WATCH AS ISLAMOPHOBIA GOES LIVE IN HOLLYWOOD

And the Oscar goes to .... 'Copyleft' by Carlos Latuff

And the Oscar goes to …. ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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“It’s the only religion that acts like the mafia,” he said of Islam on his program, Real Time with Bill Maher, “that will f–king kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.”

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Ben Affleck, Bill Maher tussle over Islamophobia


Actor gets visibly agitated by comments he considered Islamophobic, cutting off the host, author Sam Harris and N.Y. Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.
By Haaretz

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Ben Affleck at the 52nd New York Film Festival opening night gala presentation of the movie 'Gone Girl' in New York, Sept. 26, 2014. Photo by Reuters

Ben Affleck at the 52nd New York Film Festival opening night gala presentation of the movie ‘Gone Girl’ in New York, Sept. 26, 2014. Photo by Reuters

 

A week after sparking controversy over his anti-Islam comments, HBO host Bill Maher doubled down in a debate over Islam that pushed Ben Affleck’s Islamophobia button on Friday.

“It’s the only religion that acts like the mafia,” he said of Islam on his program, Real Time with Bill Maher, “that will f–king kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.”

Earlier in the heated discussion, Maher and author Sam Harris were agreeing with each other that liberals do not hold up liberal standards when it comes to Islam.

“You and I have been trying to make the case I think that liberals need to stand up for liberal principles. This is what I said on last week’s show,” said Maher, referring to the previous installment when he stated, “If we’re giving no quarter to intolerance, shouldn’t we be starting with the mutilators and the honor killers?”

That debate drew fire from Islamic scholar Reza Aslan, who said on CNN on Monday, “The problem is that you’re talking about a religion of one and a half billion people, and certainly it becomes very easy to just simply paint them all with a single brush.”

On Friday, Maher said that liberals applaud for principles like “freedom of speech, freedom to practice any religion you want without fear of violence, freedom to leave a religion, equality for women, equality for minorities, including homosexuals … but then when you say in the Muslim world this is what’s lacking then they get upset.”

“Liberals have rally failed on the topic of theocracy,” responded Harris.
He asserted that liberals criticize “white theocracy” and “Christians” but have failed to be critical about “the treatment of women, and homosexuals and free thinkers and public intellectuals in the Muslim world.”

He added,” The crucial point of confusion is that we have been sold this meme of Islamaphobia, where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry toward Muslims as people, which is intellectually ridiculous.”

Are you the person who understands the officially codified document of Islam?” Affleck queried Harris.

“Actually, I’m well educated on this topic,” Harris responded.

“I’m not denying that certain people are bigoted against Muslim people, and that’s a problem,” added Harris, but Affleck did not allow him to finish his sentence.

The actor jumped in, describing Harris’s generalizations about Islam as “gross” and “racist.”

“It’s so not,” interjected Maher.

“It’s like saying, ‘you shifty Jew!'” said Affleck.

Harris shot back, “We have to be able to criticize bad ideas… and Islam is the motherload of bad ideas.”

“That’s just a fact,” chimed in Maher.

“It’s just an ugly thing to say,” said Affleck.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof tried to bring in some balance, telling Maher that the picture he is painting is “to some extent true, but it is hugely incomplete,” but his calm analysis was cut off by an agitated Affleck.

“It is certainly true that plenty of fanatics and jihadi are Muslim, but the people who are standing up to them – Malala, Mohammed Ali in Iran, in prison for 9 years for speaking up for Christians, a friend that I had in Pakistan who was shot this year, Rashid Rehman, for defending people accused of apostasy –,” said Kristof before Affleck interjected, ending his contribution to the debate.

Affleck argued that the others were stereotyping 1.6 billion people for the beliefs of a handful of radicals. “That’s just not true, Ben,” countered Maher.

Harris then gave an analysis, in which he described 20% of the Muslim world as being Islamists, basing his assessment on various polls, and then described a wider circle of conservative Muslims “who can honestly look at ISIS and say that does not represent us, we’re horrified by that, but they hold views about human rights, women and homosexuals that are deeply troubling.”

He argued that liberal Muslims have to be empowered, adding, “Lying about the link between doctrine and behavior is not going to do that.”

The debate carried on a little longer before Maher made his mafia comment. After that point, everyone agreed to disagree.

Aslan, commenting on Affleck’s aggressiveness during the debate, tweeted on his account, “Watching @BenAffleck go after Sam Harris & Bill Maher with that TONE really made me scared of white New Englander.”

HOLIDAYS IN ISRAEL ~~ A TIME TO LOVE OR TO HATE

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Preparations are underway to usher in a week long holiday in Israel. It is called Succot, or The Feast of the Tabernacles. We eat all of our meals in little booths and the ceilings are usually made of tree branches, allowing the sky to be visible. It is a reminder of the 40 years we roamed in the desert and dwelled in such structures. It is actually quite a fun holiday and a very community oriented one, it is one of my favourites.
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A non Jewish visitor to Jerusalem this week might get the impression that the entire city stands in solidarity with the homeless Palestinians illegally evicted from their homes by settlers. Nothing could be further from the truth.
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Tents have appeared (actually booths) in preparation of the Festival
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Family homes were STOLEN, many families have been living in makeshift tents for over five years…. and neither the Municipality of Jerusalem nor the Palestinian Authority gives a damn. As winter approaches, a new meaning is given to the term ‘settlement freeze’ as these homeless literally freeze in their abodes. Sheikh Jarrah is no longer headline news, but the problems there remain the same.
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I had some flashbacks this morning to my Succot celebrations in Brooklyn as a child, they were much different than here. Here there is a Jewish community and an Arab community. In the neighbourhood I grew up in, there was a Eastern European Jewish Community (Ashkenazi) and a community made up of Spanish Jews and Jews from Northern Africa (Sephardi). Both communities had their own traditions and practices, but basically both were members of the same religion. One of the major differences between the two communities at the time were language, the Ashkenazi Jews spoke Yiddish; a language with Germanic roots, while the Sephardi Jews spoke a language called Ladino; a mixture of Hebrew and Spanish.
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What I remembered this morning was the following; The Synagogue of the Sephardi community was situated very close to the home of my grandparents. They used to build a large enough booth to accommodate their entire congregation. As a child, I used to help them with the preparations. I remembered my grandmother screaming at me from her window to get away from them, not to play with their kids…. I could never understand why. It seemed that part of her ghetto mentality was to distrust anyone that was in any way different. These people were different than we were, as mentioned; they spoke a different language and, for the most part, had darker skins than the Ashkenazi Jews. The younger generation, like myself did not see these differences as our common language was English and skin colour was never an issue with me or my immediate family. I therefore could never understand my grandmother’s logic, or lack of…. So I secretly maintained my friendships with the kids there.
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Today, I started thinking about prejudice, why it exists, how to overcome it…. It seems to exist because of ignorance and fear, two very real factors. How to overcome it? Learn about each other and the fear factor will be eliminated. Very simple! It worked in my case.Things are different today, in Israel at least. The Jewish community celebrates together. We have a common language, Hebrew. There are still some remnants of the old world prejudice, but for the most part it’s gone. Now to overcome the prejudices between the Jewish and Arab communities here. My way is to open my booth, as well as my home, to ALL members of the community, both Arab and Jew.  It’s the only way to guarantee an end to the hatred… live together! So, instead of fearing the differences of the others, my philosophy is to say
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VIVA LA DIFFERENCE!
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Let us all live together as neighbours and brothers.Shalom-Salaam!

A RABBINICAL LAMENTATION OF THE SEASON FOR THE PEOPLE OF GAZA

Lamenting for Gaza

Lamenting for Gaza

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The following was written days before the Jewish fast of Tisha B’Av: a day of mourning for the calamities that have befallen the Jewish people over the centuries. Among other things, the traditional Tisha B’Av liturgy includes the chanting Biblical book of  Lamentations.

Given the profoundly tragic events currently unfolding in Gaza, I offer this reworking of the first chapter of Lamentations.  I share it with the hope that on this day of mourning we might also mourn the mounting dead in Gaza  along with what Israel has become.

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A LAMENTATION FOR GAZA

By Rabbi Brant Rosen

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Gaza weeps alone.
Bombs falling without end
her cheeks wet with tears.
A widow abandoned
imprisoned on all sides
with none willing to save her.

We who once knew oppression
have become the oppressors.
Those who have been pursued
are now the pursuers.
We have uprooted families
from their homes, we have
driven them deep into
this desolate place,
this narrow strip of exile.

All along the roads there is mourning.
The teeming marketplaces
have been bombed into emptiness.
The only sounds we hear
are cries of pain
sirens blaring
drones buzzing
bitterness echoing
into the black vacuum
of homes destroyed
and dreams denied.

We have become Gaza’s master
leveling neighborhoods
with the mere touch of a button
for her transgression of resistance.
Her children are born into captivity
they know us only as occupiers
enemies to be feared
and hated.

We have lost all
that once was precious to us.
This fatal attachment to our own might
has become our downfall.
This idolatrous veneration of the land
has sent us wandering into
a wilderness of our own making.

We have robbed Gaza of
her deepest dignity
plunged her into sorrow and darkness.
Her people crowd into refugee camps
held captive by fences and buffer zones
gunboats, mortar rounds
and Apache missles.

We sing of Jerusalem,
to “a free people in their own land”
but our song has become a mockery.
How can we sing a song of freedom
imprisoned inside behind walls we have built
with our own fear and dread?

Here we sit clinging to our illusions
of comfort and security
while we unleash hell on earth
on the other side of the border.
We sit on hillsides and cheer
as our explosions light up the sky
while far below, whole neighborhoods
are reduced to rubble.

For these things I weep:
for the toxic fear we have unleashed
from the dark place of our hearts
for the endless grief
we are inflicting
on the people of Gaza.

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Brant Rosen recently resigned* as the rabbi of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Illinois. He is a former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and is the co-founder and co-chairperson of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council. He has served on the boards of numerous national and local organizations, including Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, Brit Tzedek v Shalom, and Hands of Peace. He is an activist for peace, social justice, and human rights, and he has travelled to the former Soviet Union,Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, and Iran as part of peace delegations. In 2009, he co-founded the Jewish Fast for Gaza, or Ta’anit Tzedek with Rabbi Brian Walt. Rosen is also an active environmentalist. Under his leadership, his synagogue, the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, built their new building with an environmentally sustainable design in 2008, becoming the first house of worship to ever receive a Platinum rating by the U.S. Green Building Council. He was the recipient of Chicago Magazine‘s Green Award for his environmental leadership in 2009. In 2008, Rosen was named one of the Top 25 Pulpit Rabbis in America byNewsweek magazine. In 2009 he was awarded the Partner in Justice Award byAvodah: The Jewish Service Corps and he received the Inspiration for Hope Award by the American Friends Service Committee in 2010 for his social justice activism in the Middle East.Rosen is a native of Los Angeles, CA. He is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

*  Rosen: However, if I’m going to be fully honest, I must also be ready to admit that my decision to leave JRC is being motivated by both a push and a pull. I must also be ready to admit that for some years now I’ve been going down a path that has slowly been pulling me away from the congregational rabbinate and toward a rabbinate more directly defined by social justice activism.

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The above poem originally appeared on Rabbi Rosen’s Blog, SHALOM RAV

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Rabbi Brant Rosen, Personification of the Yiddish word, MENTCH*

Rabbi Brant Rosen, Personification of the Yiddish word, MENTCH*

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* Definition of MENTCH

IMAGING APARTHEID IN GAZA

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Pat Perry is an artist from Michigan. He currently lives and works itinerantly in the US.

This image was created for Imaging Apartheid, a Montreal-based initiative aimed at bringing awareness and support to the Palestinian struggle for liberation through the production and dissemination of poster art.

GAZANS STILL WAITING FOR THE LIGHTS TO COME ON

blind-to-gaza

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Israel has the capacity to stop power interruptions today. Sympathetic nations have the influence to insist that Israel does this. If international leadership cannot agree that providing electricity to the people of Gaza — a very achievable goal — should be an immediate priority, how can we possibly imagine that the larger political issues can be resolved anytime soon?

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Why must Gaza wait in the dark?

Separating Gaza’s electricity supply from the political conflict is a step long overdue.

By Sam Bahour FOR

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Gaza aftermath, Gaza city, 6.9.2014

 

When I asked my colleague in Gaza about her biggest dream, her answer made an impression on me: “I dream of what life would be like with 24-hour electricity.” This was the answer of a single, mid-career, western educated, professional woman who lives in the more affluent part of Gaza City. Her response suggests the depth of despair among Palestinians throughout Gaza.

Day-to-day life in Gaza between Israeli attacks is unworthy news for Western mainstream media. As a result, few people are aware that electricity in Gaza is a luxury, with blackouts lasting 16-18 hours—every day. This bitter reality has warped people’s lives for years now, as they must plan their daily activities around the four-six hours when they anticipate electricity, even if that means waking up to put laundry in the washing machine in the middle of the night.

Smoke and flames rise from Gaza

 

Contrary to common belief, the severe under supply of electricity in Gaza is not new, and not a result of the latest military aggression. Gaza has not had uninterrupted electricity since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. In an attempt to compensate for the Israeli disruption of Gaza’s power supply, the Palestinians established their first power generation plant in 2004. Ever since, Israel has regularly limited the supply of electricity and industrial fuel needed to operate this only power plant in Gaza. Israel’s ability to deny families in Gaza the energy they need is nothing less than collective punishment of Palestinians—an entire community is made to pay for the acts of a few.

Separating Gaza’s electricity supply from the political conflict is a step long overdue. Access to electricity—a basic necessity that much of the world, including Israeli citizens can take for granted—should not be conditional upon outcomes of future negotiations. Continued darkness in Gaza serves no one.

During Israel’s military aggression on Gaza this past summer, Israel again bombed the sole power plant in Gaza. (Israel bombed the same plant on June 28, 2006.)  In a July 29, 2014 article about the latest destruction, the Guardian quoted Amnesty International which stated, “the crippling of the power station amounted to collective punishment of Palestinians.” Amnesty went on to note that, “the strike on the plant will worsen already severe problems with Gaza’s water supply, sewage treatment and power supplies to medical facilities.”

On September 14, 2014, less than 50 days after the Israeli strike on the plant and less than a month after the cessation of fighting, the Middle East Monitor reported that the CEO of the Gaza Electricity Company, Walid Sayel, announced that Gaza’s power plant was ready to resume operating, pending fuel supply. “The Turkish minister of energy,” the item continued, “had said that his country is ready to send a floating 100 megawatt power plant to Gaza after obtaining the necessary permits [from Israel].” As Palestinians in Gaza try to move on, none of the players involved in the latest debacle, foremost among them Israel, is being held accountable.

The barrier is not simply being without fuel for the power plant. The issue is much more complex and calculated. If Turkey were serious about helping, their floating power station would already be in Gaza’s territorial waters even if they had to face down the Israeli navy and risk an international incident to bring electricity to Gaza. If the Palestinian Authority were serious, we would not have to witness the CEO of a Palestinian power plant begging for the funds needed to get the power plant running. And most importantly, Israel has the capacity to provide Gaza with continuous electricity immediately. According to international law, as the occupying power, Israel has sole responsibility to remedy this issue immediately.

To the governments and leaders who just returned to Cairo for another round of ceasefire negotiations with no timeline or end in sight, I challenge them to first focus on this basic and humane step: Give the people of Gaza access to electricity. It would be a basic step in easing the stresses of life in Gaza where loved ones can’t check in with one another when cell phones can’t get charged, email and Skype calls are not predictable, and having back-up generators for hospitals is literally a matter of life and death.

As what was intended to be a five-year peace process crawls into its third decade, an entire generation of Palestinian children in Gaza who were born in the early 1990s are now turning 16, 18, 20 years old. Their generation has never known a time that didn’t require candles to be able to study after dark due to intermittent electricity.

Israel has the capacity to stop power interruptions today. Sympathetic nations have the influence to insist that Israel does this. If international leadership cannot agree that providing electricity to the people of Gaza — a very achievable goal — should be an immediate priority, how can we possibly imagine that the larger political issues can be resolved anytime soon?

EID AL- ADHA MUBARAK

thanks-to-muslimvillage

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As one side of the wall fasts on Saturday, those on the other side will feast.  

To all of my Muslim family and friends, EID MUBARAK! May your prayers for Peace and Justice become a reality in the coming year.

To my Jewish friends and family, may you be inscribed in the Book of Life.

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Eid-ul-adha-Mubarak-Islamic-Wallpaper

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A sampling of the wonderful date filled Eid cookies prepared by my family

WE SHALL NOT BE DE-CLIMATIZED (VIDEO)

Posted by  Dave Lippman

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We marched, and will march again, and then will lie down in front of the liars, and stand up to the climate-killing profiteers. And on we go, learning more about the science and how to drop it, and how to build movements. And here’s the lyric:

Chorus:
We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water,
We shall not be moved

Oil and coal destroy the earth
We shall not be moved
We’re gonna fight for all we’re worth
We shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water,
We shall not be moved

The 1% steals everything
We shall not be moved
Economic justice we will bring
We shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water,
We shall not be moved

They’re fracking here, they’re drilling there
We shall not be moved
To benefit some billionaire
We shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water,
We shall not be moved

Oil war hawks are swarming
We shall not be moved
Bringing global warming
We shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water,
We shall not be moved

Fossil fuel pollution
We shall not be moved
Clean energy solution
We shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water,
We shall not be moved

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water,
We shall not be moved

WOULD ROSA PARKS FLY ON EL AL?

 

*Rosa Parks

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An online petition launched Sunday is calling on the airline to provide a small section of gender-segregated seats for an extra fee. In two days, the petition garnered more than 1,500 signatures.

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El Al Grapples With Gender Segregation Furor

Should Airline Allow Ultra-Orthodox Men To Sit Apart?

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WIKIMEDIA
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By Ben Sales

 

For approximately a half hour at the beginning of her El Al Israel Airlines flight last week from New York to Tel Aviv, Elana Sztokman watched as the haredi Orthodox man seated next to her rushed up and down the aisle searching for someone willing to switch seats so he wouldn’t have to sit beside her.

On the same route several hours later, another El Al flight was delayed as haredi men stood in the aisles refusing to sit next to women.

After takeoff, the men resumed their protest until other seats were found for them. A passenger on the flight told the Israeli website Ynet that the trip was “an 11-hour nightmare.”

Israel’s national airline has long had to contend with haredi Orthodox Jews insisting on gender separation in the skies. But the two recent incidents – Sztokman’s story went viral after she wrote about it in the online magazine Tablet – have prompted calls for El Al to resolve the ongoing issue.

Some have suggested that the airline insist that strictly observant passengers sit in their assigned seats. Others say the airline should create gender-segregated sections, so seat maps would not have to be reconfigured on the spot.

“What offends me is the premise that sitting next to me is a problem,” said Sztokman, author of the recent book “The War on Women in Israel: A Story of Religious Radicalism and the Women Fighting for Freedom.” “I’m a person first and foremost.”

Sztokman, who has faced similar situations on past El Al flights, said she has written the airline to complain several times but has not heard back.

In a statement responding to an inquiry from JTA, El Al made no mention of the Sept. 22 and Sept. 23 incidents, but said that the airline’s staffers “are trying their best to respond to every request of any of the passengers.”

An online petition launched Sunday is calling on the airline to provide a small section of gender-segregated seats for an extra fee. In two days, the petition garnered more than 1,500 signatures.

“I do think El Al has a responsibility to make its passengers feel safe and prevent this type of thing from happening,” the petition’s author, Sharon Shapiro of Chicago, told JTA. “I don’t think women should be harassed or feel bad or guilty if they can’t change seats. I don’t think men who feel it’s a halachic [Jewish legal] mandate that they can’t sit next to women should be put in a position that they have to nudge and ask.”

Special sections or flights for haredi passengers have been suggested before but never implemented. In a controversial move, some Israeli bus companies separated seating for women and men on several lines in 2010. In 2011, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that forcing such segregation is illegal.

“If they rent the whole plane, El Al can run empty planes,” said Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, a Reform Jewish group. “But you can’t make people move because of their gender.”

Hoffman’s organization challenged El Al two years ago on gender segregation when an American woman, Debra Ryder, was forced to switch seats after a man refused to sit next to her. A lawyer for Hoffman’s group, Orly Erez-Litkhovsky, demanded that Ryder be compensated approximately $14,000 as a result.

El Al rejected the payment demand but said it would revisit its guidelines for flight attendants in terms of having them ask passengers to move or telling people to stay in their seats.

The man who was assigned a seat next to Sztokman’s eventually switched with another passenger. Sztokman said she hopes public outcry in the wake of the incident – including outcry from haredi Orthodox – will push El Al to take action.

“I hope this helps people within the haredi world think twice about whether this is the culture they want, and I hope this encourages women in Israel to speak more,” Sztokman said. “We have to speak more. We can’t just sit down and keep taking it.”

LAST NIGHT I HAD THE STRANGEST DREAM

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I listened to Netanyahu utter the following words at the UN …

“I stand here before you today ashamed and mortified. I’m ashamed and mortified by the outcome of the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza. Ashamed and mortified by the alarming number of civilians my country killed, ashamed and mortified by the scope of devastation its unrestrained army spread. The Israeli army made a certain effort to reduce injury to civilians, but I know that this was no more than conscience-soothing measures, if any conscience still remains in Israel, and the rest is propaganda tricks.

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But alas …

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It’s all a daydream


Benjamin Netanyahu should have told the UN General Assembly that he regrets Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip and genuinely seeks a two-state solution. Of course, it didn’t happen.
By Gideon Levy

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Israeli soldiers look toward the Gaza Strip from Israel, August 3, 2014. Photo by Reuters
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This is what Benjamin Netanyahu should have said in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly this week:

“I stand here before you today ashamed and mortified. I’m ashamed and mortified by the outcome of the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza. Ashamed and mortified by the alarming number of civilians my country killed, ashamed and mortified by the scope of devastation its unrestrained army spread. The Israeli army made a certain effort to reduce injury to civilians, but I know that this was no more than conscience-soothing measures, if any conscience still remains in Israel, and the rest is propaganda tricks.

“The results rest before you – 2,200 bodies – and they speak for themselves. They should torment every decent Israeli, they torment me as well. From this podium I’d like to bow my head, express sorrow and apologize to the residents of Gaza for what we have done to them. My country will contribute as much as it can to compensate them.

“We launched this attack after we detected a golden opportunity – the abduction and murder of three teens in the West Bank – to wreak revenge on Hamas and sabotage the Palestinian reconciliation government, which threatened to advance an agreement with Israel. Hamas fell into the trap we laid for it and in retaliation to our harsh steps against its people in the West Bank, it began firing rockets at Israel. We responded in the language we love most when dealing with the Palestinians – the language of military power, killing and destruction. By so doing we also proved to the world that we don’t give a damn about it and have no reason to do so. The world grumbles and Israel conquers and kills.

“If anyone thought that after the Goldstone report there won’t be another wild operation in Gaza, we proved that not only will there be one, but it will be more brutal than its predecessor. Why should we listen to the world? The United States is deep in our pocket – there isn’t another state in the world that can disregard it as we can – and all the rest doesn’t matter. Public opinion? International law? They’re mere anti-Semitism.

“But all these are matters of the past. In the morning after the war in Gaza, Israel, myself included, awoke to new insights. Suddenly we understood that force and aggression aren’t advancing the state anywhere. We realized that Israel cannot live by the sword forever – there’s no historical precedent for that. Even Israel’s seemingly unlimited power has limitations and we cannot wipe Gaza out or remove the Palestinians. We realized too that the dozens of Israeli fatalities had died for nothing, that Israel had achieved nothing and that in another war it will pay an immeasurably higher price.

“The morning after the terrible war I realized what I had never understood before – that the only way to ensure my state’s future is to make an effort to integrate it into the problematic space it is located in, rather than turn its back on it, as Israel has done so far. I understood that precisely because of the upheavals in this region we must find a solution to the Palestinian problem, the mother of all problems, before it’s too late. I realized that if there’s still a chance for the two-state solution, which I committed myself to but never meant, this is the last opportunity.

“From this stage I now call on the representatives of the reconciliation government to enter into quick negotiations with Israel. Everything has already been discussed to excess and all we need to reach an agreement is to decide. Israel, for its part, will undertake to end the occupation completely within an agreed time frame. On the eve of opening the negotiations it will free thousands of Palestinian prisoners, to prove to the Palestinian people that it has truly changed direction. At the same time I propose to the Palestinian government to hold a joint Israeli-Palestinian referendum, to determine whether we’re going for a two-state solution within the 1967 borders, or a solution of one egalitarian democracy, a state whose citizens all have equal rights.”

All this never happened – and won’t happen. It’s all a daydream. Instead we got another propaganda-filled, hollow, patronizing speech. The obsequious advisors cheered, the Adelsons invited the Netanyahus to dinner and Israel remained, of course, intransigent.

ATONING FOR THE UNFORGIVABLE

This Friday at sunset Pius Jews will literally pound their chests as they ask their Creator to forgive their sins of the past year. On the Hebrew calendar it will be Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement. 

Watch this short clip to see what Nelson Mandela had to say about forgiveness …

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“Forgiveness liberates the soul, Forgiveness is Freedom.”

A few questions arise from that; does a serial child killer even have a soul? Would a loving God forgive him for those sins?

Does one who denies the Freedom of an entire nation be granted Freedom by that same God?

Somehow, I think not. Sins which are in total violation of the Ten Commandments themselves are surely not forgivable.

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'Copyleft' by Carlos Latuff

‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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The pounding of the chest cannot forgive the sin of the pounding of civilians, including women and children. It cannot forgive the sin of destroying the homes and workplaces of thousands of people. No, this Day of Atonement will be different, there will be no forgiveness!

For those out there that declared LOUD AND CLEAR that those crimes were not committed in your name, may you be Blessed and inscribed in the Book of Life. There are many of you and your numbers are growing with each passing day. 

As for the others, Hell is too cold a place for you!

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not_myname_1

A TERRORIST SPEAKS OF ISIS AND HAMAS IN ONE BREATH

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The rise of ISIS and its rivalry with other groups does pose a challenge but in a less direct way than Netanyahu suggests. In a visit earlier this month to Jordan, I found Da’ash (as ISIS is known according to its Arabic acronym) on everybody’s lips regardless of an individual’s political affiliation. Those of an Islamist bent regarded the upstart as a challenge and a rival, not an ally.

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Netanyahu’s Convenient Lies About ISIS and Hamas

By Nathan Brown

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Benjamin Netanyahu, left; anti-ISIS fighter, right / Getty Images

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Speaking at the General Assembly this week, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated a refrain he has sounded for three decades (since his days as Israeli ambassador to the U.N.) — that all forms of terrorism are different sides of the same coin and have civilization as their target:

So when it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas. And what they share in common all militant Islamists share in common. Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al-Shabab in Somalia, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Al-Nusra in Syria, the Mahdi army in Iraq, and the Al-Qaida branches in Yemen, Libya, the Philippines, India and elsewhere.

The startling assortment of groups; the lumping of a Shiite movement (Hezbollah) with those that can treat Shi‘a as apostates; the linking of Israel’s enemies with those now targeted by the United States — all this is politically convenient. But is it accurate?

Well, yes of course — in the same sense that France’s François Hollande, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Israel’s HaPoel Tel Aviv all spring from the same socialist movement. It’s not clear how such claims aid understanding, analysis or policy.

The rise of ISIS and its rivalry with other groups does pose a challenge but in a less direct way than Netanyahu suggests. In a visit earlier this month to Jordan, I found Da’ash (as ISIS is known according to its Arabic acronym) on everybody’s lips regardless of an individual’s political affiliation. Those of an Islamist bent regarded the upstart as a challenge and a rival, not an ally.

There seems to be some level of sympathy for Da’ash not because of the barbarity of its behavior but for its ability to threaten an international order that is seen as unjust. I spoke with Jordanian officials who seemed more concerned with the interest Da’ash generated among disaffected Jordanians than its actual core supporters.

But that places the leadership of some of the groups Netanyahu identifies in a very awkward position. On the one hand, they reject Da’ash’s ideas, methods, textual interpretations and agenda. On the other hand, they note that Da’ash defiance strikes some chords among the youth and that its actions grab agenda-setting attention. Their response is therefore somewhat guarded — to criticize Da’ash’s deeds and doctrines but in tones that fall far short of the horrified revulsion expressed elsewhere. The result sounds cagey and calculated — because it is.

Recent U.S. moves to engage Da’ash militarily may help these groups square the circle — not because the groups are all the same but because of the way in which they are rivals jostling for position. By turning their critical words against the U.S. — and thus shifting focus to the deeply unpopular U.S. military and security presence in most of the region — such rivals can maintain their distance from Da’ash without losing those whose inclinations might otherwise gravitate to more radical or disgruntled forces.

In two conversations with Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood leaders — one whose extremely hawkish views landed him in prison once and the other whose extreme dovish views have led to his estrangement from the movement — I was struck by the identical way they referred to Da’ash. They both brought it up (I was interviewing them for utterly unrelated work I’m doing on Islamic legal debates) and went on to describe it as a violent movement whose ways they found wrong but still saw as a product of the violence and occupation inflicted on the region. Such a stance was sincere — but also politically adept.

All actors are caught making some difficult political choices. Da’ash’s opponents of various stripes are trying to figure out how much they share and how much they can combat their foe militarily without aggravating the situation politically.

Israel likewise faces some difficult political choices with Hamas. Netanyahu’s formulation of the problem to an international audience may be politically useful in garnering sympathy for Israel in some circles. But when Israel turns its attention from speechifying to hard realities, it will likely conclude that its Hamas problem does not get easier by making it so much larger.

Nathan Brown is a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University.

 

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

RISING ABOVE PAMELA GELLER

Condemned by such noted liberals as the ADL, Dinesh D’Souza, and the Daily News, banned by the Great Neck Synagogue (but embraced by Chabad), Geller is the anti-Muslim wacko who takes ads on buses and subways to remind us all that followers of Islam are “savages” and that there’s no such thing as a moderate Muslim. (Someone better inform Dr. Oz.)
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We Are All Pamela Geller

Let’s Figure Out How We Rise Above Her

By Jay Michaelson

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Hate: One of Geller’s ads posted in the New York subway system.

GETTY IMAGES
Hate: One of Geller’s ads posted in the New York subway system.
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Well, now we know what it takes to stop Pamela Geller’s crusade against terrorism: an actual victim of it.

Condemned by such noted liberals as the ADL, Dinesh D’Souza, and the Daily News, banned by the Great Neck Synagogue (but embraced by Chabad), Geller is the anti-Muslim wacko who takes ads on buses and subways to remind us all that followers of Islam are “savages” and that there’s no such thing as a moderate Muslim. (Someone better inform Dr. Oz.)

Until yesterday, Geller was planning another assault on the citizens of New York, in the form of hateful bus and subway ads. But at the 11th hour, reason intervened, in the form of the family of James Foley, one of the Islamic State’s victims, who asked that Geller pull the ads.

The Foley family succeeded where an array of activists and municipalities have failed. Say what you will about Geller’s politics, her legal counsel is excellent. Her organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative — and its project, Stop the Islamicization of America — has won court victories that make it very difficult for the MTA, or its sister agencies in Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., to stop her. “Our hands are tied,” an MTA representative told the Daily News.

This is, after all, political speech, carefully lawyered to evade prosecution. And let’s remember that Geller has only committed to withdrawing those picturing Foley, which still leaves plenty of hate to be written on the subway walls.

Prior to the Foleys’ success, tactics have varied widely — with similarly varying results.

The best the MTA has been able to win is a disclaimer that SOIA’s views are not those of the MTA. Mayor Bill DiBlasio has proposed contemplation: Those “forced to view [the ads] can take comfort in the knowledge that we share a better, loftier and nobier view of humanity.” Alright.

San Francisco’s Muni system did better, posting their own ads a few feet from Geller’s setting forth Muni’s anti-discrimination policy and explicitly condemning Geller’s statements. Better.

Moderate Muslim organizations have started their own counter-protests: the #MyJihad campaign (which Geller has co-opted) and humor-based campaigns such as “Fighting Bigotry With Hilarious Posters,” which warns us that “the Muslims are coming — to your radiology department.” Nice.

And enterprising activists have made an art form out of directly “modifying” Geller’s posters, sometimes just with black spray paint but other times with pictures of Geller herself and witty speech-bubbles like “I’m obsessed and must struggle to stop.” I won’t name acronyms, but some left-leaning Jewish organizations have gotten in on the act too.

Here, however, I’d like to take a different tack.

Geller’s ads may have been pulled, but her presence is still felt keenly in our community, and I think it’s too easy to focus on Geller as a racist clown, thus giving all the rest of us a free pass. Geller is like a pro-Israel Barry Goldwater: in our hearts, many in our community believe her to be right.

So, rather than Di-Blasian self-satisfaction, I’d like to invite the exact opposite: self-questioning. It’s highly appropriate for this season of repentance, and it is a lot more productive. We should be asking ourselves: What views do I hold that enable, or resemble, such extremism? If I’m on the Left, do I call out my friends when their anti-Zionism slides into anti-Semitism? And if I’m on the Right, do I hold myself and my friends accountable for views which border on bigotry?

Let me give some examples, direct from Geller herself.

One of Geller’s new ads states that “Hamas is ISIS, Hamas is Al-Qaeda, Hamas is Boko Haram, Hamas is CAIR in America.” Factually, this is quite false. In fact, while Hamas has nominally supported ISIS in Syria — thus damaging ties with its historic sponsor, Iran — the Islamic State is a Salafist jihadist/fundamentalist movement that regards Hamas as impure and the Israel/Palestinian conflict as largely irrelevant. In fact, Hamas’s best friend today is Qatar, which is in the coalition opposing the Islamic State. Unsurprisingly, Geller is just ignorant here.

But to vilify CAIR in this way is defamatory, like saying that AIPAC is Baruch Goldstein. Do some CAIR members support Hamas? Probably. Did some AIPAC members support Goldstein? Probably. Does that make them identical? No.

Now I want to turn the question inward. Have I learned enough about the differences among Muslim groups, or do I reduce them all to the “Them” in an Us/Them dichotomy? Do I recognize that all religious and national groups have their moderates and extremists? That Paul Ryan isn’t Bill O’Reilly isn’t Pamela Geller — even if they’ve all intersected at times?

And do I appreciate the consequences for American civil society if I were really to believe, as another Geller ad insists, that “yesterday’s moderate is today’s headline”? Is everyone who has an expansive view of the Second Amendment the same as mass shooters in Colorado and Connecticut? Is every conservative in the KKK? Do we see what this kind of thinking would mean?

Let’s take a second example. “Jew-hatred: It’s in the Quran,” an AFDI poster blares. And indeed, the Quran has many violent passages, including some about Jews — most notoriously 5:60, which says that “some” Jews have been transformed into “monkeys and pigs.” It is definitely triumphalist in nature. (See, e.g. 4:101, 66:9, 28:66.)

But have you read the Quran, cover to cover? Including verses like 2:256 (“Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error”), or the many similar exhortations in 6:107, 11:28, 42:8, 65:26, and elsewhere? Or, for that matter, 2:47, which exhorts “Children of Israel! Call to mind the favor which I bestowed upon you, and that I preferred you to all other nations”?

To be sure, ISIS’s barbarian shave not lived up to these nobler teachings. Nor did the Crusaders, of course, live up to theirs.

And have you read the Bible, cover to cover? Including Deuteronomy 7:2-3, which calls for the complete ethnic cleansing of the Land of Israel, along with similar exhortations in Numbers 31:7-18, Joshua 11:12-15, and elsewhere? And is not Judaism likewise triumphalist, sure that it is the one true religion?

All Western religions have teachings of peace and teachings of violence within them. All have followers who emphasize one or the other. All can be triumphalist, violent, and ethnocentric — or the opposite. In some times and places, the fundamentalists hold sway; in others, the moderates. This is reality.

Perhaps you’ve noticed the irony here. In condemning all Muslims as savage and violent, Geller is herself becoming like those Muslims who are. She is a fundamentalist like they are fundamentalists; she is irrational like they are irrational.

And another irony: So are we, if we simply assume that Geller is over there, and I’m over here. Moderate/Extremist is just another Us/Them dichotomy — one that gives me a pass just as Geller’s Us/Them dichotomy gives her.

Actually, we are all Pamela Geller to some extent: She is simply the manifestation of the fearful, irrational, and hateful parts of each of us. There’s a Geller inside me and a Geller inside you. I can listen to that part of myself and “know she’s right.” Or I can listen to it, reflect on it, and explore whether that’s the voice I want to obey.

Indeed, what finally defeated Geller — in this particular battle at least — was nothing more and nothing less than basic human decency. A grieving family with every reason to support her vitriolic rhetoric has instead asked her to back off. They have risen above vengeance to something better.

It is all too human to support Pamela Geller, and all too human to simply blow her off. But as the Foley family has shown, it is also possible to rise above her.
The views expressed in these two articles are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

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RELATED
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No, Pamela Geller, the Qur’an Is Not Anti-Semitic

By Reuven Firestone

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Pamela Geller, left; Qur’an, right / Getty Images

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Soon you will see ads, courtesy of Pamela Geller, in the New York City subway system that state, “Islamic Jew-Hatred: It’s in the Qur’an.”

Is she right?

It’s easy to understand why many Jews might think so. Anti-Semitism has become a frightening force in much of the Muslim world, and a recent Anti-Defamation League study has shown that anti-Semitism is more common in Muslim majority countries than in any other region identified by religion, culture or geography. Muslims need to address this problem for many reasons, not least of which is that anti-Semitism reflects deep ignorance and a willingness to be manipulated by simplistic propaganda that is harmful to Muslims as well as Jews.

But anti-Semitism is not found in the Qur’an.

This may be difficult to fathom given the recent heated public discussion. Some people cite what appear to be obviously angry and seemingly hateful negative references to Jews in the Qur’an. Others argue that these verses are taken out of context. They cite counter-verses from the same Qur’an that appear to respect Jews and even refer to Jews using the same positive language reserved for followers of Muhammad.

So what’s the real story? As usual, the issue is not so simple, and many on both sides of the debate do us all a disservice with their hyperbole and naïve arguments.

Yes, the Qur’an contains verses that refer negatively to Jews. In order to understand these verses, we must read them both in relation to the fullness of the scripture in which they are located (synchronically), and also in relation to how other scriptures treat non-believers (diachronically).

Let’s start with the synchronic reading. Negative references to Jews in the Qur’an occur in relation to negative references to other communities, all of which opposed the emergence of the new Arabian prophet and his revelation. The Jewish communities of Arabia, like the Christian, Zoroastrian and native polytheist communities, did not accept the prophetic status of Muhammad. A few individual Jews and Christians joined his movement, but when they did they voted themselves out of their native religious communities.

This is a natural occurrence. No established religion is willing to discard the canon of its own scripture in order to accept a new prophet with a new revelation. Islam fits into this pattern as well, since it refuses to accept the prophetic status of new divine messengers who emerged out of its own tradition, such as the prophets of the Baha’i faith or the Ahmadiyya.

The Jews of Arabia were greatly respected and influential in Arabia during Muhammad’s lifetime. Because of their status, their refusal as a community to acknowledge his prophethood was a major impediment to the new movement and was condemned by the Qur’an as obstinacy, and hard-headedness. The Qur’an criticizes local Jews, for example, when it states, “Many of the People of the Book would like to turn you back to unbelievers after your having believed, because of envy on their part after the truth has become clear to them” (Q.2:109).

Established religions are never welcoming to new religions, and the disappointment, resentment and anger of newly emerging religions toward established religions that refuse to embrace them is found in all monotheistic scriptures. Many are familiar with the negative references to Jews in parts of the New Testament such as Matthew 23 and John 8. As in the Qur’an, these texts reflect the shock and resentment of those believing in a new redemptive and charismatic leader. They simply could not understand why members of established religions would refuse to join their program.

Negative references to Jews in both scriptures reflect reactive anger and zealous resentment. They do not represent a program to vilify, demonize or scapegoat Jews.

Jews are naturally sensitive to negative references to Jews in other scriptures, but are usually unaware of the same phenomenon of othering in their own scripture. The Hebrew Bible is full of reactive anger and zealous resentment toward competing religious communities. Canaanites, Egyptians and other members of established religious peoples are depicted repeatedly in the Hebrew Bible as spiteful, wicked and mortal enemies of ancient Israel. But most of those portrayed as evil opponents were simply members of established religions who felt threatened by Israelite successes in conquest and expansion. Like the Jews and Christians of Arabia, they opposed the emergence of a new, competitive religious community. The Israelite claims to being God’s chosen people with an exclusive relationship with the one God of the universe (who happened to be called the God of Israel!) could only have added to the tension.

These are all cases of the natural tension that occurs with the birth of new religions. Established religions resent and oppose them — just think of “cults” as new religions in order to understand the mindset. Like the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, the Qur’an includes material that reflects this frustration. It does not express anti-Semitism, Jew-hatred or racism.

Anti-Semitism is caused by different forces, which scapegoat Jews by manipulating people through deceitful deflection of criticism onto Jews. Those who engage in the deception use anything they can to further their aims, including scripture. Negative scriptural references to non-believers exist in all scriptures, and they are sometimes cited and manipulated by hateful people to encourage violence and even slaughter of the religious other. But it’s important for Jews to understand that anti-Semitism is no more basic to Islam than hatred of all non-Jews is basic to Judaism, an old anti-Semitic screed that was often claimed by citing scriptural citations from the Hebrew Bible.

Many writings single out and disparage particular communities, and any kind of “othering” is problematic. We need to be able to distinguish between normal even if problematic cases, and those that are truly hateful and absolutely unacceptable cases of racism, anti-Semitism or Islamophobia. Reacting to every negative reference to Jews as anti-Semitic is unwise, simplistic and dangerous. Don’t be fooled by frightened people into the naïve and simplistic conclusion that any negative reference to Jews is anti-Semitism.

Rabbi Reuven Firestone is Professor of medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles and Senior Fellow of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California. He is author of Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam and is President Elect of the International Qur’anic Studies Association.

SICK AND TIRED OF ISRAEL’S WHINING

It is the imposed solution that will come from the Western world, which is already sick and tired of hearing about Hamas and about the victims of terror and about the IDF’s successful operations. The world of late 2014 wants peace and quiet, not to be driven up the wall.

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Israel obsession

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World won’t listen to Netanyahu’s UN speech


Op-ed: Sick and tired of hearing about Hamas terror and IDF’s successful operations, Western world is preparing to impose a solution on Israel and Palestinians.
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It’s more than likely that very few people, if any at all, will be glued Monday evening to the television, computer and smartphone screens or to the radio in order to watch and listen to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the United Nations General Assembly.

It seems that even fewer people did so on Friday, during Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ speech.

The Palestinian leader said what he said. The Israeli prime minister will say what he’ll say. The statements and the speakers hardly interest anyone anymore. Both in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority, people have had enough of things that are said, of promises that are not kept and of dreams that don’t come true. The question is: Is there anything new under the sun? The answer seems to be: There is nothing, for now.

For almost 150 years, we have been fighting over the same piece of land. It’s the same piece of sky covering the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Those are the same olive trees planted on the Galilee mountains and on the Samaria mountains. Thousands have already paid with their lives for this tough and bitter fight between two people seeking to sit and live on the same part of the ground. Nothing leads the decision to one side or another so that one of the sides, or better yet – both, will live in peace and tranquility.

Those who believe that “God’s right hand is victorious” don’t believe in any political solution anyway, and will do a lot – if not everything – to make it fail. Those among the Palestinians who believe in the option of expelling Israel’s citizens from their land once again are devotedly sticking to this belief. These days Abbas is joining those who believe that, if only for tactical reasons. He is fighting for his political life right now, if not for his actual life.

At the UN on Monday, Netanyahu will insist that our lives will be in danger if the Palestinians try to fulfill their dreams. Netanyahu is also fighting for his political life these days, and not just these days. He has to say these things firmly for the sake of the public, mainly his public, which no longer believes anything.

The solution, at least for now, following the aggravated political discourse and before the stones and Kalashnikovs are pulled out, seems distant but not impossible. The two rival sides will reject it out of hand, but we are nearing its execution.

It is the imposed solution that will come from the Western world, which is already sick and tired of hearing about Hamas and about the victims of terror and about the IDF’s successful operations. The world of late 2014 wants peace and quiet, not to be driven up the wall.

At these moments, I remember the attempts to make peace between the two nations, as well as the tremendous efforts to thwart these attempts. We are probably going to miss them.

WATCH HOW THE OCCUPATION TURNED AN AMERICAN TEEN INTO A PALESTINIAN ACTIVIST

Photo of Tariq provided by the Abukhdeir family

Photo of Tariq provided by the Abukhdeir family

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Until recently, Tariq Abu Khudair  was a ‘happy go lucky’ American teenager. Watch and listen to the following account as to how the brutality of the occupation changed his life…

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Transcript

Tariq Abukhdeir: Thank you for having me tonight. Good evening. I’m happy to be back in the US – safe – and when I went overseas I had a tough time.

And actually when I arrived in Palestine the Israelis kept me in the airport for ten hours. At that time I was confused so I thought about it a little bit. I thought about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. As we speak right now, the Palestinian people are suffering.

I visited Palestine for six weeks and what happened to me was just a small taste of what they go through every single day. And the Palestinians do not have rights and when I went over there I forgot that I had freedom. I wish, now that I’m back, that they have the same freedom I have. I appreciate freedom more now that I’m back in the US.

I’m just an average kid. I was born in Baltimore and I moved to Tampa when I was eleven. I’m fifteen and I’m in tenth grade right now – I started school already.

Now, about my cousin Muhammad Abu Khudair. He was my first friend that I made when I went to Palestine this year – because I hadn’t been to Palestine for eleven years. So right when I went there I saw him with all my cousins. We became friends on the spot. We went out every day – we had so much fun. We stayed up all night.

So one night during the month of Ramadan, I passed by him and I said “Hi” to him. I was on the way to the bakery to buy some food. I came by and I drove off and I came back and I saw the cops were exactly where he was sitting. And I asked – there was only one of my cousins that was there – and I asked him “What happened?”

He told me that they kidnapped Muhammad and that, right when he told me that, so many things went through my mind. I was thinking, is he going to come back alive, what are they going to do to him, is he saying anything, can anybody hear him?

So at that point I got a call, the same second that I was told that he was kidnapped – and it was my cousin and he said “What are you doing at 4:30 AM outside?”

And I’m like “Bro, Muhammad just got kidnapped.” So then all my cousins, all of Shuafat came down, and they were like, “Where is he? We need to know where he is right now.” And we were talking to the cops. And the cops asked me, “Were you the last person to see him?” And I said “Yes. All I saw – and he was just sitting there in front of his house and I drove off and I came back and I saw you guys.”

So later on, a couple of hours later, we found out that he was killed. I found out first and I didn’t want to tell anyone. I just sat by myself and my cousins were like, “Why are you sad? He’s going to be back. He’s going to come back. We have to be positive.”

And I’m telling them “I hope so. God’s will.” And I’m sitting there thinking to myself, “Is this true?” I don’t want to think about it in a bad way but did he really get stabbed and burned alive? Could that really happen? Could someone actually do that to another person? And I was scared for his life.

And then, he was stabbed and burned alive and finally everyone knew when they announced it in the mosque. And when they announced it in the mosque everyone just dropped. They were like, “Is it true? We don’t even know how someone could to that to someone else.”

And to even make it worse, they began to fire rubber-coated metal bullets at us, at everyone. They even were firing at my mother, at my aunts and uncles that were inside their houses. They were shooting at every house. And it was so sad and inhumane that they could do that when we lost someone in our family. We’re the ones – my mom is still grieving and my cousin’s mom, my aunt, is still grieving over her son’s death. When he was murdered we thought to ourselves that we tried our best to think he was going to come back, until we found out everything.

To make it worse, later that day, I was on the side of the street when there were some protestors in front of me and there were the IDF [Israeli army] firing rubber bullets at them. And that’s when I was on the side and I’m thinking to myself, “Is this really happening in front of me? Are they really firing rubber bullets to the whole city, to my family?

It made me think how could this happen right in front of me? And then I heard Israeli soldiers behind me, and then I’m thinking they’re going to run by me. They’re just going to shoot like the rest of the soldiers did. They began to run after me. That’s when I panicked. And everyone began to scream and panic too and then they ran. And I began to run too and I panicked because I didn’t know what to do. And that’s when they stuck to me. Three of them were running after me, one person.

And that’s when I jumped the fence on my left and I was at a dead end. It was not actually a dead end but there was like a little ten-foot drop in front of me which everyone jumped. I was going to jump it because I was scared and so many things were running through my mind. So when I was about to jump it, they tackled me and punched me and zip tied me. So I couldn’t make any movements.

I was zip-tied and leg-cuffed and beaten, punched and kicked in the face until I was unconscious. And even when I went unconscious they kept punching and kicking me like I was a punching bag. And I woke up blindfolded in jail. I woke up like I thought I was in the same place, I felt like I was in my cousin’s place, God rest his soul. I’m like, “Where am I? Are they going to kill me? Am I going to live through this?” And I’m bleeding down my neck, and I’m bleeding down every part of my body and I feel like my face is a bubble because of how much it hurt.

After being six hours in jail – they took me to jail – they finally took me to a doctor. And when I went to that doctor I went unconscious again and when I woke up I saw my dad and my uncle in front of me. They said “you might come back home with us tonight, or you might go to jail.”

I thought to myself “why would I go to jail? They beat me up!”

And later on I began to drink and eat and while I was drinking and eating the soldier came up to me to go get dressed. I’m going back to jail. And I’m like – I couldn’t say anything.

So I went to the bathroom and I changed back into my clothes, the same clothes – I was in a gown in the hospital. I had to change back into the same clothes that had all my blood on it, and my ripped shirt.

I went back to the jail and I saw all my cousins in jail and it was so sad. It’s inhumane like how you can just take a bunch of kids for no reason and beat them. I saw my one cousin sitting next to me and his whole shoulder is dislocated and his whole shoulder is bleeding. And I’m looking at myself like how, how is this happening to me? How’s it happening to all the Palestinians? How do they live through this?

I stayed in jail for four days. Actually on the second day I was in jail they said I went to a court date. I went to the court, sat in a jail cell inside the court. I didn’t even get to go to my court date. They just tortured us. They put us in a cell inside the court. Nine people in a closed cell and it was so small. We had to stand, we couldn’t sit down. For six hours we kept standing in that cell. We couldn’t do anything until one by one, [I] was called.

So that’s when I returned to jail. Two days later I had another court date. The same thing happened. I went to the jail cell, stayed there for a couple of hours and finally I got out and there was a bunch of media in front of me. I was getting a bunch of questions. Right when I walked into the courtroom I saw my parents. My face lit up. I was so happy. So many things running through my mind. I’m finally going home. I’m finally going home. I’ll think about everything when I’m going home.

Then the judge told me I’m going to be on house arrest. Usually when I think about house arrest I’m like, “house arrest, I don’t know what that is.” Until she told me that I’m not allowed to go back to my city where my parents are staying – you’re supposed to stay away from your family. Why should I stay away from my family? They’re like trying to torture me.

So they did all this with no charges. That’s what they do to all the Palestinian people – with no charges filed. So on the day I left Palestine they attacked all my cousins, the rest of them. They took half my cousins when I was there and then they took the rest when I left – the night I left.

They waited for me to leave and then they took my cousins, ransacked my house that I was staying in. They took my fifty-year-old uncle. He got back from work and they took him. He works every day from eleven in the morning to six in the morning the next day and they took him. He was so tired.

And I really want to thank everyone that supported me and it’s sad that my cousins are still being persecuted. And the three cousins that were arrested with me – their names are Karim, Muhammad and Mahmoud – they’re still in jail because they’re not American and they didn’t have a video that showed the brutality of the Israelis.

Now, I think all people should be treated equal, no matter who they are or where they come from. We were all created equal and we all deserve to have our rights and I feel my cousins should have the same rights that Israel gives the Israelis.

And giving Palestinians the same rights is a key to peace in the Middle East. I pray one day my cousins can feel safe to play outside and have fun. And I don’t want them to feel scared when they’re outside trying to play with their other cousins. It’s inhumane, I can’t explain it. It’s really sad. Thank you.

** Suha Abukhdeir**: Thank you. Good evening everyone. I want to thank the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation for having us here tonight. We’re honored to be here. My name is Suha Abukhdeir. I’m the mother of Tariq Abukhdeir.

I cannot begin to describe the pain of seeing my beloved son held in an Israeli prison without charges, denied medical care and suffering from a brutal beating given to him by the Israeli police.

When I first heard about the vicious beating he faced at the hands of the Israeli police and saw his bloody and swollen face and his unconscious body in the hospital, I feared for his life and I didn’t know if he was going to survive.

I could not bear to watch the video of his beating. What if he was screaming for help and I could not be there for him? When I arrived at the hospital, when I found out about him being in jail and then taken to the hospital, I found an Israeli policeman at the hospital door.

And I asked him if I can go in and see my son. He refused at first. After my husband had pleaded with him he finally allowed me but proceeding to say, “You cannot get near him, you cannot touch him and you cannot speak to him.”

So I proceeded to go to the hospital room and I looked over and all I could see is this helpless body laying there – he had a distorted face. I did not recognize him. I didn’t know if he was alive, what had happened exactly. So I told my husband, “Please, don’t leave him” – because he was handcuffed to the hospital bed.

I felt like since he was handcuffed to the hospital bed that the same people that brought him to the hospital could take him right back. So I was afraid.

The next morning, we got a call from the American consul Josh Wagner and he told us that he had made an appointment for all of us to go see Tariq in jail. I found out before [consular official] Josh Wagner called that they took Tariq back to jail and I couldn’t believe it.

I knew he was on antibiotics so the first thought I had was “Are they really going to give him his antibiotics? Are they really going to take care of him? Are they going to feed him?”

And especially after seeing the condition he was in, I couldn’t bear to think he was in a jail cell when he should have stayed in the hospital. So the next morning we went with Josh Wagner to the jailhouse. So when we proceeded and told the Israeli police that Josh Wagner had an appointment to see Tariq today. They said no one was going to see any prisoners and that was it and they closed the prison doors in our face.

Josh Wagner could not believe it. He told them, “I am not going to leave here until I see him because I made an appointment with you guys and I’m going to stay until I see him.

He proceeded to call the US embassy and the Israeli embassy back and forth for three hours until finally they agreed to let him in alone. So he got in – before he got in I told him, “Please Josh, can you just let me know of his condition. Ask him, is he eating, are they giving him his medications because the medications are in Hebrew and obviously he can’t read Hebrew.” These are the same people that beat him that now are caring for him.

I’m grateful to be back in America safe with my son but I know Palestinians go through what my son faced every day. Tariq was not able to grieve his cousin’s death or attend his cousin Muhammad’s funeral as a result of the beating Israeli police had given him that same day his cousin was brutally murdered by the Israeli extremists.

Instead of the police protecting us they taunted us, telling us that Muhammad was just the first to be killed and that 300 Palestinians would be killed for the three teenagers who were killed.

My son and family have been very traumatized by this whole experience. Our cousins are still in jail and the only reason Tariq is out is because he is an American citizen and his beating was caught on tape.

While some of the Israeli officials tried to justify the vicious beating my son received by smearing his name, my son has never been charged with any crime. Nothing, nothing can justify restraining the hands of a fifteen-year-old child and beating him unconscious. Although as Americans we enjoy great freedom in America, in Jerusalem we felt worse than second-class citizens because the Israeli government treated us differently because we had a different religion and ethnicity.

Like my Palestinian cousins I felt that my family had no rights. My son was viciously attacked while in custody. He was in jail for four days. We were forced to pay a $1,000 bond and my son faced nine days of house arrest away from his family – although he committed no crime and faced no charges.

When we left to America, Israeli police raided the family home where we were staying and arrested the males there. They’re still being held today without any charges. The Israeli police involved in the beating of my son must be held accountable so that no other mother must go through the pain that I went through.

My son still suffers from body aches and pains and headaches, not to mention the emotional trauma he must now struggle through. I just pray that America and the world can have the same sympathy for the countless children who are wrongfully arrested or even killed by Israel who do not carry a US passport like my son Tariq.

None of this would have happened if the Israeli government valued the life of my son Tariq and other Palestinian Muslim and Christian children in the same way they value the lives of Israeli children. Thank you.

 

More HERE

LATUFF’S SPOOF ON PLAYING WITH FIRE IN HONG KONG

'Copyleft' by Carlos Latuff

‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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Read the New York Times Report

 

Hong Kong Protesters Defy Officials’ Call to Disperse

WHERE IS MOHAMMED?

Peek-a-boo, I don’t see you

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Why Israel pretends Mohammed isn’t there

It isn’t a matter of racism. It’s a matter of denial.
By Asher Schechter FOR

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Babies born in Israel. Photo by Ancho Gosh
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Earlier this week, Israel’s Population, Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA) released its annual statement for Rosh Hashanah. Filled with tidbits about Israel’s population, such as the official number of Israeli citizens (8,904,373) and how many births occurred during the outgoing Jewish year (176,230), a main attraction in PIBA’s annual publication is the list of most-popular baby names.

The year 5774 saw a stunning upset when it came to girls: Tamar dethroned Noa. Regarding boys, the most popular names stayed Yosef, Daniel and Uri.

But Yosef wasn’t actually the most popular baby name in Israel. That, as reported by Haaretz’s Ilan Lior last week, was in fact Mohammad.

One would be hard-pressed not to suspect racism. No distinctly-Arab baby name made it to the top 10 of popular baby names in Israel (Yosef and Adam are common among both Jews and Arab-Israelis), although Arabs account for 20% of Israel’s population.

On the face of it, the omission smacks of a deliberate attempt to exclude the Arab population of Israel from yet another thing Israeli. Yet this isn’t a matter of simple, blatant racism. It’s worse. It’s denial.

Denial of what? First of all of Arabs, of course. Failing to acknowledge the existence of its big Arab population is a much subtler of exclusion, and in a way worse than outright racism: at least when we discriminate, we acknowledge the other.

But mostly it’s a denial of a reality that isn’t convenient. In recent years, Israel has developed a habit of trying to embellish or simplify reality by ignoring inconveniences. Let’s call it the “not counting the Haredim and Arabs” trick.

Peek-a-boo, I don’t see you

For instance, back in April 2012, PM Netanyahu made a revealing admission. Asked about the extreme inequality in Israel and the surge of public anger, as shown in the social protests of 2011, Netanyahu claimed: “If you deduct the Arabs and the Haredim from inequality indices, we are doing great.”

His statement caused an uproar but since then, the claim that Israel is doing just great if you don’t count it’s most impoverished groups has become a cliche of sorts among Israeli officials: if not for those pesky Haredim and Arabs, Israel would have been one of the most advanced countries in the OECD.

A study conducted by the Taub Center for Israel Studies in 2013 proves that even if you discount the Haredim and Arabs, Israel remains a poor, unequal, relatively-unproductive country by OECD standards. But the misconception has become entrenched, appropriated by ordinary and official Israelis for other walks of life beyond economics, whether it’s Israel’s troubled education system or, well, baby names.

In that sense, if you don’t count the name Mohammad, Israel’s most popular baby name is Yosef. And if you deduct the Arab population, Israel is a Jewish state. It’s a cool mental trick, that enables Israel to be the Jewish country it always wanted to be. It also implies, quite ominously, that Israel as a nation has lost some capacity of dealing with reality.

For years now, for instance, Israel has been concerned with the so-called “demographic threat”, a scenario in which Palestinians, both within Israel and in the Occupied Territories, become a majority thanks to their high birth rates and therefore risk Israel’s Jewish majority and its status as a Jewish state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was among the first to raise this concern, back in 2003. Some analysts suggested the fear of it forced Ariel Sharon to unilaterally disengage from Gaza.

Which brings us back to Mohammad, and the reality that its omission masks. After all, what is the acknowledgement that Mohammadis the now most popular baby name in Israel, if not an embarrassing admission that the so called “demographic bomb” has already exploded? That Israel, despite its definition of itself as Jewish, is a lot less Jewish than it would have liked? How would you like a dose of demographic gunpowder with your honey-dipped apple this year?

But, if you deduct Mohammad, everything seems just fine. We are not racists, we swear, we are simply escaping to a much-less complicated fantasy land.

NETANYAHU TO TELL THE ‘TRUTH’ ABOUT GAZA AND IRAN AT THE UN

What part of the truth do we not already know?

'Copyleft' by Carlos Latuff

‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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Image by Bendib

Image by Bendib

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Netanyahu will speak at the UN on Monday. Before leaving, the prime minister vowed to “tell the truth of Israel’s citizens to the entire world.” 

“In my UN General Assembly speech and in all of my meetings I will represent the citizens of Israel and will – on their behalf – refute the slander and lies directed at our country,” Netanyahu went on to say.

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Netanyahu heads to US to dispel Abbas, Rouhani’s ‘slander and lies’

Prime minister to meet with US President Obama, UN Secretary-General Ban and Indian Prime Minister Modi.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to leave for New York on Sunday morning to “refute the slander and lies” in Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s “deceptive speech” and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ “inciteful speech” at the UN General Assembly.

Netanyahu will speak at the UN on Monday. Before leaving, the prime minister vowed to “tell the truth of Israel’s citizens to the entire world.”

“In my UN General Assembly speech and in all of my meetings I will represent the citizens of Israel and will – on their behalf – refute the slander and lies directed at our country,” Netanyahu went on to day.

The prime minister will begin his visit on Sunday in a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This would be the first time in over a decade the prime ministers of Israel and India meet.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu will meet with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, followed by a meeting with US President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

While Rouhani only mentioned Israel once in his speech, saying that “Had we had greater cooperation and coordination in the Middle East, thousands of innocent Palestinians in Gaza would not have been fallen victim to Zionist regime’s aggression,” Abbas dedicated the lion’s share of his speech to Israel.

In the speech, Abbas called the previous round of fighting against Gaza “a series of absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world, moment by moment.” The devastation unleashed, he asserted, “is unmatched in modern times.”

He further stated that “the Israeli government undermined chances for peace throughout the months of negotiations,” referring to the failed 9-month-long peace process undertaken before the latest violence in Gaza. “Israel has consistently sought to fragment our land and our unity.”

Senior officials in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office denounced the allegations as “a speech of incitement filled with lies.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also commented on Abbas’ speech Friday saying that, “Abu Mazen’s (Abbas’) words at the UN General Assembly sharply clarify again that Abu Mazen doesn’t want and can’t be a logical partner for a political settlement. Abbas isn’t a member of joint government with Hamas for no reason.”

The Foreign Minister said that “Abbas complements Hamas in his political terrorism and storytelling against Israel. So long as he’s chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas will lead to the continuation of the conflict. He has proved time and again that he is not a man of peace, but rather Arafat’s heir.”

 

THE BABY THAT COULD SAVE THE WORLD

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In 2011, former President Clinton told reporters in Davos, Switzerland: “I would like to have a happy wife, and she won’t be unless she’s a grandmother … It’s something she wants more than she wanted to be president.”

Let’s hope to God he was right!

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Chelsea Clinton Has Baby Girl Named Charlotte

First Grandchild for Hillary and Bill Clinton

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By Reuters

Chelsea Clinton has given birth to a girl, she said in a statement on social media, giving former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton their first grandchild.

“Marc and I are full of love, awe and gratitude as we celebrate the birth of our daughter, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky,” Clinton said in the post on her Twitter and Facebook profiles, referring to her investment banker husband Marc Mezvinsky.

The messages came out after midnight on the U.S. East Coast. Details on the baby’s height and weight have not been released.

Later on Saturday, Charlotte’s new grandparents shared their excitement about the birth in a joint statement.

“We are thrilled to be with our daughter and her husband as they welcome their daughter into the world,” the senior Clintons said.

“Chelsea is well and glowing. Marc is bursting with pride. Charlotte’s life is off to a good start,” they said.

Chelsea Clinton announced her pregnancy in April while sitting side-by-side with her mother in armchairs on a stage at a New York City event on empowering women.

It remains unclear how the birth of the first Clinton grandchild will affect the political ambitions of Hillary Clinton, who is considering a run for the White House in 2016.

In 2011, former President Clinton told reporters in Davos, Switzerland: “I would like to have a happy wife, and she won’t be unless she’s a grandmother … It’s something she wants more than she wanted to be president.”

FINDINGS OF THE RUSSELL TRIBUNAL ON CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN GAZA

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Russell Tribunal finds evidence of incitement to genocide crimes against humanity in Gaza

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The Russell Tribunal on Palestine’s Emergency Session on Israel’s Operation Protective Edge held yesterday in Brussels has found evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, extermination and persecution and also incitement to genocide.

The Jury [1] reported: ‘The cumulative effect of the long-standing regime of collective punishment in Gaza appears to inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group in Gaza.’

‘The Tribunal emphasises the potential for a regime of persecution to become genocidal in effect, In light of the clear escalation in the physical and rhetorical violence deployed in respect of Gaza in the summer of 2014, the Tribunal emphasises the obligation of all state parties to the 1948 Genocide Convention ‘to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide.’

The Jury heard evidence from eyewitnesses to Israeli attacks during the Gaza war 2014 including journalists Mohammed Omer, Max Blumenthal, David Sheen, Martin Lejeune, Eran Efrati and Paul Mason, as well as surgeons Mads Gilbert, Mohammed Abou Arab, Genocide Expert Paul Behrens, Col Desmond Travers and Ivan Karakashian, Head of Advocacy and Defence for Children International.

In terms of the crime of incitement to genocide, the tribunal received evidence ‘demonstrating a vitriolic upswing in racist rhetoric and incitement’ during the summer of 2014. ‘The evidence shows that such incitement manifested across many levels of Israeli society, on both social and traditional media, from football fans, police officers, media commentators, religious leaders, legislators, and government ministers.’

The Tribunal also found evidence of the following war crimes:

Willful killing

Extensive destruction of property not justified by military necessity

Intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population and civilian objects

Disproportionate use of force

Attacks against buildings dedicated to religion and education

The use of Palestinians as human shields

Employing weapons, projectiles, and material and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering which are inherently indiscriminate

The use of violence to spread terror among the civilian population

The Tribunal further stated: ‘It is recognised that in a situation where patterns of crimes against humanity are perpetrated with impunity, and where direct and public incitement to genocide is manifest throughout society, it is very conceivable that individuals or the state may choose to exploit the conditions in order to perpetrate the crime of genocide. 

It further noted: ‘We have have a genuine fear that in an environment of impunity and an absence of sanction for serious and repeated criminality, the lessons from Rwanda and other mass atrocities may once again go unheeded’.

The Tribunal calls on Israel to fulfill its’ obligations under international law and for the state of Palestine to accede without further delay to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, fully cooperate with the human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry and fully engage the mechanisms of international justice. 

The Tribunal also reminds all states to cooperate to bring to an end the illegal situation arising from Israel’s occupation, siege and crimes in the Gaza Strip. In light of the obligation not to render aid or assistance, all states must consider appropriate measures to exert sufficient pressure on Israel, including the imposition of sanctions, the severing of diplomatic relations collectively through international organisations, or in the absence of consensus, individually by breaking bilateral relations with Israel.

It calls upon All states to fulfill their duty ‘to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide’.

The Full and detailed findings and recommendations of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine can be found at the Russell Tribunal website: www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com

The Tribunal will present its’ findings to the European Parliament today.

IN PHOTOS ~~ CLIMATE CHANGE; PUTTING THE BLAME ON WALL STREET

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Monday, the day after the big climate march, was the day that climate activists chose to have a demonstration, including acts of civil disobedience, against Wall Street.  The people were demonstrating there with full understanding that unregulated, rapacious capitalism was the cause of the destruction of the earth and Wall Street is the epicenter of these destructive corporations.  The action was named, FLOOD WALL ST.  The plan was to meet at Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, wear blue (representing water), walk to Wall St. and have a massive sit-in there.  On the bus going down Broadway we could see very many police on the streets in the area, particularly on Wall St., they were clearly prepared for an invasion.  

When we reached Battery Park, beautiful under sunny skies with a bit of fall chill in the air, we found well over 1,000 people there carrying signs and banners, singing, playing musical instruments and yes, wearing blue, except for those in polar bear or mermaid costumes.  Spirits were high but the mood was also serious, ‘we aren’t going to let anyone destroy our home’.  All the signs and chants spoke of capitalism as the enemy.  The crowd had people of all ages and races, including Native Americans.  At noon they started walking towards Wall St. along Broadway which is very narrow at it’s southern end.  When they reached Wall St. they stopped without turning onto it.  The entire street was filled with demonstrators and the area was brought to a stand-still.  Tourist buses were stuck and the people onboard applauded the demonstrators and waved to them.  Eventually a path was cleared for them to pass out of the area.  Many people sat down and sang.  Some made speeches.  One young man climbed to the top of a telephone booth and when the police asked him to get down he said he was doing civil disobedience up there.  He was a Wobbly, a member of the International Workers of the World, and described the beautiful kind of world he wanted to  live in.  At one point a balloon burst and many people put their hands up and started chanting, “Don’t shoot.  It was just a balloon”. 

The police gathered around the Bull representing Wall St. that stands at Bowling Green, guarding it as if it was made of gold.  Many of them were congenial and talking to the demonstrators, some joking and laughing.  In contrast to them were the officers wearing white shirts, the supervisors, who were clearly not amused.  They conferred a lot and spoke on phones.  By the time we left in the mid-afternoon there was barely a cop in sight and many demonstrators had left with the exception of 100+ sitting on the ground in the middle of Broadway.  We hoped the NYPD, instructed by New York’s new liberal mayor, would just wait it out. But that was not to be.  We later learned that at about 8PM those sitting-in were all arrested. 

The demonstration was somewhat different from the big climate march the day before.  These folks knew exactly who was guilty of creating global warming and, in a sense, were stating upfront, we aren’t going to let you get murder our children and grandchildren,  we will fight you with all our strength which will continue to grow.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Commentary by Chippy Dee

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Chris Hedges was there .... His report can be read HERE

Chris Hedges was there …. His report can be read HERE

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The threat of Arctic melting

The threat of Arctic melting

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