was ever held responsible. It was published for the first time last month in "Arik," a new biography of Ariel Sharon, written by former Haaretz editor-in-chief David Landau. The belated revelation is based on a report written in 1972 by Israel's foremost researcher of Bedouin life, Clinton (Yitzhak) Bailey."

Monday, February 10, 2014

Surviving anti-Semitism smear, Walt and Mearsheimer seem to have influence in high places

Mearsheimer, photo by Varsha Sundar in the Chicago Maroon 
Mearsheimer, photo by Varsha Sundar in the Chicago Maroon
Philip Weiss
When Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer published their paper on the Israel lobby eight years ago, one of its openings was that two scholars with prestige status signaled that they were willing to risk the anti-Semite smear. They surely knew the label might be applied to them; still they went ahead with their ideas, which now seem tame (the lobby has a stranglehold on Congress, the lobby pushed for a war); and they were duly tarred as anti-Semites, by some fairly august claimants. But one of the victories of the last year is that both political scientists are not only still on the case, but they seem to have a more respectable following than ever– with Obama reflecting their thinking on Syria. The lesson is that the anti-Semite smear, while a libel that can hurt career and reputation and scare jousters from the field, has lost its sting because it has been thrown around so meretriciously.
Here are two items involving the profs:  The neoconservative Lee Smith has anointed Walt the next George Kennan, saying that he is influencing Barack Obama in the same way that Kennan, a Cold War-horse, influenced John Kennedy. Smith wants to hurt Obama by advancing his claim; but Scott McConnell celebrates the synchronicity as a sign of Obama’s realism.
Read more

Choking occupation makes it to Times photos of the week

Photo : Hamde Abu Hamde

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tear gas grenade goes off before IDF thugs had to a chance to throw at Palestinian protestors

A taste (and smell) of their own medicine

Scarlett Johansson controversy shows Hollywood’s fading Zionism

These are trying times for the generation of liberal Zionist baby boomers. As American Jews, many of them became magnetised to Israel after the war of 1967. As liberals, they became convinced that their Zionism could be seamlessly intertwined with the liberation movements they supported during the heady days of the 1960s.
When they entered positions of influence during the 1980s, they urged respect for multiculturalism and immigrant rights, campaigned for nuclear-free zones, puttered around in eco-friendly vehicles and demanded free-range eggs at the organic co-op.
And at the same time, they rallied around a far-off ethnocracy that concealed a vast nuclear arsenal beneath the veil of strategic ambiguity, while doing everything in its power to eliminate the phenomenon of free-range Palestinians.
They are the PEPs – Progressives Except for Palestine – and today they find themselves consumed in anguish.

Contemporary Syrian artist Youssef Abdelke

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

BBC finally admits bias over pro-Israel commentator presented as neutral

Jonathan Sacerdoti on the BBC (Screenshot)
The BBC has finally admitted that it breached its own impartiality guidelines when it presented a pro-Israel commentator as if he was neutral.
The finding published yesterday by the BBC Trust, the highest level of complaints adjudication at the broadcaster, relates to appearances made by a commentator called Jonathan Sacerdoti during Israel’s “Operation Pillar of Cloud” bombing of Gaza in November 2012.
Sacerdoti was described simply as “director of the Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy,” but has a long and ongoing history of pro-Israel campaigning, including a stint as director of public affairs for the Zionist Federation – a fact which was not made clear to viewers.

David Cronin: How Europe funds the occupation of Palestine

Gaza children paint a mural against a siege that the EU helps to finance.
(Mohammed Asad / APA images)
 Electronic Intifada
Has the European Union finally confessed that it is footing the bill for the occupation of Palestine?
In a roundabout way, one of its envoys may have done just that. Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the EU’s ambassador in Tel Aviv, recently warned about the consequences of the Union deciding to cut its assistance to the Palestinian Authority should the current “peace” talks prove fruitless.
“I think it is realized in Israel that this money is key to the stability of the West Bank and in Gaza,” the Dane said. “If we don’t provide the money, I think there is a great likelihood that Israel would have to provide far more.”

Four bullets to the back of the head

Illustrative photo of an IDF sharpshooter aiming his weapon (Photo by ChameleonsEye /
972blog - Yossi Gurvitz
 – An IDF sharpshooter fired four bullets to the back of Jalal Mahmoud Masri’s head and killed him. The army’s investigators closed the case — On January 20, 2011, Jalal Mahmoud Masri left his house in East Jerusalem and went to visit relatives in the village of Idna.  Masri, a father of two and a truck driver, did not know that this was to be his last ride. Fate put Sharpshooter Avi in his path. Avi and three of his friends had erected an emergency checkpoint after a white Peugeot 205 ignored a checkpoint near the Gush Etzion Junction. Avi, a sharpshooter, was in a nearby tower. Masri noticed the impromptu checkpoint made of soldiers waving flashlights and slowed down after seeing the first flashlight. As soon as he had passed the checkpoint, he suddenly accelerated. According to most of the testimonies, the commanding officer at the checkpoint fired three rounds into the air. Immediately afterwards, Avi fired four rounds at Masri’s head. He collapsed, mortally wounded, and died months later in hospital. IDF trackers scanned the scene immediately afterward. This is the conclusion of the senior tracker, Sgt.-Maj. Salah: “We found four hits to the upper part of the back window. Two bullets hit the driver-side window and one hit the front window, the fourth bullet also hit in that area. All of them were aimed at the head of the driver […] the guy in the tower shot him, aimed to hit him. This isn’t accidental firing. You don’t aim for the head for no reason. The reason he fired, though, I don’t know.”
Read more

Palestinian family struggles to survive after repeated home demolitions

General view on the demolition in Al-Mayta.
972blog 3 Feb by Nancy Hawker
 The Jordan Valley village of Hadidiya is no stranger to human rights violations by Israeli authorities. This is the story of one family whose life and livelihood have been affected by home demolitions, time and time again
Local Palestinians have no input into the planning decisions for Area C, which benefit Jewish-only settlements. So far in 2014, the Israeli government has issued construction tenders for more than 1,000 new housing units. According to the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs, 565 structures were demolished there in 2013. More than 800 people lost their homes. One of the most recent demolitions took place on 3 December, three days before we visited.
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Two West Bank settlers charged with incitement over racist website

Haaretz 2 Feb by Chaim Levinson — In a rare move, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has approved an indictment against two West Bank settlers for racism and incitement to violence, for their work on the website “Hakol Hayehudi,” which has praised violence against Arabs. “Hakol Hayehudi” (“The Jewish Voice”) was established by Yitzhar residents as a weekly pamphlet in 2003, with support from Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, under the tagline “News for Happy Jews. The website is widely believed to encourage youth to engage in “price tag” attacks against Palestinians.”

Settlers uproot hundreds of trees in Nablus, Ramallah

File - Maan News Agency
IMEMC/Agencies 2 Feb — Israeli settlers invaded Palestinian orchards in the West Bank districts of Nablus and Ramallah, uprooting more than 1,425 olive trees and saplings. The trees belong to resident Mohammad Jamal Abu Awwad, the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) and Ma’an News Agency has reported.
Furthermore, settlers of the Shilo illegal settlement, uprooted more than 1,000 olive saplings planted by the residents nearly three years ago, in Sinjel village, between Nablus and Ramallah.  The saplings were planted as part of a project funded by the International Red Cross, and are located in a number of orchards belonging to the villagers.
Read more

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Soldiers expand illegal settlement

IMEMC Tues 4 Feb by Saed Bannoura — …soldiers installed two mobile homes on land that belongs to the al-Khader town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem.  Palestinian security sources in Bethlehem have reported that Israeli soldiers removed a military tower that stood in the Om Rokba area, south of al-Khader, and installed the two mobile homes to expand an illegal outpost.
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Bedouins fight for their right to make home improvements

Haaretz 2 Feb by Amira Hass — The Civil Administration didn’t seem to mind the rickety shacks of a Bedouin tribe, until some of its clans replaced them with prefab homes — Is it forbidden for Bedouin to improve the homes where they’ve lived for decades?
Read more

Palestinian activists who are inspired by Jesus, but refuse to turn the other cheek

Haaretz 3 Feb by Amira Hass — Palestinian activists with the Salt of the Earth campaign are warning Mahmoud Abbas not to give up the Jordan Valley — A verse from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is the inspiration for a new series of popular Palestinian activities against the negotiations being mediated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The campaign is dubbed “Salt of the Earth”… On Friday, January 31, the first activity was launched. Erecting a camp at Ein Hijleh, north of the Dead Sea, on land belonging to the monastery of the same name (and also known as the St. Gerasimos Monastery). The protest was against the colonization of Palestinian lands, but the direct message was to the Palestinian Authority: You have no right to give up the Jordan Valley. The name of the campaign derives from the New Testament (Matthew 5:13): “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (King James Version). The activists are translating the verse into today’s reality: The daughters and sons of Palestine are the salt of the earth, and they are called upon to preserve and restore the substance (the saltiness) that is endangered under the failing PA – connection to the land, resistance to the occupation and unity.
Read more

Activists construct second protest village in Jordan Valley

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Feb — Palestinian and international activists erected a new protest encampment called “al-Awda,” or “Return,” near the Bisan checkpoint in the northern Jordan Valley on Sunday morning. The move comes two days after activists set up a similar camp at Ein Hajla, as part of a campaign entitled “Salt of the Earth” to prevent further Israeli settlement expansion and to combat Israeli moves to annex the Jordan Valley
Read more

An Interview with Roger Waters

" I would not have played for the Vichy government in occupied France in the Second World War, I would not have played in Berlin either during this time. Many people did, back in the day. There were many people that pretended that the oppression of the Jews was not going on. From 1933 until 1946. So this is not a new scenario. Except that this time it’s the Palestinian People being murdered. It’s the duty of every thinking human being to ask: “What can I do?”. Anybody who looks at the situation will see that if you choose not to take up arms to fight your oppressor, the non violent route, and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S) movement, which started in Palestine with 100% support from Palestinian civil society in 2004-2005, a movement that has now been joined by many people around the world, the global civil society, is a legitimate form of resistance to this brutal and oppressive regime. I have nearly finished Max Blumenthal’s book “Goliath: Life and Loathing in greater Israel”. It’s a chilling read. It’s extremely well written in my view. He is a very good journalist and takes great pains to make sure that what he writes is correct. He also gives a voice to the other side. The voice, for instance, of the right wing rabbinate, which is so bizarre and hard to hear that you can hardly believe that it’s real. They believe some very weird stuff you know, they believe that everybody that is not a Jew is only on earth to serve them and they believe that the Indigenous people of the region that they kicked off the land in 1948 and have continued to kick off the land ever since are sub-human. The parallels with what went on in the 30’s in Germany are so crushingly obvious that it doesn’t surprise me that the movement that both you and I are involved in is growing every day. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine was trying to shed light on this when we met, I only took part in two sessions, you took part in many more. It is an extremely obvious and fundamental problem of human rights which every thinking human being should apply himself to."

In Latin America, right in retreat as left wins more elections

 Venezuela's acting President Nicolas Maduro holds a picture of the late president Hugo Chavez during a campaign rally in Catia la mar on April 9, 2013.
 BOGOTA, Colombia — More than two decades after the Cold War, during which the United States backed anti-communist military rulers and pushed free-market policies in Latin America, conservative governments have virtually disappeared from the region.
The leftward shift has been underway since the start of the millennium, but in recent years, the political axis of the hemisphere has tilted even further, as candidates who promise greater social spending and wealth redistribution win again and again. When the term of Chilean conservative Sebastián Piñera ends in March, right-leaning presidents will be in power only in small Central American nations and Paraguay.

SodaStream Drops Amid Sanctions Over Jewish Settlements

SodaStream International Ltd., the Israeli maker of home soda machines with a factory in the West Bank, sank to the lowest since 2012 in New York amid growing criticism for businesses operating in a territory that Palestinians seek for an independent state.
SodaStream slumped 3.3 percent to $35.34 in New York, the lowest since Nov. 20, 2012. The stock plunged 26 percent on Jan. 13 after SodaStream reported worse-than-forecast preliminary earnings for 2013.
 “John Kerry made comments about the economic damage of the sanctions and this scared investors a lot,” David Kaplan, an analyst at Barclays Plc who has a buy recommendation for SodaStream, said by phone from Tel Aviv. “On top of that, they missed earnings without clarifying why they had missed earnings and what they plan to do going forward. The stock will be down until they figure out a way to restore confidence.”
Read more

The cynical use of Palestinian workers in the SodaStream controversy

As a rule, Palestinians working for Israelis in the West Bank hate the settlements and the occupation. But they have to feed their families, so they swallow their pride.
 Palestinians workers walk in the early morning next to the Wall and an Israeli military tower to cross the Eyal Israeli military checkpoint, November 2011 (photo: Activestills)
Palestinians workers walk in the early morning next to the Wall and an Israeli military tower to cross the Eyal Israeli military checkpoint, November 2011 (photo: Activestills)
Larry Derfner
" I wish there were a way of ending the theft of the Palestinians’ land, and their freedom, and their pride by means other than the boycott. I have no desire to take away anybody’s job, Palestinian or Jew. But the boycott is working where elections, demonstrations, words, Palestinian non-violence and Obama all failed. If somebody can show me a way to bring down the occupation that doesn’t cost anyone his job – and that isn’t a proven failure – I will gladly support it. But no one has yet. So until then, I will see the boycott not as something to rejoice over, but as the lesser of two evils, the greater one being the humiliation Israel imposes on the Palestinians, even those who work at SodaStream."

Palestinians retake West Bank village occupied in 1967

Palestinians are reclaiming the ancient village of Ein Hijleh in the Jordan Valley area of the occupied West Bank.
(Issam Rimawi / APA images)
 Hundreds of Palestinians assembled and erected a protest village in the occupied West Bank on Friday, 31 January. By Monday morning, Israeli military forces had the area surrounded and had arrested several activists en route to the area.
Organizers announced a new campaign — Milh al-Ard (Arabic for “Salt of the Earth”) — in response to Israel’s ongoing efforts to colonize and annex the Jordan Valley. The protest village is situated among the ruins of Ein Hijleh, an historic Palestinian village forcibly depopulated by Israel’s army in the 1967 war.
Groups of Palestinians came from across present-day Israel, occupied East Jerusalem and the broader West Bank. As of Friday night, Diana Alzeer, spokesperson for the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC), estimated that around 500 persons were camped out in Ein Hijleh.
Read more

Sunday, February 2, 2014

How The Israel Project (TIP) Hawks Are Manipulating Polling On Iran

By Ben Armbruster- Thinkprogress
Iran's heavy water nuclear facilities near Arak
Iran’s heavy water nuclear facilities near Arak
A polling expert from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs said this week that a recent poll commissioned by the Israel Project (TIP) — which found majority support for a new Iran sanctions bill currently languishing in the Senate — is not neutral and the results on the sanctions bill question should not be considered credible.
TIP released the poll on Tuesday, promoting its finding of “broad, bipartisan support for increased sanctions” on Iran (the Senate’s Iran sanctions bill is currently “on ice,” as most Democrats and at least one Republican have said it should not come to the floor for a vote at this time).
Read more

4 Ways Tunisia Is Now More Progressive Than The United States

By Hayes Brown- Thinkprogress
Tunisia Constitution 
 "With its new constitution, Tunisia, the starting place of the massive protests that swept Western Asia and North Africa in 2011, manages in some ways to surpass even the United States in terms of enshrining progressive ideals. According to the most recent unofficial draft available in English, the government takes on responsibilities that the U.S. government has had to struggle to provide. Most of these principles are laid out in a Chapter 2 of the constitution, a section titled “Rights and Liberties” in the translation, which lays out 29 areas that the Tunisian state must provide for the betterment of the people — both now and in the future. Here are three highlights that showcase some of the most progressive of these guarantees:"
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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Kerry’s billions: US economic plans for Palestine place investment over freedom

Mahmoud Abbas, John Kerry and Shimon Peres shake hands at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa 2013, in Amman, Jordan. May 26, 2013. (Photo: FLASH90)
"Since May 2013, there has been intense debate about the Palestine Economic Initiative, John Kerry’s economic plan for the occupied Palestinian territories which aims to develop the economy of the occupied territories over the next three years as a prerequisite for a political settlement to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Alaa Tartir unpacks what we know of the plan and warns that the focus on economic development takes attention away from confronting the occupation. Tartir says Palestinians need to change not merely the rules of the game, but the game itself."

Financial Times blast on settlements will strike fear at Hasbara Central (if not among liberal Zionists and ‘glitzy blondes’)

"An editorial in this weekend’s Financial Times, the salmon-colored tribune  of London’s City, the financial district, is certainly striking terror into Hasbara Central in Israel– if not at the State Department in Washington. In forceful language that looks like it could have been lifted from a Palestine solidarity publication, the FT says that Scarlett Johansson has “accidentally turned a searchlight on an important issue–whether it is right or lawful to do business with companies that operate in illegal Israel settlements on Palestinian land…”