FUNERAL FOR PALESTINIAN CHILD TURNS INTO SHOOTING SPREE

Border Guard officer in Naalin Photo: AP

Israel says the barrier it is building, much of it on West Bank land, is needed to prevent suicide bombings. Killing children, wounding others will prevent suicide bombings?

A comment on a previous post hits the nail right on the head…
This is why Israel has to build a wall around itself. Total moral, ideological and philosophical bankruptcy. Lies and Liars need walls to protect them from reality.

This Reuters report details the events at the funeral….

Israelis wound 9 Palestinians at boy’s funeral

RAMALLAH, West Bank, July 30 (Reuters) – Israeli troops wounded nine Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday in a clash with stone-throwing protesters at the funeral of a 10-year-old boy killed a day earlier, Palestinian medics said.

They said the Israelis had shot the protesters with rubber bullets. A 21-year-old Palestinian was hit in the head and doctors described him as brain dead.

The governor of Ramallah, Said Abu Ali, said an autopsy on the boy killed on Tuesday near the West Bank village of Nilin showed he had been shot in the head by live fire.

“There was a big hole in his head and we couldn’t save his life,” said Salah Khawaja, a 39-year-old medic who was at the scene. He said the boy had been shot at close range.

Demonstrators gather almost daily at Nilin to protest against the construction of Israel’s barrier in the West Bank.

One demonstrator,Mohammed Nafi, 32, said the protest had begun peacefully, with several boys watching as Israeli bulldozers cleared land for the barrier.

“After the bulldozers finished their work, a military jeep belonging the border police pulled over and one soldier knelt down and aimed his rifle at us and shot at us.

“Then Ahmed (the boy) fell down and blood was pouring out of his head,” Nafi said, adding that the boy had been standing about 100 metres (yards) from the jeep when the rifle was fired.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenberg said an investigation was under way, but had reached no conclusions. He said protesters had been throwing stones and Israeli border police had fired teargas and rubber bullets.

Israel says the barrier it is building, much of it on West Bank land, is needed to prevent suicide bombings. Palestinians denounce the network of walls and fences as a land grab cutting deep into the territory they seek for an independent state. (Reporting by Mohammed Assadi in Ramallah and Allyn Fisher-Ilan in Jerusalem; Writing by Alistair Lyon; Editing by Jon Boyle)

The following was written by a fellow Blogger that attended the funeral…

Soldiers Use Tear Gas and Sound Bombs at Ahmed’s Funeral

Today we went to the funeral of Ahmed Mussa, the 10 year old boy killed yesterday by an Israeli border policeman. The funeral procession began in Ramallah where hundreds of people, including Ahmed’s family, drove in convoy to bring his body home to Ni’lin where thousands of mourners were waiting.

When the convoy reached the Ni’lin, there were dozens of soldiers and border police waiting on either side of the entrance to the village. Instead of showing a single thread of human decency, they surrounded the funeral procession, knowing that their presence would provoke a reaction and ensure that Ahmed would not be allowed to die in peace as he had not been allowed to live in peace.

As soon as the first stones were thrown, the soldiers fired tear gas and sound bombs directly into the funeral procession, not stopping as people fell and became trampled in the scramble to escape.

Why did the soldiers have to come to Ni’lin today? Could they not have left the area just for one hour or even stood 100 metres further back and just let it be? Could they not have let Ahmed’s family and friends mourn without lining up as if to goad them and gloat that they had murdered him? I simply cannot understand what I see here.

GULF STATES TELL ABBAS “PUT YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER, THEN ASK FOR MONEY”

Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

30_abbas002_300_0.jpg

Oil-rich Arab states reportedly have warned Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas that they won’t be able to continue giving financial aid to the American-backed Ramallah-based regime as long as “the Palestinian house remains divided against itself.”

According to Arab diplomatic sources as well as Palestinian officials in Ramallah, Saudi Arabia, the main Arab financier of the PA, Kuwait and Qatar informed the PA leadership that “from now-on, our financial contributions will be linked to efforts to restore Palestinian national unity.”

It is uncertain if the latest call by Abbas for expediting “national dialogue” with Hamas, which he made in Cairo earlier this week, had been prompted by the reported warning from the Gulf states.

Abbas said Fatah was willing to resume Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation talks with Hamas without preconditions.

However, Hamas rejected the call, calling it an attempt to divert attention from a car-bombing in Gaza on Friday which killed five members of Hamas security forces as well as a six-year-old girl.

Hamas blamed the “treasonous fifth column” in Fatah, a group led by former Gaza strongman Muhammed Dahlan, for the bombing. Fatah denied any involvement.

Some Arab states, specifically Qatar and Kuwait, have effectively stopped their financial support for the PA regime, prompting the PA leadership to press the US to pressure these states to honor earlier undertakings made during the Donor conference in Paris earlier this year.

The US State Department this week urged Arab and other donors to keep the PA financially afloat.

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyadh this week appealed to the World Bank to help him secure emergency funds to bridge a shortfall in donor funds and pay public servants.

Earlier this week, a western news agency quoted unnamed European and Palestinian sources as saying that Fayyadh was seeking a so-called “comfort letter” from the Washington-based international lending agency to obtain short-term private bank funding.

Last week the PA promptly canceled plans to pay partial salaries to some 5000-6000 school teachers appointed under the Hamas-Fatah national government nearly two years ago. The teachers, who are yet to be fully instated in their jobs, are still awaiting “security clearances” from the PA Mukhabarat or (General Intelligence).

Palestinian officials have been saying that unless donors honor their pledges very soon, the PA will go bankrupt and won’t be able to pay salaries for its estimated 165,000 employees.

One of the main reasons for the latest financial crisis facing the PA has to do with the structural nature of the Palestinian budget.

The PA, a regime that lacks authority and sovereignty and survives on foreign donations, employes as many as 60,000 security personnel who devour the lion’s share of the budget.

POLITICAL CARTOON OF THE MONTH ~~ JULY 08

Image by BendibClick on image to enlarge

MIDWEEK PHOTO ~~ 30/7/08

Would Jesus have been stopped as well?

IDF soldiers tell a Palestinian man on a donkey that he cannot cross a closed checkpoint into the West Bank city of Hebron.
Photo: AP

MAHMOUD ABBAS: THE MOUSE THAT ROARED

Sometimes the strings of a marionette get tangled. This causes problems for not only the puppet, but for the puppet master as well. Such is the case with Mahmoud Abbas, the former President of Palestine, the ‘mouse that roared’.

For quite awhile now he has enjoyed a situation rendering him the ‘boss’ of the Palestinian people, when in reality he is nothing more than the Israeli representative in the Occupied West Bank. His dream, perhaps based on Israeli promises, has been to return to full power in a united Palestine….. which he is partly responsible for dividing.

He, along with his Israeli and Western counterparts, forget one very important factor…. it was not his faction that was elected to represent the Palestinians in their general election, it was Hamas. He has done everything in his power to undermine the role of Hamas, convincing the West that it is he who could best serve the Palestinians….. convincing all but the Palestinians themselves.

Now he is making threats…. threats that hopefully will mean an end to the game he has been playing and a recognition of who really represents the Palestinian people. His latest rant is about prisoner exchanges… Finally a possible solution which could lead to the freeing of the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, seems close. It is Abbas that is trying to halt the process…

If Israel releases Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament as part of a deal for the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, PA President Mahmoud Abbas will dismantle the Palestinian Authority, Abbas warned Israel last week.

According to an Israeli source well-versed in what is happening in the PA, publication of Abbas’ threat to dismantle the PA if Israel releases the Hamas parliamentarians is liable to discredit him massively in the eyes of many Palestinians.

In addition, the source noted, this threat creates another obstacle to Israel’s efforts to reach an agreement for Shalit’s release.

In exchange for Shalit, Hamas is demanding that Israel free 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including many who were responsible for major terror attacks. Hamas has sent Israel a list of 450 specific prisoners that it wants released, but Israel has thus far approved only 70. As far as is known, the Hamas list does not include the parliamentarians and ministers whom Israel arrested.

The article the above was taken from can be read HERE

So, bottom line, as I see it is that if all goes well with the Israeli/Hamas negotiations and Shalit gets freed, the PA will get dissolved, Abbas becomes history and the ultimate victor will be the Palestinians…. we can hope!


The following are the observations of my Associate Khalid Amayreh…

Haaretz: Abbas threatens to dissolve PA if Israel frees prisoners

From Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas last week warned that he would dissolve the PA entirely if Israel released from its jails Palestinian parliamentarians affiliated with the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, the Israeli press reported Wednesday.

Israel is detaining more than 45 Palestinian lawmakers in captivity to force Hamas to release an Israeli occupation soldier Palestinian fighters captured during a cross-border operation near Gaza more than two years ago.

According to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Abbas delivered the warning to the chief Israeli military commander in the West Bank, Gen. Gadi Chamni, via Hussein al Sheikh, head of the PA’s Civil affairs Department.

Al-Sheikh, a former security chief, is responsible for coordinating with Israel on matters involving the occupied Palestinian territories.

Ha’aretz termed Abbas’s warning as “a personal message,” adding that the PA leader stressed to Shamni that he “did not speak merely of resigning but of dismantling the PA.”

Al-Sheikh vehemently denied the Ha’aretz report, describing it as “fabricated.”

“I am not going to dignify this by commenting on it,” said al Sheikh, adding that he would sue Ha’aretz for Libel.

According to reliable sources in Ramallah, Abbas believes freeing Palestinian lawmakers incarcerated in Israeli jails would reactivate the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council which could then initiate a vote of no-confidence against the American-backed government of Salam Fayyadh.

The Palestinian legislative council is now effectively paralyzed due to the Fatah-Hamas rift and the collective detention by Israel of the vast majority of Hamas’s West Bank lawmakers.

The PA Chairman, Ha’aretz said, feared that the release of senior Hamas politicians from Israeli custody in exchange for the imprisoned Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, would strengthen Hamas at Fatah’s expense.

The PA has been carrying out a crackdown, ostensibly in coordination with Israel, against Islamic and semi-Islamic civilian institutions throughout the West Bank.

The targets included schools, orphanages, charities, businesses, health and financial institutions as well as numerous NGOs.

Moreover, PA security agencies, financed and armed by the United States, have arrested hundreds of religiously-oriented figures suspected of sympathizing with Hamas. The detainees include college professors, students, religious leaders, and intellectuals.

PA-controlled media has generally ignored the Ha’aretz report which is liable to embarrass and discredit Abbas and his regime in the eyes of the Palestinian masses.

Israel favors Fatah over Hamas, thinking that the former would be willing to make far-reaching concessions to the Jewish state in matters pertaining to the final-status issues such as Jerusalem, borders and especially the paramount right of return for millions of Palestinians uprooted from their homeland when Israel was created more than sixty years ago.

Israel holds in its jails and detention camps more than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners, hundreds of them are incarcerated in harsh conditions without charge or trial.

Some of the most prominent Palestinian leaders imprisoned in Israel include Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader Ahmed Sa’dat and Speaker of the Palestinian parliament Abdul Aziz Duweik.

Hamas is demanding that Israel free a thousand Palestinian prisoners, including all arrested politicians, in exchange for Shalit.

However, Israel is worried that meeting Hamas’s demands would bolster the status of the Islamic movement throughout the occupied territories, especially in the West Bank where the PA “government” is functioning under the Israeli military occupation.

Palestinians in general are very sensitive with regard to the prisoner issue since numerous Palestinian families are directly affected by the lengthy arrest of their beloved ones which leaves a heavy psychological and economic impact on these families.

LETTING AP IN ON THE SECRET: ISRAELI STRIP SEARCHES

Letting AP in on the Secret: Israeli Strip Searches

By ALISON WEIR

Dahr Jamail & Mohammed Omer (by IPS)

On June 26th a young Palestinian photojournalist named Mohammed Omer was returning home from a triumphant European tour.

In London he had been awarded the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for journalism – the youngest recipient ever and one of the few non-Britons ever to receive the prestigious prize.

In Greece he had been given the 2008 journalism award for courage by the Union of Greek Journalists and had been invited to speak before the Greek parliament.

In Britain, the Netherlands, Greece, and Sweden he had met with Parliament Members and been interviewed on major radio and TV stations.

In the US several years before, he had been named the first recipient of the New America Media’s Best Youth Voice award.

In an Israeli border facility he was violently strip-searched at gunpoint, forced to do a grotesque sort of dance while completely naked, assaulted, taunted about his awards and his ethnicity, and finally, when Israeli officials feared he might have been fatally injured, taken by ambulance to a Palestinian hospital; if he died, it would not be while in Israeli custody.

As readers may have already guessed, Israel was not part of Omer’s speaking tour.

AP, in its over 60 reports from the region in the following week never mentioned any of this.

The reason Omer was even in ‘Israel’ (actually, an “immigration terminal” controlled by Israel on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank) is a simple one: He was simply trying to go from Jordan to his home in the Gaza Strip. Gaza is basically a large concentration camp to which Israel holds the keys. It is extremely difficult for Palestinians to get out. It is just as difficult to get back in.

Despite Omer’s journalism credentials (Gaza correspondent for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and IPS, stringer for AFP, occasionally appears on BBC, etc.) and despite being invited to receive an international award, Omer was only able to exit Gaza through the considerable efforts of Dutch diplomats.

When the 24-year-old journalist tried to return to Gaza, it again required intercession by the Dutch Embassy. After being forced by Israel to wait in Jordan for five days (and therefore missing his brother’s wedding), Omer finally received word that he would be allowed to go home.

However, when he arrived at the Israeli immigration terminal, an Israel official told him that there was no entry permit for him in the computer and he was told to wait. Three hours later an official came out and took Omer’s cell phone away from him. While Omer’s Dutch Embassy escort waited outside, unaware of what was going on, Omer’s ordeal began.

“He then asked me to leave my belongings and follow him. I recognized we were entering the Shin Bet [Israeli internal security service] offices at Allenby. Upon entering, he motioned for me to sit in a chair within a closed corridor…

“After what seemed to be one hour and thirty minutes, both doors at the end of the corridor opened. I watched as one of the Palestinian passengers exited securing his belt to his trousers. A second man followed behind and was struggling to put on his T-shirt. Immediately I realized I was not in a good place. The rooms from which they exited must be used for strip searching…

A uniformed intelligence officer and two others began rifling through all of Omer’s possessions.

“They were looking for something specific but I wouldn’t know what until green eyes demanded, ‘Where is the money, Mohammed?’

“What money I thought. Of course I had money on me. I was traveling… For a moment I was relieved, thinking this was just a typical shakedown. I’d lose the cash with me, but that would be about it…

“However, my traveling money failed to suffice. Dissatisfied, he pressed, ‘Where is the money from the prize?’

“I realized he was after the award stipend for the Martha Gellhorn Prize from the UK and I told him I did not have it with me. I’d arranged for a bank transfer rather than carry it with me. Visibly irritated the intelligence agent continued to press for money.

“The room filled with more intelligence officers, bringing the total Israeli personnel, most well armed, in the room to eight: eight Israelis and me…

“Dissatisfied that larger sums of money failed to materialize, green eyes accused me of lying. I again repeated the prize money went to bank draft and I already had shown him all the cash I had on me. Avi interjected, ordering me to empty my pockets, which I already had. Seeing they had tapped out, he escorted me into another room, this one empty.

“’OK take off your clothes’ Avi the intelligence officer ordered.

“I asked why. A simple pat-down would have disclosed any money belts or weapons; besides, I had already gone through an x-ray machine before entering the passport holding area.

“He repeated the order.

“Removing all but my underwear, I stood before Avi. In an increasingly belligerent tone he ordered, ‘take off everything’.

“’I am not taking off my underwear,’ I stated. Again he ordered me to remove my underwear.

“At this point I informed him that an escort from the Dutch embassy was currently waiting for me on the other side of the interrogation center and that I was under diplomatic transit.

“He replied he knew that, thus indicating he didn’t care, and again insisted I strip. Again I refused. There was no reason for me to do so.

Omer asked: ‘Why are you treating me this way? I am human being.’

“For a moment I flashed on the scene in the Oscar winning film, The Pianist where the Jewish man, being humiliated by a Nazi quoted Shakespeare, invoking his faith in place of written words, ‘Doth a Jew not have eyes?’ the old man queried, attempting to appeal to the humanity buried somewhere in the soul of his oppressor. Finding myself confronting the same racism and disdain I wanted to ask Avi, ‘Doth a Palestinian not have eyes?’

Would his indoctrination inoculate him from empathy as well? Likely, I reasoned, it would.

“Avi smirked, half chuckling as he informed me, ‘This is nothing compared to what you will see now.’

“With that the intelligence officer unholstered his weapon, pressing it to my head and with his full body weight pinning me on my side, he forcibly removed my underwear. Completely naked, I stood before him as he proceeded to feel me up one side and down the other…

“Avi then proceeded to demand I do a concocted sort of dance, ordering me to move to the right and the side. When I refused, he forced me under his own power to move side to side…”

After awhile Omer was allowed to put his clothes back on, but the interrogation continued. His eight, mostly armed interrogators taunted him over his awards, his appearance on BBC, and the misery he was returning to in what they termed “dirty” Gaza. Finally, after hours in Israeli custody and a total of 12 hours without food or water, Omer collapsed.

“….without warning I began to vomit all over the room. At the same time I felt my legs buckled from the strain of standing and I passed out… I awoke on the floor to someone screaming, repeating my name over and over…

“As he screamed in my ears I felt his fingernails puncturing my skin, gouging, scraping and clawing at the tender flesh beneath my eyes. This was the intelligence officer’s method for gauging my level of consciousness. No smelling salts as is the civilized manner for reviving a person. Clawing at my eyes and tearing the skin on my face proved his manner of rendering aid.

“Realizing I was again conscious, though barely, the Israeli broadened his assault, scooping my head and digging his nails in near the auditory nerves between my head and ear drum. Rather then render first aid, which is the protocol and international law in instances whether prisoners of war or civilians, the soldier broadened his assault. The pain became sharper as he dug his nails, two fingers at a time into my neck, grazing my carotid artery and again challenging my consciousness before pummeling my chest with his full weight and strength.

“I estimate I lay on the floor approximately one hour and twenty minutes and I continued to vomit for what seemed like a half hour. Severely dehydrated, focusing took flight and the room became a menagerie of pain, sound and terror. The stench further exasperated and seemed to inflame my captors further…

“All around me I heard Israeli voices and then one placed his combat boot on my neck pressing into the hard floor. I remember choking, feeling the outline of his shoe and in my increasing delirium thought for a moment perhaps someone was rendering aid. Reality destroyed that hope. Around me, like men watching a sporting match I heard laughing and goading, a gang rape of verbal and physical violence meted by men entrenched in hatred and rage… I again lost consciousness and awoke to find myself being dragged by my feet on my back through my vomit on the floor, my head bouncing on the pavement and body sweeping to-and-fro like a mop…

Eventually, Omer was transferred to a Palestinian hospital, but only after Israeli officials tried to force him to sign a paper absolving them from responsibility.

“In other words, if I died or was permanently disabled as a result of Israel’s actions, Israel could not be held accountable. One would think I was in a third world dictatorship rather than the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’. One would think.”

Where is AP?

One would also think that such treatment of a journalist by America’s “special ally” would be news.

Since journalists tend to be particularly concerned when fellow journalists are victimized, it would be expected that Omer’s abuse would receive considerable press attention – especially since he had just received international recognition from the journalism community. One can only imagine the multitude of headlines that would result if an Israeli journalist, perhaps even one who had not just been feted internationally, had been similarly treated by the Palestinian Authority.

Oddly, however, despite the fact that Reuters, BBC, the UK Guardian, Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper, and others issued news reports, the Associated Press, which serves virtually every daily newspaper in the U.S., sent out nothing on it.

Astounded, I finally phoned AP headquarters in New York to find out how they had missed it.

I asked for the international desk, told them I had a news tip, and briefly described the incident. I was told, “Oh yes, we know about it.”

I asked them when they were going to report it and was told: “The Jerusalem bureau is looking into it.” The Jerusalem bureau is located in Israel; many of its editors and their wives/husbands/children have Israeli citizenship. It is not the most unbiased of bureaus. Yet, it is the control bureau for the region – the filter through which virtually all AP reports, photos, video footage from Palestine and Israel must pass.

A day or two later there was still no story. I phoned the international desk in New York again and was told that the Jerusalem bureau had decided not to cover the incident. There was no explanation.

I tried phoning higher-ups, including CEO Tom Curley, who goes about the country lecturing about the “public’s right to know” and Kathleen Carroll, Executive Editor, to learn on what basis AP had determined this incident was not newsworthy. Neither returned my call. I kept trying, hoping to find somewhere in the AP hierarchy at least a semblance of a journalist committed to AP’s alleged mission of reporting the news “accurately and honestly.”

Finally, I found one. I reached the managing editor in charge of international reporting, and asked him why AP was refusing to cover the case of a prize-winning journalist being strip-searched at gunpoint and physically abused by Israeli officials when he returned to Gaza from receiving the Martha Gellhorn award in London.

The editor admitted that he hadn’t heard of the incident and was interested in the details. I told him what I knew, referred him to the UK Guardian article and others, and he said he’d look into it.

As a result, two weeks after Omer’s ordeal, and after Israel had solidified its denial narrative, AP finally sent out a report.

The belated story, datelined Jerusalem and carrying a byline by Karin Laub, left a great deal to be desired.

It depicted the incident as a “he said/she said” dispute, in which it termed Omer’s statements as “claims,” while never using this verb for Israeli statements. In every case Israeli statements are placed in the rebuttal position.

The lengthy article places Omer’s strongest descriptions in the second half of the story, where they would typically be cut by the averaged-sized print newspaper, and leaves out a great deal of important information.

For example, while AP reports that Omer was discharged from one hospital, it neglects to report that Omer was admitted to a second one where he was hospitalized for four or five days. It does not name the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, neglects any mention of other awards, and omits entirely Omer’s meetings with Parliament Members in multiple countries. It fails to report the statement by the former ambassador from The Netherlands:

“This is by no means an isolated incident, but part of a long-term strategy to demolish Palestinian social, economic and cultural life … I am aware of the possibility that Mohammed Omer might be murdered by Israeli snipers or bomb attack in the near future.”

The international organization Reporters Without Borders reported issued a condemnation of the attack, stating that in the ten days preceding Omer’s incident alone, it had recorded five incidents of “wrongful arrest” of journalists by Israel, and that one journalist was still being held. None of this was in Laub’s article.

All of the missing material, of course, would serve to add credibility to Omer’s statements. Perhaps this pattern of omission was a coincidence.

Early in the story, while admitting that Palestinians complain about “rough” treatment at the border (a considerable understatement), Laub seems to go out of her way to discredit Omer’s description of being forcibly strip-searched, by writing: “However, Omer’s allegation of being forced to strip naked appeared unusual.”

The Strip-Searching “Secret”

This is a bizarre statement.

As Dion Nissenbaum, Jerusalem bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers, wrote last year, “While Israeli security won’t admit it, it is a widely accepted secret that Palestinians and Arabs…are routinely subjected to intense, hours-long questioning that can include strip searches.”

Is it possible that AP is not in on this secret?

The reality is that frequent, random humiliation by Israeli soldiers and officials is part of the Palestinian experience. Numerous degrading strip searches – some of them particularly grotesque – have been forced on Palestinian men, women, and children of all ages for decades.

In addition, Israeli officials periodically strip search others whenever, it appears, they wish, including:

  • The British Consul General (Israeli media reported that her search was “prolonged, needless and humiliating” and that she was “visibly upset);
  • An American holocaust survivor (she was treated to a “cavity search”);
  • Sixteen Christian evangelicals rounded up at gunpoint;
  • Journalists from around the world (an Argentinian journalist wrote: “… they made me go to another office and strip naked. An official came in stands next to me, while I’m naked, with a machine gun in his hand…” A Swiss reporter was forced to remove her pants in public and stand in her underwear, hands raised, in front of an x-ray machine);
  • A wheel-chair bound New Jersey woman with cerebral palsy whose sanitary pad was confiscated, humiliating her publicly;
  • An American doctoral student, who was also subjected to a cavity search… and the list goes on and on.

Yet, somehow, AP missed all of these. In fact, amazingly, a LexisNexis search of Associated Press stories over the past 10 years, using the search terms “Israel” and “strip search,” turns up only one result – a few stories on a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners protesting against, among other things, their daily strip searches by Israeli guards.

Since we think it’s unfair for AP to be excluded from what others in the region know, we compiled a very partial list of reports about Israeli strip-searches, with excerpts from each, and emailed AP the 25-page document. We asked for a correction and received the following response: “This acknowledges receipt of your e-mail. We have no further comment at this time.” Our request for an interview was “respectfully declined.”

Following are just a few of the stories on this topic that AP never reported to the thousands of newspapers, radio and television stations that rely on it for their foreign news. The entire document is available on the If Americans Knew website.

* In 2007 the Palestinian Minister of Women’s Affairs issued a statement protesting the policy of Israeli soldiers taking Palestinian women “to separate rooms in the checkpoint and being forced to remove all clothes, to become fully naked.” The minister demanded that the UN and the international community provide security for Palestinian women.

* Even the New York Times (which justified it) reported about the Allenby border in 1987: “Before any visitor gets in, however, he must go through a stringent security check at the Israeli terminal. Besides being examined by metal detectors, each visitor must undergo a private strip search…”

* A University of Utah law student describes a PhD student conducting research in the region who was detained at the border crossing for six hours, “Then a female guard conducted a strip/cavity search while two male guards observed.”

* A British researcher reports: “While men have also reported forms of sexual torture in jail, women prisoners are particularly vulnerable to this as a form of humiliation by their captors. Women are forced to strip naked in front of guards, many of whom are male, and subjected to brutal body searches. Many women prisoners have detailed sexual assault by Israeli military and prison staff. On some occasions women are detained as a way of threatening or putting pressure on a male member of the family.

* A woman trying to reach a hospital reports: “…the labour pains grew stronger. I saw a lot of soldiers in front of me. I called out at them using the word “baby” which I think some understood. They started to talk to me in Hebrew as they pointed the guns towards me. They used signs and gestures. I understood that they wanted me to show them how pregnant I was which I did. One soldier asked me to take off my robe, which I did. But it was not sufficient and he asked me to remove the T-shirt and the trousers. I had no choice and I was ready to go as far as that in order to get to the hospital before it was late. He asked me to take off my underwear which I did. After this humiliation, they fetched a stretcher from one of the tanks. I was naked. I was carried to a tank and was given intravenous glucose into my arm. A few minutes later, they brought my father-in-law inside the tank. They drove for almost half an hour. I was thinking they were taking me to a nearby hospital but it turns out they were taking us back to the Huwwara checkpoint. We were taken out of the tank and were laid nude on the stretchers for almost one hour…”

* Reuters reported: “Three Israeli soldiers forced a Palestinian man to strip naked at gunpoint and walk like a dog in a West Bank city under curfew…A Reuters photographer snapped Yasser Sharaf, 25, standing naked in a cold, muddy street in Nablus on Sunday as two men were handing him clothes to put on and two Israeli armoured vehicles were pulling away from the scene.”

* Reporters who entered Nablus after the Israeli invasion of 2002 quoted from an interview with one of the inhabitants: “The men were then driven to a nearby yard, ordered to strip naked, and made to lie face down in the dirt. While my neighbor Jamal Sabar was taking off his pants, they shot him dead…”

* “A soldier inside the jeep ordered me to raise my hands and get out of the car and said, ‘take off your shirt.’ I did; then he said, ‘and the pants.’ I did; then he said, ‘the undershirt and underwear.’ I begged him not to force me; and he said, ‘I’ll shoot you.’ And all the soldiers pointed their guns at me. I took off my underclothes and stood naked in front of everybody. He ordered, ‘proceed with your hands up.’ I came up to him and he gave me a transparent plastic bag to cover myself. He blindfolded me and made me sit 20 meters away. Then the soldier shouted at a passenger called Islam ‘Abed al-Sheikh Ibrahim, 18, who was sitting in the front seat, and ordered him to get out of the car. He told the soldier that his leg was broken, but the soldier insisted. He Islam got out and stood on his crutches. The soldier ordered him to take off his clothes. He tried by failed. The soldier came to me and removed the binding off my eyes and told me at gunpoint to go and help him take off his clothes. I went and helped the passenger take off all his clothes. The soldier told me to help him walk to the soldier. We walked up and he gave me another nylon bag for Islam. Then, he told us to sit on the ground. Soon after, the soldier ordered another passenger, Yasser Rasheed al-Sheikh Ibrahim,60, to get out of the car and take off his clothes like us…”

* The Guardian described an incident in which a commander was “awaiting a court martial on several charges, including ordering the boy to strip naked, holding a burning paper under his testicles, threatening to ram a bottle into his anus and threatening to shoot him…”

* “We were mostly older people, sick and wounded. We had nine handicapped people with us, three were from the same family, sons of Abu Ibrahim. Some of us were too old, they were senile. When they told them ‘go left’ they would go right, but they stripped them naked anyway. I tried to help them as much as I could. I was the only one who spoke Hebrew…Close to us was a group of young men. They were handcuffed, naked and lying on their stomachs. The Israeli tanks would pass by them so fast, only forty centimeters away from their heads.”

* “Other residents described how young men were stripped naked and then shot. Yusuf Shalabi, a young man from the camp explained how the Israeli soldiers denied medical treatment to the wounded, ‘…I remember this nightmare very well. It is very difficult to talk about it. I remember them stripping the people naked, they would handcuff them and blindfold them. I remember seeing two wounded men, one was wounded in the shoulder and the other in the leg. They were screaming in pain and the soldiers would not allow them to be treated.’”

Incredibly, AP seems to have missed all of these, and more. As a result, Americans have little idea of the life is like for Paleestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Moreover, strip searches are just the tip of the iceberg. According to an Israeli government report released in 2000 (five years after it had been written) Shin Bet “used systematic torture against Palestinians and regularly lied about it.” An Israeli human rights organization estimated that 85 percent of Palestinian detainees had been subjected to torture. In 2002 Foreign Service Journal carried a major expose on Israel torturing American citizens. AP missed this Foreign Service Journal expose – as did, therefore, every newspaper in the country.

AP’s Ownership

AP is a cooperative. That means that every single newspaper, radio station, and television station that uses AP news stories is an owner of AP. This includes Democracy Now, which apart from a report on Mohammed Omer also seems to have covered this subject minimally, if at all.

It is time for all these news media, and for their readers, listeners, and viewers, to demand that AP provide the full story.

Americans have long given Israel, the size of New Jersey, far more of our tax money than to any other nation on earth. It is time to end the cover up. Americans need to know how Israel is using our money.

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew (which found in a statistical study that in 2004 AP had covered Israeli children’s deaths at rates 7 times greater than they had reported Palestinian deaths). The full document listing Israeli strip searches can be viewed at http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/strip-searches.html. DVDs containing a short video about Israeli strip searching of women and children are available for readers wishing to educate their local media and community on the information that AP is choosing not to report. The Washington Report has created a petition on the incident for people to sign.


NO PRAYERS FOR PALESTINE

Click on image to enlarge
Image by Skulz Fontaine

UNBELIEVABLE!!! ~~ ISRAELI ARMY COMMANDER LIED ABOUT SHOOTING INCIDENT

Looks like someone in high places read my blog the other day…. and took note of my remarks in red. Or they might have read this post…

For whatever reason, the following is the update on the situation;

2nd polygraph finds commander lied about shooting of bound Palestinian

The Israel Defense Forces officer accused of ordering a soldier under his command to shoot a bound and blindfolded Palestinian detainee failed his second polygraph test on Monday, after having passed the first test in a private institute last week.

The results of Monday’s lie-detector test, held under the auspices of the military police, prove that Lieutenant colonel Omri Fruberg, commanding officer of IDF regiment 71, lied in his testimony, and suggest he did in fact give order to open fire at the Palestinian detainee.

A video report of the above can be seen HERE

PHOTO OF THE MONTH ~~ JULY 08

‘I swear I put it right in that crevice….’

Photo: AP

PUNISHMENT BEYOND THE GRAVE

Last week I wrote a piece about the duel standards regarding treatment given to terrorists in Israel. I just touched on the subject, the following goes much more into detail regarding the inequalities even after death…..

I’ve heard of multiple ‘life sentences’, is the following meant as a ‘multiple death sentence?’

Death Penalty, a punishment for Palestinians, is not sufficient in Israel

George Rishmawi

The immediate punishment that comes to Israeli officials and security forces for Palestinians who attack Israelis is to raze their homes. This has become a norm in Israel since a very long time.

Hundreds if not thousands of Palestinian homes were demolished as an additional punishment for families of Palestinians who carry out attacks against Israeli civilians or military.Razing the homes in some cases is not enough. Sometimes the brothers are taken prisoner and the parents are detained.When identified, the case in most attacks, the attacker would be executed on the spot.

Therefore, the punishment is inflicted on the family of this person, which indicates that death penalty is not enough; the family must suffer as well.This indicates that the Israeli government and officials have retaliation mentality rather than bringing justice.In April of last year, a gunman went on a rampage on the Virginia Tech campus in the United States of America . By the time he was done, more than 30 students and faculty members were dead, and then he killed himself.CNN described this attack as the “worst shooting in America ’s history”. Yet the response of the local authorities in Virginia was not to demolish his home.Many other killing incidents happen in Israel, however, Israeli officials do not rush to call for the demolition of their homes. Israeli settlers and soldier kill Palestinians almost everyday, no body calls for demolishing their homes.

When Baruch Goldstein killed over 25 Palestinians praying at the Abrahimi Mosque, (Tomb of Patriarchs) in Hebron in February of 1994, a number of the worshippers managed to reach him and kill him. His grave now is a monument in the nearby settlement of Keryat Arba’a. His home was not razed, and there were no Palestinian petitions calling for razing his home.In most cases, Israelis who kill or assault Palestinians are acquitted from their charges. Not so long, a soldier who deliberately shot handcuffed Palestinian at a very short range with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the foot was released from jail.

Palestinians attacking Israelis is not the only justification used by Israel to raze Palestinian homes.

The common pretext used in areas under the jurisdiction of the Israeli Authorities is building without permits. Building permits are very rarely granted from the local authority at Jerusalem municipality. Palestinians in Jerusalem, risk losing their residency rights in Jerusalem if they live outside of Jerusalem for seven years. Therefore, they have to stay in Jerusalem and build a house, even without a permit from Israel. The Jerusalem municipality easily obtains a court ruling to raze the house ans family has to try to find another place to live in, and mot of them end up in the West Bank, or choose to pay high rent rates in order to stay in Jerusalem.This indicates a systematic home demolition policy which after some time ends in evacuating Palestinians from Jerusalem in a way that sounds voluntary while in fact it is compulsory.

In Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, at least 2000 homes were razed to create a buffer zone in the Gaza-Egypt border area. Israel claimed that Palestinian resistance groups use the houses to build tunnels to enter arms to Gaza Strip.most of those people became homeless and stayed in schools for several months. Most of them were ready to leave if they could, however alternative houses were built for them by the Palestinian Authority.It is not strange that Israel will implement double standard when it comes to dealing with Palestinians, however, people around the world must not be deceived by the way things are spun in the media.Democrate candidate for US presidency voiced criticism and condemnation of the bulldozer incident Tuesday afternoon, however, nothing was said about the Israeli soldier who deliberately shot the handcuffed Palestinian in Nilin although it was caught on tape.The deception that dominates the Israeli narrative has to be clarified, which will surely change the way the Palestinians are viewed in the media. Attacks carried out by Palestinians immediately draw wide international and even Palestinian condemnation, while Israeli military and settler attacks go unnoticed.

Source via Uruknet

Also watch THIS video from HaAretz…..

SHALIT SAGA CONTINUES

With Hizbullah scoring a victory in its prisoner exchange
deal with Israel, pressure is building on Hamas to do even
better, writes Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

The recent “spectacular” prisoner swap deal between Israel
and Hizbullah, which plunged Israel into a state national
confusion while feelings of triumph spread in Lebanon and
throughout the Arab world, is already impacting on efforts
to resolve the Shalit affair.

Hamas, like all other Palestinian factions, welcomed
wholeheartedly the prisoner swap, arguing that it proved
that Israel would be willing to release prisoners “who have
blood on their hands” in return for the release of Israeli
prisoners, dead or living.

“If they are willing release ‘prisoners with blood on their
hands’ for dead Israelis, then they should be even more
willing to release similar prisoners in exchange for
Shalit, who is alive and well,” said Mushir Al-Masri, a
Hamas lawmaker.

Al-Masri was alluding to the release by Israel last week of
Lebanese prisoner Samir Al-Kantar who killed three Israelis
during a guerrilla operation nearly three decades ago.

Until recently, Israeli leaders routinely invoked the
mantra that Arab prisoners who killed Israelis, even
soldiers and paramilitary settlers, won’t be released from
Israeli jails under any circumstances.

The release, however, of Al-Kantar seems to have annulled
that mantra. (Jews who murder innocent Palestinians
knowingly and deliberately don’t serve lengthy prison
sentences and are usually pardoned by presidential
decrees).

There are more than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners
languishing in Israeli jails and detention camps, many of
them political activists, politicians, lawmakers and
cabinet ministers held indefinitely without charge or
trial.

There are also hundreds of other prisoners, who are serving
life imprisonment sentences for killing Israeli soldiers
and settlers in the course of resisting, according to their
legal right under international law, the Israeli military
occupation.

For those, the only reasonable hope of freedom is a
“successful” prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas, a Sunni resistance movement, is under tremendous
public pressure to emulate Shia Hizbullah in terms of
resilience, patience and determination to get as many
Palestinian prisoners as possible released from Israeli
jails in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier
captured two years ago.

This week, Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Gaza-based
government, sought to assure the Palestinian people –
especially the families and relatives of prisoners — that
Hamas wouldn’t compromise on its basic demands, namely that
Israel would have to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners,
including 450 imprisoned for life.

Hamas leaders made similar statements at home and in the
Diaspora, all promising “an honorable swap deal” with
Israel.

Nonetheless, Hamas recognises the fundamental differences
between the Lebanese and Palestinian situations. After all,
Israel occupies the Palestinian territories and can and
does arrest as many Palestinians as it pleases. Indeed, not
a day passes without Israeli occupation troops raiding
Palestinian towns and villages to arrest suspected
activists and public figures.

This week, the Israeli army raided the city of Nablus for
the fourth time in less than four weeks. The invading
troops arrested several civic leaders and politicians
including Mona Mansur, an Islamic lawmaker.

Mansur’s husband, Jamal Mansur, a politician who had no
connections to violent resistance against Israel, was
brutally murdered by an Israeli death squad while sitting
in his office in the centre of the city a few years ago.

Moreover, Hamas knows that Israel can always renege on any
prisoner swap agreement by re-arresting some or all of the
prisoners the Israeli government might be obliged to
release to get Hamas to free Shalit.

Hence, Hamas is aware of the limitations on its ability to
emulate Hizbullah. This is why Hamas is likely to insist on
third party — probably Egyptian — guarantees against foul
play by Israel.

For its part, and despite its advantage vis-à-vis the
Palestinians, both in terms of the occupation itself and
the vast number of Palestinian prisoners it holds, Israel
is also facing a dilemma in trying to get Shalit freed from
Palestinian captivity.

Israel exhausted all intelligence efforts to discern the
whereabouts of Shalit in the hope of liberating him,
possibly in a commando operation. However, nearly all
Israeli military and intelligence officials have reached
the conclusion that even if Shalit’s whereabouts were
discovered, any rescue operation would almost certainly end
up in him being killed.

Moreover, and despite the certainty of Shalit being alive
(unlike the two soldiers release by Hizbullah), Israel
knows that the precedent of releasing Al-Kantar in exchange
for “two black coffins” weakens the Israeli negotiating
position vis-à-vis Hamas.

Added to that is growing public pressure on the weak
government of Ehud Olmert to get Shalit released as soon as
possible, irrespective of the price. Proponents argue that
Israel should be willing to pay a greater price for the
release of an Israeli soldier who is alive than the price
already paid for the remains of two soldiers captured by
Hizbullah.

Further, the Israeli government and security establishment,
and particularly the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency,
is worried that the release of so many Palestinian leaders
would significantly strengthen Hamas and weaken US-backed
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

On Sunday, the Israeli cabinet devoted its weekly session
to discuss the best approach to resume indirect
negotiations with Hamas over Shalit. Following extended
discussions, the cabinet decided to dispatch Ofer Dekel,
who is in charge of the Shalit file, to Cairo for
additional talks with Egyptian General Intelligence Chief
Omar Suleiman.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted ministers who took
part in the session as calling for “greater flexibility in
negotiations with Hamas” in order to free Shalit. The paper
also quoted “security and political sources” as saying that
“the restrictions on the prisoner criteria must be relaxed
in order to achieve progress on the talks.”

Meanwhile, former US president Jimmy Carter is reported to
be trying to reach a breakthrough in a possible prisoner
swap between Hamas and Israel. Carter reportedly urged
Israel to release dozens of Hamas politicians and lawmakers
abducted by the Israeli army two years ago in order to
bully Hamas to release Shalit.

Last week, Robert Pastor, a senior advisor to the former US
president, visited the region and met with Israeli,
Egyptian and Syrian officials in an effort to expedite a
“balanced deal” between the parties.

Under his initiative, Israel would release several dozen
Palestinian political hostages, including Hamas lawmakers
and former cabinet ministers. In return, Shalit would be
brought to Egypt, where his family would be able to visit
him. Afterwards, negotiations for the release of more
Palestinian prisoners would continue.

A high-ranking Hamas official in Gaza told Al-Ahram Weekly
that the movement would never accept such a deal, which he
termed a “clear Israeli trap”.

THE ETHNIC CLEANSING OF JERUSALEM

“If I Forget Thee, Umm Touba…”
Uri Avnery

IN ONE of the most beautiful songs in the Bible, the poet vows: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, / Let my right hand forget her cunning. / If I do not remember thee, / Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; / If I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy!” (Psalms 137:5)

For some reason, the poet did not write: “If I forget thee, O Umm Touba!” nor “If I forget thee, O Sur Baher!” nor “If I forget thee, O Jabal Mukaber!” nor even “If I forget thee, O Ein Karem!”

A fact that should be remembered in any discussion about Jerusalem: there is no resemblance between the Jerusalem of the Bible and the “Jerusalem” of the current Israeli map. The object of the yearning of the exiles who wept by the rivers of Babylon was the real Jerusalem – more or less within the boundaries of the Old City, whose center is the Temple Mount. One square kilometer, that’s all.

The redefined municipality of Jerusalem after the 1967 annexation comprises a vast area, some 126 square kilometers, from Bethlehem in the south to Ramallah in the north. This area has been clothed with the name of “Jerusalem” in order to bestow a religious-national-historic aura to what was nothing but an act of land-grabbing and settlement.

The planners of this map, including the late General Rehavam Ze’evi, nicknamed “Gandhi”, the most far-right officer in the Israeli army, had a simple purpose: to annex to Jerusalem as many areas as possible that were free of Arabs, in order to set up Jewish settlements there. They were haunted by the demographic phantom that is still terrorizing us today: they aimed to expand the Jewish and to reduce the Arab population – in Jerusalem and throughout the country.

In order to achieve this, the planners were compelled to add some nearby Arab villages. Not only the Arab neighborhoods near the Old City, like the Mount of Olives, Silwan and Ras-al-Amud, but also villages located at some distance – such as Umm Touba, Sur Baher and Jabal Mukaber in the east, Beit Hanina and Kafr Aka in the north, Sharafat and Beit Safafa in the south.

The demographic phantom that haunted “Gandhi” then is now pursuing us through the streets of Jerusalem, riding a deadly bulldozer.

UNTIL THE 1949 war, Jerusalem was indeed a mixed city. Jewish and Arab neighborhoods were interwoven.

The demographic map of Jerusalem became engraved in my memory during a personal experience. A year or so before the war, some of us, young men and women of the Bama’avak group in Tel-Aviv, decided to make a trip to Hebron. At the time, only very few Jews went to the southern town, which was known as a nationalist and religious Muslim stronghold.

We took the Arab bus from Jerusalem and went to the town, walked around its alleyways, bought the blue glass for which Hebron is famous, visited the Gush Etzion kibbutzim on the way and returned to Jerusalem. But in the meantime something had happened: one of the “dissident” underground organizations had carried out an especially serious attack (I think it was the bombing of the officers’ club in Jerusalem) and the British had imposed a general curfew on all Jewish neighborhoods throughout the country.

At the entrance of Jerusalem we alighted from the bus and crossed the city on foot from one end to the other, taking care to move only in the Arab neighborhoods. From there we took an Arab bus to Ramle, and another one to Jaffa, and then found our way to our homes in Tel Aviv through backyards and side streets. Not one of us was caught.

Thus I became acquainted with the Arab neighborhoods, among them elegant quarters like Talbieh and Bakaa, which became the centers of Jewish Jerusalem after the 1948 war. In that war, the inhabitants fled/were driven to East Jerusalem and settled there – until these neighborhoods, too, were conquered by the Israeli army and annexed to Israel.

THE ANNEXATION of East Jerusalem created a dilemma. What to do with the Arab population? They could not be expelled. The destruction of the Mugrabi quarter opposite the Western Wall and the brutal expulsion of the Arab inhabitants of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City had already caused much negative comment throughout the world.

If the government had indeed intended to “unite” the city, they would have accompanied the annexation with some immediate measures, such as conferring automatic citizenship on all the Arab inhabitants and returning their “abandoned” properties in West Jerusalem (or, at least, paying compensation.)

But the government did not dream of doing so. The inhabitants were not awarded citizenship, which would have given them the same rights as the Arab citizens of Israel in Galilee and the Triangle. They were only recognized as “residents” in the city in which their forefathers had lived for over a thousand years. That is a fragile status, which accords Israeli identity cards, but not the right to vote for parliament. It can easily be withdrawn.

True, in theory an Arab Jerusalemite can apply for Israeli citizenship, but such an application is subject to the arbitrary decision of hostile bureaucrats. And the government, of course, relies on the Arabs not to do so, since that would mean recognizing the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation.

THE TRUTH is that Jerusalem has never been united. “The city that was reunited, the capital of Israel for all eternity”, was and has remained a mantra that has no bearing on reality. For all practical purposes, East Jerusalem remains an occupied territory.

The Arab inhabitants have the right to vote for the municipality. But only a handful – city employees and those dependent on government favors – exercise this right, because this, too, means recognition of the occupation.

In practice, the Jerusalem municipality is a city government by Jews for Jews. Its leaders are chosen by Jews only, and see their main purpose in Judaizing the city. Years ago, Haolam Hazeh magazine disclosed a secret directive to all government and city institutions to make sure that the number of Arabs in the city did not exceed 27.5%, the exact percentage that existed at the time of the annexation.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the elected democratic mayor of West Jerusalem is also the military governor of East Jerusalem.

Since 1967, all mayors have seen their job in this light. Together with all the arms of government, they see to it that Arabs living outside the city do not return to it, and that Arabs living in the city move out of it. A thousand and one tricks, large and small, are employed to this end, from the almost total refusal of building permits for rapidly growing Arab families, to the cancellation of residency rights for people who spend some time abroad or in the West Bank.

The contact between Arab Jerusalemites and the inhabitants of the adjoining West Bank, which had been a closely woven fabric, has been totally severed. Jerusalem, which served as the economic, political, cultural, medical and social center, has been completely cut off from its natural hinterland. The building of the wall, which separated fathers from sons, pupils from their schools, tradesmen from their clients, physicians from patients, mosques from believers, and even cemeteries from the newly deceased, serves this purpose.

In Israel, people say that the Arab residents “enjoy the benefits of social insurance”. That is a mendacious argument: after all, the insurance is not a free meal – it is paid for by the insured. Arabs, like Jews, pay for it every month.

Arab residents have to pay all municipal taxes, but receive in return only a fraction of the municipal services, both in quality and in quantity. The schools lack hundreds of classrooms, and their standard is inferior to the private Islamic schools. Trash removal and other services are beneath contempt. Public gardens, youth clubs, gardening – cannot even be mentioned. The inhabitants of Kafr Akab, located beyond the Kalandia checkpoint, pay municipal taxes and receive no services at all – the municipality says that its employees are afraid to go there.

THE JEWISH public is not interested in all this. They don’t know – and don’t want to know – what is going on in the Arab neighborhoods, some hundreds of meters from their homes.

So they are surprised, surprised and shocked, by the ungratefulness of the Arab inhabitants. A young man from Sur Baher recently shot pupils of a religious seminary in West Jerusalem. A young man from Jabal Mukaber drove a bulldozer and ran over everything that crossed his path. This week, another youngster from Umm Touba repeated exactly the same act. All three of them were shot dead on the spot.

The attackers were ordinary young men, not particularly religious. It seems than none of them was a member of any organization. Apparently, a young man just gets up one fine morning and decides that he has enough. He then carries out an attack all by himself, with any instrument at hand – a pistol bought with his own money, in the first instance, or a bulldozer he drives at work, in the two others.

If this is indeed the case, a question presents itself: why is this being done by Jerusalemites? First, because they have the opportunity. A person who drives a bulldozer at a building site in West Jerusalem can just crash into a passing bus in the next street. The driver of a heavy truck can run over people. It is relatively easy to carry out a shooting attack, like the recent event at the Lion’s Gate, the perpetrators of which were not caught. No intelligence service can prevent this, if the attacker has no partners and is not a member of any organization.

From the utterances of the commentators this week, one can gather that they cannot even imagine the anger that accumulates in the mind of a young Arab in Jerusalem throughout the years of humiliation, harassment, discrimination and helplessness. It is easier and more amusing to go into pornographic descriptions of the 72 virgins waiting for the martyrs in the Muslim paradise – what they do with them, how they do it to them, who has enough energy for them all.

One of the main contributing factors for the stirring up of hatred is the demolition of “illegal” homes of Arab residents, who are quite unable to build “legally”. The dimension of official stupidity is attested to by the demand of the Shin-Bet chief, voiced this week again, to destroy the homes of the attackers’ families, for the sake of “deterrence”. Apparently he has not heard about the dozens of studies and the accumulated experience, which prove that every destroyed home becomes an incubator for new hate-driven avengers.

This week’s attack is especially instructive. It is quite unclear what actually happened: did Ghassan Abu-Tir plan the attack in advance? Or was this a spontaneous decision in a moment of excitement? Was this an attack at all – or did the bulldozer driver run into a bus by accident and try, in a state of panic, to escape – running over his pursuers, becoming a target for a shooting spree by passersby and soldiers? In the atmosphere of suspicion and fear that pervades Jerusalem now, every road accident involving an Arab becomes an attack, and every Arab driver involved in an accident will in all probability be executed on the spot, without a trial. (It should be remembered that the first intifada broke out because of a road accident, in which a Jewish driver ran over some Arabs.)

AND AGAIN there is the question: what is the solution to this complex problem, which arouses such strong emotions, feeds on deep-rooted myths and causes such moral dilemmas for millions around the world?

This week, a lot of proposals were presented, such as building a Berlin-style wall through the middle of Jerusalem (in addition to the one going around it). To punish whole families for the acts of their children, much like the Nazi “sippenhaft”. To expel the families from the city or to cancel their resident status. To demolish their homes. To take away their social insurance benefits, even if they have paid for them.

All these “solutions” have one thing in common – they have been tried in the past, here and in other places, and found wanting.

Except one, clear solution: to turn East Jerusalem into the capital of the State of Palestine, to enable its inhabitants to set up their own municipality, while keeping the whole city as an urban entity united under one super-municipality in which the Arabs will be equal to the Jews. I am glad that during his visit with us this week, Barack Obama repeated almost word for word this plan, which Gush Shalom published some ten years ago in cooperation with Feisal Husseini, the late leader of the Jerusalem Arab community.

The attacks are the result of despair, frustration, hatred and the sense that there is no way out. Only a solution that will remove these feelings can bring security to both parts of Jerusalem.

Source

Source of video

TOOLS OF OCCUPATION AS WEAPONS

Image by Abonoon
Road Map or Bulldozer Map?

By Nasser Lahham – Bethlehem

Palestinian journalists and writers seem to have found it difficult to address the current trend of bulldozer attacks in Israel. The piece of construction equipment appears to have joined our national conflict as a new weapon in the hands of Palestinians working inside Israel.

I see this astonishment, however, as something that Palestinian writers have picked up from the Israeli media. This is perhaps understandable, since the subject of bulldozer attacks has no precedent, and it is not an easy subject to approach. The response of Palestinian newspapers, then, has been to tackle the issue from a purely journalistic perspective, and most journalists are still dazzled at what is happening.

Chief Editor of the Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Hafidh Al-Barghouthi, however, seems to have been able to digest the phenomenon. In his paper he is calling the trend a “Bulldozers’ war.” The crux of the bulldozer issue is complicated, and what the machine represents to Palestinians may explain why their use in attacks is so astonishing and yet comprehensible.

To the outsider, reflected Al-Barghouthi, bulldozers are machines used to dig; they are used in construction, for paving streets, to dig quarries and to irrigate farms. They are a useful, harmless tool.

In the Palestinian context, however, they take on a different meaning.

Bulldozers are a machine used to build Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. They are used to dig up fields and confiscate them from Palestinian farmers. Palestinians have seen bulldozers tear up ancient olive trees; they have seen them tear down their homes. The bulldozer was the tool used by Israeli forces to kill US solidarity activist and student Rachel Corrie. Rachel was killed by a D9 Caterpillar bulldozer in March of 2000. The machine had been shipped to Israel by manufacturers in her own country.

For Palestinians, says Barghouthi, bulldozers are tools of the occupation. They are used for destruction and not for construction.

Take out the tools of this occupation, says Barghouthi, and so too disappear the tools of destruction. This, he says, rings true both for the destruction of Palestinian lands, and for the loss of Israeli lives. “The occupation,” he says, “is responsible, so let them withdraw and take away their bulldozers.” With the machines and what they represent gone, he continues, “there will eventually be no more victims of bulldozers whether they are foreign solidarity activists, Israelis or Palestinians.”

“All of the people harmed by these bulldozers, be their names Corrie, Cohen or Kamal,” says Al-Barghouthi, “are humans” who deserve not to be undone by tools meant to advance humanity.

There are people on both sides who understand that all life has value. This is evidenced by the treatment of the body of 22-year-old Ghassan Abu Teir, the driver of the bulldozer in the 22 July attack. A group of mostly orthodox Jews who volunteer for the ZAKA (Zihuy Korbanot Ason, translated as “Disaster Victim Identification”) collected Abu Tier’s body, and any parts of the man’s body that were detached from him during the incident. In both Orthodox Judaism and Islam, having a complete body to burry is important. The ZAKA is thus seen as a service to families of Jews killed in such accidents, as well as Palestinians.

While many people would see four Rabbi’s carrying the body of Abu Teir as inhuman, says Al-Barghouthi, it is actually a service of respect for human life.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seems to agree, and condemned the killing of civilians anywhere and under any circumstances after news of the second bulldozer attack. Such respectful actions seem to be forgotten these days, as plans for a respectful peace are quickly abandoned in favour of the “bulldozer plan.”

All sides seem to have left the idea of the Road Map, and are taking the physical tools of occupation and turning them into weapons. Al-Barghouthi calls this the “bulldozer plan.” He recalled the recent story of Israeli settlers launching home made projectiles at towns in northern Nablus. This action mirrored the use of homemade projectiles launched out of Gaza, sometimes made out of the broken sewer pipes that spill sewage onto city streets.

These actions are symbolic, thinks Al-Barghouthi, taking those things around you which represent occupation and using them against a perceived enemy. “God only knows what the future tools of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be,” says Al-Barghouthi, “will people use hand blenders, toasters, or pressure cookers?” He wonders what will happen when people go far enough down this “bulldozer plan” path. “What will Israeli security do then?” he asks, and what will people say when they ask what happened to the Road Map plan?

- Nasser Lahham is the Chief Editor for Ma’an News Agency. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at www.commongroundnews.org. (Source: Ma’an News Agency, 23 July 2008, www.maannews.net/en)

SETTLER ATTACKS ARE TREATED LIKE RAPE

HOW??? Most go unreported.
WHY??? In the case of rape it’s probably because of shame with the long standing attitude of ‘blaming the victim’.
In the case of settler attacks it’s mainly because of a feeling of frustration knowing that nothing will be done about it….at least until now. In both cases it is a gross violation of the victims civil rights, to say the least.
Today Palestinians are ‘armed’ with cameras that document such attacks and send them out to the media. Perhaps if people, in the West especially, see this brutality live on film something will be done to put an end to this.
The cameras are supplied by a group known as B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Cnter for Human Rights In The Occupied Territories. They are a group definitely worth supporting in every way possible… click HERE to see how.
Here is but one example of what those cameras expose….

READING PRIVATE LETTERS TO GOD

It has been an age old custom for visitors to the Western Wall in Jerusalem to leave notes in the crevices between the stones. The notes are usually personal prayers, meant for God’s eyes only…

UNLESS that note is inserted by one Barack Obama. Then, to some, it becomes public domain as was the case this week. There are various ways to insure the privacy of the notes in question, thousands of notes and prayers are stuffed into the cracks of the wall. In recent years, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which operates the site, has opened a fax hot line and a Web site where people overseas can send their prayers and have them printed out and put in the wall.

Police refused to investigate the matter of the ‘stolen mail’ saying that no law had been broken. Even God Himself is without rights in the Holy Land.

The note in question was short and to the point… a photo of it follows the text…
“Lord — Protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will,”

An article about this can be read HERE.

YESTERDAY I WAS A SELF HATING JEW ~~ TODAY I HAVE BEEN VINDICATED

Yesterday I posted THIS implying that myself and other Jews who expose the crimes committed by Israel were destroying Israel’s self image.

Today, the Jerusalem Post makes it very clear that the image Israel wishes to convey is being destroyed by themselves, not by me.
ANOTHER CASE in which the media found itself on the firing line this week is the footage that featured prominently on every local and many foreign news broadcasts of an IDF soldier deliberately shooting a rubber-tipped bullet into the foot of a bound-and-blindfolded Palestinian, arrested for taking part in a violent protest against the West Bank security barrier.

The incident was filmed by one of the many Palestinians supplied with video cameras by the Palestinian-rights organization, B’tselem, especially to capture on tape incidents just like this.

Needless to say, this illegal, immoral and stupid act caused Israel image-damage way out of proportion to the severity of the offense.

Obviously, if the incident hadn’t been caught on tape, it would barely have rated a mention in most foreign media reports, and it’s difficult to imagine that similar such occurrences elsewhere in the world would ever get such coverage.

The article that is taken from can be read HERE

PHOTO OF THE WEEK ~~ 26/7/08

‘Ich bin ein Berliner’
New Kennedy … Barack Obama greets the crowd.
Photo: AP


The following video has Obama speaking out against separation walls…. words that he did not dare to speak on his visit to Israel….

JERUSALEM BULLDOZER PHOBIA

Israeli rescue personnel prepare to remove the body
of a driver from inside a bulldozer after an attack in
Jerusalem July 22, 2008.
REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Jerusalem bulldozer drivers live in fear after attacks
By Mohammed Assadi

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Palestinian and Jewish bulldozer drivers alike say they live in fear of being mistaken for attackers.

In less than a month, two Palestinian bulldozer drivers killed three Israelis and injured dozens after rampaging through Jerusalem’s busy streets. Both drivers were shot dead.

“People have developed bulldozer-phobia,” said Anas, a 23-year-old Palestinian driver who asked to be identified by his first name. “It is better to start looking for a new career.”

Bulldozers are common sight across Jerusalem, where a light-rail system and other projects are being built.

Many of the drivers are Palestinians from Arab East Jerusalem, whose Israeli identification cards allow them to travel across the city and Israel, unlike Palestinians who live in the occupied West Bank.

For many Palestinians, bulldozers can be a symbol of Israeli occupation. The army uses them in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank. In Jerusalem, the municipality uses them to demolish homes constructed without hard-to-obtain building permits.

“Now the Palestinians are trying to fight the occupation by using its very tools,” Palestinian analyst Hani al-Masri said.

Israel says only illegally built houses are demolished and maintains that difficulties getting building permits were no excuse for breaching the law.

The two strikingly similar bulldozer attacks in Jewish west Jerusalem have stirred Israeli fears that Palestinians in the city could easily strike again.

Israeli police have tightened security at road construction and building sites, checking the identification papers of bulldozer driver and other records.

“We have more patrols and have … stepped up security since the last attack took place in Jerusalem in order to prevent this type of pattern,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s spokesman, Mark Regev, said recent bulldozer and shooting attacks by Palestinians from Jerusalem appeared to be part of a “new phenomenon”.

“We are looking at ways to better protect the Israeli civilian population of Jerusalem,” he said.

Masri said Israel’s barrier in and around the occupied West Bank may help explain why Palestinians from Jerusalem were involved in the attacks since it is harder for militants in the West Bank to reach their targets in the city.

Israel has deemed the two incidents “terrorist” attacks but have not established any links between the drivers and militant groups. Police say both drivers had criminal records.

An estimated 250,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally.

Although they pay Israeli taxes, Palestinians in the city complain of poor municipal and governmental services, harassment by police and a lack of employment opportunities.

But they do receive social benefits like all Israelis, including health insurance and unemployment coverage.

Both Palestinian bulldozer drivers lived in homes built without permits, and they and their families have been paying fines to the Jerusalem municipality, relatives said.

Palestinian analyst Zakaria al-Qaq said Palestinian frustrations in Jerusalem have risen to “unbearable levels”. Ziad Hammoury, of the Jerusalem Centre for Social and Economic Rights, said this may be “fuelling such attacks”.

Many bulldozer drivers say they are afraid to drive to work sites, fearing they will be shot if they get into an accident. “They will think that I am a terrorist and kill me,” said Yoram Baliti, a Jewish tractor driver in Jerusalem.

Palestinian bulldozer driver Mahmoud Abu Anas said: “I feel like people are looking at me when I drive. I’m afraid. What if I have an accident. Now I drive much slower.”

(Additional reporting by Adam Entous; Editing by Samia Nakhoul)

Source

A NEW LOOK AT THE ROSENBERG SPY CASE

Sketches of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg presented to their sons by the artist Pablo Picasso
The Cold War/ McCarthy Era of the 50’s has got to have been one the darkest and ugliest periods of modern American history. A decade of fear perpetuated by the government…. not much different than the fear that exists today.


As the years go by, much evidence has come to light proving that many of the fears were unjustified, based only on the lies put forth by various government bodies. The Rosenberg case is one of those in question. A case that has literally been hidden from the public eye for over fifty years. New evidence from that particular case might actually shed light on the truth…. in this case a truth that can no longer free Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, but might free many others.

Local Philanthropist Reacts to Judges Ruling in Rosenberg Spying Case
By Elizabeth Corridan

EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (abc40) — A local philanthropist is reacting to news that a U.S. District Judge in New York is allowing the release of testimony from witnesses who were part of one of the most controversial cases of the Cold War era.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were Americans, who were convicted of giving secrets of the atomic bomb to the Soviets and executed in the electric chair in 1953. The Rosebergs brother and sister-in-law, David and Ruth Greenglass were two key witnesses in the case. Ruth Greenglass recently passed away. Her testimony is one that will be made public. The ruling judge said he would not authorize the release of David Greenglass’ testimony at this time.

Both of Rosenbergs’ sons live in Western Massachusetts. Younger son, Robert Meeropol runs the Rosenberg Fund for Children. The agency helps the children of political prisoners. Upon hearing the news that Ruth Greenglass’ testimony is being released, Robert Meeropol said he was pleased to learn more information about his parents’ case is being made public. He anticipates being able to read the testimony by the fall. Meeropol says he hopes one day David Greenglass’ testimony will also be released. The Meeropol brothers believe their parents’ trial was grossly unfair and hope to one day sift through decades of history to get to the truth.

Click HERE to see the Source including a video

CENTCOM’S MASTER PLAN AND U.S. GLOBAL HEGEMONY

CENTCOM’s Master Plan and U.S. Global Hegemony
By Robert HiggsImage

Many people deny that the U.S. government presides over a global empire. If you speak of U.S. imperialism, they will fancy that you must be a decrepit Marxist-Leninist who has recently awakened after spending decades in a coma. Yet the facts cannot be denied, however much people’s ideology may predispose them to distort or obfuscate those facts.

How can a government that maintains more than 800 military facilities in more than 140 different foreign countries be anything other than an imperial power? The hundreds of thousands of troops who operate those bases and conduct operations from them, not to mention the approximately 125,000 sailors and Marines aboard the U.S. warships that cruise the oceans, are not going door to door selling Girl Scout cookies. United States of America is the name; intimidation is the game.

Of course, the kingpins who control this massive machinery of coercion never describe it in such terms. In their lexis, American motives and actions are invariably noble. Listening to these bigwigs describe what the U.S. forces abroad are doing, you would never suspect that they seek anything but “regional stability,” “security,” “deterrence of potential regional aggressors,” and “economic development and cooperation among nations.” Inasmuch as hardly anybody favors instability, insecurity, international aggression, economic retrogression, and mutual strife among nations, the U.S. objectives, and hence the actions taken in their furtherance, would appear to be indisputably laudable.

Yet, from time to time, a U.S. leader lets slip an expression so revealing that it warrants a thousand times greater weight than the vague, mealy-mouthed banalities they routinely dispense. I came across such a statement recently. In seeking funds in 2007 for construction of a $62 million ammunition storage facility at Bagram Air Base, Admiral William J. Fallon, then the commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), referred to Bagram as “the centerpiece for the CENTCOM Master Plan for future access to and operations in Central Asia.”

Pause to savor this phrase for a moment; let it roll around in your mind: CENTCOM Master Plan for future access to and operations in Central Asia. What an intriguing expression! What dramatic images of future U.S. military actions it evokes! But can those actions be anything other than the very sort that empires undertake? Ask yourself: why does the U.S. military anticipate conducting operations in Central Asia, a region that lies thousands of miles from the United States and comprises countries that lack either the capacity or the intention to seriously harm Americans who mind their own business in their own national territory? Indeed, what is the U.S. military doing in Central Asia in the first place? Have you ever heard of “the Great Game”?

When the Army sought the funds for the new ammunition storage facility at Bagram again this year, its request echoed Admiral Fallon’s sentiments by stating: “As a forward operating site, Bagram must be able to provide for a long term, steady state presence which is able to surge to meet theater contingency requirements.” The statement’s reference to “a long term, steady state presence” would seem to be especially revealing because it takes for granted that U.S. forces will not be leaving this part of the world any time soon. Giving even more weight to this interpretation, Congress approved not only the $62 million for the ammunition storage facility, but also $41 billion for a 30-megawatt electrical power plant at Bagram, a plant large enough to serve more than 20,000 American homes.

Along the same lines, Lt. Colonel John Sotham, commander of the 455 Expeditionary Force Support Squadron, which is now stationed at Bagram Air Base, recently described a number of improvements his squadron is making at the base, looking toward giving it “a more permanent footprint.” He added: “It’s pretty clear that the U.S. Air Force will be at Camp Cunningham [a living area at Bagram] and involved in the fight against terrorism for a very long time.” He relished the opportunity to “help drive Bagram from expeditionary to enduring!”

The United States government divides the world into six military regions called Unified Combatant Commands. (A separate Africa Command has been created only recently. Once it is fully operational, it will include all of the African countries except Egypt. A few other northeastern African countries were previously included in the Central Command’s area of responsibility.) The Central Command, abbreviated as CENTCOM, stretches from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen in the West to Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan in the East. The easternmost reaches of this combatant area butt up against India, China, and Russia.

Looking carefully at the map, one discovers that Israel is not included in the CENTCOM area, but in the European Command area. In a sense, however, we may describe the twenty-one countries in CENTCOM’s newly defined “area of responsibility” as a sort of logical complement of Israel: the people of every one of these countries devoutly wish (and here I have chosen my adverb carefully) that Israel had never come into existence and that it will go out of existence as soon as possible. Thus, CENTCOM’s area, inhabited predominantly by Muslims, comprises a predominant subset of Israel’s avowed enemies.

It comes as no surprise, then, that of all the unified commands, CENTCOM is the one in which, in today’s world, the U.S. empire’s rubber meets the road most abrasively. The command’s area of responsibility includes a great part of the world’s known petroleum and natural gas deposits, a preponderance of Israel’s enemies, and the places in which the George W. Bush administration has chosen to focus its so-called Global War on Terror. Of course, the region also includes Iraq and Afghanistan, where U.S. forces have been fighting for years, and, sandwiched between these two battlefields, Iran, where Dick Cheney and the rest of the neocons ardently desire to extend the fighting at the earliest opportunity.

The high imperial authorities are not embarrassed by the U.S. empire; on the contrary, they are immensely proud of it. They simply do not describe their activities as the maintenance and exploitation of an empire. If you care to read an extended example, I invite you to peruse Admiral Fallon’s testimony of May 3, 2007, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, regarding CENTCOM’S “posture.” This carefully prepared statement, written in impeccable military bureaucratese, illustrates well how imperial commanders wish to represent their forces’ actions and, equally important, how members of Congress wish to have those actions represented to them. Of course, it’s all a solemn farce, a polished and meaningless charade staged purely for public-relations purposes―a ceremonial hors d’oeuvres served in public before the diners consume the entrée, which consists of a massive amount of the taxpayers’ money ladled out to the armed forces and their civilian contractors.

“Our top priority,” Fallon declares, “is achieving stability and security in Iraq.” Everyone knows, of course, that Iraq was more stable and secure before the U.S. invasion, which suggests that perhaps the quickest way to reestablish those conditions is for the U.S. forces to leave the country. Certainly many Iraqis resolutely oppose a permanent U.S. presence there, and some of them will continue their violent resistance to U.S. forces as long as the Americans remain. Intelligent adults also know that when Fallon or any other U.S. official speaks of achieving stability and security, he has in mind the achievement of those blessed conditions only on terms acceptable to the U.S. government, and most likely in accordance with its prescription. That the U.S. forces will ever pull out of Iraq and leave the Iraqis to do as they please is virtually impossible to conceive at this point. Indeed, a mere pullout is nearly inconceivable, despite the great amount of talk that goes on about it on both sides. On the Iraqi side, this talk is sincere; on the U.S. side, it is all for show.

Fallon testified that in Afghanistan, “the foundation of security and governance is in place.” He must have known how ludicrous that statement was. Outside of Kabul, the U.S. forces, their allies, and the puppet regime control hardly anything, and U.S. and allied forces that move about the country are at constant risk of attack. The Taliban has not been vanquished, and in fact it has been rebuilding its ranks and its operational capabilities recently. The likelihood that outside forces will ever impose their designs on Afghanistan’s backward but fiercely resilient tribesmen verges on nil. Even Fallon has the temerity to observe that “parts of the country have never known centralized governance.” Great powers have sought to conquer Afghanistan and bend it to their imperial will for centuries, never with more than short-lived success. Eventually the imperialists leave, and the Afghans remain.

In an earlier day, Rudyard Kipling advised “The Young British Soldier” who served in Britain’s imperial army:

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
It’s probably still good advice. Alternatively, you can get yourself killed by your own comrades and instantly become a Great American Hero, thanks to the Great American Military Bullshit Information Team (GAMBIT).

Continuing his parade of politicking platitudes, Fallon declares that “Iran’s most destabilizing activity has been the pursuit of nuclear weapons technology in defiance of the international community.” Of course, if the Iranians have undertaken any such pursuit at all, which remains in doubt, it has been not in defiance of the mythical “international community,” but in defiance of the United States and Israel, as everybody who reads the newspapers knows. It is nothing short of astonishing that U.S. officials speak in almost hysterical tones of the threat posed by nonexistent Iranian nuclear weapons, yet never breathe a word about the hundreds of such weapons already in the Israeli arsenal, not to mention the thousands that remain at the disposal of U.S. forces. Of course, members of Congress, who live in mortal fear of the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), want to be seen listening to this phony-baloney message, so military politicians such as Admiral Fallon dare not disappoint them.

Fallon arranged the bulk of his testimony around a description of how CENTCOM’s “initiatives are organized into five focus areas: setting conditions for stability in Iraq; expanding governance and security in Afghanistan; degrading violent extremist networks and operations; strengthening relationships and influencing states to contribute to regional stability; and posturing the force to build and sustain joint and combined war fighting capabilities and readiness.” Notice that except possibly for the third item listed (“degrading violent extremist networks and operations”), none of this has more than a very remote connection with defending the people of the United States against foreign enemies.

Instead, it has everything to do with maintenance of the U.S. empire in the Middle East and Central Asia. The U.S. government maintains a lavishly financed Department of Defense, ostensibly to protect Americans in their own country from foreign attackers. In reality, however, this department acts as an overfed foreign legion, operating around the world as an offensive or potentially offensive force to bully other countries into submission to the U.S. government’s wishes.

To read Fallon’s testimony is to take a refresher course in U.S. nation building. He speaks about “infrastructure development,” “provision of basic services to Iraq’s citizens,” and improving “local government performance and capacity.” In Afghanistan, he perceives that the “priorities are roads and electricity, followed by agricultural development, microcredit, job skills, and education.” The occupation force, he testified, “is actively pursuing initiatives in these areas, from building schools and providing them with supplies to encouraging and stimulating the growth of small businesses.” Should we laugh or cry?

Someone needs to remind the admiral and his audience that the military is trained and equipped to dispense death and destruction. Military leaders know nothing about nation building, and their efforts along these lines result only in gigantic waste of time, money, and lives. (Of course, we must never forget, especially when discussing the U.S. empire, that one man’s waste is another man’s fabulously enriching government contract.)

To make matters even worse, “CENTCOM supports US government and United Kingdom lead nation counter-narcotics activities.” No U.S. war is complete, it seems, without dragging the disastrous drug war along with it.

The imperial authorities constantly emphasize their efforts to promote our security by suppressing “violent extremism” abroad. Repeat after me: extremism always bad; moderation always good. If Barry Goldwater were alive today and still telling us that “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice,” he might well be placed on the Air Force’s target list for the Predator drone. While decrying the violent extremists in the Middle East, Admiral Fallon notes: “Unfortunately, their tactics and radical ideology remain almost unchallenged by voices of moderation.” It takes a heap of chutzpah to impose sanctions on a country, killing hundreds of thousands of children and others with weakened immune systems, then invade the country, killing hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children by bombing, shooting, shelling, beating, stabbing, suffocating, and immolating them, then create such chaos and violence among the populace that millions are forced to abandon their residence and rendered homeless, then announce your regret that so few speak in favor of moderation. Next thing you know, the Devil will express regret that so few denizens of Hell speak in favor of fraternal kindness and Christian charity.

Fallon aims at “de-legitimizing the underlying social and political movements that support” the extremist groups. He fails to recognize that such delegitimization is utterly impossible as long as the U.S. forces continue to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan and to brutalize their people. The admiral proposes “building capacity in governance and security that helps at-risk societies address problems that foster internal and local grievances.” The overwhelming grievance in the Middle East, however, is the presence of U.S. forces and Washington’s support for local dictators and their legions of thugs. Fallon, however, looks to “empowering credible experts to expose the flaws and internal contradictions of the enemy’s ideology; provide viable, competing alternative worldviews; and contest the intellectual ‘safe harbors’ where extremist ideas incubate.” U.S. military leaders seem to have made a little progress since the days when they lived by the motto, “If you’ve got ‘em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.” Yet the idea that in the midst of everything the U.S. forces are doing in the Middle East they can employ “credible experts” to transform the dominant ideology is sheer lunacy. Al-Qaida requires no wily recruiting agents in Afghanistan and Iraq; its supporters need only invite people to look out their windows.

Fallon speaks glowingly of the various Middle Eastern dictatorships with whom the U.S. government maintains cordial relationships. (It’s amazing how many “friends” you can win with a combination of generous bribes and credible threats.) The United States’ “close, reliable partner nations” include such paragons of social and political modernity as Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Pakistan.” Moreover, “Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are important partners in maintaining stability in the Gulf.” An honest observer feels compelled to recognize, however, that every one of the filthy-rich sheiks in these desert despotisms would gladly cut Fallon’s throat if they weren’t raking in such fabulous amounts of money from the current arrangements.

The admiral does recognize a few problems. “Our present inventory of language and intelligence specialists (especially human intelligence) and counterintelligence agents does not support current requirements.” Translation: because we don’t speak or understand Arabic, Pashto, Persian, or any other local language in this part of the world, we haven’t a clue as to what’s going on in the politics and social life of these countries, and therefore we are constantly at the mercy of English-speaking collaborators who will take the risk of feeding us lies and fabricated “intelligence” long enough to get rich and then flee the country before their infuriated countrymen kill them.

Notwithstanding the many troubles that plague the imperial crusaders in CENTCOM’s area of responsibility, Fallon bravely concludes, “we fight tirelessly against those who would do us harm.” He fails to mention, however, that the people of southwest Asia would harbor no grievances whatsoever against Americans if the U.S. government had only possessed the intelligence and the decency to stay out of their affairs.

This originally appeared at MWC News

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,169 other followers