A VOICE OF REASON SILENCED AT THE JERUSALEM POST

Opinions?
KEEP THEM TO YOURSELF!
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Disagreements??
KEEP THEM TO YOURSELF!!
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Exactly two months ago I brought attention to the fact that there was at least one voice of reason at the Jerusalem Post. It was that of Larry Derfner, one of the main reasons I even bother to click on their hate filled site. The post I wrote can be read here> A WELCOME SURPRISE AT THE JERUSALEM POST
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Two days ago Derfner was fired from the Jerusalem Post, not for something he wrote on their pages, but for something he wrote on his personal Blog.
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In short, this is what he had to say… I think a lot of people who realize that the occupation is wrong also realize that the Palestinians have the right to resist it – to use violence against Israelis, even to kill Israelis, especially when Israel is showing zero willingness to end the occupation…This unwillingness to say outright that Palestinians have the right to fight the occupation, especially now, inadvertently helps keep the occupation going.… If we were to say very forthrightly what many of us believe and the rest of us suspect – that the Palestinians, like every nation living under hostile rule, have the right to fight back, that their terrorism, especially in the face of a rejectionist Israeli government, is justified – what effect would that have? A powerful one, I think, because the truth is powerful.
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In an Apology that followed the next day, he said I have an apology to make for “The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror,” which I posted here and on Facebook on Sunday. I didn’t mean to say anything “good” about Palestinian terror against Israelis – I see nothing good in it whatsoever, and I thought I made that clear, but I see now that I didn’t.

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Needless to say, the apology was not sufficient for the zioterrorist supporters at the Post, and the ‘pink slip’ remained in tact. This could turn into a blessing in disguise as he might find a new desk in the offices of HaAretz, bringing along with him scores of disillusioned readers from the JP.

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I can’t say I agree with his original statements regarding terrorism. I have always maintained that acts of terrorism against civilians is wrong. But, I look forward to continue reading whatever he has to write.

CARLOS LATUFF; THE INSPIRATION FROM AFAR

Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff finalizes a cartoon after an interview with
Reuters in Rio de Janeiro August 26, 2011. [REUTERS/Sergio Moraes]
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Rio cartoonist Carlos Latuff inspires Arab rebellions from afar

By Stuart Grudgings
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RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – His cartoons are edgy, bold, and a thorn in the side of the Arab world’s tottering authoritarians — a gift to protesters from the unlikely setting of an apartment in beach-side Rio de Janeiro.

Carlos Latuff, a 42-year-old leftist whose only family link to the Middle East is a Lebanese grandfather he never knew, has become a hero of the tumultuous Arab Spring with rapid-fire satirical sketches that have helped inspire the uprisings.

All he has needed is his pen, a passion for the region’s struggles and a Twitter account that he uses to send out his cartoons.

Starting with the Tunisia uprisings last December, Latuff’s work has been downloaded by protest leaders and splashed on T-shirts and banners at protests from Egypt to Libya and Bahrain, becoming a satirical emblem of outrage.

In one, a jackboot representing Syria’s government stamps on a hand writing the word “freedom.” In another, a man representing justice under Egypt’s military rulers holds a scale full of imprisoned protesters.

Latuff said he first knew his cartoons were having an impact when, watching TV, he saw them printed on banners as protests swept Egypt on Jan. 25, only two days after he had made them available.

“That gave me certainty that my job was useful,” Latuff told Reuters. “It’s not the social platforms that make revolutions, it’s the people. Twitter, Facebook, just like a camera or Molotov cocktails, are just instruments, equipment.”

A cartoon by Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff depicting Muammar Gaddafi (L), a
Libyan rebel and U.S. President Barack Obama (R), is released August 22, 2011.
[REUTERS/Carlos Latuff/Handout] and other new images
A cartoon by Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff depicting Muammar Gaddafi (L), a Libyan rebel and U.S. President Barack Obama (R), is released August 22, 2011. Latuff, a 42-year-old leftist whose only family link to the Middle East is a Lebanese grandfather he never knew, has become a hero of the tumultuous Arab Spring with rapid-fire satirical sketches that have helped inspire the uprisings. All he has needed is his pen, a passion for the region's struggles and a Twitter account. Starting with the Tunisia uprisings last December, Latuff's work has been downloaded by protest leaders and splashed on tee-shirts and banners at protests from Egypt to Libya and Bahrain, becoming a satirical emblem of outrage. REUTERS-Carlos Latuff-Handout
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Official Twitpic account page of Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff displays his new cartoon in Rio de Janeiro August 29, 2011. REUTERS-Sergio Moraes
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A cartoon by Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff depicting military trials of civilians in Egypt, is released August 26, 2011. REUTERS-Handout

Latuff, who does work for Brazilian newspapers and other outlets, doesn’t charge protest leaders for his work, saying he donates the cartoons to highlight injustices and to show his solidarity against authoritarianism globally.

At home, he has been in trouble with authorities several times for hard-hitting images depicting police brutality in Rio’s slums.

His only visits to the Middle East came in 1999 and 2009, when he went to the occupied Palestinian territories and later Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.

Making friends, and enemies

It was enough, he says, to give him an understanding that the dynamics of oppression in the region were similar to those in Rio’s violence-plagued slums, or “favelas.”

“Misery is the same in any country,” he said. “The only difference was that women covered their heads, the writing was in Arabic, and the men with guns were militants, not drug traffickers.”

Latuff’s foray into the divisive world of Middle Eastern politics has made him plenty of enemies as well as friends. His uncompromising work depicting Israeli army brutality toward Palestinians — one cartoon compares soldiers with Nazi Germans — has drawn allegations that he is anti-Semitic, a charge he strongly denies.

The cartoonist, wearing a “Free Palestine” badge and “War is Business” T-shirt, attributed the strong demand for his cartoons among protesters to the continuing lack of freedom for journalists in the region.

Many of his cartoons still focus on Egypt, where emergency powers for the security forces remain in place six months after Hosni Mubarak was toppled. One recent piece shows a snake looming behind a woman sitting at a computer — a reference to the recent arrest of activist Asmaa Mahfouz for “insulting” the military in a Twitter comment. The army later acquitted her.

“Most people don’t know what is happening now in Egypt — because Mubarak left the government they think they have democracy, but this is not true,” Latuff said.

Source (via Reuters)

THE TWO FACES OF ISRAELI APARTHEID

 

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Israeli ambassador hosted iftar as Israeli troops were slaughtering Gaza children
by Khalid Amayreh
 

In an effort to enhance Israel’s increasingly tarnished image as a racist and terrorist state, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren hosted a dinner on Thursday, 26 August, honoring the holy month of Ramadan.

The event took place as Israeli troops were slaughtering Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip in full view of the international community.

The Israeli occupation army killed as many as 30 Palestinians in the past few days. Many of the victims were innocent civilians, including several teen-age boys and girls.

Israel has killed or the caused the death of thousands of mostly innocent Palestinian civilians since the apartheid state imposed a draconian siege on the Gaza Strip, after the Palestinian Islamic Liberation movement, Hamas, won internationally-observed elections in the occupied Palestinian territories in 2006.

In 2008-09, the Israeli army carried out a virtually genocidal blitzkrieg against the coastal enclave, killing and maiming thousands of innocent civilians, including as many as 350 children according to conservative estimates.

The Nazi-like onslaught, in which state-of-the-art of the American technology of death was used, also utterly destroyed thousands of homes, mosques, bridges, schools and other civilian infrastructure.

The 21-day campaign, in which White Phosphorus was used against civilians, was compared to the worst Nazi onslaughts against Jews and others during the Second World War.

Oren’s guests included officials from the Whitehouse, Congress and the State Department as well as several rabbis and low-ranking imams.

“There’s a lot of misinformation about Israel and we want to show we’re open to dialogue and reconciliation,” Oren told CNN. “We can begin to build bridges on an interpersonal level.”

The event was dismissed as “an exposed public relations stunt” that is aimed at diverting attention from Israel’s Nazi-like behavior, especially its increasingly fascist discourse against non-Jews in general and Muslims in particular.

One North African diplomat, who was invited but declined to attend, called the event “a futile effort to make murderers and child killers in Israel look humane and civilized.”

The diplomat, M. Makhlofi, said the world should pay more attention to what Israel is doing in Gaza and the West Bank, not to propagandistic public relation events aimed at enhancing Israel’s ugly image.

“The Ramadan dinner in Washington is really mixed with the blood of Palestinian children. Israel hosts uniformed or misinformed American Muslims to a Ramadan dinner. At the same time, Israel rains one-ton bombs on the heads of Palestinian children in Gaza, killing them and incinerating their young, tender bodies.”

In addition to its clearly murderous approach toward the Palestinians, including Israel’s own Palestinian citizens who make up nearly one fourth of the population, the Israeli government has been introducing decidedly-racist laws forcing non-Jewish citizens to pledge loyalty to Talmudic Judaism.

Moreover, several high-ranking rabbinic leaders have been pressing and pressuring the government of Benymain Netanyahu and the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, to adopt brazenly racist laws that would effectively transform Israel into a state ruled by Halacha or Jewish law.

According to Jewish religious law, non-Jews living in a Jewish religious state must be enslaved as “water carriers or wood hewers.”

As to Palestinians in the occupied territories, fundamentalist Jewish groups, which more or less control the Israeli government, advocate the adoption of three pornographically racist alternatives in dealing with them: enslavement, expulsion or genocide. Advocates of genocide readily quote from the Talmud and Bible to justify their Nazi-like ideology.

The harsh extremism characterizing this racist religious ideology stems mainly form the traditional Orthodox Jewish perception toward non-Jews in general.

Many or most Orthodox rabbis view non-Jews as virtual animals or sub-human beings whose life has no sanctity, at least in comparison to Jews.

One famous rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, recently declared that all non-Jews were like donkeys and that the Almighty created them solely to serve the master race, the Jews. Yosef is the religious and spiritual mentor of Shas, the third most powerful political party in Israel .

Sometimes, anti-goyem racism assumes a truly ugly expression. One rabbi, associated with the powerful Chabad movement, ruled recently that a Jew may perfectly legitimately murder a non-Jew in order to extract his or her heart or kidney or any other organ if the Jew needs one.

Reform, conservative as well as progressive Jews don’t accept their Orthodox brethren’s barbaric interpretation of ancient scriptures. However, objection to the manifestly racist interpretation of the scriptures is motivated, in many but not all cases, by fears that anti-goyem racism could generate anti-Semitism and harm Jews in the global village.

RAMADAN ‘GAMES’

Terror appears to be the state’s preferred strategy in its attempt to beat dissent out of children. Masked police frequently break into homes in the middle of the night to drag suspected stone throwers from their families. Other times they are bundled into vans by undercover police in broad daylight and whisked off to a police station only to be pressured into admission of stone throwing.
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Image by Skulz Fontaine
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click on image to enlarge
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Police Brutality in Silwan: 16-years-old and traumatized

By Sophie Crowe

On 19 August, 16-year-old Yazen Abbasi was brutally beaten by a gang of soldiers after noon prayer outside the mosque in Ras al-Amud, a neighbourhood in Silwan in East Jerusalem.

Over 100 soldiers were present for Friday prayers that day. According to worshippers, the closure of Al Aqsa mosque for Ramadan brings many more worshippers to Ras al-Amud’s mosque.

Yazen, waiting for his family outside the mosque, was startled by the loud bang of a firework set off. Unknown youths threw it in the direction of an assemblage of soldiers, his older brother, Hussein, tells The Palestine Monitor. Yazen was peering over a wall, looking for the source of the firework, when three soldiers attacked him from behind.

“Witnesses told us the soldiers beat him with batons and the butts of their rifles,” Hussein notes, “before army commanders arrived and joined in until about ten soldiers were involved.”

They dragged him into an army jeep, preventing passersby efforts to free the boy using cans of pepper spray. From there they drove Yazen to an East Jerusalem police station. His father came to the station after being notified of Yazen’s arrest. During questioning by police officers, Yazen denied accusations of stone throwing.

Yazen was then taken to a police station in West Jerusalem where police took his DNA and fingerprints. He was released at 19:00 that evening and taken to hospital where doctors discovered severe damage to his left eye. Along with serious bruises and cuts to the head, he has been left with blurry sight in this eye. Hussein told The Palestine Monitor the damage may be permanent.

Yazen, who suffers from a learning disability that affects his speech, has never had an encounter with police or soldiers before. Eye-witnesses were shocked by the brutality of the attack but Yazen cannot remember all the events. A week later, Yazen still appeared extremely shaken and seemed uncomfortable recounting the narrative, which he can do only partially. His family worries that he will be disturbed by this trauma for a long time and have decided to get him psychological help.

Instances such as these are alarmingly common, with police operating a regime of brutality, directed largely, but not exclusively, at minors of Silwan.

The state desperately wants to Judaise the area, which covers the slope that falls away from the southern edge of Al Aqsa mosque, part of the famed “historic basin” of Jerusalem. Israeli policy here is attempting to establish deeper national ties between Jewish Israelis and Palestinian East Jerusalem to make the division of the city less feasible. The aim is to gradually wrest control of the Palestinian areas encircling the Old City in order to effectively partition the latter from East Jerusalem.

Settlers began to arrive in Silwan in the early nineties and today there are 320 living there.

The promotion of the City of David archaeological site inside Silwan is a clear example of this Judaization objective. The settler group ELAD, which controls the excavation of and access to the site, is using biblical mythology, specifically of the Jewish leader, David, to claim Jewish rights over the area.

The state makes life gruelling for local Palestinians in the hope that they will offer less resistance to efforts at gradual ethnic cleansing; Silwan is thus one of the most deprived areas of East Jerusalem and experiences a disproportionately high rate of home demolitions and evacuation orders.

Conversely, residents have developed a particularly potent political consciousness as a result of this stringent persecution, refusing to be cowed into submission by the illegal machinations of supremacist authorities.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Centre (WHIC), established in the Wadi Hilweh area (next to the City of David) in 2009, acts as a focal point for the dissemination of ideas and information regarding the ongoing settlement activity in Silwan. The Wadi Hilweh local committee and the Committee for Protecting Children help to mobilise residents around the call to challenge police repression.

As soldiers and police, more akin to armed gangs than legitimate security agents, are not accountable to Silwan residents, they do not hesitate to employ indiscriminate violence to keep people in line.

State control in Silwan is growing more Orwellian by the day, with activists persecuted mainly for their political ideas. The crime of throwing stones at well-armed and bulletproof vest-clad soldiers is the pretence under which teenage boys are detained and interrogated.

“Israeli law allows children over the age of 14 to be detained for long periods. Children of 13 and under, sometimes as young as six, are arrested, beaten, and released three to four hours later,” explains Jawad Siyam, director of the WHIC. Siyam points out that 15-year-old Louai Rajabi was detained for two months and remains under house arrest.

Children are arrested on a daily basis, Siyam asserts. He worries they are suffering serious trauma as a result, noting how the memory of his own arrest last January is still vivid in his mind.

He suspects that Israel is interested in continuing the clashes between Silwan’s youths and undercover police as a way of displaying its power. “The police punish activists by arresting their children,” Siyam maintains, “children becoming the victims of a collective punishment.”

Terror appears to be the state’s preferred strategy in its attempt to beat dissent out of children. Masked police frequently break into homes in the middle of the night to drag suspected stone throwers from their families. Other times they are bundled into vans by undercover police in broad daylight and whisked off to a police station only to be pressured into admission of stone throwing.

All this amounts to the terrorising of a population that is relatively defenceless next to the Israeli military behemoth.

Jewish settlers are the benefactors of this abuse: “the police act as a kind of militia for the settlers in Silwan,” Siyam told the AIC news source earlier this month.

For Yazen Abbasi, being in the vicinity of soldiers at an inopportune time made him the unwitting target of police reprisal, for which he will suffer for time to come.

The state’s decadent disregard for any semblance of even-handedness in its treatment of minors in Silwan, in particular, has succeeded in robbing many young Palestinians there of the innocence of childhood.

Source

NO SELTZER FOR YOU!

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Meanwhile, in Sweden, the Israeli maker of home carbonation devices, Sodastream, took a direct hit when the Coop supermarket chain announced on 19 July that it would stop all purchases of its products due to the company’s activity in illegal Israeli settlements.
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Swedish chain kicks out drink machines made in Israeli settlements

Stephanie Westbrook*

Sodastream lists pressure on companies to leave the West Bank as a “risk factor” in its SEC filing. (Anna Wester / The Electronic Intifada )

 

The summer of 2011 has been a long, hot one for Israeli and international companies complicit in human rights violations in the occupied West Bank.

Facing an intense Europe-wide boycott campaign, Israel’s largest produce exporter, Agrexco, filed for bankruptcy. French multinational Veolia, an urban systems corporation contracted with the Israeli government to provide light rail services for Israeli settlers in the West Bank, announced massive losses due to sustained pressure by activists around the world.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, the Israeli maker of home carbonation devices, Sodastream, took a direct hit when the Coop supermarket chain announced on 19 July that it would stop all purchases of its products due to the company’s activity in illegal Israeli settlements. This marked another important victory for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, as Sweden is Sodastream’s largest market, with an estimated one in five households owning a Sodastream product (“Coop Sweden stops all purchases of Soda Stream carbonation devices,” 21 July 2011).

The Israeli company has been the target of a two-year campaign by Swedish activists who seek to highlight the company’s complicity with the Israeli occupation. The main production facilities for Sodastream are located at Mishor Adumim, the industrial zone of the Israeli settlement Maaleh Adumim in the occupied West Bank.

Sodastream, whose products are sold in 41 countries, has repeatedly attempted to deflect attention from the factory in the occupied West Bank, claiming that it is just one of many around the world.

In an interview last March with the Israeli financial daily The Marker (published by Haaretz), Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum went so far as to say that “all Sodastream products sold in Sweden are made in China, not Israel” (“Sodastream setting up plant within Green Line,” 3 March 2011).

Sodastream’s documents disprove its claims

Sodastream’s own annual report demonstrates Birnbaum’s claims to be patently false. On 30 June, the company filed a report with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as required for publicly traded companies (Sodastream is listed on NASDAQ). That report describes that the 164,214-square-foot facilities at Mishor Adumim include “a metal factory, plastic and bottle blowing factory, machining factory, assembly factory, cylinder manufacturing facility, CO2 refill line and cylinder retest facility,” while two subcontractors in China produce nothing more than “certain components” for Sodastream products (“Sodastream International Ltd.; Annual report,” 30 June 2011 [PDF]).

The widely-trumpeted “factories around the world” — namely Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and the United States — are shown in the annual report to be limited to carbon dioxide refilling services.

Coop Sweden initially tried to defend its ties with Sodastream, repeating claims that the products on Swedish retailer shelves were made in China. However, as highlighted in a report presented to Coop by the Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden (PGS) last January, the main issue was that the company had partnered with Israeli firms complicit in violations of international law (“PGS urges Coop to stop supporting the occupation,” 14 January 2011 [Swedish]).

As the PGS report emphasizes, “[A] product is part of a firm, and if you buy a product from a firm with an unethical operation, then you support the firm’s operation.”

The decision by Coop Sweden, with 21.5 percent of the Swedish grocery retail sector, came after a nationally televised report covering Sodastream’s ongoing operations in Mishor Adumim aired on 4 July. Using information from Israeli journalists and human rights organizations as well as Sodastream’s own corporate data, the TV4 report showed that despite claims to the contrary by both Sodastream and its Swedish distributor, Empire, products sold in Sweden were produced in an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank. Promises had been made by Empire three years ago that production in the settlement would cease (“TV report: Continued production on occupied land,” 4 July 2011 [Swedish]).

Sodastream taxes finance settlement

Sodastream was a natural choice for the case study in corporate activity in illegal Israeli settlements in the detailed report released in January 2011 by the Who Profits project of the Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel (“Sodastream: A case study for Corporate Activity in Illegal Israeli Settlements,” January 2011 [PDF]).

The report underscores how purchasing Sodastream products directly supports the Maaleh Adumim settlement. In its report Who Profits states that the municipal taxes the company pays are used exclusively to “support the growth and development of the settlement.”

Created in 1974, the illegal industrial park at Mishor Adumim was integral to the establishment of the Maaleh Adumim settlement. The ministerial committee tasked with executing the plan to create the industrial park expropriated an area seven times that originally recommended, stealing lands from the surrounding Palestinian towns of Abu Dis, Azarya, al-Tur, Issawiya, Khan al-Ahmar, Anata and Nabi Moussa. The Who Profits report notes this is “considered the largest single expropriation in the history of the Israeli occupation.”

In addition to the industrial park, the ministerial committee also added a camp to the plan “for workers whose work is in the area.” One year later, the workers’ compound was erected and declared the settlement of Maaleh Adumim, and in 1977 as the Likud party gained power, the Israeli government officially recognized Maaleh Adumim as a “civilian community,” according to a report by Israeli human rights groups B’Tselem and Bimkom (“The Hidden Agenda: The Establishment and Expansion Plans of Ma’ale Adummim and their Human Rights Ramification,” December 2009 [PDF]).

Today, it is Israel’s largest settlement in terms of geographical area and, with 35,000 settlers, third in population. Strategically positioned to link settlements in East Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley, Maaleh Adumim effectively bisects the West Bank, cutting off the north from the south.

Sodastream whitewashes exploitation of Palestinian workers

Meanwhile, the company’s leadership has attempted to paint Sodastream as an attractive place at which Palestinians would be lucky to work.

Sodastream Italy’s marketing director, Petra Schrott, responded with corporate talking points to a question posted on Yahoo Answers last June regarding the company’s West Bank location. Schrott described Sodastream as “a wonderful example of peaceful coexistence” where “160 Palestinians are employed and receive full social and health services” not to mention “daily hot meals” (“A question about Sodastream“ [Italian]).

As the Who Profits report points out, Palestinian workers, left with few choices other than working in settlements due to high unemployment in the West Bank, are “occupied subjects and thus they do not enjoy civil rights, and depend on their employers for work permits.” Efforts by Palestinian workers to organize and demand their due rights often result in the revocation of work permits, leading few to make any requests of their employers at all.

According to the Israeli workers rights organization Kav LaOved, Palestinian workers in Israeli settlements are underpaid, subjected to extensive security checks, exposed to workplace hazards and are left to fend for themselves if injured on the job (“Palestinian Workers in Israeli West Bank Settlements – 2009,” 13 March 2010).

Kav LaOved has assisted workers at the Sodastream factory in their struggle to obtain improved working conditions, better salaries and, at times, unpaid wages.

In 2008, workers complaining of pay far below the required minimum wage and twelve-hour workdays organized a protest at the factory after their appeals for better wages had met with no results. Seventeen workers were fired. It was only after Kav LaOved intervened via letters and meetings with Sodastream management and after Sodastream earned itself unflattering publicity in the Swedish press that the company — begrudgingly — rehired the Palestinian workers and granted them their due rights. However, as Kav LaOved noted, they remain “at the bottom of the hierarchy in the factory and constantly fear their dismissal.”

The story repeated itself in April 2010, when 140 Palestinian workers were fired and not paid their wages for the previous month. Kav LaOved again succeeded in obtaining back pay and in having the workers rehired, except for the two who led the struggle. Since that time, Kav LaOved has been unable to gather any information on working conditions at the Sodastream factory (“Employees at Soda Club fired without wages (follow up report),” 27 April 2010).

Unsurprisingly, the Palestinian workers at the Sodastream factory come from some of the very villages whose land was stolen to create Maaleh Adumim, including Abu Dis and Azarya — Azarya alone lost 57 percent of its village lands.

Greenwashing the occupation

Sodastream markets its products as “eco-friendly.” That’s an idea that is difficult to reconcile with the fact that the very settlement the company financially supports is responsible for “managing” the infamous Abu Dis landfill. That landfill is built on expropriated land from the village of the same name, where garbage from areas in Jerusalem and the surrounding settlements is dumped.

In June 2011, the Jerusalem municipality finally agreed to comply with an order from the Ministry of the Environment filed in October 2010 to reduce the 1,100 tons of waste per day being sent to Abu Dis because the dump was “polluting nearby streams and land” (“J’lem trash crisis solved, Abu Dis dump to be phased out,” The Jerusalem Post, 17 June 2011).

The Abu Dis landfill sits atop the Mountain Aquifer, the primary water source in the occupied West Bank. Under the Oslo accords, the agreement signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s, Israel is granted four times more of the water from the aquifer than are Palestinians.

Furthermore, Palestinians are required to obtain approval for the development and maintenance of their own water resources from the Joint Water Committee. This joint Israeli-Palestinian committee, however, deals only with water and sewage-related issues within the West Bank, effectively giving Israel exclusive veto power on all decisions on water resource and infrastructure development, including in Oslo-designated areas A and B, areas of the West Bank ostensibly under Palestinian administrative control.

Since Oslo, not one new permit for agricultural wells has been issued and 120 existing Palestinian wells are not functioning for lack of approval for repairs, according to water rights organization Ewash. Palestinians are forced to purchase their own water from the Israeli water utility, Mekerot (“Water resources in the West Bank“ [PDF]).

Settlement investment a “risk factor”

In disclosing risk factors as required in SEC filings, Sodastream listed both remaining in and transferring from Mishor Adumim as potential liabilities. The risks associated with staying include “negative publicity, primarily in Western Europe, against companies with facilities in the West Bank” and “consumer boycotts of Israeli products originating in the West Bank.”

Complying with international law and leaving the illegal settlement, on the other hand, would “limit certain tax benefits” enjoyed by companies in industrial parks in illegal settlements.

However, for more and more companies, those tax incentives fail to compensate for the negative publicity. On 19 July, the multinational corporation Unilever, after unsuccessfully attempting to sell its shares in the company, formally announced plans to move its Bagel and Bagel pretzel factory from the Barkan industrial zone in the Ariel settlement bloc to within the green line, Israel’s internationally-recognized armistice line with the occupied West Bank (“Bagel Bagel leaving territories,” 19 July 2011).

And while the Israel Lands Administration announced tenders for six new factories in Mishor Adumim, Israeli settlement watchdog group Peace Now points out that this is a recycled tender issued under the Olmert administration in 2008, which failed to find any takers (“Boycott Law Passes Knesset – Now Govt Establishes New Factories in Settlements,” Peace Now, 14 July 2011).

Sodastream itself has exhibited signs of bowing to international campaigns against the company. A press release on 6 July announced the groundbreaking of a new factory within the green line. The new facility is expected to begin operations in 2013, the same year the lease on the Mishor plant is due to expire (“SodaStream Announces the Groundbreaking of a New Primary Manufacturing Facility,” 6 July 2011).

In the press release, CEO Birnbaum says the company looks forward to leveraging “free trade agreements with the EU and North America.” In 2010, Sodastream was at the center of a European Court of Justice ruling that declared products originating in the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories ineligible for preferential trade tariffs under the EU-Israel Agreement. Though several other legal actions were included in Sodastream’s SEC filings, this particular case was conspicuously missing.

Sodastream looking to expand but meets protest

Sodastream is largely an export company with only three percent of sales made in Israel, according to an article published last February on the Israeli promotional site Israel 21c (“Putting the ‘pop’ back into soda pop,” 22 February 2011).

While Sweden is currently Sodastream’s largest market, the advertising blitz taking place in several European countries and the US indicates the company is looking to expand. On 12 July Sodastream announced a 3.4-million euro ($4.9 million) TV ad campaign in the UK, and in Italy a 1.8-million euro ($2.6 million) campaign was announced in June.

Sodastream’s annual report shows its advertising budget more than doubled from 10.5 million euros ($15 million) in 2009 to 21.5 million euros ($31 million) in 2010.

Sodastream identifies the US as its “most important target market” in its annual report and US activists are gearing up to meet the challenge. In a coordinated action last March, a petition with more than 2,500 signatures calling on Bed Bath & Beyond to stop selling Sodastream products (as well as products from Ahava, the settlement-based cosmetics company), was delivered to 15 locations up and down the West Coast, from Seattle to Los Angeles (“Tell Bed Bath & Beyond to Stop Carrying Illegal Settlement Products!”, CodePink).

Earlier this month, a group of activists dressed as brides held a mock wedding inside Bed Bath & Beyond in Los Angeles calling on concerned brides everywhere to strike Sodastream (and Ahava) off their bridal registries (“BDS Brides Boycott SodaStream and Ahava Sales at Bed Bath & Beyond,” YouTube, 12 August 2011).

The recent decision by Coop Sweden, as well as the financial woes of occupation-complicit companies, will give BDS campaigns around the world a boost. And the comments sections for online Sodastream promotional pieces provide a prime space for activists to get the word out on Sodastream’s complicity in human rights violations.

*Stephanie Westbrook is a US citizen based in Rome, Italy. Her articles have been published on Common Dreams, Counterpunch, The Electronic Intifada, In These Times and Z Magazine.

Written FOR

ISRAEL PREFERS ANOTHER WAR TO PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD

It doesn’t matter what Palestine and the rest of the world might want … All that matters is what Israel wants! ‘The biggest spoiled brat in the Middle East!’
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The IDF is currently in the process of finalizing its preparations for Operation Summer Seeds, whose purpose is to ready the army for September and the possibility of confrontations with Palestinians following the expected vote in favor of Palestinian statehood at the UN General Assembly.
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IDF arming and training Israeli settlers as ‘mass disorder’ expected in September

West Bank settlers to receive tear gas and stun grenades to prepare for ‘Operation Summer Seeds’.

The IDF has conducted detailed work to determine a “red line” for each settlement in the West Bank, which will determine when soldiers will be ordered to shoot at the feet of Palestinian protesters if the line is crossed. It is also arming settlers with tear gas and stun grenades as part of the defense operation.

The IDF is currently in the process of finalizing its preparations for Operation Summer Seeds, whose purpose is to ready the army for September and the possibility of confrontations with Palestinians following the expected vote in favor of Palestinian statehood at the UN General Assembly.

According to a document acquired by Haaretz, the main working assumption of the defense establishment is that a Palestinian declaration of independence will cause a public uprising “which will mainly include mass disorder.”

The document states the disorder will include “marches toward main junctions, Israeli communities, and education centers; efforts at damaging symbols of [Israeli] government.

Also, there may be more extreme cases like shooting from within the demonstrations or even terrorist incidents. In all the scenarios, there is readiness to deal with incidents near the fences and the borders of the State of Israel.”

As part of its preparations, the IDF is investing a great deal of effort in preparing the settlers for the incidents, with the main concern being confrontations between Israeli settlers and the Palestinians.

Yesterday the army held training sessions for the chief security officers of settlements at a military installation near Shiloh. In recent weeks the IDF has been training the readiness squads of settlements at the Lachish base, which is used as a command training center ahead of September.

The main message the army is issuing is that the demonstrations will be controlled and that the army has sufficient forces in order to deal with every disturbance. In order to be sure, there is also a decision, in principle, to equip the chief security officers of settlements with the means for dispersing demonstrations. These would include tear gas and stun grenades, although that would create a logistical problem as there’s a shortage of means for firing that type of ammunition.

Moreover, as part of the preparations, staff work was performed in which the commander of the platoon responsible for defending each settlement patrolled the area with the chief security officer of the settlement, in order to identify weak points.

The army is establishing two virtual lines for each of the settlements that are near a Palestinian village. The first line, if crossed by Palestinian demonstrators, will be met with tear gas and other means for dispersing crowds.

The second line is a “red line,” and if this one is crossed, the soldiers will be allowed to open fire at the legs of the demonstrators, as is also standard practice if the northern border is crossed.

Each map was approved by the regional brigade commander, and the IDF force that is deployed to the area will be ready to respond on the basis of the lines determined.

As part of the preparations, GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi is planning to issue a message to the settlers. The settlers are pressing for the message to include specific instructions on how they should behave if threatened, such as in cases where the roads are blocked or settlements are breached by demonstrators.

There is concern at the IDF, and especially from the Military Advocate General, that any such instructions will be interpreted as rules of engagement by the settlers.

Also, during the past week the National Emergency Management Authority at the Defense Ministry sent letters to the heads of settlements in which they wrote that “difficulties in supply of fuel and gas are expected, and the owners of stations should be ordered to have full loads of fuel. It is also recommended that the owners of grocery stores should ensure they have sufficient stores. Patrols around the electricity and water supply installations and communications lines should be increased.”

Moreover, the letters said that government offices will be on standby, starting on September 19.

At the Emergency Authority they warned the settlements that the stepped-up readiness will last at least several weeks.

An IDF spokesman said: “The IDF is holding an ongoing professional dialogue with elements in the settlement leadership, with the routine security personnel, and is investing many resources in training forces, from a defensive standpoint and in readiness for possible scenarios. The Central Command has recently completed much training for the emergency response squads, and this training is ongoing. Naturally, we are unable to go into details on the operational readiness of the IDF.”

 

Source

THE HEROIC ‘FLAG GAME’

Anyone wanna be a hero? Here’s your chance ;)
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The Israeli flag was returned to the building of the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Monday, a week after a young Egyptian man climbed up the building and tore it down, instantly becoming a national hero.
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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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Israeli flag returns to Cairo embassy one week after it was torn down

Young Egyptian turns into national hero after climbing up building of Israeli embassy and tearing down flag last week; Israeli flag raised again, but now placed below Egyptian flag.

 

The Israeli flag was returned to the building of the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Monday, a week after a young Egyptian man climbed up the building and tore it down, instantly becoming a national hero.

 

In contrast to the flag’s previous placement on the roof of the building, on Monday the flag was raised from a balcony on the 20th floor, just below the Egyptian flag.

 

 

Read the rest HERE

 

You might even get a T-shirt made in your honour ;)

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A SUNDOWN OF JOY ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL

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When the sun sets over Palestine this evening, Muslims will rejoice in the glorious feast of Eid al Fitre, signalling the end of Ramadan.
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On the other side of the wall Jews will prepare to usher in the Holy Month of Elul.
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Ramadan is a month for Muslims to reflect on their lives and find ways to improve it … Elul is the same for the Jews…
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Let us all attempt to reflect and dwell on our similarities rather than the artificial differences that divide us politically!
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Despite the powers that keep us apart, we can become one!!
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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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In the near future may we see a Palestine and an Israel without a wall dividing us!

May we see a future of PEACE!!

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Click HERE to see some beautiful photos of the Joys of Ramadan, courtesy of The Guardian.
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EID MUBARAK

 ELUL TOV

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UPDATE ON JENIN’S FREEDOM THEATRE AND HOW YOU CAN HELP

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Update for The Freedom Theatre in Jenin

ACTION UPDATE

First: thank you to the hundreds of people from all over the world who
responded to the Jenin Freedom Theatre’s call for assistance, whether by
signing the protest statement, or by calling Israeli representatives both in
the West Bank and in Washington, DC.

You have demonstrated that people all over the world care about The Freedom
Theatre and are willing to make their voices heard!

(Background: the Israeli army invaded The Freedom Theatre in the Jenin
refugee camp on July 27, 2011 at 3:30 a.m., smashing or cracking most of its
windows with large stones and arresting Adnan Naghnaghiye, the facilities
manager and Bilaal Saadi, the Board chair, on the spot.  A few days later,
Rami Hwaywel, a 20-year old drama student was stopped at a checkpoint,
blindfolded and arrested.)

Adnan and Bilaal were released from detention on August 23, 2011, and are
back with their much-relieved colleagues and families.  The pressure we
collectively brought to bear may have been a crucial component of this
outcome!

We are expecting Rami, the featured player in an upcoming Freedom Theatre
production, to be released within days.

The assault against The Freedom Theatre, however, continues. At 2 a.m. on
August 22, the Israeli army attacked The Freedom Theatre again, arresting
Mohammad Eisht Naghnaghiye (Adnan’s brother) who is the Theatre’s security
guard.  When Jacob Gough (the Theatre’s Acting Manager) arrived on the
scene, the army forced him to strip at gunpoint.  As Gough reported, “they
beat Mohammed before taking him away in handcuffs and then proceeded to
ransack all three floors of his family home.  As the army left the area they
fired live ammunition in an attempt to disperse the crowds of youth that had
gathered and were throwing rocks.”

No charges have been made against Mohammad Eisht Naghnaghiye.

What you can do now:

Please keep the pressure on to

1) release Mohammad

2) demand that the Israeli military leave The Freedom Theatre alone

Please call:

. The District Commanding Officer (DCO) of the Jenin Region:
+972-2-970-3018.

. Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren:  (202) 364-5500;
e-mail: info@washington.mfa.gov.il

. Sarit Arbell, Director of Cultural Affairs at the Israeli Embassy:
(202) 364-5676; e-mail:  culture1@washington.mfa.gov.

3) contribute funds to The Theatre’s legal defense needs, which are, as of
now, $5,500 and climbing.

Online donations:
http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/support-donate-monthly.php

Checks: Small donations can be made payable to The Friends of the Jenin
Freedom Theatre, Inc.; for tax-deductible donations, please make checks
payable to Grassroots International with “Jenin Freedom Theatre” on the memo
line, and send to the address below.

Again, thank you for what you have already done to support The Freedom
Theatre, and for your continued support in protecting this vital cultural
institution in Palestine!

From all of us at Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre- PO Box 592 New York,
NY  10591
917-991-5653
friends@thefreedomtheatre.org

JERUSALEM POST’S ‘PSYCHO GAL’ REVEALS HER INSANITY ONCE AGAIN

She never ceases to amaze me. Every time she writes a column I am shocked that The Onion does not repost it as one of their own Op-Eds. Needless to say, I am talking about the Jerusalem Post’s ‘Psycho Gal’. Every column she writes reveals the insanity she suffers from. The latest is a glowing tribute to another that suffers from a similar form of dementia, Glenn Beck.
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The following is truly unbelievable, but, as they say: “Birds of a feather flock together”! Here is the actual proof of that quote….
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Glenn Beck’s revealing visit

In general, Israeli media responded to Beck’s visit either as a non-event, or distorted who Beck is and what he is trying to do.

American media superstar Glenn Beck’s visit to Israel this week was a revealing and remarkable event. It revealed what it takes to be a friend of Israel. And it revealed the causes of Israel’s difficulty in telling its enemies from its friends.

Many world leaders, opinion-shapers and other notables protest enduring friendship with Israel. From Washington to London, Paris to Spain, policy- makers and other luminaries preface all their remarks to Jewish audiences with such statements. Once their declarations are complete – and often without taking a breath – they proceed to denounce Israel’s policies and to deny its basic rights.

US President Barack Obama exemplifies this practice. Obama always begins his statements on Israel by proclaiming his enduring friendship for Israel. Then he tells us to deny Jewish property rights, accept indefensible borders, or desist from defending ourselves from aggression.

The Israeli Left habitually embraces self-proclaimed friends such as Obama. Often leftist leaders encourage such friends to harm Israel in the name of helping it. For instance, in 2007, speaking to then-secretary of state Condoleezza Rice – who had a habit of comparing her friend Israel to the Jim Crow South – then-Haaretz editor David Landau asked her to “rape” the Jewish state. Opposition leader Tzipi Livni recently encouraged Obama to increase pressure on Israel.

When anti-Semitic public intellectuals such as the late Nobel laureate Jose Saramago compare Israel to Nazi Germany, the Israeli Left makes light of their remarks. For instance, when at the height of the Palestinian terror war in 2002 Saramago said Israel was worse than the Nazis and that Jews had no right to speak of the Holocaust, Yediot Aharonot’s Ariella Melamed referred to Saramago as “one of the most beloved foreign novelists in Israel.”

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She continues with…
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Unlike the leftist public intellectuals such as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman who are celebrated and obsessively covered by the Israeli media, Beck exerts real influence on public opinion in the US. His calls for action are answered by hundreds of thousands of people. His statements are a guidepost for millions of Americans. Aside from radio host Rush Limbaugh, no media personality in the US has such influence.

It is highly significant that thousands of Beck’s supporters followed his call and came with him to Israel for a week to express their support for Israel and the Jewish people. It is similarly significant that millions more of his supporters followed his actions on Internet.

Those media that did not seek to downplay the importance of Beck’s visit opted instead to distort who he is and what he is doing. As the Yediot headline indicated, the media portrayed him as an unstable messianic, or they castigated him as an extremist and marginal force in the US. Haaretz and Globes both ran articles attacking Beck as an anti-Semite.

These claims are outrageous and represent yet another gross disservice to Israeli news consumers who do not have an independent means of judging Beck, his message and his actions for themselves.

Beck came to Israel to launch a global movement of activists committed to supporting Israel, not in order to “rape” it, but in order to empower it to defeat its enemies and to stand up to an increasingly hostile world. In his speech under the Temple Mount, Beck roused his audience – which contrary to media reports was a mix of American Christians and American Jews joined by scores of Israelis – to action. With gripping prose, Beck told his audience to disregard the “convenient” lies about Israel and embrace the truth.

That truth, he said, is that “In Israel, there is more courage in one square mile than in all of Europe. In Israel, there is more courage in one Israeli soldier than in the combined and cold hearts of every bureaucrat at the United Nations. In Israel, you can find people who will stand against incredible odds, against the entire tide of global opinion, for what is right and good and true. Israel is not a perfect country. No country is perfect. But it tries, and it is courageous.”

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The rest can be read HERE
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Believe me, I’m not being mean when I refer to Caroline Glick as a psycho …. it’s a FACT!
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If you still doubt my claim, take a look at the following, her own words on the ‘Arab Spring’
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PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD: THE AYES AND THE NAYS

The support map changes daily…. Palestinian Statehood is imminent!
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A partial listing of the Ayes, as of July 2011…
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Countries that support the recognition of a Palestinian state:

# Name Date of recognition
1 Algeria 15 November 1988
2 Bahrain 15 November 1988
3 Iraq 15 November 1988
4 Kuwait 15 November 1988
5 Libya 15 November 1988
6 Malaysia 15 November 1988
7 Mauritania15 November 1988
8 Morocco 15 November 1988
9 Somalia 15 November 1988
10 Tunisia 15 November 1988
11 Turkey 15 November 1988
12 Yemen 15 November 1988
13 Afghanistan 16 November 1988
14 Bangladesh 16 November 1988
15 Cuba 16 November 1988
16 Indonesia 16 November 1988
17 Jordan 16 November 1988
18 Madagascar 16 November 1988
19 Malta 16 November 1988
20 Nicaragua 16 November 1988
21 Pakistan 16 November 1988
22 Qatar 16 November 1988
23 Saudi Arabia 16 November 1988
24 United Arab Emirates 16 November 1988
25 Serbia 16 November 1988
26 Zambia 16 November 1988
27 Albania 17 November 1988
28 Brunei 17 November 1988
29 Djibouti 17 November 1988
30 Mauritius 17 November 1988
31 Sudan 17 November 1988
32 Cyprus 18 November 1988
33 Czech Republic 18 November 1988
34 Slovakia 18 November 1988
35 Egypt 18 November 1988
36 India 18 November 1988
37 Nigeria 18 November 1988
38 Seychelles 18 November 1988
39 Sri Lanka 18 November 1988
40 Belarus 19 November 1988
41 Guinea 19 November 1988
42 Namibia 19 November 1988
43 Ukraine 19 November 1988
44 Russia 19 November 1988
45 Vietnam 19 November 1988
46 China, People’s Republic of 20 November 1988
47 Burkina Faso 21 November 1988
48 Comoros 21 November 1988
49 Guinea-Bissau 21 November 1988
50 Mali 21 November 1988
51 Cambodia 21 November 1988
52 Mongolia 22 November 1988
53 Senegal 22 November 1988
54 Hungary 23 November 1988
55 Cape Verde 24 November 1988
56 Korea, North 24 November 1988
57 Niger 24 November 1988
58 Romania 24 November 1988
59 Tanzania 24 November 1988
60 Bulgaria 25 November 1988
61 Maldives 28 November 1988
62 Ghana 29 November 1988
63 Togo 29 November 1988
64 Zimbabwe 29 November 1988
65 Chad 1 December 1988
66 Laos 2 December 1988
67 Sierra Leone 3 December 1988
68 Uganda 3 December 1988
69 Congo, Republic of the 5 December 1988
70 Angola 6 December 1988
71 Mozambique 8 December 1988
72 São Tomé and Príncipe 10 December 1988
73 Congo, Democratic Republic of the 10 December 1988
74 Gabon 12 December 1988
75 Oman 13 December 1988
76 Poland 14 December 1988
77 Botswana19 December 1988
78 Nepal 19 December 1988
79 Burundi 22 December 1988
80 Central African Republic 23 December 1988
81 Bhutan 25 December 1988
82 Rwanda 2 January 1989
83 Ethiopia 4 February 1989
84 Iran 4 February 1989
85 Benin May 1989 or before
86 Equatorial Guinea May 1989 or before
87 Gambia May 1989 or before
88 Kenya May 1989 or before
89 Lebanon May 1989 or before
90 Vanuatu 21 August 1989
91 Philippines September 1989
92 Swaziland July 1991 or before
93 Kazakhstan 6 April 1992
94 Azerbaijan 15 April 1992
95 Georgia 25 April 1992
96 Bosnia and Herzegovina 27 May 1992
97 Tajikistan 2 April 1994
98 Uzbekistan 25 September 1994
99 South Africa 15 February 1995
100 Kyrgyzstan November 1995
101 East Timor 1 March 2004
102 Papua New Guinea 4 October 2004
103 Paraguay 25 March 2005
104 Montenegro 24 July 2006
105 Costa Rica 5 February 2008
106 Côte d’Ivoire 2008 or before
107 Venezuela 27 April 2009
108 Dominican Republic 14 July 2009
109 Brazil 1 December 2010
110 Argentina 6 December 2010
111 Bolivia 22 December 2010
112 Ecuador 24 December 2010
113 Chile 7 January 2011
114 Guyana 13 January 2011
115 Peru 24 January 2011
116 Suriname 1 February 2011
117 Uruguay 15 March 2011
118 Malawi 19 April 2011
119 Lesotho 6 June 2011
120 Syria 18 July 2011
121 Liberia 2011
122 Turkmenistan 2011 or before
List taken FROM
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If your country is not on the list, urge your government to join in…. USA, Canada, Australia and Columbia in particular. HELP US FILL IN THE MAP ABOVE!
Be a part of Peace and Progress!!
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The zionists were able to ‘pull it off’ in 1948…. the rest of the world can do it today!
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THE DREAM THAT STILL INSPIRES US

Forty eight years ago we marched, hoped and prayed…. Today we still have that hope.
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MLK National Monument Inspires Calls to Continue Civil Rights Leader’s Work to End Poverty and War

This week, the public got its first look at a newly unveiled memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., that honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is the first memorial on the National Mall not dedicated to a war, president or white man. The threat of Hurricane Irene has forced organizers to postpone the planned dedication of memorial on Sunday, which was to have been attended by 250,000 people, including President Barack Obama. The dedication ceremony was to have taken place on the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, when Dr. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Despite the storm, a related Rally for Jobs and Justice will proceed tomorrow, ending with a march to the King Memorial. We speak with longtime civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, president and founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, and with Dr. Vincent Harding, a longtime friend and a former speechwriter for Dr. King. He co-wrote his famous “Beyond Vietnam” address. Harding reads from a Carl Wendell Hines poem written shortly after Dr. King’s assassination and notes that “Dead men make such convenient heroes… It is easier to build monuments than to build a better world.”

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Transcript:

JUAN GONZALEZ: This week the public got its first look at a newly unveiled memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., that honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s the first memorial on the National Mall not dedicated to a war, a president or a white man. The memorial features a 30-foot-tall sculpture in which the civil rights leader appears to emerge from a chunk of granite that is carved to resemble the sides of a mountain. It was sculpted by Chinese artist Lei Yixin.

Well, the threat of Hurricane Irene has forced organizers to postpone the planned dedication of the memorial, which had been set to take place Sunday at 11:00 a.m. Some 250,000 people were expected to attend, including President Barack Obama. The dedication ceremony was to have taken place on the 48th anniversary of Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered less than a mile away on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Dr. Martin Luther King, speaking in Washington, D.C., on August 28th, 1963. Well, the event at which Dr. King made his famous speech was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. And even as the King Memorial dedication has been postponed, a related Rally for Jobs and Justice will proceed on Saturday, ending with a march to the King Memorial. It’s expected to attract thousands of labor, education and civil rights activists across the country. In the year before he was assassinated, Dr. King organized a Poor People’s Campaign for economic opportunity for all Americans.

To talk about the memorial and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, we go to Washington, D.C., where we’re joined by longtime civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson. Reverend Jackson is also president and founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. And we’re joined in Denver, Colorado, by Dr. Vincent Harding, who was a longtime friend and former speechwriter for Dr. King, who wrote his famous “Beyond Vietnam” address. He’s also chair of the Veterans of Hope project. Dr. Harding is author of several books, including Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! The sculpture in Washington, the statue, Reverend Jesse Jackson, can you talk about its origins, how there finally is in Washington, D.C., this statue on the Mall that is not for a president or a war, the first time a black man is being honored?

REV. JESSE JACKSON: I suppose the gravitas is this journey, this 164-mile journey from Jamestown, Virginia, where slaves landed in 1619, of 246 years of legal slavery, then a hundred years of Jim Crow. That’s the context of that struggle to make this a more perfect union. And Dr. King’s role in it, at that stage, took us all to another level of hope and ambition. And so, his Alpha Phi Alpha brothers, in a very ingenious way, came with the idea of having a statue on the Mall and commenced to build a foundation, began to raise the money. The idea got traction, and now see the result of it in this huge statue on the monument. And so, not far from three presidents—Lincoln—Presidents Lincoln and Washington and Jefferson—stands a Nobel laureate, the man of peace, who was the world’s transformative figure on that Mall for, in one sense, Presidents Lincoln and Washington and Jefferson are huge national figures, but none on that Mall stands as tall as Dr. King as a world transformative figure, the idea of human rights and freedom around the world.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Reverend Jackson, Cornel West had a piece in today’s—an op-ed piece in today’s New York Times titled “Reverend King Would Be Weeping” [“Dr. King Weeps from His Grave”]. And the thrust of his column was that this symbol and memorial to Dr. King comes at the same time that so many of the substance of the issues that Dr. King raised, especially in his final days, are being ignored or even—the country is turning its back on those issues that Dr. King raised. Your reaction to this irony that Cornel West raises?

REV. JESSE JACKSON: I think we would do well to use the statue as an occasion to deal with his unfinished business. He was shot down, assassinated at age 39. His last agenda items included a Poor People’s Campaign, the quest to end the war in Vietnam, and stop the radical installation of capital in the hands of the very wealthy. And today, here we are with too few people with too much wealth, subsidized by the government, too many unnecessary wars and too many people in poverty. So, in substance, this memorial gives us a rallying point to keep going with his unfinished business. We bail out the banks, without link to lending and reinvestment, for example. The Bush tax cut extension is more money than all of the state budget deficits combined. So, clearly, Wall Street has made out big time, but the poor are expanding, and we’re losing jobs en masse, and we must, in fact, turn it around.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Vince Harding, the name of your book about Dr. King is Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero. You’re quoting from a poem by Carl Wendell Hines. Can you share that with us?

DR. VINCENT HARDING: I’d be very glad to, Amy. And I’m so glad to be on the program with you again. As I’ve thought about the monument, what came immediately to my mind was this poem that I quote in the King book by Carl Wendell Hines. And here is the section that I’m especially interested in sharing this morning:

Now that he is safely dead,Let us Praise him,Build monuments to his glory, Sing Hosannas to his name.
Dead men make such convenient Heroes.They cannot rise to challenge the imagesWe would fashion from their Lives.And besides, it is easier to build monumentsThan to build a better world.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Vince Harding, talk about why you think that—

DR. VINCENT HARDING: That was on my mind.

AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead. Talk about why that is on your mind today, as this statute, well, is about to be formally unveiled, but because of the hurricane will be postponed.

DR. VINCENT HARDING: I think that the whole issue that Martin represented of the role of all of us as citizens in this nation to work to create a more just, compassionate and concerned nation is something that is so easy for us to forget as we build the monument. I believe very strongly that monuments, works of art, are of great importance. But what comes to my mind, Amy, is that when we take our children to see the monument, I hope that when they ask about who that is and why the monument is there, that we’ll say to those children, not that this is Martin Luther King who was a great speech maker, but that this is King who helped to inspire me to work for you to have a better school, my son, to work for you, my daughter, to be able to be a great creative agent in this world, to work for community to be a place where all of us can live and love in strength and unity. If we could tell our children from that monument what work it is that we are doing now to carry on the work that King was involved in and that King died for, then your monument will have its rightful place. But we must always keep in mind that that work has to go on if the monument is to have any real meaning for us all.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And Reverend Jackson, about that work, the march that you’re having on Saturday, obviously in the midst right now of a presidency where many expected much more in terms of a dedication to alleviating some of the problems of the poor and of those who are less fortunate in this society, that hasn’t happened, your sense of what the message of the march will be?

REV. JESSE JACKSON: Let me say to you, I want to build upon—and first, good morning, Dr. Harding, one of Dr. King’s closest friends.

DR. VINCENT HARDING: Good morning, Jesse.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: We have a way of embracing martyrs—embracing martyrs and not marchers, trying to neuter him. He died a very unpopular man, attacked by our government, attacked by the media, shunned by many blacks themselves, for example, civil rights activists, because he dared to deal with the issue of unjust, unnecessary wars.

Today we’re spending a trillion dollars in Iraq on the wrong target. Overthrowing the government in Libya, well, a billion there, and billions more to restore it. Two billion a week in Afghanistan. And yet, we’re laying off teachers, firemen, policemen. He would be distressed by that. He would be weeping about that. The bailout for these banks, who drove us in the hole, and then they get bailed out without links to kind of reinvest. We refortified them, not restructured them.

These issues that Dr. King would have raised would be troubling, but it is his sense of outrage and conscience that make us better today. And I would hope, as Vince said, that the interpretation must lead us to his unfinished business. The dream only makes sense if it’s connected to the broken promise that had been unfulfilled for a hundred years. And today, the dream has to put every American back to work. That means reinvesting in the common people bottom-up. We’re cutting public transportation, denying access to jobs, resegregating. Our schools are more segregated. The biggest growth industry in most states is the jail-industrial complex. So he would see me raising troubling questions of conscience, so I will see this monument as an opportunity to raise issues of jobs and peace and justice.

AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Jackson, can you talk about the corporate contributors to this statue and the event, the mass corporate donations that funded the memorial—FedEx, General Motors, GE, PepsiCo, ExxonMobil?

REV. JESSE JACKSON: Well, I do not know, you know, who all did the contributions, but I do know that that will pale by comparison to how long the statue will be here. And you go to Lincoln, it’s a conversation about the Emancipation Proclamation. Or you go to Jefferson, there’s a statement about his being a founder of the country, democracy and slavery co-existing. You go to Washington, father of the country. You go to Dr. King’s statue, you’ll be talking about civil rights and social justice. It will outlast who contributed to making it happen. I would think that that would be the last—a man of peace on that statue, unlike these presidents. He’s the tallest figure there, because people coming here from South Africa and from Australia and from Asia, people all around the world, who embrace peace and justice and self-determination found in Dr. King’s statue, that one will be the most appealing statue on the entire Mall.

AMY GOODMAN: Vince Harding, you helped Dr. King write that speech, “Beyond Vietnam.” You sat there for days preparing this, the famous speech he gave April 4th, 1967, a year to the day before he was assassinated. He gave that speech at Riverside Church. It became known as “Beyond Vietnam.” Let me play a short clip for you now.REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.

AMY GOODMAN: That famous address, Time magazine later called the speech “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi.” TheWashington Post declared that King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, and his people.” Vince Harding, your reflections on that speech, in which he said the country he loved, America, the United States, was the greatest purveyor of violence on earth, as he spoke against the war in Vietnam, where we are today with the wars that President Obama is presiding over in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan?

DR. VINCENT HARDING: Well, I think, Amy, that that speech, which was not simply mine, but which definitely spoke to Martin’s own deepest convictions, that speech and the segment that you just read, for instance, is now very clearly the truth of Vietnam, regardless of what Time or theNew York Times or the Washington Post was saying in 1967. By this time, we realize that King was the one who saw most clearly and most adequately what it was that was going on in Vietnam. And he called us away from that kind of adventure. He called us to become a mature democratic country and not a country of cowboy teenagers. And this, I think, is still the need for us right now, to find a way to become a mature people, so that we can recreate the country that is so badly in need of that vision of a more perfect union.

JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to ask Reverend Jackson. The wars—you’ve mentioned the wars—

REV. JESSE JACKSON: May I say, Juan—

JUAN GONZALEZ: I’m sorry, go ahead.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: What I wanted to say was that one of the fears about—in tributing Dr. King as one with a dove in one ear and a flower in the other is to miss the fact he was a man of courage and conscience and confrontation and then conciliation.

DR. VINCENT HARDING: Yes, yes, yes.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: He won the battle of Montgomery—confrontation—the battle of Birmingham, the battle of Selma, the battle of Chicago, the battle to end the war in Vietnam. He must be seen as a fighter who chose tough negotiations and confrontation, and then reconciliation. And that was the point that made him distinctly different, that he took the risk of fighting the battle to bring about the victory for reconciliation.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Reverend Jackson, I’d also like to ask you, because you mentioned all of the money being spent on the current wars. The United States is involved probably in more wars right now in different parts of—or military adventures in different parts of the world than in any time in its history. You’ve—Libya has been in the news a lot. You once met with Gaddafi. You’re familiar with the situation in Libya. What is your sense of the United States’s involvement in efforts at regime change in Libya?

REV. JESSE JACKSON: Twofold, it seems. Number one, the idea of a humanitarian mission there was well founded and probably could have been negotiated to a conclusion, because, after all, the forces—the rebels in Libya did not come to Gaddafi as the peaceful demonstrators did in Egypt. They came firing. He was firing. So it was a kind of civil war, which we maybe could have negotiated to some conclusion. And we chose to go from humanitarian relief to a full-scale war, and now we’ve paid over a billion dollars for that war, and we’ll pay billions more to reconstruct what we’ve torn up. And while the chaos abounds and destabilization abounds, now, of course, the same contractors who are rebuilding and getting the oil out of Iraq will be going next to Libya, which makes it kind of cynical. I hope that, early on, that this madness can be stopped and that we can, A, find a coherent foreign policy. And I find that right now, from Egypt to Libya to Yemen to Syria to Libya, our foreign policy is not very coherent.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to end with Vincent Harding. I’m looking at apiece by—from the Black Agenda Report by Jared Ball, who said, referring to corporate sponsors, “Of course, there are others like JP Morgan, Murdoch’s Direct TV, Exxon, Target [and] Wal Mart—other bastions of workers’ rights and liberty. All have come together to ensure that King be forever separated from [himself, from] his anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and anti-patient work for a genuine revolution.” Can you comment on that, Vince Harding?

DR. VINCENT HARDING: Oh, I would like to comment on it, my dear, especially to remind us that this country, this democracy that we’re trying to create, was sponsored by slaveholders, slave owners and slave traders. But that does not mean that that was the end of the story. As our great African-American teacher, who was one of our major Supreme Court justices, reminded us, that though the country began in that way, we could go on to create something new. I’m not worried right now about who paid for the memorial. What I want to do, and what I want to know, is how the memorial and the spirit of King can be remade, can be taken over into our hands and carried on to the point where we can get past the concerns that King had for racism, for materialism, for militarism. Those were his three major concerns as his life ended. If we can take that on at this point in history, then whoever paid for the monument does not matter. We are the ones who will have to create the meaning of King for the future of this country.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you both for being with us. Vincent Harding, chair of Veterans of Hope project, longtime friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, author of a few books, including Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero. And Reverend Jesse Jackson, joining us from Washington, D.C. The unveiling, the formal unveiling of the statue will be postponed because of Hurricane Irene, expected to slam into Washington on Sunday. The dedication will be postponed, that President Obama was going to be at. But the March for Jobs and Justice is going to happen on Saturday, that will end at the King Memorial.

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IRENE: THE BANKERS’ KATRINA

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Hamptons Hurricane: A Bankers’ Katrina

By Greg Palast

Don’t worry:  the bankers are safe.  The sub-prime sharks, derivatives divas, media mavens and their hairdressers, their trophy wives and their trophies’ personal trainers, the movers and shakers and money-makers, are all out of danger. Despite the warning that in a couple of days Hurricane Irene could well hit The Hamptons, the beach of the best of the ruling class will not lose a tan line.

I made sure they’re safe.  A couple of decades ago, I worked on an emergency evacuation plan for the county of Suffolk, New York, home of the Hamptons.  It’s the wealthiest county in the United States.

The Hamptons’ hurricane plan is six volumes thick.  The police and the politicians, the fire department and the first responders have their copies, their orders, their equipment and they are ready to roll before a single fake-blonde curl is ruffled by untoward weather.

The last hurricane to hit Long Island, far fiercer than Katrina, took two lives, not 2,000.

But then, the Hamptons isn’t New Orleans, is it?

In 1992, a big storm washed into 190 houses on West Hampton Dunes, getting many grade-B film scripts very wet.  The federal government, with your tax dollars, rebuilt every single home on the beach (average value then, $2 million each)—and even rebuilt the beach with an endless samba line of trucks filled with sand, care of the Army Corps of Engineers.

There’s a photo of one, in case you’d like to move in.  (Shouldn’t we each get at least a weekend in the surf for our money?)

Now look at Patricia  Thomas’ home in the Lafitte Housing Project in New Orleans.  I met her a year after the city flooded; she and her cousin and her cousin’s two kids, just off the bus from refugee centers in Texas, were told that if they returned to their homes, they would be arrested.  It’s been six years and they still are not allowed back in.  Doesn’t matter:  three years ago, their houses were torn down to make way for yuppie condos, for the nouvelle carpetbaggers who will enjoy Lafitte’s locale near the French Quarter.

Last year, a judge ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers and the federal government were completely responsible for the flooding of Lafitte and half the city.

Under the Constitution, the President and Congress must authorize payment to flood victims, as they did for the Westhampton luvvies.  But for the Thomas family, Obama requested, and Congress, appropriated … absolutely nothing.

What about the New Orleans evacuation plan? Where were their six volumes? When I watched the chaos in August 2005, I immediately called FEMA to ask for a copy of the plan. Why were there no busses to take out those without cars? The number of deaths should have been ZERO.

The answer: the New Orleans plan couldn’t be found.  The company paid to draft it, Innovative Emergency Management, couldn’t find a copy either. Long after 2,000 drowned, I found the “plan”:  no provision at all for the 27,000 residents without cars. That’s not surprising: the hurricane evacuation contractor had zero experience in hurricane evacuation. Rather, IEM’s chief did have lots of experience in donating to the Republican Party.

This week marks the sixth anniversary of the biggest ethnic cleansing in America since the Indian wars of the 19th Century:  the flooding of New Orleans.  We will celebrate this weekend, by worrying that Hurricane Irene will make the President and his donors on Martha’s Vineyard spill their daiquiris.

I met Patricia’s cousin five years ago today when, as dusk fell, she was in tears, wondering where she was going to stay with her kids that night.  “That’s what I want to know, Mister, where we going to?”

Well, I know of some usually-empty and quite nice federal housing units on Westhampton Dunes…

Greg Palast’s investigative report, Big Easy to Big Empty: the Untold Story of How the White House Drowned New Orleans is available as a free download at GregPalast.com, provided by the Palast Investigative Fund, a 501(c)3 charitable trust, on the Sixth Anniversary of the New Orleans’ flood.

Palast’s continuing investigation of the flood and its connection to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, filmed for Channel 4 Dispatches UK, will be published in November by Penguin USA.

Posted AT

THE SILENT FLOTILLA

Without fanfare or publicity, a solidarity group from South Africa arrived in Gaza Thursday night. They brought 10 trucks of much needed medical and humanitarian supplies with them….
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South Africa activists visit Gaza
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GAZA CITY  — A solidarity group from South Africa arrived in Gaza Thursday evening, for a four-day visit they have called “Freedom for detainees.”

The 36 activists will meet with figures who work on the issue of Palestinian detainees in Israeli jail, a Ma’an correspondent said.

The group brought 10 trucks of medical and humanitarian supplies, entering through the southern Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

Reported AT

ISRAEL’S EXCLUSIVE REVOLUTION

In July 2011, radical left-wing activists in Israel organized a Facebook event titled, “The Week of Rage” as a spontaneous demonstration against the skyrocketing price of rent and basic consumer goods. Also prominent in the activists’ list of grievances were anti-democratic proposals of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, that were designed to stifle dissent against the occupation and Israel’s repression of its own Palestinian citizens. The protests were characteristically theatrical, with demonstrators attacking the Likud Party headquarters with cottage cheese, a staple commodity that had become unaffordable for most. Enthusiastic as they were, the demonstrations were sparsely attended.
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“Rage Week” demonstrators in Tel-Aviv (Photo: Activestills)
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The Exclusive Revolution: Israeli Social Justice and the Separation Principle

By Max Blumenthal

 

The men and women who set out to build a Jewish state in historic Palestine made little secret of their settler-colonial designs. Zionism’s intellectual author, Theodor Herzl, described the country he envisioned as “part of a wall of defense for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism.” “All the means we need, we ourselves must create them, like Robinson Crusoe on his island,” Herzl told an interviewer in 1898. The Labor Zionist movement’s chief ideologue, Berl Katznelson, was more blunt than Herzl, declaring in 1928, “The Zionist enterprise is an enterprise of conquest.” More recently, and perhaps most crudely, former Prime Minister and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak described the goal of Zionism as maintaining “a villa in the jungle.”

Those who dedicated themselves to the formation of the Jewish State may have formulated their national identity through an idealized vision of European enlightenedness, but they also recognized that their lofty aims would not be realized without brute force. As Katznelson said, “It is not by chance that I speak of settlement in military terms.” Thus the Zionist socialists gradually embraced the ideas of radical right-wing ideologue Vladimir Jabotinsky, who outlined a practical strategy in his 1922 essay, “The Iron Wall,” for fulfilling their utopian ambitions. “Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population,” Jabotinsky wrote. “This colonization can, therefore, continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population — an iron wall which the native population cannot break through. This is, in toto, our policy towards the Arabs.” According to Jabotinsky, residents of the Zionist yishuv (community) could not hope to enjoy a European standard of life in the heart of the Arab world without physically separating themselves from the natives. This would require tireless planning, immense sacrifice and no shortage of bloodshed. And all who comprised the Zionist movement, whether left, right, or center, would carry the plan towards fulfillment. As Jabotinsky wrote, “All of us, without exception, are constantly demanding that this power strictly fulfill its obligations. In this sense, there are no meaningful differences between our ‘militarists’ and our ‘vegetarians.’”

One of the greatest misperceptions of Israeli politics is that the right-wing politicians who claim Jabotinsky’s writings as their lodestar perpetuate the most egregious violence against the Palestinians. While brimming with anti-Arab resentment, the Israeli right’s real legacy consists mostly of producing durable strategies and demagogic rhetoric. The Labor Zionists who dominated Israel’s political scene for decades bear the real responsibility for turning the right’s ideas into actionable policies. The dynamic is best illuminated by the way in which successive Labor Party governments implemented the precepts outlined in Jabotinsky’s “Iron Wall” under the cover of negotiations with the Palestinians. As early as 1988, the Laborites Yitzhak Rabin and Haim Ramon were advocating for the construction of a concrete wall to separate the Palestinians from “Israel proper.” When Rabin declared his intention to negotiate a two-state solution with the PLO, his supporters adopted a slogan that had previously belonged to the right-wing Moledet Party: “Them over there; us over here.” Then, when Rabin placed his signature on the Oslo Accords in 1993, Israel began surrounding the Gaza Strip with electrified fencing while revoking Palestinian work permits by the thousands.

The violence of the Second Intifada accelerated the process of total separation. Suicide bombing confirmed to average Israelis the Orientalist stereotype of the Arab native as inherently violent, incurable and culturally retrograde. By extension, the wave of terrorism ratified Jabotinsky’s thesis. “Something like a cage has to be built for [the Palestinians],” Israeli revisionist historian Benny Morris declared in a 2002 interview. “There is a wild animal that has to be locked up in one way or another.” As Israeli forces set about in tanks and combat jets to crush the Intifada, 709 kilometers of steel and concrete were erected around Jewish demographic enclaves, detaching Israel from the occupied population to its West while gobbling up over 180 thousand dunams of Palestinian land. Meanwhile, thousands of Jewish settlers were evacuated from the Gaza Strip, enabling the transformation of the coastal ghetto into an enormous holding cell that would be monitored, controlled and economically exploited from the outside by Israel. In short order, occupied Palestinians disappeared from Israeli life. If Israelis interacted with them, they did so with rifles in their hands, or at checkpoints from behind bulletproof glass.

By 2011, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was heralding what he called “The Big Quiet.” Palestinian resistance flared up occasionally, but it was effortlessly suppressed. Inside the Green Line, terror against Jewish Israeli civilians was almost non-existent. What a Haaretz columnist described during the height of the Second Intifada as the “war over the morning coffee and croissant, over the evening beer” appeared to have been won. Cafe-goers in Tel Aviv finally enjoyed the fruits of a one-way peace guaranteed by the strategy of separation, domination and control. The status quo was now the ideal.

In the course of crushing Palestinian resistance, Israel’s leaders exploited the nation’s siege mentality to ram through a program of economic liberalization that ravaged the country’s middle class. In 1986, the Labor Party’s elder statesman Shimon Peres had initiated the economic reforms as a precursor to the Oslo Accords. But under Netanyahu’s watch, the economic trend’s most extreme manifestations exploded to the surface. An American-educated libertarian who could easily campaign on a Tea Party ticket, Netanyahu distilled his essence through the exploitation of all under Israeli rule, Jews included. Indeed, Netanyahu depended more on the beneficence of avaricious oligarchs like the diamond tycoon Lev Leviev, the late shipping baron Sammy Ofer, and the American casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson than the respect of any military chieftain. While authorizing new homes in the occupied West Bank by the thousands, Netanyahu slashed housing subsidies for working class residents of Israel proper. The American Israel lobbyist and former Pentagon spokesman Dan Senor had celebrated Israel’s new economy in his bestselling book “Start-Up Nation,” but behind the scenes, and far from the gaze of the international media, the Israeli middle class was seething with resentment. Soon, Netanyahu would feel their wrath.

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In July 2011, radical left-wing activists in Israel organized a Facebook event titled, “The Week of Rage” as a spontaneous demonstration against the skyrocketing price of rent and basic consumer goods. Also prominent in the activists’ list of grievances were anti-democratic proposals of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, that were designed to stifle dissent against the occupation and Israel’s repression of its own Palestinian citizens. The protests were characteristically theatrical, with demonstrators attacking the Likud Party headquarters with cottage cheese, a staple commodity that had become unaffordable for most. Enthusiastic as they were, the demonstrations were sparsely attended.

On July 14, another spontaneous protest developed in Tel Aviv. About a dozen young residents with scant experience in direct action protest pitched tents on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard. Months before, protesters in Greece had pitched their own tents in Syntagma Square directly in front of the Greek parliament to challenge their government with a display of people power. The location selected by the Israeli demonstrators was no less significant. Instead of setting up camp in front of the Finance Ministry or the Knesset, they chose a wide, grass-lined strip that mimicked Viennese strolling grounds. On one end of Rothschild Boulevard was the Dizengoff House where David Ben Gurion publicly declared the establishment of the “Jewish and democratic” state. On the other end was the recently refurbished Ha’Bima Theater, the symbol of the Zionist resuscitation of the Hebrew language.

As the protesters erected the first tents, we interviewed Stav Shaffir, a media professional in her late-20s. “We are a young group of Israelis and we feel we’re unable to live in Tel Aviv because the prices of housing are going up,” Shaffir told us. “We’re fed up with having to always move between places and look for the cheapest housing solutions. It’s now time to say enough so we’ve come out to the streets with our tents and we’ve also started in Jerusalem.”

We asked Shaffir if the protest movement was connected in any way to the law passed five days before in the Knesset that criminalized speaking in favor of a boycott of settlement-produced goods, or to the constant stream of anti-democratic laws. “There are many things that are connected but here we protest against the housing costs,” she insisted. “We are not a group. Everyone has their discretion to choose what is the most important issue.”

What began as a small gathering of Tel Avivians built unexpected, immediate momentum. Shaffir and her friends struck a chord among the country’s frustrated middle class. Three weeks after the first tents appeared, 300,000 demonstrators filled the streets of Tel Aviv in one of the largest protests in Israel’s history. Chanting in unison, “The people/nation demand social justice!” Israelis of nearly all political backgrounds joined together as the voice of a disgruntled but suddenly hopeful people.

The protesters presented a smorgasbord of Israeli grievances, including more rights for the physically disabled, better care for the elderly, and the release of Gilad Shalit, a soldier held captive by Hamas since 2006. But everything seemed to center around the kitchen table demands originally outlined by Shaffir and her cadre. Polls taken a week after the protests exploded showed nearly 90 percent of Israelis approved of the demonstrations’ demands.

The crisis no one was willing to mention, however, was the 44-year-long Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Demonstrators we interviewed from across the political spectrum deflected questions about the occupation — at times in an aggressive, resentful manner — by calling it a divisive “political” issue.

“I think the general public sees occupation as a security issue, a left-right issue that is not related to our cause for social justice,” Hadas Kouchalevich, a leader of the Israel Students’ Union, told us. Kouchalevich’s organization has shepherded thousands of university students to the demonstrations, including students from Ariel University who study in a West Bank mega-settlement. When asked if she personally believed the July 14 movement could connect social justice to the issue of occupation, she replied, “No. Occupation is a security issue, not a social justice issue.”

The decision to exclude the occupation from the grievances of the July 14 movement was entirely organic. No hired gun consultant advised movement activists to avoid the hot button issue in order to broaden the appeal of the demonstrations. The mainstream of the Jewish public decided on its own, and without much internal reflection, that social justice could exist alongside a system of ethnic exclusivism. Thus, while the July 14 movement proceeded through cities across Israel bellowing out cries for dignity and rights, Palestinians remained safely tucked away behind an elaborate matrix of control — the Iron Wall. Ten years of separation had not only rendered the Palestinians invisible in a physical sense. It had erased them from the Israeli conscience.

“It’s very strange to see a social justice protest without mentioning occupation,” Gidi Grinstein, a confidant of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who heads the Reut Institute, a government-linked Israeli think tank remarked. “But most people in Israel don’t even believe there is an occupation anymore. They see the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and think there is a functioning government. They hear about the Palestinian statehood resolution at the UN in September, and they think Palestine is a real state. So there is this cognitive dissonance among Israelis.”

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For years Israel’s tiny but intensely motivated left-wing tried to mobilize mass protests against the occupation, hoping they could shake Israeli society out of its slumber. But the settlements grew, and the occupation became more and more entrenched. Suddenly, with hundreds of thousands of their compatriots in the streets demonstrating against the most right-wing government in their country’s history, some leftists began conjuring visions of a revolution.

“We have failed to end the occupation by confronting it head on but the boundary-breaking, de-segregating movement could, conceivably, undermine it,” wrote Dimi Reider. Reider claimed the demonstrations could achieve dramatic change because they “may challenge something even deeper than the occupation.” Hagai Mattar, a veteran anti-occupation activist and widely read journalist, echoed Reider’s unbridled enthusiasm. “For the first time in decades, perhaps, we are witnessing the impossible becoming possible,” Mattar wrote on the popular Hebrew website MySay. “What appeared to be a mere fantasy half a year ago… has become a vivid reality.”

Many members of the Israeli left have suffered for their activism. Some have been injured by Israeli soldiers during protests in the West Bank, where they routinely dodge rubber bullets and high-velocity teargas projectiles. Others have served months in prison for refusing to serve in the Israeli Army. With a suite of anti-democratic laws passed by the Knesset, they fear a coming crackdown. But perhaps the greatest source of suffering for Israeli leftists is having been cast out of one of the most tribalistic societies in the world. Many are turned down for housing and employment on the grounds that they refused military  service. The very word “leftist,” or smolini, has become an insult in the Hebrew language. Hoping to replace the communal bond their society had denied them, the radical leftists who have not escaped to the squats of Berlin or Barcelona formed a tribe within the tribe.

As the July 14 protests gathered momentum and manpower, members of the radical left bolstered the movement with their tactical experience and fearlessness in the face of police intimidation. On July 23, when hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Tel Aviv, Israeli police forces arrested 43 demonstrators. Most of them were leftists who attempted to block a major intersection. The most prominent among them was Matar. Normally, the arrests of left-wingers at anti-occupation protests go unreported. In this instance, however, the arrests were broadcast to a national audience during the prime time news. After being released from their jail cells, the demonstrators were greeted by their fellow Israelis not as traitors but as heroic leaders.

“The radical left is no longer an outsider, but forms an important part of the mainstream,” Matar wrote recently in an article celebrating the protests. If this new movement welcomed leftists, and upheld them as its vanguard, how could it not be revolutionary?

Born out of indignation and mired for years in malaise, radical leftists like Matar believe they have found the influence they always sought among mainstream Israelis. However, there was little evidence that the July 14 movement’s rank and file had any interest in overthrowing the “system,” or that they would ever be willing to acknowledge, let alone engage, the occupation. If anything, the demonstrations reflected the young urban class’s yearning for early Zionist communalism, where everyone was guaranteed respect so long as they were part of the yishuv (community).

As Yehuda Nuriel, a columnist for the leading Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharanot, wrote recently, “Here is the Zionism we almost lost. We found it in the tent.” Indeed, July 14 seems to represent a remarkable reincarnation of the Zionist spirit that gave birth to the state of Israel, not the revolution that will “challenge something deeper than the occupation,” as Reider wrote.

As during the glory days of early socialist Zionism, Palestinians are isolated and ignored. “It’s a classic secular, Jewish and urban protest,” Tamar Herman, a political scientist at the Israel Democracy Institute, told the Associated Press. “Arab participation would open the door to the divisive questions here.”

*******

In mixed cities and in Palestinian communities inside the Green Line, a few Palestinian citizens of Israel are pitching their own tents. But on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard, the epicenter of the protest movement, there is only one tent representing Palestinian demands. It is “Tent 1948,” a small encampment dedicated to promoting Arab-Jewish solidarity and reminding the mass of demonstrators of the dispossession of Palestinians in 1948. Left-wing Israeli writers Noam Sheizaf and Mairav Zonszein claimed that Tent 1948 was “challenging the protest movement from the left, by reminding people of land issues that followed 1948.” Citing the presence of the Arab-Jewish tent and the inclusion of a single Arab speaker at the raucous July 23 rally in Tel Aviv (the speaker did not risk rankling his massive audience with any mentions of occupation), Reider opined that “the participation of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the protests has more bearing on the conflict than any concentrated attempt to rally the crowds against the occupation.”

Palestinian-Israelis join the July 14 protests at great personal risk. They fear that by joining the movement their own national identity will be co-opted to advance a struggle that will betray them in the end. Boudour Youssef Hassan, a 22-year-old law student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is among many young Palestinian citizens of Israel who looked upon the demonstrations with suspicion. “At first I thought it was a good thing that they were confronting the right-wing government,” she said of the Jewish demonstrators. “But the longer it goes on the more I think they are simply using us Palestinians while their real goal appears to be the revival of the Zionist left.”

Abir Kopty, a Palestinian rights activist from the northern Israeli city of Nazareth, is one the few Palestinians to have insinuated themselves into the main protest area on Rothschild. Kopty played a central role in the establishment of Tent 1948 and she is a major presence at Palestinian tent protests around the country. “I’ve been a part of Tent 1948 not because I wanted to be part of J14,” Kopty told us. “My role there is to challenge J14 and to tell them they can’t have social justice without addressing issues like occupation. So I refuse to be a part of J14. I’m only there to challenge and to assert my Palestinian identity.”

Despite her prominent role, Kopty agreed with Youssef Hassan that the movement was exploiting her presence to burnish its social justice image. “I’m aware that they’re using me but it doesn’t matter because in the world [the July 14 movement] won’t receive any real support unless they address the Palestinian issue and the occupation,” Kopty said. “Palestinians aren’t really a part of J14 anyway because they generally didn’t go to Rothschild to set up tents. Instead they are setting up tents in their own neighborhoods just to say, ‘Hello, we are here.’”

But could the July 14 protests initiate a process that will eventually lead to the unraveling of the occupation and discrimination against Palestinians, as many on the Israeli left have suggested? “The injustice will continue,” Kopty declared flatly. “And I don’t believe J14 will create changes that are socio-political. But our struggle is completely political. So when J14 finally explodes because the different internal groups have contradicting interests — and they can’t remain apolitical forever — our struggle will go on.”

As the July 14 movement grows, it is becoming more inclusive, but not of Palestinians. Instead, Jewish settlers of both the ideological and practical variety are now welcomed into the protest’s big tent.

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Ariel is the linchpin of the major settlement blocs Israel refuses to relinquish in final status negotiations. Built on hundreds of hectares of land confiscated from private Palestinian landowners and surrounded by the Israeli separation wall, which creates a wedge between seven nearby Palestinian villages, Ariel sits directly on top of one of the largest aquifers in the region. According to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem, Ariel residents receive 7.9 times more government subsidies than those who live inside Israel proper. This August, the Israeli government approved the construction of 277 new housing units in Ariel, including 100 for settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Ariel has become a symbol of the cognitive dissonance of Israel’s occupation. While its borders stretch deep into the West Bank, consolidating Israel’s domination over Palestinian life, its interior resembles a grassy bedroom community in Southern California, lined with neat rows of mission-style subdivision homes. From Ariel’s new university to its state-of-the-art theater to the gleaming sports center built thanks to the generosity of American junk bond kingpin Michael Milken and Texas mega-church pastor John Hagee, the settlement contains all the trappings of a “normal” community. The majority of Israelis have bought into the image of Ariel as Israel’s own Temecula — a suburb, not a settlement.

On August 13, when protest leaders declared an “expansion into the periphery” of Israel, Ariel held its first ever social justice demonstration, with hundreds of disgruntled residents demanding lower housing prices. Two days before, the July 14 movement endorsed the protest in Ariel, advertising directions to the demonstration on its official Hebrew website.

“This is the test,” the July 14 website proclaimed. “Are we together or are we not?”

 

The above piece was co-authored by Joseph Dana. A shorter version recently appeared at Alternet.

Source

FIRST THEY STOLE MY LAND, THEN THEY STOLE MY CHILDREN ~~ AND NO ONE SAID A WORD …

… Because it wasn’t their land or their children.
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In most cases, children as young as 12 are hauled from their beds at night, handcuffed and blindfolded, deprived of sleep and food, subjected to lengthy interrogations, then forced to sign a confession in Hebrew, a language few of them read.
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How Israel takes its revenge on boys who throw stones

Video seen by Catrina Stewart reveals the brutal interrogation of young Palestinians

AFP  Boys throw stones at Israeli soldiers

The boy, small and frail, is struggling to stay awake. His head lolls to the side, at one point slumping on to his chest. “Lift up your head! Lift it up!” shouts one of his interrogators, slapping him. But the boy by now is past caring, for he has been awake for at least 12 hours since he was separated at gunpoint from his parents at two that morning. “I wish you’d let me go,” the boy whimpers, “just so I can get some sleep.”

During the nearly six-hour video, 14-year-old Palestinian Islam Tamimi, exhausted and scared, is steadily broken to the point where he starts to incriminate men from his village and weave fantastic tales that he believes his tormentors want to hear.

This rarely seen footage seen by The Independent offers a glimpse into an Israeli interrogation, almost a rite of passage that hundreds of Palestinian children accused of throwing stones undergo every year.

Israel has robustly defended its record, arguing that the treatment of minors has vastly improved with the creation of a military juvenile court two years ago. But the children who have faced the rough justice of the occupation tell a very different story.

“The problems start long before the child is brought to court, it starts with their arrest,” says Naomi Lalo, an activist with No Legal Frontiers, an Israeli group that monitors the military courts. It is during their interrogation where their “fate is doomed”, she says.

Sameer Shilu, 12, was asleep when the soldiers smashed in the front door of his house one night. He and his older brother emerged bleary-eyed from their bedroom to find six masked soldiers in their living room.

Checking the boy’s name on his father’s identity card, the officer looked “shocked” when he saw he had to arrest a boy, says Sameer’s father, Saher. “I said, ‘He’s too young; why do you want him?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he said”. Blindfolded, and his hands tied painfully behind his back with plastic cords, Sameer was bundled into a Jeep, his father calling out to him not to be afraid. “We cried, all of us,” his father says. “I know my sons; they don’t throw stones.”

In the hours before his interrogation, Sameer was kept blindfolded and handcuffed, and prevented from sleeping. Eventually taken for interrogation without a lawyer or parent present, a man accused him of being in a demonstration, and showed him footage of a boy throwing stones, claiming it was him.

“He said, ‘This is you’, and I said it wasn’t me. Then he asked me, ‘Who are they?’ And I said that I didn’t know,” Sameer says. “At one point, the man started shouting at me, and grabbed me by the collar, and said, ‘I’ll throw you out of the window and beat you with a stick if you don’t confess’.”

Sameer, who protested his innocence, was fortunate; he was released a few hours later. But most children are frightened into signing a confession, cowed by threats of physical violence, or threats against their families, such as the withdrawal of work permits.

When a confession is signed, lawyers usually advise children to accept a plea bargain and serve a fixed jail sentence even if not guilty. Pleading innocent is to invite lengthy court proceedings, during which the child is almost always remanded in prison. Acquittals are rare. “In a military court, you have to know that you’re not looking for justice,” says Gabi Lasky, an Israeli lawyer who has represented many children.

There are many Palestinian children in the West Bank villages in the shadow of Israel’s separation wall and Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands. Where largely non-violent protests have sprung up as a form of resistance, there are children who throw stones, and raids by Israel are common. But lawyers and human rights groups have decried Israel’s arrest policy of targeting children in villages that resist the occupation.

In most cases, children as young as 12 are hauled from their beds at night, handcuffed and blindfolded, deprived of sleep and food, subjected to lengthy interrogations, then forced to sign a confession in Hebrew, a language few of them read.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem concluded that, “the rights of minors are severely violated, that the law almost completely fails to protect their rights, and that the few rights granted by the law are not implemented”.

Israel claims to treat Palestinian minors in the spirit of its own law for juveniles but, in practice, it is rarely the case. For instance, children should not be arrested at night, lawyers and parents should be present during interrogations, and the children must be read their rights. But these are treated as guidelines, rather than a legal requirement, and are frequently flouted. And Israel regards Israeli youngsters as children until 18, while Palestinians are viewed as adults from 16.

Lawyers and activists say more than 200 Palestinian children are in Israeli jails. “You want to arrest these kids, you want to try them,” Ms Lalo says. “Fine, but do it according to Israeli law. Give them their rights.”

In the case of Islam, the boy in the video, his lawyer, Ms Lasky, believes the video provides the first hard proof of serious irregularities in interrogation.

In particular, the interrogator failed to inform Islam of his right to remain silent, even as his lawyer begged to no avail to see him. Instead, the interrogator urged Islam to tell him and his colleagues everything, hinting that if he did so, he would be released. One interrogator suggestively smacked a balled fist into the palm of his hand.

By the end of the interrogation Islam, breaking down in sobs, has succumbed to his interrogators, appearing to give them what they want to hear. Shown a page of photographs, his hand moves dully over it, identifying men from his village, all of whom will be arrested for protesting.

Ms Lasky hopes this footage will change the way children are treated in the occupied territories, in particular, getting them to incriminate others, which lawyers claim is the primary aim of interrogations. The video helped gain Islam’s release from jail into house arrest, and may even lead to a full acquittal of charges of throwing stones. But right now, a hunched and silent Islam doesn’t feel lucky. Yards from his house in Nabi Saleh is the home of his cousin, whose husband is in jail awaiting trial along with a dozen others on the strength of Islam’s confession.

The cousin is magnanimous. “He is a victim, he is just a child,” says Nariman Tamimi, 35, whose husband, Bassem, 45, is in jail. “We shouldn’t blame him for what happened. He was under enormous pressure.”

Israel’s policy has been successful in one sense, sowing fear among children and deterring them from future demonstrations. But the children are left traumatised, prone to nightmares and bed-wetting. Most have to miss a year of school, or even drop out.

Israel’s critics say its policy is creating a generation of new activists with hearts filled with hatred against Israel. Others say it is staining the country’s character. “Israel has no business arresting these children, trying them, oppressing them,” Ms Lalo says, her eyes glistening. “They’re not our children. My country is doing so many wrongs and justifying them. We should be an example, but we have become an oppressive state.”

Child detention figures

7,000 [Figure corrected, with apologies for earlier production error.] The estimated number of Palestinian children detained and prosecuted in Israeli military courts since 2000, shows a report by Defence for Children International Palestine (DCIP).

87 The percentage of children subjected to some form of physical violence while in custody. About 91 per cent are also believed to be blindfolded at some point during their detention.

12 The minimum age of criminal responsibility, as stipulated in the Military Order 1651.

62 The percentage of children arrested between 12am and 5am.

Written FOR

THE NEW ANTI-SEMITISM KNOWN AS ZIONISM

It is absolutely the case that the Jews should not be held collectively responsible for the actions of Israel. But it should be pointed out that it is just such collective responsibility that Zionists insist upon. Zionist ideology demands that Israel be recognized as representing world Jewry. Zionists expect that, in return, all Jews will identify with and actively support Israel–feel one with the “Jewish state.” They classify those Jews who do not recognize their collective responsibility to Israel as somehow deficient or perhaps “self-hating” Jews. So let us get this straight, if holding Jews collectively responsible for the acts of Israel is anti-Semitic, what does that make the Zionists?
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Murky Anti-Semitism (Zionist Style)

Israeli Pirate Flag Silwan - (June 26 2010, Rebecca Fudala)

An Analysis-  by Lawrence Davidson*

Part I – Stretching the Definition of Anti-Semitism

Can criticism of Israel, particularly a) criticism of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people and b) criticism of the state ideology of Zionism that justifies that treatment, be labeled anti-Semitic? This is not a hypothetical query. An affirmative answer to this question is being advocated by influential Zionist lobbies in the United States. The question is of particular importance on the nation’s college and university campuses. In places like the University of California at Berkeley and Santa Cruz, and also at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Zionist students are now threatening to sue these institutions for failing to prevent an “atmosphere of anti-Semitic bigotry” allegedly created by the presence of pro-Palestinian student groups and faculty.

One might ask if it isn’t a stretch to assert that protesting Israeli and Zionist behavior is the same as anti-Semitism? Common sense certainly tells us this is so. Unfortunately, we are not dealing with situations that are ruled by common sense. What we are facing here is the issue of ideologues bred to a specific perceptual paradigm and their insistence that others conform to it.

Here is an example: Take an American kid from a self-conscious Jewish home. This kid does not represent all American Jewish youth, but does typify say 20% of them. He or she is taught about the religion and also taught about recent history and the near annihilation of the Jews of Europe. He or she is sent to Hebrew school, and maybe a yeshiva school as well. Most of our hypothetical student’s friends will be Jewish and of similar background. Between home, friends and school the student might well find him or herself in something of a closed universe. Throughout this educational process Judaism and its fate in the modern world is connected with Israel and its survival. The Arabs, and particularly the Palestinians, are transformed into latter day Nazis. In addition, Israel’s state ideology of Zionism becomes assimilated into the credos of the religion. Soon our hypothetical student cannot tell the difference between the two. Then, having come of age, our student goes off to college or university. Now he or she is no longer in a closed world. The result can be culture shock and an uncomfortable feeling that the student is on a campus where vocal and assertive debate about Israel and its behavior sounds like an attack on the Jewish religion. Our student complains to the ZOA, Hillel, AIPAC, or some similar organization and we are off down a road toward censorship and/or litigation. Lawsuits are lodged (particularly if the ZOA is involved), donors swear that they will no longer support the institution, legislators bang on desks at the state capital, and boards of directors want to know what is going on and what the institution’s president is going to do about it?

Part II – Sweet Reason

There have been a number of efforts to try to use sweet reason to work out some of these problems before they get too explosive. For instance, in 2006 there was concern over the efforts of various pro-Palestinian campus groups to promote an academic boycott of Israel. Is this being anti-Semitic? Should campuses allow this to be advocated? After all those who espouse academic boycott have a good deal of evidence of criminal activities on the part of the Israeli Universities. At that time the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) sought to clarify the issues by arranging a roundtable discussion on academic boycott by those who stood pro and con. This sounded like a good idea. But no, the Zionist side did not like the list of discussants on the pro side and tried to censor the list. The AAUP resisted that move, so the Zionist side pressured the donors subsidizing the proposed roundtable to pull their support. The whole thing collapsed. It seemed the Zionists were not going to discuss the topic except on their own terms.

Just recently there has been similar attempt at sweet reason. A heated debate is now taking place over whether Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which bars federal funds from institutions that discriminate) can be applied to schools that allow criticism of Israel which the Zionists claim is anti-Semitic. If so, those same Zionists, whose influence is strong in Congress, can use Title VI as a club to threaten colleges and universities with the loss of financial support unless they shut down the criticism. This, of course, equates to censorship and an attack on free speech.

Once more the AAUP, which opposes the use of Title VI in such situations, approached the American Zionists in an effort to find a compromise position. Professor Cary Nelson, head of the AAUP, managed to enter into negotiations with Kenneth Stern, the “anti-Semitism expert” of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). The two of them worked out a common position which, after consultation with others in each organization, was signed and released to the public. What did this document say? For our needs, here are its most important points:

1. Title VI is not an appropriate instrument to use when trying to “protect” Jewish students from “anti-Israel events, statements and speakers.” To use Title VI this way amounts to censorship.

2. Question: How do we know what is going on at a college or university campus is anti-Semitism? Answer: “Six years ago the European monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) created a working definition of anti-Semitism….while clearly stating that criticism of Israel in the main is not anti-Semitic, [it] gives some examples of when anti-Semitism may come into play, such as holding Jews collectively responsible for the acts of the Israeli state, comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, or denying to Jews the right of self-determination (such as by claiming that Zionism is racism). In recent years the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights have embraced this definition too. It is entirely proper for university administrators, scholars and students to reference the working definition in identifying definite or possible instances of anti-Semitism on campus.”
3. Conclusion: Censorship should be avoided, Title VI should be avoided, but the “working definition” should be used to make judgments as to how best to “wrestle with ideas” while at the same time “combating bigotry.”

This letter was signed by both Cary Nelson as President of the AAUP and Kenneth Stern as the Director of the anti-Semitism and extremism sub-division of the AJC. Released in early August 2011, it took only a few days before it was repudiated by the AJC. On 9 August David Harris, President of the American Jewish Committee, “apologized” for the joint declaration, said it was “ill advised” and blamed a breakdown in the AJC’s “system of checks and balances” for the slip up. Kenneth Stern is now on an unscheduled sabbatical and can not be reached for comment.

This is, of course, a replay of the 2006 situation and just goes to show that, it is the hard right ideologues who are in charge on the Zionist side. These people have a worldview that allows for no compromise. Censorship is exactly what they want and Title VI is as good a weapon to wield as any. What could Kenneth Stern possibly have been thinking? There is no room for sweet reason here.

Part III – The AAUP Makes a Mistake

This is not the end of the story. There is something wrong with the fact that the AAUP was so quick to endorse the EUMC working definition of anti-Semitism (a definition, by the way, that Kenneth Stern had a hand in writing). Consider these two statements from the above AAUP-AJC declaration each of which, according to the “working definition,” can be seen as anti-Semitic: 1) “holding Jews collectively responsible for the acts of the Israeli state” and 2) “denying to Jews the right of self-determination (such as by claiming that Zionism is racism).” As we are about to see the first statement has hidden facets to it and the second defies historical reality.

Statement 1:

It is absolutely the case that the Jews should not be held collectively responsible for the actions of Israel. But it should be pointed out that it is just such collective responsibility that Zionists insist upon. Zionist ideology demands that Israel be recognized as representing world Jewry. Zionists expect that, in return, all Jews will identify with and actively support Israel–feel one with the “Jewish state.” They classify those Jews who do not recognize their collective responsibility to Israel as somehow deficient or perhaps “self-hating” Jews. So let us get this straight, if holding Jews collectively responsible for the acts of Israel is anti-Semitic, what does that make the Zionists?

Statement 2:

a. That Jews have some sort of natural right to political self-determination is highly questionable. How about Protestants, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists, ad infinitum? Just how far do we want to push this claim of political self-determination for religious faiths? Oh, but the Zionists insist that Jews are not just adherents to a particular faith–they are a “people.” Well, for sure that is an opinion. It just doesn’t happen to be the opinion of millions of other Jews who see Judaism as a religion pure and simple. Of course, if the latter are vocal about this they run the risk of being labeled “self-hating.”

b. And who, except of course the Zionists, says that Zionism is a desirable vehicle for the expression of this alleged right of self-determination? Let us face it. Israel and its Zionist ideology were born of the will of a small minority of Jews, almost exclusively from Central and Eastern Europe, most of whom were secularists, and almost all of whom carried within their heads the poisoned perceptions of European imperialist bigotry – an outlook which still characterizes the state they set up. That is why, in practice, Zionism has resulted in a prima facie racist environment in Israel. And now we are told that, according to the “working definition,” pointing out the link between Zionism and racism is an act of anti-Semitism!

Given this close reading of parts of the “working definition,” the AAUP really ought to rethink its apparent support of the document. It is a position that can only give impetus to the very censorship the AAUP dreads.

Part IV – Conclusion

One has come to expect twisted logic from the Zionists. Actually, one can expect this sort of thinking from any band of ideologues. Their blinkered vision, incapable of seeing around the corners of their prejudices, guarantees that most of what comes out of their mouths and their pens is sophistry.

However, what is one to do when folks you count on as rational and careful thinkers, like the leadership of the AAUP, get caught short this way? What is one to do when flawed reasoning and spurious assumptions start to be translated into criteria for government administrative decisions? What can you do when a fifth of the Congress decides to take a break and visit one of the most racist places on the planet and you risk being labeled an anti-Semite for decrying this fact? Well, you have a good laugh, have a good cry, and then go post your assessment of the situation on your website. Then you get a bit drunk. Finally, you repeat ten times “I will never to stay silent.”

*Dr. Lawrence Davidson is professor of history at West Chester University. He is the author of numerous books, including Islamic Fundamentalism and America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood.

The author is a regular contributor to RamallahOnline.com.More articles can be found on RamallahOnline.com, Logos Journal, and Dr. Davidson also maintains an online blog, you can find it at http://www.tothepointanalyses.com

Posted AT

 

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

REWARDS OF REBELLION IN EGYPT

It pays to be a rebel against zionism…..
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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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‘Egyptian who tore down Israeli flag rewarded’

Protester who yanked off flag from Israeli embassy in Cairo receives job, new home, honorary shield from provincial governor, local paper says

 

An Egyptian provincial governor has rewarded a protester who tore down the flag from the Israeli embassy in Cairo with a job, new home and honorary shield, newspapers reported on Thursday.

Ahmad al-Shahat shot to fame after scaling the tall building, removing the Israeli flag and replacing it with Egypt’s national colors as hundreds demonstrated outside the embassy on Saturday night.

Thousands cheered and encouraged Shahat as he climbed and jubilation broke out as he ripped the flag from the pole.

Video images of Shahat clambering up the building swept the Internet and set off a flurry of “Flagman” postings on social network Twitter.

Read the full report HERE

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Thousands of people gathered outside the zionist embassy for a second night following the murders of 15 Palestinians in Gaza (including a 2 year old and a 5 year old child) and 3 Egyptian soldiers. There are fears of a rising death toll in Gaza tonight as the Israeli Occupation Forces attacks intensify. The people on the streets of Cairo, including children and women, are preparing to stay over in front of the embassy, they are demanding that the ambassador leaves and that the zionist flag is taken down.

WILL WE FINALLY SEE HANDALA’S FACE IN SEPTEMBER?


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Handala was born ten years old, and he will always be ten years old. At that age, I left my homeland, and when he returns, Handala will still be ten, and then he will start growing up. The laws of nature do not apply to him. He is unique. Things will become normal again when the homeland returns.*
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WHO IS HANDALA?

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From approximately 1975 through 1987 Naji Al-Ali created cartoons that depict the complexities of the plight of Palestinian refugees. These cartoons are still relevant today and Handala, the refugee child who is present in every cartoon, remains a potent symbol of the struggle of the Palestinian people for justice and self-determination.

Naji Al-Ali wrote: “The child Handala is my signature, everyone asks me about him wherever I go. I gave birth to this child in the Gulf and I presented him to the people. His name is Handala and he has promised the people that he will remain true to himself. I drew him as a child who is not beautiful; his hair is like the hair of a hedgehog who uses his thorns as a weapon. Handala is not a fat, happy, relaxed, or pampered child. He is barefooted like the refugee camp children, and he is an icon that protects me from making mistakes. Even though he is rough, he smells of amber. His hands are clasped behind his back as a sign of rejection at a time when solutions are presented to us the American way.”

Handala was born ten years old, and he will always be ten years old. At that age, I left my homeland, and when he returns, Handala will still be ten, and then he will start growing up. The laws of nature do not apply to him. He is unique. Things will become normal again when the homeland returns.

I presented him to the poor and named him Handala as a symbol of bitterness. At first, he was a Palestinian child, but his consciousness developed to have a national and then a global and human horizon. He is a simple yet tough child, and this is why people adopted him and felt that he represents their consciousness.”

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Taken FROM

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THESE COUNTRIES SAY YES TO PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD!

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RAMADAN FAST EXTENDED DUE TO POVERTY IN PALESTINE

“Last year my family had two or three types of food on our iftar [daily meal to break the Ramadan fast] table and now we barely have enough.”

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Meanwhile, iftar tables in Gaza are often barren, power cuts are frequent and nearly half the population lacks a guaranteed access to adequate nutrition, according to the World Food Program.

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Barren tables at Ramadan as PA loses $35 million in aid each month

Economic woes are affecting Palestinian families’ abilities to put food on the table for Ramadan.(Mamoun Wazwaz/MaanImages)

RAMALLAH  – Palestinian families are facing increasing financial woes this Ramadan, as the Palestinian Authority (PA) juggles with its dwindling budget.

August salary payments for the PA’s estimated 150,000 employees, about half in the West Bank and half in the Gaza Strip, arrived late and it is unclear when September payments will arrive.

“The PA’s financial situation has deteriorated due to shortfalls in donor financing, and revenue collection has been lower than budgeted,” Udo Kock, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) representative in Jerusalem, said.

“Mostly Arab donors are not paying,” Ghassan Khatib, spokesman for PA prime minister Salam Fayyad’s office, said.

Foreign donations account for just over a quarter of the total Palestinian budget of $3.7 billion used to pay salaries and for other public spending.

The PA budget has been missing about $35 million monthly in donor payments since the start of the year, said Khatib. He estimated the total unpaid amount since January to be about $300 million.

According to the PA finance ministry, between January and July, 33 percent of required external budget support has been spent, instead of the 58 percent that should have been spent during this period.

Saudi Arabia made a partial payment of $30 million in July. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the largest Arab donors to the PA.

Experts say Arab nations have been focused on other concerns since the January uprising erupted in Egypt, and crises in other parts of the Arab world, like Libya and Syria.

Cutbacks to Ramadan meals

“Last year my family had two or three types of food on our iftar [daily meal to break the Ramadan fast] table and now we barely have enough,” said Mohammed Musa, a 48-year-old guard at a municipal building in Ramallah and a PA employee.

His monthly salary of about $460 supports a family of ten living in Amari refugee camp in Ramallah, which has high unemployment and a population of about 10,000.

In response to the crisis, PA President Mahmoud Abbas ordered PA institutions to stop holding official Ramadan iftar dinners and to divert the allocated funds to poor Palestinians.

Several public and private institutions followed suit, like telecommunications company Paltel Group, the largest private sector company in the West Bank and Gaza.

Wael Qadan, director of planning with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), said: “In response to Abbas’s request, PRCS cancelled the iftar meal for businesspeople and redirected the funds — about $20,000 — to our emergency budget.” These funds (about $35,000) are used to assist Palestinians with medical care, education fees, and home building, he said.

According to Fayyad’s office, the PA social affairs ministry has a fund of about $223,000 from the Emirates Red Crescent which is being spent on Ramadan meals for 12,000 individuals in the West Bank and Gaza, and new clothing for the holiday.

No money to spend

Palestinian families and businesses say they are feeling the pressure.

“I am selling a quarter of what I sold last Ramadan,” said cafeteria owner Amjad Baker, 28 years old from Ramallah, as he prepared qatayef, a traditional pancake-like holiday sweet.

“The economy is down, aid is not coming in, and people do not have money to spend,” said Amjad.

He said new elections should be held.

The PA’s current financial crisis is being exacerbated by uncertainty surrounding the potential Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN in September, and the outcome of a reconciliation agreement between Palestinian factions Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.

Salaries for the estimated 25,000-30,000 military and civilian employees of the Hamas-led government in Gaza will be paid in full after delays over the past eight months, a Gaza official who preferred anonymity said.

“The Gaza government collects $10-12 million in local revenue, and the rest of the government operating budget [estimated at about $30-35 million, according to Hamas officials interviewed by IRIN in 2010] comes from outside sources,” said the official.

There may be additional delays, said the official, mostly related to logistical problems in receiving the funds due to political upheaval in the region.

Meanwhile, iftar tables in Gaza are often barren, power cuts are frequent and nearly half the population lacks a guaranteed access to adequate nutrition, according to the World Food Program.

This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

 

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