ISRAEL / IRAN: POINTS OF NO RETURN

As it was, so it is again.  An incumbent president is in full campaign mode and a challenger is pledging eternal fealty to Israeli militarism and Zionist expansionism.  Such was 2004, so it is again.  And through it all, the Israeli government, despite making its preferences clear, feigns neutrality.
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Points of No Return, Zones of Immunity, & Windows of Opportunity: The Constant Israeli Hype Over Iran

Nima Shirazi*

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“For the greatest enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”

– President John F. Kennedy, June 1962

“Propaganda by its very nature is an enterprise for perverting the significance of events and of insinuating false intentions…The propagandist will not accuse the enemy of just any misdeed; he will accuse him of the very intention that he himself has and of trying to commit the very crime that he himself is about to commit. He who wants to provoke a war not only proclaims his own peaceful intentions but also accuses the other party of provocation.”

Jacques Ellul, 1965

A report in The Times of London, with the headline “Israel steps up plan for air attacks on Iran”, enumerates the various “options” and “military contingency plans” available to the Israeli military in order to “neutralise” Iran’s “nuclear weapons programme.”  Journalist Christopher Walker writes that Israeli “[m]ilitary planners are studying” the possibility of “hitting Iranian missile plants…with the ‘long arm’ of its airforce or targeting foreign scientists at the facilities rather than the buildings themselves.”  He adds that “surgical air strikes” would be carried out by “advanced F-15I fighter planes.”

The piece also quotes the Israeli Defense Minister as warning, “A country like Iran possessing such long range weaponry – a country that lacks stability, that is characterised by Islamic fundamentalism, by an extremist ideology that is striving to become a superpower in the Middle East – is very dangerous.”

Another alarming article, this one in The Washington Times, begins this way:

Reports that Israel is preparing for pre-emptive air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities and is now able to fire nuclear missiles from submarines were seen as reflecting deep anxiety in Israel for Tehran’s nuclear program.

Israeli newspapers said officials appear to have leaked the reports in an attempt to focus the attention of the international community on the dangers of Iranian nuclear weapons development.

In The New York Times, Hebrew University professor Martin van Creveld writes of the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran, explaining, “With the United States now in the midst of a hotly disputed election campaign,” if the Israeli Prime Minister “wanted to act, the time to do so would be between now and November.”

The first report is from December 9, 1997.  The second from October 13, 2003.  The third was published on August 21, 2004.

It is now August 2012.  Another election cycle is nearing an end and with it as always comes the same tired fearmongering and war hysteriaThreats and predictions of an unprovoked, illegal Israeli assault on Iran are once again flooding the media with dire warnings of fabricated and meaningless – but sufficiently spooky – phrases such as Iran’s supposedly loomingzone of immunity,” which until recently was ominously dubbed thepoint of no return.”  We’ve been through this charade for three decades with no end in sight.

Early this month, Israeli national security adviser Ephraim Halevy, who was once director of Mossad, was quoted as saying that if he were Iranian he “would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks.”  Meanwhile, Iranian diplomats continue to assert that the Islamic Republic has no intention of attacking Israel.  “We will react if there is any provocative act from the other side,” Mohammad Khazaee, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, told reporter Laura Rozen just a month ago. “We will not initiate any provocative steps.”

Iran’s defense doctrine has been reaffirmed at the highest levels of the U.S. intelligence community.  Earlier this year, Defense Intelligence Agency chief Ronald Burgess told the Senate Armed Services Committee that his agency continues to assess that “Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict.”

On the very same day that the editors of the New York Daily News took their cues from Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren to warn that “Tehran is on the verge of being able to produce a bomb,” a spokesman for the White House National Security Council maintained that U.S. intelligence “continue[s] to assess that Iran is not on the verge of achieving a nuclear weapon.”

Last week, reliable Netanyahu administration mouthpiece Barak Ravid reported in Ha’aretz that “[n]ew intelligence information obtained by Israel and four Western countries indicates that Iran has made greater progress on developing components for its nuclear weapons program than the West had previously realized.”  He also published an article claiming that “President Barack Obama recently received a new National Intelligence Estimate report on the Iranian nuclear program, which shares Israel’s view that Iran has made surprising, significant progress toward military nuclear capability,” adding that the alleged report contains “new and alarming intelligence information about military components of Iran’s nuclear program.”

Not only was Ravid’s reporting – tactlessly and transparently planted by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barakfull of evidence-free claims by the MEK and over-hyped falsehoods about a secret detonation chamber and atomic particles washed away from an Iranian military installation legally off-limits to IAEA inspectors that have long been debunked, it’s main scoop was immediately denied by the Obama administration.  In response to Ravid’s claims, Reuters reported a National Security Council spokesman as saying that “U.S. intelligence assessment of Iran’s nuclear activities had not changed since intelligence officials delivered testimony to Congress on the issue earlier this year.”  Both the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Ronald Burgess have consistently assessed that Iran is not building nuclear weapons.

Essentially confirming suspicions that he was the source of Ravid’s information, Ehud Barak told Israel Radio,  “There probably really is such an American intelligence report…making its way around senior offices” in Washington that, “makes the Iranian issue even more urgent and (shows it is) less clear and certain that we will know everything in time about their steady progress toward military nuclear capability.”

That’s right: probably really.

Ehud Barak even resorted to totally inapplicable and inappropriate historical analogies to anonymously fear-monger about Iran.  Utilizing the ultimate in Zionist emotional blackmail and hasbara, Barak evoked the threat of Nazi Germany: “What happened in the Rhine in 1936 will be child’s play compared to what will happen with Iran,” he declared.

Seemingly responding to former Mossad head Meir Dagan’s January 2011 determination that Israel “should use military force only if it is attacked, or if it has ‘a sword at its neck,'” Barak also pulled the phony, back-up-against-a-corner, self-defense card: “The sword at our throat is a lot sharper than the sword at our throat before the Six-Day War,” he told Ha’aretz.

Neither of these claims makes any sense.  That Iran is not the industrialized, military powerhouse that Nazi Germany was, nor does it have any expansionist or genocidal goals, hardly merits attention.  With regard to the Six-Day War, Barak is hoping his audience knows nothing of history.  The Israeli attack on Egypt that began the war was not a preemptive act of self-defense, but rather an aggressive military action.  Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin even admitted in 1982, “In June 1967 we again had a choice.  The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us.  We must be honest with ourselves.  We decided to attack him.”

Speaking to reporters on August 10, White House spokesman Jay Carney revealed that, with regard to U.S. intelligence on the Iranian nuclear energy program, “we have eyes, we have visibility into the program, and we would know if and when Iran made a — what’s called a ‘breakout move’ towards acquiring a weapon.”

Furthermore, Carney bragged about his administration’s deliberate imposition upon the Iranian people of “the most stringent sanctions ever imposed on any country,” which he said are “designed to take advantage of what we believe remains to be a window of opportunity to persuade Iran through these sanctions and through diplomatic efforts to forego its nuclear weapons ambitions.”

Window of opportunity. Zone of immunity.  Point of no return.  All options on the table.  Credible military threat.

Such hype, based on dubious claims and false information, is nothing new when it comes to American and Israeli warmongering.  For instance, a CBS News report from August 18, 2002 stated, “Israeli intelligence officials have gathered evidence that Iraq is speeding up efforts to produce biological and chemical weapons, said [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon aide Ranaan Gissin.”  The article quotes Gissin: “Any postponement of an attack on Iraq at this stage will serve no purpose.  It will only give him (Saddam) more of an opportunity to accelerate his program of weapons of mass destruction.”

Similarly, this past weekend, The New York Times reported that Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called upon the P5+1 (the five nuclear-armed permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany) to “declare today that the talks [with Iran] have failed” and demand Iran cease all nuclear activity within a matter of “weeks.”  When Iran obviously does not comply, as such a demand is ludicrous and a direct abrogation of Iran’s inalienable rights, Ayalon said “it will be clear that all options are on the table.”

The threats of war come not only from politicians, but also – as it has before – from pundits and the press.

In a memorandum highlighting a particularly alarmist and dishonest speech delivered by Vice President Dick Cheney to the Veterans of Foreign Wars 103rd National Convention on August 26, 2002, neoconservative rainmaker Bill Kristol wrote, “The time for action grows near. Congressional leaders should seriously consider a resolution authorizing use of force when they return next week. Passing such a resolution as soon as possible would provide the president with maximum flexibility and an opportunity for tactical surprise, would strengthen his hand vis-a-vis our allies, and might embolden internal opposition in Iraq.”

Nearly a decade later, a Weekly Standard opinion piece published July 2, 2012 and co-authored by Kristol declared, “Time is running out and the consequences of inaction for the United States, Israel, and the free world will only increase in the weeks and months ahead. It’s time for Congress to seriously explore an Authorization of Military Force to halt Iran’s nuclear program.”

The repetition of rhetoric advocating military violence in the form of initiating a “war of aggression” – long considered “the supreme international crime” – has never been limited only to neoconservative hawks.  For example, the warmongering of so-called “liberal” Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen is virtually indistinguishable from that of Kristol.

In February 2003, following Colin Powell’s dazzling display of lies before the United Nations Security Council, Cohen wrote that Iraq “without a doubt” maintained an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Such was Cohen’s certainty that he added, “Only a fool — or possibly a Frenchman — could conclude otherwise.”

This year, Cohen has been at it again, this time arguing that Israel has good reason to attack Iran, claiming that, while “the ultimate remedy is Iranian regime change,” which Cohen insists is “not as improbable as it sounds,” in the meantime, an Israeli assault “could accomplish quite a lot.”  His reasoning is based on a total misunderstanding of historical events, wholesale contempt for international law, blind acceptance of selective Israeli and American allegations, and willfully ignoring consistently reaffirmed assessments of U.S. intelligence and IAEA inspections.

Inexplicably, this man still has a job.

As it was, so it is again.  An incumbent president is in full campaign mode and a challenger is pledging eternal fealty to Israeli militarism and Zionist expansionism.  Such was 2004, so it is again.  And through it all, the Israeli government, despite making its preferences clear, feigns neutrality.

In a September 7, 2004 interview with The Jerusalem Post, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared, “I don’t interfere in elections. I never interfere in elections in other countries, and I hope that they will never interfere here either. I have no need to interfere and it is forbidden to interfere.”  He added, “It is no secret that the US is Israel’s devoted friend. There is a traditional friendship between the US and Israel. It is mutual.”

In a letter to The New York Times published on April 12, 2012, Israeli ambassador Michael Oren wrote, “Israel does not interfere in internal political affairs of the United States…and greatly values the wide bipartisan support it enjoys in America.”

And yet Oren continues to insist that the Israeli clock “is ticking faster” and claims “Israel, not the United States, is threatened almost weekly, if not daily, with annihilation by Iranian leaders.”  He declares diplomacy dead and suggests “that truly crippling sanctions together with a credible military threat – and that I stress, that’s a threat; not that we just say that it’s credible, the folks in Tehran have to believe us when we say that – may still deter them. But we also have to be prepared, as President Obama has said, to keep all options on the table, including a military option.”

Oren’s explicit call for not only collective punishment but a “credible military threat” – echoing the demands of his boss Netanyahu – is in fact a direct violation of the Chapter 1, Article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter which declares, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Nevertheless, the threats and speculations continue unabated with Israel always residing safely within its own zone of impunity.  Though highlycredentialed foreign policy experts, in addition to many military and defense officials, warn against the wisdom of an Israeli attack, rarely – if ever – does anyone explain that such action would unequivocally constitute a war crime.  This same scenario repeats year after year.

In his 1997 book Open Secrets: Israeli Foreign and Nuclear Policies, Holocaust survivor and Israeli professor Israel Shahak wrote,

Since the spring of 1992, public opinion in Israel is being prepared for the prospect of a war with Iran, to be fought to bring about Iran’s total military and political defeat. In one version, Israel would attack Iran alone, in another it would ‘persuade’ the West to do the job. The indoctrination campaign to this effect is gaining in intensity. It is accompanied by what could be called semi-official horror scenarios purporting to detail what Iran could do to Israel, the West and the entire world when it acquires nuclear weapons as it is expected to a few years hence. (p.54)

We’ve been seeing exactly this situation play out with increasing frequency.  Last summer, Ha’aretz reporter Ari Shavit, this regarding the constant Israeli “threat of a military attack against Iran,” wrote:

This threat is crucial for scaring the Iranians and for goading on the Americans and the Europeans. It is also crucial for spurring on the Chinese and the Russians. Israel must not behave like an insane country. Rather, it must create the fear that if it is pushed into a corner it will behave insanely. To ensure that Israel is not forced to bomb Iran, it must maintain the impression that it is about to bomb Iran.

Yet the Iranian government isn’t falling for the bluff, despite the fact that, with inhumane sanctions, the murders of Iranian civilians, drone surveillance, covert operations, support for Iranian terrorist groups,  and continuing cyberwar, the United States and Israel are already violating Iranian sovereignty and imposing lethal violence and forced deprivation on the Iranian people and their country.

But even an air strike, let alone a full-scale war, won’t happenProbably really.

Aboard Air Force One last week, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that “the President remains committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and that we are leading an international effort to — yes, something exciting happened in soccer.  Sorry, excuse me, now I’m distracted.”

Carney had the right idea.  We should all be so distracted.

Written FOR

NEW YORKERS PROTEST NUCLEAR ENERGY IN SOLIDARITY WITH JAPAN

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Commentary by and Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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Over the weekend New Yorkers gathered in Union Square Park to protest nuclear energy,specifically to close down the New York Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. The gathering was also a sign of solidarity with the people of Japan as this was the First Year Anniversary of the Fukushima disaster.
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THE ‘NO-DEAL’ PALESTINIAN PRISONER LEFT BEHIND

Page by page, Marwan Barghouti’s anti-war tome walked out of prison

Joseph Dana

A Palestinian artist finishes a portrait of jailed Palestinian Fatah leader Marwan Barghuti on a cement barrier near the Israeli-controlled Qalandia checkpoint, between Jerusalem and Ramallah. AFP
*A Palestinian artist finishes a portrait of jailed Palestinian Fatah leader Marwan Barghuti on a cement barrier near the Israeli-controlled Qalandia checkpoint, between Jerusalem and Ramallah. AFP
Fadwa, Marwan Barghouti's wife, photographed in 2005 as she is briefed by a security official on her arrival at the El-Tufah checkpoint in Khan Yunes in the southern Gaza Strip. She believes that her husband
*Fadwa, Marwan Barghouti’s wife, photographed in 2005 as she is briefed by a security official on her arrival at the El-Tufah checkpoint in Khan Yunes in the southern Gaza Strip. She believes that her husband “is the natural leader of the Palestinian people … [they want him] to lead them in their fight against occupation”. AFP
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Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza celebrated the return of their loved ones last Sunday as the final wave of prisoners were released in an exchange between Hamas and Israel. However, one prisoner was notably absent. Marwan Barghouti, the jailed Fatah leader known by many Palestinians as the “prince of resistance”, remains behind bars in Israel despite promises from the Palestinian leadership that his freedom would be secured through the exchange of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. On the eve of the prisoner swap, Barghouti released a 255-page book, written secretly behind bars and smuggled out via lawyers and family members, detailing his experience in Israeli jails.

Barghouti is a figure of towering reverence among Palestinians and even some Israelis, regardless of political persuasion. Yet, he was reluctant to begin a life in the political spotlight. In fact, the Israeli occupation came to him, his long-time friend Sa’ad Nimer noted during a long conversation in a dank Ramallah coffee shop. When Barghouti was just 15, living in the small village of Kober just outside Ramallah, Israeli soldiers shot his beloved dog during a military sweep of the village. From that moment on, Nimer said in a haze of nostalgia, the occupation was a personal issue for Barghouti.

A natural leader with admirable charisma and an unwavering hatred of Israeli occupation, Barghouti has been an active political leader since the early 1980s. At age 18, during one of his early stints in an Israeli prison for political organising, he was elected the prisoner representative, a task which required him to unify competing political affiliations of prisoners and negotiate with Israeli authorities. The appointment foreshadowed a long career of uniting Palestinians regardless of political agenda.

Despite his vocal support for the two-state solution and attempts at reconciliation with Israeli civil society, Barghouti has remained a puzzling and aggressive figure for Israel. “When Marwan got out of jail the second time [in 1982 at age 23], the Israelis did not know what to do with him,” said Nimer, who is the director of the Free Marwan Baghouti Campaign based in Ramallah. In the early 1980s, Barghouti was a primary organiser in the Shabibia movement, a Fatah-based student group that campaigned for better education standards in Palestine. The movement, still active in the West Bank, was a primary organising vehicle of the First Intifada.

While not overtly against the occupation, Barghouti’s early political activity was understood by Israel as a threat and he was deported to Jordan under extraordinary circumstances. According to Nimer, “Jordan was not taking deportees at the time, so the Israelis just put him on a helicopter and dropped him into the middle of the Jordanian desert, desperate to get rid of him”.

From Jordan, Barghouti helped organise the First Intifada, relaying messages and tactics to Palestinians, mostly aligned with Shabibia, in the West Bank. After the signing of the Oslo peace accords in 1994 he returned to the West Bank as a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the parliament of the Palestinian Authority, and embraced the peace process wholeheartedly.

During his time as a PLC member, he maintained a tough stance on corruption inside Palestinian politics and won himself many enemies in the upper echelons of power in the West Bank and Gaza. Unlike many of his colleagues in the PLC, Barghouti was never appointed to public office and derived his political capital directly from the people who consistently provided him with strong electoral results.

For Kadoura Fares, the current president of the Palestinian Prisoners Association and former member of the PLC, Barghouti’s pragmatic approach to peace during the 1990s demonstrated his overarching desire to end Israeli occupation at all costs. “We had a meeting with Israeli officials in Jerusalem in 1996,” Fares told me in his comfortable Ramallah office adorned with paintings of the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish. “I was very worried because of the negative reaction of many Palestinians towards meeting with the Israelis, but Marwan calmed me down. He told me that it was the time for peace and we must pursue it despite the public pressure. He would always say that there is a time for peace and a time for resistance. It was a time for peace.”

When Oslo collapsed and the Second Intifada engulfed Israel and the Palestinian territories in violence, Barghouti embraced armed resistance. He assumed a leadership position in Fatah’s armed wing, coordinating attacks against the Israeli military in the West Bank and Israeli civilians in Tel Aviv. It is for these activities that Israelis understand Barghouti as a terrorist leader. His friends and colleagues maintain that his support of armed resistance as a vehicle to achieving an end to occupation was in line with the popular sentiments expressed on the street at the time.

“He got credibility for supporting armed resistance from the Palestinian street,” recalls Laila Jamal, a member of the Palestinian Authority’s media department from the village of Salfit in the central West Bank. “During that time, we saw the occupation in action and everyone supported armed resistance. He understood this and acted in line with the popular sentiment.”

Barghouti was arrested by Israeli forces conducting sweeps in Ramallah in April 2002 while he was a sitting member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He was quickly transferred to Israel for trial in a civilian court on multiple counts of murder including authorising and organising an attack in Tel Aviv in which many civilians were killed, attempted murder and membership in a terrorist organisation.

Citing the illegitimacy of the Israeli legal system over occupied Palestinians, Barghouti refused to accept the charges or stage a defence in the Tel Aviv court. During the drawn out proceedings, he delivered impassioned and researched speeches arguing that the court and the practices of the Israeli military in the West Bank were illegal under international law.

He never recognised the authority of the Israeli court system from his first statement to the judge in which he proclaimed, “I am a political leader, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, elected by my people. Israel has no right to try me, to accuse me, judge me. This is a violation of international law. I have a right to resist occupation.” Dismissing the allegation, Israel charged him with five life sentences for murdering Israelis and 40 years imprisonment for attempted murder, which he is currently serving.

Since his conviction, Barghouti has done what he knows best; actively campaigning for the reunification of Palestinian political factions. After the 2006 Hamas-Fatah split, which resulted in bloody infighting among the factions, Barghouti organised a prisoners’ campaign with members of Hamas, Fatah as well as PFLP and DFLP that called for immediate reunification. According to those close to him, like Fares, his work on Palestinian unity is a reason why so many Palestinian politicians are afraid of his freedom and a possible reason why he was left out of the recent prisoner swap.

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If there is one experience that has the potential to unify the Palestinian people, it is the experience of being a prisoner in an Israeli military jail. Barghouti’s new book, One Thousand Nights in Solitude, is, at its core, a book about dealing with the Israeli prison system as a Palestinian. Reading like an instruction manual for coping with the experiences of interrogation and prolonged detainment, the book breaks new ground in the underreported subject of Israel’s treatment of Palestinian political prisoners.

Israel’s military court system has processed roughly 750,000 Palestinians according to the Red Crescent, but exact numbers are hard to obtain. In fact, any sort of exact information about Israel’s military jail system is difficult to find given its role as one of the primary Israeli mechanisms of controlling Palestinian dissent and nascent resistance to the occupation.

According to a recent expose by the Israeli liberal daily Haaretz, military courts have an astonishingly high conviction rate of 99.74 per cent. Many Palestinian defendants are put through a programme of psychological and physical torture that often results in coerced testimonies necessary in the maintenance of a high conviction rate. Haaretz has also released reports seemingly confirming the widespread belief that torture is widely used and that Israeli military judges are often aware that information used in tribunals is obtained through psychological and physical torture.

“He is trying to create a civil resistance inside the military prison system,” said Majad Abdel Hamid, a young artist and political activist in Ramallah. “If all Palestinians refused to recognise the legitimacy of the Israeli military court system, Israel would be in big trouble. This is partly what the new book is about.”

Kept in solitary confinement for an extended period and put through various periods of psychological and even physical torture, Barghouti’s book details the tenacity required to not wilt under such difficult conditions. In the first chapter, he describes in verbose language how Israel used various interrogators to coerce information out of him regarding senior Fatah leaders in the West Bank. This common procedure was extremely tough on Barghouti since, in the words of Sa’ad Nimer, “they wanted information tying Yasser Arafat to terrorism and they never got it from Marwan”.

Following a political career best understood as leading by example, Barghouti sets out to demonstrate how Palestinians can achieve a meaningful non-violent resistance against the military court system. In addition to the practical information of surviving within the Israeli prison system, he details his arguments for Palestinian political unity as a means of resistance to Israeli occupation.

The book devotes great detail to his three years housed in a tiny cell (measuring one by 1.5 metres) in solitary confinement. It is from this experience that the title, One Thousand Nights in Solitude was born.

Fadwa Barghouti is a carefully appointed woman who has spearheaded her husband’s awareness campaign since the beginning of his current imprisonment. From the same village of Kober, Fadwa is a distant relative of Marwan, sharing the same fourth-generation great grandfather. Sitting in her comfortable office overlooking the Muqata compound where Yasser Arafat was confined by Israeli forces at the height of the Second Intifada, Fadwa remains confident that her husband will be released soon, but is visibly upset at the recent failure by Hamas to gain his freedom. “I know why he was not released,” she told me sipping sugary tea, “but I am not going to tell you.”

Sitting under the ubiquitous photo of her husband surrounded by Israeli prison guards with handcuffed hands held high, she glowingly reports that he is using his time in prison to enrich himself intellectually.

He is a ferocious reader, consuming books in English, Arabic, Hebrew and French on topics ranging from French colonial rule in Algeria to the latest biographies of the former US president Bill Clinton and Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister. He also has a deep respect for the work of Paulo Coehlo and the Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Liebowitz. Additionally, Barghouti has written two books and completed his PhD from the University of Cairo entitled, The Legislative and Political Performance of the Palestinian Legislative Council and its Contribution to the Democratic Process in Palestine from 1996 to 2008. His doctorate, like the recent book, was smuggled out of jail one page at a time and took years to complete.

In addition to maintaining public and international pressure on Palestinian and Israeli leaders for the release of her husband, Fadwa has had to raise her family without a father. One of their three sons is now living in the United Kingdom while completing his higher education. His other two sons and one daughter live in the West Bank and are known in Ramallah for their active social lives and lack of interest in Palestinian national politics. Fadwa’s dedication to her husband is demonstrated in the romantic language used to describe his meaning to the Palestinian people.

“Marwan Barghouti is the natural leader of the Palestinian people,” Fadwa said. “In opinion polls, he is regularly shown to be the choice of Palestinians because of his adherence to the two-state solution, his fight against corruption and for the rights of women and democracy. The people want Marwan Barghouti to lead them in their fight against occupation.”

Palestinians are exhausted from the emotional and physical toll of the Second Intifada. Most express dismay at the infighting that has plagued the political establishment since the 2006 fallout between Hamas and Fatah but offer little solution for dealing with it. There is also a sense that the political establishment is no longer working in the interests of the people despite the highly popular attempt to achieve statehood recognition at the United Nations earlier this year, which Barghouti supported from jail.

“I think what is needed now from the leadership is to have honesty and self-reflection. In a way, this is one of the strengths of Marwan Barghouti in that he is honest with Palestinians. He doesn’t b******* us. We are sick and tired of Palestinian leaders who [do],” said Majd Abdel Hamid, who is part of the March 15th youth movement that demanded reconciliation of political factions earlier this year after the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia reshaped the Middle East. He does not support any Palestinian political party, like many in the March 15th movement, but believes that Barghouti has the power to open a new chapter in the Palestinian national struggle if only he is released from jail.

Dancing around the subject of the recent prisoner swap, Fadwa Barghouti remains confident that the current political leadership is afraid of a free Barghouti. For five years she was told by Fatah and Hamas leaders that her husband’s freedom would come in the form of the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. But, at the last minute, a month before the controversial deal between Hamas and Israel was signed in Egypt, Barghouti, along with nine other senior political prisoners, were dropped from this list.

“I believe that there was a weak attempt in the prisoners swap to free my husband,” Fadwa said, asserting that securing her husband’s release was indeed possible. “I am talking about the Palestinian leadership of Hamas and Fatah. The people have been demanding his release for the last 10 years and they simply ignored the people’s will.”

Indeed, Marwan Barghouti is often cited as a potential replacement for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Barghouti along with Kadoura Fares and Mohammad Dahlan threatened to begin an independent party called Al-Mustaqbal (The Future) in 2005 after Abbas offered Barghouti second place in Fatah despite clear indications that Barghouti would win national election. Ultimately, according to Fares, Barghouti felt that a second party would harm Palestinian unity and ran on the Fatah party ticket, securing a seat in the PLC as a Fatah member.

Due to the belief that Barghouti would be part of the recent prisoner swap, the grassroots movement to free him has lost momentum in recent years.

But, according to Fadwa Barghouti, things have changed and with the release of his new book there are renewed efforts to pressure the Palestinian leadership to negotiate his release. The Free Marwan Barghouti campaign is planning to stage several demonstrations in March under the banner that Palestinians refuse negotiations with Israel without a free Barghouti to lead them.

“The pressure is on the politicians, all the politicians, to release Marwan if they want to move forward with negotiations with Israel,” Fadwa told me. “Palestinians want their leader to move them forward and the political establishment will have to deal with this reality in the new year.”

Whenever discussions arise about Marwan Barghouti in Israel or Palestine, one name is unavoidable: Nelson Mandela. In the 1990s, dovish Israeli politicians and political thinkers such as Uri Avenry began calling Barghouti Palestine’s Mandela. The comparison is not without merit: both leaders have refused to swear off armed resistance, both have spent long periods of time in jail, unwilling to cooperate with authorities, and both have enjoyed a unique loyalty from their people that has transcended political affiliations. Israeli society will continue to see Barghouti as a symbol of the violent Second Intifada, but after his inevitable release, they will likely be seeing him sitting at a negotiations table working to end the conflict and dismantle the Israeli occupation.

After the statehood campaign in the UN that failed to achieve independence, Palestinians are left with a power vacuum and a tough road to reconciliation. Now, more than ever, a leader is required to bring Palestine’s political factions together. When asked who might be the leader to open a new chapter in Palestinian politics, Kadura Fares paused, and took a long drag from his ever present cigarette, “it is not necessarily one individual who can do that with the snap of his fingers. Abu Mazen tried, he did a lot, but it was not enough, but I do think that Marwan could be the person.”

Written FOR

PHOTO ESSAY OF A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE WALL STREET ENCAMPMENT

Wall Street has literally become ‘home’ to hundreds of people. A library has been set up as well as a slide show, meals are served, there is music and dancing. Truly a home away from home!
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There’s even an official ‘logo’ welcoming visitors….
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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There was even a ‘home visit’ by doctors and other healthcare workers …
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GILAD SHALIT: THE REAL STORY

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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Everybody’s Son
By Uri Avnery

THE MOST sensible – I almost wrote “the only sensible” – sentence uttered this week sprang from the lips of a 5-year old boy.

After the prisoner swap, one of those smart-aleck TV reporters asked him: “Why did we release 1027 Arabs for one Israeli soldier?” He expected, of course, the usual answer: because one Israeli is worth a thousand Arabs.

The little boy replied: “Because we caught many of them and they caught only one.”

FOR MORE than a week, the whole of Israel was in a state of intoxication. Gilad Shalit indeed ruled the country (Shalit means “ruler”). His pictures were plastered all over the place like those of Comrade Kim in North Korea.

It was one of those rare moments, when Israelis could be proud of themselves. Few countries, if any, would have been prepared to exchange 1027 prisoners for one. In most places, including the USA, it would have been politically impossible for a leader to make such a decision.

In a way it is a continuation of the Jewish ghetto tradition. The “Redemption of Prisoners” is a sacred religious duty, born of the circumstances of a persecuted and scattered community. If a Jew from Marseilles was captured by Muslim corsairs to be sold on the market of Alexandria, it was the duty of Jews in Cairo to pay the ransom and “redeem” him.

As the ancient saying goes: “All Israel are guarantors for each other”.

Israelis could (and did) look in the mirror and say “aren’t we wonderful?”

IMMEDIATELY AFTER the Oslo agreement, Gush Shalom, the peace movement to which I belong, proposed releasing all Palestinian prisoners at once. They are prisoners-of-war, we said, and when the fighting ends, PoWs are sent home. This would transmit a powerful human message of peace to every Palestinian town and village. We organized a joint demonstration with the late Jerusalemite Arab leader, Feisal Husseini, in front of Jeneid prison near Nablus. More than ten thousand Palestinians and Israelis took part.

But Israel has never recognized these Palestinians as prisoners-of-war. They are considered common criminals, only worse.

This week, the released prisoners were never referred to as “Palestinian fighters”, or “militants”’ or just “Palestinians”. Every single newspaper and TV program, from the elitist Haaretz to the most primitive tabloid, referred to them exclusively as “murderers”, or, for good measure, “vile murderers”.

One of the worst tyrannies on earth is the tyranny of words. Once a word becomes entrenched, it directs thought and action. As the Bible has it: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). Releasing a thousand enemy fighters is one thing, releasing a thousand vile murderers is something else.

Some of these prisoners have assisted suicide bombers in killing a lot of people. Some have committed really atrocious acts – like the pretty young Palestinian woman who used the internet to lure a love-sick Israeli boy of 15 into a trap, where he was riddled with bullets. But others were sentenced to life for belonging to an “illegal organization” and possessing arms, or for throwing an ineffectual home made bomb at a bus hurting nobody.

Almost all of them were convicted by military courts. As has been said, military courts have the same relation to real courts as military music does to real music.

All of these prisoners, in Israeli parlance, have “blood on their hands”. But which of us Israelis has no blood on his hands? Sure, a young woman soldier remotely controlling a drone that kills a Palestinian suspect and his entire family has no sticky blood on her hands. Neither has a pilot who drops a bomb on a residential neighborhood and feels only “a slight bump on the wing”, as a former Chief of Staff put it. (A Palestinian once told me: “Give me a tank or a fighter plane, and I shall give up terrorism immediately.”)

The main argument against the swap was that, according to Security Service statistics, 15% of prisoners thus released become active “terrorists” again. Perhaps. But the majority of them become active supporters of peace. Practically all of my Palestinian friends are former prisoners, some of whom were behind bars for 12 years and more. They learned Hebrew in prison, became acquainted with Israeli life by watching television and even began to admire some aspects of Israel, such as our parliamentary democracy. Most prisoners just want to go home, settle down and found a family.

But during the endless hours of waiting for Gilad’s return, all our TV stations showed scenes of the killings in which the prisoners-to-be-released had been involved, such as the young woman who drove a bomber to his destination. It was a continuous tirade of hatred. Our warm admiration for our own virtue was mingled with the chilling feeling that we are again the victims, compelled to release vile murderers who are going to try and kill us again.

Yet all these prisoners fervently believed that they had served their people in its struggle for liberation. Like the famous song: “Shoot me as an Irish soldier / Do not hang me like a dog / For I fought for Ireland’s freedom…” Nelson Mandela, it should be remembered, was an active terrorist who languished in prison for 28 years because he refused to sign a statement condemning terrorism.

Israelis (probably like most peoples) are quite unable to put themselves into the shoes of their adversaries. This makes it practically impossible to pursue an intelligent policy, particularly on this issue.

HOW WAS Binyamin Netanyahu brought to bend?

The hero of the campaign is Noam Shalit, the father. An introverted person, withdrawn and shy of publicity, he came out and fought for his son every single day during these five years and four months. So did the mother. They literally saved his life. They succeeded in raising a mass movement without precedent in the annals of the state.

It helped that Gilad looks like everybody’s son. He is a shy young man with an engaging smile that could be seen on each of the stills and videos from before the capture. He was youngish looking, thin and unassuming. Five years later, this week, he still looked the same, only very pale.

If our intelligence services had been able to locate him, they would have undoubtedly tried to liberate him by force. This could well have been his death sentence, as happened so often in the past. The fact that they could not find him, despite their hundreds of agents in the Gaza Strip, is a remarkable achievement for Hamas. It explains why he was kept in strict isolation and was not allowed to meet anyone.

Israelis were relieved to discover, on his release, that he seemed to be in good condition, healthy and alert. From the few sentences he voiced on his way in Egypt, he had been provided with radio and TV and knew about his parents’ efforts.

From the moment he set foot on Israeli soil, almost nothing about the way he was treated was allowed to come out. Where was he kept? How was the food? Did his captors talk with him? What did he think about them? Did he learn Arabic? Up to now, not a word about that, probably because it might throw some positive light on Hamas. He will certainly be thoroughly briefed before being allowed to speak.

FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS repeatedly asked me this week whether the deal had opened the way to a new peace process. As far as the public mood is concerned, the very opposite is true.

The same journalists asked me if Binyamin Netanyahu had not been disturbed by the fact that the swap was bound to strengthen Hamas and deal a grievous blow to Mahmoud Abbas. They were flabbergasted by my answer: that this was one of its main purposes, if not the main one.

The master stroke was a stroke against Abbas.

Abbas’ moves in the UN have profoundly disturbed our right-wing government. Even if the only practical outcome is a resolution of the General Assembly to recognize the State of Palestine as an observer state, it will be a major step towards a real Palestinian state.

This government, like all our governments since the foundation of Israel – only more so – is dead set against Palestinian statehood. It would put an end to the dream of a Greater Israel up to the Jordan River, compel us to give back a great chunk of the Land-God-Promised-Us and evacuate scores of settlements.

For Netanyahu and Co. this is the real danger. Hamas poses no danger at all. What can they do? Launch a few rockets, kill a few people – so what? In no year has “terrorism” killed as many as half the people dying on our roads. Israel can deal with that. The Hamas regime would probably not be running the Gaza Strip in the first place if Israel had not cut the Strip off from the West Bank, contrary to its solemn undertaking in Oslo to create four safe passages. None was ever opened.

That, by the way, also explains the timing. Why did Netanyahu agree now to something he has violently opposed all his life? Because Abbas, the featherless chicken, has suddenly turned into an eagle.

On the day of the swap, Abbas made a speech. It sounded rather flat. For the average Palestinian, the case was quite simple: Abbas, with all his Israeli and American friends, has got no one released for years. Hamas, using force, has released more than a thousand, including Fatah members. Ergo: “Israel understands only the language of force”.

THE VAST majority of Israelis supported the deal, though convinced that the vile murderers will try again to kill us.

Never were the lines of division as clear as this time: some 25% opposed it. These included all the extreme right-wing, all the settlers and almost all the national-religious. All the others – the huge camp of the center and left, the secular, liberal and moderate religious – supported it.

This is the Israeli mainstream on which the hopes for the future are resting. If Netanyahu had proposed a peace agreement with the Palestinians this week, and if he had been supported by the chiefs of the army, the Mossad and the Security Service (as he was this week), the same majority would have supported him.

As for the prisoners – another 4000 are still held in Israeli prisons, and this number is liable to grow again. The opponents of the deal are quite right in saying that it will provide Palestinian organizations with a strong incentive to renew their efforts to capture Israeli soldiers in order to get more prisoners released.

If all of Israel is drunk with emotion because one boy has been returned to his family – what about 4000 families on the other side? Unfortunately, ordinary Israelis don’t put the question this way. They have got used to seeing the Palestinian prisoners only as bargaining chips.

How to thwart the efforts to capture more soldiers? There is only one alternative: to open a credible way to have them released by agreement.

Such as by peace, if you can excuse the expression.

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

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Also see Stuart Littlewood’s essay HERE

Yes, rejoice for precious Shalit. Spare a thought for the 8,000 Palestinian prisoners

DAY 15,840 OF #OCCUPY PALESTINE (PLUS) /// PHOTOS AND VIDEO

 Day 23 of #Occupy Wall Street ….
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There is no comparison to the two occupations… one is for social change and civil liberties, the other is for destruction, murder and land grabbing… One is receiving world wide support daily, the other is condemned worldwide.
THAT’S THE DIFFERENCE …. see for yourself
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Just one recent example of the terrorism the Palestinians have to put up with…
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Brutal eviction of Palestinian family in Jaffa caught on tape

An Israeli-Arab family from Jaffa said Thursday they plan to file a lawsuit against the police, after officers used what appears to be excessive force to evict them from a south Tel Aviv house they were squatting in on Tuesday. In an amateur video taken at the scene, a group of YASSAM riot police can be seen wrestling with Sameer Kassem, 34, as he holds his four-year-old daughter in his hands: The video shows police kicking and punching Kassem while he lies on the ground, and one officer puts his sister, a Muslim woman wearing a veil, in a headlock and throws her to the ground. No social workers or female police are present at the scene, even though it constituted the eviction of a family with young children … Sameer said he and his family have been homeless since May when his mother, who used to help him with his expenses, died and he could no longer pay rent. He said that he, his wife, and their five children moved to the vacant house on Salameh Street about two weeks ago after someone set their tent at the Shtayim park on fire.
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While at Wall Street …. here are some of the faces in the crowd…. not a terrorist among them;
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 Some of the people photographed here have been in Zuccoti Park since the first week of the occupation, others are just visitors drawn to see the community that has been created in support of this movement.
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Photos originally posted AT

HAS THE ‘ARAB SPRING’ FINALLY ARRIVED IN ISRAEL?

Despite a record breaking heat wave, thousands of people demonstrated throughout Israel this evening. Has the ‘Arab Spring’ finally arrived in Israel? Stay tuned for results of these demos…
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Israelis march in the center of Tel Aviv on July 30, 2011. Photo by: AFP

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Thousands turn out across Israel in latest round of mass protests

Demonstrations are held in more than ten cities across Israel in bid to lower housing prices; PM Netanyahu mulls tax breaks to quell the public protests.

Protests against the spiraling costs of living in Israel, that have become a nationwide phenomenon, were held Saturday in cities across the country.

Tent cities have been erected throughout the country in recent weeks in a bid to bring about a reduction in housing costs, and last Saturday thousands turned out for a mass demonstration in Tel Aviv in which several were arrested in scuffles with police.

Gatherings took place Saturday in Tel Aviv, Kiryat Shmona, Nazareth, Haifa, Modiin, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Jerusalem and Be’er Sheva, Hod Hasharon and Raanana.

The protests began at 9:00 P.M. on Saturday and will end with concerts by several well-known Israeli performers including Yehuda Poliker, Barry Sakharov and Yishai Levi.

The largest event took place in Tel Aviv, with organizers saying 30,000 took part. The march began in HaBima Square, just as it did last week, and made its way to the Tel Aviv Museum. A mass rally will take place at the plaza in front of the museum, where the musical performance will be held. The protesters carried signs saying “the people demand social justice” and “when the government is against the people, the people are against the government.”

In Haifa, thousands of people marched through the city, and in Jerusalem thousands marched from Horse Park to the house of Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The protesters shouted “he nation demands social justice.” On their route, they passed the site of the housing protest tent city set up in Jerusalem’s Independence Park.

In Be’er Sheva, over one thousand protesters marched carrying banners saying things like, “Be’er Sheva is shouting times seven.” ‘Sheva’ is the Hebrew word for the number seven.

In Ashdod, protesters are marching from City Park. Around 150 people gathered at Ashdod’s tent city on their way to the march. Students from Beit Barel marched from the tent city at Kfar Sava to central Ra’anana junction.

For the first time since the beginning of the protests 16 days ago, a protest involving both Jews and Arabs took place in central Nazareth. In Kiryat Shmona 500 protesters marched in the city’s main road, towards the southern exit of the city.

“We are trying to find specific direction for this dream,” Stav Shafir, one of the protests’ organizers said in Tel Aviv on Saturday, adding that “at this stage in the protest the bravest move would be to allow us to express our dream – what a social state is.”

The housing activist added that protesters “want a state in which protesters is provided with their basic needs – attainable housing, attainable health care, attainable education – an attainable future.”

Motorcyclists also joined the housing struggle. They gathered at Cinema City near Glilot Junction and left from for a slow-ride to the demonstration near the Tel Aviv Museum.

Earlier Saturday, Likud MK Ofir Akunis said Netanyahu is setting up a team to examine the lowering of taxes. Akunis told Army Radio that “the government is attentive to the public, and so it is working to ease the burdens.”

Source

THE ZEITGEIST OF THE ZIOGOY

 Image by Skulz Fontaine (click to enlarge)

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If Muslims were involved it would have been terrorism…..
If it was a ‘Christian’ zionist,  it’s insanity….

UNBELIEVABLE! Their ‘camp’ seems to be growing daily. Their philosophy could make for a good chuckle if it wasn’t so dangerous. And dangerous it is as can be seen in the recent events in Norway.
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Threatening to burn the Koran is one thing, shooting down children in a summer camp is quite another thing …. but, those are the manifestations of hatred and ignorance. And, all in the name of Jesus to boot.  Some examples of their madness follows….
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From a recent post…

American TV personality and evangelical Christian leader Pat Robertson, backed by an Israeli flag, delivers a speech on a pilgrimage to Israel. AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

Pat Robertson: Muslims are the New Nazis (Read the post HERE)

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Why Did Sarah Palin Wear a Star of David in Israel? (Read the post HERE)

palin.star.banner.jpg
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But, the piaz de resistance was in today’s press reports…
From The Guardian; Full report HERE

Glenn Beck likens Norwegian dead to Hitler youth

US broadcaster’s comparison of political activities on island of Utøya with Nazi party camp condemned as ‘a new low’

Glenn Beck
Glenn Beck made the controversial remarks on his syndicated radio show. Photograph: Mike Mergen/AP
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All of the above are the true friends of zion, the ziogoys. There are more, many more, yet Islam is still pointed at as the enemy. When will we see a zeitgeist of truth and justice?

NEWS AND VIEWS FROM DOWN UNDER

Bin Laden, Palestine, Sri Lanka, resistance etc

Prepared by Antony Loewenstein

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As the West desperately fights to avoid real democracy in the Arab world (despite giving lip service to “freedom” and “human rights”), there are battles closer to home that require attention. The Obama administration has unleashed the strongest war against whistle-blowers in US history. It’s been directed against leading journalists , a senior figure at the National Security Agency and of course Wikileaks and Bradley Manning. These issues matter because a healthy democracy can only thrive with transparency and accountability. Barack Obama spoke before being elected as a man who believed in these concepts; his actions since assuming office prove otherwise. America now maintains a permanent national security state and a (likely) future head of the CIA who backs torture. Jack Balkin, a liberal law professor at Yale, recently told the New Yorker: “We are witnessing the bipartisan normalisation and legitimisation of a national-surveillance state.”

In my work over the last months:

My appearance on ABCTV News24’s The Drum talking about the death of Bin Laden and what it means for Muslim resistance.

Article on ABC online about what Bin Laden’s murder tells us about our violent post 9/11 world (this article was attacked in Murdoch’s Australian newspaper as embracing nihilism and undermining Western civilisation. Really).

Recent speech, alongside Al-Jazeera reporter Matthew Cassel, on the political and social significance of the Arab revolutions.

Appearance on ABCTV News 24’s The Drum talking climate change and Gaza flotilla 2.

Essay in literary journal Overland on the politics of literary festivals and the reasons why abuses in Sri Lanka and Palestine must not be ignored. ABC published a shorter version and Overland published an interview with me about the essay’s issues.

Article in Australian magazine New Matilda on Barack Obama’s recent Middle East related speeches and his unwillingness to support the Palestinian cause.

Essay in literary journal Overland about Omar Barghouti’s new book on boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and the moral and legal case for enforcing international law.

– I appeared at the recent Sydney Writer’s Festival alongside Palestinian doctor Izzaldin Abuelaish, American journalist Mike Otterman and others. Because I didn’t praise Israel enough (or at all, actually), I was attacked by the Zionist lobby.

Book review in the Sydney Morning Herald of The Net Delusion on the role of the internet in repressive regimes.

Attending the Celebrate Israel day in New York.

Interview in Electronic Intifada about Palestine, boycotts and the Middle East.

Reviewing Terrence Malick’s new film masterpiece, The Tree of Life.

Open letter to the Chinese government from the Australian cultural community demanding the release of famed artist Ai Weiwei.

For a daily dose, see my website, Twitter and Facebook.

PULLING OUT THE ‘ANTI-SEMITE CARD’ WON’T SAVE DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN

But the sex scandal that political observers say will probably end Strauss-Kahn’s political career is not likely to have a negative impact on the French-Jewish community. “But it will certainly give succor to those in the community who believe it is better to stay away from politics because Jews inevitably end up paying the price,” Klugman said. “And that’s just sad.”

Strauss-Kahn’s Journey From Acceptance to Sex Scandal

Anti-Semitism Now the Least Of Ex-IMF Chief’s Problems

Jailed: Dominique Strauss-Kahn in custody.
Getty Images  Jailed: Dominique Strauss-Kahn in custody.

Update: On May 18, Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned his position as managing director of the International Monetary Fund. On May 19, he was released on bail.


PARIS — Just weeks ago, Dominique Strauss-Kahn worried aloud that his Jewish identity would be exploited during France’s upcoming presidential campaign.

In what were to have been off-the-record meetings with writers and editors of the French newspaper Libération and the newsmagazine Marianne, Strauss-Kahn in late April cited money, women — he had admitted to a 2008 extramarital affair with a subordinate at the International Monetary Fund — and his Jewish identity as the issues his political opponents were most likely to seize on as the election season got under way.

During those meetings, he wondered if an old statement he made to a French Jewish newspaper would come back to haunt him. In 2003, he told Tribune Juive that he wakes up every morning wondering how he could be useful to Israel — a remark he now calls a “stupidity.”

As it turns out, though, Judaism is the least of Strauss-Kahn’s problems.

The 62-year-old IMF chief who seemed poised to become France’s first Jewish president next year is now facing the possibility of decades behind bars instead of a five-year presidential term.

His fortunes changed on May 14, when the former French finance minister was taken into custody in New York, just before his plane was to depart for Paris. The following day, he was charged with the sexual assault, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment of a chambermaid in the posh New York hotel suite where he was staying. He was denied bail and, at press time, was being held at New York’s Rikers Island jail complex.

Up until his arrest, Strauss-Kahn’s emergence as a leading presidential candidate in a nation with a long history of anti-Semitism was widely viewed as a sign of Jewish acceptance in France. Even the far-right National Front Party has largely abandoned its anti-Jewish rhetoric, while continuing to make charged statements about Muslims.

Although France has had Jewish prime ministers before — Léon Blum in the 1930s, and Pierre Mendès-France in the 1950s — it has never had a French president, who has much broader governing powers than even the president of the United States. Like all politicians in this staunchly secular country, Strauss-Kahn, who is widely known as DSK, rarely spoke of his religious beliefs. But unlike a number of his Jewish colleagues, he has always been open about his faith and his support for Israel.

“Unlike Blum or Mendès-France, who exercised a kind of self-censorship on their Judaism, we had, for the first time in French modern history, a conscious, declared and self-assumed Jew…… in a position to win the presidency,” said Patrick Klugman, a member of Strauss-Kahn’s Socialist Party and a former head of France’s Jewish student association. “While some quarters of the Jewish community feared that this could have negative repercussions on Jews if he was to fail or to do wrong, the polls [prior to his arrest] were crystal-clear: There was no Jewish problem with DSK.”

Strauss-Kahn’s own concerns about anti-Semitism may have stemmed from a controversy in February over comments made by Christian Jacob, of the center-right U.M.P. Party. Jacob said in a radio interview that Strauss-Kahn did not embody “the image of France, the image of rural France… to which I am attached.” One Socialist Party lawmaker, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, said that such remarks were a way of “implying that he is a foreigner, a stateless member of the ‘party from abroad’ or alas something else” — a transparent reference to his Jewishness.

But Jacob’s statement did nothing to dent Strauss-Kahn’s popularity. In recent weeks, polls showed that Strauss-Kahn was favored to beat President Nicolas Sarkozy, of U.M.P., in the general election.

The only child of an Alsatian father and a Tunisian mother, Strauss-Kahn was raised in a secular, progressive environment in France and in Morocco. Although he celebrated his bar mitzvah, he ultimately seemed to distance himself from Judaism; his first and second wives were not Jewish. However, he has said that the Six Day War in 1967 helped revive his Jewish identity. And following two divorces, he married American-born Jewish journalist Anne Sinclair, who, according to a recently published biography, “made him more Jewish.” An Orthodox rabbi officiated at their 1991 union in Sarcelles, a middle-class Paris suburb that is home to many Jews of North African descent, as well as to many Arab-Muslim residents. It was in Sarcelles that Strauss-Kahn established his political base in the late 1980s, serving as a lawmaker before going on to become a government minister.

With the help of Sarkozy, Strauss-Kahn was named managing director of the IMF in 2007. This was initially seen as a savvy move by Sarkozy to eliminate a potential rival by sending him to a dormant institution in Washington. But in the wake of the global financial meltdown, Strauss-Kahn’s profile has risen as he earned kudos for pushing the organization to adopt more progressive policies and to forgo the stringent austerity packages it imposed in many countries.

It wasn’t Strauss-Kahn’s Judaism, but the other two issues he articulated concerns about during the Libération and Marianne conversations that would ultimately turn out to be much bigger problems for him.

In late April, Strauss-Kahn and his wife were photographed getting into a Porsche. Days later, reports surfaced about the IMF chief’s penchant for suits by a high-end Washington-based tailor. His media advisers quickly countered that he was merely getting into a friend’s car, and they threatened to sue the media outlets that published articles about his tailored suits.

Though Sarkozy has been criticized for his ostentatious ways — earning the nickname “bling-bling president” — in a meeting with fellow party lawmakers last year, he reportedly boasted that in comparison with Strauss-Kahn, he behaves like a “Methodist pastor.” And since Strauss-Kahn’s arrest, the president told members of his party that he had warned Strauss-Kahn when he was appointed IMF chief to watch his personal behavior.

Indeed, some supporters of the IMF chief hold out the possibility that the New York scandal could be a setup by Sarkozy supporters. During his recent meeting at Libération, Strauss-Kahn offered up a startling example of the types of tactics to which his political rivals might resort.

“Imagine that a woman would be paid 500,000 or a million euros to claim that I had raped her in a parking lot,” Libération quoted him as saying. (Libération and Marianne opened up about the content of their late April conversations with Strauss-Kahn, following the politician’s arrest.)

But the sex scandal that political observers say will probably end Strauss-Kahn’s political career is not likely to have a negative impact on the French-Jewish community. “But it will certainly give succor to those in the community who believe it is better to stay away from politics because Jews inevitably end up paying the price,” Klugman said. “And that’s just sad.”

Source


RACISM IN ISRAEL GETTING UGLIER BY THE MINUTE


A rally of Jewish nationalists who seek to expel foreign infiltrators ‘that are taking over the southern part of Tel Aviv.’ The interviews that he conducts on the street show a disturbed society in crisis.

Israeli racism turns its ugly head in south Tel Aviv

Posted by Joseph Dana

Racism in Israel is nothing new. There is racism against Palestinians, against Arabs, against non-Jews. There is racism between Jews from Europe and Jews from Arab countries. In our racism, we are no different from many other Western countries. However, the past year in Israel has seen an a significant increase in the number of racially motivated attacks on foreign workers and Palestinians by gangs of Jewish nationalists who seek to ‘cleanse Israel of non Jewish and dangerous elements.’ The problem is reaching endemic proportions as lawmakers have largely remained silent and the crimes continue unabated.

David Sheen, an Israeli journalist with Haaretz, has been quietly documenting the rise of racism in Tel Aviv. His latest video (below) is a look into the ugly work of nationalism which is the foundation of the current spike in racist attacks. In the video, Sheen attends a rally of Jewish nationalists who seek to expel foreign infiltrators ‘that are taking over the southern part of Tel Aviv.’ The interviews that he conducts on the street show a disturbed society in crisis.

Posted AT

ARAB ‘REVOLUTIONS’ AND MORE…..

Arab revolution still in the air

Compiled by Antony Loewenstein


A new year and another war in the Muslim world. While revolutions continue to percolate throughout the Arab world – Israel much prefers brutal dictatorships in the region – Libya is now being bombed. Liberal interventionists, neo-cons and conservatives are largely backing the US-led mission. But why are we really intervening? If Libya’s major export was lettuce (as opposed to oil) we certainly would not be attacking Gaddafi’s assets. The Libyan leader has long been a monster – the kind of man the West rather liked for the last ten years – and the real reasons behind the conflict are rarely discussed.

I agree with the analysis offered by the Middle East Research and Information Service who argue that, “Libya in 2011 is an instance where the West can bring its unmatched firepower to bear without immediate damage to the international or regional order.” If Libya, why not Bahrain or Saudi Arabia or Yemen? Some nations are “useful” to the West and some are far more expendable. Simply saying, “we must do something in Libya” isn’t reason to send missiles into the country. The startling lack of public discussion about the aims of the mission, the role of the rebels, the endgame and the actual reasons behind the war is revealing. Questions must be asked.

During the current upheavals, al-Jazeera has remained essential. And all the while, Israel continues to descend into an increasingly racist morass. The “Middle East’s Only Democracy” tag is looking like a sick joke.

Finally, one of the best reads this month was a fascinating Lawrence Wright feature in the New Yorker on Scientology, the ethics of religion and American celebrity culture.

In other news:

– Investigation in Australian magazine Crikey on abuses at Sydney’s Villawood detention centre over asylum seekers, security guards and Serco (part 1 and part 2).

Video of my session at the Jaipur Literature Festival in India on Western occupation with Rory Stewart, the New Yorker’s Jon Lee Anderson and the Washington Post’s David Finkel.

Interview with Australia’s Podcast Network on the revolutions in the Arab world.

Analysis for ABC online about the Libyan uprisings and the Western media’s double standards when writing about “them” and “us”.

Report in Green Left Weekly on a major forum at Sydney University in February on political upheavals in the Arab world.

Interview with PressTV on the politics of Australian aid in the Middle East.

TV interview with Indian magazine Tehelka on Israel/Palestine and changing Jewish opinions on the Middle East.

Article co-written with Australians for Palestine in Online Opinion on the importance of backing BDS against Israel to bring equality to Israel and Palestine.

Interview in the West Australian on the Israel/Palestine conflict and celebrating the Arab revolutions.

– My report on the recent Perth Writer’s Festival where I discussed the Middle East with philosopher Raimond Gaita and democracy (yes, we all liked it) with Tariq Ali, John Keane and Ken Crispin.

Investigation for Australian magazine Crikey on the influence of British multinational Serco in Western Australia.

Interview on Austaralia’s Channel 10 TV’s Sports Tonight (yes, the first time I’ve appeared on a sport’s show), talking about an international football game in Palestine but still under occupation.

Investigation for Australian magazine Crikey on an Australian Greens candidate facing abuse and lies for backing Israel sanction.

Interview on daily current affairs radio program The Wire on settler murders in the West Bank and Israel’s cynical response to expand colonies.

Interview on the new Democracy Now! style program in Australia, News Goo, that dissects the media, challenges prejudices and includes features with John Pilger on Wikileaks, Palestine and beyond.

Follow Antony daily at his website, Twitter and Facebook.

 

ADL FINDS ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE SKY

ADL calls to educate flight crew on Jewish religious practices

On Sunday Alaska Airlines flight attendants issued a security alert after Jewish Mexican men started praying with Tefillin on board the plane.

Tefillin ..Photo by: Itzik Ben-Malki

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) urged Tuesday to better educate airline personnel about Jewish religious practices after and incident in which flight attendants issued a security alert when three Mexican Jews began praying with Tefillin.

Flight attendants aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 241 from Mexico City to Los Angeles issued a security alert on Sunday after three Orthodox Jewish passengers began praying with Tefillin.

Following the alert the place was met at LAX by fire crews, foam trucks, FBI agents, and police.

“In today’s atmosphere of heightened security concern, it is understandable that passengers might be alarmed upon noticing fellow travelers bearing unfamiliar or seemingly strange objects,” said Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. “The incident aboard Alaska Airways Flight 241 is a reminder that many people, including airline personnel, are unfamiliar with religious ritual items and practices.”

The ADL has offered to assist with training programs for the flight crew.

Source

What about the following….. ya’think the ADL gives a damn about this incident?

Muslim woman vs. airline

Muslim woman removed from US flight because of headscarf wants crew disciplined

 


A Muslim woman from San Diego wants a Southwest Airlines crew disciplined for removing her from a flight for wearing a headscarf.

Irum Abassi says Wednesday she was forced off a San Jose-bound flight in San Diego on Sunday because a flight attendant found her to be suspicious.

Read the full report HERE

ISRAELIS DEVESTATED BY NUCLEAR DISASTER IN JAPAN

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

The following report is truly the sickest thing I have ever seen on the Net. A nation is literally fighting for its life and Israel bemoans the following??
 

Israel fears sushi shortage after quake

Situation in Japan may affect regular supply of ingredients for one of Israelis’ favorite dishes

While Japan continues to deal with the aftermath of last Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, and has yet to recover from one of the greatest disasters in its history, Israelis fear a shortage in the ingredients of one of their favorite dishes: Sushi.

Many of sushi’s basic components come from Japan or are imported through the battered countries. Will Israelis soon suffer from a shortage of the beloved rolls’ necessary ingredients?

“There may be a shortage of sushi components, but we are still studying the situation,” says Dudi Afriat of the Rakuto Kasei company, which imports the Kikkoman soy sauce, as well as seaweeds, wasabi, rice and other necessary ingredients for sushi rolls.

Rakuto Kasei is the main supplier of raw materials for sushi to all restaurants in Israel, and markets products to supermarkets as well.

“We’ll be wiser once the situation in Japan stabilizes and the reconstruction begins,” he explains. “I assume we’ll know if there is going to be a shortage in the coming week. The main fear is of a shortage of the Kikkoman soy sauce. One Kikkoman factory in Japan was damaged and there have been delays in the supply, but we hope it won’t stop the regular chain of supply.”

Kikkoman has five factories around the world – in the United States, Hong Kong, Holland, Singapore and Japan. “Most of the containers arrive in Israel from the US, but the entire management is in Japan,” Afriat explains.

“At the moment, it’s very difficult communicating with them. There are a lot of disruptions. Yesterday I spoke with our contact in Japan, and he said it took him 10 hours to get to the office from home.

“So at the moment the situation is unclear, and it all depends on the Japanese. I trust them, because they love the soy sauce more than we do. My only fear is that they’ll have to import Kikkoman from the US, and that will affect the imports to Israel.”

Rice shortage not expected

A possible shortage of Kikkoman would be felt in Israel. “About 85% of the soy sauce used in Israel is Kikkoman. This is a very unusual figure in the world,” Afriat says. “Israeli chefs feel very connected to this product. After the tsunami I received phone calls from hysterical people fearing a shortage of Kikkoman.”

Other products which may be affected due to import problems or damaged factories are miso (traditional Japanese seasoning), pickled Japanese pumpkin and cabbage, and certain types of seaweed. A shortage may also be felt in wasabi – Japanese horseradish.

One thing is certain: A rice shortage is not anticipated, as most of the rice used to make sushi comes from California.

Fortunately, many Japanese products are produced in US factories and exported to Israel from there. Therefore, the supply of most types of seaweeds, ginger, Sake and rice vinegar is not expected to be affected.

Sushi rolling mats and other bamboo products, like chopsticks, come from China. The panko and tempura come from South Korea, and black sesame originates in Israel or Thailand.

Tel Aviv one of biggest sushi consumers

Israelis love sushi, and a shortage of some of its ingredients may have an effect on many restaurants. “The Japanese food unit in Israel has grown by some 800% in the past five or six years,” says Afriat. “Five years ago, there were up to 20 sushi restaurants in Tel Aviv. Today there are more than 130. A survey we conducted recently revealed that sushi is the No. 2 take away food in Israel.”

“Kikkoman, the world’s biggest commercial brand, has an amazing infiltration level. It can be found in one-third of Israeli households, and it’s clearly a Japanese product. Surprisingly, we bring real naturally fermented soy sauce, which costs much more than other types of soy available in stores, and Israelis still appreciate and purchase it.

“We import 900 kilograms (1,984pounds) of Kikkoman bottles a year, and 54 tons of rice for sushi a month. It’s an amazing amount. Tel Aviv is the fifth city in the world in the consumption of sushi per capita, and fourth in the world in the number of sushi restaurants per capita.

“Last year, Kikkoman’s senior management arrived in Israel to give us the award for the company’s best global marketer, because we reached a 66% rise in sales between 2008 and 2009.

“Business with Japan is very tight. I have been working with Japanese people for six years now and we feel very connected to them. We feel their pain.”

Source

SUSPECT IN SETTLEMENT MURDERS NOT A PALESTINIAN ~~ ARMY SILENT ON THIS

It’s easier to put the blame on  a Palestinian than reveal the truth. How else can settlement expansion be justified to the world?

It is noted that the Israeli army knows of the information leading to the suspect  but refuse to announce or deal with it for political as well as security reasons.

Itamar culprit an Asian worker

NABLUS, An Asian worker is suspected of the murder of the Fogel family, a settler family from Itamar settlement near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, according to Palestinian press sources.

Quds Net news quoted local residents from the area that he was infuriated with an Israeli settler for not paying him his wages carried out the killing of the settler’s family in Itamar, Palestinian press sources reported.

Quds Net news agency on Monday quoted a Palestinian family from Awarta village next to the settlement as saying that Mr. Fogel refused to pay 10,000 shekels in wages which he owed an Asian worker he hired. The worker threatened to kill the settler and his family.

The worker is suspected of committing the crime after midnight Friday using a knife then fleeing the scene to nearby Palestinian villages, the report added.

It noted that the Israeli army knows of the information leading to the suspect  but refuse to announce or deal with it for political as well as security reasons.

Meanwhile, de facto Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas condemned the murder crime in the strongest words, describing it as “despicable”.

Speaking at an interview with radio Israel on Monday, Abbas pledged to extend all necessary assistance leading to unveiling the mystery of the crime, adding that he relayed this position to Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu in a telephone conversation on Saturday shortly after the crime was reported.

He also invited Israel and the USA to discuss with his authority in Ramallah the curriculums being studied in Palestinian schools in the West Bank to make sure that they do not contain any “incitement”.

Abbas, however, failed to mention the Israeli settlers’ unruly behavior and the army’s collective punishment against Palestinian in Nablus villages following the crime despite the fact that no concrete evidence was found incriminating any Palestinian party in the act.

Source

CARTOON GALLERY ~~ THE LATEST FROM THE GREATEST

Presented here are the latest works of our Associate, Carlos Lattuff. They cover the most recent world events and tragedies.

Feel free to download any of them for use on your Websites or demonstration placards….

All images ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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Palestinian National Unity Day, March 15th…

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Libya

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Disaster in Japan

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More works can be found by clicking HERE

Permission is granted to use any or all of the above works …. please credit Carlos Latuff if and when you do.

BECAUSE ALL MEN ARE BROTHERS …. THE CONNECTIONS

Egyptian revolution is just the beginning

Prepared by Antony Loewenstein

What a start to 2011. After decades of US and Israeli backed repression, countless Arab peoples are rising up and asking for freedom; freedom from us and our meddling. From Egypt to Yemen and Bahrain to Jordan, the status-quo is dead. The direction of the changes in Egypt are unclear – and the irrational fear of the Muslim Brotherhood were questions only obsessively asked in Western elite circles and Israel – and the idea upon which we in the West treat the Arab people as disposable is over. Wikileaks played its role , though slight, confirming the close Western ties, funding and arming of most Arab dictatorships. Al-Jazeera has been a beacon over the last month, not framing the news solely around the desires of London and Washington. Where to from here? Only a fool would predict but the fear of repression across the Arab world has been greatly reduced (even when US and British made weapons are being fired into peaceful protesters in Bahrain).

It’s an exciting time to be alive to work towards a more just world.

In other news:

– The Galle Literary Festival is an annual event in Sri Lanka. Early in 2011 a few people – including Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Tariq Ali and yours truly – were asked to sign a statement highlighting the gross human rights abuses in the country and challenging participants of the event to realise that the festival was being used by the Colombo government to signify that the conflict was over and a way to boost the tourism industry. The petition was aimed at generating debate on the politics of writer’s festivals. Here’s the Galle Literary Festival appeal statement, the Hindu news story response, Singhalese opposition, AFP article, Hindustan Times and Indian Express. Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk withdrew (for reasons that remain unclear) but South African writer Damon Galgut pulled out and cited human rights abuses as a factor. It caused debate over tactics of the statement and received thanks from a disappeared journalist’s wife in Sri Lanka. Most importantly, the petition generated debate at the festival itself. For those of us who support BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) against Israel, this entire experience shows the effectiveness of civil society in the face of repression.

Exclusive interview with former Guantanamo Bay inmate and Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib on his unique perspective over one of the new Israeli/US anointed thugs in Egypt, Omar Suleiman (and this was covered by Washington think-tank Institute for Public Accuracy and Australian online magazine Crikey).

Comment on Al-Jazeera English on the media battle being waged in Egypt over the internet and satellite TV and interview in the Chinese media on the Egyptian revolution.

Article in leading Indian magazine Tehelka on “what New Delhi can learn from Cairo”.

Interview on ABCTV News24 about the significance of the Egyptian revolution and the importance of engaging Islamist groups.

Analysis on ABC online about the Egyptian revolution.

– I was recently invited to speak at the Jaipur Literature Festival in India (my photos here), a week-long celebration of writing, culture and the arts. Tens of thousands attended from across the world, though the main audience was Indian. I engaged with Palestinian doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish and the Indian media reported on the session. A highlight was spending time with the fine New Yorker journalist Jon Lee Anderson, whose latest essay on the deeply troubling situation in Sri Lanka is essential reading.

Statement alongside Noam Chomsky opposing Australia’s plans to dump refugees in East Timor.

Article in Australian magazine Crikey discussing Israel’s reaction to the Egyptian uprisings (ie. backing dictatorship over democracy).

Chapter in the just-released book My Favourite Teacher on a mentor-figure of mine, former Australian journalist Margo Kingston.

Essay with Online Opinion on what the media should learn from the Wikileaks story, namely more accountability.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Green Left Weekly, a leading alternative press in Australia.

– Finally, a truly remarkable documentary on Al-Jazeera English with exclusive access to the Pyongyang University of Cinematic and Dramatic Arts students in service to the Dear Leader.

Read Antony’s Blog daily AT

IS THE U S PROTECTING THE TYRANTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

The struggle for Democracy continues throughout the Middle East as I write this…

Bahrain heads the reports this morning where peaceful protests are being met with the most brutal police actions seen yet….

Al Jazeera reported the following;

The last sentence in the report is key to the conflict…..  A key ally of the US in the region, Bahrain houses a major military base for Washington. Makes one wonder who is behind the police violence.

Clashes spread in Bahraini capital

Armoured vehicles move towards central Manama after police storm protest site in roundabout, killing at least three.

Sporadic clashes have broken out in the Bahraini capital of Manama, hours after riot police attacked a makeshift encampment of pro-reform protesters in the centre of the city, killing at least three and injuring dozens of others.

An Al Jazeera correspondent, who cannot be named for security reasons, said on Thursday that “clashes were no longer limited to one place…they are now spread out in different parts of the city”.

There were also reports of dozens of armoured vehicles moving towards the Pearl Roundabout, the protest site that was raided by the riot police.

Heavily-armed police stormed the traffic circle while the protesters camping overnight were asleep.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Salmaniya hospital, the main medical facility in Manama, Maryama Alkawaka of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said that she saw dozens of injured demonstrators being wheeled into emergency rooms early on Thursday morning.

Nazea Saeed, a journalist with Radio Monte Carlo, said hundreds of people had gathered at the hospital.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from the scene, she said the crowd is chanting: “Down with Al-Khalifa”, in reference to the country’s ruling family.

“People are also chanting that the blood of the victims will not be in vein,” she added.

‘Attacked without warning’

“People were attacked while they were sleeping. There was no warning,” Saeed said. “And when they ran, the police attacked them from the direction they fled to.”

Our correspondent said that even doctors, who had set up a medical tent near the protest site, were assaulted. One medical consultant was severely beaten and he was released because the police said “they didnt want him to die here”.

The kingdom’s main Shia opposition bloc denounced the raid as “real terrorism”.

“Whoever took the decision to attack the protest was aiming to kill,” Abdul Jalil Khalil, a parliamentarian with the Wefaq bloc said. “This is real terrorism.”

In a statement, the Bahraini interior ministry said that “security forces evacuated the area of Pearl Roundabout from protesters, after trying all opportunities for dialogue with them, in which some positively responded and left quietly.”

Brigadier Tariq Hassan Al Hassan, a spokesman “called upon people to follow the constitution and the law while expressing their freedom of expression.”

An Al Jazeera correspondent in the Pearl Roundabout area, said that he heard loud booms in the square, and felt a strong tear gas in the air.

“The police came in a quick move, using tear gas. It looks like they are trying to move the protesters away from the square, but this is no small protest,” he said.

“Authorities are acting because they see clearly how big this is getting.”

Matar Ibrahim, an opposition member of the parliament, said that women and children were among the injured.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Salmaniya hospital, he also said that at least that many of the wounded were in critical condition.

An Al Jazeera online producer in Manama said police helicopters were circling above the area.

“[Thursday] morning’s call to prayer is struggling to become louder than the choppers circling overhead. The roads are nearly empty because of the police blockades, though just a little while ago, vehicles were travelling freely to and from the Lulu area,” he said.

Unrest

Pro-reform protesters have taken to the streets of Manama since Monday, apparently inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

Two people had died in police firing on the protesters, prior to Thursday’s deadly police raid. The deaths prompted a rare apology from the king, who in a television appearance expressed his condolences for “the deaths of two of our dear sons”, and said a committee would investigate the killings.

“We will ask legislators to look into this issue and suggest needed laws to resolve it,” he said, adding that peaceful protests were legal,” Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa said.

But Alkwaka, the human rights activist, said that the fresh crackdown on peaceful protesters cast a doubt on the king’s pledge for investigation and calm.

“People are now asking: is this the investigation that the king promised?” she asked.

Ruled and dominated by a Sunni minority, Bahrain has a Shia majority population. Tension between the two communities has been festering for years.

To balance the population, the government is accused of granting thousands of citizenships to Sunni workers. Saeed said this continues to be a source of deep tension.

Earlier, an Al Jazeera correspondent said pro-reform protesters initially demanded a constitutional monarchy. But as demonstrations gathered momentum, and as police crackdown on protests, many upped the ante on the ruling family, calling for its ouster.

A key ally of the US in the region, Bahrain houses a major military base for Washington


Source

WHERE WOULD WE BE TODAY WITHOUT DISSENTERS OF THE PAST



I shudder at the thought at the state of affairs we would be in today if people blindly swallowed the corruption and evils that existed throughout history. Where would we be today if the institution of slavery was allowed to continue in the United States? Where would we be if the system of apartheid was allowed to continue in South Africa?

Those two examples of evil were done away with, not by any miracle, but through movements of dissent that refused to give up until the work was done. Dissent has always been an integral part of any democratic system. Where it wasn’t allowed, it continued just the same. Case in point are the movements that continued to operate in the United States during the turbulent days of the McCarthy Era, days that have left their mark on many of the participants, but days that finally ended with many victories for those involved in the struggles.

Israel today is no different. The denial of rights to Palestinians and foreign workers is no different than the denial of rights that were a way of life in many other parts of the world. A denial of rights for one is a denial of rights for all! This becomes evident when the rights of those opposed to injustice are taken away as well. Those who oppose injustice in an undemocratic society become as much a victim as those targeted in the first place. This is what we are seeing in Israel today with government policies taking us all back to the very dark days of the McCarthy era. These are the very policies that will be fought ‘tooth and nail’ until justice becomes a reality, not merely a dream.

We see this as well in the United States today with the FBI hounding those involved in fighting the injustices of the Palestinian people. We were victorious then, we will be victorious again. That, I am sure of. Injustice is eventually going to disappear, but dissent is here to stay. Nothing and no one can stop it!

Amira Hass writing in today’s HaAretz touches on this. It’s worth reading and is an indication that there are changes coming, changes that will help establish Democracy in Israel one day. We can learn from lessons of the past to make a future that we can all live with. That is the goal and that is what is going to happen!

Some free advice for Israel’s lawmakers

Take note: even in communist Romania, people were willing to take risks for the sake of justice.

Last week, an Israeli woman I know drove a Palestinian woman to the western side of the separation barrier – not for a day of fun in Tel Aviv, as a few Israeli Jewish women do regularly, but due to urgent, unfortunate personal reasons. The police, at the behest of right-wing activists, summoned the transgressors for questioning. In Jewish and democratic Israel the Israeli women are double offenders. They transport Palestinian women without that piece of paper that only Palestinians are required to carry, and bring them out via one of the roads that are open to anyone in the world except for the legal owners of the land on which they were built.

That reminds me: In 1977 I found myself in Romania during the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. Among his many prohibitions in the name of socialism was a ban on hosting foreigners. But I had grown very close to a young couple with a baby who lived in a matchbox in a crowded Bucharest tenement. “Ceausescu can’t tell me who can sleep in my apartment,” Vera said defiantly as she made up a cot for me in their narrow kitchen. We lost touch after a few years, but her courage still warms my heart. I recall that one could be fined the equivalent of one or two months’ wages and earn another black mark from the Securitate. I don’t remember even asking about the punishment for the tourists.

romania - AP - January 10 2011 Among Nicolae Ceausescu’s many prohibitions was a ban on hosting foreigners.
Photo by: AP

When I returned, a few months later, a nosy neighbor made a remark. I don’t know whether he was a proud right-winger, but my friend was from a Jewish family and as a member of the Communist underground her father had sat in a Fascist jail, in the same cell as Ceausescu (and beat him at chess, according to the family folklore ). After 1956 her father (Pavel Campeanu ) left his high position in the party for academia, where he enriched us with theoretical research on Stalinism.

Later on I stayed, clandestinely, with another family, Hungarian Jews who were also party members. They too knew that one must set limits to obedience and fear. They had two rooms, with a separate entrance, for rent. A driver who worked all day lived in one of them. They didn’t fear that he would report them, and they refused to take money from me for the month I lived with them, without being caught.

A friend of Vera’s family was less lucky. She played host, in her Bucharest home, to a French couple that had hidden her in their home in France during the Nazi occupation. Her crime was discovered and she was forced to pay a huge sum from her meager pension. Neither the time she had spent in a Romanian jail, as a Communist, nor her story about having being rescued by the couple could save her. The law is the law. This is being mentioned here as an additional source of inspiration to some of our Knesset members.

My family’s past is besmirched with similar crimes. There is no space here to cite them all, so we will make do with a particular favorite.

In 1941 my mother’s brother and his family fled from Sarajevo to the area of the Italian occupation in Dalmatia. To facilitate the capture of “partisans’ nests,” nonresidents were detained and sent to Italy. My uncle’s family, together with friends and acquaintances, lived as captives in deluxe conditions in Asolo, a small town in northern Italy. Everyone knew they were Jewish and it did not bother anyone, so it seems. They were thus spared the fate that awaited the rest of the family, including my mother – a Gestapo jail, concentration camps and gas chambers.

After Italy surrendered to the Allies, in September 1943, it was conquered by the German army. The first mission of my uncle’s family was to obtain new identity cards, without their incriminating real names. “The only people we could think of and knew, in a position to issue such documents, worked in the municipal office in Asolo,” my cousin Jasha Levi, who was 22 at the time, wrote in his memoir, recently published in the U.S. as “The Last Exile: The Tapestry of a Life.”

They “decided to take a chance on the mayor, Il Podesta” – Ernesto Pasini. They sent their friend Zdenka, “bella, bionda, grassa – beautiful, blonde, and ample – the contemporary Italian man’s ideal of desirable womanhood” to persuade him. It is not clear whether the mayor was a willing member of the Fascist party, but he was a mayor under a Fascist regime that was anticipating the Nazi occupier.

Zdenka entered his office and he rose to greet her; she shot out her request, declaring he was their only hope. Zdenka sensed he was distressed and agitated. He walked to his desk and sat down without offering her a seat.

“Left standing by the door where he had first greeted her, Zdenka said her heart sank,” Jasha wrote. “She watched him move his head from left to right and right to left, as if in disbelief … I thought he must be about to have a heart attack, or that I would have one myself,” Jasha quotes Zdenka as telling him later.

The mayor rose, shaking, and said, “I can’t do this! It is impossible for me to do this!”

The mayor explained that if the Germans found that he was involved in a forgery they could destroy the town. Zdenka felt as if she had been hit by a bomb but understood the logic behind his argument.

“But with that, to her relief, he brightened up, apologized for having left her standing at the door, and motioned her to a chair. He began: ‘On the other hand, my predecessor -.'” He did not finish the sentence and left the room. A while later, he returned with five new identity cards officially signed and stamped by the previous podesta. The podesta who was long dead.

CINDY SHEEHAN OPTS FOR ‘FEEL UP’ AT AIRPORT

I always refuse to go through the scanners and am then subjected to the “feel up”. We have heard that toddlers, elderly people and those with medical problems have been violated by the TSA voyeurs. Each fresh incident produces a brief flash of outrage, but many people do not even know about the scanner/feel up.

Surrendering our civil liberties

Complacency over airport scanners is further proof Americans are allowing their rights to be taken from them.
Cindy Sheehan

The TSA: taking away our freedoms to ‘protect’ us from ‘threats’ [GALLO/GETTY]

As a very frequent flyer, I have wanted to write about the abuses of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) for years now. To tell the truth, since I am such a frequent flyer and often recognised by individual TSA employees, I was a little timid about this because I did not want flying to become an even bigger hassle and more invasive than it already is. But the recent brouhaha over the Chertoff-O-Scanners has given me the courage in numbers to be able to write about my experiences.

The first thing that bugs me is how complacent my fellow travellers are about the civil rights abuses we endure to be able to take the airplane seats we pay hundreds of dollars for. The second we click ‘purchase’ on the airline’s website, we are treated as though we are guilty just for wanting to go from point A to B by plane. This goes against our constitutional right of being presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Every time a TSA operative asks me if he or she can “take a look in my bag,” I say: “Sure, if you can show me a warrant.” I cannot say how many times a fellow traveller has proclaimed: “It’s for your own safety!”

Speaking of “it’s for your own safety”, who can forget Richard Reid, the “shoe bomber” who allegedly tried to detonate explosives on a flight from Paris to Miami in 2002? That incident is the reason why in the US we have to take our shoes off and put them through the x-ray machine. But did you know that the US is the only country that forces flyers to do this? Reid is a citizen of the UK and was flying from France, but if one flies in either of these countries, or anywhere else for that matter, it is not common practice to remove your shoes. So why are planes not dropping from the skies all over the world? Well, because this has nothing to do with our “safety”. Shoe removal and shoe throwing are the same act of disrespect and intimidation unless one is entering a Japanese home or walking on holy ground.

I think the next opportunity for abuse that came from on high to us already weary and grouchy flyers, was when some nebulous plot was discovered in the UK to blow up planes by carrying explosive liquids on board. We were never shown any hardcore proof that our shampoo would blow up an airplane if it was in a four ounce bottle, but that the offending liquid in a 3.5 ounce bottle, safely ensconced in a Ziploc bag, would be okay. I was actually on my way to the airport with a backpack full of naughty liquids when I heard about this one on the radio. I had to throw away about $80 worth of toiletries and make-up and wait in excessively long lines since the glorified minimum wage workers of the TSA were not too sure how to handle this latest threat to our “freedom and safety” – except, of course, to do what they always do and take away more of our freedoms to “protect” us from “threats”.

Shortly after the liquids scare, we could not even take liquids on airplanes that we had purchased after passing through security. There were huge bins at every gate to take away our coffee, water, lotions. I was sitting at the gate in one airport (I do not remember which one) drinking a cup of coffee when a TSA supervisor told me that I would have to finish the coffee before I boarded.

I responded: “Why? Can you show me the store where I can purchase bomb-making material past security?” He replied: “You never know ma’am.” And, me being me, I said: “Really? What kind of airport do you run where anyone can purchase explosives past security?” At which point, the big-TSA-man gave me a look that said: “Lady, you better shut up if you don’t want a body-cavity search.” The other passengers were giving me surreptitious thumbs’ up, but I do not think many people would go as far as I did in my conversation with the TSA-man, who looked very confused that someone was challenging him.

Over a barrel

Even before the dreaded “underwear bomber” made all of this additional screening possible, I used to kid with the audiences that I spoke to that it was a good thing that the “shoe bomber” was not a “bra bomber,” as we ladies who wear those undergarments would then have to disrobe at the security line and put our brassieres through the x-ray machine. But my “joke” has now come into being in an even more horrid way than even I could have predicted. We do not have to take our underwear off to go through airport checkpoints, but, in many airports, we are forced to go through the Chertoff-O-Scanners which show a fully nude image to the TSA operatives and have been proven not to thwart the chemical agents that the “underwear bomber” hid in his Fruit-of-the-Looms.

Today I saw a CNN poll that said 58 per cent of Americans do not like the new procedure. However, in all of the corporate media discussions about the scanners, no one talks about how Michael Chertoff, the former national security advisor, represents a company called Rapiscan that is profiting from every machine that is installed in airports. There is even talk about Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, putting them in malls, schools, subways, train stations – and I am waiting to be told that we have to put a home version at our front doors.

I always refuse to go through the scanners and am then subjected to the “feel up”. We have heard that toddlers, elderly people and those with medical problems have been violated by the TSA voyeurs. Each fresh incident produces a brief flash of outrage, but many people do not even know about the scanner/feel up.

A couple of weeks ago, I was running very late for a flight that was leaving out of SFO, my home airport. I was literally running for my gate and dreading the dance that I do every time with the TSA there:

Me: “I refuse to go through that machine.”
TSA: “Why?”
Me: “It is my right to opt-out.”
TSA: “It is also our right to ask you why you are opting-out.”
Me: “Because it is a violation of my human dignity and civil rights and I don’t want you all to see me naked.”
TSA: “Female screening!” (As they yell for someone to come and grope me with gusto, and “someone” always happily obliges).

I do not like the groping any more than I like the molestation of the scanners – one feels dirty and violated and super-wary of future travel. However, the police state knows it has us over a barrel, so the least we can do is to protest loudly while it is happening.

Anyway, on this day, I noticed that the TSA was waving some passengers though the lane with the scanner and sending some through the normal metal detector. I was relieved to be waved through the lane without the scanner, but the woman behind me, upon noticing that her boyfriend was sent to the lane with the scanner, asked: “Why didn’t I have to go through that?” I told her: “You’re lucky, they can see you naked when you go through it.” Unbelievably, she responded: “Why didn’t they want to see me naked?” She was not kidding, but I just shook my head, gathered my stuff and ran to my gate.

The point to these stories is that we can only have our rights taken away from us with our consent. There is a famous Benjamin Franklin saying that was often quoted when Bush was president that rings ever truer during the Obama regime: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” We are becoming a nation of lemmings running to the sea with the abandon of those that would rather plunge to our deaths than think for ourselves.

While I was writing this, the FBI “uncovered” another “terrorist” plot where a Somali-American allegedly tried to detonate a bomb at a “Christmas event” in Portland, Oregon. Mark my words, the monstrous state will either ban “Christmas events” or institute mandatory travelling Chertoff-O-Scanners to be able to put us into an even deeper state of fear. Where would a “terrorist plot” have the most devastating affect? I cannot think of a more fitting one than a “Christmas event” in very progressive Portland, Oregon.

Written FOR

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