Israel indicts tortured rights activist Ameer Makhoul

Jonathan Cook

Ameer Makhoul’s family and supporters protest outside a closed hearing at the Petach Tikva Magistrates Court. (Oren Ziv/Activestills)

A leading human rights activist from Israel’s Palestinian Arab minority was charged yesterday with the most serious security offenses on Israel’s statute book, including espionage.

Prosecutors indicted Ameer Makhoul, the head of Ittijah, an umbrella organization for Arab human rights groups in Israel, with spying on security facilities on behalf of Hizballah after an alleged meeting with one of its agents in Denmark in 2008.

Makhoul, who had been held incommunicado by Israel’s secret police, the Shin Bet, for much of the time since his arrest three weeks ago, appeared in court and pleaded not guilty. In his first public statement, he told the court: “The Shin Bet controls the Israeli justice system.”

As a gag order was lifted on the case, his lawyers said Makhoul had been tortured during his detention, including being told by interrogators that they would leave him “disabled.” The three lawyers said he had been forced to make a false confession, which they would argue was inadmissible.

Makhoul’s arrest had angered many in Israel’s Palestinian minority, nearly a fifth of the population, who suspect he is being persecuted for his leading role in promoting internationally the boycott movement against Israel and his prominent opposition to Israel’s attack on Gaza nearly 18 months ago.

He has been backed by human rights groups abroad, including Amnesty International, which declared him a prisoner of conscience and accused Israel of “pure harassment.”

Makhoul’s brother, Issam, a former MP for a joint Jewish-Arab party, told Israel Radio yesterday that Makhoul had been threatened by the Shin Bet back in January 2009, shortly after he organized protests against the Gaza attack. The Shin Bet had told him that they would frame him and “make him disappear,” Issam Makhoul said.

Ameer Makhoul’s wife, Janan, who saw her husband in court for the first time since he had been arrested, said he was in constant pain and had impaired vision. She added: “He is very exhausted and he told me about the torture he underwent in his interrogation. Thirty-six hours without sleep tied to a chair stuck to the floor.”

Makhoul, 52, is charged with assistance to the enemy in a time of war, conspiracy to assist an enemy, aggravated espionage and contact with a foreign agent. According to the indictment, he passed on “strategic intelligence” to Hizballah agents on at least 10 occasions via encrypted e-mails.

The militant Lebanese group is said to have used Makhoul, whose organization is based in the northern city of Haifa, to provide information on security installations in the north.

Makhoul is alleged to have provided details of the locations of two Shin Bet facilities, a Mossad office, a military base and a Rafael armaments factory, as well as trying unsuccessfully to gather information on the security arrangements of Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, and Ehud Barak, the defense minister.

A senior Shin Bet officer told the liberal Haaretz newspaper: “Part of the information that Makhoul transferred could be delivered by anyone with a pair of eyes and Google Earth [a computer program providing satellite images]. But Makhoul, as an Israeli Arab, has freedom of movement and access across Israel.”

Prosecutors also accused him of passing on the names of six Israelis as potential spies and providing analysis of trends in Israeli politics and society.

Hizballah, prosecutors suggested, was especially keen to learn about its success in hitting Israeli security installations with rockets during its military confrontation with Israel in 2006.

In a related case, Omar Said, 50, a pharmacologist and political activist, was charged yesterday in a Nazareth court with contacting and transferring information to Hizballah after meeting an agent in the Sinai resort of Sharm al-Sheikh. He denied the allegations and said he too had been forced into making a confession.

Hassan Jaja, a Lebanese businessman living in Jordan, is alleged to have initiated contacts between Hizballah and Said and Makhoul.

The Adalah legal center, which represents Makhoul, said his indictment was based on a confession extracted during nearly two weeks in which he was denied a lawyer, kept in a small isolation cell, deprived of sleep and food, and shackled in a painful position to a small chair.

The combination of methods, known in Hebrew as the “Shabeh,” created high levels of mental stress and acute, continuous physical pain, said Abir Baker, a lawyer with Adalah. The interrogation method violates international law and was banned by Israel’s high court in 1999.

Hasan Jabareen, head of Adalah, said that, when Makhoul complained of serious pain, the interrogators tied him even tighter, threatening that he would be “left disabled.”

Issam Makhoul said the family was concerned that the court had denied his lawyers the right to see a medical report from a state physician who visited him twice during his interrogation.

Baker said recent amendments to Israel’s security laws had given the Shin Bet “dangerous powers” to deny suspects the right to see a lawyer for up to 21 days, with limited judicial oversight.

Such powers were being used almost exclusively against Palestinian citizens held in detention, she said, though the state had refused to provide figures on how frequently the law was being employed.

She said, during periods when suspects could not see a lawyer, interrogators were more likely to use illegal torture methods.

A report by the Abu Dhabi-based National newspaper in January 2009 supports Issam Makhoul’s claim that his brother was threatened in an earlier Shin Bet interrogation. Makhoul told the paper at the time that a Shin Bet officer “called me a rebel threatening the security of the state during time of war and said he would be happy to transfer me to Gaza.”

Makhoul’s case, said Mohammed Zeidan, head of the Human Rights Association in Nazareth, had left everyone in Israel’s human rights community “afraid.” “The Shin Bet wanted to take him out of the game and they have succeeded,” he said. “Ameer has been disappeared.”

Zeidan added that the case had strong echoes of what he called recent “unwarranted legal assaults” by the Shin Bet on two other Palestinian leaders in Israel.

Sheikh Raed Salah, of the popular Islamic Movement, was arrested in 2003 and spent two years in jail awaiting trial on charges of assisting a terror organization before he was released in a plea bargain in which he admitted only financial misdemeanors.

Since 2007 Azmi Bishara, the leader of the Balad party, has been in exile after he was accused of espionage while out of the country. Critics say the Shin Bet effectively silenced him without having to produce evidence.

“It has become clear over the past few years that this could happen to any of us,” he said.

On Wednesday, in a related development, the parliament passed the first reading of a “loyalty bill,” introduced by the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, that would strip anyone found guilty of espionage of their citizenship.

Click HERE to see a statement from the Makhoul family


Commentary by Chippy Dee, Photos © by Bud Korotzer

On May 25th CodePink-NYC and Adalah-NY staged another raucous demonstration in front of 2 stores in the Ricky’s chain – one on 3rd Avenue and one on East 14th Street in Manhattan.  Ricky’s continues to carry the Ahava line of creams and lotions that is manufactured in an occupied West Bank colony using stolen Palestinian mineral resources taken from the area near the Dead Sea.  The packaging is dishonestly labeled Made in Israel.

About 30 people, some dressed in robes, towels, and shower caps stood outside the store for an hour chanting,
“Ahava you can’t hide
We can see your dirty side.”
“Hey Ricky’s, what’s that scent?
Smells like an illegal settlement.”  and

“Don’t shop here for Ahava lotion
Human rights are a better notion.”
They sang a song written for the boycott by a very talented member of the group and handed out over 600 leaflets explaining the reasons for the boycott.  A reporter from Russia Today interviewed Nancy Krikorian from CodePink while a cameraman made a video recording of the event.

The reaction of the East Village residents passing by was excellent.  The were smiles, thumbs-up, and thank yous.  One man raised his fist into the air and chanted, “From Iraq to Palestine, Occupation is a crime” as he walked by.  There were no screamers, no spitters, no dirty looks.

When the group moved on to the 2nd store they walked along crowded 14th St. and through Union Sq. which was packed because of the hour and the beautiful weather.  As they handed out leaflets they sang,
“On Ricky’s, what a crime
Ahava steals, you make a dime
Hey Ricky’s, hey Ricky’s”
“Oh Ricky’s, drop that brand
Ahava’s stealin’ people’s land
Hey Ricky’s, hey Ricky’s”

The international boycott will continue to grow.  When someone purchases an Ahava product they are buying stolen merchandise.  EuroPalestine is bringing a suit against Sephora in France for carrying Ahava products and negotiations continue with stores carrying the brand in the U.S.  Justice will prevail.






Another ‘Believe it or not’…..

The following is not bordering on ridiculous…. it IS ridiculous.

GM ad featuring a shirtless Albert Einstein

Hebrew University sues GM over topless Einstein ad

Ad featuring shirtless Albert Einstein ran in People magazine’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ issue in the fall.

Jerusalem’s Hebrew University has filed a lawsuit against the American automotive giant General Motors over a magazine advertisement containing a likeness of Albert Einstein, the Motor Trend website reported on Thursday.

The university owns Einstein’s publicity rights, as willed by the late physicist following his death in 1955. The University argues that GM had not been cleared to legally use his image.

The four-page ad appeared in People magazine last fall, and included a photo of a shirtless model with Einstein’s face, and a tattoo on his shoulder reading “E=MC2”. On a separate page, the GMC Terrain was featured with the slogan “Ideas can be sexy too”. The ad was created especially for People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue.

“The tattooed, shirtless image of Dr. Einstein with his underpants on display is not consummate with and causes injury to [the university’s] carefully guarded rights in the image and likeness of the famous scientist, political activist, and humanitarian,” the website quoted Hebrew University lawyer Antoinette Waller as having written in the suit.

Forbes magazine ranked Einstein as the fourth most lucrative famous dead people in 2008, with profits of some $18 million a year.

According to Motor Trend, GM asserts that the company had legally purchased the right to use Einstein’s likeness from what spokeswoman Ryndee Carney described as a “reputable firm,” though she declined to name the firm.



By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Invitation: The Alternative Information Center and the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People invite you to attend two events in Beit Sahour happening in parallel to the Haifa conference on the Right of Return and One Secular Democratic State. Location of both events at the Alternative Information Center, downtown Beit Sahour.

Friday May 28 at  7 PM  a link-in to the Haifa conference which features Ghada Karmi, Ilan Pappe, Muhammad Kana’ane and a speaker from the 67 occupied territories and Special greetings from guest delegations from five continents.

Saturday 29 May, at 7:30 PM at the AIC café, Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh and Nassar Ibrahim will present some ideas and lead a discussion panel on the issues of ROR and One Democratic State.

Action: Take action to stop threatened military action against Gaza freedom flotilla (ships bringing aid to Gaza). Also in the US, need to pressure the media which is engaged in a shameful blackout on this critical story.  Go to New York City or Washington DC if you are in the vicinity Thursday, MAY 27:

5 PM-7:30 PM  on 42nd Street and 2nd Avenue, New York

4:00 – 6:00 PM Israeli Embassy,

3514 International Drive Northwest, Washington, DC 20008

More actions here:

Israel’s Most Illicit Affair: A new book reveals that Israel’s secret relationship with apartheid South Africa went far deeper than previously understood.  Now comes Sasha Polakow-Suransky, who is an editor at Foreign Affairs magazine, a Rhodes scholar, and an American Jew whose parents emigrated to the United States from South Africa. His singular achievement in his new book, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa scheduled for publication on May 25, is to have unearthed more than 7,000 pages of heretofore secret documents from the bowels of South Africa’s Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and Armscor, the state defense contractor, including the secret 1975 military cooperation agreement signed by defense ministers Shimon Peres and P.W. Botha.

Never-ending checkpoint frustration By Rana Qumsiyeh

The PA’s disingenuous boycott campaign By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic
Intifada, 25 May 2010

In recent weeks, the US- and Israeli-backed Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) has made a show of calling on Palestinians to boycott goods manufactured in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Despite the rhetoric of defiance and resistance, and exaggerated screams of anguish from Israeli settler groups, the PA effort actually appears designed to co-opt, undermine and abort the much broader Palestinian civil society campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), and to reassure Israel of the continued docility and collaboration of its puppet regime in Ramallah.

Mahmoud Abbas in defense of the boycott of settlement products but not a total boycott of Apartheid  Israel: “I boycott someone who is occupying my land, this is not incitement. I would like to tell [critics of the boycott] that I will not incite against the state of Israel, neither will I demand a boycott of the state of Israel”

Activists protest Israeli ambassador of apartheid at Brandeis University.

Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons

Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state’s possession of nuclear weapons.

Israel’s nuclear capabilities – 25 Oct 09

Truly disturbing video about the Mexican gulf oil spill: requiem for the


In the Zionist Entity:The Authorities and the Public would prefer to outlaw Human Rights Organizations!!!

By Adib Kawar

“Promised Land”– news and opinion from Israel – Ma’ariv (p. 12) by Arik Bender, wrote an article dated April 29th 2010 entitled Knesset moves to outlaw human rights organizations in Israel, “Something very troubling is happening to “the only democracy in the Middle East”.

“More than 20 MKs, including members of opposition party Kadima, proposed a new bill which will make it possible to outlaw important human rights groups in Israel. Among the organizations mentioned in the proposed bill are Doctors for Human rights, The Coalition of Woman for Peace, The Public Committee against Torture in Israel, and Adalah: the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights. All these organizations receive funds from the New Israeli Fund.

The article proceeded by saying: “According to a report in Maariv, the new bill will outlaw any organization “which is involved in activity intended to lead to the prosecution or arrest of IDF officers and government officials for war crimes.”  The word “involved” gives it a very broad definition.

Note the phrase with which the article was started with: Something very troubling is happening to “the only democracy in the Middle East”. Isn’t this more than true? More than probably it is, when we see that more than 20 MKs (The “Israeli Knesset”, which is the “Israeli” parliament , “proposed a new bill which will make it possible to outlaw important human rights groups in Israel”, and more than half of those who are considered “Israeli” support limiting and curbing activities of Human Rights organizations!

So what is left of democracy if the activities of human rights organizations are limited, curbed and illegitimated, especially in what is claimed to be the only democracy in an entire region and a central part of the world?

We mean the rights of the occupied people being trampled on by a certain group of people, including the occupier taking the liberty of restraining freedom of expression in addition to limiting the human rights of other people by denying them free movement. The occupiers, citizens of the Zionist state, illegally occupy and steal land other kinds of property, and have been doing so continually. Not only is property their concern, but they take the lives of the occupied people, be they young or old, by any sort of assassination or targeting. Let us not forget how they demolish and then take possession of the property of Palestinian Arabs and throw their residents in the street to be replaced by Zionist racist invaders.

We mean in an entity where the death penalty by its courts is banned against its citizens, but where its executive body and its elected juridical body, including its supreme court of justice, the highest judicial body, permits its executive body to overturn law to permit assassination of those it chooses by its armed forces or intelligence, whether internal or external. This means that the death penalty is not permitted by law against the entity’s first class citizens belonging to a certain religious faith, which the state claims to assume this religious character, but it certainly may be imposed on other categories of citizens and occupied non-citizens who belong to other religious faiths and ethnicities.

We mean this entity which permits itself to threaten its neighbors in Arab and non-Arab states and resistance forces and punishes them just because they dare to arm themselves. An occupied people is entitled to arm themselves by prescriptions of international law so as to enable themselves to defend their sovereignty with effective arms and weapons. They do this because it is their right. They must simply “break the existing balance of power with an illegal entity” that uprooted an entire population from its ancestral homeland, an entity that owns formidable conventional and unconventional arsenals of arms and weapons. These arsenals have allowed this rogue entity to wage an unending series of wars and terror operations against the indigenous population of the land it occupied with the aim of replacing them, as well as threatening its Arab neighbors and far away non-Arab and non-neighboring countries with demolition and destruction, just because they want to develop their lands and strengthen their citizens.

We mean this entity that issues an order it calls No 132 by the strength of which it is legal to put infants on trial and imprison them.

A public opinion poll published in the “Israeli” daily Haaretz showed that the majority of Jews in occupied Palestine desired to curb the activities of human rights organizations, and wants to punish those who uncover unethical and illegal military activities and also to strike the press that publishes information about that. The results of this poll simply demonstrate how undemocratic the Zionist entity is and what little interest and respect for human rights its first class citizens have. This extends as well into the public and governmental bodies, at all branches, executive, judicial and legislative.

We mean in this entity where prisoners of war who number about 8,000 in the prisons and detention camps of Zionist occupation who suffer from catastrophic health conditions and health care that is almost unavailable, and in most cases the detention is harmful for their health if not deadly, which the occupation authorities subject them to in order to achieve certain special aims. Reports said that in addition to that Zionist doctors who practice various types of torture against the prisoners of war, these doctors use them for experiments for “Israeli” pharmaceutical companies. Also proved reports said that the Zionist entity and those belonging to it steal organs of Palestinian Arab martyrs and these organs become valuable merchandise.

This poll showed that a majority of the Jewish inhabitants of occupied Palestine are Zionist by all means of the word, and not simply people who belong to the Jewish faith and respect human rights and human dignity irrespective of their religious faith or ethnicity.

The published poll results exposed the racism of the vast majority of Jewish faith inhabitants though many of their presence in occupied Palestine is illegal in every international statute regarding occupation.

The poll said that the vast majority of “Israelis” want to severely curtail, or in a less drastic, but still scandalous way, they at least support limiting activities of Human Rights organizations, and believe it is just to punish not the perpetrator of human rights abuses but rather anyone who uncovers unethical and illegal military actions. They believe it is crucial to bar the press from publishing anything about that.

The poll revealed that almost six “Israelis” out of ten, a massive 58% of those canvassed, declared that human rights organization should not be allowed to uncover unethical “Israeli” practices nor should they be permitted to practice their activities freely, while half of them,  51%, said that there is excessive freedom of expression in “Israel”.

56% said that that “Israelis” who support punishing the “Jewish state” or boycotting it should themselves be punished.

73% support severely punishing journalists who publish reports that uncover information about unethical and illegal activities committed by the “Israeli” army and/or the (Shabak).

64% see that the “Israeli” press should not be allowed to publish reports that security bodies consider to cause danger to public security.

42% said “Israelis” should not be allowed to publish reports of Palestinian sources, which puts the army in a negative position, even if what was written had proven to be correct.

We ask ourselves and we ask you, is it not time to outlaw an entity that has such little tolerance for human rights and democracy before this tendency brings more suffering and disaster to the region?

From Palestine Think Tank


Image Copyleft by Carlos Latuff

Rattling the Cage: Living it up in Gaza


Gaza is a paradise if Foreign Ministry statements are any indication.

Don’t you just wish you lived in Gaza? Don’t you just envy those people who get to raise their kids amid such abundance? Look at all the stuff they’ve got:

“Truckloads of meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, milk powder, baby food, wheat and other staples arrive in Gaza on a daily basis,” said the Foreign Ministry in advance of the “Freedom Flotilla,” due to either reach Gaza or get intercepted by the navy today.

“Since the cease-fire in January 2009, well over a million tons of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza from Israel – that is almost a ton of aid for each man, woman and child in the Strip.”

A ton each! Somebody put those people on a diet! They get “most types of food,” said the IDF. Most types! Even pasta, ever since Sen. John Kerry went to Gaza last year and found that the IDF was banning pasta, and convinced army officials, softies that they are, to start letting it in.

But the story of life in Gaza gets even happier. In the first quarter of 2010, the IDF said, “Israel transferred 250 trucks of equipment for the UNRWA summer camp, including arts and crafts equipment, swimming pools, inflatable toys, ice cream machines, musical instruments, clothing, sports equipment, etc.”

They eat ice cream, they swim, they play music. Paradise! And look at this: “Special permission was granted to Gaza footballers to train in Judea and Samaria and compete in international matches abroad.”

We even let their soccer team out to play. It took special permission, but hey, for those guys and those fans, if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.

SO WHO are these goddamn Jew-haters and their boats, The Rachel Corrie – the “St. Pancake” they should call it. Who are these Nazi human rights organizations? And who is this John Ging, this terrorist who runs UNRWA in Gaza? “We recommend the world send ships to Gaza,” he says. “Breaking the siege on Gaza is possible.”

We should put him on a ship and sink it.

The UN. Anti-Semites, all of them. They try to make everything in Gaza look terrible. Read this garbage by the “UN Office for the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs, Occupied Palestinian Territory.” (“Occupied.” I love that.) They put out a report every week about how awful it is for the poor Palestinians. Look at this crap from their last one, for May 12-18:

“Imports of industrial fuel to operate the Gaza power plant further declined this week… this week’s figure represents 27 percent of the actual estimated weekly amount of fuel required for the power plant to operate at full capacity. As a result, the majority of the population continues to experience power cuts of eight to 12 hours per day, forcing them to rely on generators run by fuel… These generators, which are imported largely through tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, can be unsafe… [A] generator fire broke out inside a house this week, killing two members of one family and injuring five others. Since the beginning of the year, 31 Palestinians have been killed and 41 others injured in generator-related incidents.”

They’re not careful – that’s our fault? They probably started the fires on purpose to blame it on Israel. Here’s some more garbage:

“Quantities of imported cooking gas also further declined this week… representing only 64% of the average weekly needs… As shortfalls continue, the rationing scheme for cooking gas, introduced in November 2009, remains in place.”

Oh, too bad, they won’t be able to heat their ice cream. A tragedy. Now look what big, bad Israel is doing to the poor fisherman in Gaza:

“Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to fishing areas beyond three nautical miles from shore also continued to be enforced; in at least two incidents this week, Israeli naval vessels opened ‘warning’ fire toward Palestinian fishing boats, forcing them ashore.”

Do we know these “fishermen” aren’t really terrorists? Can we take a chance? Nobody got killed, did they? Oh, but wait, now read this from the last weekly installment of the UN Protocols of the Elders of Zion:

“Israeli forces shot and killed one elderly Palestinian civilian and injured another one in two separate incidents near the Gaza-Israel border… On 14 May, Israeli forces positioned on the border east of Jabalya shot and killed an elderly Palestinian man while he was visiting the grave of his wife in a cemetery located in the area. In a separate incident, Israeli forces opened fire toward a group of Palestinians collecting rubble near the border, injuring one of them. Israeli forces continue to enforce access restrictions in the ‘buffer zone’ by opening ‘warning’ fire toward people entering the area, affecting farmers and workers, and leveling lands in border areas.”

Well, maybe if the terrorists in Gaza didn’t keep trying to get near the fence and kill our soldiers, we wouldn’t have to shoot old men in cemeteries and kids collecting rubble, would we? (Rubble? They have swimming pools, arts and crafts, musical instruments, and spend their time looking through rubble? A fat lot of good it does trying to help those kids.)

They’re terrorists, doesn’t everybody understand? They try to kill us and we never did anything to them. We got out of Gaza, remember? There’s no more occupation. Finished!

And now the Jew-haters are coming with their boats and their food and their medical aid – to make us look bad! That’s all they want to do. They don’t care about the people in Gaza. The people in Gaza don’t even care about the people in Gaza, about their own children. Only we do. Only Israel cares about those people. Look at all the things we do for them. And the world doesn’t appreciate it. Well, what do you expect?

I only wish somebody would treat us Israelis like we treat people in Gaza.

It’s too bad; we’d give the world a real lesson in how to show appreciation.


The Unspoken Alliance: Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s full two part interview on DN!

“The Unspoken Alliance”: New Book Documents Arms, Nuclear and Diplomatic Ties Between Israel and Apartheid South Africa

Israeli President Shimon Peres has denied reports he offered to sell nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa when he was defense minister in the 1970s. On Sunday, the Guardian newspaper of London published top-secret South African documents revealing that a secret meeting between then-defense minister Shimon Peres and his South African counterpart, P.W. Botha, ended with an offer by Peres for the sale of warheads “in three sizes.” The documents were first uncovered by senior editor at Foreign Affairs Sasha Polakow-Suransky, author of the new book The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa.

Sasha Polakow-Suransky, senior editor at Foreign Affairs and author of The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa.

Part 1

Part 2


They say that ‘Misery loves company’….. here’s proof! Apartheid loves Apartheid!

Why is the United States government trying to pretend the following never happened? Simple answer…. so they can continue looting the US taxpayer. It’s bad enough to support the apartheid and genocidal policies of Israel….
How can Obama justify supporting a nation that was prepared to sell nuclear weapons to Apartheid South Africa?

The article that follows was buried deep in HaAretz…. one had to search carefully to find it.

One question…. why would a reputable newspaper like the Guardian lie about something like this?

It took an article and a Blog Post in the Guardian to bring the following to light….

Israel denies offering nuclear weapons to Apartheid South Africa

British daily The Guardian publishes documents it says prove that then-defense minister Shimon Peres tried to sell nuclear weapons to P.W. Botha in the 1970s.

By Haaretz Service and Reuters

Israel on Monday vehemently rejected claims in a British newspaper that it offered to sell nuclear warheads to Apartheid-era South Africa in 1975.

“There exists no basis in reality for the claims published this morning by The Guardian that in 1975 Israel negotiated with South Africa the exchange of nuclear weapons,” the president’s office said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, The Guardian elected to write its piece based on the selective interpretation of South African documents and not on concrete facts,” said the statement. “Israel has never negotiated the exchange of nuclear weapons with South Africa. “There exists no Israeli document or Israeli signature on a document that such negotiations took place.”

The Guardian newspaper said Sunday that documents uncovered by a U.S. academic during research for a book on Israel’s ties with South Africa provided the first hard proof that Israel has nuclear weapons. Israel maintains an official policy of “nuclear ambiguity” over whether it is an atomic power.

The Guardian said documents declassified by South Africa’s post-apartheid government at the request of author Sasha Polakow-Suransky included top-secret minutes of meetings between senior officials of the two countries in 1975.

Those papers, the newspaper said, showed that South Africa’s defense minister at the time, P.W. Botha, asked warheads and his counterpart Shimon Peres, now Israel’s president, offered them in “three sizes”. The Guardian claimed that this referred to conventional, chemical and atomic weapons.

Asked about the report, Peres spokeswoman Ayelet Frisch said: “There is no truth to the Guardian report.”

“We regret that the newspaper did not seek a comment from the president’s office. If it had done so, it would have discovered that the story is wrong and baseless,” she added.

According to the Guardian report, the alleged nuclear deal did not go ahead, partly because of the cost.

Speculation about Israeli-South African nuclear cooperation was raised in 1990 when a U.S. satellite detected a mysterious flash over the Indian Ocean. The U.S. television network CBS reported it was a nuclear test carried out by the two countries.



Compiled by Antony Loewenstein

The last month has seen a flurry of news and activity in global affairs, not least Australia’s expulsion of an Israeli diplomat after the Jewish state forged passports in its assassination of a Hamas figure in Dubai and continued discussion over the role of internet censorship in democracies and other states.

My following work has appeared:

– I recently returned from an extensive speaking tour across New Zealand. I was interviewed on Radio New Zealand, the magazine The Listener (that unleashed a torrent of readers’ responses ), the New Zealand Herald and a popular, local blog .

Book review in the Melbourne Age on the Taliban’s rise and fall pre and post 2001.

Article in Australian magazine Crikey on refugees and the Tamil struggle for peace after conflict.

Interview with Radio Free Europe about the perils of democracy in Cuba.

– Organised exclusive Australian screenings in June of a documentary, American Radical, about leading Jewish, American writer Norman Finkelstein (8 June in Sydney and 11 June in Melbourne)

Interview with Foreign Policy Journal on the Middle East conflict.

Essay in Jewish, American magazine Tikkun on the growing realisation that the two-state solution is dead and growing support for a one-state equation.

Article in Crikey on Australia’s privatised detention centres.

– I participated in a televised debate in Sydney in mid-May on the proposition that, “governments should not censor the internet”. The event received coverage in the Sydney Morning Herald, my speech was published in The Melbourne Age/Sydney Morning Herald online and the debate featured on ABC Radio National and ABC1 TV.

Article in Crikey on Australian Zionist pressure of an independent publication that dared challenge Israel and the two-state solution.

Article about a recent New York Review of Books essay on liberal Zionism.

– The news that Australia is expelling an Israeli diplomat has received huge media coverage in Australia and around the world. I was interviewed about the long-term ramifications by the Australian Associated Press (which featured in the Sydney Morning Herald online and Melbourne’s Herald Sun) , the Melbourne Age and Press TV.

All of the above and more can be found at Antony Loewenstein’s Blog….


“There are none so blind as those who will not see!” Oh… they (zionists) see just fine, but only what they want to see…. the rest they deny.

Worse yet is that they expect the world to wear the same blinders that they wear.
They do not see the obvious…
Ethnic Cleansing
Home Demolitions
Illegal Settlement Expansion

Denial will not bring back this gorgeous child, and the hundreds of others, that were brutally murdered by Israeli soldiers….

Denial will not restore the homes in this area to their rightful owners….

Denial will not bring back the almost 1,500 innocent civilians that were slaughtered in the Gaza blitzkrieg two years ago….

Who really thinks that the Butcher of Beirut, Ariel Sharon, made the Gaza Strip ‘Judenrein‘ out of the goodness of his heart? Today we can see that it was nothing more than a preparation for the planned destruction of the Strip and its inhabitants.

What would have happened if the United Nations did not chose a Jewish zionist to head the committee investigating the war crimes committed in Gaza? What would have happened if they choose any of the respected ‘Elders‘ that visited the Strip, including President Carter or Archbishop Tutu. Would Israeli reactions been the same? Is it any wonder that Israeli condemnation against Judge Goldstone continues to this day? In other words, lack of denial = anti Semitism….

Denial will not erase the suffering caused by the Nakba. In Israel today, it is forbidden to read or write about it in schools. Palestinians living in Israel are forbidden to read about THEIR history.

Despite promises and denial, illegal settlements continue to expand under the watchful eyes of the US Government. The Israeli government continues to lie about this and continues to receive the US Taxpayer’s dollars to continue.

An integral part of denial has become censorship. The zionists have been doing everything in their power to stifle any criticism of their ongoing criminal activities. This can be seen in the local Israeli press where witch hunts have ‘weeded out’ much of the opposition. On the Net we see constant attempts to hack Websites operated by anti zionists. We have seen trolls in action who are determined to discredit any of our efforts…. At the borders we have seen deportations of anyone who dares speak the truth. None of this will work! We shall not be silenced into denial.

The following two videos are a must see….. especially for Americans that support Israel with blinders on their eyes.
The first is a documentary which shows the true history of the State….

The second shows the arrogant attitude of its leadership towards the rest of the world….

These trends will continue if the world does not stop them NOW!

As you saw in the second video, Israel is laughing at the world…. don’t be a part of their denial.

Take off your blinders, open your eyes to the truth!


Attorney Emily Schaefer who defends the rights of West Bank Palestinians Photo by: Yanai Yehiel

Tough Love

Attorney Emily Schaeffer immigrated to Israel to defend the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank. ‘I guess most Israelis would view me as a traitor,’ she says, ‘but I don’t intend to keep quiet just because I came from afar’

By Coby Ben-Simhon

Emily Schaeffer can easily point to the happiest time of her life. “It started at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem,” she says, sitting on the tiny balcony off the bedroom of her apartment in downtown Tel Aviv. “I met for half an hour with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife in a room that looked like a palace. It was August, the day before a tour I conducted of Bil’in for a delegation from The Elders, an organization of global leaders whose aim is to get involved in world crises. Carter couldn’t come on the tour because of the security arrangements, so I was asked to speak with him at the hotel. But the next day, Desmond Tutu, the Peace Nobelist and a leader of the blacks’ struggle against apartheid, did come. It was amazing to escort him to Bil’in. Those were definitely the happiest moments of my life.”

She says she couldn’t have asked for more than meeting with Tutu and Carter, elder statesmen who came here to support the cause that she, too, is passionate about: the need for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.Schaeffer, a 31-year-old lawyer, is one of the most prominent Israeli activists in the Palestinian village of Bil’in, whose ongoing struggle against the separation fence that divides its lands has become a symbol of the nonviolent struggle against the occupation. As an employee of the firm of attorney Michael Sfard, she was part of the legal team that represented the Bil’in council in a petition against the route of the fence, which ended with a victory for the residents. In September 2007, the High Court made a precedent-setting ruling that there was no security justification for the fence’s selected route, and ordered that it be moved.

But Schaeffer’s legal activity is only one aspect of her efforts on behalf of the people of Bil’in. Every Friday, she takes part in the demonstrations against the fence, and she comes to the village often on other days. Recently, as part of a lawsuit against Canadian construction companies involved in building the Matityahu East neighborhood in Modi’in Ilit, which is being built in part on village lands, she traveled with several of the residents on a three-week speaking tour in Canada.

It was because of such activity that the Dutch magazine Ode selected Emily Schaeffer for its list of the “25 Intelligent Optimists of 2009.” Ode, which defines itself as a journal of the “intelligent optimist community,” is a print and on-line magazine with a leftist bent that deals with “good news” and “people and ideas that improve our lives.” It was founded in 1995 in Rotterdam by two journalists and since 2004 has also published an English edition.

One of the 100,000 copies of the magazine is delivered regularly to a loyal reader, the Dutch princess Mabel van Oranje, who serves as director-general of The Elders. She was also the one who recommended that Schaeffer be included on the prestigious list, which was published in February. “I have met many remarkable people who astound me with their courage and commitment to causes that seem impossible or too idealistic to achieve,” she wrote. “One of the most impressive is a young Israeli lawyer, Emily Schaeffer. I met Emily in the Palestinian village of Bil’in [in] the West Bank, where she works with local leaders … I admire Emily deeply. Her work is smart and creative, and it embodies equality, passion and the right of all people to live in peace and dignity.”


Schaeffer says she still feels overwhelmed at all the praise. A slight American accent is detectable when she speaks; she was born in Boston, the only child of Jewish parents, second-generation immigrants from Europe. Her mother worked for an insurance company, her father is a radiologist. Her parents divorced when she was four. “I grew up with my mother,” she says. “Mom is a strong person. I learned from her that women can do whatever they want. She came to our class to convince the girls that they didn’t have to be either teachers or dancers. She told us we could aspire to anything, and that stayed with me. She wasn’t radical, but critical. I learned from her that you needn’t accept what you’re told as self-evident, that one can resist the authorities.”

Schaeffer attended public school, but always felt at home when she took part in activities of the Reform movement. “My parents sent me there when I was five. I went once a week after school, and later twice a week. In the movement we had lessons about Judaism and about Israel, in a very lighthearted way. Once we made a map of Israel out of ice cream and marked the cities with colorful M&M candies. It was Zionism-lite. At that time I also went to synagogue.”

In high school she got more involved in the Reform youth movement North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY ), and during her last summer in school she was appointed group president. “I planned activities for 200 members and also organized prayers,” says Schaeffer. “I think that at the time I was searching for an identity, for a sense of belonging, and the movement gave me that.” The Reform movement altered the course of her life. “After it didn’t work out for me to go on a summer vacation to France, I decided to go with some friends from the movement to Israel,” she says. “I was 15 and I convinced my parents that it was worth it for them to spend the money. I told them: ‘I feel like there’s a magnet pulling me to Israel.’ I don’t know where I came up with that.”

She spent six weeks traveling all over the country. “It was an intensive encounter,” she recalls. “We drove all night and got up early in the mornings. We went to Jerusalem, to Tel Aviv. We didn’t go to Bil’in, of course. We didn’t talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and weren’t even conscious of it. At the end of that visit I promised myself that I would return to Israel the first chance I got. I felt like I’d been through a big change, so big that it worried me. I wrote in my diary then: ‘I’m afraid to go back home, I’m afraid that people won’t understand the change that has happened to me. I fell in love.'”

Today she wears a blue T-shirt with an illustration of Israel within the 1967 borders drawn in black. “Today I’m completely at home in Bil’in, kids there run after me in the street,” she says with a smile as she adroitly rolls a cigarette and lights up. “It does me good, I need this closeness. I can’t just take part in demonstrations on Fridays, and otherwise sit in an office or a cafe in Tel Aviv. When I come to Bil’in I have to talk with people, feel them, visit them at home. We have a strong connection. They invite me to dinner and I come.”

It wasn’t always this way. Schaeffer has come a long way in becoming an Israeli devoid of nationalistic sentiment and full of human compassion. She began studying in Baltimore for a bachelor’s degree in political science, but found herself returning to Israel every summer. In 1998, she had the chance to do a year of study abroad. She chose the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “It was very exciting to come back,” she recalls. “I wanted to get into Israeli culture as much as possible and understand the Israeli situation. I had a lot of Israeli friends at the university, and also an adoptive family from Ramle. I’m hardly in touch with them anymore, though. They’re total Likudniks and aren’t pleased with what I do now. But at the time we were really close.”

Broken heart

In Jerusalem she discovered the hidden world, for her at least, of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In those days, before the second intifada, she found a common language with Meretz activists on the Mount Scopus campus. “I met my first Palestinian friend then, Sari Abu-Ziad, the oldest son of Ziad Abu-Ziad, who was a minister in the Palestinian government then. He told me about his childhood, what a checkpoint was, what it meant to feel like you’re living in a prison, what it’s like to be an Arabic-speaker in Israel, how frightened he was. He studied at the Hebrew University. This was before the 1999 election. We gave out stickers that said ‘With Barak There’s Hope.’ We believed that things could change. That year I plunged deep into the conflict, and it broke my heart.”

She really wanted to love Israel, but it wasn’t easy for her. “I grew up with the belief that Jews are moral people, that our job is to help the weak. It might sound naive now, but the contradiction between the essence of the Jewish state and what I saw really upset me. It was hard for my mother to accept the questions and doubts I felt. She said: ‘We were refugees, we suffered, we finally got a state, and Israel has to be a good country.’ I told her it was hard for me to see that my people were capable of doing such terrible things, that the country I dreamed about was occupying another people. That’s still something that’s very hard for me to deal with.”

In the summer of 2000 Schaeffer returned to Jerusalem. She was working odd jobs as a bartender, clerk and singer in a band when the second intifada erupted. “The intifada caused me a profound crisis. I was very disappointed with both sides. I lived on Mahaneh Yehuda street then. Within a day, all the Arab workers, Palestinians from the territories, some of whom I was really friendly with, disappeared. They just disappeared. It was the first time I experienced a war situation. I knew there had been terror attacks in the market and I was tense all the time. I was afraid to be outside too long, I wanted to listen to the news all the time. I was going crazy.”

Schaeffer felt lost and lonely amid the chaos that swirled around her. “I didn’t find my community,” she says. “Sari Abu-Ziad didn’t want to talk to me. He told me: ‘Now you’re on the other side.’ It was very hard. And I no longer found a common language with my leftist friends. Suddenly they weren’t able to talk about how problematic our military responses, like going into Ramallah, were. They, who used to talk about coexistence and peace and two states for two peoples, turned into Israelis against Palestinians. Because a war started. I couldn’t find anyone to talk to. I was left in the middle, and I became physically ill. Three weeks after I got here, I went back to America. It was a nightmare coming home, but on the way I had a meaningful experience. Just sitting there on the plane, I felt the most at home. After that, I didn’t return to Israel for four and a half years. I just couldn’t.”

She moved to New York to get out of her personal crisis, but then, at a bar in Brooklyn, it all came back to her. “I met a journalist there from The New York Times who worked on the Middle East desk. I told him that I’d lived in Israel, and about the crisis I went through. He said he thought I had some unfinished business. He told me he was part of a dialogue group between Jews and Muslims, and invited me to a film festival on the subject of human rights. There I saw the film ‘Promises’ by B.Z. Goldberg, which depicts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through children’s eyes. I came out of the movie in tears. It opened everything up again, and I realized I couldn’t keep running away from it.”

She joined the dialogue group and the Jews Against the Occupation organization in New York. And she once again immersed herself in the bloody conflict that she had abandoned. During law school at UC Berkeley, she decided to do a brief internship in Jerusalem, for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

“I thought that returning to Israel would be a long and difficult process, but within two days I felt at home,” she says. “Just because I came to the Committee Against House Demolitions. I felt that suddenly there was a place for all my thoughts. This was in 2004, there were activists around, Anarchists Against the Wall, and the Ta’ayush organization. I got involved with Ta’ayush. I went with them often to southern Mount Hebron. These people became my new friends.”

Rare combination

Before returning to America, Schaeffer called attorney Michael Sfard, whose work on behalf of Palestinians and leftist organizations had attracted her attention. “In our first conversation, I was impressed by the special blend of qualities in Emily,” says Sfard. “I found someone who is a lawyer, an idealist and an activist all in one. It’s a rare combination for lawyers, and it allows her, on the one hand, to understand the emotions in the field, and on the other, the limitations of the activists. Her immigration to Israel fascinated me, too. When I thought of American immigrants, I thought of the type who go straight from the airport to hilltops in the territories. In that conversation, I felt I’d come across someone extraordinary.”

Subsequently, those feelings only grew. “She has tremendous knowledge of international law and human rights, and so she’s a very unique addition to my firm, where [we have] Israelis who studied Israeli law,” adds Sfard. “I think that aside from writing and poetry, law is the profession most connected to language and place. So the transition Emily made is quite dramatic. Legal language is not the same as spoken language, it’s a different, much more complex layer. In this sense, her decision to move to Israel and work in her field in order to fulfill her ideals was a brave and amazing step. And it also was extremely successful. At the start, Emily concentrated on international law and now she handles the firm’s contacts with the Justice Ministry’s department for the investigation of police officers, the criminal investigation division, and the military prosecutor.”

The first assignment Sfard gave Schaeffer after she returned to her studies at Berkeley was to examine how international law relates to the duty of a country in a state of war to investigate the wounding or killing of a foreign civilian. The premise for the research was the American peace activist Brian Avery’s wounding by IDF fire in Jenin in 2003. Sfard attached the opinion she wrote to the petition he filed with the High Court, requesting a criminal investigation of the incident. Sfard emerged victorious: The High Court ordered the chief military prosecutor to launch an investigation (which took place, although no decision has yet been made on whether to file any indictments ). “Right after the victory, Michael called me,” says Schaeffer. “He told me: ‘We won. When can you come work for my firm?'”

She arrived during her summer vacation in 2005 and the firm already had some serious cases waiting for her. The first concerned opposition to the construction of the separation fence in the Alfei Menashe area, in which an expanded panel of nine judges decided that the route, around five Palestinian villages, harmed the residents and had to be changed. The second was to give legal assistance to the Yesh Din organization, dedicated to protecting the human rights of Palestinians in the territories.

“It was the early days of the organization,” Schaeffer recounts. “We started working with Palestinians who had been hurt by settlers; we helped them lodge complaints with the police. Every two weeks there was a new case. By now we have hundreds. This work changed my life, it redefined everything. I started to get to know Palestinian clients, I visited Mahaneh Ofer for the first time, the prison facility for security prisoners. I met with Yesh Din people. I started working with Dr. Yousef Jabareen who runs Dirasat, the Arab Center for Law and Policy, based in Nazareth. I felt like I was meeting my heroes.”

After passing the bar exam in the U.S., she decided to make aliya. This happened in late 2006, when she came to Tel Aviv and was given the Bil’in file. The firm was concerned with two petitions at the time: one against the construction of the Matityahu East neighborhood in Modi’in Ilit, and another against the route of the separation fence that was being built on Bil’in lands, trapping about 1,600 dunams of village land, more than a third of its total area, between the fence and the Green Line.

“We didn’t believe we would succeed,” she admits. “There were no good precedents. There was the Alfei Menashe petition, which had already ordered that the route of the fence be altered, but there was no enforcement in the field. On the other hand, we knew that Bil’in was becoming a symbol of nonviolent struggle. We thought maybe this would help and play into our hands. The work wasn’t easy; we pored over maps from the Mandate period that defined the area of the village. Together with village residents, we thought about a suitable strategy, we talked about the practical realities of our struggle. But we knew that, given the Israeli climate, we couldn’t move the fence all the way to the Green Line and that we wouldn’t be able to get rid of the settlement, Matityahu East.”

The petition against the construction of the Matityahu East neighborhood was rejected, but in the case of the separation fence route, Sfard’s firm won an impressive victory that had major repercussions. On September 3, 2007, the High Court ruled that the route of the fence near Bil’in had to be changed, and tasked the defense establishment with examining an alternate route.

“The present route raises grave questions also with regard to the security advantages it was said to provide … and the selected route cannot be explained other than by an intention to include the eastern section of “Matityahu East” on the west side of the separation barrier,” the ruling said.

After this success, Schaeffer did not let up. A year later, she was spearheading a civil suit in Canada against two Canadian companies, Green Park International and Green Mount International, which had built in Matityahu East. “The Israeli court ruled that the question of whether the settlements are legal is a political question, and cannot be brought before it. We said we have to find another way to get justice,” she said. “When we turned to Canada, we discovered that a new law there assimilates the Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute into the legal system. On the basis of those conventions, which view the settlements as a war crime, and which also address those who assist in that crime, we realized that we could sue the Canadian companies that built on Bil’in land.”

Kind of embarrassing

The petition against the construction companies was filed two years ago, and is now at the stage of preliminary arguments, whose purpose is to clarify whether the Canadian court has the authority to intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian issue. In order to stimulate public debate on the matter, last June Schaeffer embarked on a speaking tour in Canada together with some Bil’in residents.

“The trip to Canada was the idea of people from Bil’in. They wanted to be there when the hearings in the case were coming up,” she says. “In three and a half weeks, we hit 11 cities. The trip gave me the power to speak about Bil’in as an allegory that depicts the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. The occupation, freedom of movement, checkpoints, closure, settlements, lands, settler violence – all these are given expression in Bil’in and tell the entire story. It was a very powerful and strengthening experience for me when I talked about Bil’in at rallies, press conferences and meetings with different groups. I needed to find something to reignite me, to see other people who cared. And it happened to me there.” She is not worried about Israelis’ reactions to her joint activity with Palestinians in Canada. “I guess most Israelis would view me as a traitor,” she remarks dryly. “They would ask what right does someone who wasn’t born in Israel and who didn’t serve in the army have to criticize the state? But I came here out of great love, and I don’t intend to keep quiet just because I came from afar. I believe that there is no choice, that Israelis and Palestinians will live together. When I try to build connections between the two sides, I’m working for Israel’s good. The Bil’in people are very special. They don’t believe in violence, and they are proud that no terrorists have come from their village. They struggle alongside Israelis. But they are not a rare species. There are many Palestinians like them, only unlike the people in Bil’in, they haven’t found the framework and the courage to create the same kind of protest.”

The Elders delegation came here in August for the express purpose of identifying and assisting this type of coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. They met Schaeffer by chance. They hadn’t planned to go to Bil’in, but when the idea was raised that Desmond Tutu, who supports nonviolent struggle, would go to the village alone, they asked to meet with her.

“After a preliminary meeting at which Princess Mabel was also present, we left for a tour of the village. Thanks in part to the charm of the Bil’in residents, I managed to persuade them to change their plans and bring the whole delegation to Bil’in,” she says.

Schaeffer managed to impress the members of the delegation. Tutu, who was interviewed by Akiva Eldar in Haaretz during the visit, said he had met some “wonderful Israeli and Palestinian young people who lifted his spirits.” Eldar wrote that Tutu was most impressed with an Israeli lawyer by the name of Emily Schaeffer, “who helps Palestinians demand their rights and regularly takes part in the demonstrations against the separation fence. He says that people like her bolster his faith that, as in South Africa, here too, the two people can change the situation and live in peace, side by side.”

Half a year after that tour, an envelope was delivered to her firm containing an unfamiliar magazine. “Before I knew it, I found a letter from Princess Mabel,” she says somewhat bashfully. “She wrote that as soon as Ode Magazine asked her who should be on its list of 25 intelligent optimists, she thought of me. I was in shock. There was a picture of me with Carter there. Michael stood next to me and said: ‘You deserve it.’ It gave me a lot of strength. Although I don’t need the credit, which kind of embarrasses me, it is encouraging. It shows me that there is hope.”

There’s a very strong dissonance in this title. In the face of the bitter and violent conflict whose end is hardly in sight, you were crowned an “optimist.” Where does your optimism come from?

“For many years I’ve been telling everybody that I’m an incorrigible optimist. That it’s part of who I am. But there are moments of despair. It happens when there are losses in legal cases. It happened when my friend, a Bil’in resident, Bassem Abu Rahma, was killed by a direct hit with a tear gas canister in April of last year. We were about the same age. It still feels weird to me that he’s not at the demonstrations. But when I have moments like that, I go to Bil’in. There you don’t have the privilege of saying ‘there’s no hope’ or ‘I’m pessimistic.’ In Bil’in, the people always have hope, because without it they would simply die of despair. Hope is a matter of life and death for them.”

Does Israel give you hope?

“Our situation is worrisome, but I believe in Israel. In people. I believe that we are all good people who at the end of the day want things to be good for us and also for others. I think that what happened in the last war in Gaza woke people up. People think of themselves as moral, and what happened there, the number of children that were killed, the strikes on population centers, raised tough questions. It was hard for Israelis to accept the unnecessary death there. On the other hand, most of the country shifted in the other direction and wholeheartedly supported violence against civilians, and even more have become convinced that there will never be peace, and that the Palestinians, even if they are children, are the enemy. I draw hope from the shift in the views of many Israelis who’ve started to be activists against the occupation and for democracy, who’ve come to understand that the kinds of things that were done in Gaza are what other people do, not us. I feel that there was a moment when people here woke up to the fact that Israel needs to change.”

Wise counsel
The Elders was founded in 2007 by former South African president Nelson Mandela and British business tycoon Richard Branson, in honor of Mandela’s 89th birthday. The two collected a number of veterans of world diplomacy, with the aim of trying to solve world crises, support humanitarian aid organizations, and address the injustices and human suffering in crisis regions. Besides Branson and Mandela, the group includes former U.S. president and Peace Nobelist Jimmy Carter, South African Bishop and Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, former Norwegian prime minister Gro Brundtland, former Irish president Mary Robinson, and Princess Mabel van Oranje of Holland, who serves as chair. The organization is involved in projects in Burma, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Cyprus, among other places, and in general issues, such as women’s rights, around the world.



I received comments on THIS post from an Australian zionist stating that Israel is not guilty of ethnic cleansing….
If the following isn’t ethnic cleansing, then what would YOU call it?

More than 80,000 indigenous Bedouins live in the Naqab desert region, in dozens of so-called “unrecognized villages” — communities that the state has refused to acknowledge despite the fact that most of them have existed before the State of Israel was established. Moreover, Israeli politicians often refer to the areas as “empty” in order to create support for building new Jewish settlements, removing the indigenous populations in continuation of an ethnic cleansing project that is now more than 62 years old.

Interview: ethnic cleansing inside the green line
Nora Barrows-Friedman

Israel denies Palestinians in “unrecognized villages” basic services like water and electricity. (Yotam Ronen/ActiveStills)

Al-Masadiya, al-Garin, Khirbat al-Watan, Bir al-Hamam, Khashem Zana, Sawin, al-Shahabi, Wadi al-Naam and al-Mashash are all Palestinian Bedouin villages facing destruction by bulldozers and cement mixers as Israel’s transportation ministry plans to lengthen its Trans-Israel Highway southward into the Naqab (Negev) desert. This means that more than 3,000 Palestinian Bedouins could be displaced if an injunction filed by Israeli civil rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) doesn’t succeed in the high court.

Spokespeople for Bimkom (Planners for Planning Rights), the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, some of the groups filing the injunction, say that the Israeli government approved the highway construction without consideration for indigenous populations in the Naqab.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reports that the highway extension is part of the Israeli government’s plan for “development” of the Naqab, which also includes the construction of a massive Israeli military training facility at the Southern end.

More than 80,000 indigenous Bedouins live in the Naqab desert region, in dozens of so-called “unrecognized villages” — communities that the state has refused to acknowledge despite the fact that most of them have existed before the State of Israel was established. Moreover, Israeli politicians often refer to the areas as “empty” in order to create support for building new Jewish settlements, removing the indigenous populations in continuation of an ethnic cleansing project that is now more than 62 years old.

On a regular basis, Israeli bulldozers and squads of police invade Palestinian Bedouin villages, carrying out widespread home demolitions and leaving entire communities reduced to rubble. While such Israeli rights violations in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem have generated protest, it is less known that such policies are in place in Israel itself.

Rawia Abu Rabia, a social activist and human rights lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, represents her community and advocates for their human and civil rights as the state continues to discriminate and uproot citizens across the country. Nora Barrows-Friedman interviewed Abu Rabia for KPFA’s Flashpoints Radio on 13 May.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Rawia, can you talk about the current crisis facing the indigenous populations living inside the State of Israel? Explain what these so-called unrecognized villages are, and tell us about the level of institutionalized racism, discrimination and home demolitions right now.

Rawia Abu Rabia: First, we’re talking about the indigenous Bedouin community who are part of the Palestinian people. They are citizens of Israel, although they are not treated as equal citizens. Half of the Bedouin indigenous communities have existed before the establishment of the state, for many centuries, as agricultural workers. They were internally displaced by the State of Israel, starting from the Nakba in 1948, where they were transferred to a certain geographical area. They were restricted from moving from one place to another until 1966, as part of the military regime policy that Palestinian citizens of Israel were subjected to.

Then, the state decided to organize the Bedouins and established seven governmental townships that are among the poorest towns in Israel, forcibly moving the Bedouins into this tight geographical area known for its low agricultural fertility. The purpose was to have as many Bedouins as possible on minimum land. Their ancestral lands were given to new Jewish cities and other urban areas, while they were restricted from returning to their historical villages.

Then, the state started to make different laws in order to take over new areas of Bedouin land. In 1965, Israel’s implementation of the construction and building law, which designed the master plan for Israeli cities and villages, didn’t take into consideration any of the Bedouin villages. By doing that, the state used the law and the legal mechanisms to displace the Bedouins and make them illegal. That’s why today we have about 80,000 Bedouin Palestinian citizens of Israel who live in about 35 villages that the State of Israel refuses to recognize. What I mean by lack of recognition is that the villages don’t appear on official maps. They are denied basic services: running water, electricity, and garbage disposal. People aren’t allowed to build permanent houses, and those who do risk heavy fines and home demolitions.

In 2009, 254 houses were demolished in these villages. The State of Israel and state officials ignore their existence. They are invisible citizens in the eyes of the law. The other half of the Bedouins live in the seven townships that are among the poorest and underdeveloped towns of Israel. The rate of dropout from schools in these villages is almost 60 percent, the rate of unemployment is extremely high and the level of education is very poor … the Bedouins are not entitled to the same rights as the Jewish citizens.

The saddest thing is the institutionalized racism and discrimination that is written into the law. Especially laws related to the land issues — which are designed to criminalize the Bedouins and make them illegal.

NBF: What do the laws actually say; what is written in these laws?

RAR: First of all, the laws related to land issues are discriminatory. For example, since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 until today, hundreds of Jewish cities and agricultural settlements were established, while no Palestinian villages or cities were established except for the seven townships that I mentioned. Another example is the issue that this area in which the Bedouins are concentrated, is basically the only place that Bedouins can live. If a Bedouin wants to live in another place, he will face all sorts of discriminatory mechanisms, such as criteria to be accepted to live in certain towns in Israel.

I mentioned this construction and building law from 1965, the Master Plan, that didn’t include any of the Bedouin villages. So by the law, the Bedouin villages are illegal. Today, in many Palestinian villages in Israel, when people want to build homes or expand their villages, they don’t get permits from the planning authorities to do so. By doing that, they are deprived from the basic right of housing and the state doesn’t provide any alternative.

Even when the homes are demolished in the unrecognized villages, no compensation or alternative housing is provided by the state, even though, according to international law, such an alternative should be provided.

There are other laws, such as the citizenship law, [that are discriminatory]. If you are a Palestinian Israeli citizen and want to marry a Palestinian from the occupied territories or another Arab country, your spouse will not get [Israeli] citizenship. He is deprived; while if you are a Jewish Israeli, and you want to marry a foreigner from a country abroad, he can move into the process of citizenship. There is also the law of return, which is a law that says that anyone who has a mother who is Jewish can come to Israel and get Israeli citizenship, while Palestinians who were expelled in 1948 — refugees, as we all know — cannot return. They cannot get any rights, and their properties and land are declared as “absentee property” even when the people who own these lands are not absent — they’re still alive.

NBF: In April 2010, the Bedouin village of Twail abu Jarwal in the Naqab was demolished for the fortieth time in the last few years. Tell us about these kinds of actions by the Israeli government, and what happens to people during these home demolitions.

RAR: We’re talking about home demolitions — but the “homes” we’re talking about are very poor shacks and tents that are being destroyed. And these are young communities. About 70 percent of the Bedouin community is below 18 years old. These bulldozers come into these poor places, these shacks and tents, and demolish them. The purpose is meant to pressure the Bedouins into leaving their land, so the state can take control over their land.

There are other mechanisms used to take over land as well, such as the Jewish National Fund — which recently planted trees on the land of the al-Araqid tribe. These are other forms and mechanisms to take over more and more land, and to pressure people to leave their land. The Bedouins know this, and based on the bitter experience of the Palestinian people, they know that the only way that they can have a chance to keep their land is to physically stay on their land — sumoud (steadfastness). [Israel’s policies are] a very aggressive way to push people off their land without any consideration of international law, or of the declaration of the rights of indigenous people, et cetera. This actually pushes people to be hostile, and to lose any trust in the Israeli authorities; legal or otherwise. People become bitter when they see this discrimination alive, in front of them; when they see the bulldozers come and destroy their homes without any compensation or alternative, nothing.

NBF: Walk us through one of these Bedouin villages. Talk about the kinds of conditions that Bedouins are living in right now as they face home demolitions, and what kinds of services people are prevented from accessing as villagers in these communities.

RAR: Most of the unrecognized Bedouin villages lack health services and other services as well. If they want to access services in the nearest Jewish city or elsewhere, they first have to walk for miles to get to the main road. And then they have to find transportation, since there is no public transportation within these villages. The few services, the few clinics that we have in some of the villages, are results of petitions to the supreme court. None of the villages are connected to electricity at all. So when a bulldozer comes and destroys houses during the winter time — we’re talking about the desert, which is very cold at night — you can imagine that they will be left with no ways to find heating or other protection, other solutions.

NBF: We’ve been following the story of the Palestinian “unrecognized” village of Dhammash, outside of Lydd near the Ben Gurion Airport, 20 minutes from Tel Aviv. The people there are in and out of the high court, hoping to get another injunction to prevent the bulldozers from demolishing 13 homes there. Can you talk about what’s happening to communities like this, which are inside more urban areas around the state, Palestinians who are forced into displacement as the Jewish communities grow and expand?

RAR: I think that the issue of the Bedouins is not disconnected from the issues of other Palestinian communities living inside Israel. This is part of the daily situation we all face as Palestinian Israeli citizens who are treated as second-class citizens or worse. The land is the main resource that has been denied to the Palestinians.

For instance, in Jaffa, which a mixed city of Jews and Palestinians, we see how Jaffa is developing for the Jewish citizens while the Palestinian citizens are kicked out of their neighborhoods. This is the issue of the Naqab with the Bedouins, it’s the issue of the mixed towns of Jaffa or Lydd, and it’s also the issue in the Galilee, where there are many home demolition orders as well. This is the same cause. This is the feeling of the Palestinian citizens of Israel — we were displaced in 1948, and in 1967, and the process of internal displacement is still happening all the time. Especially now, with the right-wing government that is following these racist policies and pushing Palestinian Israeli citizens more and more out of their villages, and are being delegitimized as a people.

I think this is what links the whole cause. It’s the cause of being Palestinian, and being a Palestinian Israeli citizen who is being treated in an unequal way.

NBF: You met the Special Rapporteur for Indigenous People at the United Nations in New York recently, tell us what went on in the meeting and what the UN is doing to address the critical needs for the Palestinian and Bedouin communities inside Israel.

RAR: Yes, I had a meeting with the Special Rapporteur, Professor James Anaya, and I explained to him the situation of the Bedouins in the Naqab and the internal displacement, the home demolitions, and the decision of the Israeli government to triple the home demolition orders for Bedouin villages, and he’s very much concerned with the situation of the Palestinian Bedouins in the Naqab. He mentioned that he will follow up with the situation. I urged him to come and visit these villages and see for himself. I could sit there and describe this to him, but the best thing is if he could come and see the demolitions that are taking place, the actions that are taking place to push people away from their land and houses. I hope he accepts the invitation and comes and visit. But he said that in the meantime, he said he will follow up the issues that I have raised with the Israeli government.

NBF: Talk about your work as a lawyer for these communities. What is it like representing their concerns as the state pretty much goes ahead and continues to de-populate, displace and discriminate on a daily basis?

RAR: As a lawyer for human rights, working at the Association for Civil Rights, I face challenges all the time. On the one hand, I face discrimination as a Bedouin citizen of Israel — when I came back from the UN on El-Al airlines, I faced a huge humiliation because I’m an Arab. But on the other hand, the only effective tool that I can use to advocate for my people is the legal tool. It’s a challenge all the time, because you have to be optimistic. My biggest dilemma is, how can I advocate for equality within a discriminatory reality? This is a big challenge — because sometimes, the supreme court makes good decisions, but sometimes, because of some discriminatory laws, it could make a decision that is not the best for my people … And I believe in the international mechanisms as well, that we have to use these to put pressure on Israel to change its policies towards the Bedouins.

People, sometimes, are very frustrated with the situation, especially when they see that the legal system is not equal … people think that the legal system is supposed to provide answers, but not in all cases. That’s the situation. We have to promote equality in an unequal reality. We don’t have any other options — we have to continue in this way.

NBF: Israeli politicians regularly describe the state as a moral democracy for all of its citizens, but it’s clear that it’s a democracy only for a preferred ethnicity, or a preferred religion. What can you say about what democracy looks like in historic Palestine today, and what’s your response to how Israeli leaders represent their policies?

RAR: Like Member of Knesset Ahmad Tibi said, “Israel is a democratic state for the Jews, and a Jewish state for the Arabs.” This describes the situation … And others, like professor Oren Yiftachel, who said that it’s actually an ethnocracy, it’s not democracy. We could argue whether it is a democratic and Jewish state or not. Israel doesn’t have a constitution. It doesn’t have a separation between religion and the state. It has problematic issues related to violations of women’s rights because of a lack of separation between religious laws and the state. So, it’s a very problematic democracy. And we are also witnessing harassment of human rights activists and organizations that are the last refuge for a democracy. They are the only voice that talk about human rights violations that are taking place in the so-called democratic state.

NBF: You’re referring to your colleague, Ameer Makhoul of Ittijah – Union of Arab Community-Based Associations and others in the last few weeks who have been detained, prevented from leaving the country. And Makhoul’s story was under gag order in the Israeli media. What more can you say about this crackdown on Palestinian civil rights activists and organizations, who are trying to represent the interests of the indigenous populations there?

RAR: I think the gag orders are problematic and they’re happening more often. It’s very concerning, as Israel wants to see itself as a democracy. A democratic state is not supposed to let things happen in the dark. We’re very much concerned with these gag orders being issues easily. Actually, Adalah [the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel] and the Association for Civil Rights are asking the courts to remove these gag orders. And people know about these cases already. It’s a globalized world; people are reading about what’s happening on the Internet, they hear about it anyway, so [the gag orders] are kind of absurd.

But I think this is also part of the steps that are being taken against Palestinian leaders in order to silence them as they advocate for their cause. We’re doing our work according to the legal system, and this is a way to silence these voices.

Nora Barrows-Friedman is the co-host and Senior Producer of Flashpoints, a daily investigative newsmagazine on Pacifica Radio. She is also a correspondent for Inter Press Service. She regularly reports from Palestine, where she also runs media workshops for youth in the Dheisheh refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.



Unending Nakbas

Eva Barlett


This is the month for Palestinians to remember their Nakba, or “catastrophe”, in which more than 700,000 women, men and children were pushed off their land and rendered homeless refugees by the Zionist attacks before, during and after the founding of Israel in 1948.

Isdud, a farming community to the north of Gaza’s current border, was ethnically cleansed, in the months after the expulsions began in May 1948. It was one of over 530 villages razed and destroyed after the residents were forced out by Zionist attacks.

After three nights of Israeli air bombardment, more than 5,000 Palestinian residents here were forcibly expelled from their houses and land. Most resettled in what are now overcrowded refugee camps in Gaza.

“Most of the houses have been destroyed; the rubble is covered with grasses and thorns,” wrote Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi.

At a Gaza City Nakba commemoration displaying the clothes, agricultural equipment and tools of Palestinian daily life, Mohammed Tooman, 83, wearing the traditional robes of Isdud, spoke of village life and their forced expulsion.

*Photos from Isdud villagers

“We were farmers and grew grains, fruits and had orange and palm orchards. Isdud had a large market every week and people from neighbouring towns came to buy from us.

“With every sunrise, I expect to return to my home in Isdud. And as the sun sets, I tell my grandchildren about our home and village, to which they will return.”

Hammad Awadallah, 70, also from Isdud, keeps this call for justice alive. “My right is passed down to my sons and daughters and their children. We will not forget our villages and our history. They are instilled in our memories.”

Since 1948 the United Nations (UN) has reiterated over 130 times its Resolution 194 calling for Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. The 1974 UN Resolution 3236 specified “the inalienable right of Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return.”

Roughly another four kilometres east of Isdud, East Sawafir (al Sawafir al Sharqiyya) was ethnically cleansed of its thousand residents on May 18, 1948. The village had a mosque and shared a school with two other villages.

“No village houses remain on the site,” wrote Khalidi. “But some traces of the former village are still present on the surrounding lands.”

Abu Fouad was born in 1930, before East Sawafir was intentionally disappeared. After the forced expulsion from his village, he ended up in the tents which eventually became the tiny, poorly-built, maze-like concrete houses of a Palestinian refugee camp.

“My father was a farmer and had 35 dunums (a dunam is 1,000 square metres) of land, on which he grew wheat and vegetables. We had 50 sheep which I used to herd.”

East Sawafir shared a primary school with two neighbouring villages. “We didn’t go to school after 4th grade because there were no secondary schools in our area,” says Abu Fouad. “We only learned to write our name and studied religion a little, but nothing much more.”

Life was simple as were the houses. “Ours had two rooms,” Abu Fouad says, “but no bathroom: we would bathe outside. Even though we didn’t have money or the conveniences of today, we lived well, people were happy.”

Like most Palestinians, Abu Fouad has relatives spilled around the world from whom he is cut off.

“We have family in Jerusalem, Libya and Hebron. We don’t know them. And I haven’t seen or spoken with one of my brothers since he left for Libya decades ago.”

His wife Umm Fouad comes from the same East Sawafir community. Born in 1948, she was just four months old when her family fled.

“My father was a tailor and grandfather a farmer. He grew cucumbers, squash, tomatoes and other vegetables. We hand-washed our clothes and cooked food over a fire or a kerosene stove (baboor) and baked bread in the wood oven (taboon).”

Although just an infant at the time of expulsion, Umm Fouad has been told the history of her family’s land and home so much that she has internalised it as her own memory.

“We fled because the Israelis were firing on us. My grandmother couldn’t walk properly, so in the panic we had to leave her there. She must have died in the house. We left walking, carrying only a few possessions as we didn’t have cart or horse. It was days of walking until we reached Gaza.”

And dispossessions continue. Since 1967, Israel has demolished more than 24,000 Palestinian homes in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, says the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions (ICAHD).

“I still come back to the house to work a small piece of my land that is 700 metres from the border. But even then I get shot at by the Israelis,” says Jaber Abu Rjila. His home and poultry farm east of Khan Younis lie just under 500 metres from the border. They were destroyed in a May 2008 Israeli invasion into the farming community. Soon after, the family fled, renting a house to escape the regular Israeli attacks.

On May 18, Israeli soldiers set land near Rjila’s fields on fire, burning the wheat crops of the Abu Tabbash family. The Nakba is not just about memory.


On 21 May 2010, Israeli bulldozers destroyed Jaber Abu Rjila’s remaining chicken farm, killing 150 chickens, 200 pigeons, 60 rabbits, and 5 sheep, and destroying 3 tons of wheat and rye as well as an estimated 10,000 shekels worth of onions, said Rjila. The land in question is over 600 metres from the border fence.

The Israeli bulldozers also destroyed a home roughly 1 km from the border. 14 people lived in the house, including a man who was ready to marry and bring his bride to the home.

photos from the Gaza City Nakba commemoration of Isdud village:

*pointing to his father, from Isdud.

*the rebab, a simple, traditional musical instrument

*bread basket and carrier

interesting facts and quotes:

Founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, in 1895, called for Palestinians to be expelled from their land by land purchase and economic deprivation: “We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border.” Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, called for Palestinian expulsion by any means: “We must expel Arabs and take their places…and, if we have to use force-not to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev and Transjordan, but to guarantee our own right to settle in those places-then we have force at our disposal.”

“Moshe Dayan Israeli Minister of Defense during the 1967 war said, “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. …There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab Population.” (from Ha’aretz, April 4, 1969)” [SOURCE: IMEU]

“Joseph Massad, associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University in New York, points out that ‘it is crucial to remember that Zionist forces expelled 400,000 Palestinians from their lands before 1948. Many hundreds of thousands more would be expelled in the months and years following, throughout the 1950s, and again since 1967.’” [SOURCE: ELECTRONIC INTIFADA]

“As a result of home demolitions, revocation of residency rights and construction of illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian owned-land, at least 57,000 Palestinians have become displaced in the occupied West Bank.” [SOURCE: AL AWDA]

“Internal displacement continues unabated in the OPT today. Thousands have been forcibly displaced in the Jordan Valley as a result of closure, home demolition and eviction orders, and the threat of displacement hangs over those who remain. Similar patterns of forced displacement are found in Israel, where urban development plans for the exclusive benefit of Jewish communities are displacing indigenous Palestinian communities in the Naqab (Negev) and Galilee.” [SOURCE: BADIL]

“Following the Israeli 2008-2009 war on Gaza which destroyed or badly damaged at least 20,000 homes, construction materials continue to be banned entry into Gaza by the Israeli authorities, and those 20,000 families remain homeless.” [SOURCE: FRIENDS OF UNRWA]

“In 1950, Israel enacted the Law of Return, granting any Jew anywhere the right to citizenship as a Jewish national in Israel and (since 1967) also in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) while the 1952 Citizenship Law denationalised the Palestinian refugees.” [SOURCE: BADIL]

“some 30 laws that explicitly discriminate between Jews and non-Jews — another way of referring to the fifth of the Israeli population who are Palestinian and supposedly enjoy full citizenship. There are also many other Israeli laws and administrative practices that lead to an outcome of ethnic-based segregation even if they do not make such discrimination explicit.” [SOURCE: DISSIDENT VOICE]

“Palestinians with Israeli citizenship continue to face tens of racist, discriminatory Israeli laws and live as lesser citizens vulnerable to harassment, arrest and injustices.” [SOURCE: CRAIG MURRAY]


Source via Uruknet


Statuesque: The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg) plans to honor Woody Allen (born Woody Konigsberg) with statue.

Resurrecting Woody

By Josh Tapper

Woody Allen has been called many things — misogynist, self-hating Jew, quintessential New Yorker — but at least one label, narcissist, can now be staked on hard material evidence. Kaliningrad, a western Russian exclave that sits between Poland and Lithuania, may soon become the home of a statue bearing Allen’s likeness. And the statue will be based on input from Allen himself.

Russian filmmaker Masha Vasyukova, while in New York in 2009, taking film classes, concocted the idea as a half-joking tribute to the former Allen Konigsberg. Vasyukova, 23, hails from Kaliningrad, which coincidentally was called Königsberg in its pre-Soviet days. Running with her idea, Vasyukova approached Kaliningrad’s local paper, which made a contest out of it and put out a call for statue design submissions. Despite being only half-serious and seeing middling interest, the paper encouraged Vasyukova to approach Allen.

Allen, known just as well for his misanthropic onscreen persona as for his sophisticated and sarcastic humor, agreed to meet Vasyukova while in Berlin, where she presented him with the submissions, according to an article in New York magazine. Of the bunch, Allen took to four, which include a tragicomic statue of Allen, hands in pockets and a pigeon on his balding pate, standing next to a dramatic statue of philosopher Immanuel Kant, who was born in Königsberg. Allen’s favorite, though: an irreverent option that calls for the filmmaker’s token Ray-Ban sunglasses frames to sit atop a life-size pole.

Befuddled by Allen’s decision to self-dedicate the statue, Vasyukova went back to Kaliningrad, and the city, unconvinced that the project would even get off the ground, began scrambling for funds. Vasyukova has joined the process and has even approached Ray-Ban about a potential sponsorship.

“I still don’t quite get why he did this,” Vasyukova told New York magazine. “I thought he hated Russia.” Maybe so, but Allen has a long history of quipping about Russian literati, like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. And his 1975 farce “Love and Death” has him starring as the hapless Boris Grushenko, who falls in with the Russian army during the Napoleonic invasions.

Woody made similar, albeit more controversial, headlines in 2008 when he got into a public spat with American Apparel over the unauthorized use of his picture on a billboard. Before suing the clothing company, Allen explained that he doesn’t endorse products in the United States. But endorsing himself abroad? That’s another story.



“Iran is the real threat to peace”, ….. not Israel’s arsenal estimated at 600 nukes

Image Copyleft by Carlos Latuff


Civil society in the lead
by Sam Bahour

When politicians face failure what do they do? Step down? No way. Not in Palestine at least. Over and over again the Palestinian leadership has hit a cement wall (no pun intended) in its attempts to lead the Palestinian people to freedom and independence. And with every colossal failure, the leadership looks to Palestinian civil society for direction.

The first intifada was adopted to cover for the failures in Lebanon, and the second intifada was adopted to cover for the collapse of Oslo. The current Palestinian Authority boycott of Israeli settlement products is no different. The boycott is the scaffolding that the PA is attempting to erect and climb in order to retake a leadership position. The dilemma PA leaders face is that it is very possible that they may be expending efforts to build a scaffold that others may climb to assume leadership of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence.

With an insignificant political constituency on the ground, a failed election campaign, and engaged in creating what many fear is a police state in the making, the PA finally jumped on the boycott bandwagon that civil society has struggled to assemble over the past several years, if not decades.

The PA’s newly realized dedication to cleanse Palestinian markets of Israeli settlement products comes at a time when Palestinian markets are overwhelmingly dependent on the Israeli economy. This structural dependency is not new; it was nurtured over decades of direct occupation all the way up to the Oslo agreement. The Oslo period would have been an ideal time for the PA to set the tone that settlements–all settlements, but especially those in East Jerusalem–are not a negotiable issue but are illegal under international law and have no place in a peaceful solution. But that did not happen.

As a matter of fact, the PA not only ignored the illegal products from these settlements for many years, it also ignored the Israeli services that infringed on Palestinian markets, the most notorious being the unlicensed Israeli telecommunications operators who used their settlement-based infrastructure to provide service to all Palestinian areas, A, B and C. This infringement on the Palestinian marketplace not only caused real losses to the licensed Palestinian operators, who at the time had a monopoly license to provide services to the Palestinian areas, but it allowed for an economic fact on the ground to be created and take root. This fact was, and is, no less an obstacle to peace than the settlements themselves.

Today’s boycott of settlement products is not a new effort, nor was it designed by the PA. It is a product of the hard work of dozens upon dozens of civil society players in Palestine and abroad. The build-up to today’s boycott comes from a two-pronged civil society strategy.

The first prong is a global campaign that is much more comprehensive than just addressing settlement products. It is known as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Campaign and emerged from a unified call from Palestinian civil society on July 9, 2005. The last few years have witnessed a series of successes for the BDS campaign that have surely not gone unnoticed by the PA.

The second prong of the strategy is a multitude of efforts that promote local production. The most notable of these efforts is the Intajuna (“our production” in Arabic) project: a donor- funded project that is managed by the Palestinian private sector player that designed it. This effort can be seen everywhere–retail points of sales, building and construction materials, and most recently in the produce markets. Intajuna provides a depth of analysis and campaigning that goes far beyond the traditional slogan of “Buy Palestinian”.

It is on the backdrop of the BDS Campaign and efforts like Intajuna that the PA had its boycott awakening. The effort is welcomed by the public, and the PA is setting a good example of how non-violent efforts can be amplified when formal leadership assumes the role of leadership grounded in the community. Civil society leaders also welcome the PA’s efforts, but are more cautious in their analysis because they understand that the Palestinian leadership has abruptly stifled mass civil society efforts in the past, the first intifada being the prime example when it ended with the Oslo accords.

But as this all plays out, Palestinians and those in solidarity with them are taking some satisfaction in watching the settlement enterprise run in circles trying to figure out a way to stop the boycott. Perhaps more interesting is that there are those in Israel itself, including the Knesset’s Economic Committee, who are running in the same circles, most likely in an attempt to raise the stakes now so that the boycott does not expand to include all Israeli products and services.

If past experience is any guide, the Palestinian leadership will end up bear-hugging the entire BDS campaign approach in due time, given that the tools of boycott, divestment and sanctions are much more powerful non-violent methods than negotiating in vain with a government bent on ethnic cleansing.

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American management consultant living in Ramallah.

Written for Bitterlemons


By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

We had a demonstration in Al-Walaja on Sunday morning (23 May 2010) which went smoothly.  At 11:30 we went to Beit Jala for the weekly demonstration. Palestinian Security Forces detained children ahead of the demonstration. Then we demonstrated at the site below with mostly internationals and Israelis.  Israelis are arrested blocking bulldozers.  One reporter is taken via ambulance having fainted from the gas.   Later some young Palestinians join the demonstration higher up the hill. After some tear gas shooting from
the Israelis in area C, Palestinian security (apparently in coordination with Israeli security) beat s some youth (although these were not the two
young men who threw stones earlier).  Security forces also threatened organizers.  Previously some activists in Al-Walaja where also called for
Palestinian security interrogation. Amazing footage here:

The attacks from the Israeli soldiers at the peaceful demonstration in Al-Masara 21 May 2010 (here no Palestinian security are allowed in the area)

In bad news, Israel is still detaining and imprisoning political activists and denying them due process.  Even  Moredechai Vanunu who served 18 years
in Israeli jails for exposing Israel’s nuclear weapons capability is now back in jail for three months for talking to media!.

In good news “Following lobbying efforts by the Italian Coalition Against Carmel-Agrexco, two major Italian supermarket chains, COOP and Nordiconad,
announced the suspension of sales of products from Agrexco, the principal exporter of produce from Israel and the illegal Israeli settlements in the
Occupied Palestinian Territories.” (over 6,200,000 members and annual revenue of €11.8 billion).  And the world is holding its breath as a flotilla of ships with lots of supplied an hundreds of decent people try to break the siege on Gaza again.

See and support:

and photos…..

ACTION: Right of Return and One Secular Democratic State event in Bethlehem
area to parallel with the Haifa conference In conjunction with this weekend’s Haifa conference regarding right of return and a one state solution, a two-day parallel event will be held in the Bethlehem area, May 28th and 29th.   The event, to be held at the Alternative Information Center in Beit Sahour, will feature a Friday evening link-in to the Haifa conference. A panel discussion is scheduled for
Saturday (More details to be sent to those interested).

Twilight Zone on Capitol hill (or should I say Israeli occupied Congress of the US).  Watch this groveling to AIPAC as an additional US $205 million is
given to the apartheid state from US tax payers


The stereotypical Jewish mother of yesterday was often heard bragging about …
“My son the doctor ….”
“My son the lawyer ….”
“My son the investment counselor….”
The list was endless….

Today one hears …
“My son the organ trafficker….”
“My son the extortionist ….”
“My son the drug dealer ….”
Again, the list is endless….

What’s gone wrong???
ISRAEL!!! That’s what’s gone wrong!

At one time Israel was not the haven for  criminals that it is today. In the mid 70’s, one of the ‘Godfathers’ of the Kosher Nostra fled to Israel to escape US Federal tax evasion charges… he (Meyer Lansky) was deported back to the USA.  Today, one of Israel’s prime exports to the United States is criminals. With the aid of members of the American Jewish community they have become quite successful in the areas of crime they operate in, that is until law enforcement agencies clamp down on their activities. In recent months, many a scandal has been brought to light… all involving Israelis, most involving illegal immigrants. Almost every big city in the United States has illegal locksmiths operating, undocumented young people selling their wares in malls, money launderers, drug dealers….. again, the list is endless.

From an earlier post…..
Many of these youngsters ‘take a trip’ for a year after they complete their compulsory army service. They either wind up in remote parts of Asia or South America and become a part of the local drug scene or in malls in the United States where they illegally work selling beauty products from the Dead Sea or find employment in the various illegal locksmith scams that operate there. Their ‘stint’ abroad usually lasts a year unless they are lucky enough to ‘hook up’ with a mate willing to marry them in a ‘union of convenience’ (usually for a fee). This enables them to obtain a Green Card and stay as long as they like…. continuing to operate in whatever illegal business’ they are involved in. Some even stay long enough to obtain Rabbinical ordination which allows them to start up their own money laundering operation or get involved in the sale of human organs.

A newly exposed crime is the use of passports for the purpose of carrying out some of Mossad’s operations.

Yet the Jewish community leaders stand by Israel, and continue to hide these facts. A once respected community is literally ‘losing face’ because of the friends it keeps. They have to learn that Israel is bad news. Their association with it in any way will only mean trouble down the line.

Let’s make mama proud of us again….. let’s be more selective in the ‘friends’ we chose.


Much like the once-powerful La Cosa Nostra, Israeli crime families are known for committing acts of violence. Rival syndicates in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv fought for years, leaving a trail of blood all over Israel.

Expect a statement soon from Foxman claiming this is nothing but anti Semitism…. 😉

Four accused of extorting money from kiosk operators

Israelis linked to Ecstasy trafficking in Las Vegas


A federal indictment charging four men with trying to extort money from outlet mall kiosk operators has brought to light the heightened activities of the much-feared Israeli mob in Las Vegas.

Among those charged in the April 27 indictment is Israeli-born Moshe Barmuha, a 37-year-old Southern California man whom law enforcement authorities have linked to a violent Israeli crime syndicate.

The kiosk operators, two Israeli-born Las Vegas businessmen, each told authorities separately that they believed Barmuha was a member of an Israeli crime family, according to a federal criminal complaint associated with the indictment.

Authorities revealed in the complaint that Barmuha has a lengthy criminal history in Israel that includes convictions for drug trafficking, burglary, battery on a police officer and causing intentional injury with a pipe bomb. Barmuha’s lower right arm was amputated after the bomb prematurely exploded underneath a rival’s car, the complaint said.

Authorities said Barmuha’s appearance in Las Vegas is a sign that the Israeli mob has kept its grip on street rackets, despite a federal crackdown seven years ago.

“We’ve seen an increase in their presence in the last few years,” said Las Vegas police Capt. Al Salinas, who runs the Organized Crime Bureau. “They’re definitely on the radar. We’re always working with our federal partners to get some strong, solid cases on these folks.”

Much like the once-powerful La Cosa Nostra, Israeli crime families are known for committing acts of violence. Rival syndicates in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv fought for years, leaving a trail of blood all over Israel.

In this country, the crime families are involved in traditional rackets, such as loan-sharking, extortion, money laundering, prostitution and illegal gambling, authorities said.

But what sets them apart from other organized criminals is that their activities in Las Vegas and elsewhere in the country evolve from lucrative illegal trafficking in the club drug Ecstasy, Salinas said.

Israeli hoodlums import about 75 percent of Las Vegas’ Ecstasy, which is popular on the Strip nightclub scene, now one of the biggest adult playgrounds in the world, Salinas explained.

In 2003, as part of an investigation coordinated out of Los Angeles, where most of the Israeli crime figures in the West live, Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Las Vegas uncovered the first evidence of the mob’s local operations.

With the help of court-approved wiretaps at, among other places, the Las Vegas home of one of the crime family members, agents documented efforts to extort cash from a Beverly Hills luxury car dealer, launder money through Miami lawyers and set up drug deals from here in various parts of the world, including Belgium, a haven for Ecstasy distribution.

At the same time, agents observed some crime family members living it up like high rollers on the Strip.

Israeli mob leaders targeted in the investigation were later indicted in the spring of 2004 on extortion and money laundering charges in Los Angeles.

Since then, however, as some of the defendants went to prison and others cooperated with the government, law enforcement authorities have reported little Israeli mob activity in Las Vegas — until last month’s extortion indictment. Barmuha’s name did not surface in the earlier investigation here.

Local businessmen Moshe “Moshiko” Ozana and Moshe “Chiko” Karmi found out firsthand what it’s like dealing with someone of Barmuha’s reputation. The two business partners sell small electronics and cosmetics in kiosks at local casinos and outlet malls, authorities said.

Other than their initials, the identities of Ozana and Karmi were not disclosed in last month’s six-count extortion indictment, which also charges Barmuha and his co-defendants with racketeering. But their names were made public in the federal complaint, which lays out the alleged extortion scheme.

According to the complaint, filed by Peter Lazaro, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, Barmuha became involved in a dispute last year between Ozana and Karmi and one of their former partners, Yakov Cohen, over a cosmetic kiosk operation.

Cohen 24, of Las Vegas, claimed he was owed thousands of dollars.

Cohen has been charged in the extortion scheme with Barmuha, along with two Russian-born brothers, Ruslan Magomedgadzhiev, 30, and Murad Magomedgadzhiev, 26, both of Southern California. All four men are in federal custody.

Las Vegas police learned about the plot from retired detective Robert Allen, who had given Ozana a polygraph test. Ozana took the test to try to prove his innocence to Cohen and Barmuha, whom he claimed were trying to strong-arm him, according to the complaint.

Allen told police that Ozana had alleged he and his partner were threatened by Barmuha, whom Ozana believed to be “a high-ranking member of an Israeli organized crime family,” Lazaro wrote in his complaint.

Las Vegas intelligence detectives and Los Angeles detectives familiar with Barmuha launched an investigation that eventually included federal authorities, among them Lazaro at ICE, which declined to comment on the case.

In a September phone conversation between Ozana in Israel and Barmuha in California, Barmuha was particularly graphic when talking about a threat to Karmi, Lazaro wrote.

“Ozana stated that Barmuha stated that ‘he was going to kill him, chop him up, cut him up like wood and take his fingers out,'” Lazaro wrote in the complaint.

Then, as Barmuha continued to scream at Ozana, Barmuha said, “You don’t know who you’re dealing with.”

A month later, the agent wrote, Barmuha came to Las Vegas to meet with Ozana, who by this time was so rattled by Barmuha’s words that he refused to sit down with Barmuha in his room at the Palazzo. Ozana wanted to meet in a public area of the resort.

As the dispute festered, Barmuha threatened Ozana, and in December Ozana found a white rose at the entrance to his home with a note attached that read: “Warm regards from a friend, Moshe B.”

Lazaro wrote that Ozana saw the white rose as a “threat of death.”

Karmi also received threatening notes from Barmuha, the complaint alleged.

Lazaro reported one note read: “Moshe, it’s Barmuha again. Don’t try to evade me, and I don’t think your partners and your friends can protect you. I suggest you make contact and come to a meeting.”

In another note, Barmuha allegedly wrote, “I will find you in the end. Don’t worry.”

Lazaro wrote that Barmuha left a final note for Karmi with no words, just a circle with a cross inside, indicating a rifle scope.

After he received the last note, Lazaro said, a frightened Karmi went to police and sought protection, but an officer told him the notes themselves were not a crime. The officer told Karmi to buy a gun, which he ended up doing.

In January, the Russian brothers assaulted Karmi near his home, the complaint alleged. While he was being beaten, Karmi pulled out a revolver and fired one shot, causing his assailants to flee. As they ran away, Karmi fired another shot that hit one of his attackers in the buttocks.

“Karmi remains very afraid of Barmuha and is currently in hiding in fear of his safety,” Lazaro wrote.

Throughout the ordeal, suspected Israeli crime syndicate associates, some known to Ozana and Karmi, also contacted the two men on Barmuha’s behalf, hoping to persuade them to pay Barmuha and Cohen the thousands of dollars they claimed they were owed, the complaint said.

In March, a cooperating government witness secretly recorded a conversation with Cohen discussing Barmuha’s reputed Israeli mob ties.

Later that month, Ozana recorded a conversation with Cohen and turned it over to authorities.

“Ozana asked Cohen why he brought the Mafia in to settle the dispute,” the complaint alleged.

In response, Cohen replied: “It’s not like I went to him (Barmuha) and told him everything. He heard that I got screwed over. He came to Vegas. He sat down. He talked to me. I told him the story and then he offered … to sit down and talk to you guys and clear everything out. That’s what he offered. So that person is offering me nicely. I cannot control him even though he is my friend.”

Barmuha’s Los Angeles lawyer, David Kenner, who has represented suspected Israeli crime figures in the past, did not return phone calls.

Cohen’s Las Vegas attorney, David Chesnoff, who also has defended reputed Israeli mobsters, described Cohen as a “24-year-old businessman with no criminal history whatsoever.”

Chesnoff said Cohen also has no history of any mob connections.

At a detention hearing in federal court last week , prosecutors persuaded U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Johnston to hold off on releasing Cohen from federal custody until he provides more information about his finances.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Frayn said Cohen failed to tell authorities that, for months before his arrest, he was consistently withdrawing money from a $4 million bank account in amounts under $10,000.

She accused Cohen of showing “signs of deceit” in not disclosing the account.


As a side note….. it’s interesting to see that one of the defendants does not even speak English…..

The Court document can be seen HERE.

Makes one wonder what his status is, and whether or not he is even legally in the United States.


Mothers’ Day 2010
by Fran Korotzer

Granny Jenny stands up for democracy
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK —  Contrary to common belief, Mother’s Day was not created by Hallmark. Julia Ward Howe, composer of the Battle Hymn of the Republic and anti-slavery advocate, called for the holiday 140 years ago in 1870. She did so in reaction to the carnage of our Civil War. In part she wrote,

“Arise then…women of this day!

Arise all women who have hearts!

Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We the women of one country,

Will be too tender of those of another country

To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.

Disarm! Disarm!

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

So, Mother’s Day started as a cry against war and for peace. In that spirit CodePink and the Granny Peace Brigade began a tradition 4 years ago that has grown larger every year – the annual Mother’s Day Peace Stroll.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

This year the weather was cold and threatening but close to 100 people joined in. The group met at the Merchant’s Gate of Central Park on Columbus Circle. While waiting to begin the Raging Grannies sang their songs, much to the pleasure of the strollers and other people gathered there.

Let’s Help America

(to the tune of God Bless America)

“Let’s help America, It needs us BAD!

Stand beside it, and guide it,

‘Cause it’s making the world really mad!

Climbing mountains, crossing oceans

And invading foreign soil…

Let’s help America, no blood for oil.

Let’s tell America, no blood for oil!”

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Led by the very spirited Rude Mechanical Orchestra, everyone, including grandchildren, walked north on Columbus Avenue going through a street fair, a flea market, and finally a craft fair behind the Museum of Natural History. Along the way leaflets were handed out, peace signs were carried, and “No more war” and “Bring them home now” was chanted. The group turned east on 81st Street walking briskly along to a very lively version of Bella Ciao by the orchestra. Near the Museum the Grannies gave a street corner concert. People passing by stopped and listened.

Give Us Back Our Constitution

(to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy)

“Give us back our Constitution,

We can put it to good use.

Obama promised he would fix our laws,

So they wouldn’t cause such abuse. But

Guantanamo’s still holding pris’ners,

Torture victims still derailed.

Yankee Doodle’s still in Iraq, and Afghanista-an

Protestors still are being jailed!”

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

The march then wove through Central Park ending at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where people were sitting on the big staircase in front of the museum. The orchestra played, the Grannies sang, Julia Ward Howe’s declaration was read, and there was a moment of silence for all the people that have been killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. People on the steps responded very well, as people did wherever the walk passed through. There were cheers, applause, thumbs-up, many smiles, and lots of picture taking. The stroll ended there. The walkers left with a sense of having accomplished something, having had a good time with good people, and not at all bothered that they had, somehow, turned into a tourist attraction.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

View Photos From The Event…

Posted at New Left Notes

« Older entries Newer entries »