Image by Bendib
Germany’s Gunter Grass defends Vanunu in new poem

Nobel laureate praises Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed Israeli nuke program, as “hero” because exposed the truth to the public.

Gunter Grass



Gunter Grass, the Nobel Prize laureate in literature who is barred from entering Israel because of his anti-Israel writings and membership in the Nazi Waffen SS, launched a second poetic attack on Israel by praising atomic spy Mordechai Vanunu.

In a new book of poems titled Eintagsfliegen, which was released on Saturday in Germany, Grass terms Vanunu, a former worker at the Dimona nuclear facility, a “hero” for his decision to transfer secret information to England’s Sunday Times in 1986. An Israeli court later convicted Vanunu of espionage and sentenced him to 18 years in prison.

In the poem titled “Hero of our days,” Grass praises him as a “model” because “he helped to bring the truth” to the public.

The Nobel laureate garnered fierce criticism from Israel, as well as from German politicians and many journalists, for another poem published last April titled “What must be said.” In it he blamed Israel for endangering world peace and accused the Jewish state of seeking to obliterate Iran.

Severe sanctions were placed on Vanunu after his 2004 release from prison. In their new book Spies Against Armageddon, Israeli journalist Yossi Melman and CBS News correspondent Dan Raviv write that “Shin Bet and Malmab [the director of security for Israel’s defense community] claimed that he continued to be a security risk because of the knowledge in his head. Thus, they insisted that he banned from leaving Israel and his movements were restricted.”

German media blanketed Saturday’s coverage of Grass’s new attack on Israel. The television station n-tv wrote on its website “Grass attacks Israel again,” and the daily Die Weltwrote on its own website “Grass provokes Israel with new book of poems.”

In his new poem, Grass writes about Vanunu’s upbringing in Beersheba as the son of a rabbi, who “pursued the study of the Torah’s rules and then decided to convert to Christianity.” He depicts Vanunu as being in the same predicament as the biblical Joseph and how his brothers tossed him into a cistern.


How the BBC denies Israel’s occupation

Amena Saleem*


No occupation to see here, according to the BBC.


There is international law, and there is the world as Israel and the BBC see it. And if Israel claims the whole of Jerusalem as its territory, contrary to international law, then it is not for the BBC to dispute this — or so its coverage would have us believe.

In its country profile for Israel, the BBC’s website lists statistics including Israel’s size in square meters, its major languages and its main exports. Shying away from giving a capital, as it does for all other recognized countries featured in such profiles, the BBC’s online editors have opted instead to give Israel a “seat of government” (“Israel profile,” 11 September 2012).

And this seat of government, according to the BBC, is Jerusalem. All of it. This is despite the fact that international law is quite clear that East Jerusalem is Palestinian territory, illegally occupied and annexed by Israel. Israel, however, refuses to accept UN resolutions on Jerusalem and continues to claim it all, undivided, as its own. The BBC, it would appear, is backing Israel up on this.

This is how Israel’s claim to Jerusalem is presented on the BBC website: “Israel profile. Seat of government: Jerusalem, though most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv.”

The Israeli government does not recognize Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, and so the BBC obligingly does not give a capital for Israel in its country profile — noting, instead, in its specially-created “seat of government” category, that “most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv.”

The website also runs a profile for “Palestinian territories” and this gives an “intended seat of government.” Under this category, BBC editors have written “Intended seat of government: East Jerusalem. Ramallah serves as administrative capital” (“Palestinian territories profile,” 31 August 2012).

Concealing the truth

There are no difficulties here for the BBC in making a distinction between East and West Jerusalem. Rather, the difficulty for the BBC lies in admitting that Israel occupies the “Palestinian territories.” Nowhere in the profile is the occupation mentioned, and the land is not referred to as the “occupied Palestinian Territories” — the wording used by the United Nations — but simply as Palestinian territories. And of course there is nothing to inform the reader of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Jerusalem from 1947 onwards, and how the division of the city came about.

The UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign challenged the supposedly impartial BBC on its assertion that the whole of Jerusalem is Israeli territory, a falsehood which Israel is keen to propagate in its attempts to create facts on the ground.

The PSC pointed out over a series of email correspondences since July that it would be simple enough for the BBC to add the word “West” to let its audience know that Israel’s seat of government is not in Jerusalem, but in the western half of a divided city. This would also guarantee 100 percent accuracy, surely a priority for a major news organization.

Richard Hutt, complaints director at the BBC, sent a detailed email on 18 September to say: “It seems to me that the current content on the page for Israel acknowledges the Israeli view, but contextualizes it so that it is clear to readers that this is disputed.”

With no hint of irony, Hutt goes on to say, about a page that is subtitled “Facts”: “Although more information would have been helpful, I do not believe that the content would mislead readers as to the basic facts.”


Hutt’s defense of the BBC position becomes laughable as he defies logical argument in his attempts to defend inaccuracy in the BBC’s news pages.

Explaining why the BBC refers to “Jerusalem” on the “Israel” profile and “East Jerusalem” on the “Palestinian territories” profile, he says: “I do not think that ‘due’ impartiality in this context would require that the language for one page mirror that of the other.”

Hutt then says he does not think readers would make the assumption that the whole of Jerusalem is Israeli territory from the BBC’s reference to the whole of Jerusalem being Israel’s seat of government.

He argues: “The only grounds I can see for reaching such a conclusion are that the content for the [Palestinian territories] page lists ‘East Jerusalem,’ whereas the reference to Jerusalem on the Israel page is not similarly qualified.”

That is the exact reason given by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to the BBC in its request for the qualifier “West” to be added to “Jerusalem” on the Israel page. Bizarrely, Hutt appears to acknowledge that argument, before concluding that no alteration will be forthcoming.

Defending criminality

Israel’s claim to an undivided Jerusalem is not the only area where BBC terminology privileges Israeli occupation and colonization.

However, just as BBC reporting consistently fails to mention the fact of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, it is similarly coy about spelling out the criminality of its settlement building, despite UN Security Council Resolution 446’s clear definition of settlements as a “serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has not been alone in asking the BBC why, without fail, in all its online reports concerning settlements, as well as in television and radio broadcasts, it uses this line: “The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this” (“Israel anger at S Africa ‘Occupied Territories’ labels,” 22 August 2012).

The line will be found buried at the end, or near the end, of any article about settlements and provides scant context for the preceding content.

What is interesting is the need the BBC feels to use this line. Settlements are not stated categorically as being illegal under international law, simply “considered” to be, and a disclaimer is added — “Israel disputes this” — as though international law is not the last word on what is legal for nations.

Tarik Kafala, the Middle East editor of BBC Online, replied to a Palestinian living in the UK, who had emailed him to question the use of this line. Kafala’s reply, sent in October 2011 and seen by this writer, explains the BBC’s reasoning for its caution, erring on the side of Israel.

“The contention that settlements are illegal … is hugely well founded in international law, but an opinion,” Kafala writes.

And then this: “We also feel that to simply state that the settlements are illegal under international law is potentially misleading. An untutored reader might wonder why, if Israel is so flagrantly breaking the law, such a criminal state is still a member of the UN, a favored ally of the US, a major trading partner of the EU and so on.”

It’s an astounding assertion from a senior BBC editor. It also lays bare the BBC’s policy on reporting on Israel and its daily violations of UN resolutions, Geneva conventions andInternational Court of Justice rulings. There is a softening, a tempering of the reality, if it is even reported at all, which is rare. An intellectual analysis for the BBC audience of why a “criminal state is still a member of the UN, a favored ally of the US, a major trading partner of the EU” is out of the question.

Such an analysis would require honesty about the political situation, not just in Palestine and Israel, but in the Middle East as a whole, and Kafala’s incredible revelation shows that the BBC is not capable of such honesty.

The resultant dishonesty, and the attempt to keep the truth about Israel’s illegal actions from its audiences, is spread across the whole of BBC programming, from news right through to entertainment.

Not interested in reality

An activist with Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods spent a year in correspondence with the BBC over “Top Gear Middle East Special,” an entertainment program for motoring enthusiasts broadcast on BBC Two in December 2010. It traced a trio well-known to UK TV audiences traveling from Baghdad to Bethlehem in a convertible sports car.

As presenters James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond drove through Syria, viewers were given the following information about the occupied Syrian Golan Heights: “For political reasons, this was Syria and is now Israel.”

In reality, the Golan Heights is Syrian territory, illegally occupied and annexed by Israel. UN Security Council Resolution 242 makes this clear and additionally calls for the withdrawal of Israel from the Golan Heights, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

But the BBC isn’t interested in reality when it comes to Israel. What appears to be more important for this publicly-funded UK broadcaster is to shield Israel from criticism of its illegal actions by hiding the truth of those actions from its audiences. In this instance, the BBC was prepared to broadcast an outright lie about the status of the Golan Heights.

Wiped off the map

And to hide the existence of the Palestinian West Bank — where Bethlehem is located — the program used maps which named only Israel. Palestinian land was effectively wiped off the map by the BBC. This mirrors the maps used in Israeli schoolbooks and Israeli tourism guides, which show all the land which was once historically Palestine as being “Israel.” Gaza and the West Bank are not named.

To complete the deception, at no point during the drive to Bethlehem or on arrival did the presenters use the words “West Bank” or “Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Instead, viewers were told that the “final border crossing” before arriving in Bethlehem would be from Jordan into Israel. The crossing from Israel into the West Bank, which has to be made in order to reach Bethlehem, was ignored by the BBC, and viewers were left to think that the city is in Israel. There was no indication of the existence of Palestinian land.

It is a narrative that would thrill the Israeli government. To justify its broadcast, the BBC’s Editorial Standards Committee ruled, in December 2011, that, because Top Gear is an entertainment program, there was no requirement to “make the location of Bethlehem explicit.” Why the location of Bethlehem had to remain hidden when the location of every other city visited by the presenters was marked clearly on the maps they used constantly throughout the program was not explained.

Nor was there any explanation for not marking the West Bank on any maps. Instead, the committee said “contrasting shading” used on the maps was sufficient to show the area as being separate from Israel. Why not just name it?

Finally, dealing with the Golan Heights reference, the committee said that it did not believe “the description used in the program was materially inaccurate or misleading, bearing in mind that the requirement [in the BBC’s editorial guidelines] is for due accuracy.”

Due accuracy, according to the guidelines, is accuracy that is “adequate and appropriate to the output.” Because Top Gear is an entertainment program, the level of accuracy displayed was, according to the committee, totally adequate. In other words, it was happy with the BBC broadcasting a falsehood.

Why, when it comes to Israel, can’t the BBC call a spade a spade? Why do the words “West Bank” and “Occupied Palestinian Territories” stick in the throats of BBC presenters, unable to see the light of day even when the presenters in question are standing on that very land? Why, if these are genuine mistakes, can’t the BBC correct them, put “West” in front of “Jerusalem” and admit that Israel illegally occupies the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights?

Rectifying these errors would be far simpler than concocting the tortuous and absurd explanations BBC employees spend so much time on to justify their misleading and biased output. But, then again, when it comes to the BBC and Israel, nothing is rational. 

*Amena Saleem is active with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK and keeps a close eye on the media’s coverage of Palestine as part of her brief. She has twice driven on convoys to Gaza for PSC. More information on PSC is available


Written FOR


Bibi’s visit to the UN as seen by Carlos Latuff …
And the ‘Red Line’ as seen by Bendib …
Here’s the speech that inspired the above works …


Preparations are underway to usher in a week long holiday in Israel. It is called Succot, or The Feast of the Tabernacles. We eat all of our meals in little booths and the ceilings are usually made of tree branches, allowing the sky to be visible. It is a reminder of the 40 years we roamed in the desert and dwelled in such structures. It is actually quite a fun holiday and a very community oriented one, it is one of my favourites.
A non Jewish visitor to Jerusalem this week might get the impression that the entire city stands in solidarity with the homeless Palestinians illegally evicted from their homes by settlers. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Tents have appeared (actually booths) in preparation of the Festival
Family homes were STOLEN, many families have been living in makeshift tents for over three years…. and neither the Municipality of Jerusalem nor the Palestinian Authority gives a damn. As winter approaches, a new meaning is given to the term ‘settlement freeze’ as these homeless literally freeze in their abodes.
I had some flashbacks this morning to my Succot celebrations in Brooklyn as a child, they were much different than here. Here there is a Jewish community and an Arab community. In the neighbourhood I grew up in, there was a Eastern European Jewish Community (Ashkenazi) and a community made up of Spanish Jews and Jews from Northern Africa (Sephardi). Both communities had their own traditions and practices, but basically both were members of the same religion. One of the major differences between the two communities at the time were language, the Ashkenazi Jews spoke Yiddish; a language with Germanic roots, while the Sephardi Jews spoke a language called Ladino; a mixture of Hebrew and Spanish.
What I remembered this morning was the following;The Synagogue of the Sephardi community was situated very close to the home of my grandparents. They used to build a large enough booth to accommodate their entire congregation. As a child, I used to help them with the preparations. I remembered my grandmother screaming at me from her window to get away from them, not to play with their kids…. I could never understand why. It seemed that part of her ghetto mentality was to distrust anyone that was in any way different. These people were different than we were, as mentioned; they spoke a different language and, for the most part, had darker skins than the Ashkenazi Jews. The younger generation, like myself did not see these differences as our common language was English and skin colour was never an issue with me or my immediate family. I therefore could never understand my grandmother’s logic, or lack of…. So I secretly maintained my friendships with the kids there.
Today, I started thinking about prejudice, why it exists, how to overcome it…. It seems to exist because of ignorance and fear, two very real factors. How to overcome it? Learn about each other and the fear factor will be eliminated. Very simple! It worked in my case.Things are different today, in Israel at least. The Jewish community celebrates together. We have a common language, Hebrew. There are still some remnants of the old world prejudice, but for the most part it’s gone. Now to overcome the prejudices between the Jewish and Arab communities here. My way is to open my booth, as well as my home, to ALL members of the community, both Arab and Jew.  It’s the only way to guarantee an end to the hatred… live together! So, instead of fearing the differences of the others, my philosophy is to say
Let us all live together as neighbours and brothers.Shalom-Salaam!


Here you can see Israel’s future today …. teaching the next generation the glories of war …


All images ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff


The Palestinian Authority – devoid of any authority

The Oslo Accords, initially intended to create Palestinian self-government, have in fact left them with autonomous pockets that only reinforce Israel’s rule.

By Amira Hass
Palestinians for Dignity protesting in Ramallah, with a permit from police.
Palestinians for Dignity protesting in Ramallah, with a permit from police.  Photo by Amira Hass

“Everything Will Be Fine,” the enjoyable program broadcast by Army Radio, has a younger relation over at the Voice of Palestine: At “Good Morning Palestine,” the microphone is sometimes open to regular citizens with complaints about various institutions of the Palestinian bureaucracy. As at “Everything Will Be Fine,” the program hosts find it easier than regular people to locate the phone number of whoever is in charge and extract a promise that the matter under discussion will be taken care of. For example, Saturday morning, an officer in the Hebron police was put on the line to answer allegations made by a Yatta resident (who declined to identify himself ) that the Palestinian police are shirking their duty and are slow to intervene in internal conflicts of the large town. The complainant didn’t want to hear about Area A and Area C and interrupted the officer several times.

Another radio program provides airtime to family members of people imprisoned in Israel. It is a particularly important show for prisoners whose parents, wives and children aren’t allowed to visit them for obscure, unspecified “security reasons.” Some relatives make do with a brief, “How are you, habibi? We’re all fine, don’t worry about us. We hope you’re taking care of yourself and your health, and that you’ll be released soon – you and all the other prisoners.” Others go on at length, especially the women. A mother will tell her son that she sent him money for snacks or that his younger brother is out of control and that she’s worried. She’ll speak as if the conversation weren’t one-way and part of a broadcast to which lots of people are listening – cab drivers, their passengers, store clerks and several hundred other prisoners.

Speaking of cabs: As a result of a string of fatal traffic accidents involving taxi drivers, the Palestinian Ministry of Transportation has issued an order limiting the speed of all public transportation vehicles on intercity roads to 90 kilometers per hour. From now on, all new cabs will be modified mechanically to disable higher speeds.

Between a talk show and a news edition, one may hear a public service announcement encouraging people to pay off their debts to the electric company because non-payment strengthens the occupation. A recent installment of “Women’s Voices” was dedicated to an extensive discussion of the phenomenon of men preventing their ex-wives from seeing their children, and of the legal means available to women to fight this injustice.

Speaking of injustices: The Coalition for Palestinian Human Rights Organizations has criticized unnamed figures in the office of President Mahmoud Abbas who, according to the coalition, ordered the police to violently suppress demonstrations held two months ago by the new group Palestinians for Dignity. The youths were protesting the invitation extended to Shaul Mofaz to meet with Abu Mazen. But the criticism had its impact. Two weeks ago, the police allowed the group to march as far as the Muqata wall in Ramallah and shout, without interference, “Traitor, traitor, our government is a traitor.”

What is the common denominator of these anecdotes? What is this compilation doing here? It’s my way of addressing an assertion made in the book, “The Bureaucracy of the Occupation: The Regime of Movement Permits 2000-2006,” by attorney Yael Barda, recently published by the United Kibbutz Movement and Jerusalem’s Van Leer Institute. The book is based on her master’s thesis in the sociology and anthropology department at Tel Aviv University. The research started with Barda’s stubborn slog through the trenches while representing Palestinian laborers who got lost in the intentionally repressive labyrinth of official red tape. Barda argues against the conclusion drawn by Neve Gordon in his book, “Israel’s Occupation” (University of California Press, Berkeley, 2008 ), which she summarizes as follows: “Since the Oslo Accords, the force used against the Palestinians has changed and is now a sovereign power employing legal control by means of the law and policing forces; it does not intervene in civil decisions and does not distinguish between those who oppose the occupation and those who accept it …”

By contrast, Barda’s conclusion is as follows: “After the administrative and regional separation enacted as a result of the Oslo Accords, control over the lives of the Palestinians and interference in their civilian matters did not decrease; on the contrary, it grew.” Barda has accompanied hundreds of laborers on their Via Dolorosa to an entrance permit to Israel and has interviewed many functionaries within the system. That is how she has learned up close how invasive, non-transparent and unsupervised the Israeli authorities are – from the Shin Bet security service to the Supreme Court – that dominate the lives of Palestinians seeking to realize their right to freedom of movement, and come up against walls of concrete, orders and injunctions.

I have not read Gordon’s book, but I assume he saw the range of prohibitions in force during the period of the direct occupation: on construction, reading and writing, unionizing and broadcasting opinions, plays and movies, on planting and seeding. The people in charge in the civilian offices were Israeli bureaucrats/military personnel. They carefully parceled out permits to hook up a telephone line here or build another floor there, while putting petitioners through a gauntlet of depressing humiliations. The offensive, intentional neglect of infrastructure was always a key part of the mechanism of dominating the natives. Even getting a driver’s license was a grind through the same mechanism. The Shin Bet used collaborators even before the ban on freedom of movement that started in 1991, preceding the implementation of Oslo by three years. It’s enough to think about the terrifying presence of the Border Police, Special Patrol Units and National Insurance Institute inspectors in East Jerusalem neighborhood and villages, turned into choking pockets of poverty by the Israeli government, in order to remember the potential of direct control and its predatory nature. It’s enough to remember Area C in which Israel will not allow an old Palestinian community to build toilets or install a solar energy system.

Area C, the 61-62 percent of the West Bank over which the Oslo Accords give Israel full authority, surrounds pockets of Palestinian self-rule in which direct Israeli control over civilian matters has, in fact, become very tenuous despite frequent military incursions, Israel’s authority to arrest any Palestinian at any time, and restrictions on movement. In these pockets, autonomous moments and spaces of a civilian community are created and experienced despite the huge shadow cast by the ever-present occupation. People get used to the internal logic of these pockets. Is the normality only a mirage? A self-delusion? No. The regime created is a confusing hybrid of military-colonial state of emergency and civilian autonomy. The duality and all its contradictions are the glue that makes it hard to undo what there is, i.e. the Palestinian Authority.

This, too, is the genius of the authors of Oslo, who formulated a vague business contract open to opposing interpretations. And since the interpretation of the strong wins, we’re left with autonomous pockets that only reinforce Israel’s rule.



It doesn’t take a genius to realise that…
“The establishment of a politically and economically viable State of Palestine is impossible without ending the Israeli occupation of the whole West Bank and Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem.”

Israel logjam threatens statehood, Palestinians warn

A Palestinian baker removes unleavened bread off a tray at a traditional bakery in the Palestinian Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday (AFP photo)


RAMALLAH — The Palestinian Authority warned on Saturday that long-standing lack of movement towards peace with Israel was threatening the concept of a two-state solution and could lead to Palestinians being left in an Israeli-run “apartheid” state.

“Without a tangible shift from a conflict management approach towards a just and lasting political agreement… Israelis and Palestinians will inevitably slide into one state governed by the principles of apartheid,” it said in a report prepared for a meeting of international donors in New York on Monday.

“The status-quo is not sustainable neither politically, nor economically,” the report in English wrote.

“The establishment of a politically and economically viable State of Palestine is impossible without ending the Israeli occupation of the whole West Bank and Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem,” the 22-page document, published on Saturday, said.

It called on donor members of what is known as the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee to pressure Israel to dismantle its checkpoints in the West Bank and allow unhindered development of all areas, including so-called Area C, which is under full Israeli control and which covers some 60 per cent of the West Bank.

It also asked them to make diplomatic protests to Israel over its demolition of Palestinian homes.

A coalition of global NGOs said in a statement on Friday that demolition rates had hit a three-year high.

Citing UN statistics, the group of 30 aid, development and human rights organisations said demolitions of Palestinian property had tripled in the past three years, rising to an average of 64 per month in 2012, up from 23 in 2009.

The monthly average of people displaced as a result had doubled, increasing from 52 in 2009 to 103 in 2012, it said.

Direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been on hold since late September 2010.




The beast then …
The beast now …

That Was Now, This Is Then: Netanyahu Edition

Nima Shirazi 


“Would I counsel, necessarily, a preemptive strike on Iran? I’m not sure. I would be very careful about that.”

– Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002

Journalist Jim Lobe has done a tremendous service to those of us who follow the warmongering propaganda of American and Israeli officials over the Iranian nuclear program.  This week, Lobe reminded us of the testimony then-former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight on September 12, 2002 in which he marshaled nearly every hackneyed talking point about weapons of mass destruction, support for terrorists and the benefits of regime change in an effort to push the United States to illegally invade and occupy Iraq.

Six months later, he got his wish.

While Lobe has already masterfully laid out the ignorant assumptions, egregious lies, hysterical hasbara, and shameful bellicosity of Netanyahu’s performance, it should also be noted that, when it comes to trying to bully the United States into setting “red lines” or even perhaps initiating a war of aggression, thereby committing once again – in the words of the Nuremberg Tribunal – “the supreme international crime,” Netanyahu has stuck to the same script for a decade now.

Of course, as we all know, then it was Iraq and now it is Iran.  In his frenzied and frustrated warmongering efforts, Netanyahu has apparently forgotten to come up with some new zingers, instead hoping that what worked for him in 2002 would work again in 2012 (spoiler: it won’t).

Here are some of his greatest hits.

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“[I]t is simply not reflecting the reality to assume that Saddam isn’tfeverishly working to develop nuclear weapons, as we speak.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, April 18, 2012:

“Today, the regime in Iran openly calls and determinedly works for our destruction. And it is feverishly working to develop atomic weaponsto achieve that goal.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“How imminent is it [the threat from Iraq]? Look, do you want to wait and find out?  The answer is no.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 11, 2012

“The world tells Israel, ‘Wait, there’s still time,’ and I say, ‘Wait for what, wait until when?’…The fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear bombs.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002

“[Iraq] happens to be one of the two – now, as we know, one of the three – regimes that is racing to build nuclear weapons.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 16, 2012:

“And for me, the issue is, as the prime minister of a country that is threatened with annihilation by a brutal regime in Tehran that isracing to develop nuclear bombs for that and, obviously, we cannot delegate the job of stopping Iran if all else fails to someone else.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“Today the United States must destroy the same regime because a nuclear-armed Saddam will place the security of our entire world at risk.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, March 5, 2012:

“For fifteen years, I’ve been warning that a nuclear-armed Iran is a grave danger to my country and to the peace and security of the world.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“Every indication we have is that he [Saddam] is pursuing, pursuing with abandon, pursuing with every ounce of effort, the establishment of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 16, 2012:

“Come on. We know that they’re working towards a weapon. We know that. It’s not something that we surmise. We have absolutely certainty about that. And they’re advancing towards that nuclear program.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:  

“There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and isworking and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons — no question whatsoever.”

During a March 7, 2012 interview on Fox News, Greta Van Susteren asked Netayahu about the case for illegally attacking Iran in light of what the world now knows about the lies that led to the invasion of Iraq.  “Do you have any doubt they [Iran] have a nuclear weapons program?,” Van Susteren wondered.  The Israeli Prime Minister replied: “I think there is no question.”

Van Susteren continued, “[I]n 2003, with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there was so much certainty and it turned out, our intelligence was wrong on that. So I am trying to balance the two.”

The response from Netanyahu was immediate.  It was also confounding, considering his testimony to Congress ten years earlier.  He told Van Susteren:

“First of all, there is no question. There is no comparison. In the case of Iraq, I was on the Israeli cabinet when we discussed this issue. We didn’t know. We couldn’t say that they didn’t have a nuclear weapons program, we couldn’t say if they did. In the case of Iran there is absolutely no question.”

Over the past decade, Israel has made great strides in recycling.  In regurgitating his jingoistic talking points from a decade ago urging an illegal military assault on yet another Middle Eastern nation, there is no question Netanyahu is leading that charge.

Written FOR


Take Action: Demand Freedom for Palestinians Arrested by the PA!

On Tuesday, September 18, 2012, as Palestinian hunger strikers Samer al-Barq, Hassan Safadi and Ayman Sharawna struggle for their lives within Israeli prisons, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank launched a campaign of arrests throughout the area, rounding up 60 political activists, including youth organizers, journalists, writers and former political prisoners. The arrest total has now risen to 114 and none of the detainees have been released. Act today to demand immediate freedom for the arrestees!

Among the detainees are at least 35 freed prisoners, including some freed in recent weeks from Israeli jails. Fuad al-Khuffash, director of the Ahrar Centre in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners – and who has now declared an open hunger strike –  was one of the arrestees, as was journalist Walid Khaled, released from occupation prisons only 2 weeks prior. Among the detainees, rounded up by the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence and Preventive Security, are participants in the recent hunger strikes in occupation prisons and a number of recently freed prisoners. Adel Shawamra, one of today’s detainees from Bethlehem, was recently released after 13 years in Israeli prisons.

The PA’s role here is nothing new. As part of the Oslo Accords and its subsequent security corollaries, the Palestinian Authority and its Preventive Security/General Intelligence have acted as security subcontractors for the Israeli occupation, trained by US military officials (such as Gen. Keith Dayton) to round up Palestinian resistance fighters and political dissidents.

It is not coincidental that these arrests come shortly after mass protests in response to economic inequality swept the West Bank, soon focusing on the Oslo Accords and their economic corollary, the Paris Agreements. The existence of Palestinian Authority security forces engaging in “security coordination” with the Israeli occupation, effectively undermining the Palestinian resistance, links directly back to the Oslo Accords.

Amid Hassan Safadi’s hunger strike, his brother Saleh was arrested by the PA; Palestinian prisoners including Ahmad Sa’adat, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Ahmed Qatamesh and many others have spent time in PA prisons as well as Israeli prisons. This practice has been part and parcel of “security cooperation” with the Israeli occupation from the earliest days of the Palestinian Authority.

As we mark the nineteenth anniversary of the Oslo Accords with a series of PA arrests, we also note that there remain 111 prisoners who have been imprisoned since before the Oslo accords – these prisoners remain inside the occupation’s jails to the present day. Prisoners throughout the Israeli prisons engaged in a one-day hunger strike on Thursday, September 13 – the anniversary of Oslo – and again on Tuesday, September 18 – demanding the freedom of these long-time prisoners. Just as Oslo did not bring freedom, justice or liberation to Palestine, nor did it for its prisoners, a group of Palestinians who despite their centrality to the Palestinian national movement – were ignored and excluded from the Oslo “peace process.” Oslo’s latest victims – the political detainees in the West Bank – are demanding freedom. Act today to support their freedom and united Palestinian struggle against Israeli apartheid, occupation, and settler colonialism.

Take action!

1. Email the Palestinian Embassy or PLO Mission in your country. Click here for a list of contact information. Act now to send this email message!  Make it clear that Palestinians around the world and international activists stand together to confront occupation, end security coordination, and free these detainees – including the former prisoners who have already given so much to the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

2. Call the Palestinian Embassy or PLO Mission. This is a case where phone calls can make a real difference! Palestinians and internationals around the world can raise their voice and demand action. Phone numbers for some missions follow: PLO Delegation in Washington, DC:  202-974-6360. Palestinian Mission to the UN: 212-288-8500. Palestinian General Delegation in Ottawa, Canada: 613-736-0053. Palestinian Mission UK: +44 (0)20 8563 0008. More may be found here!

3. Act to support Palestinian prisoners in occupation prisons. Hassan Safadi, Samer al-Barq and Ayman Sharawna are all still on hunger strike demanding their freedom! Write now to take action to demand their freedom from occupation prisons!

Write to Palestinian Authority/PLO Missions To Demand an End to the Political Arrest Campaign

Send an email to international missions of the Palestinian Authority and PLO to demand that the political arrests end and the detainees be freed immediately.
Prepared BY .. click on link to get text of letter


“When one considers an atom bomb, one thinks only of the mushroom,” says Sharon Dolev, founder and director of the Israeli Disarmament Movement, who is hosting Miaki and three other survivors. “People don’t discuss the days and years that follow. That’s one of the reasons I wanted them to come here, to create a discourse that doesn’t exist in Israel. We talk about Iran, but don’t really pause to consider the consequences.”

Remembering Hiroshima: Four survivors bring message to the Middle East

Nobuo Miaki arrived in Israel with three other survivors to warn against the horror of nuclear weapons, all nuclear weapons, whether Iranian or Israeli.

By Oz Rosenberg
Hiroshima survivors visiting in Israel last week.
Hiroshima survivors visiting in Israel last week.

On the morning of August 6th, 1945, Nobuo Miaki, a thin 16-year-old was on the tram on the way to meet his mother on the other side of Hiroshima. It was eight o’clock, when suddenly a powerful flash hit the crowded tram. He later understood that this was the first of two nuclear bombs dropped on Japan. Sixty-seven years later, he is still haunted by that morning. This week, Miaki arrived in Israel with three other survivors to warn against the horror of nuclear weapons, all nuclear weapons, whether Iranian or Israeli.

“Within a second the tram was filled by a blue, blinding flash,” Miaki recalled this week in Jerusalem. “I understood something terrible happened, but I thought it was a short circuit. Fortunately, I was standing next to the exit and I jumped out without thinking.”

A second later there was an explosion and all the glass windows crashed on the people inside. “Many people were hurt, but I was relatively unscathed,” Miaki recalls. “I shut my eyes, and then found it hard to open them due to the dust and dirt. I asked myself if I’m dead or alive. Only when the dust settled down I managed to open my eyes and see the terrible destruction around me.”

Miaki ran all the way to the house where his mother was, and the sights he encountered on the way are still with him: “People whose skin was dripping off their bodies, horrendous burns, and since people didn’t want their arms to be glued to their bodies they raised them up. Everyone seemed inhuman, like aliens or ghosts, all walking and shouting, ‘I’m hot, I’m in pain.’ Everyone was looking for water.”

When he reached the house he found one of the neighbors trying to save his mother from the ruins. She was alive but her back was broken. “Only then did I raise my head. I suddenly noticed there weren’t any houses left. Everything was destroyed. I could see a clear view of the distant mountains.” People started screaming around him that a huge fire was rapidly approaching from the center of the city. “I hauled my mother on my back and started running. A military truck with seriously wounded people went by. My mother didn’t suffer severe burns, because she was protected by the walls, but they took her with them on account of her broken back. I was alone again.”



Miaki then went to the Hiroshima River to wash himself. “It was full of corpses,” he recalls. “They probably tried to cool themselves but fell in and drowned.” In the following days many of his friends and relatives died as there was no one left to take care of them. “The hospitals burned down, and the doctors were killed. There were no medicines, and even if there were, there was no one left to hand them out.”

Throughout the years many other friends and relatives died, most of them due to sicknesses, mainly cancer, caused by the radiation. In the 1980s Miaki decided to join the group of the bombs’ survivors – Hibakusha, in Japanese – and dedicate his life to raising world consciousness about the horrors of nuclear weapons.

“When Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be forgotten, history will repeat itself,” he says. “Since 1945 the world was close to a nuclear war several times, but it didn’t happen. We believe we have some part in that. Antiwar campaigns can help prevent another nuclear war.”

“When one considers an atom bomb, one thinks only of the mushroom,” says Sharon Dolev, founder and director of the Israeli Disarmament Movement, who is hosting Miaki and three other survivors. “People don’t discuss the days and years that follow. That’s one of the reasons I wanted them to come here, to create a discourse that doesn’t exist in Israel. We talk about Iran, but don’t really pause to consider the consequences.”

Japan now has a new nuclear headache, North Korea. “Honestly, as to Iran and Israel I was unaware of the issue until I came here,” says Nobuko Sugino, 68, “but Iran is presented in a negative light, in a similar way to how the Japanese media depict North Korea.”

North Korea, as opposed to Iran, already has nuclear weapons, since 2005. Miaki doesn’t believe Japan will be attacked by nuclear weapons, and points out that since there are so many nuclear power plants in Japan that could serve as targets, “a regular bomb would have more of less the same effect.”

The Japanese constitution forbids the state to produce nuclear weapons, “but we’re also against nuclear power plants,” says Miaki. “The public is increasingly opposed to the plants, especially since the Fukushima disaster a year and a half ago. Unfortunately, the politicians have an interest not to phase out the plants, because they help foster political tension that benefits them.”

Miaki and his friends continued on their journey in the Middle East, but it seems that as the years pass, their mission becomes more difficult. The Hiroshima survivors – 220,000 according to official data – understand that they must lower their expectations regarding full nuclear disarmament. Like Holocaust survivors, with whom they met last week, they must fight forgetfulness first. “Most Japanese have never experienced war,” says Miaki. “That’s wonderful, but it also causes indifference.”




Anti-jihad ‘savage’ ads going up in NYC subway

 A provocative ad that equates Muslim radicals with savages is set to go up in the city’s subway system as violent protests over an anti-Islamic film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad sweep over much of the Muslim world.

A conservative blogger who once headed a campaign against an Islamic center near the Sept. 11 terror attack site won a court order to post the ad in 10 subway stations next Monday. The ad reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”


Read the full report from AP HERE



Even Netanyahu admits PA is an Israeli interest
By Khalid Amayreh in Israeli-occupied Jerusalem

The fact that Israel, which continues to murder Palestinians nearly on a daily basis, narrows Palestinian horizons and steals Palestinian land is hastening to rescue the Palestinian Authority (PA) from its crushing financial-economic crisis may raise a lot of eyebrows both among Palestinians themselves and others around the world.

After all, millions of people around the world grew up thinking that Palestinian and Israeli interest are inherently paradoxical and contradictory. So the last thing a casual observer would expect with regard to the Palestinian-Israeli strife is a concordance of Palestinian and Israeli interests in the form of a “positive” Israeli intervention to help the PA overcome the current crisis.

The truth of the matter, however, is that Israelis are not being charitable, generous, magnanimous or good neighbors.

In fact, Israel has always been a racist murderer and thief; it continues to be murderer and thief and is not expected to change her skin in the foreseeable future.

To begin with, Israel is the root-cause of all problems and troubles, economic and otherwise, facing the Palestinians. Indeed, one would have to be totally gullible to believe that a real, prosperous economy can be maintained under a sinister foreign military occupation.

This is undoubtedly one of the stupidest blunders committed by the PA leadership which still must go back to Grammar Schools to learn the meanings of such words as freedom, independence and sovereignty.

In the final analysis, Israel tightly and completely controls all Palestinian infrastructures, including water resources, electricity, roads, skies and border crossings. In fact, not a single matchbox or a small sewing needle can get into or out of the occupied territories without Israeli consent.

So, one could imagine the extent to which the Palestinian economy is subservient to the Israeli occupation.

It is also important to keep in mind that whatever money Israel transfers to the PA coffers is actually Palestinian money the occupying power collects on behalf of the PA in accordance with the scandalous Paris protocol which effectively put the entire Palestinian economy under Israel’s mercy.

Israel levies an estimated $100 million per month on commodities imported by Palestinians through Israeli ports. Normally, Israel devours bloated commissions and hefty salaries for Israeli operatives handling clearance operations at border crossings.

Speaking hours after ordering the transfer of some $63 million to the PA last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said helping the PA overcome the current economic crisis in the West Bank was an Israeli interest.

He described those Israeli officials objecting to aiding the PA in this regard as “politically myopic and not understanding what they are talking about.”

“We are working on several fronts in order to help the Palestinian Authority cope with its economic problems. We have made several agreements in the taxation agreements. We are advancing several transfers. We have also helped with Palestinian workers and with a series of other steps in order to make things easier for them.

“Of course, there is a global reality and it is also related to the internal management of every economy, but for our part we are making efforts to help the Palestinian Authority survive this crisis. I hope they will succeed in doing so, this is in our common interest.”

Interestingly, the PA leadership doesn’t deny that the survival of the Ramallah regime is a paramount Israeli interest.

Last week, a high-ranking PA official told reporters in Hebron that Israel was interested in weakening the PA regime, but never in destroying it.

“Israel wants to weaken the Palestinian Authority to a certain point which would enable the Jewish state to impose its will and conditions on the Palestinians.”

The official added that Israel wants to see the PA perpetually busy and occupied with its internal political and economic problems which would give Israel a sort of carte blanche to pursue its settlement scheme.

He disclosed that at least some of the protesters who assaulted and vandalized the main police station at al-Haras in Hebron last week were saboteurs and provocateurs working for the Israeli intelligence.

If indeed the survival and “prosperity” of the PA is a mutual Palestinian-Israeli interest, then there must be a huge flaw in the relations between the Palestinian victims and their Israeli victimizers.

It is lamentable that the PA leadership is oblivious of this flaw. It is also a real calamity that the PA is willing to function and operate under crippling Israeli constraints. In this case, the PA behaves and acts as a collaborator and colluder with the occupying power, rather than a national authority aspiring to become an independent state.

PA leaders had argued ad nauseam that the creation of the autonomous authority was a step toward the creation of a fully-independent and completely sovereign Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Now, almost everyone, including some PA officials, realizes that the PA is probably the biggest obstacle impeding the establishment of a viable Palestinian state worthy of the name, after the Israeli occupation.

There is no doubt that the scandalous Oslo Accords put the Palestinians, including the PLO itself, the so-called sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, in a lose-lose situation whereby they will have to choose between two unattractive choices: Direct Israeli occupation on the one hand or indirect but equally sinister Israeli domination on the other.

The PA regime has given Israel unconditional recognition without receiving a reciprocal Israeli recognition of a putative Palestinian state.

The Palestinian harrowing toward the political and moral abyss reasserted itself earlier this month when Chairman Abbas told a visiting Israeli delegation, which included some rabbis, in Ramallah that “Israel was created to last forever.”

Unfortunately, virtually all Fatah leaders were mum, fearing Abbas’s fury and reprisals.

There is no doubt that the Palestinian cause is being gradually and quietly liquidated while PA leaders keep babbling about a state that seems ever more unlikely to see the light of the day with the passage of everyday.

Is there an exit out of this political labyrinth? Of course there is, provided we put our national interests before the immediate and precarious interests of maintaining the status quo.

This necessarily requires the liquidation of the Oslo Accords. I realize that exiting the Oslo Accords, or more correctly delivering our people from its clutches, wouldn’t be easy or safe. But it can be done and it must be done.

Otherwise, we sacrifice Palestine for the sake of maintaining an authority that has no future if only because that authority is inherently subservient to and dependent upon Israel.  



Occupying Rosh Hashanah

By Ari Paul

Jeanette Friedman looked over the crowd of hundreds of Occupy Wall Street supporters in Zuccotti Park on the evening of  and all she could do was gush about her son.

“I can’t believe how many people are here,” she shouted to her boy, Dan Sieradski, who was helping to lead a Rosh Hashanah service the night before the one-year anniversary of the movement’s birth. Once derided as a quixotic endeavor, Occupy is now credited by many with helping to reinvent social justice activism in America for the 21st century.

Sieradski said it was “fortuitous” that the first anniversary would fall on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. In fact, the Occupy Faith contingent of OWS worked with the main planners of the Sept. 17 actions, which was to include civil disobedience in the financial district, to allot time for the New Year’s service the night before, so that it would not overlap with any other protests or actions.

“The organizers understand how important this, that this a holiday that deserves respect,” said Tammy Shapiro, an OWS organizer.

For the social justice-minded Jews of OWS, the opportunity to mark the beginning of year 5773 on the Jewish calendar and Year Two of the movement was perfect.

“In Shemot Rabbah we learn if all the troubles were placed on one side and poverty on the other, poverty would outweigh them all,” Sieradski told the assembled crowd. “Exodus Rabbah says there is nothing more grievous than poverty.”

Pointing to the Jewish teaching that saving one life is equal to “saving a world,” Sieradski went on: “That makes 46.2 million worlds to save in the U.S. alone.”

He jumped to labor rights by saying, “The Talmud says whoever withholds an employee’s wages, it’s as though they took that person’s life from them. And yet, we import cheap labor, export jobs overseas to sweatshops, resist minimum wage laws and attack workers’ collective bargaining rights.”

Sieradski spoke about how the injustices of our financial system aren’t necesarily carried out by “outright thieves,” quoting Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto and invoking firms like Goldman Sachs and the now-defunct Bear Stearns. He said that many people “get a taste of stealing when they permit themselves to make an unfair profit at the expense of another.”

He added, “Will their sins be overlooked for their sizable contributions to charity? No, says the Rambam. A mitzvah that is done by committing a sin is not a mitzvah.”

The intersection of faith and opposition to corporate excess has been vital to the OWS movement. Episcopal Bishop George Packard was arrested with other OWS activists in December for trespassing onto property owned by Trinity Church. In battling the charges, he along with Catholic priest and peace activist Daniel Berrigan and author Chris Hedges questioned the church’s prioritizing its investment in Manhattan real estate over Jesus Christ’s teachings humility and commitment to the poor.

Likewise, the Jews involved in the OWS movement have been quick to point to passages and teachings that align closer to those of labor than of the bankers many of whom, as some have pointed out, are themselves Jewish.

“We know what to do, since the time of Isaiah. What needs to happen is justice,” said Aaron Katz, who came to the Zuccotti Park service. “I think anything that strives for justice, anything to improve the human condition is inherently spiritual, because man is a spiritual being.”

Looking 10 days forward, Katz spoke about a passage Jews read during Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, at the point of the fast when the pain of the hunger is at its height. “God doesn’t want your fast, God wants justice,” he said. “What really matters is to clothe the poor and the homeless and to support the orphan and the widow.”

OWS, which has its fair share of left-wing socialists and radicals, could easily be classified as atheistic or at the very least humanistic and secular. But organizers saw that Jews and non-Jews in OWS were eager to take part in the Rosh Hashanah convergence. There were only a few brief disruptions from a handful anti-religious activists during the service, including a lone activist who shows up to OWS events preaching the virtues of the Chinese Communist Party.

“By no means do I think faith is not respected,” Shapiro said of OWS in general. “There’s been so much support.”

While many OWS protesters had anticipated confrontations with the police on the anniversary of OWS there were no legal snags in pulling off the Rosh Hashanah service. During the service, Rakia Chandler reminded the crowd that all people are created in God’s divine image.

She added to that remark, sparking chuckles: “Even the police.”


Photos © by Bud Korotzer
Defending the bull… 😉


 “This lawsuit is not an attack on the First Amendment nor on the right for Americans to say what they think, but does request that the offending content be removed from the Internet,” the lawsuit said.
Actress sues California man behind anti-Muslim film
Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress in the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Islam,” sues the California man linked to the film’s production for fraud and slander. (Al Arabiya)
Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress in the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Islam,” sues the California man linked to the film’s production for fraud and slander. (Al Arabiya)


An actress in an anti-Islam film that triggered violent protests across the Muslim world sued a California man linked to its production on Wednesday for fraud and slander, saying she had received death threats after the video was posted on YouTube.

Actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who also named Google Inc and its YouTube unit as defendants, asked that the film be removed from YouTube and said her right to privacy had been violated and her life endangered, among other allegations.

It was the first known civil lawsuit connected to the making of the video, which depicts the Prophet Mohammad as a womanizer and a fool, and helped generate a torrent of violence across the Muslim world last week.

The violence included an attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed. U.S. and other foreign embassies were also stormed in cities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East by furious Muslims.

Garcia accused a producer of the movie, whom she identified as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and said he used the alias Sam Bacile, of duping her into appearing in a “hateful” film that she had been led to believe was a simple desert adventure movie.

“There was no mention of ‘Mohammed’ during filming or on set. There were no references made to religion nor was there any sexual content of which Ms. Garcia was aware,” said the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

For many Muslims, any depiction of the prophet is blasphemous. Caricatures deemed insulting in the past have provoked protests and drawn condemnation from officials, preachers, ordinary Muslims and many Christians.

“This lawsuit is not an attack on the First Amendment nor on the right for Americans to say what they think, but does request that the offending content be removed from the Internet,” the lawsuit said.

A representative for Nakoula’s criminal attorney declined to comment on the lawsuit. A Google spokesman said the company was reviewing the complaint and “will be in court tomorrow.”

Apparent dubbing

Garcia, who had a relatively small part in a trailer available online, has said that her character was forced to give away her child to a character named “Master George” in one scene. An expired casting call available online describes a character named George as a “strong leader” and a “tyrant.”

But in the English-language trailer at YouTube, Garcia’s character appears to be dubbed over in that scene, with a voice-over for her character referring to Mohammad instead of George.

Garcia’s lawsuit said her voice was also “dubbed into Arabic” in another version of the trailer.

She said the film, which has circulated online as a 13-minute trailer, had prompted her family to refuse to allow her to see or babysit her grandchildren, fearing for their safety.

The suit accuses Nakoula, Google and YouTube of invasion of privacy, unfair business practices, the use of Garcia’s likeness without permission and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

U.S. officials have said authorities were not investigating the film project itself and that even if it was inflammatory or led to violence, simply producing it cannot be considered a crime in the United States, which has strong free speech laws.

But Nakoula, a Coptic Christian California man who pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 2010, was interviewed by federal probation officers on Saturday probing whether he violated the terms of his release while making the film.

Nakoula, who was released from prison in 2011, is prohibited from accessing the Web or assuming aliases without the approval of his probation officer, court records show. Violations could result in him being sent back to prison.

Nakoula, 55, did not return to his house in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos following his interview with federal probation officers, and his whereabouts are unknown. Last week, he denied involvement in the film in a phone call to his Coptic bishop in Los Angeles.



Image by Carlos Latuff

Mitt Romney’s No-State Solution

Secretly recorded video of Mitt Romney dismissing the possibility of a Palestinian state at a fund-raiser in May posted online by Mother Jones on Tuesday.
Updated, 5:50 p.m. As my colleague Sarah Wheaton reports, Mitt Romney said privately in May that “there’s just no way” for an independent Palestinian state to be established on the West Bank territory Israel has occupied since 1967. The Republican presidential candidate’s comments, during a discussion with donors in Florida, were secretly recorded by someone at the private event, and published on Tuesday by Mother Jones, a liberal magazine.

In the surreptitiously recorded video, Mr. Romney can be heard asserting that “the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish,” because “the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace” and remain “committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel.” He then cast doubt on the viability of a Palestinian state, given the region’s geography:

Some might say, ‘Well, just let the Palestinians have the West Bank, and have security, and set up a separate nation for the Palestinians. And then come a couple of thorny questions. I don’t have a map here to look at the geography, but the border between Israel and the West Bank is obviously right there, right next to Tel Aviv, which is the financial capital, the industrial capital of Israel, the center of Israel. It’s what? The border would be, maybe seven miles from Tel Aviv to what would be the West Bank. …

The other side of the West Bank, the other side of what would be this new Palestinian state would either be Syria at one point or Jordan. And of course the Iranians would want to do through the West Bank exactly what they did through Lebanon, what they did in Gaza, which is, the Iranians would want to bring missiles and armament into the West Bank and potentially threaten Israel. So Israel of course would have to say, ‘That can’t happen. We’ve got to keep the Iranians from bringing weaponry into the West Bank.’

Well, that means that — who? The Israelis are going to patrol the border between Jordan, Syria, and this new Palestinian nation? Well, the Palestinians would say, “No way! We’re an independent country. You can’t, you know, guard our border with other Arab nations.” And now how about the airport? How about flying into this Palestinian nation? Are we going to allow military aircraft to come in and weaponry to come in? And if not, who’s going to keep it from coming in? Well, the Israelis. Well, the Palestinians are going to say, ‘We’re not an independent nation if Israel is able to come in and tell us what can land in our airport.’

These are problems, and they’re very hard to solve, all right? And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say, “There’s just no way.”

Rather than search of a solution, Mr. Romney said, “you hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem.” Comparing the open-ended crisis to the co-existence of China and Taiwan, Mr. Romney added: “we have a potentially volatile situation, but we sort of live with it and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”

Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of The Palestine Center in Washington, was scathing in his response.

Pretend to care about peace, kick the can down the road, never pressure Israel. Romney just described what already is US policy on Palestine

Mr. Munayyer also said in a statement: “Usually it is not until candidates attempt to make progress on Middle East peace that they give up. Romney seems to have given up before even starting. To be fair, Obama has achieved little on this front but that is largely because of domestic political constraints and an intransigent Israeli prime minister. While several previous administrations have done little but maintain the status quo, this is not what they stated they set out to do.”

Mr. Romney’s frank remarks, which undercut even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public endorsement of “a solution of two states for two peoples: a Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state,” seemed to break from decades of official American foreign policy. Since before the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, Republican and Democratic presidents have thrown their weight behind the effort to secure Israel’s future as a democratic state with a Jewish majority by creating a second state for up 2.5 million Palestinians who have lived under Israeli military rule for more than four decades.

Critics of the two-state solution, however, have argued in recent years that Israel’s determination to hold on to large settlement blocks in the West Bank has made the creation of a viable Palestinian state there almost impossible.

In an interview with The Lede on Tuesday, the Palestinian-American activist Ali Abunimah said that there was “nothing Earth-shattering” in what Mr. Romney said. “In substance, I don’t see it being very different than Obama’s approach,” he said.

Mr. Abunimah, who advocates what is known as the one-state solution — in which Palestinians and Israelis would live together in a shared, democratic country — suggested that “there is an agreement among all political parties in the U.S. to pay lip service to a political settlement and a negotiated two-state solution, but if any one of them was speaking frankly,” they would almost certainly agree with Mr. Romney’s assessment. In the absence of progress toward a negotiated settlement, Mr. Abunimah observed, there is general agreement among political leaders on all sides in the region that “we’re in a stage of so-called conflict management.”

Two decades after the Oslo Accords, Mr. Abunimah said, the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank, “needs to maintain the fiction that it is providing momentum toward Palestinian independence,” while, in fact, “they exist in order to keep a lid on the situation.”

As the peace process has ground to a halt, support for some sort of one-state solution seems to have become more common in the region. According to a recent poll, cited by Mr. Abunimah in July, almost a third of Israelis and Palestinians agreed that “there is a need to begin to think about a solution of a one state for two people in which Arabs and Jews enjoy equality.”

Edward W. Said, the renowned Palestinian professor, made the case for abandoning the two-state goal more than a decade ago, writing in The New York Times Magazine in January 1999: “it is time to question whether the entire process begun in Oslo in 1993 is the right instrument for bringing peace between Palestinians and Israelis. It is my view that the peace process has in fact put off the real reconciliation that must occur if the hundred-year war between Zionism and the Palestinian people is to end. Oslo set the stage for separation, but real peace can come only with a binational Israeli-Palestinian state.”

In the absence of a negotiated solution, the search for an alternative arrangement has even led some political leaders on Israel’s right to flirt with a form of the one-state solution. As the Israeli journalist and blogger Noam Sheizaf reported in 2010, members of Mr. Netanyahu’s own Likud Party have suggested that they would rather annex the entire West Bank, including Jerusalem, and give Palestinians full civil and political rights than force more than 500,000 Israeli settlers to abandon their homes.

Mr. Romney’s argument about the region’s geography also seemed to echoremarks made last year by Mr. Netanyahu, who told President Obama last year that Israel “cannot go back to the 1967 lines,” because the country’s borders before it seized the West Bank and East Jerusalem that year were “indefensible.” In an address to Congress the same week, Mr. Netanyahu insisted that, in any negotiated settlement, it would be “absolutely vital for Israel’s security that a Palestinian state be fully demilitarized. And it is vital that Israel maintain a long-term military presence along the Jordan River.”

As The Lede reported at the time, not all Israelis agree that a Palestinian state on the entire West Bank would pose a mortal threat to Israel. Martin van Creveld, a leading Israeli military historian, explained why in an essay for The Forward in late 2010 headlined, “Israel Doesn’t Need the West Bank to Be Secure.”

After dealing in detail with the ways that a nuclear-armed Israel could neutralize any military threat from an independent Palestinian state, Mr. van Creveld suggested that continuing the military occupation of the West Bank indefinitely, the approach that Mr. Romney explicitly endorsed in another part of his recorded comments, would be a greater threat to Israel’s security than ceding the entire territory.

“Strategically speaking,” Mr. van Creveld wrote, the risk of giving up the West Bank “is negligible.” He continued: “What is not negligible is the demographic, social, cultural and political challenge that ruling over 2.5 million — nobody knows exactly how many — occupied Palestinians in the West Bank poses. Should Israeli rule over them continue, then the country will definitely turn into what it is already fast becoming: namely, an apartheid state that can only maintain its control by means of repressive secret police actions.”

Update | 5:50 p.m. In a post about Mr. Romney’s remarks for the Israeli news blog +972, Ami Kaufman points out that, in another part of the recording obtained by Mother Jones, the candidate talks about the fact that his campaign team includes some “extraordinarily experienced, highly successful consultants… they do races all over the world: in Armenia, in Africa, in Israel. I mean, they work for Bibi Netanyahu.”


Video of Mitt Romney mentioning that his campaign consultants have worked in Israel.


As my colleague Michael Barbaro reported in April, Mr. Romney boasted about his friendship with Mr. Netanyahu during a Republican primary debatelast year. Responding to disparaging remarks about the Palestinians by his rival Newt Gingrich — who called them an “invented” people with no particular claim on the territory they live on today — Mr. Romney said: “before I made a statement of that nature, I’d get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say, ‘Would it help if I said this? What would you like me to do? Let’s work together, because we’re partners.’ I’m not a bomb thrower, rhetorically or literally.”




 From Vaz
music by Frankie Rose
Monday in NYC
Photos © by Bud Korotzer


 Against all odds, the Freedom Bus will embark on ground-breaking West Bank ride

The Freedom Bus, an initiative of The Freedom Theatre, uses interactive theatre and cultural activism to bear witness, raise awareness and build alliances throughout occupied Palestine and beyond. 


Join the Freedom Bus this September and take a stand for justice in occupied Palestine!



The September Freedom Ride
From September 23rd – October 1st 2012, Palestinians and allies from around the world will take part in a 9-day solidarity ride through 11 communities in the West Bank of occupied Palestine. During the ride, Palestinian actors and musicians will use Playback Theatre to perform the personal accounts of various community members. Enactments will be based on autobiographical stories about the realities of life under Israeli occupation. Participants on the freedom ride will also hear accounts that underscore the rich Palestinian history of steadfastness, creative protest and popular struggle.

In addition, the ride will include guided visits by community leaders, concerts, and seminars where leading Palestinian artists, activists and scholars will examine and discuss Israeli apartheid and colonialism, neoliberalism and transnational money, the BDS movement,  the “Cultural Intifada” and other aspects of Palestinian civil resistance.


Endorsers of the Freedom Bus include Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Judith Butler, John Berger, Peter Brook, Omar Barghouti, Ramy Essam and Mairead Maguire. (For a full list of endorsers, click here.)


The freedom ride represents the aspirations of the Palestinian people to be freed from an illegal occupation, to exercize rights of self-determination, and to demand justice after decades of oppression. The freedom ride represents as well the freedom of movement and a movement for freedom. Those who ride for and with Palestinians answer the call for global solidarity, and demand a free Palestine. We all must heed that call. – Judith Butler



See map HERE
Initiative OF


A Preventable Massacre
ON the night of Sept. 16, 1982, the Israeli military allowed a right-wing Lebanese militia to enter two Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut. In the ensuing three-day rampage, the militia, linked to the Maronite Christian Phalange Party, raped, killed and dismembered at least 800 civilians, while Israeli flares illuminated the camps’ narrow and darkened alleyways. Nearly all of the dead were women, children and elderly men. 
Thirty years later, the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila camps is remembered as a notorious chapter in modern Middle Eastern history, clouding the tortured relationships among Israel, the United States, Lebanon and the Palestinians. In 1983, an Israeli investigative commission concluded that Israeli leaders were “indirectly responsible” for the killings and that Ariel Sharon, then the defense minister and later prime minister, bore “personal responsibility” for failing to prevent them. 
While Israel’s role in the massacre has been closely examined, America’s actions have never been fully understood. This summer, at the Israel State Archives, I found recently declassified documents that chronicle key conversations between American and Israeli officials before and during the 1982 massacre. The verbatim transcripts reveal that the Israelis misled American diplomats about events in Beirut and bullied them into accepting the spurious claim that thousands of “terrorists” were in the camps. Most troubling, when the United States was in a position to exert strong diplomatic pressure on Israel that could have ended the atrocities, it failed to do so. As a result, Phalange militiamen were able to murder Palestinian civilians, whom America had pledged to protect just weeks earlier. 
Israel’s involvement in the Lebanese civil war began in June 1982, when it invaded its northern neighbor. Its goal was to root out the Palestine Liberation Organization, which had set up a state within a state, and to transform Lebanon into a Christian-ruled ally. The Israel Defense Forces soon besieged P.L.O.-controlled areas in the western part of Beirut. Intense Israeli bombardments led to heavy civilian casualties and tested even President Ronald Reagan, who initially backed Israel. In mid-August, as America was negotiating the P.L.O.’s withdrawal from Lebanon, Reagan told Prime Minister Menachem Begin that the bombings “had to stop or our entire future relationship was endangered,” Reagan wrote in his diaries. 
The United States agreed to deploy Marines to Lebanon as part of a multinational force to supervise the P.L.O.’s departure, and by Sept. 1, thousands of its fighters — including Yasir Arafat — had left Beirut for various Arab countries. After America negotiated a cease-fire that included written guarantees to protect the Palestinian civilians remaining in the camps from vengeful Lebanese Christians, the Marines departed Beirut, on Sept. 10. 
Israel hoped that Lebanon’s newly elected president, Bashir Gemayel, a Maronite, would support an Israeli-Christian alliance. But on Sept. 14, Gemayel was assassinated. Israel reacted by violating the cease-fire agreement. It quickly occupied West Beirut — ostensibly to prevent militia attacks against the Palestinian civilians. “The main order of the day is to keep the peace,” Begin told the American envoy to the Middle East, Morris Draper, on Sept. 15. “Otherwise, there could be pogroms.” 
By Sept. 16, the I.D.F. was fully in control of West Beirut, including Sabra and Shatila. In Washington that same day, Under Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger told the Israeli ambassador, Moshe Arens, that “Israel’s credibility has been severely damaged” and that “we appear to some to be the victim of deliberate deception by Israel.” He demanded that Israel withdraw from West Beirut immediately. 
In Tel Aviv, Mr. Draper and the American ambassador, Samuel W. Lewis, met with top Israeli officials. Contrary to Prime Minister Begin’s earlier assurances, Defense Minister Sharon said the occupation of West Beirut was justified because there were “2,000 to 3,000 terrorists who remained there.” Mr. Draper disputed this claim; having coordinated the August evacuation, he knew the number was minuscule. Mr. Draper said he was horrified to hear that Mr. Sharon was considering allowing the Phalange militia into West Beirut. Even the I.D.F. chief of staff, Rafael Eitan, acknowledged to the Americans that he feared “a relentless slaughter.” 
On the evening of Sept. 16, the Israeli cabinet met and was informed that Phalange fighters were entering the Palestinian camps. Deputy Prime Minister David Levy worried aloud: “I know what the meaning of revenge is for them, what kind of slaughter. Then no one will believe we went in to create order there, and we will bear the blame.” That evening, word of civilian deaths began to filter out to Israeli military officials, politicians and journalists. 
At 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 17, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir hosted a meeting with Mr. Draper, Mr. Sharon and several Israeli intelligence chiefs. Mr. Shamir, having reportedly heard of a “slaughter” in the camps that morning, did not mention it. 
The transcript of the Sept. 17 meeting reveals that the Americans were browbeaten by Mr. Sharon’s false insistence that “terrorists” needed “mopping up.” It also shows how Israel’s refusal to relinquish areas under its control, and its delays in coordinating with the Lebanese National Army, which the Americans wanted to step in, prolonged the slaughter. 
Mr. Draper opened the meeting by demanding that the I.D.F. pull back right away. Mr. Sharon exploded, “I just don’t understand, what are you looking for? Do you want the terrorists to stay? Are you afraid that somebody will think that you were in collusion with us? Deny it. We denied it.” Mr. Draper, unmoved, kept pushing for definitive signs of a withdrawal. Mr. Sharon, who knew Phalange forces had already entered the camps, cynically told him, “Nothing will happen. Maybe some more terrorists will be killed. That will be to the benefit of all of us.” Mr. Shamir and Mr. Sharon finally agreed to gradually withdraw once the Lebanese Army started entering the city — but they insisted on waiting 48 hours (until the end of Rosh Hashana, which started that evening). 
Continuing his plea for some sign of an Israeli withdrawal, Mr. Draper warned that critics would say, “Sure, the I.D.F. is going to stay in West Beirut and they will let the Lebanese go and kill the Palestinians in the camps.”  
Mr. Sharon replied: “So, we’ll kill them. They will not be left there. You are not going to save them. You are not going to save these groups of the international terrorism.” 
Mr. Draper responded: “We are not interested in saving any of these people.” Mr. Sharon declared: “If you don’t want the Lebanese to kill them, we will kill them.” 
Mr. Draper then caught himself, and backtracked. He reminded the Israelis that the United States had painstakingly facilitated the P.L.O. exit from Beirut “so it wouldn’t be necessary for you to come in.” He added, “You should have stayed out.” 
Mr. Sharon exploded again: “When it comes to our security, we have never asked. We will never ask. When it comes to existence and security, it is our own responsibility and we will never give it to anybody to decide for us.” The meeting ended with an agreement to coordinate withdrawal plans after Rosh Hashana. 
By allowing the argument to proceed on Mr. Sharon’s terms, Mr. Draper effectively gave Israel cover to let the Phalange fighters remain in the camps. Fuller details of the massacre began to emerge on Sept. 18, when a young American diplomat, Ryan C. Crocker, visited the gruesome scene and reported back to Washington. 
Years later, Mr. Draper called the massacre “obscene.” And in an oral history recorded a few years before his death in 2005, he remembered telling Mr. Sharon: “You should be ashamed. The situation is absolutely appalling. They’re killing children! You have the field completely under your control and are therefore responsible for that area.” 
On Sept. 18, Reagan pronounced his “outrage and revulsion over the murders.” He said the United States had opposed Israel’s invasion of Beirut, both because “we believed it wrong in principle and for fear that it would provoke further fighting.” Secretary of State George P. Shultz later admitted that “we are partially responsible” because “we took the Israelis and the Lebanese at their word.” He summoned Ambassador Arens. “When you take military control over a city, you’re responsible for what happens,” he told him. “Now we have a massacre.” 
But the belated expression of shock and dismay belies the Americans’ failed diplomatic effort during the massacre. The transcript of Mr. Draper’s meeting with the Israelis demonstrates how the United States was unwittingly complicit in the tragedy of Sabra and Shatila. 
Ambassador Lewis, now retired, told me that the massacre would have been hard to prevent “unless Reagan had picked up the phone and called Begin and read him the riot act even more clearly than he already did in August — that might have stopped it temporarily.” But “Sharon would have found some other way” for the militiamen to take action, Mr. Lewis added. 
Nicholas A. Veliotes, then the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, agreed. “Vintage Sharon,” he said, after I read the transcript to him. “It is his way or the highway.” 
The Sabra and Shatila massacre severely undercut America’s influence in the Middle East, and its moral authority plummeted. In the aftermath of the massacre, the United States felt compelled by “guilt” to redeploy the Marines, who ended up without a clear mission, in the midst of a brutal civil war. 
On Oct. 23, 1983, the Marine barracks in Beirut were bombed and 241 Marines were killed. The attack led to open warfare with Syrian-backed forces and, soon after, the rapid withdrawal of the Marines to their ships. As Mr. Lewis told me, America left Lebanon “with our tail between our legs.” 
The archival record reveals the magnitude of a deception that undermined American efforts to avoid bloodshed. Working with only partial knowledge of the reality on the ground, the United States feebly yielded to false arguments and stalling tactics that allowed a massacre in progress to proceed. 
The lesson of the Sabra and Shatila tragedy is clear. Sometimes close allies act contrary to American interests and values. Failing to exert American power to uphold those interests and values can have disastrous consequences: for our allies, for our moral standing and most important, for the innocent people who pay the highest price of all. 
Seth Anziska is a doctoral candidate in international history at Columbia University.  



Seeking UN membership anew

Tired of Israeli intransigence, Mahmoud Abbas appears set to apply again for full UN membership for Palestine, reports Khalid Amayreh from Occupied Jerusalem

Trying desperately to salvage the Palestinian national dream of establishing a viable Palestinian state in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is planning to formally ask the United Nations to recognise “Palestine” as a member-state of the international organisation.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the highest political representative of the Palestinian people, has observer status at the UN.

A formal application will be submitted to the UN General Assembly on 27 September. The PA says as many as 133 states recognise Palestine, hence a decision at the UN in favour of the Palestinian bid is likely, save last-minute glitches.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas said the PA was serious about seeking UN membership despite Israeli threats and American objections.

During a lengthy speech in Ramallah Sunday, Abbas voiced mounting frustration at Israeli intransigence and dishonesty vis-Ã-vis the peace process. “There are many pressures and hurdles, but we will go the United Nations,” he said.

Abbas said the ongoing political deadlock was leaving the Palestinians no other choice. “We are only asking the Israelis to honour their own commitments, but they refuse.”

Abbas gave a pessimistic prognosis of the declared stands of the Binyamin Netanyahu government, saying Israel was viewing the occupied territories not as “occupied” but as “disputed land”. He added that Israel was demanding a military presence along the Jordan Valley for at least 40 years. He said the Palestinians would never accept these demands.

“We have two choices, either we go, or we don’t go. If we don’t go, the entire Palestinian cause will fall into oblivion,” Abbas said.

Last week, Israel warned the PA against applying for UN membership. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel would retaliate against the step. Lieberman previously accused the Abbas leadership of “indulging in political and diplomatic terrorism against Israel”.

Abbas alluded that Israel might eliminate him, as it eliminated other Palestinian leaders, a possible allusion to the mysterious death of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

“But there is one thing I want you to be sure of: We are staying put here. We will not leave, and we will not make the mistake of 1948 once again.

Arab states, including Egypt, are backing the PA bid to obtain UN membership. In the past, the United States used the Mubarak regime to restrain and bully the PA against making moves without Israeli and US consent.

In September 2011, the PA made a high-profile effort to obtain full member status at the UN. However, the request was not put to a vote in the Security Council where the US pledged to veto it.

On Monday, 11 September, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the Obama administration still believed that the only “realistic path” for Palestinian statehood was through direct negotiations.

Nuland said the US was trying to dissuade PA President Abbas from seeking full member status at the UN. “We are working intensively through the Quartet and directly with Israelis and Palestinians to continue to encourage them to come back to the table. All we can do is push them. We cannot force them. They have got to make the decision for peace. They’ve got to make the decision to come back to the table,” Nuland said.

Palestinians, who have been negotiating with Israel for nearly two decades but without making any real progress toward liberation from the entrenched Israeli occupation, are in no mood to listen to regurgitated remarks and platitudes repeated on the benefits of direct negotiations.

“How can we keep negotiating with Israel while Israel keeps stealing and carving out our land? It is unfair for the United States, Israel’s guardian ally, to tell the criminal and the victim to sort it out amongst them. Yet, this is what the US is telling us in real terms,” said Ghassan Khatib, former head of the government press office.

Khatib said the American stand of telling the Palestinians to negotiate with Israel without clearly determining the shape of a would-be settlement, including the exact borders of the prospective Palestinian state, was tantamount to pressuring the Palestinians to capitulate to Israeli demands.

“Remember, it is the US that provides Israel with the tools and wherewithal that enables Israel to adopt a rejectionist stand,” he said.

The Obama administration has been trying to appease Israel as part of a public relations showdown with Republican candidate Mitt Romney ahead of November’s US presidential elections.

Romney has been accusing the administration of not sufficiently backing Israel despite Obama’s repeated pronouncements asserting absolute and almost unlimited support for Tel Aviv, including commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative edge over actual and potential foes combined.

Israel, which has been squeezing and blackmailing the Obama administration for more concessions on Iran, has succeeded in getting Washington to demote the Palestinian issue to secondary status.

The PA had received vague promises from the Obama administration suggesting that President Obama would devote more time and energy to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict if elected to a second term in the White House.

Most Palestinians dismiss such promises for two reasons: first, overwhelming Jewish influence in the US Congress, often described as “an Israeli occupied territory”; second, the conviction of many observers that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is unresolvable based on the two-state solution strategy, in light of the phenomenal expansion of Jewish colonies in the West Bank, especially East Jerusalem.

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