Saturday, 7 February 2009

Iran's Supreme Leader: Sanctions Made Us Stronger




Readers Number : 80

07/02/2009 Iran has achieved breakthroughs in nuclear and space technology despite international sanctions against it, the country's top leader said Saturday.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei told military commanders that instead of weakening Iran, sanctions by the US, the UN and others have forced it to become more self-reliant, leading to greater strides by Iranian scientists and to technological advancements unseen in the country's history.

"It was from the depth of various kinds of sanctions imposed on Iran for years that the Omid satellite came into existence and was sent into orbit," state television quoted Sayyed Khamenei as saying.

"And it was out of all restrictions imposed against the Iranian nation that (Iran) achieved uranium enrichment technology, which is in the hands of few powerful countries," his eminence was quoted as saying.

On Tuesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced the launch of Iran's first domestically produced satellite.

Since 2006, Iran has been under UN Security Council sanctions, applied to its nuclear and missile industries, for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants or the material for atomic bombs. Iran stresses that its nuclear program aims for peaceful use only and it is its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

On Monday night, Iran sent its first domestically made satellite - called the Omid, or hope in Farsi - into orbit using an Iranian-built satellite-carrier rocket. Analysts described it as a key step for an ambitious space program that worries the US and other world powers.


US Vice President: US Willing to Talk to Iran
Readers Number : 101

07/02/2009 US Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday that the new US administration will set a "new tone" in its foreign relations but warned that other nations must also raise their game.

"I come to Europe on behalf of a new administration determined to set a new tone not only in Washington, but in America's relations around the world," Biden said at the international security conference in Munich. But he added: "America will do more, but America will ask for more from our partners."

"As we seek a lasting framework for our common struggle against extremism, we will have to work cooperatively with nations around the world -- and we will need your help," Biden said in his first trip abroad since taking office along with Obama on January 20. "As a great Irish poet once wrote, our world has changed utterly -- a terrible beauty has been born. We must change too."

As an example, Biden said the United States would ask other countries to take in inmates from its Guantanamo Bay prison, which President Barack Obama has said he will close.

Biden reiterated Obama's position that Washington was willing to talk to Iran after three decades of frozen diplomatic relations, but he said that the Islamic republic must abandon its "secret atomic program." "We will be willing to talk to Iran, and to offer a very clear choice: continue down the current course and there will be continued pressure and isolation; abandon the illicit nuclear program and your support for terrorism and there will be meaningful incentives," he said.

He said that Washington would press ahead with its missile defense program, but only if it works and is not too expensive -- and also in consultation with Moscow, which has been angered by the plans. "We will continue to develop missile defense to counter a growing Iranian capability, provided the technology is proven and it is cost effective. We will do so in consultation with you, our NATO allies, and with Russia," Biden said.

He also confirmed that Obama would attend a summit of the G20 group of advanced and developing nations in London on April 2, and said that Washington would "lead by example and act aggressively" on climate change.

Biden also said that Washington was ready to "press the reset button" in strained relations with Russia. "It is time to press the reset button and to revisit the many areas where we can and should work together," he said, at a major international security conference in Munich, southern Germany.

MERKEL, SARKOZY THREATEN MORE IRAN SANCTIONS
Germany is hoping for a diplomatic solution to the conflict over Iran's nuclear program but is ready for tougher sanctions if no progress is made, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in the conference.

"We want a diplomatic solution," Merkel said, referring to new Obama's offer to hold talks with Tehran on the nuclear issue. "I think the new US administration will make its approach towards Iran clear to us in coming months. We are ready to walk this path together. But we are also ready for tougher sanctions if there is no progress," Merkel said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said during the conference that there was no alternative to tightening sanctions against Iran over its nuclear work if it does not meet western demands and Russia must show it is ready help with such a move. "We need the Russians to help so that sanctions against Iran are effective," Sarkozy added.

"We only have one solution left, reinforce sanctions against Iran and link Russia to this process," he said. "It is up to Russia to decide which face it wants to show. If it wants peace it should show it. If it wants to be a (global player), it should help us with Iran."

Ezbet Abed Rabbo: “They make like art here”

February 7, 2009, 6:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

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*sifting through the remains of Mahmoud Abed Rabbo’s home, destroyed along with over 35 others by the Israeli army.

On a visit to Ezbet Abed Rabbo during which I heard more harrowing testimonies of life under invasion, children shot dead before parents’ eyes, and being held captive for days on end, I took more photos than I could testimonies. Such is the widespread destruction in the eastern Jabaliya region that the testimonies will be spilling forth for weeks, if not longer.

Below are photos for which there wasn’t enough time that day to get the stories. Many of them speak for themselves, and the general theme is one of being held captive in one’s house or a neighbour’s for 3-5 days in general –in miserable conditions, without food, water, medicine, toilets…–and either having family members shot or being terrorized as captives who when finally released tried to run away only to be sniped or accosted by further Israeli snipers and soldiers positioned in occupied houses and on the streets.

Of those who survived the ordeal, or had evacuated before the land invasion, many came back to partially or completely destroyed homes. With no where else to live, some have erected tattered tents in the place of their houses, some are moving into refugee tents reminiscent of the 1948 expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland (the “Nakba”), when over 750,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes, left to miserable conditions in refugee tents which have evolved into the densely inhabited refugee camps throughout Gaza and the West Bank (as well as those in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria).

While many buildings were evidently hit by missiles from F-16s, Apache helicopters, and the massive tanks occupying the area, others were leveled by bulldozers and by explosives, the remnants of which were littered in and around houses in the region.

My friend escorting me through the ravaged area pointed out of the Israeli invasion: “They make like are here,” of the houses. Indeed, Dali and Escher seem to have created these houses whose angles defy proportionality, which seem to melt into the earth.

He also pointed out various destroyed houses belonging to Fatah members, including one with a toppled roof resembling icing dripping off of a cake: it belonged to a high-up Fatah intelligence officer.

Down the road, Mahmoud Abed Rabbo stood outside a home which had housed 38 people. He said it was the 4th attack by invading Israeli soldiers on his house in 3 years, though by far the worst. He gestured to the A-frame which had been a normal 90 degree angle home, and said that his family had been home on Jan 7, when the Israeli military began heavy attacks on homes in the area.

“First, the Israeli army attacked around the house,” he said. “Then, the Israeli army attacked the home with 2 tank missiles. The radio said the army had declared a ceasefire from 1-4 pm, so our neighbours [the family of Khaled Abed Rabbo] left their home, to flee. They were carrying a white flag but the Israeli soldiers shot at them anyway, killing 2 children (2 year old, 1 year old), and injuring another child and an older man.”

At 2 pm, Mahmoud explained, the Israeli army detonated some explosives next to the wall of the house, then entered through the hole they’d made. His family was still inside.

He reported that the Israeli soldiers ordered his family to leave, to ‘go to Jabaliya and don’t turn back or we will kill you.’ Yet, he said they’d only gone about 200m down the road leading out of his area, arriving at the mosque, when they were stopped by more Israeli soldiers. The army picked out the young men, ordering the women and children to continue walking. Sixty men were led to a shelter for animals, their IDs were taken, and they were ordered to take off their clothes.

Naked except for their underclothes, they were used by the Israeli army as human shields while the army went house to house, knocking and blasting holes in walls to use as doors.

Mahmoud said that around 10 pm, most of the young men were released, all but 10 of them. Those 10 were abducted, believed to have been taken to Israel’s notorious Nakab prison. The rest were ordered rest to walk to Jabaliya, not to turn back or they would be killed.

When ground strikes finished and Israel army left the areas they had occupied, Mahmoud Abed Rabbo’s family, like many of those from Ezbet Abed Rabbo, came back home to find it destroyed.

[except for the first 4 photos (all of the Mahmoud Abed Rabbo home, in Ezbet Abed Rabbo), all others below are of different homes in the ravaged Ezbet Abed Rabbo area.]

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*Mahmoud Abed Rabbo and wife outside their destroyed home.


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*explosive used to bring down a house.


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mine


*spent explosive on the slanted floor of a former house.


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*house belonging to Fatah high intelligence officer


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nakba

*one of many such tent camps erected to house the over 4,000 Palestinians displaced by Israel’s attacks on Gaza and destruction of their homes.

see: In Gaza, a ‘ranch’ turned to rubble

Trauma too hard to bear for Gaza

Testimony: Army forces neighborhood residents from their homes, Jan. ‘09

Piracy in Palestinian territorial waters


Piracy in Palestinian territorial waters

http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4712&Itemid=1

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A Lebanese ship is escorted by an Israeli naval boat near the port in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009.



Feb 6, 2009

Gaza / PNN – The Israelis committed blatant piracy says the European Campaign to Lift the Siege on Gaza.

The reference is to a Lebanese ship carrying aid to the Gaza Strip which Israeli naval vessels commandeered yesterday. Not only did the Israelis take the ship, the humanitarian aid, including blood, they took the passengers.

Gaza City’s Jamal Al Khudari, an independent member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Chairman of the Popular Committee against the Siege, issued an urgent call to release the crew. He also noted that the Israelis had put their lives in danger while still at sea by knocking out communications.

Among the 20 passengers was an Al Jazeera correspondent who reported Israeli forces opening fire at the ship, climbing aboard and then beating passengers.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said of the Israelis, "those who commit massacres against innocent civilians in Lebanon and Gaza will not hesitate to attack a ship carrying humanitarian supplies to the world."

After holding the ship in Ashdod Port the Israeli administration is expelling it to Lebanon and deporting the passengers. However one man is missing.

As far as the aid is concerned, the Israelis confiscated the medical supplies and humanitarian cargo, but says it will transfer 1,000 units of blood on board to Gaza City hospitals. Under the year and a half siege most medical supplies and medicines are periodically banned.

The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is still considered disastrous by human rights organizations. PLC member and head of the Palestinian National Initiative Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi referred to conditions as catastrophic.

The European Campaign said on Friday in a statement issued from Brussels that it holds the Israeli administration responsible for the lives of those on board and called for international intervention in stopping Israeli aggressions in Palestinian territorial waters.

"The Israeli piracy comes in the framework of the occupation’s efforts to undermine international solidarity and break the will of a million and a half people trapped in the Palestinian Gaza Strip."

RACIST PARTIES DIVIDED IN ISRAELI ELECTION

SOURCE





This coming Tuesday is Election Day in Israel. One hundred and twenty people will be elected to serve in the Knesset (Parliament). Israel fancies itself as a country with a Parliamentary System as is found in England and Canada. Nothing is further from the truth.

In countries such as England and Canada, the people vote according to the electoral district that they live in. Each district has an elected official that is answerable to the voters in that area. The government is formed by the Party that received the most votes, and the leader of that Party becomes the Prime Minister. It’s about as democratic a system as one can find anywhere.

In Israel, the so-called ‘only Democracy in the Middle East’, this is not the case. On a countrywide basis the people vote by Party, regardless of where they live. None of the candidates are answerable to anyone as is the case above. The government is formed by the Party which receives the most votes. Again, the leader of that Party becomes the Prime Minister.

For decades now, none of the major Parties received enough support to form a government. The result has been coalition government after coalition government. In other words, sell out after sell out.

In all honesty, there is nothing more boring than the election adverts presented on Israeli T.V. All the Parties promise you the moon, but none ever deliver. The right has moved further to the right over the past few years, the so-called ‘left’ has become what the right used to be….. there is hardly a difference.

BUT….. a division has developed between the racist Parties that are in the running. Arch racist and former Chief Rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, head of the Shas Party has come out against the Party headed by our resident nazi Lieberman. Over what??? Issues facing the people??? Read the following from today’s Jerusalem Post to get the answer.

May this division lead to neither of the Parties involved receiving even a single mandate! May the racists in Israel, and throughout the world, destroy each other.
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Shas’s Yosef: Voting for Israel Beiteinu an unforgivable sin

Matthew Wagner

In a bid to stem defection of voters from Shas to Israel Beiteinu, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef warned on Thursday that anyone who votes for Avigdor Lieberman’s party is a transgressor whose sin will never be expiated.


“If someone plans on voting for a party that is in favor of assimilation, of selling pork, then his sin is too great to bear, his sin will never be forgiven,” the Shas mentor said in a televised appearance without explicitly mentioning Israel Beiteinu’s name.

A source in Shas estimated that the party had lost as much two mandates to Lieberman, which, he said, explained Shas’s fall from 12 Knesset seats in the 2006 elections to about 10 seats in current election surveys.

“There is the hard core of haredi Sephardim, who will continue to vote for Shas, and there is a larger group of tradition Sephardim who light Shabbat candles but go to soccer games on Saturday morning. This second group is attracted to Lieberman’s hard line on Israeli Arabs and the impression of being decisive,” the source said.

Shas’s main criticism is directed at Lieberman’s support for a type of civil marriage called “the union of couples” (brit hazugiut).

Since the establishment of the state all marriages and divorces of Jewish Israelis have been controlled by the Orthodox Rabbinic establishment. As a result, Jews are not permitted to marry non-Jews, which prevents assimilation, although mixed marriages performed abroad are recognized by the state.

There are about a quarter of a million Israeli citizens who immigrated under the Law of Return but who are not Jewish according to Orthodox Jewish law, and who cannot marry in Israel.

Israel Beiteinu intends to push for a change in the religious status quo that would enable these non-Jews to form a type of marital union recognized by the state.

MK David Rotem, No. 8 on Israel Beiteinu’s candidates list and an Orthodox Jew, rejected Shas’s attack on the civil marriage initiative. Rotem argued that the amendment would reduce the likelihood of mamzerut - the birth of children as a result of an illicit sexual relationship.

“In consultation with religious Zionist rabbis, we created a type of union that does not constitute a full-fledged marriage according to Halacha. This prevents a situation in which a woman who is married according to Halacha will have an illicit sexual relationship with a man who is not her husband,” he said.


Meanwhile, Haredi political parties are concerned that the rise of Israel Beiteinu will hurt their bargaining power in the next government coalition.

Two leading haredi weeklies - Hamishpaha and Bakehila - featured analyses on how the rise of Israel Beiteinu could hurt Shas and United Torah Judaism.

Ya’acov Rivlin, senior political pundit for Bakehila, speculated that a strong Israel Beiteinu might bring about a haredi-free government coalition based on Likud, Kadima and Israel Beiteinu.

“Bibi [Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu] would have to be crazy to do it… but in a political system the very possibility that this might happen is weakening Shas and United Torah Judaism.

“These two parties might end up in the coalition, but at a much lower premium than previously thought,” Rivlin said.

Yossi Elituv warned in Hamishpaha that the rise of Israel Beiteinu signaled the undermining of the religious status quo.

“Hundreds of thousands of immigrant goyim who are fed up with the religious establishment are roaring for Lieberman,” Elituv wrote. “His followers include a large swathe that will demand reforms in the minimalist religious character that remains in Israel. Huge populations are calling to dismantle the status quo.”

Source

Arab medicine, food supplies rot in Al-Arish

Link

[ 07/02/2009 - 08:13 AM ]




AL-ARISH, (PIC)-- Dr. Bakat Barkani, the chairman of the Algerian doctors syndicate, has plainly accused the Egyptian government of wasting tons of medicine and blood supplies donated by Arab countries to their Palestinian brothers in Gaza Strip.

According to Barkani, tens of Algerian doctors dispatched to Gaza to help their Palestinian counterparts to treat thousands of Palestinians wounded in the cruel Israeli war on Gaza last month were held at Al-Arish and denied entry into the beleaguered Strip.

He explained that the blood donated by the Algerian people to their Palestinian brothers had expired because Egypt neither sent it to Gaza nor kept it in a safe place to avoid the damage.

"Egypt is accused of deliberately damaging tons of medicine, food supplies, and blood", stressed Barkani, adding that the Israeli occupation authority allowed little amount of medicine and food to come into the Strip through crossing points it controls, but Egypt failed to do so.

News correspondents stationed at Al-Arish city quoted Egyptian residents as saying that the government was deliberately seizing and delaying passage of those goods into the Strip although it knows that they might rot because they weren’t kept in a safe place.

Cairo abandoned the Palestinians:
Meanwhile, the Arab Bar accused the Egyptian government of abandoning the Palestinian people and leaving them to starve, saying that Egypt wants the Palestinian resistance to accept Israeli dictates.

Abdul Athim Al-Maghrabi, deputy secretary-general of the Bar, explained that the Egyptian decision to close the Rafah crossing point came after Hamas refused the Israeli dictates, and added that the opening of the crossing is linked to Hamas's "acceptance" of those humiliating conditions.

"The Egyptian administration is wrong in taking such a decision, and the justification it tries to convince us with that it is abiding by the 2005 crossings agreement is of no sense, as Egypt wasn’t a signatory to that deal and thus it isn’t bound by any obligation in this regard", Maghrabi added.

He stressed that in addition to the fact that the agreement had expired in 2006, Egypt is duty-bound by the international law to open the crossing point to save the lives of 1.5 million Palestinians who are suffering slow death in the tiny Strip.

However, Maghrabi explained that the Egyptian official stand doesn’t reflect the pulse of the Egyptian street.


Mizan: Israeli aggression destroyed water networks, put lives of Gazans at risk

[ 07/02/2009 - 07:39 AM ]





GAZA, (PIC)-- Al-Mizan center for human rights has asserted that the Israeli war on Gaza Strip destroyed water networks, and mixed potable water with waste water that affected the lives of the 1.5 million Palestinians living there.

According to a report it issued on the adverse repercussions of the brutal war on the water sector in Gaza, the center explained that the water infrastructure in Gaza was completely destroyed by the Israeli aggression.

The report also accused the Israeli occupation authority of deliberately ignoring its obligations to deliver potable water to the Palestinians in the Strip, being the occupation force on the land, and of banning international experts willing to restore the devastated water networks from entering the Strip.

As a result, drinkable water was mixed with sewerage water, putting the lives of the Palestinians at risk, the report explained, adding that at least 11 main water pumps were completely destroyed, in addition to a number of big water reservoirs.

Moreover, the center stressed that Israeli refusal to allow industrial fuel into the Strip causes sharp shortage in electricity which is needed to pump water to high residential buildings, leaving residents of those towers without water.

In this concern, the center urged international human rights institutions and UN agencies to pressure the IOA to open the crossing points and to allow fuel and basic spare parts of water networks into the Strip in order to avoid a looming human catastrophe.

Gaza shakes American Arab and Muslim youth

Link

Yasmin Qureshi, The Electronic Intifada, 6 February 2009



A Gaza solidarity demonstration in San Francisco, US, 10 January 2009. (Sharat Lin)
The most recent assault on Gaza has been an awakening for American Arab and Muslim youth. The attacks came at the most festive holiday season of the year. Instead of celebrating, many young American Arab and Muslim teenagers and kids spent their time protesting on the streets as they watched disturbing and devastating images streaming into their living rooms and onto their computers.

This is a new generation of youth: a generation that grew up witnessing gross violations of US civil liberties, under the shadow of the Patriot Act. They grew up watching Iraq and Afghanistan being destroyed by US military weapons; they saw citizens of countries of their ancestors tortured and humiliated. They have not forgotten Israel's unjustified attack on Lebanon only two years ago. Many youth have profound attachments to the lands that their parents or great-grandparents came from, and where many still have family.

"We were very young when [the 11 September 2001 attacks] happened. We grew up under Bush's presidency and witnessed our community being marginalized. We were often questioned about our religion and culture. This brought many of us closer and we started organizing awareness events on campus," said Billal Asghar, a senior global studies and health science major at San Jose State University.

The Arab and Muslim communities were largely quiet the first few years after the 11 September 2001 attacks. Some stayed away from political activism and limited their social activities to the mosque. A conscious decision was made to focus on Islam and Muslim issues within the US and stay away from speaking up against the atrocities being committed in countries where their family roots are.

Today Arab and Muslim youth in the US are increasingly visible as they stand up against injustice. A 22-year-old University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) student, Yasmine Alkhatib's family migrated from Iraq when she was five. She organized Palestinian events to mark the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, the dispossession of the Palestinian homeland in 1947-48, last year. "Growing up in America, which preaches virtue and justice, I always felt that I could express my views and opinions about the way the world works," she said. "When we see war crimes being committed by Israel on women and children or our rights being vandalized in the United States, we feel incensed and consider it our duty to fight against it," she continued.

Karimah Al-Helew, a student leader at San Jose State University and one of the organizers of the protests in San Jose, has traveled to the West Bank four times. "I know what it means to live under an illegal occupation. I can see that my tax dollars are going to support the poverty that has suffocated my family there," she said. Her father, who passed away a year ago, is Palestinian. Her mother is from Cuba. Speaking in Spanish at an immigrant rights rally in San Jose last month she said, "I am not speaking as a Palestinian or Cuban or American, I am speaking as a human being; you only have to be human to understand what is just."

Raunaq Khodaai, who was born in India and is a mathematics major at Mission College Santa Clara said that a class on Modern History of Europe a year ago motivated her to become politically active. "As I started reading more I felt that the Palestinians have been suffering for the longest time post-World War II," she said.

The unbalanced reporting by the mainstream media on the Iraq war and Israel-Palestine has lead to new, innovative ways of information gathering for the youth. Their sources of information are alternative media like Democracy Now!, YouTube or blogs, as well as social networking applications like instant messaging and Facebook.

"We are web savvy and like to search for other perspectives online," said Khodaai. At a time when Israel banned the media from entering Gaza, these channels of communication were used effectively to broadcast the personal horror stories and images coming out of Gaza. "Facebook became a news stand when the war broke out. The quickest way to get the word out for a rally would be to simply change your [Facebook] status," said Al-Helew.

In California's Bay Area, some of these students joined hands with African Americans to protest against the shooting of Oscar Grant, an unarmed black youth, by a police officer in Oakland. "The struggle for justice and equal rights in occupied Palestine is no different from what the African Americans struggled for in this country," said Laila Khatib, a 2008 San Francisco State University graduate. "Racism witnessed against Arabs throughout the recent election campaign is still fresh in my mind," she added.

Arab and Muslim youth have become more and more organized during the past couple of years. They realize that to become part of the "American story" it is important to participate in the local community and be involved in the political process. Their struggles for civil liberties and justice are their "American story."

Their participation in electing the first African American president of the US has given them new hope. Arab and Muslim student groups mobilized youth to register and vote. "After seeing the election results of 2004, we wanted to make sure Republicans do not win this time," said Asghar. "There is new excitement about bringing change bottom-up. The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine have invoked a lot of passion and energy as well as dismay at US foreign policy. People are tired of these wars and can see what they have done to our economy," added Asghar.

Yasmin Qureshi is a Bay Area, California activist involved in South Asian and Palestinian issues. She is a member of The Free Gaza Movement, South Bay Mobilization and Friends of South Asia. She was one of the organizers of the Mumbai peace vigil in San Francisco and worked closely with youth to organize protests in San Jose against the Gaza attacks.


Related Links

BY TOPIC: Gaza massacres


World needs credible body to pursue Israeli war criminals

Link

[ 07/02/2009 - 12:55 AM ]

By Khalid Amayreh


On 27th December, Israel carried out a genocidal blitzkrieg against the estimated 1.5 million Palestinian inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, using state-of-the-art of the American technology of death.

These deadly weapons used against the imprisoned Gaza inhabitants include , inter alia, F-16 war planes, equipped with all sorts of lethal missiles including bunker buster bombs, apache helicopters, white Phosphorous shells, flechette dart shells, as well as the Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME), a deadly weapon recently developed by the United States army to create a powerful and lethal blast over a small area.

DIME is believed to still be in the experimental stage. However, it is widely believed that Israel had received a green light from the Pentagon to use Gaza as a testing ground.

In addition, Israel used all other conventional weapons, including tank and artillery shells against densely populated neighborhoods.

According to David Halpin, a retired British surgeon and trauma specialist, the Israeli army used Gaza as a “laboratory for testing what I call weapons from hell.”

“I fear the thinking in Israel is that it is in its interests to create as much mutilation as possible to terrorize the civilian population in the hope they will turn against Hamas.” (see, Is Gaza a Testing Ground For experimental Weapons, Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 13 January).

By the 23rd day of the criminal onslaught, when Israel halted its blitz, Gaza looked very much like a real concentration camp, with over 10,000 Palestinians dead and mutilated, including more than 300 kids mercilessly killed and five times as many kids seriously injured or maimed.

In addition, the civilian infrastructure all over the Gaza Strip was utterly destroyed. This includes apartment and public buildings, dozens of mosques, college and dorm buildings, businesses, schools, hospitals, power plants, water supply treatment facilities, UN Shelter schools, civilian police stations, farmland, and thousands of homes.

It was a no-holds-barred assault, and many older people who lived through the Second World War have likened Gaza on 18 January with the bombed-out German City of Dresden before the end of the Second World War.

The massive killing of civilians carried out by the Israeli army was done knowingly and deliberately, as Israeli soldiers were instructed not to show any mercy toward the civilian population. This explains the total annihilation of numerous entire families by bombing residential homes.

Israel claims that the offensive targeted Hamas, not the people of Gaza . However, Israeli political and military leaders as well as many intellectuals readily stretched their concept of “Hamas” to encompass virtually the entire Palestinian community in Gaza .

For example, Yaron London, a “left-leaning” Israeli intellectual and prominent media figure told reporters that “The time has come to shock the Gaza population with actions that until now have nauseated us-actions such as killing the political leadership, causing hunger and thirst in Gaza, blocking off energy sources, causing widespread destruction, and being less discriminating in the killing of civilians. There is no other choice.”

He added : “I am referring to both the population and their leadership; they are the same, because the population voted for Hamas. I can’t separate between one who voted for Hamas and a Hamas leader.”

There are actually numerous other quotations by Israeli leaders condoning and even gloating over the crimes the Israeli army has committed in Gaza.

Pornographic war crimes

Israeli officials and spokespersons don’t really deny that war crimes have been committed in Gaza. However, they try desperately to extenuate the severity and seriousness of these crimes by arguing that “things like that happen in war time,” and that “Hamas, too, committed war crimes.”

Non the less, comparing Hamas’s crimes with the holocaust-like blitz in Gaza flies in the face of the dignity of language. It is a verbal promiscuity, a sort of fornication with words.

Indeed, using Israeli crimes and Hamas’s “crimes” in the same breath would be as absurd and corrupt as equating the Nazi atrocities with the resistance in Nazi-occupied Europe.

The crimes committed in Gaza by the Israeli Occupation Forces are not questionable or controversial and don’t require much efforts to ascertain them.

The factuality of these crimes, which transcend reality, is not only established by the naked physical reality, but are also further ascertained by Israel’s confused efforts to cover up these crimes.

Indeed, Israel has embarked on quiet but massive efforts to cover up the Gaza war crimes by falsifying the names the alleged war criminals who are numbered in the thousands.

On 5 February, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that the Israeli army began removing the names and details of army officers involved in the Gaza blitz from legal documents.

“The censor’s office issued sweeping gag orders on the names of all officers who participated in the operation, fearing their identification would expose them to legal action abroad.”

This shows that Israel is trying to evade the consequences of its crimes against humanity by hiding the facts and preventing the relatives of Palestinian victims from knowing the names of the killers.

In light, it is imperative that a credible, honest, a non-political and non-governmental body is established to thoroughly investigate these crimes and pursue the war criminals wherever they may be.

Luckily, the names of many of these criminals are already known.

The criminals include not only soldiers and officers taking part in the genocidal atrocities, but also political leaders who gave the orders and instructions.

It is true that there are no guarantees at the moment that the war criminals will be apprehended, and prosecuted, let alone punished for their crimes, given the international political environment and the absence of the international will to challenge the quasi-Nazi state and her guardian-ally, the United States.

However, if actual prosecution proves difficult, and it undoubtedly is, it doesn’t mean that the war criminals should be allowed to get away with impunity.

Therefore, a comprehensive, professional and highly concentrated effort to amass, classify and authenticate all available evidence should get underway immediately.

The souls of these Gaza children, mercilessly killed and incinerated by the hellish Israeli-American war machine are calling on us to pursue the murderers.

We must not let these vile murderers and child killers sleep quietly.

Indeed, pursuing these human animals will eventually prove instrumental in determining whether the future of our children will be governed by the laws of humanity or the rules of the jungle.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Funding struggle slowing cluster bomb clearance in south Lebanon

Link

Report, Electronic Lebanon, 6 February 2009

BEIRUT (IRIN) - Waning international interest and funding is harming efforts to rid southern Lebanon of its hundreds of thousands of remaining cluster bomblets, posing a continuing threat to farmers and children, according to mine clearance organizations.

Israel dropped a large number of cluster bombs on southern Lebanon during the July 2006. Each bomb can release hundreds of individual bomblets, and about a quarter failed to explode on impact, effectively becoming landmines that can kill or maim.

"For almost all the organizations, it's a continuous struggle to generate enough interest and funding to keep the teams on the ground working, which obviously has an impact on the amount of cluster bombs [bomblets] they can clear," said Tekimiti Gilbert, the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre's (UNMACC) acting program manager.

This year started with 33 teams on the ground, down from 44 last year, he said. But six of those teams, hired by the UK-based non-governmental organization Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and Denmark's DanChurchAid, have been dropped since then.

"We stand to lose a further six teams by the end of March if the situation doesn't change; and if it still doesn't change, we'll continue to lose more throughout the course of the year," Gilbert told IRIN, adding that the further six at risk were from the Swedish Rescue Services Agency and private company BACTEC International.

Cutting demining operations will slow clearance of the estimated 12 million square meters remaining of contaminated land, a quarter of the estimated original strike area.

During 2008, 44 teams cleared just over 10 million square meters, Gilbert said. All 12 million square meters have been defined as "high priority" -- either farmland people rely on for their livelihoods or close to populated areas and a risk to safety.

Revised figures

In the aftermath of the 2006 war, the UN put the figure of unexploded duds at about one million. So far deminers in south Lebanon have cleared about 155,000 cluster bomblets, though the rate of new discovery is slowing. By January 2008, deminers had cleared 137,000 bomblets, meaning only around 18,000 bomblets were cleared in the past year.

Though the initial number of duds estimated by the UN now appears to have been too high, Gilbert said the only certainty was that there were "hundreds of thousands" of unexploded duds left in south Lebanon after the war and many thousands still left to clear.

"We don't know exactly what is left for the simple reason the Israelis haven't told us," he said. Israeli has ignored repeated demands by the UN to hand over strike data. Not having the strike information forces teams to search non-contaminated land unnecessarily, Gilbert said, a painstaking and costly process.

International ban

Israel's showering of south Lebanon was one of the worst uses of cluster bombs in history and spurred the formation of an international treaty banning the use, production and sale of cluster bombs. A total of 95 countries signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo, Norway, last December.

The treaty, the most significant advance in the field of disarmament since the 1997 ban on antipersonnel mines, will enter into force after being ratified by 30 states; as of the end January four states have ratified it and another 91 have signed but not yet ratified it.

Key weapons-producing states the US, Russia, China and Israel refused to sign up, arguing for their right to use cluster bombs in self defense, though important European powers such as France, Germany and the UK are signatories. From the Arab nations, only Lebanon and Tunisia signed.

This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.



Fair trade, not aid, is the way forward

Link

Gen Sander, The Electronic Intifada, 6 February 2009



Palestinians harvest olives in Gaza City, October 2008. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)


Some would argue that fair trade never really existed in the Gaza Strip -- at least not in the "certified" way. Needing to meet certain standards for present-day international export is reasonable enough, but fair trade can also exist domestically or internationally, without all the fuss and formalities. If we understand fair trade to be about dignity, empowerment, sustainability, justice and social responsibility, then any form of exchange that meets those criteria should be recognized as just that.

Before the days of Israel's crippling siege of the Gaza Strip, six women's couscous processing cooperatives were in operation in Gaza, built on the foundation of the above criteria. Their products, however, did not bear a fair trade certification mark that made the product instantly and internationally recognized as being fair trade. They were, however, exported by the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), a member of the International Federation for Alternative Trade (IFAT, recently renamed the World Fair Trade Organization), so there is no question as to whether or not the products were actually fair trade. With the help of the Fair Trade department of PARC, which also provided their founding infrastructure, these co-ops exported more than 100 tons of couscous in 2006 to fair trade organizations all over Europe. That initiative had so much potential and seemed like a viable and promising avenue for economic development -- "had" being the pivotal word.

Following Hamas's victory in the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Israel's immoral and illegal collective punishment of Gaza's 1.5 million people began. It has been two and a half years now since the siege was imposed, and Gaza has since been described as the world's largest prison. Its borders are hermetically sealed, the free movement of people and essential goods and services severely restricted, and its economy and society stunted by a prohibition on partaking in any kind of trade, never mind fair trade.

Last year PARC issued a release outlining its concerns regarding the effects of the blockade on the agricultural sector in general, but more specifically on the six women's couscous processing cooperatives operating in Gaza. It seemed as though the situation could not get any worse; production requirements were not allowed into the Gaza Strip, and all agricultural products were not allowed out. The results were visibly devastating. The ban on exports led the deterioration of the agricultural sector, which led to the closure of many farms and all six couscous co-ops, which had a direct impact on hundreds of people whose lives depended on their continued existence. Additionally, with the incapacity to produce and the inability to purchase or sell came an unprecedented surge of food insecurity in Gaza.

The likelihood of the situation further deteriorating seemed impossible at the time but, obviously, it just got worse -- much worse. Gaza's initial break just became a compound fracture.

Israel's deadly 22-day assault on Gaza killed more than 1,300 persons, mainly civilians, and left nearly 5,000 injured. The damage caused to public and private infrastructure was massive, and the agricultural sector suffered a nearly insurmountable amount of devastation. The day after Israel unilaterally declared a ceasefire on 18 January, the agriculture minister in Gaza declared that 60 percent of the Strip's agricultural land was destroyed, along with 80 percent of all agricultural products for this season, with a total economic loss for the sector alone estimated at $170 million. The fair trade sector, which had already been rendered inept by the siege, has endured an even greater setback. According to PARC's Gaza branch, one of the couscous co-ops in the Sheikh Radwan area was completely destroyed, leaving five co-ops (barely) standing and in a condition so fragile their future has become even more tenuous than it was just one month ago. Clearly, the Israeli war machine has systematically left in its wake a mess so colossal that it has been estimated that the Gaza Strip has just been set back at least 20 years.

Whatever hope Gaza was holding onto for the possibility of fair trade ever catching on again has now been ruthlessly thwarted by Israel. Understandably, the focus is no longer on fair trade, or even on trade for that matter, but on survival and other immediate needs that generally need tending to after an atrocity of this sort. For the moment, Gaza desperately requires immediate humanitarian aid for immediate relief to the civilian population. PARC, however, firmly believes that aid is indisputably unsustainable. Instead, PARC urges the international community to foster an environment and humanity of fair trade, rather than one of aid. Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip needs to be lifted immediately in order to help put an end to the humanitarian catastrophe that is occurring, before it's too late, and before we regret our inaction once again.

Gen Sander currently lives in Ramallah, West Bank. She works in the Fair Trade Department of PARC and teaches a beginner's photography class at Aida refugee camp.


Related Links

... and still, Israel "scares" Obama into "..holding Iran's feet to fire, or else.."

"...Benjamin Netanyahu -- is likely to go to Washington within a few months and press Obama to stick to his campaign promise not to let Iran develop an atomic bomb.

Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. Middle East negotiator now at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said the visit would entail a "strategic conversation" with Obama.

"It need not be conclusive or threatening, but it will be very serious and ... scare the daylights out of the president that unless the international community mobilizes to address the situation, the Israelis will," Miller said..."

Survivor Testimony of Israeli Holocaust in Gaza

Survivor Testimony of Israeli Holocaust in Gaza


Kawther Salam


Feb 5, 2009

The Palestinian Center for the Defense of Prisoners confirmed that the Israeli occupation forces committed war crimes in a deliberate and planned way during its aggression "Operation Cast Lead" against the Gaza Strip, which lasted p13about 23 days. The IOF executed Palestinians who were arrested from their houses in cold blood, either by shooting them directly by launching missiles and rockets at them. The Center reports that the testimonies of survivors of the assault on Gaza confirmed the status of the executions of these "prisoners of war", and that the occupation forces violated the international war-crimetreaties and conventions which clarify the rights of prisoners of armed conflicts. The testimonies confirm that the prisoners were executed a few kilometers away from their houses, and that there were among them children in some cases aged only months, women, and old men.
According to Maisa’a Fawzi Al-Samouni, aged 19, a Palestinian from the MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANSAl-Zeitoun neighborhood, the soldiers took her together with her daughter, aged nine months, and about thirty other persons of the Al-Samouni family, to the house of one of her relatives, Wael Al-Samouni, aged 40. The house of Wael is made of concrete, it has about two hundred square meters. According to Maisa’a, "first we were 30 persons, and then we became about 70 persons in Wael’s house. We were forced to stay in this house until the following day without water or food".

Maisa’a continues: "In the morning of the next day, at about sixth o’clock, the al-samoni-familymassa-5Israeli soldiers fired at people who tried to leave the house to bring their relatives some food, and after a while the Israeli tanks fired shells at the house where everybody was". She added: "when the shell landed in the house, I threw myself on the ground over my daughter to protect her. Smoke and dust spread everywhere. I heard screams and crying, and when the smoke dissipated, I looked around me I saw that twenty to thirty people were dead, "martyrs" and about twenty wounded".

Maisa’a was lightly injured, her daughter lost three of her fingers. Maisa’a lost her husband, his parents and seven members of her close family.

The International Committee of the Red Cross accused the Israeli army of p06denying their paramedics access to the Al-Zeitoun neighborhood. The ICRC stated that the Israeli army did not allow ambulances to reach many homes in the Al-Zeitoun neighborhood where Palestinian civilians were executed by the IOF. The ICRC further reported that their Paramedic teams rescued 18 injured persons in the Al- Zeitoun neighborhood and recovered 12 bodies from the rubble of a house. The ICRC considered that the Israeli delay in granting the paramedic team permission to arrive to the victims as unacceptable, they described the incident as "shocking".

The United Nations has also said that the Israeli army killed in a bombing 30 p04among 110 Palestinian civilians were rounded up in another house in Gaza City. The UN’s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, called for an independent investigation of possible war crimes and violations of international human rights laws in Gaza and Israel. Navi Pillay also said that UN human rights monitors must be deployed in Israel as well as in Gaza and the West Bank to document violations and their perpetrators.

The United Nations Office for the humanitarian Activities Coordination stated al-samoni-family-massacre-1that they collected certified testimonies which indicated that the Israeli soldiers, on the fourth of January 2009, had gathered about 110 Palestinians in one house in the Al-Zeitoun neighborhood (half of them children) and ordered them to stay at house, and after 24 hours they bombed the house several times - in a deliberate and intentional way - resulting the death of thirty people. The UN office added in the statement that surviving people who were able to walk a distance of two kilometers had arrived at the Salah Al-Din Street, where they were taken to hospitals in civilian cars. The youngest child among these survivor was five months. He died after he arrived the hospital. The UN statement described the incident as one of the most serious incidents since the start of the Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip in December 27, 2008.

:: Article nr. 51550 sent on 06-feb-2008 03:48 ECT

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=51550

Link: www.kawther.info/wpr/2009/02/05/survivor-testimony-of-israeli-holocaust-in-gaza

Professor of Zionist terrorism

Source

"Sending a soldier there to fight terrorists is justified, but why should I force him to endanger himself much more than that so that the terrorist's neighbor isn't killed? I don't have an answer for that. From the standpoint of the state of Israel, the neighbor is much less important. I owe the soldier more. If it's between the soldier and the terrorist's neighbor, the priority is the soldier. Any country would do the same." The decision regarding the magnitude of force used to protect the lives of the soldiers is up to the commander in the field. "The commander must be skilled in gauging the appropriate use of force," Kasher said."
Posted by As'ad at 9:52 AM

Dr. Death Smokin' On Da Nile

Source

Oy gevalt, the Telegraph's picture below is so dated of this notorious Heim, the Nazi war criminal who they say died in Egypt in 1992 .

Zug gornisht, kinderliks, but Auntie is very proud to show the much more recent photograph of Aribert Heim, AKA "Dr. Death", never before published, in a nostalgic moment with his hookah on the Nile.

Oy ever, I am so worried about that schlemazel, Efraim Zurof, of the Simon'le Wiesenthal Hunting Center, who refuses to believe he is dead and buried already, now that the bounty on his head has been tripled to a million Euros.

The silly head hunter plotzed when the media reported that the nazi murderer, this "Dr. Death'le", died of "cancer of the rectum on Aug. 10, 1992, after having spent 30 years in Cairo" under an assumed islamofacist name.

Zurof refuses to believe the reports. He realises that if all the Nazis are indeed dead, there won't be much work left for the Nazi hunters.

Zurof is adamant that Heim must be alive. "There's no grave, there's no body. We can't do any DNA testing." Surely he should have asked where is the rectum for us to take some specimens?

You better take it from Auntie, that paskudnyak Zurof is opening a can'le of worms with this story. This is a very dangerous line to take.

What are we going to do if the goyim raise the very same questions? They will tell us, "You say 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust, so prove it already! What do we look like, chopped liver? There're no graves, there're no bodies. We can't do any DNA testing."

Some may even come and ask "Where are the 3 million chopped schwantalachs?"

I tell you, let's leave this Heim alone and concentrate on Goyza.

United against DNA testing

Plotz - to explode, to burst, i.e. from overeating, from excitement, from anticipation. "If I eat one more piece of cheesecake, I'm going to plotz!" "You got us tickets for Barbra's come-back concert!? I'm plotzing!"
Paskudnyak (pas-kud-nyak) - a disgusting, revolting, dishonest, unscrupulous, corrupt person.
Schlemazel - a schmuck who reacts before he thinks.
Schwantalachs - that which the rabbi nips off the Chosen male kinderliks on the eighth day.
Zug gornisht - say nothing. "Keep it under your hat" or "Shhhh, I think others are listening."


Johann Hari: The nightmare of Netanyahu returns


This is the man calling for the re-occupation of Gaza to 'liquidate' its elected government

Friday, 6 February 2009

Israel is about to make a misjudgement as disastrous – and deadly – as the attack on Gaza. In a few days, it looks as if it could elect Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister once again.

This is a man calling for the violent re-occupation of Gaza to "liquidate" its elected government. This is a man who says he will "naturally grow" the West Bank settlements. This is a man who says he will "never" negotiate over Jerusalem, or the Golan Heights, or control of the West Bank water supply.

This is a man who says establishing a Palestinian state would leave Israel with, "an existential threat and a public relations nightmare reminiscent of 1938 Czechoslovakia". This is a man who Yitzhak Rabin's widow said helped create a climate of hate that led to his murder.

The political beneficiaries of Operation Cast Lead have been Israel's hard-right. The opinion poll numbers have surged for Netanyahu's Likud and for the even more extreme Avigdor Lieberman. They say the only problem with the 23-day bombing of Gaza – killing 410 children, and hugely strengthening support for Hamas – is that it did not go far enough. The world urgently needs to look at these individuals – and ask how this came to pass.

The key to understanding Netanyahu lies with his father, Benzion. He is a distinguished scholar of medieval history who believes the world is eternally and ineradicably riddled with genocidal anti-Semitism. When he arrived in British Mandate Palestine, he declared that the majority of Jews there were naïve and idealistic. They had to immediately seize the entire Biblical land of Israel – taking all of the West Bank and stretching right into present-day Jordan. There could be no compromise, ever, with the Arabs, who only understand force. The man he calls his mentor, Abba Ahimeir, described himself proudly as "a fascist".

Today, Benzion's son routinely compares dealing with the Palestinians to dealing with the Nazis. He can only understand their anger as a resurfacing of Europe's irrational, murderous hate. He insists they have no right to a share of the land because they "stole" it – in 636AD. Accordingly, Netanyahu rubbishes every peace initiative offered by Israel. His reaction to Yitzhak Rabin's decision to sign the mild and moderate Oslo accords with Yasser Arafat reveals the depth of his opposition to compromise. He warmly addressed crowds that chanted "Rabin is a Nazi" and "through blood and fire, Rabin shall expire". He called the former prime minister "a traitor", shortly before Rabin was murdered by a Jewish fundamentalist who agreed.

The other person who has surged ahead in the polls – and looks likely to be Netanyahu's coalition partner – is Avigdor Lieberman, a Russian ex-nightclub bouncer who says the model for dealing with the Palestinians should be Vladimir Putin's 1990s bombardment of Chechnya, which caused the death of a third of the entire population. He wants the political parties elected by Israeli Arabs to be criminalised, snapping that they should be dealt with "like Hamas".

Perhaps even more depressing than their rise is the flat and flat-lining response form the other parties. Both Kadima and Labour militantly defend the blockade and bombing of Gaza, not least because their leaders – Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak – led the charge in Cabinet. Even Barak has picked up the comparison to Putin and started approvingly quoting the new Tsar of Russia. The brave pro-peace parties like Meeretz are shunted far to the margins of the debate.

How did this happen? It is essential to remember that the Israelis didn't end up in the Middle East out of a wicked desire to colonise and kill, as some people now gleefully claim. They are there because they were fleeing genocidal Jew-hatred. That doesn't justify a single crime against a single Palestinian – but if we forget this, and the unimaginably vast trauma that lies behind it, we cannot understand what is happening now.

Over the past few months, I keep returning to an extraordinary essay written by the great Israel novelist Amos Oz in 1982. The Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin had compared the Palestinian leadership to Adolf Hitler, so Oz wrote: "You display an urge to resurrect Hitler from the dead so you may kill him over and over again each day... Like many Jews, I feel sorry I didn't kill Hitler with my bare hands. But there is not, and there never will be, any healing for the open wound. Tens of thousands of dead Arabs will not heal that wound. Because, Mr Begin, Adolf Hitler is dead. He is not hiding in Nabatiyah, in Sidon, or in Beirut. He is dead and burned to ashes."

Israeli society consists, Oz says, of "a bunch of half-hysterical refugees and survivors". The 2,000-year trauma of the blood libel, the Inquisition, the pogroms, Auschwitz and Chelmno and the Gulag Archipelago, have produced a distorted vision, where every shriek of pain directed at Israel can sound like the rumble beginning in the massed crowds at Nuremberg.

This means that Israel is missing opportunities for peace. Even much of Hamas – an Islamist party I passionately oppose – is amenable to a long ceasefire along the 1967 borders. That isn't my opinion; it is the view of Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Israeli security service Shin Bet. He told the Israeli Cabinet before the bombing of Gaza that Hamas would restore the ceasefire if Israel would only end the blockade of the Strip and declare a ceasefire on the West Bank. Instead, they bombed, and the offer died.

The former head of Mossad, Ephraim Halevy, says that Hamas, "will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original goals" if only Israel will begin the path of compromise. This would drain support for rejectionists such as Osama Bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and make it easier to build international coalitions.

Instead, too many Israelis – imprisoned by their history – seem determined to choose the opposite path: of Netanyahu and Lieberman and ramming an endless alienating boot on to the throat of the Palestinians. It doesn't have to be like this. We can only say to them with Amos Oz, as urgently as we can: Adolf Hitler is not hiding in Gaza City, or Beit Hanoun, or Hebron. Adolf Hitler is dead.

j.hari@independent.co.uk


Hard man of the right is Israel's kingmaker in waiting

The settler politician dubbed 'Le Pen of the West Bank' wants Israeli Arabs to swear loyalty to the state – or lose their vote

By Donald Macintyre in Umm el Fahm


Friday, 6 February 2009


Avigdor Lieberman once suggested that Arab Knesset members who had talks with Hamas representatives should be executed

AFP


Avigdor Lieberman once suggested that Arab Knesset members who had talks with Hamas representatives should be executed