Saturday 29 August 2009

Iraq deputy FM denies boycott with Syria


Alsumaria, here

Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Labid Abbawi denied any boycott between Iraq and Syria noting that summoning Iraqi Ambassador to Syria is a normal procedure.
Abbawi affirmed that Iraq’s ministerial council has called on Syria to hand the two suspects implicated in Baghdad bombings and charged the Interior and Justice Ministries to prepare their files mainly that Younes Al Ahmed is wanted for previous cases and lawsuits.

Posted by G, Z, & or B at 10:02 AM

US wants 20,000 more troops to fight Taliban


British and American soldiers to shoulder brunt of surge's next phase

By Kim Sengupta in Kabul

Saturday, 29 August 2009

British troops in Helmand province recently. Last month was the deadliest for UK forces since the Falklands war


British troops in Helmand province recently. Last month was the deadliest for UK forces since the Falklands war

    In a Rotten State


    Posted by realistic bird under Politics Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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    {Upside down book of human rights-Gaza} Al

    {Upside down book of human rights-Gaza} Al

    By Eva Bartlett

    GAZA CITY, Aug 29 (IPS) – Abu Abed can’t make a profit, and although 54 years old, he still has not married. “I can’t pay my rent, I can’t afford a wedding.”

    His shop, roughly 3m by 4m, costs him more than 3,500 dollars a year in rent alone.

    His wares are laid out on tables on a busy pedestrian street in the Saha market area in Gaza City. The goods, plastic toys and running shoes imported from China, were brought in via the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, at a high price.

    One large bag of grain filled with the cheaply made toys cost 30 dollars to purchase, but the tunnel trip added another 70 dollars to Abu Abed’s expenditures. “I can make maybe 20 dollars when I sell these toys, but that will take two or three months.”

    Now that the month of Ramadan is under way, festive decorations and toys are among his stock. Yet with unemployment in Gaza hovering near 50 percent, and searing poverty at 80 percent, few can afford the luxury of such items, at now grossly inflated prices.

    “That toy is 20 shekels,” Abed says pointing to a plastic toy. “It should only cost maybe five or six shekels. People don’t want to buy it.” But if Abu Abed wants to break even, he cannot sell the toy for less than 20 shekels.

    For Ghazi Attab, a fruit vendor in Saha market, regular crossing procedures couldn’t come quickly enough. He estimates that 30 percent of his produce is spoiled due to long hours in the sun waiting for Israeli clearance to enter Gaza.

    “The Israelis don’t allow the fruit to enter Gaza right away. It sits at the crossings for five or six hours under the sun,” he said, pointing to a box of rotted mangos.

    Hazem, father of four, has a store in a different region of Saha. The shelves are stocked with shampoo, hair and skin creams, cosmetics, toothpaste, cleaning products, and other everyday items. All of his stock was brought through the tunnels, at a high price.

    Before the Israeli siege on Gaza, Hazem used to import goods via Israeli crossings.

    “I’d buy goods coming from China, and when they arrived at Ashdod, it would take just another week for them to be checked and to enter Gaza.”

    After Hamas took power in Gaza in June 2007, following its election victory in early 2006, there was a noticeable delay in the arrival of imported goods.

    “Suddenly it was taking two months for imports to enter Gaza,” Hazem said. From two-month delays it came to entering only around Ramadan, to not entering at all.

    Aside from losing a direct route of importing, Hazem has more than 80,000 dollars at stake.

    “When I bought goods from China in October 2008, the items weren’t forbidden,” he says, referring to the Israeli-imposed restrictions on what can enter Gaza. According to a report in the Israeli daily Haaretz in May 2009, only 30 to 40 items are being allowed into Gaza.

    The majority of items on Hazem’s list are banned. Two containers full of these items sit in a storage facility in Ashdod, for which he has had to pay 550 dollars per month since October 2008.

    Among the items are underwear, socks, caps, gloves, belts, perfumes, toothpicks, toothbrushes, scarves.

    “We have to pay import tax to Israel. I paid 1,468 dollars on my goods, plus paid for the actual goods themselves.” That is in addition to storage charges for the containers.

    “But I can’t send the stuff back to China,” he adds. He pays the rent, he says, in hope of importing the goods one day and digging himself out of debt.

    According to the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce in Gaza, there are currently over 1,700 containers of imported goods ordered by Gaza merchants being stored in Israel and the West Bank until they are allowed into Gaza. A breakdown of the items listed by the Chamber of Commerce includes clothing, shoes, electronics and toys.

    Over half of the containers have been held in storage since 2007. The Chamber of Commerce reports direct losses of an estimated 10 million dollars, including storage and handling costs, and indirect losses in losing contracts and ties with outside suppliers.

    On Aug 23, the new school year began for nearly 450,000 school children in Gaza. Many of these children will attend classes unprepared, as notebooks and other items needed for school have not been allowed into Gaza. Nor has the construction material needed to repair the many schools damaged by Israeli shelling and bombing during Israel’s three-week war on Gaza last December-January.

    Currently, the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing is the only entrance point for commercial goods after the better equipped and larger Karni crossing was closed by Israeli authorities. Karem Abu Salem does not operate at full capacity, and there are long delays in inspection of Gaza-bound goods.

    A report this month by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that during the first five months of 2007, an average of 583 trucks entered Gaza per day. Now, the daily average is 112, of which 70 percent are food products.

    OCHA further notes that “95 percent of the industrial establishments, or 3,750 establishments, were forced to shut down, and the remaining five percent were forced to reduce their level of activity.”

    With crossings closed or barely functioning, most of Gaza’s goods are brought in at steep prices via the tunnels. Last week Egyptian authorities announced a seizure of such goods bound for Gaza before the start of Ramadan. Among the millions of dollars worth of goods seized were wood, glass, electronic equipment and appliances, tyres, carpets, and large quantities of sweets, nuts, and foodstuffs used during Ramadan.

    "Saudi bomber al-Asiri traveled on Mohamad bin Nayef's private plane ..."


    In this photo released by Saudi Press Agency, King Abdullah ...
    Bloomberg, here

    " ... The attacker, who blew himself up on Aug. 27 at the offices of Assistant Interior Minister Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdel Aziz in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, had said he wanted to give himself up personally to the prince, Saudi state media reported.

    “This attack demonstrates that the threat of violent extremism in Saudi Arabia continues,” said Christopher Boucek, a regional security expert from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. The fact that al-Qaeda has targeted the Saudi royal family for the first time is significant, he said.

    The statement, issued by the “Organization of Qaeda for Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula,” said al-Asiri passed through airport security checks at Najran on the Yemeni border and in Jeddah and traveled on the prince’s private plane between the two cities.

    “He managed to enter his palace, pass through his guards and blow up the explosive device,” said the statement. Yemen’s Foreign Minister, Abu Bakr Al-Kurbi, said al-Asiri crossed into Saudi Arabia after traveling from the central Yemeni region of Ma‘rib, Saudi-owned television channel Al-Arabiya reported.

    Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman General Mansur al-Turki declined in a phone interview to comment ...."

    Posted by G, Z, & or B at 3:47 PM



    ugust 29, 2009 at 4:25 pm (Gaza, Mohammed Omer, Palestine)

    It’s Tents for Most Homeless Families in Gaza, Prefabricated Huts for the Lucky Few

    By Mohammed Omer

    homeless in gaza

    Hussein Shawish plays with his grandchildren inside their new mobile house in Gaza City, June 17, 2009 (AFP photo/Mohammed Abed).

    DESPITE THE parade of various international diplomats and aid workers surveying the destruction in Gaza, virtually nothing has changed since Israel ended in January its Operation Cast Lead assault—peversely named after a line in a children’s Hannukah poem. Israel launched its assault on Dec. 27, 2008, during the Jewish religious festival.

    Homeless families are distressed at the lack of progress in providing adequate and safe shelter, despite pledges made by international donors at a conference held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in early March.

    “I am glad to be one of the first people in Gaza to receive a prefabricated hut,” said Issa Hamouda, who lives in Gaza’s densely crowded Jabalya refugee camp.

    The 57-year-old Hamouda gestures toward some of his 20 children and grandchildren standing next to the rubble of what used to be their family home, where they would wake up every morning. “It’s only the size of one room,” he said of their new dwelling, it’s better than nothing.”

    The prefabricated hut stands next to the rubble of his demolished house. “Each time I pass this tent and prefabricated hut,” Hamouda added, “it’s a symbol to remind us of the last offensive against us.”

    Unfortunately, the tent and adjacent shanty hut his family has been forced to live in since January will not be coming down anytime soon.

    Despite more than $4.5 billion in pledges made at the international donors’ conference to help rebuild the Gaza Strip, nothing seems to be getting through to Gaza so far. According to a senior official in Gaza’s de facto government, who noted that no funds have yet been received from donor nations, “There have been no serious attempts, by all sides, to plan the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.”

    In the weeks following the Israeli assault, aid groups set up tent camps in the hardest hit areas, but the prefabricated shelters did not arrive until June, when the Hamas-led government in Gaza began distributing 192 structures supplied by Turkey. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) plans to supply an additional 1,200 prefabricated units in the coming weeks or months, according to Palestinian sources in Gaza.

    The 40-foot-square pre-fabricated huts in which fewer than 200 families currently are living have no toilet, washroom, kitchen or private facilities. Indeed, they are little more than a simple tool shed. Yet, in Gaza, five months after Israel halted its attack, it passes for a home.

    There are some Gazans who are not reduced to living in tents or huts: they are crammed into the homes of relatives and friends, or renting an apartment if an available one can be found. The latter, however, is a luxury most Gazans cannot afford.

    Asked about the international pledges to rebuild Gaza, Hamouda replied, “These donor countries should first work to end the occupation, instead of offering to pay the cost of the occupation. If you want to give me dinner, don’t just give me a fish, but teach me how and let me fish. We don’t want to be dependent on other countries’ donations.”

    Gaza has an abundance of human resources, including many workers and professionals, he added. “We could live much better just off our available resources,” Hamouda said, “with open borders and no more occupation controlling our lives.”

    Israel’s 22-day attack on Gaza killed more than 1,400 Palestinians. Thousands more—the majority civilians—were injured. According to the latest U.N. survey, 3,500 houses were completely destroyed, 2,100 sustained major damage and 40,000 sustained minor damage.

    Hamouda’s large family is the main reason he was one of the first people in Gaza to receive a shelter, which was assembled by the Ministry of Social Affairs. Most Gazans prefer to have the shelters situated near what used to be their homes.

    Hamouda described how Israel targeted his house during Operation Cast Lead. First it was bombed by Israeli warplanes, and later demolished by Israeli bulldozers. “Who knows when my children will have a home again?” he asked. “All is demolished, nothing was left behind, including our trees and farm. Even the donkey was killed under the ruins of the house.

    “We have no privacy and no protection from the heat of the day or the cold of the night,” he added. “We just want to live a normal life like people in other nations around the world.”

    In Hamouda’s opinion, the visits to Gaza by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter were “a catastrophe. Neither Carter nor Blair came down to see our tragedy. Yet they allowed the occupation of our homeland when they were in office. I don’t expect anything good from either of them.”

    Carter may not have visited the Hamouda family, but he denounced the deprivations facing Palestinians in Gaza as unique in history and asserted that they are being treated “more like animals than human beings” (see p. 17).

    Meanwhile, Israel’s crippling siege of Gaza remains in place. Maxwell Gaylard, the United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, explained why—months later and despite donor pledges—shelters for Gaza’s homeless families are not being built: “It’s a simple reason,” the Jerusalem-based Gaylard said. “The government of Israel doesn’t allow construction materials into Gaza.

    “I have replanted our trees three times,” said Hamouda, “but each time Israeli bulldozers destroy them. It makes me think that Israel doesn’t only consider human beings in Gaza as enemies, but also the trees.”

    Several human rights groups and European governments have called on Israel to allow construction materials into Gaza, but so far there has been no lessening of the siege. “We have been in negotiation with the Israeli authorities, but there is no approval to allow construction materials into Gaza,” Gaylard said. “Gaza is a place which has enjoyed a good standard of living before, but not now,” he said. “Many are poor—they live on one meal per day—it is pretty miserable.”

    Asked how long he thought the reconstruction of Gaza would take, the U.N. official could only respond, “I wish I knew. We have been constantly calling for the opening of the borders and stating that the Gazan people should not have to be subjected to this collective punishment.”

    “We have built our houses with our sweat and blood,” said Issa Hamouda. Pausing, he added: “And we are ready to rebuild it again and again—but Israel should respectfully leave us alone, and we will manage with the resources we have available.”



    August 29, 2009 at 7:26 am (Crime, Israel, Palestine)

    human_heartIsraeli Organ Harvesting


    Last week Sweden’s largest daily newspaper published an article containing shocking material: testimony and circumstantial evidence indicating that Israelis may have been harvesting internal organs from Palestinian prisoners without consent for many years.

    Worse yet, some of the information reported in the article suggests that in some instances Palestinians may have been captured with this macabre purpose in mind.

    In the article, “Our sons plundered for their organs,” veteran journalist Donald Bostrom writes that Palestinians “harbor strong suspicions against Israel for seizing young men and having them serve as the country’s organ reserve – a very serious accusation, with enough question marks to motivate the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to start an investigation about possible war crimes.”1/

    An army of Israeli officials and apologists immediately went into high gear, calling both Bostrom and the newspaper’s editors “anti-Semitic.” The Israeli foreign minister was reportedly “aghast” and termed it “a demonizing piece of blood libel.” An Israeli official called it “hate porn.”

    Commentary magazine wrote that the story was “merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of European funded and promoted anti-Israel hate.” Numerous people likened the article to the medieval “blood libel,” (widely refuted stories that Jews killed people to use their blood in religious rituals). Even some pro-Palestinian writers joined in the criticism, expressing skepticism.

    The fact is, however, that substantiated evidence of public and private organ trafficking and theft, and allegations of worse, have been widely reported for many years. Given such context, the Swedish charges become far more plausible than might otherwise be the case and suggest that an investigation could well turn up significant information.

    Below are a few examples of previous reports on this topic.

    Israel’s first heart transplant

    Israel’s very first, historic heart transplant used a heart removed from a living patient without consent or consulting his family.

    In December 1968 a man named Avraham Sadegat (the New York Times seems to give his name as A Savgat) (2) died two days after a stroke, even though his family had been told he was “doing well.”

    After initially refusing to release his body, the Israeli hospital where he was being treated finally turned the man’s body over to his family. They discovered that his upper body was wrapped in bandages; an odd situation, they felt, for someone who had suffered a stroke.

    When they removed the bandages, they discovered that the chest cavity was stuffed with bandages, and the heart was missing.

    During this time, the headline-making Israeli heart transplant had occurred. After their initial shock, the man’s wife and brother began to put the two events together and demanded answers.

    The hospital at first denied that Sadegat’s heart had been used in the headline-making transplant, but the family raised a media storm and eventually applied to three cabinet ministers. Finally, weeks later and after the family had signed a document promising not to sue, the hospital admitted that Sadagat’s heart had been used.

    The hospital explained that it had abided by Israeli law, which allowed organs to be harvested without the family’s consent. (3) (The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime includes the extraction of organs in its definition of human exploitation.)

    Indications that the removal of Sadagat’s heart was the actual cause of death went unaddressed.

    Director of forensic medicine on missing organs

    A 1990 article in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs entitled “Autopsies and Executions” by Mary Barrett reports on the grotesque killings of young Palestinians. It includes an interview with Dr. Hatem Abu Ghazalch, the former chief health official for the West Bank under Jordanian administration and director of forensic medicine and autopsies.

    Barrett asks him about “the widespread anxiety over organ thefts which has gripped Gaza and the West Bank since the intifada began in December of 1987.”

    He responded:

    “There are indications that for one reason or another, organs, especially eyes and kidneys, were removed from the bodies during the first year or year and a half. There were just too many reports by credible people for there to be nothing happening. If someone is shot in the head and comes home in a plastic bag without internal organs, what will people assume?” (4)

    Mysterious Scottish death

    In 1998 a Scot named Alisdair Sinclair died under questionable circumstances while in Israeli custody at Ben Gurion airport.

    His family was informed of the death and, according to a report in J Weekly, “…told they had three weeks to come up with about $4,900 to fly Sinclair’s corpse home. [Alisdair’s brother] says the Israelis seemed to be pushing a different option: burying Sinclair in a Christian cemetery in Israel, at a cost of about $1,300.”

    The family scraped up the money, brought the body home, and had an autopsy performed at the University of Glasgow. It turned out that Alisdair’s heart and a tiny throat bone were missing. At this point the British Embassy filed a complaint with Israel.

    The J report states:

    “A heart said to be Sinclair’s was subsequently repatriated to Britain, free of charge. James wanted the [Israeli] Forensic Institute to pay for a DNA test to confirm that this heart was indeed their brother’s, but the Institute’s director, Professor Jehuda Hiss refused, citing the prohibitive cost, estimated by some sources at $1,500.”

    Despite repeated requests from the British Embassy for the Israeli pathologist’s and police reports, Israeli officials refused to release either. (5,6,7)

    Israeli government officials raise questions

    Palestinian journalist Khalid Amayreh reports in an article in CCUN:

    “In January, 2002, an Israeli cabinet minister tacitly admitted that organs taken from the bodies of Palestinian victims might have been used for transplants in Jewish patients without the knowledge of the Palestinian victims’ families.

    “The minister, Nessim Dahan, said in response to a question by an Arab Knesset member that he couldn’t deny or confirm that organs of Palestinian youths and children killed by the Israeli army were taken out for transplants or scientific research.

    “‘I couldn’t say for sure that something like that didn’t happen.’”

    Amayreh writes that the Knesset member who posed the question said that he “had received ‘credible evidence proving that Israeli doctors at the forensic institute of Abu Kabir extracted such vital organs as the heart, kidneys, and liver from the bodies of Palestinian youth and children killed by the Israeli army in Gaza and the West Bank.” (8)

    Israel’s chief pathologist removed from post for stealing body parts

    For a number of years there were allegations that Israel’s leading pathologist was stealing body parts. In 2001 the Israeli national news service reported:

    “… the parents of soldier Ze’ev Buzgallo who was killed in a Golan Heights military training accident, are filing a petition with the High Court of Justice calling for the immediate suspension of Dr. Yehuda Hiss and that criminal charges be filed against him. Hiss serves as the director of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute….According to the parents, the body of their son was used for medical experimentation without their consent, experiments authorized by Hiss. (9)

    In 2002 the service reported:

    “The revelation of illegally stored body parts in the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute has prompted MK Anat Maor, chairman of the Knesset Science Committee, to demand the immediate suspension of the director, Prof. Yehuda Hiss.”

    Alisdair Sinclair’s death had first alerted authorities to Hiss’s malfeasance in 1998, though nothing was done for years. The Forward reported:

    “In 2001, an Israeli Health Ministry investigation found that Hiss had been involved for years in taking body parts, such as legs, ovaries and testicles, without family permission during autopsies, and selling them to medical schools for use in research and training. He was appointed chief pathologist in 1988. Hiss was never charged with any crime, but in 2004 he was forced to step down from running the state morgue, following years of complaints.” (10)

    Harvesting kidneys from impoverished communities

    According to the Economist, a kidney racket flourished in South Africa between 2001 and 2003. “Donors were recruited in Brazil, Israel and Romania with offers of $5,000-20,000 to visit Durban and forfeit a kidney. The 109 recipients, mainly Israelis, each paid up to $120,000 for a “transplant holiday”; they pretended they were relatives of the donors and that no cash changed hands.” (11)

    In 2004 a legislative commission in Brazil reported, “At least 30 Brazilians have sold their kidneys to an international human organ trafficking ring for transplants performed in South Africa, with Israel providing most of the funding.”

    According to an IPS report: “The recipients were mostly Israelis, who receive health insurance reimbursements of 70,000 to 80,000 dollars for life-saving medical procedures performed abroad.”

    IPS reports:

    The Brazilians were recruited in Brazil’s most impoverished neighbourhoods and were paid $10,000 per kidney, “but as ‘supply’ increased, the payments fell as low as 3,000 dollars.” The trafficking had been organized by a retired Israeli police officer, who said “he did not think he was committing a crime, given that the transaction is considered legal by his country’s government.”

    The Israeli embassy issued a statement denying any participation by the Israeli government in the illegal trade of human organs but said it did recognize that its citizens, in emergency cases, could undergo organ transplants in other countries, “in a legal manner, complying with international norms,” and with the financial support of their medical insurance.

    However, IPS reports that the commission chair termed the Israeli stance “at the very least ‘anti-ethical’, adding that trafficking can only take place on a major scale if there is a major source of financing, such as the Israeli health system.” He went on to state that the resources provided by the Israeli health system “were a determining factor” that allowed the network to function. (12)

    Tel Aviv hospital head promotes organ trafficking

    IPS goes on to report:

    “Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who heads the Organs Watch project at the U.S. University of California, Berkeley, testified to the Pernambuco legislative commission that international trafficking of human organs began some 12 years ago, promoted by Zacki Shapira, former director of a hospital in Tel Aviv.

    “Shapira performed more than 300 kidney transplants, sometimes accompanying his patients to other countries, such as Turkey. The recipients are very wealthy or have very good health insurance, and the ‘donors’ are very poor people from Eastern Europe, Philippines and other developing countries, said Scheper-Hughes, who specialises in medical anthropology.”

    Israel prosecutes organ traffickers

    In 2007 Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper reported that two men confessed to persuading “Arabs from the Galilee and central Israel who were developmentally challenged or mentally ill to agree to have a kidney removed for payment.” They then would refuse to pay them.

    The paper reported that the two were part of a criminal ring that included an Israeli surgeon. According to the indictment, the surgeon sold the kidneys he harvested for between $125,000 and $135,000. (13)

    Earlier that year another Israeli newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, reported that ten members of an Israeli organ smuggling ring targeting Ukrainians had been arrested. (14)

    In still another 2007 story, the Jerusalem Post reported that “Professor Zaki Shapira, one of Israel’s leading transplant surgeons, was arrested in Turkey on Thursday on suspicion of involvement in an organ trafficking ring. According to the report, the transplants were arranged in Turkey and took place at private hospitals in Istanbul.”

    Israeli organ trafficking comes to the U.S.?

    In July of this year even US media reported on the arrest of Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, from Brooklyn, recently arrested by federal officials in a massive corruption sweep in New Jersey that netted mayors, government officials and a number of prominent rabbis. Bostrom opens his article with this incident.

    According to the federal complaint, Rosenbaum, who has close ties to Israel, said that he had been involved in the illegal sale of kidneys for 10 years. A US Attorney explained: “His business was to entice vulnerable people to give up a kidney for $10,000 which he would turn around and sell for $160,000.” (15)

    This is reportedly the first case of international organ trafficking in the U.S.

    University of California anthropologist and organ trade expert Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who informed the FBI about Rosenbaum seven years ago, says she heard reports that he had held donors at gunpoint to ensure they followed through on agreements to “donate” their organs. (16)

    Israel’s organ donor problems

    Israel has an extraordinarily small number of willing organ donors. According to the Israeli news service Ynet, “the percentage of organs donated among Jews is the lowest of all the ethnic groups… In western countries, some 30 per cent of the population have organ donor cards. In Israel, in contrast, four percent of the population holds such cards. (17)

    “According to statistics from the Health Ministry’s website, in 2001, 88 Israelis died waiting for a transplant because of a lack of donor organs. In the same year, 180 Israelis were brain dead, and their organs could have been used for transplant, but only 80 of their relatives agreed to donate their organs.”

    According to Ynet, the low incidence of donors is related to “religious reasons.” In 2006 there was an uproar when an Israeli hospital known for its compliance with Jewish law performed a transplant operation using an Israeli donor. The week before, “a similar incident occurred, but since the patient was not Jewish it passed silently.” (18, 19)

    The Swedish article reports that ‘Israel has repeatedly been under fire for its unethical ways of dealing with organs and transplants. France was among the countries that ceased organ collaboration with Israel in the 1990s. Jerusalem Post wrote that “the rest of the European countries are expected to follow France’s example shortly.”

    “Half of the kidneys transplanted to Israelis since the beginning of the 2000s have been bought illegally from Turkey, Eastern Europe or Latin America. Israeli health authorities have full knowledge of this business but do nothing to stop it. At a conference in 2003 it was shown that Israel is the only western country with a medical profession that doesn’t condemn the illegal organ trade. The country takes no legal measures against doctors participating in the illegal business – on the contrary, chief medical officers of Israel’s big hospitals are involved in most of the illegal transplants, according to Dagens Nyheter (December 5, 2003).”

    To fill this need former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, then health minister of Israel, organized a big donor campaign in the summer of 1992, but while the number of donors skyrocketed, need still greatly surpassed supply.

    Palestinian disappearances increase

    Bostrom, who earlier wrote of all this in his 2001 book Inshallah, (20) reports in his recent article:

    “While the campaign was running, young Palestinian men started to disappear from villages in the West Bank and Gaza. After five days Israeli soldiers would bring them back dead, with their bodies ripped open.

    “Talk of the bodies terrified the population of the occupied territories. There were rumors of a dramatic increase of young men disappearing, with ensuing nightly funerals of autopsied bodies.”

    “I was in the area at the time, working on a book. On several occasions I was approached by UN staff concerned about the developments. The persons contacting me said that organ theft definitely occurred but that they were prevented from doing anything about it. On an assignment from a broadcasting network I then travelled around interviewing a great number of Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza – meeting parents who told of how their sons had been deprived of organs before being killed.”

    He describes the case of 19-year-old Bilal Achmed Ghanan, shot by Israeli forces invading his village.

    “The first shot hit him in the chest. According to villagers who witnessed the incident he was subsequently shot with one bullet in each leg. Two soldiers then ran down from the carpentry workshop and shot Bilal once in the stomach. Finally, they grabbed him by his feet and dragged him up the twenty stone steps of the workshop stair… Israeli soldiers loading the badly wounded Bilal in a jeep and driving him to the outskirts of the village, where a military helicopter waited. The boy was flown to a destination unknown to his family.”

    Five days later he was returned, “dead and wrapped up in green hospital fabric.” Bostrom reports that as the body was lowered into the grave, his chest was exposed and onlookers could see that he was stitched up from his stomach to his head. Bostrom writes that this was not the first time people had seen such a thing.

    “The families in the West Bank and in Gaza felt that they knew exactly what had happened: “Our sons are used as involuntary organ donors,” relatives of Khaled from Nablus told me, as did the mother of Raed from Jenin and the uncles of Machmod and Nafes from Gaza, who had all disappeared for a number of days only to return at night, dead and autopsied.”

    Why autopsies?

    Bostrom describes the questions that families asked:

    “Why are they keeping the bodies for up to five days before they let us bury them? What happened to the bodies during that time? Why are they performing autopsy, against our will, when the cause of death is obvious? Why are the bodies returned at night? Why is it done with a military escort? Why is the area closed off during the funeral? Why is the electricity interrupted?”

    Israel’s answer was that all Palestinians who were killed were routinely autopsied. However, Bostrom points out that of the133 Palestinians who were killed that year, only 69 were autopsied.

    He goes on to write:

    “We know that Israel has a great need for organs, that there is a vast and illegal trade of organs which has been running for many years now, that the authorities are aware of it and that doctors in managing positions at the big hospitals participate, as well as civil servants at various levels. We also know that young Palestinian men disappeared, that they were brought back after five days, at night, under tremendous secrecy, stitched back together after having been cut from abdomen to chin.

    It’s time to bring clarity to this macabre business, to shed light on what is going on and what has taken place in the territories occupied by Israel since the Intifada began.” (21)

    The new “Blood Libel”?

    In scanning through the reaction to Bostrom’s report, one is struck by the multitude of charges that his article is a new version of the old anti-Semitic “blood libel.” Given that fact, it is interesting to examine a 2007 book by Israel’s preeminent expert on medieval Jewish history, and what happened to him.

    The author is Bar-Ilan professor (and rabbi) Ariel Toaff, son of the former chief rabbi of Rome, a religious leader so famous that an Israeli journalist writes that Toaff’s father “is to Italian Jewry as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.” Ariel Toaff, himself, is considered “one of the greatest scholars in his field.” (22, 23)

    In February 2007 the Israeli and Italian media were abuzz (though most of the U.S. media somehow missed it) with news that Professor Toaff had written a book entitled “Pasque di Sangue” (“Blood Passovers”) (24) containing evidence that there “was a factual basis for some of the medieval blood libels against the Jews.”

    Based on 35 years of research, Toaff had concluded that there were at least a few, possibly many, real incidents.

    In an interview with an Italian newspaper (the book was published in Italy), Toaff says:

    My research shows that in the Middle Ages, a group of fundamentalist Jews did not respect the biblical prohibition and used blood for healing. It is just one group of Jews, who belonged to the communities that suffered the severest persecution during the Crusades. From this trauma came a passion for revenge that in some cases led to responses, among them ritual murder of Christian children.” (25)

    (Incidentally, an earlier book containing similar findings was published some years ago, also by an Israeli professor, Israel Shahak, of whom Noam Chomsky once wrote, “Shahak is an outstanding scholar, with remarkable insight and depth of knowledge. His work is informed and penetrating, a contribution of great value.” ) (26)

    Professor Toaff was immediately attacked from all sides, including pressure orchestrated by Anti-Defamation League chairman Abe Foxman, but Toaff stood by his 35 years of research, announcing:

    “I will not give up my devotion to the truth and academic freedom even if the world crucifies me… One shouldn’t be afraid to tell the truth.”

    Before long, however, under relentless public and private pressure, Toaff had recanted, withdrawn his book, and promised to give all profits that had already accrued (the book had been flying off Italian bookshelves) to Foxman’s Anti-Defamation League. A year later he published a “revised version.”

    Donald Bostrom’s experience seems to be a repeat of what Professor Toaff endured: calumny, vituperation, and defamation. Bostrom has received death threats as well, perhaps an experience that Professor Toaff also shared.

    If Israel is innocent of organ plundering accusations, or if its culpability is considerably less than Bostrom and others suggest, it should welcome honest investigations that would clear it of wrongdoing. Instead, the government and its advocates are working to suppress all debate and crush those whose questions and conclusions they find threatening.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, rather than responding to calls for an investigation, is demanding that the Swedish government abandon its commitment to a free press and condemn the article. The Israeli press office, apparently in retaliation and to prevent additional investigation, is refusing to give press credentials to reporters from the offending newspaper.

    Just as in the case of the rampage against Jenin, the attack on the USS liberty, the massacre of Gaza, the crushing of Rachel Corrie, the torture of American citizens, and a multitude of other examples, Israel is using its considerable, worldwide resources to interfere with the investigative process.

    It is difficult to conclude that it has nothing to hide.

    Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew. A version of this article containing citations and additional information is available at http://ifamericansknew/cur_sit/sweden.html


    1/ There are two English translations; this article uses the first:

    The original Swedish article in Aftonbladet can be viewed at

    2/ New York Times, Feb. 3, 1969, p. 8, Column 6 (53 words)

    3/ 40 years after Israel’s first transplant, donor’s family says his heart was stolen
    By Dana Weiler-Polak, Haaretz Correspondent, Dec. 14, 2008

    4/ Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 1990, Page 21, The Intifada: Autopsies and Executions

    5/ October 30, 1998,Bizarre death of Scottish tourist involves suicide, missing heart
    by NETTY C. GROSS, Jerusalem Post Service

    6/ The Forward, Illicit Body-Part Sales Present Widespread Problem, By Rebecca Dube, Aug. 26, 2009

    7/ Masons, Muslims, Templars, Jews, Henry and Dolly.

    8/ Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding, Khalid Amayreh, August 20, 2009




    12/ The Economist, Organ transplants: The gap between supply and demand, Oct. 9, 2008

    BRAZIL: Poor Sell Organs to Trans-Atlantic Trafficking Ring
    By Mario Osava, IPS, Feb. 23, 2004

    Haaretz, Two Haifa men sentenced to jail for organ trafficking, By Fadi Eyadat, Dec. 18, 2007

    14/ uncover illegal organ trade ring

    By REBECCA ANNA STOIL, July 23, 2007

    Sting rocks U.S. transplant industry, David Porter, Carla K. Johnson, ASSOCIATED PRESS, july 25, 2009


    U.S. Professor: I told FBI about kidney trafficking 7 years ago
    By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent, August, 3, 2009


    A mitzvah called organ donation, Efrat Shapira-Rosenberg, 10.6.07

    Orthodox in uproar over organ donation incident, Neta Sela, 06.22.06


    The Return of the Body Snatchers, By Israel Shamir,




    Ha’aretz. The Wayward Son, by Adi Schwartz, March 1, 2007

    Ha’aaretz, Bar-Ilan to order professor to explain research behind blood libel book
    By Ofri Ilani, Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Feb 11, 2007


    Israeli writer Israel Shamir reports that some years ago “…a leading Chabad rabbi,
    Yitzhak Ginzburgh, gave his religious permission for a Jew to take a liver from a non-Jew even without his consent. He said that ‘a Jew is entitled to extract the liver from a goy if he needs it, for the life of a Jew is more valuable than the life of a goy, likewise the life of a goy is more valuable than the life of an animal.’

    Haaretz, Bar Ilan to order professor to explain research behind blood libel book, by Ofri Hani, Feb. 11, 2007.

    Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, August/September 2001, page 11, In Memoriam: Israel Shahak (1933-2001), By Norton Mezvinsky




    August 29, 2009 at 7:07 am (Corrupt Politics, Illegal Settlements, Israel, Palestine)

    Right on Bibi! You expect the world to pay for and support your crimes, but you won’t tell us what’s next. So typical!!
    Netanyahu uses silence to capture his objective

    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sat in front of the Israeli press for 45 minutes here on Wednesday, just a few hours after meeting US envoy George Mitchell in London and deflected with great acumen the journalists’ repeated attempts to pry out of him any real piece of information about what happened during their four-hour meeting.

    Prime Minister Binyamin...

    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in London, Tuesday.
    Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO

    One journalist after the next asked the prime minister the same question, but from a slightly different angle: What was agreed upon regarding a settlements freeze?

    But try as the journalists may, Netanyahu would say nothing – nothing – about the agreement that is apparently being stitched together.

    Read the rest of this report HERE

    Hamas warns of dividing, internationalizing the Aqsa

    Hamas warns of dividing, internationalizing the Aqsa

    [ 29/08/2009 - 08:47 AM ]

    DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Hamas Movement has warned of attempts to divide the holy Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews and to internationalize the occupied city of Jerusalem.

    Hamas in a statement on Friday declared absolute rejection of the American idea of turning Jerusalem into an open city for all religions, calling on the world community not to legitimize such a "serious plot".

    It also refused the Israeli plan of converting the control over the Aqsa Mosque from the Jordanian endowment department to the Israeli archeology department.

    Hamas asked former PA chief Mahmoud Abbas not to provide political cover for the Israeli measures against the holy city and to halt all public and covert negotiations and security coordination with the Israeli occupation authority (IOA).

    It warned that the judaization schemes against Jerusalem had reached an unprecedented stage as more excavations were being carried out under the Aqsa and in its vicinity other than the confiscation of lands around the Mosque in a bid to impose Jewish presence and to bolster IOA security control.

    For its part, the international Quds institution charged in a press conference on Thursday that the IOA attacks on the holy site had increased four folds compared to last year.

    It said that the IOA started five new excavations under the holy site in 2009 bringing the number of excavations under and around the site to 25 while the storming operations reached 43 including one by the Israeli internal security minister, the highest ranking official figure to storm the site since its occupation in 1967.

    The institution warned that dividing the holy Aqsa Mosque was only waiting for the opportune moment to impose it.



    August 29, 2009 at 6:48 am (Activism, Corrupt Politics, Guest Post, Human Rights, Israel, Palestine)

    liberty and justice

    By Mazin Qumsiyeh

    In this digest: We comment on the transformation of Palestine and the weakness of Palestinian leaders, describe events happening that you will hear little about (or hear distorted stories about), share videos about the Israeli targeting of civilian and about the right of resistance, and share two action items asking you to write to the Gap about their opening a store in Israel and writing to Obama to demand Israel freeze its illegal settlement activities in the occupied areas (as the 2002 road map demands)

    “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is ever well ­acquainted with what you do.”(Surah Nisaa’:135)

    Israel named a new ruler on Palestinians this week. Eitan Dangot (to be promoted to Major General) will direct the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in the Israel army. He is certainly more important and more powerful than Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad. Nothing goes in and out of the occupied areas or moves between its cities without his approval. No construction, no economic activity, no education, no transport, and no health care are done without this overlord agreeing to it. He is in a line of Zionists managing Palestinian affairs that go back to Herbert Samuel in 1920 (who had absolute executive and legislative powers). Samuel states in his memoires that he was appointed by the British government not only with his known Zionist sympathies but largely because of these sympathies. Palestinians responded by mass resignation from government jobs, by strikes, protests, petitions, and pleas for change. But some notable elites met with him 7 July 1920 despite a call to boycott. Later he fired the principled mayor of Jerusalem Musa Kadhim Alhusaini and appointed the more compliant Ragheb Nashashibi (sounds familiar?).

    According to news reports, Israel arrested several people praying at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. One of those was “a Gaza man was detained for being in the area without a permit.” (and yet Zionist propaganda still regurgitates the myth that the apartheid walls are for security!). Jimmy Carter joins the fast for Gaza. Some Palestinians spend all their waking hours planning how to defeat fellow Palestinians. Israeli papers leak the news that Obama administration is giving up on the idea of a settlement freeze in the illegally occupied areas. Settler population surpasses 500,000. Some are popping Champaign bottles celebrating the final victory of the Zionist project and the end not only of the physical Palestine but the idea of Palestine. Some of the victims as in all colonial situations get acclimatized and collaborate with their oppressors. Is this a Kafquesque/Orwellian world we live in or is that itself suggestive that a normal world can exist. Perhaps it is the way it always is: nature red in tooth and claw, a dog-eat-dog world and we do have big dogs and little dogs (and parasites that transfect dog brains making them rabid). But then again, nature indeed has everything and unlike creatures born into who they are, humans have choices to be like hyenas feeding on dead carcasses or like flowers giving nectar and beauty to earth. Sometimes the choice to be like the tapeworm or the honeybee seems to some individuals not so obvious. Bees are natural workers who live and die anonymous and unfelt as individuals while one tape worm can be prosperous, felt, and have an individual difference in its habitat. (sorry, this is the biologist in me speaking). But back to the human realm, we can also choose to be a war criminal like Peres, Kissinger, and Hitler or by a peacemaker like Desmond Tutu and Mahatma Gandhi (and anything in between). We can choose to be racist claiming Arabs or Muslims are this or that (or Jews for that matter) or we can embrace our common humanity and failings and call for coexistence and annulment of all ideologies of racism and segregation (e.g. Zionism). We do have choices. In these choices lies our true freedom and liberation as human beings. Going with the flow/fashion of “our tribe” (us vs. them) lay our enslavement. Those of us who refuse enslavement have what Mahmoud Darwish called “an incurable malady”: hope.

    Video: Lest we forget: Guardian investigates Israeli war crimes in Gaza

    Video: Free Gaza on the right of Resistance

    Action 1: Gap set to open in Israel

    Write to them at: and boycott

    ACTION 2: News reports reports that U.S. dropped or is considering dropping demand on Israel to freeze settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem (International law is clear that such settlements are illegal). Write and call Obama to demand complete freeze of all settlement activities including “natural growth” and walls built on Palestinian lands (this is also demanded by the road map that we are told Israel agreed to).

    Call: President Barack Obama 202-456-1111
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 202.647.5291
    FAX: 202-456-2461 email

    Turkish art for Gaza


    Mostly caricatures, a good collection of photos from various Turkish artists:

    Posted by Bilal at

    Labels: , , ,

    US army chief: We'll always stand by Israel's side


    Senior American officials attend farewell party for Israel's military attaché Major-General Benny Gantz, who will assume IDF deputy chief post in October

    WASHINGTON – The US will always stand by Israel's side, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said overnight Thursday during a farewell party for Israel's military attaché in Washington Major-General Benny Gantz, who will be retuning to Israel following his appointment as IDF deputy chief of staff.

    The event, which was held at the home of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, was attended by a number of senior American officials, including Dan Shapiro, who heads the Middle East desk at the National Security Council, and Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy.

    The military attachés of Egypt and Morocco were also on hand.

    Mullen said the attendance of top US military officials was a sign of the strong ties between the US and Israel.

    Gantz, who is scheduled to return to Israel on Thursday, will be briefed on the responsibilities of his new position by outgoing Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel on Sunday.

    Gantz will officially assume the post of deputy IDF chief on October 1. He will be replaced in Washington by outgoing IDF Central Command chief Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni.,7340,L-3767865,00.html


    Is the PLO playing with the Palestinian national cause?


    Posted by realistic bird under Politics Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    by Umayah Jiha

    by Umayah Jiha

    August 27, 2009, source

    Despite rhetorical denials, the PLO and Palestinian Authority (PA), which Fatah constitutes the backbone of both, are moving steadily toward adopting positions that would effectively compromise inalienable Palestinian rights and might even lead to the liquidation of the Palestinian cause.

    The reported PLO propensity to “deal positively” with dubious “peace plans” that would obliterate Palestinian rights should alarm all patriotic Palestinians.

    After all, the Palestinian cause is not the property of unelected politicians who think they have a carte blanch to behave as they see fit with regard to such fundamental issues as the right of return and Jerusalem.

    Unfortunately, the signs and signals that keep coming from the PLO and PA quarters don’t auger well for the future. Hence, the urgent need to speak up and warn these unelected leaders against playing with fire.

    First, there is the so-called Fayyad vision or plan for creating a Palestinian state with temporary borders under the Israeli occupation, a state that would very much look like a Judenrat (Jewish community council under the Nazi occupation of Europe ). How else can one honestly relate to an entity that is completely void of sovereignty, freedom and the most elementary requirements of statehood?

    Fayyad, an economist-turned-politician at Washington’s urging seems to think that building a sound economic base with international support would be sufficient to transform the vision of statehood from dream to reality.

    However, the man who reportedly had described himself as “George Bush’s man in Palestine” wouldn’t tell us how it is possible to build a sound economic base in a country that continues to languish under a Nazi-like military occupation which tightly controls every aspect of Palestinian life.

    Well, doesn’t Mr. Fayyad realize that Palestinians can hardly travel from Ramallah, the seat of his government, to any other Palestinian town in the West Bank without an Israeli permit?

    Doesn’t he realize that Israel has the ultimate and final say over the smallest transaction of money from abroad to occupied Palestine or vice versa?

    Doesn’t he know that the Shin Beth, Israel’s chief domestic security agency, decides which Palestinian can travel abroad?

    Finally, Fayyad ought to explain to the Palestinian people how such a fantastic entity would function in the absence of any territorial contiguity linking the various Bantustans and townships comprising the contemplated state?

    Hence, one wonders how such a state, which would be laminated with big, bombastic names and a lot of trappings but with utterly no substance, serve the national interests of the Palestinian people.

    In all honesty, such a state would be a huge disaster for the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people. It would be proven a solution for Israel’s and Zionism’s problems, first and foremost, since it would enable Israel to claim that the Palestinian issue was finally resolved with the creation of a Palestinian state.

    More to the point, Israel would be able to use this farce as an effective propaganda tool to endear itself to the Arab-Muslim world by arguing that Arabs and Muslims can’t be more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves who are quite satisfied with their lot.

    Furthermore, Israeli hasbara (propaganda) efforts might receive a helping hand from some Palestinian officials and spokesmen eager to defend the “new state” in the face of those who spread “doubts and rumors” about its national credentials.”

    Fayyad is not only making a balloon test to find out Palestinian and international reactions to his gambit. He must be coordinating his move with PLO leadership which is constantly retreating from the erstwhile national constants that continue to enjoy an overwhelming national consensus.

    True, the PLO, especially the Fatah leadership, continues to make rhetorical statements reasserting their commitment to a full Israel withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 as well as the right of some 4.5 million refugees, dispersed to the four corners of the globe, to return to their homes and villages from which they were brutally uprooted when the Zionist state was created more than 61 years ago.

    However, we all know that the Fatah leadership’s declared commitment to the right of return is only symbolic and mainly propagandistic in nature.

    Indeed, PLO officials, including Mahmoud Abbas, said on numerous occasions that when Palestinians speak about the right of return for the refugees, what they actually mean is a return to the contemplated Palestinian state, not to ” Israel” where the bulk of these refugees and their ancestors had been living for centuries.

    In fact, the PLO retreat doesn’t merely stop at compromising the right of return but also encompasses the subject of al-Quds al Sharif (Noble Jerusalem), which the Israeli occupation regime continues to Judaize at an alarming rate, by obliterating its Arab-Islamic identity using bulldozers and explosives and other means of ethnic cleansing.

    Indeed, statements and remarks by PLO officials, especially Abbas and his immediate coterie of aides, advisors and hangers-on, continue to make diluted statements about Jerusalem , which reveals a principled willingness to accept the annexation to Israel of huge parts of the occupied city in the context of any final-status settlement with the Zionist state.

    “We have to be realistic and pragmatic,” these demoralized officials and “leaders” would say in private conversations.

    Unfortunately, the “new” PLO-Fatah leadership seems to have interpreted the recent Fatah elections, not as a reassertion of traditional positions opposing Israeli territorial expansion and efforts to liquidate the right of return, but rather as a vindication of the Abbas-Fayyad line whereby Palestinians would have to accept what is internationally possible in terms of what the Palestinians are realistically able to extricate from Israel’s parsimonious hands.

    This is at odd with the mendacious and misleading rhetoric by many Fatah leaders who don’t stop claiming that the group’s Sixth Congress, which took place in Bethlehem in early August, was a valuable asset benefiting the Palestinian cause and bolstering the so-called Arafat line.

    Well, the coming days and weeks will show that the Fatah leadership is either day-dreaming or deliberately not telling the truth to the Palestinian people.

    There is no doubt that there are many patriotic people within Fatah, an organization that undeniably shouldered the national cause for many years.

    But it is also true that corrupt and mediocre elements do have the upper hand and, more importantly, control the coffers of Fatah, which enable them to dictate and impose their views on the rest of the movement, perhaps save honest people like Farouk Kaddumi, who are too old and too powerless to reverse the tides against the “pragmatists” who think that the goal of statehood overrides any other cause, including the right of return and the liberation of al-Quds from the claws of Zionism.

    One would always want to consider the half-filled glass and not give in to pessimism. However, one must also guard against false optimism to avoid disastrous ramifications.

    It is said that Fatah’s financial survival depends nearly completely on the PA which is kept afloat thanks to regular handouts from western donors, especially the US and its Arab puppet regimes.

    This financial dependence, as has been repeatedly demonstrated, is nearly always translated into political cooption, as is clear from Fatah’s disgraceful silence vis-à-vis the criminal security coordination between the newly-founded PA security apparatus and the Israeli occupation army.

    Well, there are those who would argue rather candidly that if Fatah could tolerate the close “operational coordination” with Israel, it likewise would be willing to come to terms with the liquidation of the Palestinian cause in one way or the other, for the sake of political survival and especially for the hefty salaries at the end of the month.

    I hope this is not going to be the case.