Saturday, 6 March 2010

ISRAELI APARTHEID WEEK ~~ THE INSIDE STORY

DesretPeace

March 6, 2010 at 12:20 pm.
A controversial campaign in the Western world links Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the treatment of blacks in apartheid South Africa, called the Israeli apartheid week. Inside Story asks: Is criticism of specific Israeli policies raising doubts about Israel’s right to exist? And is Israel now on the PR offensive to fight back?

Watch the following to get some of the answers…..



From a South African point of view…..

Here is an excerpt from a speech Nelson Mandela gave on International day of Solidarity with the Palestinians.
The temptation in our situation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine to a state of their own. We can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice. Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others faces.
Yet we would be less than human if we did so.
It behooves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice.
Even during the days of negotiations, our own experience taught us that the pursuit of human fraternity and equality — irrespective of race or religion – should stand at the centre of our peaceful endeavours. The choice is not between freedom and justice, on the one hand, and their opposite, on the other. Peace and prosperity; tranquility and security are only possible if these are enjoyed by all without discrimination.
It is in this spirit that I have come to join you today to add our own voice to the universal call for Palestinian self-determination and statehood.

The complete speech can be read HERE
River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

Bardawil urges UNESCO to assume its role towards Islamic sites


PIC

[ 06/03/2010 - 09:39 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, the spokesman for Hamas’s parliamentary bloc, on Friday expressed dismay at the absent role of the UNESCO and international human rights organizations in the protection of the Islamic holy and historical sites in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank.

During a march held in Khan Younis, Dr. Bardawil urged the UNESCO and human rights organizations to assume their responsibilities and expose Israel’s violations committed against the Aqsa Mosque and the Ibrahimi Mosque.

The spokesman highlighted the need for a third Intifada (uprising) to defend the Aqsa Mosque and Islamic holy sites against Judaization.

He called on the Arab leaders to stand by the Palestinian people and not to give the Israeli occupation a chance to persist in its crimes through approving the negotiation with it.

“Sever immediately your commercial, political and economical relations with the [Zionist] entity and act. You should have the honor to confront the schemes plaguing the holy sites,” the spokesman emphasized.

In a related incident, tens of thousands participated in massive marches organized on Friday by Hamas in Jabaliya refugee camp and Khan Younis in response to the day of rage called for by Palestinian premier Ismail Haneyya in support of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The protesters chanted slogans calling for unleashing the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank to respond to Israel’s crimes.

In Jabaliya march, senior Hamas official and lawmaker Mushir Al-Masri warned that the Judaization of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank would blow up the entire region.

Masri called for not resuming the peace negotiation for it provides the Israeli occupation with a cover-up to persist in its violations against the Islamic holy places.

Thousands others also participated in a march organized on the same day by the Islamic Jihad Movement in Jabaliya and chanted slogans calling for protecting the resistance and the holy shrines.

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 Uprooted Palestinian

So when are you going to make war on Israel, Mr Brown?


Redress Information & Analysis



By Alan Hart

6 March 2010

Alan Hart highlights the double standard displayed by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the Iraq Inquiry on 5 March, where he sought to justify the aggression against Iraq on the grounds of Iraq’s non-compliance with international law – something Israel has been doing for 62 years.

”... for 62 years the Zionist state of Israel has been, and continues to be, the biggest single violator of international law. No state on Planet Earth has been allowed to get away with defying UN resolutions for so long. And, I say, no state poses a bigger threat to the peace of the region and the world than Israel on its present course.”
There could not be a more graphic illustration of the double-standard that drives Western foreign policy and has prevented a resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict than Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s explanation to the Chilcot Inquiry on why he, when he was Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer and wrote the cheques for it, backed the war on Iraq.

He said, “It was the right decision for the right reasons.”

What were they?

Not 9/11 or the weapons of mass destruction assertions.

In an effort to distance himself from America’s neo-cons and their soul-mate in London, Prime Minister (at the time) Tony Blair, Brown said: "I never subscribed to what you might call the neo-conservative proposition, that somehow, at the barrel of a gun, overnight liberty or democracy could be conjured up. What I believed was that the case for intervention was that international law had to be observed."

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"If Mr Brown means what he says, and if by chance he remains prime minister after Britain’s imminent election, logic suggests that he will take the lead with President Obama in putting together a coalition to require Israel, by war if necessary, to comply with 'the rules of the international community'".




Putting some flesh on that bone, Brown said his view was that if the international community could not act together over Iraq, he feared that “the new world order we were trying to create would be put at risk.”

Meaning?

“Aggressor states that refuse to obey the laws of the international community” have to be confronted. Iraq was a “serial violator of the rules of the international community”.

There is, of course, some truth in that, but not nearly as much truth as in the statement that for 62 years the Zionist state of Israel has been, and continues to be, the biggest single violator of international law. No state on Planet Earth has been allowed to get away with defying UN resolutions for so long. And, I say, no state poses a bigger threat to the peace of the region and the world than Israel on its present course.

As I have previously written, the double-standard which allows Israel to behave as it likes with impunity was effectively put into place when the major powers, all of them, refused to condemn Israel as the aggressor in 1967 and demand that it withdraw from occupied territories without preconditions.

If Mr Brown means what he says, and if by chance he remains prime minister after Britain’s imminent election, logic suggests that he will take the lead with President Obama in putting together a coalition to require Israel, by war if necessary, to comply with “the rules of the international community”.

Of course he won’t because logic, like truth and reality, has no place in politics, domestic or international.

Note

A book by Karl Rove, once described as President “Dubya” Bush’s brains, is about to be published. The memoir is titled Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight. In it Rove says he doubts that Bush would have invaded Iraq and taken Britain into a disastrous war if he had known that intelligence on weapons of mass destruction was simply wrong. "The Bush administration itself would probably have sought other ways to constrain Saddam."

If Rove is right (and is being something other than self-serving), what would Prime Minister Tony Blair’s position have been? He is firmly on the BBC’s record as saying that he probably would have moved ahead with removing Saddam Hussein from power even had he known that the narrative about weapons of mass destruction was fictional by finding different ways to justify it. As I have previously written, I never saw Blair as Bush’s puppet. I think he was and is a neo-con in spirit. And I think it’s more likely than not that he was firmly in the camp of those pressing Bush to go to war. So if Rove had done what he now seems to be saying he should have done – played a part of exposing the intelligence on WMD for the nonsense it was, Blair might not have got the war he and apparently Gordon Brown wanted.




Alan Hart is a researcher, author and former correspondent for ITN’s "News At Ten" and the BBC’s "Panorama programme".
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Sheikh Salah: The Aqsa Mosque Is Yet to Face Israel’s Most Serious Steps

Al-Manar

06/03/2010 Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 occupied lands, on Friday warned that Israel’s next steps against the Aqsa Mosque would be the most dangerous ever.

“Despite the gravity of what we see happening at the Aqsa Mosque, the Zionist occupation is preparing for a more serious scene,” Sheikh Salah stressed in a press statement.

The Islamic Movement head explained that that the Israeli occupation will announce in mid-March the opening of what is called “the temple of wreck” near the Aqsa Mosque as a prelude to demolishing the latter and building the alleged temple on its ruins.

He also called on the Palestinian Authority to allow the West Bank people to assume their role in defending the Aqsa Mosque.

In the same context, Al-Quds international institution said in a press release issued on Friday that the Israeli occupation police’s deliberate break-ins at the Aqsa Mosque and their clashes with the Palestinians confirm that they are determined to carry out the decision issued by their government which called for dividing the Mosque between Muslims and Jews during 2010.

“The successive break-ins and proceedings bear out that the occupation police adopt a cumulative policy to control the Aqsa Mosque with all its courtyards,” the institution underlined.

It recalled that the police attacks on the Aqsa Mosque were waged sequentially last year and during this year especially on February 28 when the occupation police took full control of the Mosque courtyards and allowed settlers to walk around and perform their odd rituals freely.

For its part, Hamas government in Gaza on Friday condemned the Israeli attacks on Palestinian worshipers in occupied Jerusalem and Al-Khalil city as a massacre and called on the Arab and Muslim nation to move to protect their holy sites.

Spokesman for the government Taher Al-Nunu said that the government is keenly following the Israeli escalation against the Islamic holy sites in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank which led to the injury of many Palestinians.

The spokesman appealed to the international community and its active institutions especially the UN and its Security Council to urgently act to curb Israel and stop its aggression on the Palestinian people and their holy shrines.

US REPUDIATES UN REMARK ON CONFRONTATIONS

Meanwhile, a US official denied on Friday that Washington had consented to a UN Security Council statement to reporters voicing concern about the confrontations between Israeli occupation forces and Palestinians.

Gabon's UN Ambassador Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet, president of the Security Council for March, read the nonbinding remarks on behalf the 15 council members after a closed-door discussion of the violent clashes. "The members of the Security Council expressed their concern at the current tense situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem," Issoze-Ngondet said.

"They urged all sides to show restraint and avoid provocative acts," he said after a closed-door meeting. "They stressed that peaceful dialogue was the only way forward and looked forward to an early resumption of negotiations."

The US envoy at the meeting, Deputy Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, did not speak to reporters at the Security Council stakeout after the meeting.

A US official, however, told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the American delegation had not agreed with the statement and said it was adopted due to what the official described as "procedural confusion."

Several council diplomats familiar with the negotiations on the statement, however, told Reuters that the US delegation made no attempt to raise any objections to the final version of the text, which they said was adopted by consensus.

The permanent Palestinian observer to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, welcomed the council statement, adding that the apparent US decision not to block it "is a signal that the United States wants this effort to succeed" and Israel to restrain itself.

In a letter sent to the Security Council, Mansour said dozens of Palestinians were injured in Friday's clashes in occupied east Jerusalem, citing reports that "at least 60 people may have suffered injuries, including one Palestinian woman who was shot in the head with a rubber bullet."

"Once again we alert the international community to the dangers of the further escalation of the situation," the Palestinian diplomat added.

One Western diplomat noted that Mansour had failed to point out that the statement read out by Issoze-Ngondet had called on "all sides" to show restraint, not just Israel.

Council press statements are agreed by consensus, but they are nonbinding and not part of the official council record.

Earlier on Friday Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of trying to wreck peace efforts and spark unrest across the Middle East by police provocation at the Aqsa mosque.

The tension comes ahead of a relaunch of US-mediated peace negotiations, and two days before US President Barack Obama's envoy George Mitchell visits Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Salah: The Aqsa Mosque is yet to face Israel’s most serious steps

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 Uprooted Palestinian

Supressing Evidence, David Miliband and UK Comlicity in Torture By Sarah Gillespie


http://sarahgillespie.com/

Last Saturday I went to see Polly Nash and Andy Worthington’s harrowing documentary ‘Outside the Law, Tales from Guantánamo’ at London’s BFI.

The film knits together narratives so heart-wrenching I half wish I had not heard them. Yet the camaraderie between the detainees and occasional humorous anecdotes, such as Binyam Mohammed’s false confession that he tried to induce nuclear fission on April 1st, provide a glimpse into the wit, courage and normalcy of the men we are encouraged to perceive as monsters.

Nash and Worthington’s film also explores the legal and pragmatic implications of our transatlantic freefall into ethical bankruptcy. It asks how we might navigate our way out of a situation that doesn’t legally exist. The answer is: with great difficulty. With lawyers like Clive Stafford-Smith working tirelessly to defend people who have not been accused of a crime and have no evidence against them to refute, the courtroom has become the domain in which we watch the dream of European multiculturalism imploding. Here we see UK Muslims struggle to exert Enlightenment-based Common Law against a so-called civilized, liberal government who would apparently prefer the Magna Carta had never been written. (1)

Two weeks ago the Foreign Secretary David Miliband lost his long legal battle to suppress a section (known as paragraph 168) from a court decree revealing that MI5 officers were involved in the torture of ex terror suspect and British resident, Binyam Mohamed. Up until now the testimonies of released British Residents Omar Deghayes, Mozzam Begg and Binyam Mohamed have not been fully absorbed by the British public. This is despite the fact Omar Deghayes entered Cuba with two eyes but came home with one. Many news consumers prefer to maintain that detainee accounts of asphyxiation, physical torment, sexual and religious abuse, were either deserved, fabricated or necessary. Others can not contemplate that a nation proudly branding itself on civil liberties, tolerance and ‘fair play’ could willfully throw us back into the medieval barbarism of the Norman Conquests. Yet, as Miliband’s credibility crumbles in the light of his failed cover-up, so the plausibility of Binyam Mohammed’s testimony gains ground. The tide is changing.

Recently Court of Appeal also stated that it withstood ‘unprecedented bullying’ from the Foreign and Home Secretary to withdraw 168 from its ruling. However, Miliband’s plee was overturned by independent judges and we now know the report stated that British treatment of Binyam Mohammed was “at the very least cruel, inhuman, and degrading”. David Miliband dismissed the testimony of this particular British resident, whose torments included having razzor blades applied to his penis, as ‘ludicrous lies.’

The independent judge apparently dissagrees with our delightful foreign secretary. He warns that the integrity our government is now under serious dispute and suggests that Miliband has an undisclosed agenda.

“Not only is there an obvious reason for distrusting any UK Government assurance, based on SyS (secret services) advice and information, because of previous “form”, but the Foreign Office and the SyS have an interest in the suppression of such information.”


Shaker Aamer, the Witness from Battersea.

Perhaps the most disturbing and crucial aspect of ‘Tales from Guantánamo is that it spotlights the continuing illegal incarceration of South Londoner, Shaker Aamer. All British residents have been discharged from Guantánamo. Yet despite being officially cleared for release in 2008, Aamer remains impounded in a 6 foot by 8 foot cell, tortured, humiliated and, according to reports, force fed through a pipe routed to his stomach via his nose. At 8 stone, he has lost over half his body weight. His wife, the mother of their 4 children continues to live in London where she has been treated for a succession of nervous break downs since her husband was seized.

There is no justification offered as to why this Aamer has been singled out. No evidence has transpired to counter his claim that he was in Afganstan in 2002 to help construct schools as part of his religious duty of zakat. It is believed that Aamer’s conspicuous eloquence, linguistic talents and charisma identified him within the gates of Guantánamo, as a exceptional case. He orchestrated collective hunger strikes, translated fluetnly between Arabic and English and inspired his fellow inmates to demand their rights. He was treated by detainees as a holy man, a leader. He was punished accordingly.

Speculation surrounding Aamer’s continued detention pivots on the numerous ‘suicides’ he is alleged to have seen, the severity of the torture he has endured and his claims that it was, in part, executed on the behest of British agents. It is widely believed that should Binyam Mohammed’s case progress, Shaker Aamer would be a leading witness against British authorities, cementing evidence that could transfer the label of ‘criminal’ from the defendant to the accuser: namely Whitehall. Back in November last year the Independent’s law editor Robert Verkaik predicted Aamer’s release would be detrimental to the reputation of the UK government.

“The case is potentially more damaging to Britain than that of former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed because British agents are accused of being present during Mr Aamer’s alleged torture. In one allegation an MI5 agent is said to have been present when Mr Aamer’s US interrogators banged his head against a wall.”

As calls for a full judicial inquiery gather pace, we may well ask why on earth Miliband persists in attempting to thwart evidence in this degrading farce we call Justice. His CV so far for defending the interests of Britain abroad, is not great. Since he took the job he gave Britain’s blessing to Israel’s masacre in Operation Cast Lead (2), he maintained Britain abstain from voting agaisnt the Goldstone Report, he intervened in Polish domestic politics slandering a popular MEP as an ‘anti-Semite’ and he has stood limply in the wings giving lip servace to the Mossad’s use of British passports in their assaination last month. Worringly, it seems the concerns of British soveriengty do not feature high on Miliband’s list of priorities. If they did we could expect that, instead of pushing for a re-write of the law to enable war criminal Tzipi Livni tio visit the UK without charge, Miliband might consider adhering to the law that has protected our rights for the last 800 years – and allow Shaker Aamer to come home.

(1) Magna Carta Libertatum (the Great Charter of Freadoms) is and English legal charter, orrigionally issued in 1215. Among other things it explicity supported what became the writ of habious corpus, allowing appeal against unlawful imprisonment.

(2) Less than a month before Israel launched its assult on Gaza Miliband visited the Israeli town of Sderot. He said “Israel should, above all, seek to protect its own citizens. It’s very important that counties like mine and others show solidarity with the people of Sderot…. Israeli people need to know that the British people know of Sderot, and we know of the tragedy they are facing, and we stand with them.”
To write to David Miliband requesting the safe return of Shaker Aamer click here.
To find out where you can see ‘Outside the Law, Tales from Guantánamo’ click here.

“Jewish Lobby Behind US ‘Genocide’ Vote”, Turkey Rallies Condemn

Al-Manar

06/03/2010 A resolution by a US congressional committee branding the killing of Armenians during World War I as "genocide" has triggered protests in Turkey. Protesters on Friday marched in front of the US embassy in Ankara, the Turkish capital, chanting "God damn American imperialism".

"This is another game of the United States of America. Turkey never committed genocide but we defend our land," the Associated Press news agency quoted one protester as saying.

A London-based Arabic-language newspaper said on Saturday that Jewish lobbyists contrived the U.S. congressional vote. Pro-Israel lobbyists had previously backed Turkey on the issue but changed tack in retaliation for Turkish condemnation of Israel's policies in the Gaza Strip, the Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily said in an editorial.

In his leading article, Al-Quds Al-Arabi editor Abd al-Bari Atwan urged Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to give in to the Jewish lobby's "extortion" tactics.

Turkey recalled its ambassador to the US and condemned Washington's move to declare the killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces in the first world war a "genocide". "We condemn this resolution which accuses the Turkish nation of a crime it has not committed," Ankara said in a statement on Thursday. "Following this development, our ambassador to Washington, Namik Tan, was recalled to Ankara for consultations."

The announcement came minutes after the US House of Representatives' foreign affairs committee passed a non-binding measure in a 23-22 vote on Thursday, calling on the administration to ensure US policy formally refers to the 1915 mass killings of Armenians as genocide.

There are fears the resolution, if adopted, could damage Turkey's peace efforts with Armenia. But Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said the resolution would not be adopted.

Ankara said the outcome of the US panel's vote demonstrated "a lack of strategic vision" among US legislators at a time when Turkey and the US "are working together on a broad common agenda".

Abdullah Gul, Turkey's president, said the resolution had "no value in the eyes of the Turkish people" and warned that it would deal a blow on fledgling efforts to end decades of hostility between Turkey and Armenia.


Turks pay price for supporting Palestinians
Gulf News

Timing of US resolution dubbing massacre of Armenians 'genocide' is suspicious
  • Gulf News
  • Published: 00:00 March 6, 2010
Ankara must have known its new positioning in Middle East politics, which angered Israel, will have some sort of consequences. After all, the Israelis never expected that their supposedly close Turkish allies would lobby international public opinion to condemn Israeli war crimes in Gaza. The highlight of the new Turkish attitude was when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan walked out of a panel discussion, in Davos World Economic Forum last year, to protest Israeli President Shimon Peres' defence of Israel's devastating offensive on Gaza. But Turkey apparently never anticipated that the consequences of its new Middle East policy would come in a politically-motivated resolution passed on Thursday by a US House committee calling the Ottoman-era massacre of Armenians "genocide." The US has been against the label for years, even as some European nations passed such resolutions few years ago. The move by the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee has understandably angered Ankara, which recalled its ambassador. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on President Barack Obama to block the resolution. Armenians say up to 1.5 million people were killed during First World War by their Ottoman rulers as the empire was falling apart. Turkey argues 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in what was a civil strife when Armenians rose up for independence and sided with invading Russian troops. The US has actually backed last October's talks between Turkey and Armenia to end decades of hostility. The two countries also signed a deal to establish diplomatic relations and open their border. Thus, the timing is calling into question the motive behind the committee's resolution, especially when the sponsors of the bill are three well-known pro-Israel lawmakers. The Turks should have known that this was coming. Other countries in the region, despite their close relations to the US, were faced with similar ‘political extortion' tactics from pro-Israeli members of the US Congress. Welcome to the Middle East politics.


Pro-Israel bunch to Turkish military: "Do it already!"

On the heels of Congress, the campaign against Turkey continues in Israel and trickles to the likes of WINEP and on to the US Congress ...WINEP/ here
"... U.S. diplomats I have talked to and Turkish analysts say that if the military really had planned to overthrow the government, it would have hardly written it down in a detailed 5,000 page document. The idea that the military would bomb Istanbul's historic mosques and shoot down its own planes to precipitate such a coup -- as the alleged memo describes -- is simply outlandish. The military denies any plans for toppling the government and says much of the document is actually taken from a 2003 war game exercise. It says that the incriminating elements detailing the alleged coup were added to the document.
For the past two years, the Turkish military has been the target of illegal wiretaps and accusations that it is plotting against the government. The question is whether the military will tolerate the assault or strike back, as it has done in the past when it thought the secular nature of the state was threatened.
The Islamist government has also targeted Turkey's other secular bastion -- the judiciary. Last month, a Gulenist prosecutor arrested a secular prosecutor in Erzincan. He was officially charged with belonging to an ultranationalist gang known as Ergenekon, which the Gulenists and AKP claim is trying to overthrow the government. Whether that's true or not, there is no doubt the arrest solved a lot of problems for the government. Before his arrest, the Erzincan prosecutor was investigating alleged connections between Gulenist fund raising and Hamas terrorists. He was also looking into the armed activities of Ismailaga, a radical Islamist movement....
Hoping to win Ankara's support for tougher Iran sanctions and more troops in Afghanistan, the U.S. and Europe have so far been hesitant to criticize the AKP-led government. The "pragmatists" fail to realize that an illiberal and Islamist Turkey will be increasingly opposed to Western policies."

Posted by G, Z, or B at 3:36 PM

River to Sea
Uprooted Palestinian

French Lawmaker: A Future War on Lebanon Would be Disastrous for Israel

Al-Manar

06/03/2010 French former Justice Minister MP Elizabeth Guigou said that any Israeli war on Lebanon in the future would be disastrous for Israel, in the wake of its failure in its 2006 war and its recent war on Gaza. Speaking to the Lebanese news Website ‘elnashra’, on the sidelines of her visit to Beirut, Guigou said that Israel has its eyes set on Iran.

She expressed her admiration for Lebanon because “every time, this country manages to rise from the ashes and it has great potential.” Guigou pointed that Syria’s return to the international arena was essential because “it will be helpful to the international community to stop extremists, from all sides, from achieving their goals.”

On “Arab-Israeli peace”, Guigou stressed the necessity to move forward saying that “Israel realizes that it cannot ensure its continuity because of the Arab demographic development.” The French lawmaker called for benefiting from the current circumstance as the European Union agrees with the United States on the two-state-solution as a viable solution.

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 Uprooted Palestinian

HIJAB: A Tale of Two Richards

Via A4P

March 6, 2010

Two Richards
by Nadia Hijab  -  Agence Global -  4 March 2010

They hail from opposite parts of the globe, but they have much in common: Jewish; experts on and passionate defenders of international law; and pummeling bags for Israel and the Palestinian Authority. And the future of the law of war lies at the heart of the campaigns against them.

Richard Goldstone, whose international stature was cemented as chief prosecutor in the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals, has been excoriated by Israel and its allies ever since his team submitted the report on the Gaza war requested by the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2009. The steady stream of invective (the report is “full of lies,” and he has “used his Jewishness to jeopardize the safety and security of Israel” are just two of the milder attacks) has also targeted his family and taken a toll on the publicly stoic judge.

Richard Falk, professor emeritus at Princeton University and UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, has been attacked by Israel for years. But now, in a new twist, he is being hung out to dry by the Palestinian Authority in perhaps the unkindest cut of all.
The PA pummeling is more discreet. It has quietly suggested to Falk himself that he resign. One reported reason is that Falk can’t do his job because Israel will not allow him into the country — though this should, one would have thought, be all the more reason to defend him.

And the PA has asked the Human Rights Council to take Falk’s report off the March 22 agenda and “postpone” it to June, which the Council has done. The PA-appointed representative to the UN in Geneva insists that there are simply more important reports than Falk’s on the agenda — yet at the same time he says the PA has “many” reservations about the Falk report. The real reasons seem to be that the PA did not like the mention of Hamas in Falk’s report and his earlier criticism when the PA tried to “postpone” the Goldstone Report in September under pressure from Israel and the United States. A public outcry among Palestinians reversed that decision.

The attacks on Falk and Goldstone are hard for the two men to bear. And they tear at the very fabric of international law and the mechanisms put in place to uphold it. The Human Rights Council has stepped on a slippery slope by agreeing to postpone Falk’s report. Instead of listening to the PA (and Egypt) the Council should have backed its special rapporteur. If it does the unthinkable and relieves Falk of his duties because the PA does not want him, the system of independent special rapporteurs would be undermined, just as it would if the Council gave in to Israeli or American pressure.

Undermining the Goldstone Report would be an equally harsh blow to the human rights system. Several earlier reports have called for the application of international law to the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the International Court of Justice’s seminal opinion on the illegality of Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank. But the Goldstone Report has been published at a time when people are ready to listen, which is partly why Israel is fighting it with such ferocity and on so many fronts.

On one of those fronts, Israel is trying to change international law itself, as Israeli human rights advocate Jeff Halper reveals in an important article, “The Second Battle of Gaza.” Halper identifies the Israeli figures leading the campaign “to alter international law in ways that enable them — and by extension other states involved in ‘wars on terror’ — to effectively pursue warfare amongst the people while eliminating both the legitimacy and protections enjoyed by their non-state foes.”

No one is more aware of the dangers to international law than Palestinian human rights advocates. Their organizations have acted as a group to support the implementation of the Goldstone Report and to protect Falk and his role.
Last month, 11 Palestinian human rights groups wrote to the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressing dismay at the PA actions against Falk. His reports have provided “powerful instruments to advocate for Palestinian people’s rights” they said, urging Pillay to ensure that Falk enjoyed the highest level of support from her office. They also called on her to reinforce the independence of the special rapporteurs from UN member states so as to protect the UN’s own credibility.

More recently, 19 Palestinian groups wrote to PA president Mahmoud Abbas criticizing Falk’s treatment and pointing out the repercussions for the Palestinians’ internationally recognized human rights.
If the attacks on the two Richards succeed, the Palestinian cause will suffer and the world will be a poorer and more dangerous place — one in which the might of the strong is legally allowed to prevail against the rights of the weak
.
Nadia Hijab is an independent analyst and a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies.

River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

ISMAIL SHAMMOUT PAINTS A PALESTINIAN STORY

NOOR'S DAILY SMILE & ART ZONE

This is the story of Palestinians as told and painted/drawn by Ismail Shammout, an artist whose tale is included in the very strong prose accompanying each drawing.

If you want to understand the heart of the Palestinian, it is contained here, in his words and his images for all to see. At one point Ismail speaks of creating much of his early art using the most basic of children's materials.

The exhibit he speaks of in Cairo was the beginning of the career of one of the Middle East's most enduring and prolific portrayers of live within an occupied territory.


If you have ever wondered about life in Palestine, these works and writings will speak to your heart. Ismail paints his stories beautifully with his words as well as his artwork.
TO THE UNKNOWN

On the morning of the 13 July, 1948, we were forced out of our ancestral homes in Lydda at gunpoint. Zionist gangs rounded us up and herded us into the city’s largest squares. Then, surrounded by a tight cordon of heavily armed Zionist gangs, we were driven relentlessly towards the east.

Friday the 9th of July 1948, Lydda and Ramleh was captured by Zionist gangs. After only three days we awoke to the pandemonium of people rushing fearfully to the road parallel to home. Within moments, members of these gangs hit the door of our house with their rifle butts and asked everyone in the house to leave.

It was not possible to procrastinate or not follow those military orders. We walked in groups in the direction of an open space in the town carrying the name of “Nawa’ir Plaza”.

Tens of thousands of women, children and elderly people were driven, carrying only the clothes on their backs, into open spaces inside the cities of Lydda and Ramleh. These people were either inhabitants of these cities or refugees from Jaffa and the villages of the sub-districts of the region. The cries of the children were heard as well as the moaning of the sick and elderly.

The atmosphere was becoming hotter, more depressing and fearful. The gathered people were surrounded by armed men and military vehicles. A large number of snipers were present on the rooftops of the surrounding houses, carefully and anxiously watching the process of uprooting and forced migration.

Nobody knew what was happening to them. Many thought that the process would not be different from similar operations carried out by the British Mandate Authority in the majority of cities and villages of Palestine, when people were asked to leave their homes and gather in the city or village Plaza for a limited number of hours during which time the British soldiers searched their houses looking for arms and rebels.

At the end of the day people were permitted to return to their houses. This time people did not return to their houses because the operation was a different nature. Instead the people were ordered to walk towards the east through the plundered city streets and ransacked shops.

It was becoming hot and thirst and fear were on the increase. We were walking eastwards, surrounded by armed Jewish Zionists exclaiming lewd and humiliating words at us. We did not realize that that was only the beginning of our journey of displacement.

PALESTINIAN REFUGEES

Out of Lydda to Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, then to Khan Yunis near Gaza our destination was a refugee camp surrounded by barbed wire. International charity trickled in. The proud Palestinians of yesterday today’s refugees ~ learnt to queue for meager food rations to ease their widespread hunger pangs.

On the following day we were transported by truck from the village of Na’lin to Ramallah. They left us at a girl’s school to the south of the city. We crowded into the rooms of the school, were given bread, and we drank until satiated.

The health condition of my younger brother Tawfiq deteriorated as a result of thirst, heat and severe sunstrokes on the day of forced immigration (he was 2 years old). After few days he passed away. My father and his two brothers, as well as other relatives, decided to depart to Khan Yunis in the middle of Gaza. We thought that getting to Khan Yunis would only take a few hours and that the passage to it would be easy.

In fact we experienced a dangerous and strenuous as we passed through Zionists-controlled roads. After about two weeks we arrived at Khan Yunis. We were among the first refugees to reside in the first camp to be established in Khan Yunis at the upper point of “sawafi”. The camp rested on pure white and golden sands, which alternated in form and color as a result of sunlight by day, and moonlight by night. However, the beauty of those hills of sand did not last long. They were leveled by men and machines in order to make them suitable for the influx of thousands of refugees.
THE ROAD TO NOWHERE


At the eastern corner of the city, while bidding farewell to the last of Lydda’s homes, the intense heat increased the children’s cries of the thirst. My 2-year-old brother Tawfiq and my two young sisters were among those who were thirsty.

It was the month of Ramadan and the people, including my father and mother, were fasting. Walking with my family I noticed an orange orchard nearby. Through the roaming groups of people, without the armed Jews noticing, I reached a pool of water in the orchard and was able to fill a container I found.

Quickly, tens of people followed me. The moment that I wanted to return to my group carrying the water for my siblings, a military jeep suddenly arrived stopping a few steps away from me. A Zionist officer stepped down and pointed a pistol to my head. He then ordered me in broken Arabic: “Throw water… Throw water’.

So I did what he ordered and returned to my brother and sisters without it. We then Resumed walking. At sunset we reached a point amidst the rugged mountains where we could no longer see armed Jews. We realized we were in an areas not under their control.

Exhaustion and thirst took its toll on us as the aged, the ill and the children had difficulty in continuing. We found some abandoned wells and natural openings in between rocks with impure residual water. We drank like horses and some began looking for containers, rope, anything to obtain water.

Hundreds crowded the place just to get a sip of those wells and wet their lips. The children, exhausted by the heat, were like flowers wilting of thirst. Their faces were somber, dusty and blackened. Their lips white from intense thirst. The heat intensified and chaos broke out. As thirst and exhaustion deepened, many people lost concentration. Many children were lost and the elderly, the sick, the pregnant fell to the ground, becoming corpses without movement.

I was able to find a place among the crowd around one of the wells and tried to get water, like the others. After several attempts, my brother and I were able to get hold of some of the impure water. I kept as much as I could, holding it in my wet shirt, and I proceeded to run towards my family. A thirsty woman begging for a sip of water attacked me. When she saw my wet shirt she held on to the edges of the shirt in order to suck the water that remained on it.

Some pulled out roots of plants in search of any liquid present in them. After sunset, we were among the first to arrive at “Na’lin” in the sub-district of Ramallah. The people of the village, with their natural generosity, immediately offered water and bread, as well as animals to transport the weakest.

That night we slept beneath the olive trees, under the sky’s cover.

HOMAGE TO THE MARTYRS

Since my childhood I have listened to tales of bravery and sacrifice of Palestinian fighters. Since 1948, the Zionist terrorist pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing through many massacre; from Deir Yassin to Kufr Qasim to Qana. The twentieth century is spattered with the blood of thousands of fallen martyrs.

In 1982, the Israeli aggression began. Israeli forces invaded Lebanon aiming to extinguish the forced of the PLO and its Lebanese allies. Several areas of Beirut, including where we lived, were badly hit completely destroying many buildings. On the 14th of September, 1982 the newly elected Lebanese president, Bashir Gemayel, was assassinated. The invading Israeli forces were deployed in many areas of Beirut, and proceeded to loot, torture and arrest people.

After the PLO left, we hardly slept. We followed the news and at night, watched Beirut’s sky, which was violated by the sound of Israeli military jets day and night. A terrible noise was created as the bombs and missiles broke the sound barrier. We were in a state of distraction and astonishment in the face of these rapid changes, quietly pondering the question: “What will tomorrow hold?”

On the eve of 16th of September, light bombs hurled by Israeli jets lit the sky of the region where the refugee camps of Sabra & Shatilla are located, turning night into daytime. The camp was no more than a few hundred meters away from us, as we wondered: “What is happening there?”

We woke up to strange, unrecognizable sounds rushed to the windows and balconies to see what it was. We found a group of people from the refugee camps, some of whom were barefooted, others in their pajamas carrying their beloved ones on their shoulders aimlessly walking around simply walking away from a horrifying event. Tears filled their scared faces, and their eyes were unconsciously moving in all directions … it is just fear … fear … fear …

One of them informed me that there was a terrible massacre at the Sabra and Shatilla camps and it was stilling going on. It was not possible to get there as the Israeli forces controlled the entire capital, and so the roads were not secure. I felt limitless grief, as well as a sense of being overwhelmed and helpless.

It is then a new massacre to be added to the previous series of massacres inflicted by the Zionists on the Palestinian people.. Deir Yassin, Kufr Qasim, Qibya, Lod Tantura, Bahr Al-Baqar, Samu’, the Aqsa Mosque, the Ibrahimi Mosque, Qana… and so many many more.

My God … How many individual and group massacres were perpetrated against us and how much blood was shed on the road of sacrifice? I recall the Lyrics of a foreign song that says:

Where are the men?
They were martyred and are now in their graves.
Where are the Graves?
Flowers have grown on them.
Where are the flowers?
The maidens came and picked the flowers
to spin from them the homeland’s name.

THE SPRING THAT WAS

I was born in Lydda in the year of 1930. I lived in an area surrounded by orange and lemon orchards, and green gardens of vines. The surrounding plains are extended and wide open, adorned by beautiful flowers of varied forms and colors, such as narcissus, daisy and red anemone, on a base of graded greens.
Seasons involve the festive and traditional; and the winter has semi-sacred rituals. In the evening we used to bring some burning coal to fill the brazier. After evening prayer we –the children would gather around the brazier awaiting our grandfather or grandmother, to roast chestnuts or sweet potatoes. In the meantime we would listen to an old story… ‘Once upon a time”.
The agenda of the Jaffa, Lydda and Ramleh region was full of feasts and religious and popularfestivals, held yearly at their designated time. These events were a source of great happiness to us where there was tune, movement and color. Most prominent among these events was the “Rubin” festival to the south of Jaffa; hat of the “Prophet Saleh” at Ramleh; that of the “Prophet Job” on Jaffa’s coastline; the “Prophet Moses” festivals between Jerusalem and Jericho; and, finally, the “Lydda feast” at Lydda.
Likewise, there were seasons for celebration in spring and summer when the families, young and old, would go out to spend a day at the banks of the valley or in proximity to the wheat-threshing fields or under the shadow of the olive trees ~ eating and drinking, singing and dancing, playing, racing and just enjoying themselves.
THE RESISTANCE
In the early sixties, the Palestinians refocused their efforts on reclaiming their homeland. The resistance movement grew stronger, and resistance groups sprang into existence. The activities of the PLO (established in 1964) increased dramatically after the 1967 war, reviving the peoples’ pride and hope.

Towards the end of the 1950s and the beginnings of the 60s the Palestinian individual began to realize the necessity of reorganizing his affairs and preparing to carry out his national duty to struggle in continuation of what the forefathers did. Organizations and numerous Palestinian fronts were formed for the purpose of struggling to liberate occupied Palestinian land. Foremost among those organizations was “Fateh”.

Arab States agreed to establish the Palestinian Liberation Organization to represent the Palestinian people and to lead its struggle to liberate the homeland. Upon completing my art studies at the College of Fine Arts in Cairo, and after that at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome (1950- 1956). I began working and living in Beirut. Then and there I got married to Tamam in 1959.

Tamam and I worked with the PLO since its inception in the areas of art and culture. Our work with the PLO gave us a new opportunity to share in the feelings of our people wherever they lived. We sensed the great zeal of our people and their continual readiness to sacrifice what is valuable in order to recover the usurped homeland.

Palestinian resistance was launched on a major scale after the 1967 disaster. Most of the Palestinian organizations came under the banner of the PLO, forming in combination an overwhelming and world famous Palestinian revolution. As a consequence, the Palestinian people gained the support of most of the world’s states and nations.

This revolution had a great impact on the new march of the Palestinians everywhere, especially in the camps which embodied the basic arena for national endeavor. Feelings of happiness and ecstasy abounded, as did optimism combined with some anxiety.

This optimism and happiness was not immune from the harm inflicted by the Zionist enemy. From the beginnings of the Palestinian movement, acts of Israeli revenge against the Palestinians did not cease.

The most dramatic and harsh of those acts was the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The goal of the invasion was the extinction of the PLO along with its civil and military forces.
THE DREAM OF TOMORROW

Dreams are that (a) welcoming, vast, limitless space ~ Dreams can not be denied. Would a life without dreams have meaning? We dream the impossible yet continue to dream. We know our sacred homeland like a sacred right. A home in its entirety for all its people.
Dreams forever have a limitless space None can prevent a dream They said “I think. Therefore I am” I say “I exist. Therefore I dream” Can life carry meaning if bereft of dreams? And the dream is free just as freedomWe know our dream
We know it and yet
we still dream it

We know it a sacred homeland liked a sacred right
We know it in the depth of poetry, music and color,but it is more wonderful with its land & people. All of its people, all of its land..

LIFE PREVAILS
The Israeli occupation was oppressive and ruthless. But we struggled to survive, to preserve our traditions, and susta in our dreams. Life went on. Happy and sad occasions continued to be observed and celebrated in traditional Palestinian custom. And children multiplied.

The Palestinian, upon the usurpation of his homeland, had to distinguish himself professionally and through his conduct in order to find his place in life. At many locations in the world he had to endure the many hardships of life and prove his presence and competence by being serious, loyal and perseverant.

Life for the Palestinians did not stop at any place in spite of its harshness, limitations and the arbitrariness of the laws. Palestinian popular life persisted in the face of all kinds of oppression, whether in the areas occupied by Israel in 1948, or those areas occupied by Israel in 1967 (the West Bank & Gaza). Thus Palestinians living became subject to changes which imposed a new pattern of behavior socially, culturally, economically and politically.

Years passed and the Zionist dream pertaining to the dissolution of the Palestinian personality and its extinction did not materialize. In fact, the Palestinian community remained cohesive with a significant presence, maintaining its heritage and traditions.

The life of the Palestinian communities continued with its happy and sad moments through a wedding or a new-born, or through the return of someone from abroad. The Palestinians toiled in all available arenas and in all professional specializations.

The symbols of the homeland lofty, where Jerusalem takes pride in the sanctity given to it by God with its Mosques and Churches, grand by virtue of its history and heritage. All the Palestinian cities moreover, take pride in the bequest of the forefathers in terms of everlasting relics telling the narratives of history and past glory.

Upon the passing of a few years from the hour of the catastrophe a new pattern of Palestinian life began to prevail inside the camp and outside of it. This new pattern laid the ground for relative stability, aiding the Palestinian individual to re-evaluate what happened and likewise, to ponder what could happen.

THE NIGHTMARE AND THE DREAM

The refugee camp became a nightmare prison, which had to be escaped. The train became the symbol and dream of escape and link to life and the world. But, until such a time as the dream could be realized, the refugees were forced to concentrate on ensuring bread for their families.

After receiving the generous hospitality of my father friends at Khan Yunis we had to think of how to face our lives. We decided (the younger generation) to find work any work. We proceeded to buy and sell bread, grapes, Kerosene. Then we learned how to make “Halva” and sold it. I roamed most of Gaza as a sweets salesman and I would sometimes ask my young brother, Jamal, to accompany me so as not to be lonely.

After a period of time the lines of communication between Gaza and the West Bank were cut and the Gaza area became isolated – connected to the outside world only through Egypt. The train became symbolic of the connection between Gaza and the world. The camp ~ in fact, the Gaza Strip ~ became almost like a prison to us (the youth) and we aspired to be feed through study or work abroad.

Oh! How much I dreamt then of flying and freedom. After about a year, schools for refugees were opened and I volunteered as a teacher. For a few months I worked in the morning as a teacher and in the afternoon as a sweets salesman. The dream returned to me of flying; traveling abroad to study art.

My mother’s dream was to plant near our tent, a Jasmine and Arabian Jasmine or lemon tree. We would say to her: “Mother, we do not have the water to irrigate the Jasmine tree that you want”. She would answer: “Son, the tree is a blessing”. To her the tree was symbolic of her connection to the land, nature and the homeland as well as being a symbol of life.

At the school I had access to paper so I painted and colored tens of paintings and pictures which reflected our living conditions in the refugee camp. Each day the train would carry a number of youth from Gaza to Cairo for the purpose of studying Knowledge was our only possible weapon, and to some of us. Others took the train to Cairo and continued their journey to work in Kuwait or in Saudi Arabia.
FOR SURVIVAL

We had to affirm our existence by hard work, study, and excellence. Our young men and women sought work in other countries, always maintaining strong ties with their families in occupied Palestine. At the center, stood the Palestinian mother, symbol of tenacious endurance and patience, confident of her self and of the future.

I traveled by train, in the summer of 1950, after bidding farewell to relatives and friends. My father was sad for fear that I might face hardship since he was unable to provide for my living expenses and study in Cairo.

I was accepted at the College of Fine Arts, and began looking for work. I found a job in a painter’s
studio, working for a mere three pounds a month. However the situation improved considerably after several months.

In 1953, I carried o Gaza the paintings I had produced during my three-year study, with a view to organizing an exhibition there. The paintings, named “where to?”, “A Gulp of Water”, and “The beginning of the tragedy” were among those displayed at the exhibition. The exhibition at Gaza was a success, which increased my self-confidence. It prompted me to consider organizing an exhibition in Cairo,

After much effort, it was agreed with the competent authorities in Cairo, that the exhibition be held at the Officers Club in “Zama’lek”, under the patronage of President Jamal Abdul Nasser.
A Palestinian girl named Tamam Al-Akhal arrived in Cairo to study fine arts, by virtue of a scholarship granted, at the Girl’s College.

I made an effort to introduce myself when I learnt of her desire to display her works at my exhibition, in hope of selling some to improve her financial condition. My meetings with her became more frequent and a love story began which culminated in marriage, then children and grandchildren.

President Jamal Abdul Nasser attended the exhibition opening in person, accompanied by most of the members of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council as well as other important Arab and Palestinian personages, including Haj Amin Al-Husseini, Ahmed Hilmi Abdul Baqi, Ahmad Al-Shqairi, Abdul Khaleq Hassuna, Yasser Arafat and others.

President Abdul Nasser did not talk much during the exhibition. He remained silent, intensely silent, intensely studying the portraits, moving each of them surrounded by the other attendees, all watching in solemn silence. On his departure, and I had stood by him while he was at the exhibition, he extended his hand to me and pressed my hand but did not utter a single word.

In the early fifties many Palestinian graduates and specialists departed for work in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. They endured the hardships of primitive life that existed then, to obtain a means of livelihood for themselves and their families in the refugee camps. They shared the hardships with the local citizens, working with full dedication to build the pillars of life, in its multiple fields.

Communication between parents and their children studying and working outside of Palestine did not cease. Through messages expressing intense feelings of love, affection and longing, and by their fortitude in their difficult existence at the refugee camps, parents were the best means of ameliorating the heavy toll estrangement was taking on their families in their struggle abroad for survival.
Posted by Noor al Haqiqa at 7:43 PM
River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

The Danger of Majority Tyranny

Via Al-Manar

03/03/2010 Thomas W. Bechtler – Open Democracy
March 2, 2010

Switzerland's democracy lies nearer to the dividing line between direct democracy and tyranny of the majority than most. Last year's decision to outlaw minarets reflects the dangers of crossing that line.

Has the minaret poll in Switzerland helped in creating an atmosphere against all things foreign and “different”? Minarets, headscarves, Jewish cemeteries, German professors, international law – judging from recent debate in Switzerland one might wonder if they are all contrary to Swiss values.

Who better to define and postulate what is quintessentially “Swiss” than the people themselves in a referendum, just like the one held on 29 November. But this argument brings a queasy feeling and reminds us that there are limits on popular sovereignty.

The “yes”’ to banning minarets has brought these limits to mind, causing a real shock and deep disappointment for many people. I cannot remember any referendum that has divided our country both politically and ethically in a similar manner.

In the widely held discussions after the event there were repeated suggestions that political parties had underestimated the fears some Swiss have that Muslims might segregate themselves and not respect Swiss customs and laws. Are such fears real or simply nothing more than a clever fabrication?

Obviously the responsibility for our political culture has fallen by the wayside. A solution has been found for a problem that our country is not faced with. The sad game of discrimination has once again been played successfully. And, just as in our national playwright and novelist Max Frisch’s play “The Fire Raisers,” normal citizens and “arsonists” have become one, this time through a plebiscite.

It is an undisputed fact that Swiss politics are closely linked to the will of the people than almost anywhere else. The fact that the Swiss are able to take an active role in deciding issues is a part of our national identity and is undeniably one of our country’s special qualities.

Democratically reached decisions reflect the will of the people in a given moment, though, not necessarily a superior wisdom or power. Democratic decisions can be wrong, unjust and impractical, violate the country’s constitution and even violate basic human rights. They can even relate to issues for which the democratic system is quite simply inadequate.

Ironically it was freedom-loving Switzerland,of all countries, that voted for a measure based on religious discrimination that violates both our own constitution and Swiss values and also breaches the European Convention on Human Rights. This is a country renowned for its role in the development of international law, a state whose neutrality has international roots, a nation that stands for tolerance and open-mindedness whose prosperity is based on the global economic network and is home to the International Red Cross!

The issue boils down to two different conceptions of democracy. Under an absolutist interpretation, the people decide, no ifs or buts. In a comparison from the world of art, (Brunnellesci), the central perspective converges in a point determining the order of the composition. Anything that may stand in the way of democracy is deemed suspect: judges, elected representatives, even international law.

In contrast, representatives of a liberal rule of law tend to set out from the interaction of various elements, as is visible – using the analogy of the arts once again – in the popular artist Alexander Calder’s mobiles. The parts are in a constant balance, jointly ensuring the stability of the whole (“checks and balances”). The democratic principle is essentially the basis for the decisions of democratically elected representatives and of the people in direct democracy decision making.

The principle of separation of powers, which forms the basis for judges’ decisions in individual cases, is just as important in a functioning democracy. Human rights and democracy, rule of law and popular sovereignty are not mutually exclusive but rather mutually dependent.

International law is also of equal importance. A more stringent formal and substantive examination of the content of referendums – be it through parliament, the Federal Council, the Federal Court or a special body – is in fact urgently needed.

Any argument that the European Court of Human Rights has no place assessing an issue decided directly by the Swiss people, ignores the role Switzerland played in developing the Court, and the fact that the court is part of the Council of Europe, a body that Switzerland currently chairs.

The debate about the limits of popular sovereignty will surely go on in Switzerland for some time to come. We need to make sure that the discussion is characterized by clarity of analysis, precision in drawing these borders and public education. An absolutized concept of democracy can threaten freedom and is susceptible to misuse. An enlightened people recognizes and acknowledges the limits of its sovereignty and knows that these limitations are what strengthen democracy and freedom.

Dr. Thomas W. Bechtler is an entrepreneur and investor based in Switzerland. He is chairman of the Human Rights Watch Committee, Zurich.

River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian