PALESTINIAN VIEW OF YESTERDAY’S ‘DINNER’


The following is a report from the Ma’an News Agency on the ‘dinner’ attended by Olmert and Abbas last night. It was supposed to be a peace meeting… judge for yourself….

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli media sources said on Sunday evening that the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused to allow photojournalists to film the arrival of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ convoy so as to avoid showing Olmert embracing Abbas and his escorts, Saeb Erekat and Muhammad Dahlan. Israeli media said that such photo coverage would embarrass President Abbas as in the previous summit two months ago when the media said that Olmert offered Abbas only warm kisses. The live transmission was limited to shots of both officials as they headed towards the meeting hall.

Olmert surprised journalists ahead of Abbas’ arrival by declaring that he applauds the Saudi initiative and thinks it is worthy. This could be an implication that Tel Aviv is trying to open direct talks with Saudi Arabia without the need for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ intervention, envisioned Israeli TV Channel 2.

Palestine TV was not allowed to transmit from the scene. The meeting began at 5:00 pm at Olmert’s residence in Jerusalem, and closed at 7:00 pm. It addressed the controversial issues of:

• Israel’s refusal to recognize the Palestinian unity government which Abbas insists on.

• Israel’s refusal to hand over the Palestinian tax revenues which Abbas demanded.

• Israel’s refusal to withdraw from West Bank cities and remove checkpoints while Abbas insists that the ceasefire applies in the West Bank.

• With regards to the captured Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, Olmert envisions that releasing Shalit is of great importance, while Abbas envisions that releasing Palestinian prisoners is very necessary.

According to the Olmert’s office, the meeting was conducted in a “positive atmosphere” and dealt primarily with ongoing issues.

However, Muhammad Dahlan, a senior Abbas aide and Fatah leader, said the meeting was difficult and produced no agreements, according to the Israeli daily ‘Haaretz’.

According to Israeli media, President Abbas told Prime Minister Olmert during the meeting that he would make an effort to secure the release of Shalit as soon as possible, and perhaps before the formation of the new Palestinian unity government.

Haaretz also reported that the Israeli prime minister told Abbas that not only would Israel not recognize the Palestinian unity government unless it agrees to the Quartet demands (recognizing Israel’s right to exist, renouncing violence and abiding by previous peace agreements), Israel would not hold contacts with Fatah ministers that serve in the unity government. Haaretz said, “In essence, Olmert told Abbas not to appoint Fatah officials who are in contact with Israel, in order to prevent the contacts from being terminated.”

Both the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president were not in favour of holding the meeting; however, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted on the meeting taking place ahead of the Arab summit on 28 March. Olmert’s office has assured that the two leaders agreed to continue meeting.

APPARENTLY ABU MAZEN DID NOT READ MY BLOG YESTERDAY….

Yesterday I wrote an open letter to President Abbas about his upcoming meeting with Olmert today. It obviously was not read by him as he did attend the meeting, and as far as I am concerned it was nothing but a waste of good time.
He could have spent Sunday afternoon enjoying the company of his family.

According to an early HaAretz report… ‘Abbas planned to ask Olmert to view the new PA unity government “as a positive step,” his aide said. But Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the group expected Abbas “not to yield to Israeli and U.S. pressure.”

Meanwhile, a senior Abbas aide earlier Sunday played down expectations of the talks. “We don’t expect any results,” he said.

Olmert was expected to tell Abbas that Israel will not talk with the Palestinian unity government until it accepts the principles of the Quartet: recognizing Israel, abandoning terror and recognizing previous agreements.’

The following, in part, from a Ynet report… ‘The Israeli government is consistent in its objection to cooperate with a Palestinian government which will not meet the Quartet conditions. Israeli officials have claimed that the Mecca unity agreement, signed between Abbas and Hamas officials Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal, did not meet the International Quartet’s conditions: Recognizing Israel, recognizing past agreements and renouncing terror and violence.
Israel is attempting to convince other countries not to cooperate with the new Palestinian government, once it is established, until the conditions are fulfilled. However, the international stance is slowly cracking, and more and more countries are calling to lift the boycott imposed on the Palestinian Authority. ‘

More will reported later today after both sides evaluate the meeting.

UNITED NATIONS REPORT 60 YEARS LATE

A recommendation just made by a United Nations committee is most welcome…. but almost 60 years overdue.
The recommendation does not nearly cover the demand of the Palestinian people that a state be declared, a state which would insure them a Right To Return….. but it’s a start.
Needless to say, the rcommendation will not be adhered to by Israel and it will be considered the work of anti Semites… so I personally do not expect to see too much change as a result.
What I do not understand is why, if in 1948 it was the United Nations itself that established the State of Israel, a State of Palestine has yet to be declared by them…. WHY???
The following report from HaAretz deals with the UN recommendation…

UN committee: Israel should let Palestinians return to their land By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
A United Nations committee has called on Israel to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their property and land in Israel and to ensure that the bodies responsible for distributing property, such as the Jewish National Fund, not discriminate against the Arab population.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination made the recommendation in its concluding observations released Friday, in response to a report Israel submitted on the matter. Representatives of a number of human rights groups appeared before the committee, including Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, which presented objections to the official Israeli position.

The report recommends that Israel scrutinize its policy in a number of areas. Among them, it recommends that “the state party ensure that the definition of Israel as a Jewish nation state does not result in any systematic distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin.” The committee also said it “would welcome receiving more information on how [Israel] envisions the development of the national identity of all its citizens.”

The committee’s deliberations were made in the framework of overseeing the implementation by various countries of the provisions of the UN’s International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Israel has been a signatory to the convention since the late 1970s, and should submit a report every two years. However, it has not done so for nine years.

The appearence before the committee of the human rights organizations, which also included B’Tselem (the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) and Ittijah (the Union of Arab Community Based Organizations in Israel), is part of an increasing trend to fight Israeli policies in international forums. Adalah said some of the information provided to the committee came from its international advocacy department assigned to UN committees.

The committee also noted a number of positive developments, among them the ministerial appointment of Raleb Majadele and the High Court decision on the petition of the Ka’adans, an Israeli Arab couple, to buy land in the community of Katzir.

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS

Carlos Latuff
Dear Sir;
I understand that you and and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert plan to meet again tomorrow in Jerusalem.
May I remind you that you are part of a Unity Government which will soon be formed by your Fatah faction and Hamas. Israel has made it perfectly clear that they have no intention of recognising or starting a dialog with a Hamas led government. What then makes you feel anything can be accomplished by you talking with representatives of Israel alone.
I ask you to consider telling the Israelis, in no uncertain terms, you will not negotiate with them on any matter without a representative of Hamas at your side. You must do this in the name of unity. You must do this to show the Israelis that you are serious about that unity within your own ranks.
I personally feel it would increase your popularity among the Palestinian people by showing them that you are serious as well.
Think about this Mr. Abbas…. both sides (Israel and Palestine) will benefit from a unified stand on your behalf.
Israel must accept the will of the Palestinian people, that being a government led by Hamas. You, Dear Sir, must accept that as well.
Sincerely yours,
DesertPeace (Steve Amsel)

HE SHALL NOT BE MOVED~~ APARTHEID IT IS

Unmoved by the attacks from Aipac and many individuals, Jimmy Carter stands firm on the positions he took in his recent book. Below is a report of a speaking engagement he held yesterday… reported in HaAretz by the Associated Press….
Carter stands firm on apartheid accusations against Israel
By The Associated Press
Despite the storm it ignited, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter held fast on Thursday to his accusation that Israel oppresses the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza and seeks to colonize their land.

Speaking at The George Washington University to a polite but mostly critical student audience, Carter offered no second thoughts on his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid that prompted 14 members of the Carter Center’s advisory board to resign and drew fire from Jewish groups and some fellow Democrats.

He said he was not accusing Israel of racism nor referring to its treatment of Arabs within the country. “I defined apartheid very carefully as the forced segregation by one people of another on their own land,” he said.

Outside the university auditorium, some two dozen protesters gathered, a few carrying signs. “Carter is a Liar” read one held by a smiling demonstrator while the others chanted the refrain.

“We were trying to tell Carter his lies are not helpful,” a local rabbi, Shmuel Herzfeld, said afterward. “It is very clear the lies are malicious, and it raises issues what his motives are,” Herzfeld said.

“I believe Jimmy Carter is an anti-Semite and his intention is to hurt Jewish people,” said Herzfeld, rabbi at Ohev Sholom, in an interview.

On the other side of the argument, a local group called the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation distributed a four-page brochure that said “without U.S. aid Israel could not continue to discriminate against its Palestinian-Israeli citizens nor violate international rights in the occupied territories.”

On the West Bank, Carter said, Palestinians were victims of oppression, their homes and land confiscated to make way for subsidized Israeli settlers.

“The life of Palestinians is almost intolerable,” he said. “And even though Israel agreed to give up Gaza and remove Jewish settlers from the territory, there is no freedom for the people of Gaza and no access to the outside world.”

“They have no real freedom of all,” Carter said.

By apartheid, Carter said he meant the forced segregation of one people by another. He said Israel’s policies in the territories are contrary to the tenets of the Jewish faith.

“There will be no peace until Israel agrees to withdraw from all occupied Palestinian territory,” he said, while leaving room for some land swaps that would permit Jews to remain on part of the West Bank in exchange for other Israeli-held land to be taken over by Palestinians.

“Withdrawal would dramatically reduce any threat to Israel,” he said.

Carter recalled the role he played as president in negotiations that led to the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and in a dramatic increase in Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union.

The treaty required Israel to relinquish all of the land Egypt lost in the 1967 Six Day War in exchange for recognition by the most powerful Arab country.

“I have spent a good part of my life seeking peace for Israel based on justice for the Arabs,” he said.

In response to a student’s question, Carter denounced as abominable anti-Israeli statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and said he supported U.S. dialogue with Iran and Syria.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY.. A REPOST


A painting by Charles White that always inspired me, it shows the strength and love of a woman.

I originally posted this a year ago…

First, a question… why is there a special day designated for women? For centuries women took a ‘back seat’ in all social and political issues, forbidden to work, vote, and receive an education…. Yet they fought these injustices and won. Doing so, they proved that they are truly equal.. in fact in many cases superior to men.

Women are special! The first person to kiss us at our birth was a woman. The person that carried us for nine months with much discomfort and pain was a woman. For this woman, there is yet another special day set aside; Mother’s Day.

As a political activist, it was mostly women that inspired me to become what I am today… to name just a few there was…

My Mother Esther—a Saint in her own right
Freda Gardner—a family friend, left wing activist
Ann Yellin —–a family friend, trade union activist
Helen Keller——‘handicapped’ person that wouldn’t accept limitations
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn—-communist leader, Joe Hill’s ‘Rebel Girl’
Rosa Parks—-civil rights activist
My Aunt Sarah——who taught me that every human being has his worth

There are more, many more… but the point remains that it was and is women that are the molders of what we are today. It is women that continued to make our world a better place despite every attempt to ‘keep them in their place’. They have proven that their place is where they want it to be… in politics, in the workplace, in the home and in the community. The same Neanderthal mentality that tried to keep them down is the same mentality that has tried to keep minorities down all over the world. This type of thinking cannot and will not be tolerated.

It used to be said that ‘behind every great man there stands a woman’… this is so not the case. In reality it should say ‘wherever there is a great man, there is a woman just as great or greater’.
Let us all salute the women in our life, past and present… not only on International Women’s Day… but everyday. Let us never forget their greatness, their love and the patience they have shown to the injustices that they were forced to put up with. Let us celebrate their day every day… without them we wouldn’t be here!

Helen Keller


Rosa Parks


Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

US STATE DEPARTMENT ADMITS PALESTINIAN PRISONERS SERIOUSLY ABUSED BY (SOME) ISRAELI SECURITY FORCES

Carlos Latuff
A report just issued by the United States State Department reveals that there were many cases of serious abuse to Palestinian detainees. Israel has constantly denied these allegations in the past, it will be interesting to see how they ‘talk their way out’ of these charges.
It will be more interesting to see what the US intends to do about this. With the two major Democratic Party candidates already pledging their loyalty to Israel via AIPAC, their reactions will also be of interest.
One can predict the forthcoming statements of the Israeli Prime Minister, he will express his ‘shame’ at these incidents and all will be OK in his mind….
The first sentence of the report states “The Israeli government generally respected the human rights of its citizens in 2006″… from that alone one can see that there is no seriousness to the rest of it. Anyone that has ever been to the airport in Tel Aviv observed how ‘Israeli Arabs’ are treated there, something far from respectful. They too are Israeli citizens…. Second Class ones.
The report also mentioned “the educational systems for Arab and Jewish students remained unequal.” This is respect for the human rights of its citizens?
Below is a Ynet/AFP report on the matter…..


Israeli forces seriously abused Palestinian detainees, US report says

US State Department says Israeli government generally respected human rights of its citizens in 2006, but mentions ‘serious abuses by some members of the security forces against Palestinian detainees’; report says ongoing genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region was world’s worst human rights abuse last year.

Ynetnews Published: 03.06.07

The Israeli government generally respected the human rights of its citizens in 2006, a US State Department report published Tuesday said.

However, according to the department’s annual survey of human rights practices, there were problems in some areas, including serious abuses by some members of the security forces against Palestinian detainees.

“Poor conditions and improper application of security internment procedures persisted in some detention and interrogation facilities,” it said.

The report said institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against Israeli Arabs continued, and non-Orthodox Jews and other religious groups continued to face discrimination in personal and civil status matters.

“The educational systems for Arab and Jewish students remained unequal. Trafficking in and abuse of women and foreign workers remained a problem in some areas and industries although the government passed new anti-trafficking legislation,” the report said.

“De facto discrimination against persons with disabilities occurred, and government corruption and other criminal activity by political leaders was a problem.”

‘Acts of terrorism undercut human rights’

The report said the ongoing genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region was the world’s worst human rights abuse in 2006, adding that conditions worsened in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite US-led military and civilian efforts to combat extremists in both countries.

In Iraq, where deadly attacks have surged despite the formation of a democratically elected government following the ouster of Saddam Hussein, “both deepening sectarian violence and acts of terrorism seriously undercut human rights and democratic progress in 2006,” it said.

Also cited for democratic backsliding were US allies Pakistan and Egypt, along with Belarus, China, Eritrea, Iran, Lebanon, Russia, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, where governments cracked down on the rights of citizens or failed to protect them from abuses.

THE LYING FASCIST WITHOUT A PORTFOLIO– THE EPILOGUE

Like a whirlwind, her appointment came and went. To the embarrasment of Lieberman’s party a wrong choice was made… It was the first time in a long time that a political ‘scandal’ hit the pages of the Israeli press even before a swearing in ceremony. We have to date, alleged rapists, financial wrongdoers, sexual harassers, all in high office…. but a cheat and liar cannot nor will not be tolerated in a ministerial position…

Uri Avnery tells all about it here in his latest essay… just who is Esterina Tartman and why is she ‘out the door’ before she even got in… it’s worth the read.

March 6, 2007

The Big Mouth of Israeli Fascism
The Book of Esterina

By URI AVNERY

“Patriotism,” said Dr. Samuel Johnson over 200 years ago, “is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” If we substitute racism for patriotism, then we have a perfect match with the Esterina Tartman affair.

She could have been a popular member of the Knesset. She belongs to a respected Oriental family (The Shabtai family, seven generations in the country). She is pretty and looks very much younger than her 50 years. She is the mother of four. She has recovered after a severe road accident.

She appeared on the public stage at the end of the last Knesset, when she took the place of a deceased member. From the very first moment, she aroused strong feelings of rejection, disgust and even loathing.

Why? Because she is a vulgar person. Her “big mouth” has become her trademark. Not only is she a member of Avigdor Ivette Liberman’s nationalist-racist faction, “Yisrael Beitenu”, which exudes the odor of fascism, but she herself is prone to voicing discordant opinions. Her rabidly racist speeches have won her headlines in the media, but repelled decent people on the Left and even on the Right. “An ax has been raised against the tree called Zionism”, “The evil must be uprooted!” she declared after a Muslim-Arab had been appointed a minister for the first time.

Such statements are probably music in the ears of Ivette Liberman (no one knows why his Russian or Moldavian first name sounds like a female French one.) So it was only natural that he decided to give Esterina the post of Minister of Tourism, which was offered to his faction. Since he is the sole leader of Yisrael Beitenu (“Israel is our Home”), that was enough. When asked how the decision was taken, he replied, with unintended irony, “democratically and unanimously.” Unanimous” comes from “one mind”, in this case his own.

* * *
AND THEN, just a moment before the appointment was confirmed, it became known that the beautiful Esterina was a fraud, who claimed academic degrees which she had never been awarded. Also, it was discovered that, after her road accident, she had used dubious testimony in order to obtain compensation and incapacity-rates (52%) from the insurance companies. In another case, after hitting a pedestrian, she claimed that the victim had caused the accident intentionally, to gain compensation. The courts reprimanded her for this argument and took away her driving license for a long time.

It was the academic titles that were her undoing. Actually, a Knesset member does not need any. I served in the Knesset three times without having finished elementary school. So, why did Ms Tartman add the bogus titles to her official biography? Just for her image’s sake.

For several days, the scandal outshone all the other affairs that make Israeli life so interesting: the sex scandal of the President, the fatal kiss of the (ex) Minister of Justice, the cloud of alleged corruption affairs that follows the Prime Minister wherever he goes, the alleged election bribes of the Minister of Finance, the widespread suspicions of bribery in the highest ranks of the Tax Authority, the resignation of the Chief-of-Staff after the Lebanon fiasco, the resignation of the Chief of Police because he did nothing about Mafia penetration of his organization.

The Esterina Affair has even eclipsed another major new disclosure: that Ehud Olmert, in his former capacity as Minister of Industry and Trade, distributed jobs and other benefits to some 115 members of the powerful Likud Central Committee, of which he was then a member, in order to ensure his place on the party’s list for the next elections. And indeed, how could such routine corruption compete with the juicy affair of the “Tartarina” (as she was dubbed by one Knesset member.)

* * *
HOWEVER IT IS not the cheating of Tartman that is the main point, nor even her vulgar racism, but a nagging question: how could such a person (almost) become a member of the cabinet?

True, the Minister of Tourism does not have a very important portfolio, but is still the equal of all the other members sitting around the cabinet table, with a vote on matters of peace and war. This vote can be decisive in sending thousands of soldiers and civilians to their death. The minister takes part in votes that decide the future of the state for generations to come. How could such a dubious individual ever reach such a high station?

That is not a purely Israeli question. It has been raised in many other democracies, too.

In the United States, the ministers are appointed by the president and serve only as his aides. If he wants, he appoints talented people. If he feels like it, he appoints perfect fools, cheats and fanatics.

But the President himself, how is he appointed? He needs only one talent: to convince the electorate to vote for him. After being elected, he can surprise everybody and turn out to be a real leader, with vision and integrity (like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for example), or he may turn out to be a charismatic con-man, a trickster devoid of values and principles (see some of the latest names in the media).

Israeli democracy is based on a different system. Since no party ever wins an election outright, the prospective Prime Minister needs a coalition in order to put together a parliamentary majority. The ministries are distributed between the coalition parties as spoils of war. Only after the parties have been allotted their shares, each according to its strength, is it decided who shall actually occupy the seats. In a dictatorial party, like Yisrael Beitenu, it is the leader who hands out the jobs to his loyal supporters. In a democratic party, the winners are the politicians who have been most successful in accumulating power by intrigues, bribing colleagues and setting up inner-party power centers.

* * *
AT NO stage of this process, does one particular consideration play any role at all: the ability of the candidates to direct the ministries they are fighting over. That is considered irrelevant.

I remember a diplomatic party, shortly after Ehud Barak was elected Prime Minister, where I met several of the ministers newly appointed by Barak. All of them were hopping mad.

Shlomo Ben-Ami, a professor of history, an introverted intellectual with an interest in social theory and peace affairs, was exiled to the Ministry of Police. There he was responsible for the “October Events” of 2000, when the police shot dead a dozen Arab citizens. The Judicial Board of Inquiry reprimanded him harshly.

Yossi Beilin, who had dreamed of the Foreign Office, a man of many political ideas (some good, some bad, some very bad), was sent to the Ministry of Justice, which did not interest him in the slightest. Barak treated the others in the same, almost sadistic, way.

But why turn to the past – the present has enough examples to offer. As chairman of the Labor Party, Amir Peretz had a right to the most important ministry allotted to his party: Defense. His tenure there has turned into a pathetic farce (exemplified most vividly by the famous picture that shows the minister observing maneuvers through binoculars with the lenses still capped.

The Foreign Minister, Tsipi Livni, is considered well suited for the job by her colleagues because other countries – the United States, the United Kingdom and Austria among them – also have female foreign ministers. She also has dealings with the female Chancellor of Germany and may soon – God willing – be meeting with a female president of France. Since assuming office, Livni has not started any initiative and not expressed any idea that would suggest that she has any vision at all.

The Minister of Police is a former Shin Bet chief, and therefore sees the police as a force fighting enemies, rather than protecting citizens. He has shown his talent by appointing a new police chief, who has in the past been stigmatized in court as unfit to wear a police uniform. The new Minister of Justice, who has just been appointed, declares publicly that his main aim is to cripple the Supreme Court, the last bastion of democracy in Israel, because a female friend of his failed to be appointed to this august body. (His main ally in this noble endeavor was – surprise, surprise – MK Esterina Tartman.) And the appointment of Avigdor Liberman, the primitive racist bully, as minister in charge of dealing with the Iranian problem is like introducing a deranged elephant into a porcelain shop.

And this government remains in power only because practically everybody believes that another one would be even worse.

* * *
ISRAELI SOCIETY is vibrant, multi-faceted and rich in talents. It is prominent in many fields, such as the sciences, medicine, the world of computers and especially of start-up companies, the economy, literature, in several fields of the arts and some sports. Why, then, for Gods sake, does it elevate to the highest ranks politicians who are good for nothing?

I have the impression that in other democracies, similar questions are being asked. There, too, a vicious circle is in operation: the political profession is debased, as a result, good people do not choose a political career, as a result, the political profession gets even more debased.

According to a Hebrew proverb, “the trouble of others is half of a comfort”. Not in this case.

Israel is facing many problems, more than most democratic countries. It craves recognition from its neighbors. It must overcome the negative aspects that accompanied a hundred years of Zionist endeavor. It needs a settlement, peace and conciliation with the Palestinian people, and with the entire Arab world. It must cope with deep domestic schisms – between the secular and the religious, between the poor and the rich, between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority, between the various Jewish ethnic communities.

In order to cope with these tasks, we need outstanding men and women, people with vision, integrity and talent. And, yes: patriots who are not refuge-seeking scoundrels.

In short: men and women who are the very opposite of Ivette and his Esterina.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is one of the writers featured in The Other Israel: Voices of Dissent and Refusal. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s hot new book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

THE LONG ARM OF THE LOBBY

Israel is always crying that it is a tiny country surrounded by big enemies… but is that really the case? Perhaps it is they that are the enemy…
Is Israel not in effect the 51st State of the United States, a state whose policies are dictated by Washington, or perhaps visa versa??
I find it amazing that the American people have allowed the Lobby to literally control so many actions of their government. The time and money involved in this certainly can be put to better use to help alleviate so many of the problems in America itself.
But no…. the Lobby demands that time and energy be used for the interests of Israel… that is first and formost on their selfish agenda.
The US government has bowed down to the demands of the Lobby for decades as do most of the candidates for the next presidential election. It’s as if they are bullied into these actions by a powerful beast, an ape perhaps, as seen in the image…
One day the American people will realise all of this and a new Lobby will be created, one that has their interests on the table.
In the meantime, here is just one example of how the present Lobby operates and how an entire nation is suffering as a result. The following is from AlJazeera…


How Israel Lobby Controls US Policies: The Arab Bank Case

By Hassan El-Najjar

Al-Jazeerah, March 5, 2007

This is a classical example of how the Israeli lobby controls US policies. In 1967, Israel launched a war of aggression in which it occupied parts of Syria, Egypt, and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza.

The Israeli occupation government has adopted policies to evict Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza or to force them to surrender to the slavery of its occupation.

The Israeli occupation government has labeled Palestinians who resisted its illegal occupation as “terrorists.” Even charities providing aid to the needy Palestinians have been labeled as “terrorist” too.

Supporters of Israel in the US government have adopted the same Israeli terminology in referring to the Palestinian individuals or groups who are victims of the Israeli occupation.

The US Congress never condemned the Israeli government as a terrorist entity for killing and injuring Palestinian civilians, destroying their homes, stealing their lands, and building illegal settlements in the occupied territories. At the same time, it passed many laws describing Palestinian groups as “terrorists.” It even passed legislation to prevent the executive branch from dealing with the pro-US Palestinian Authority.

(For a background, see: Israel-Firsters in US House of Representatives, Led by Lantos, Weiner, and Lehinen, Pass Yet Another Anti-Palestinian Legislation).

The US Justice Department has been very active in closing down US charities which used to help needy Palestinians. Almost all of them have been closed during the present Bush administration. At the same time, aid to Israel continues despite Israeli daily violations of international law and daily violations of Palestinian human rights.

The case of suing the Arab Bank for facilitating aid from Arab charities to needy Palestinians is a clear example of the tight Israeli control over the US government to do the Israeli bidding. The objective is to help Israelis continue their subjugation of the Palestinian people as long as possible.

It is a policy that ultimately serves the continuation of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

It punishes anyone who tries to help needy Palestinians, whose only fault is to desire to be free of Israeli bondage.

For more about how the Israeli lobby controls the United States, see the Walt-Mearsheimer paper at:

http://ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/Research

***

United States and Israel Sue Arab Bank for Facilitating Aid to Palestinians

Date: 05 / 03 / 2007

Bethlehem – Ma’an –

United States daily, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Jordan-based Arab Bank is being sued by Americans and Israelis that were injured by suicide bombings, or other clashes in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Arab Bank is one of the largest and most influential Middle Eastern banks, but for the last three years has been the subject of criminal investigation conducted by the United States Justice Department. The New York branch of the Arab Bank has been accused of transferring funds to so-called ‘terror’ organisations in the Palestinian occupied territories. These named ‘terror’ organisations include the democratically-elected Hamas political movement and Islamic Jihad.

Arab Bank officials pointed out that they provide an important financial service in the occupied Palestinian territories, which are being economically suffocated by Israeli policies and the embargo on the Palestinian government (observed blindly by US-EU governments). The officials said that they act as intermediaries between banks representing Saudi donors and Palestinian organisations and individuals who are being compensated for their suffering at the hands of Israelis.

LA Times quoted a Washington-based spokesperson for Arab Bank, Robert Chlopak, as saying that “Arab Bank had reason to believe these were humanitarian payments or social welfare payments, and there was certainly nothing in any of the public information that suggested to the bank at the time that these were in any way [meant] to induce terrorism or reward terrorism.”

The United States Treasury Department claimed that after the United States government had labelled the Palestinian movements ‘terrorist’, Arab Bank had failed to review its accounts with the organisations or report ‘suspicious’ activity.

Some of the the initial allegations of the legal prosecution were based on documents seized by Israeli occupation forces during raids on charities and organisations in the occupied Palestinian territories. The documents are alleged to contain records showing that Arab Bank provided financial services for (charities affiliated with) Hamas and another 41 organisations linked to Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

According to court documents, Saudi government officials created two special fundraising committees to aid Palestinians in resisting the illegal Israeli occupation and conducted transactions through Arab Bank.

The prosecutors allege that the Saudi Committee for Aid to the Al-Quds Intifada, declared the life of anyone who died as a martyr, or resisting Israel, worth 20,000 Saudi riyals, $5,000 US. They wired the sum to the families of deceased victims of the Israeli occupation through Arab Bank branches.

LA Times reports that the Saudi Committee made around 200,000 financial transfers for the Palestinian cause, which amounted to over $90m US. A vast proportion of that aid went to hospitals and social welfare programmes, to compensate those injured or imprisoned, or the families of those who fell victim to the Israeli occupation.

The Bush administration has expressed concerns about the activities of the Arab Bank.

JEWISH JOKES AND HOLIDAYS

There is an old Jewish Joke…. regarding most holidays…

~~They attacked us.

~~We won.

~~Let’s eat!

So it is with Purim, The Festival of Lots

In synagogues throughout the world, The Book of Esther is read, commemorating the events of that day.
In Israel it is a combination of both Halloween and April Fools Day… the children dress up in costumes and the adults act silly… it’s a fun day.

So… to my Jewish Readers… A Happy Purim…. Purim Sameach!

Hopefully one day soon we will see a new holiday…one that we can ALL celebrate in Israel/Palestine… THE OCCUPATION HAS ENDED… LET’S EAT!

THE ‘JESUS’ CONTROVERSY~~ A MUSLIM’S VIEWPOINT

Much has been said over the past few days about the ‘discovery’ of the ‘Tomb of Jesus’…. THIS video presents the thinking of a prominent Muslim educator in the States on the subject.
Again, thanks to Robin for sending it my way.

ISRAEL TEACHES ANTI-SEMITISM BY EXAMPLE

Image by Ismael Shammout


A poem, actually a mantra, was just published on the pages of AlJazeera…. it needs no introduction.

Israel’s Mantra Echoes like the Plagues of Egypt

By Genevieve Cora Fraser

Al-Jazeerah, March 3, 2007


As military men in swat team

Mode rampage streets and alleys

Israel bemoans the lack of significant

Concessions Palestinians make to secure

Peace for all

Israel has much at stake

Such as brand new highways

Neighborhoods built on occupied land

Settlers require raw sewage pour

Down on hapless villages below

In a power play – a sick joke – they

Watch Palestinian trees and crops

Sicken and die

Arabs to the Crematorium

Is written on cement posts and signs all point

To a Palestinian Holocaust played out

In slow motion Palestinians

Encased within a Wall

Suffer raw sewage flowing through gullies

Blown apart neighborhoods

Israelis

Bulldoze existence

Not fit for man or beast

Beastly policies are enforced

At gunpoint, by land and sea and air

Drones rain down

Missiles defense means

Killing all in sight

Does anyone care how brutish

Is Israel’s might?

A nation of thugs could not do

A better job of reenacting Nazi

Core beliefs in their outmost superiority

The majority must be maintained Jewish

In Israel they speak

Of such things

Mantras

Repeated over charts

Demographics

Scare the living

Hell into them

Execution of Israeli plans demand

The finest sociopathic minds expand

Into unknown territories

Psychopathologies so unique

They astound abound and re-enforce

Zionist dictates to the hilt

Street lights hover without a beam

Stoves unlit

Water unfit

Children’s empty bellies

Bloat with hunger and despair

Does the western world care?

Palestine’s economy declared

Out of bounds

Near starvation is the ruler’s rule

Until the lesson is learned

In full

Israel demands

Significant concessions

But will not grant them

To the blind and the lame, cancer patients

Are to blame for needing

More than Israel will allow

Bow and kowtow

Infants tossed

From their little beds

As sonic booms boom and spread

Dread

Fast and loud like the brags and boasts

Of the Israeli Crowd

Self-assured in possessing

All they survey

Is theirs for the day

But wary

Rests the crown

Like kings of old

Servility

Is the concession

They say

The magic word

Cures all ills

People at bay

Get out of line

Whack

Another missile sent your way

Security vanished

Hatred grows and stays

Blow after blow after blow

Israel gives to Palestine

Day after day after day

But Palestine lives

And people’s eyes

Are opening

To Israel on display

The world watches

In horror

As the Zionist Entity

Teaches

Anti-Semitism

By example

WAR IS MUCH EASIER THAN TALKING

There was a glimmer of hope that the US might change it’s policies regarding Iran… hope that there might be ‘face to face’ talks… but it looks like Dubya is ready to ‘light the fuse’ instead…

David Baldinger

Hope…

European allies and dom­estic critics have broadly welcomed the announcement by Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, that the US would take part in the conference alongside Iran and Syria. She also noted that such a diplomatic initiative had been recommended by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group last year.

End of hope…

But on Wednesday the White House stepped in to “clarify” the situation and explicitly ruled out such a move.

“There will not be bilateral talks between the United States and Iran or the United States and Syria, within the context of these meetings,” said Tony Snow, the White House spokesman. The US precondition re-mained unchanged, he said, that Iran first suspend its uranium enrichment programme as called for by the United Nations Security Council.

“We want to make sure those waters don’t get muddied,” he said.

Read the rest HERE

HUNGER THEN AND NOW IN PALESTINE

The following essay is called… How to live with hunger… I would have called it Dying of starvation had I written it.
Not only is Palestine denied their independence, their RIGHT to take their place among the nations of the world, they instead have a PLIGHT, one of poverty and starvation.
As part of the essay states…
‘A word about the Palestinian plight. The Palestinian territories haven’t suffered an earthquake, tsunami, famine, or any other natural disaster in the recent decades. Their constantly deteriorating economic situation is 100-percent man-made. As the UN and many other reports state, the main causes for the poverty are political: namely, Israeli-imposed closures, and the international and Israeli boycott of the PA. The PA is the biggest employer in the Palestinian territories. Boycotting it to the extent of its being unable to pay wages, in a society crushed by years of Israeli military and economic oppression, inevitably leads to massive poverty. In other words, Israel and the international community are punishing the Palestinian population with hunger for democratically electing the “wrong” party, Hamas. A punishment of biblical dimensions, as suits the Holy Land, with PM Olmert and Condoleezza Rice playing Jehovah.’
This collective punishment must end… and it must end NOW… not only for the sake of the Palestinians, but also for that of the Israelis themselves. Another generation going to bed hungry can only lead to another generation filled with hatred towards the occupier.
A war on hunger can lead to an eventual peace.
The essay that follows is by a man named Ran HaCohen.

Dr. Ran HaCohen was born in the Netherlands in 1964 and grew up in Israel. He has a B.A. in Computer Science, an M.A. in Comparative Literature, and his PhD is in Jewish Studies. He is a university teacher in Israel. He also works as a literary translator (from German, English and Dutch), and as a literary critic for the Israeli daily Yedioth Achronoth. Mr. HaCohen’s work has been published widely in Israel. “Letter from Israel” appears occasionally at Antiwar.com.

How to Live with Hunger
Ran HaCohen

When I was a child, a popular argument in favor of the Israeli “liberation,” i.e., occupation, of the Palestinian territories was its being a blessing for the Palestinians themselves. “When we took it over,” I was told at school, “there were just a couple of cars in the entire West Bank. And look how many they have now!” Indeed, in the first decades of the Israeli occupation, the Palestinian standard of living was on the rise — not because of Israeli investments (Israel never invested a cent in Palestinian welfare or infrastructure), but mainly because Israel exploited the Palestinians as a cheap labor force, and even a cheap labor force gets paid.

The welfare argument cannot be heard anymore, now that one in two Gaza and West Bank households is “food insecure” or in danger of becoming so, as a UN report recently revealed. Not that it changed anything for the Israeli expansionists: once that colonialist argument became obsolete, the supporters of the occupation switched to other excuses. That’s the nice thing about the politics of the occupation: the support for it is based on excuses, not reasons. Whenever one excuse fails, Israel’s propaganda machine offers another.

It’s interesting to observe, however, how Israelis nowadays cope with what used to be such a popular excuse. Having claimed the occupation ameliorated Palestinian life, Israelis now have to face hunger and starvation at their doorstep. How do they live with it?

Starvation Cannot Be Overlooked

Israelis, of course, are human beings. As such, they are seldom indifferent to human suffering. The other week, for example, James Morris, retiring from the United Nations World Food Program, was quoted saying 18,000 children worldwide were starving to death every day. These words, on Israel’s popular Hebrew Web site Ynet (Feb. 17), attracted 100 compassionate readers’ replies. Many of them simply showed their deep sympathy: “It breaks one’s heart,” “Terrible,” “Inconceivable figure, incredible,” “How can one put to bed a hungry child?” to quote just a few. Several readers even asked where one could donate. Others recalled the extreme inequality behind the figures: “Looks like a billion hungry people don’t bother the 5 billion who are not,” or, “At the same time, the world’s richest swim in their money.” Some readers tried to imagine faces behind the figures: “The world doesn’t care about black people.” Several comments mentioned the role of the media: “This topic doesn’t get 10% of the media coverage given to some forgotten wars.” Still others tried a deeper analysis, with comments like “Cruel, materialistic world will soon pay the price,” or, “Result of capitalism which leads to social and environmental crises,” or even, “All this while the Americans pour $100 billion a year on wars.” This was the overwhelming tone of the Israeli reactions to world hunger: human sensitivity, compassion, and empathy, even with some critical political analysis.

Palestinian Plight

A word about the Palestinian plight. The Palestinian territories haven’t suffered an earthquake, tsunami, famine, or any other natural disaster in the recent decades. Their constantly deteriorating economic situation is 100-percent man-made. As the UN and many other reports state, the main causes for the poverty are political: namely, Israeli-imposed closures, and the international and Israeli boycott of the PA. The PA is the biggest employer in the Palestinian territories. Boycotting it to the extent of its being unable to pay wages, in a society crushed by years of Israeli military and economic oppression, inevitably leads to massive poverty. In other words, Israel and the international community are punishing the Palestinian population with hunger for democratically electing the “wrong” party, Hamas. A punishment of biblical dimensions, as suits the Holy Land, with PM Olmert and Condoleezza Rice playing Jehovah.

Overlooking Palestinian Starvation

The UN report on Palestinian “food insecurity” was posted on Ynet too, in a fair synopsis headlined “Half the Palestinians Face Difficulty Getting Food” (Feb. 22), attracting about 75 readers’ comments. With just a couple of exceptions (met with scorn and aggression), empathy and compassion are completely missing from the reactions. “Who cares?” one reader writes. “If my grandmother were alive, it might have interested her,” says another.

Palestinian suffering is not perceived as a human catastrophe, but as a political argument. It’s as if the Israeli propaganda machine managed to turn off the most basic human solidarity within the Israelis, replacing it by cynical sophistry devoid of any humanity. Hungry Palestinians are merely an attack on Israel’s righteousness, and they are confronted as such.

An overwhelming majority of the readers’ letters use one or more of the following ideological strategies:

(1) Outright denial of the suffering: “They look rather chubby on TV.” And why not? Denying the facts is always the zealot’s refuge.

(2) Palestinians do suffer, but it’s good. “Pity, but that’s the only way to put them on the right track”; “There will be peace when the other half is hungry too.” Here one can clearly see seeds of support for a genocide. Similarly: “[To the] government of Israel: encourage them to get up and go!!!”

(3) Palestinians may be suffering, but it’s none of our business. “We pulled out, haven’t we? So what have I got to do with it?” one reader asked. The UN report, needless to say, concerns not only Gaza but the West Bank, too; there was no Israeli pullout from the West Bank, but many Israelis would actually like to believe that by caging West Bank Palestinians behind walls, Israel has nothing to do with them either. Interestingly, if this argument were true, one would expect to find a similar compassion to that expressed toward world hunger in general; but this is not the case. For many Israelis, a hungry child in Ghana is a stain on their collective conscience, whereas a hungry child in Gaza — an hour’s ride from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv — is simply none of their business.

(4) Palestinians might be suffering, but we Israelis are the real victims. This is a perpetual Israeli propaganda line: the media is “unbalanced” (anti-Semitic, etc.), so our suffering is left out. Exposing its futility, one reader carried out the routine procedure mechanically, comparing the two peoples on an economic level: “One could have made the same survey in Israel and got the same results.” Sure thing: Israel’s GDP per capita is $26,000, compared with $1,000 in the occupied Palestinian territories.

(5) But this last argument is often combined with the most popular propaganda guideline of all, namely: Always use the magic word “Terror” to turn the Israelis into victims and the Palestinians into “terrorists.” “Terrorists” are unworthy of human compassion, not even when they are starving; moreover, their suffering is always their own fault. Dozens of letters fall under this strategy: “Let them stop wasting their money on ammunition”; “Let them go to work instead of throwing stones”; “You support terrorism so enthusiastically — I wish you success with other aspects of life”; “The fact that they’ve got no food doesn’t mean they’ve got no money to buy it!!!”; “But getting weapons isn’t difficult at all”; and so on.

Palestinian “terror” is conceived of as an eternal, inherent, never changing, and unmotivated national trait (“No wonder, after 120 years of terrorism,” one reader explains), in which all Palestinians equally partake — doctors and nurses, merchants and students, the elderly and children — and for which they all deserve the punishment of starvation, inflicted upon them by an invisible, unnamed, but ultimately just hand.

(6) One last, related motif is to accuse the Palestinian leadership. “Demand explanations from your leaders, who get fatter every day”; “With their kind of leadership, they should be grateful that they’re still alive. It’s really a shame that the Palestinian blindly follow their stupid leaders.” Obviously, corrupted leadership is the cause of much of the world’s poverty. In fact, Fatah’s inherent corruption was precisely what made so many Palestinians vote for Hamas. There can hardly be a better illustration for the American export product tagged “Democracy”: the occupied Palestinians have a free choice between starving under the corrupt American-backed Fatah regime and starving under the internationally boycotted Hamas government. It’s a free (occupied) country, you know.

The Israeli reactions to the Palestinian suffering for which they are morally responsible, especially when set against the background of their ostensible concern about world hunger, show how pervasively inhumane the Israelis have become. A well-oiled propaganda machine turns them from compassionate human beings into heartless parrots of state demagoguery, ready to ignore, excuse, and even support the starvation of the other nation with which they share the same land. The dehumanization of the Palestinians by Israel has dehumanized the Israelis themselves.

BLOW TO FREE SPEECH IN ISRAEL

A news conference was to take place yesterday in Jerusalem. It was planned to discuss the ongoing excavation in the vicinity of the Al Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.The Israeli Police did not allow the conference to take place. There have been ongoing demonstations in the Old City of Jerusalem protesting the work, resulting in mass arrests, closures and lots of bad publicity for the Municipality of Jerusalem.
Using the ‘excuse’ that yesterday’s conference was sponsored by Hamas, police delivered an order canceling it. Hamas is forbidden to hold any activities within Israel.
On the other hand, Hamas is the group that was democratically elected to represent the people of Palestine. Israel won’t negotiate with them or recognise them until they recognise Israel…. How could they after actions such as these?
Bottom line is Free Speech was hit with a blow yesterday, a blow they think will stop the opposition from being heard. I’m sure it will not work and the conference will take place elsewhere.
Just what is Israel trying to hide? If it is true as ‘Israeli archaeologists insist there is no danger to the compound’ claim, what could the problem be?
These events are getting the attention of the international press, so perhaps we shall see some pressure put on the Israeli government to stop hiding the truth on this matter.
Here is an Associated Press report on the cancellation of the conference…

Israeli police ban conference on holy site
Associated Press
JERUSALEM – Israeli police on Wednesday banned a news conference by Muslim and Christian opponents to Israeli excavation work near a disputed holy site.

Police went to the Commodore Hotel in east Jerusalem and delivered an order canceling the event because it was organized by the Palestinian Hamas militant group, whose activities are prohibited in Israel, police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.

The mufti of Jerusalem, the leader of Israel’s Islamic Movement and a Roman Orthodox archbishop in the city were to speak against the renovation, which began with an archaeological dig earlier this month.

Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement, has organized protests at the site and police banned him from the area for more than two months.

The dispute over the site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, has triggered violence in the past and scuttled several attempts at peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The site – home to the Al Aqsa mosque and the gold-capped Dome of the Rock – is Islam’s third-holiest shrine, and the dig has inflamed Muslim fears that Israel is planning to damage it.

Israel says the dig is meant to salvage archaeological finds ahead of the construction of a new pedestrian walkway up to the hilltop compound, to replace one damaged in a 2004 snowstorm. Israeli archaeologists insist there is no danger to the compound.

CHRISTIANITY ‘SAFE’ FOR THE NEXT TWO THOUSAND YEARS

Image by Ismael Shammout
The consensus of the Christian world, in collabortion with top archaeologists is that the latest ‘attempts’ to discredit the foundation of the religion is based on lies and fictional ‘evidence’.
In the past week there has been much discussion throughout the world regarding a controversial film based on the ‘discovery’ of Jesus tomb’ in Jerusalem. There seems to be enough real evidence to dispute this leaving the producers of the film with nothing more than a sensational ‘Indiana Jones’ type movie.
Hopefully this will be the last we hear of this travesty and perhaps if nothing else, we might learn to respect the differences among humanity, rather than ‘cash in’ on them.
THIS article from the Christian Science Monitor gives a pretty good review of the situation in question.

THIS piece from today’s Guardian is aso worth reading.

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