Saturday 31 October 2009

Human rights center vows to sue Israeli leaders as war criminals everywhere


[ 31/10/2009 - 08:17 PM ]

Shabeh is a method of torture used routinely by the Israeli occupation

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Gaza-based Palestinian center for human rights has vowed Saturday that it would relentlessly work to prosecute Israeli leaders accused of committing war crimes against the Palestinian people even before international courts.

The center added, the Israeli penal code couldn’t bring justice to the Palestinian victims simply because it was blatantly biased in favor of the Israelis, stressing that justice must take its course and that Israeli war criminals must be punished.

The pledge of the center came after a Dutch court rejected a complaint filed by a Palestinian victim against former Israeli security officer Ami Ayalon for torturing him although the prosecution presented “strong” evidence against the accused.

“The decision of the court was shocking, it shocked the plaintiff, his lawyers, and all those who trusted the honesty and transparency of the Dutch judicial system”, the center stressed in a statement it issued in this regard, and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC.

“Despite this serious setback, the center and its legal partners would spare no effort in suing Israeli leaders suspected of committing war crimes and of torturing Palestinian citizens in Israeli detention centers… it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that the Israeli law is biased against the Palestinians, and that justice couldn’t be achieved through such law, and that is why we opted to go to international courts authorized to decide in such cases”, the center explained.

Moreover, the center revealed it was of the opinion that the court’s decision was politically motivated, and that the court was embarrassed by the presence of Ayalon in Holland, but underlined that lawyers of the victim Khalid Al-Shami were mulling their next legal steps.

“The rights of Mr. Shami must be respected and protected, and thus, all the defendants accused of torturing Palestinian captives must be held accountable”, the center highlighted.

According to the center, lawyers of Shami complained that the Dutch general-prosecutor failed to open an investigation over the case during the visit of Ayalon to Holland last May 2008, adding that the council of general prosecutors in Holland was discussing the legal status of Ayalon and whether he enjoys diplomatic immunity.

“It took the council 21 days to decide that Ayalon doesn’t possess any diplomatic immunity, but that decision was very late because the Israeli intelligence officer had already left Holland when that decision was announced”, the center revealed.

Shami accused Ayalon and the Israeli Shabak prosecutors of torturing him, exposing him to very low temperature, and of tying his hand and feet to a small chair for long times.
The center also quoted the victim saying that he was prosecuted by a military court without any legal representation, and that he was placed in solitary confinement after he was forced to sign on a blank paper.

“The torture sessions had indeed inflicted on Shami permanent disabilities” the center confirmed.

Jewish settlers attack Jerusalemite family with firearms, metal tools


[ 31/10/2009 - 10:16 AM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Five Palestinians of one family were wounded on Friday when a group of armed Jewish settlers attacked their homes in Beit Safafa, south of occupied Jerusalem, local sources reported.

Ismail Salah, one of the house owners, said that they were preparing to go to the Friday congregation when 12 Jewish settlers came aboard a vehicle and attacked them with their guns and metal tools.

He said that the settlers frequently assault them in a bid to scare them out of their homes, which they claim are theirs.

Ali Salah, 95, and anther 89-year-old woman were injured as a result of the beating along with a teen and two others including a 60-year-old man who was hit with a bullet in his right hand.

The homes are owned by Ali Salah along with his sons, Ismail, Mohammed, Mahmoud and Ahmed. They provide shelter for 55 persons 30 of whom are less than 12 years old.

The settlers claim that they purchased the five houses from their Armenian owners.

In Al-Khalil, a popular committee organized a sit-in on lands in Yatta village on Friday to protest the repeated Jewish settlers' attacks coming from the nearby Susia settlement.

A tent was pitched on the land for three days with the help of locals, peace activists and foreign supporters.

The CIA no longer trusts Jews—and for good reason


The chickens are coming home to roost. Or soon will be.

Case one: Earlier this month, "60 Minutes" featured the case of Adam Ciralsky, an observant Jew fired by the CIA.

During the segment, a CIA official said the agency believes the Israeli government has a program that recruits religious American Jews to spy on the United States.

Ciralsky himself said the agency subjected him to "ethnic profiling" and suspected him of spying for Israel.

You know what? Tough.

I bow to no one in my condemnation of anti-Semites. And if, in fact, anti-Semitism is at all in operation here, that must be stopped and those who engage in it, fired.

But I'm not so sure anti-Semitism is at play here, as quick as some Jews are to believe that.

What's really happening here, to my mind, is that the chickens have come home to roost.

Let's face it. If there is suspicion about Jews working at the CIA, it's understandable. Let's face it. If Jews, especially religious Jews, are feared to be working for Israel, we deserve it.

For we have done so much to make the suspicions seem justified.

No, I'm not talking about Jonathan Pollard. One lousy, rotten apple shouldn't spoil the barrel for the rest of us. What I am talking about is how the Jewish community has seen the Pollard case and reacted to the Pollard case.

In a word, the Jewish community's behavior has been nothing short of shameful.

Almost all Jews, and even more sickeningly, almost all Jewish organizations have taken up Pollard's cause. They have called for his release and have either stated or implied that anti-Semitism is keeping him in jail.

They say that even though President Clinton, Israel's best friend ever, has said that Pollard should not be released because he did so much damage to U.S. national security.

Don't like or trust Clinton? How about the fact that every single top administration official has said the same thing. How about the fact that every single top congressional official, including Republicans such as Newt Gingrich, has said the same thing. How about the fact that Les Aspin, Clinton's first defense secretary and one of Israel's best friends, has said the same thing.

Now, you either have to believe that every top American official -- Democrat and Republican, civilian and military, executive branch and legislative -- is an anti-Semite or you've got to recognize that Pollard did such overwhelming harm that all agree he must be punished by staying in prison the rest of his life.

Still, most American Jews call for his release and excuse, if not justify, his actions. Doing that most loudly and strongly are right-wing Jews, right-wing both politically and religiously.

And so, why shouldn't the CIA have reason to be suspicious. If we, as a community, had shown how much we abhor Pollard, we would have sent one kind of signal. Instead, we've sent a very different kind of signal.

After all, how many Jews have I heard say, "Well, he was doing it for Israel" -- as if that made it OK or at least not so bad, as if doing it for Israel is any kind of excuse or explanation or factor.

But to many Jews, it is. And that is why the chickens have come home to roost and why the CIA has reason to think twice about Jews who are religious or have ties to Israel.

Case two: I didn't think it could get this bad. I didn't think my friends on the right-wing could sink so low. But they have. And the chickens are going to come home to roost big time on this one.

As we all know, Israel and Syria are involved in negotiations that will probably involve Israel giving up the Golan Heights, a prospect many Jews are not very happy about.

It's their right to be upset. And it's their right to voice their views and to try to convince the Israeli government not to do it. They have that right as Jews and as lovers of Israel.

But there is a line, a line that American Jews have no right to cross. Ever. No matter what.

And that line is fighting the Israeli government via the American government.

That is out of bounds. That is so harmful to Israel in such fundamental ways that it is unbelievable any American Jew would do that.

But a bunch of right-wing American Jews did just that earlier this month. What they did was go to Capitol Hill to lobby legislators to oppose U.S. support for a peace deal between Israel and Syria.

Reading about that took my breath away. Here are Jews, who probably think of themselves as the ultimate lovers of Israel, going to American politicians to urge them to be against something the elected government of Israel deems is in Israel's best interest.

How dare they? It is one thing to express their views within the Jewish community, one thing to try and influence Israeli public opinion and policy. But for American Jews to go to Congress to tell it to oppose the Israeli government is an act almost treasonous in nature.

Yes, I know that's a harsh charge, but it is appropriate for those who try to get Congress involved in a Jewish family disagreement.

Think of the signal it gives, the message it sends. And think of what it may mean for Israel in the future.

The one thing that has been true and consistent during Israel's first 50 years is that Congress has known the American Jewish community is behind it all the way. Sure, they know we fight among ourselves, but they also know those fights stop at the borders of Washington.

Do the right-wingers really think changing that scenario is best for Israel.

I can already hear the chickens.

Chicago Jewish News.

Report: 4,524 Palestinians detained by Israel since the start of this year

Report: 4,524 Palestinians detained by Israel since the start of this year

[ 31/10/2009 - 10:59 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Researcher in prisoners’ affairs Abdelnasser Farwana reported Friday that he documented 4,524 Israeli arrests of Palestinian citizens since the start of 2009, 412 of them took place in October.

Farwana said that the West Bank and Jerusalem witnessed the kidnapping of 3,456 citizens, while 1,068 others were kidnapped in Gaza, mostly during the last war, noting that there were children, women, patients and elderly people among those who were kidnapped this year.

He also pointed out that the arrests declined in the Gaza Strip after the war, where 68 cases have been documented since the end of the war until end of October.

The researcher said that his current report is on the total number of arrests and not on the number of citizens who were arrested during this year.

In another context, the Palestinian center for human rights said in its weekly report that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) wounded during the last week 41 Palestinian citizens in the West Bank, including five journalists, eight women and one child.

The report also underlined that the IOF troops carried out 25 incursions in the West Bank and one in the Gaza Strip, during which they kidnapped 47 Palestinians.

The report touched on the Israeli violations committed against Palestinian fishermen in Gaza and farmers in the West Bank as well as the policy of demolishing homes in occupied Jerusalem.

Ministry of prisoners condemns physical assault on two Palestinian detainees

[ 31/10/2009 - 09:54 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian ministry of prisoners’ affairs on Friday strongly denounced the Israeli prisons authority (IPA) for deliberately humiliating and physically assaulting Palestinian prisoners during the last week, stressing that this is a consistent revenge policy pursued by the Israeli occupation especially against Gaza prisoners.

Information director of the ministry Riyadh Al-Ashqar said that the IPA deprives Palestinian prisoners of all rights stipulated in relevant laws and even deliberately humiliate and maltreat them while they are in chains.

Ashqar noted that the special military units in Israeli jails severely beat two Palestinian prisoners last week, one during his presence in solitary confinement and the other after he left a court hearing.

For its part, Al-Ahrar center for prisoners’ studies told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that it obtained a number of pictures illustrating Israeli troops of Nahshon unit physically and verbally assaulting and beating prisoner Mohamed Abu Jamous after leaving a court hearing held recently.

The center pointed out that the assault happened when Abu Jamous left the Israeli high court in occupied Jerusalem on the 30th of September while his hands and feet were shackled in chain, adding that the soldiers of Nahshon units forced him to strip for search and then started to kick and beat him all over his body.

It added that the soldiers threatened the prisoners with death if he filed a complaint about what happened to him.

UNGA to discuss Goldstone report on Wednesday

UNGA to discuss Goldstone report on Wednesday

[ 31/10/2009 - 09:42 AM ]

NEW YORK, (PIC)-- The UN General Assembly is to hold a session on Wednesday 4/11 to discuss the Goldstone report that was tabled by a UN fact finding mission on Israel's war crimes during its war on Gaza.

General Assembly spokesman Jean-Victor Nkolo said on Friday that the Libyan ambassador to the UN and the current UNGA chairman Ali Al-Tureiki decided to hold the session on Wednesday after receiving requests from the Arab and the Non-Aligned groups at the UN.

The UN human rights council had endorsed the report prepared by the committee led by the South African Justice Richard Goldstone and asked the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to table a report on implementation of the Goldstone recommendations by March next year.

Ban Ki-moon, for his part, had criticized Israel in a press conference last Wednesday for obstructing the reconstruction of Gaza Strip.

"I urge Israel to accept the UN reconstruction proposals as set forth, recognizing that the only true guarantee of peace is people’s well-being and security", he added.

Another setback for the US Empire?


It appears that President Zelaya has won something of a victory in his struggle to return to the Presidency of his country: the putchistas have agreed to let him return to power to complete his mandate. President Zelaya reportedly expressed "satisfaction and optimism". Does that mean that all is well in Honduras now? Absolutely not.

While I don't have any details about this, I am confident that the deal between Zelaya and the putchistas included a blanket immunity from prosecution for all those involved in the coup - from Micheletti himself down to the thugs in uniform who assaulted demonstrators. At this phase, such a concession on Zelaya's side was probably inevitable, but it also shows that nothing has been solved. Furthermore, AP describes the deal as a "power sharing agreement" - which probably means that all the key positions (military, police, etc) will remain in the hands of the coup leaders.

There will now be an election and we can be sure that the US-backed putchistas will do everything in their power, whether legal or illegal, to get rid of Zelaya.

Still, this agreement is, I believe, a rather substantial setback for the US Empire. If anything, the standoff between the coup regime and the entire Latin American continent - with the notable exception of the US-backed regime in Colombia - has shown that the entire continent can close ranks an oppose Fascist takeovers.

The standoff around the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa has also served to further alienate "moderate" countries such as Brazil, of course, but also Argentina and Chile. As for the core countries of the resistance against the US Empire (Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador), they appear fully vindicated in their stance against the coup regime and the opening of new US military bases in Colombia.

Whatever the outcome in Honduras, the US Empire is clearly loosing the battle for South America. The coup in Honduras is a mess, if only because of the length of the standoff and the rhetorical zig-zags of Hillary Clinton on who is to blame for the situation. The only thing the Obama Administration has "achieved" since it came to power is to further alienate Latin Americans and Uncle Sam's last and only ally on the continent - Colombia - will find itself even more isolated than before.

As for Zelaya, one would hope that he will not be deceived by his tactical victory: his situation is still dire. The USA as a long history of subverting far more stable government than the one which will temporarily stay in power this Fall. There is no way Zelaya can tackle this threat on his own and his best, if not only, chance is now to get substantial political and security assistance from abroad. This will be very hard to do right under the collective noses of the CIA & Co., but it is nonetheless essential.

But most importantly, Zelaya now needs to appeal to the people of Honduras and tell them that each and every one of them must do everything he or she can to preserve democracy in Honduras. The example of the 2002 coup in Venezuela must always be heeded: only the massive rejection of Carmona and his thugs by the people of Venezuela prevented a Fascist military regime from maintaining its grip on power.

US imperialism in Latin America has always relied only wealthy landowners, international corporations, death squads, assassins and terrorists. The resistance to Uncle Sam must therefore rely on the one powerful force it has on its side: the people. If Zelaya is not deceived by all sorts of promises and threats which will now come his way and if he succeeds in playing the "peoples card" correctly - he will probably prevail. But time is running out and he must take action very rapidly.

The Saker

Posted by VINEYARDSAKER: at 6:07 AM


October 31, 2009 at 9:29 am

shir l shalom...bloody The 4th of November 1995 is known as ‘The Day The Music Died’ in Israel. It was on that day that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered in cold blood just minutes after singing the praises of peace, a photo of the blood stained sheet music which was taken from his pocket can be seen at left….

The words to the song can be seen HERE

It was not only Yitzhak Rabin that was murdered that day, it was the Oslo Agreements as well. Since that time the right wing has usurped power in Israel making the concept of a real peace nothing more than a distant dream, but one that we hold onto and work towards nevertheless.

A new technology enables viewers to get a clear view of what transpired on Nov. 4th, 1995: The three bullets that changed history, the video from that evening can be viewed HERE….

A Ynet report can be read below…
Special: Video of Rabin’s murder as never seen before
(Video)Twelve years after, new technology enables viewers to get a clear view of what transpired on Nov. 4th, 1995: The three bullets that changed history
“On November 4th, 1995, the prime minister was murdered.” This was the headline we awoke to, as if to a nightmare. The three bullets fired at the prime minister during the peace rally changed the face of Israel forever. Each of us harbors that moment within us, the moment we heard of the murder at the square.
Twelve years on, the enhanced video now clearly shows the moments of the murder.
It was 9:40 pm, and the security personnel accompanied the participants of the peace rally down the back stairs of the municipality building on the way to the prime minister’s car. At first, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres descended the staircase waving to the crowd with a smile. The prime minister descended next, with an assured step.
Suddenly out of the darkness the image appeared. The door of the prime minister’s car had already been opened. Rabin approached the back seat; the first shot was sounded, then another and another.
Yitzhak Rabin’s last steps were captured by the lens of Ronny Kempler’s camera. Now, thanks to new technology, for the first time viewers can see exactly what happened at the square on that night: The unbearable ease in which the prime minister was murdered from point-blank range.
(Ben Heine © Cartoons)

Remembering my friend Yitzhak Rabin
Written by Bill Clinton
Throughout history, human beings have found meaning in our lives through positive identification with what we know: our family, our tribe, our community, our nation, our culture, our politics, our religion – and by negative reference to “others.”
In the 21st century, as our world grows increasingly interdependent, and local challenges and opportunities relate increasingly to the groups we once knew as “them,” the walls that divide us are getting thinner, less important, and ever more transparent. We are compelled to expand the definition of who is “us,” and shrink the definition of who is “them” understand that, as important as our differences are, our common humanity matters more. The inability to embrace this fundamental value lies at the heart of peace and conflict throughout the world today, and of course in the Middle East.
Yitzhak Rabin understood this. My friend knew that the Middle East is highly interdependent, that there could be no final military victory: it would come only through peace and reconciliation based on our shared humanity. He worked tirelessly to forge a just, secure, and lasting peace with the Palestinians, and his ultimate sacrifice proved it.
While the events of the last several years have delayed the dream for which Yitzhak Rabin sacrificed his life, they in no way undermine the logic of his vision, the power of his faith, or the beauty of his gifts to us. Since his life was taken, we have seen the resolution of seemingly intractable conflicts in other regions of the world. In each instance, the parties decided that their interdependence compelled them to lay down their arms and embrace a concept of security through dialogue and cooperation, based on respect for our interesting differences, and the possibility of cooperation rooted in shared values, shared benefits, and shared responsibilities.
No one was more committed to the security of Israel than Yitzhak Rabin. No one understood better that maintaining that security requires a resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians, and a commitment to share a peaceful future with them.
In this spirit, the words of the late King Hussein at Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral resound as powerfully today as they did several years ago:
“Let us not keep silent. Let our voices raise high to speak of our commitment to peace for all times to come. And let us tell those who live in darkness, who are the enemies of life and true faith, this is where we stand. This is our camp.”
We must remember and honor both Yitzhak Rabin and his mission. The future must belong not to those who live in darkness, but to those who stand with Yitzhak Rabin for life and peace.

Both of the above posts are from the archives

Israel Envoy to UN: Human Rights Council Betrayed its Own Values

Israel Envoy to UN: Human Rights Council Betrayed its Own Values
Readers Number : 23

31/10/2009 Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Professor Gabriela Shalev said on Friday at the organization's weekly assembly that the UN Human Rights Council had betrayed the very values and principles it was established to protect.

Shalev spoke after the assembly was issued the Rights Councils' annual activity report, which includes the Goldstone report findings that accuse Israel of war crimes during the Gaza offensive in December 2008.

Friday's discussion preceded the upcoming deliberation on Wednesday at the UN assembly regarding the report's conclusions. Shalev accused the council of constant and exclusive discrimination against Israel and said that more than half of the council's meetings have dealt with condemning Israel for one reason or another.

Shalev also said that the council “has approved more resolutions critical of Israel than resolutions criticizing any other UN member country.”

In regard to the report compiled by the South African former Judge Richard Goldstone, Shalev said that it is a reminder that the UN rights council is dominated and used by countries obsessed with demonizing Israel and its democratic nature.

The ambassador concluded by saying that “the basic human rights of thousands of innocent people are violated throughout the world on a daily basis, but the council has and remains silent to their plight.”

Last week Palestinian diplomats in Geneva pushed to bring forward the UN Human Rights Council debate on the war crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces as stated in the Goldstone report.

Ibrahim Khraishi, the Palestinian Authority's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said the request for an urgent meeting was prompted by violence in occupied Jerusalem that he blamed on Israel and which he also wants discussed.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority agreed to delay debating the UN report on the conflict until March. The decision led to street protests by Palestinians and condemnation around the Arab world. "We deferred, so we were expecting that the Israelis should respect in some way human rights, but this act of aggression against people, against the human rights and humanitarian law, is unbelievable," Khraishi said.

End Water Siege

Water Water Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink

October 27, 2009 - Amnesty International is not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

Amnesty International has accused Israel of denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over the shared water resources and pursuing discriminatory policies.

These unreasonably restrict the availability of water in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and prevent the Palestinians developing an effective water infrastructure there.

“Israel allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the occupied West Bank, while the unlawful Israeli settlements there receive virtually unlimited supplies. In Gaza the Israeli blockade has made an already dire situation worse,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s researcher on Israel and the OPT.

In a new extensive report, Amnesty International revealed the extent to which Israel’s discriminatory water policies and practices are denying Palestinians their right to access to water.

Israel uses more than 80 per cent of the water from the Mountain Aquifer, the main source of underground water in Israel and the OPT, while restricting Palestinian access to a mere 20 per cent.

The Mountain Aquifer is the only source for water for Palestinians in the West Bank, but only one of several for Israel, which also takes for itself all the water available from the Jordan River.

While Palestinian daily water consumption barely reaches 70 litres a day per person, Israeli daily consumption is more than 300 litres per day, four times as much.

In some rural communities Palestinians survive on barely 20 litres per day, the minimum amount recommended for domestic use in emergency situations.

Some 180,000-200,000 Palestinians living in rural communities have no access to running water and the Israeli army often prevents them from even collecting rainwater.

In contrast, Israeli settlers, who live in the West Bank in violation of international law, have intensive-irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools.

Numbering about 450,000, the settlers use as much or more water than the Palestinian population of some 2.3 million.

In the Gaza Strip, 90 to 95 per cent of the water from its only water resource, the Coastal Aquifer, is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Yet, Israel does not allow the transfer of water from the Mountain Aquifer in the West Bank to Gaza.

Stringent restrictions imposed in recent years by Israel on the entry into Gaza of material and equipment necessary for the development and repair of infrastructure have caused further deterioration of the water and sanitation situation in Gaza, which has reached crisis point.

To cope with water shortages and lack of network supplies many Palestinians have to purchase water, of often dubious quality, from mobile water tankers at a much higher price.

Others resort to water-saving measures which are detrimental to their and their families’ health and which hinder socio-economic development.

“Over more than 40 years of occupation, restrictions imposed by Israel on the Palestinians’ access to water have prevented the development of water infrastructure and facilities in the OPT, consequently denying hundreds of thousand of Palestinians the right to live a normal life, to have adequate food, housing, or health, and to economic development,” said Donatella Rovera.
Israel has appropriated large areas of the water-rich Palestinian land it occupies and barred Palestinians from accessing them.

It has also imposed a complex system of permits which the Palestinians must obtain from the Israeli army and other authorities in order to carry out water-related projects in the OPT. Applications for such permits are often rejected or subject to long delays.

Restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of people and goods in the OPT further compound the difficulties Palestinians face when trying to carry out water and sanitation projects, or even just to distribute small quantities of water.

Water tankers are forced to take long detours to avoid Israeli military checkpoints and roads which are out of bounds to Palestinians, resulting in steep increases in the price of water.

In rural areas, Palestinian villagers are continuously struggling to find enough water for their basic needs, as the Israeli army often destroys their rainwater harvesting cisterns and confiscates their water tankers.

In comparison, irrigation sprinklers water the fields in the midday sun in nearby Israeli settlements, where much water is wasted as it evaporates before even reaching the ground.

In some Palestinian villages, because their access to water has been so severely restricted, farmers are unable to cultivate the land, or even to grow small amounts of food for their personal consumption or for animal fodder, and have thus been forced to reduce the size of their herds.

“Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford,” said Donatella Rovera.

“Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians’ access to water, and take responsibility for addressing the problems it created by allowing Palestinians a fair share of the shared water resources.”

Agha: AI report ascertains IOA robbery of Palestinian water resources

[ 31/10/2009 - 08:35 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Mohammed Al-Agha, the minister of agriculture in the Gaza Strip, has said that the Amnesty International's report on the Israeli occupation authority's (IOA) exploitation of Palestinian water resources is an important document that should be used in suing the IOA.

Agha, in a terse statement on Friday, said that the AI document should be utilized by the Palestinians to demand compensation and file lawsuits at international courts over the IOA robbery of their water.

He pointed out that the Gaza Strip is in need of 200 million cups of water annually, adding that water is being transferred from the West Bank to Gaza to overcome the shortage there.

The London-based AI said in a report that the IOA was curbing the Palestinians' use of their own water resources while allowing its settlers to tap whatever quantities of water they wish from those resources.

The report published last Tuesday said that the Israeli individual's water consumption is four times more than that of the Palestinian individual.



October 31, 2009 at 8:45 am (Associate Post, Ethnic Cleansing, Israel, Occupation, Palestine, Religion, zionist harassment)

Despite Israeli denials, Muslim officials on the ground confirm Jewish extremists are escalating plans to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque, writes Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem

Government-backed Jewish religious extremists have stepped up their efforts to seize a foothold at Al-Aqsa Mosque esplanade in East Jerusalem, ostensibly in order to erect there a Jewish temple.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the three holiest Islamic sanctuaries. The other two are the Sacred Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet Mohamed’s Mosque in Medina in Saudi Arabia.

On Sunday, 25 October crack Israeli soldiers stormed the Al-Aqsa site, firing rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters at Muslim worshipers. The troops also savagely beat Palestinian worshipers, including women and children. The paramilitary police, known as the Border Guard, also briefly shut off the Noble Sanctuary (the 141,000-square metre court housing Islamic holy places), barring Muslims from accessing the site.

More than 20 were injured, some badly, and dozens of others arrested. The Israeli occupation authorities also cut off electricity to the Old City of Jerusalem, including Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The new violation of the holy site by Israeli forces followed a call by Muslim leaders in Jerusalem alerting inhabitants to go to the mosque and maintain a presence there to repulse a fresh attempt by Jewish extremists to storm the Noble Sanctuary and seize a foothold to practise Jewish rituals. Jewish extremists, along with some government officials, hope that persistent provocations at the exclusively Islamic holy site will allow them to worship at the site and eventually build a Jewish temple.

Many Jews believe that the ancient Temple of Solomon stood where Al-Aqsa Mosque was built more than 1,300 years ago. Destroying Al-Aqsa Mosque and building a Jewish temple in its place is said by some extremists to be a condition for the second coming of Christ.

In recent days and weeks, Talmudic extremists placed a huge menorah — a Jewish religious symbol — opposite the Dome of the Rock Mosque. Other extremists erected at the same place a model of the so-called Temple of Solomon. Israeli occupation authorities made no effort to stop the manifestly provocative acts.

Meanwhile, the religious Zionist camp in Israel, which spearheads anti-Islam provocations at Al-Aqsa esplanade, held a meeting in West Jerusalem during which Jews were urged to descend to the Islamic holy place and wrest it from the hands of the “goyem” (a derogatory epithet for non-Jews). The meeting was attended by several prominent rabbis affiliated with the settler movement, as well as several Knesset members and other extremist leaders.

Following the meeting, a statement issued called on Jews to maintain a presence at the “Temple Mount” to prevent Arabs from turning the site into “a theatre of violence”. Participants urged Jews interested in “changing the status quo at the Temple Mount” to “work more and speak less” and to carry out their task “quietly and through subterfuge”.

Earlier, the Israeli media reported that Israel was planning a “major archaeological excavation under Al-Buraq Court”, renamed “the Western Wall plaza”. Historically, the place had always been part of Al-Aqsa Mosque until the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem in 1967. The excavation, Muslim leaders argue, could seriously destabilise the foundations of Al-Aqsa Mosque and other nearby historic Muslim structures. Israeli officials pay little or no attention to Muslim protests and often invoke the mantra that Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal and undivided capital.

Adnan Al-Husseini is the head of the Supreme Muslim Council, the body overseeing and running the Haram Al-Sharif compound. He accuses Israel of “planning to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque by way of digging subterranean tunnels in its vicinity.”

“When they speak to the media or meet with some Muslim officials from Turkey or Egypt and Jordan, they assure them that everything is fine and that the Islamic holy site faces no danger. However, we who live here and see things with our eyes on a daily basis are sure 100 per cent that Israel’s ultimate goal is the demolition of the mosque and the building of a Jewish temple.” Al-Husseini added: “Are we to believe Israeli lies and mendacious denials or our own eyes?”

Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, another prominent Muslim official at Jerusalem’s Noble Sanctuary, described the situation as “very, very dangerous”. “The Israeli authorities are trying to desensitise Muslim public opinion in the hope that Muslims at a certain point would accept a partitioning of this Islamic holy place. But, of course, this will never ever happen.”

“They want to take over Al-Aqsa Mosque step by step as they did with the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron following the massacre of 1994.” There Israeli occupation authorities partitioned the mosque, one of the most ancient in occupied Palestine, between Jews and Muslims, giving Jews the lion’s share of the ancient structure where the patriarch Ibrahim (Abraham) is believed to be buried. (In Islam, Ibrahim, Isaac, Jacob and other Israelite prophets are also considered Muslim prophets).

Muslims never accepted the partitioning, stressing that the mosque was an Islamic site of worship for more than 1,300 years.

On Al-Aqsa, demonstrations have taken place in several Muslim countries, calling on Muslim governments to take proactive steps against Israel, including severing diplomatic ties. However, it is highly doubtful that token protests by Muslims will deter Israel and stop extremist Jewish groups from pursuing their designs against the main symbol of Islam in occupied Palestine and the Levant region.

Indeed, it is quite likely that this crisis, which is a ticking bomb, will reach a critical point. One foreign observer in Ramallah remarked that “the peace process is nearly dead even without this powder keg surrounding Al-Aqsa Mosque. All I can say is that I foresee a lot of trouble and violence ahead.”

Israeli Spy in US Wanted $2 Million for His Secrets


The celebrated American scientist charged with spying for Israel had asked for $2 million for his secrets, federal prosecutors has revealed.

The US Federal The celebrated American scientist charged with spying Bureau of Investigation arrested Stewart D. Nozette on Oct. 19 as he attempted to deliver state secrets to an undercover FBI agent, disguised as an Israeli intelligence operative.

According to the FBI, during the recent weeks and before his arrest, Nozette collected $11,000, through a Washington DC post office box, for sharing sensitive information with the FBI agent.

During his last meeting with the undercover agent, which took place at a Washington hotel after the post office box exchanges, Nozette told the agent that he had “crossed the Rubicon,” in terms of sharing sensitive data, and that he wanted $2 million for the secrets, prosecutors wrote, according to a Washington post article on Thursday.

Nozette had held a number of positions throughout the US Federal Government, including its defense and space centers, which gave him a number of security clearances and thus access to very sensitive information.

Nozette had worked as a consultant for an aerospace company owned by the Israeli government, law enforcement officials said, and was working on a lunar mission run by India’s space agency.

Nozette told a colleague last year that he would flee to India or Israel if the US government “tried to put him in jail,” according to law enforcement officials and court records. He told his colleagues he would share “everything” he knew with those governments, an FBI agent wrote in court papers.

US prosecutors said that Nozette “posed a grave risk to the national security” and was a flight risk. He is currently being held without bond.

He has a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday in a Washington federal court.

The charges against the US astronomer can bring him a death sentence, although prosecutors do not seem inclined to seek such a punishment.

In a news release, the US Justice Department said that Nozette faces a sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.

(Press TV)

October 30, 2009 - Posted by Elias

THE NATIONAL: Village a symbol of resistance

October 31, 2009


The National - 31 October 2009

TEL AVIV // Every Friday, as midday prayers draw to a close, a few dozen people meet outside the small mosque in Bilin and march though the West Bank village, calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.

By the time they have entered a thin, dusty grove of olive trees, adjacent to the barrier that separates Israel from the West Bank, and often farmers from their land, the crowd has usually grown to at least 100, mostly Palestinians but also foreigners and Israelis.

On the other side of a barbed wire fence, Israeli soldiers in riot gear wait. They blast a siren, then warn the demonstrators that they have illegally entered “a closed military zone”.

Seconds later, the soldiers fire tear gas into the crowd. Sometimes, they shoot rubber-coated bullets.

The non-violent demonstrations in Bilin, which began in 2005, have made the village a popular symbol of the grassroots struggle against the separation barrier and the illegal annexation of Palestinian land.

Although the High Court two years ago ruled the barrier illegal and rejected the government’s claim that it was for security purposes, there has been little move to dismantle it.

In fact, the military has taken a harder line against the protesters, detaining known Palestinian activists in the village of about 1,600 and arresting Israelis. In recent months, soldiers have been conducting raids in Bilin searching for leaders of the protests.

Supporting the Palestinian cause is not simple for Israelis – it can come at a steep price.

B, 20, an Israeli boy who requested his name not be used, takes part in the Bilin demonstrations every week. None of his friends or family knows he does, and for good reason: two years ago when he defected from the army, just weeks into his mandatory service, his parents threw him out of the house.

Members of his family are mizrahi, quite literally eastern, Jews of Arab origin. Like most mizrahi, they are conservative and right wing, supporting hard-line political parties such as Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

B does not consider his actions unpatriotic. By demonstrating in Bilin, he said, he was guarding Israeli democracy.

He cites an example of a recent demonstration, when a soldier tore down a Palestinian flag a protester had placed on the separation barrier.

“Taking the flag down doesn’t protect anyone. The Palestinians have a right to display their view … I was told in school this is a democratic country.”

So B put on a gas mask and draped another Palestinian flag on the barbed wire.

“The protest is also about justice and being moral.”

Arthur Nelsen, a Middle East analyst and author, comments that neither B’s attitude nor age is surprising. “There does seem to be a new generation of youngsters making themselves heard.”

And, according to Mr Nelsen, Israeli democracy does indeed seem to be under fire. He cites attacks on Breaking the Silence, an Israeli NGO opposed to the occupation, raids against the left-wing organisation New Profile and attempts to ban the Nakba commemoration as clearly aimed at repressing dissent. “The current authoritarian government in Tel Aviv has had a chilling effect on free expression.”

Still, Israelis continue to speak out.

Suzanne Moses, 80, is another peace activist. Now retired from her career as a flight attendant, she divides her time between a home in Switzerland, which she shares with her husband, and Tel Aviv.

“I don’t have some huge ideology,” Mrs Moses said, pointing out that, like the majority of Israelis, she supports a two-state solution. “I don’t wake up in the morning thinking ‘I’ll fight the occupation!’ I just think that we should act morally.”

As a Holocaust survivor, Mrs Moses experienced inequality firsthand. Born in southern Germany, she was sent to Gurs, a concentration camp in France, at the age of 11. After the end of the Second World War, she was stateless until she immigrated to Israel from Switzerland at 29.

But the Holocaust does not excuse the occupation or settlements, Mrs Moses said.

Settlements have become a political flashpoint in recent months as a new US government tries to push Israel to stop building new outposts in Palestinian land in hopes of revitalising peace talks.

Mr Netanyahu, however, has refused. Earlier this week, the defence forces confirmed building in at least 11 settlements in occupied land was taking place.

And when Mrs Moses and others join Palestinians in the olive groves, there is often the risk that they will face violent settlers, intent on destroying the annual harvest.

In one such olive grove on the edge of Jamma’in, a small village nestled in the hills of Nablus, Israelis and Palestinians pluck fruit from the trees, side by side. Idyllic at first glance, the scene is fraught with tension – just days before, gun-toting settlers from Kfar Tapuach harassed Palestinian families. Sometimes the settlers throw stones and human excrement; occasionally, settlers set fires to the groves.

Without the aid of Israeli volunteers, Palestinian farmers are often too frightened to gather their crop, even if they depend on it for their livelihood.

That is why Nurit Tohai, 62, joins.

“Everyday, something happens to the Palestinians because of the settlements,” Mrs Tohai said. “As an Israeli, I feel like I need to do something.

“If you don’t go,” she said, “they don’t eat.”

For Keren Manor, 32, there is a need to better her society.

“As an Israeli, I have a responsibility to fight the things being done in my name,” she said.

Ms Manor, once an officer in the army, now attends demonstrations on a regular basis.

She has been arrested and fined “many times”. In January, during Operation Cast Lead, she was held in jail for three days before being released. And at one non-violent protest in the West Bank village of Nilin, an Israeli soldier shot a rubber-coated bullet into her leg. Surgery was required to remove the bullet lodged in her thigh.

When she first started participating in the protests, Ms Manor’s parents, whom she described as “mizrahi… mainstream and militaristic”, thought it was dangerous for her to be around Arabs. “Now they worry about me going to places where the army and the settlers are.”

Her parents’ political attitudes have also changed, and Ms Manor credits her activism. In the last election, she said, her father voted for Meretz, a left-wing party that is opposed to both settlements and the occupation. It is a testament, Ms Manor said, to the power of grassroots movements.

Such shifts in the mizrahi community, which hovers around 50 per cent of the population, are particularly threatening to the Israeli government, Mr Nelsen said.

“The establishment has also tended to punish [mizrahi] more severely, as an example to others in their community. Many believe that Tali Fahima, a Moroccan Jew who befriended a leader of the Jenin Al aqsa Martyrs Brigades, had to be vilified with a lengthy prison sentence so as to deter others in her community from following her lead.”

But Ashkenazis, Israelis of European descent, also find themselves the targets of censorship or punishment as Ben Ronen, 26, a peace activist, reports.

During Operation Cast Lead, Mr Ronen attended a non-violent demonstration at the Sde Dov air force base near Tel Aviv. On January 11, Mr Ronen, along with 18 other protesters, was arrested.

That was only the beginning of his trouble.

When he got out jail three days later, he returned to his apartment in Tel Aviv only to find that it had been torn apart by police. They had taken posters that called for boycotting Israel, and T-shirts that included slogans against the separation wall.

The items police took, Mr Ronen says, were “nothing too radical”.

A few nights later, however, Mr Ronen was stopped on a busy Tel Aviv street. “I was standing at an intersection,” he recalls, “and all of a sudden there was a hand on my shoulder.” Two detectives joined the first and they informed Mr Ronen he was under investigation for the posters and T-shirts they had obtained from his home. They took him to the police station. After two hours, they released him.

The harassment, which Mr Ronen calls “KGB style”, continues still today. The detectives call him by name, he says, stop him in the street day and night, and search his belongings. “You have to deal with it if you live in this country.”

Two protesters wounded, tens suffer breathing difficulty in Bilin

Sussex Students Boycott Israeli Goods

Contibuted by Josh Jones ( Thank You)

We have the result!

October 30th, 2009 From Blog tags: , , ,

Following a landmark referendum, students at Sussex University have voted to boycott Israeli goods. The decision will become part of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which calls upon Israel to respect international law and end the occupation of Palestine.

Students of Sussex Palestine Society

Students of Sussex Palestine Society and Stop The War Coalition. Photo © Josh Jones 2009

The referendum result mandates the Students’ Union to remove all Israeli produce from its stores, and review its sources for food outlets. This makes Sussex Students’ Union the first in the UK to implement a full boycott of Israeli goods. The vote was one of the largest and closest contested in the Union’s history, with 562 votes for and 450 against the boycott.

The referendum received messages of support and thanks from Jewish and Israeli academics and non-governmental organisations that oppose Israel’s policy of occupation in Palestine. Author and scholar Norman G. Finkelstein described the referendum result as ‘a victory, not for Palestinians but for truth and justice’.

He continued by saying, ‘Let us hope the boycott transmits the message to Israel that it should end the occupation, so that Palestinians can lead a decent life and amicable relations can be restored between Israelis and other peoples.‘

UK charity War On Want and the Israeli civil rights group Stop The Wall also sent messages of support.

Debates over the boycott were often tense, with the Friends of Palestine Society leading the ‘Yes’ campaign, and the ‘No’ campaign running under the slogan ‘Build Bridges Not Boycotts’. Martha Baker, a member of Palestine Society and speaker at one of the events, said that the biggest challenge for the pro-Boycott team was not, however, the pro-Israeli campaigners.

‘Our biggest challenge was ignorance: most students are not aware of the situation facing Palestinians living under occupation. The more we spoke to people, the more they understood the reasons for boycotting Israel.’

Pro-Boycott students made extensive use of social networking sites to raise awareness about the campaign. Messages of support from NGOs and academics were shared almost instantly across Facebook, and pro-Boycott talks were recorded and published on the Palestine Society’s YouTube channel.

Senior Palestine Society member Bushra Khalidi says that the society will now focus its efforts on gaining scholarships for Palestinian students, and lobbying the Union to sell Palestinian West Bank produce.

GREENWOOD: Fight for survival in the West Bank

October 31, 2009

The Jaber family says clashes with the Israeli authorities are a regular occurrence

By Phoebe Greenwood - Aljazeera - 31 October 2009

A major new road joining Jerusalem to Israeli settlements in Hebron bisects land owned by the Jaber family.

They have farmed these fields for 300 years. They once owned 60 dunums (60,000 square metres) but now have four (4,000 square metres) – the rest has been confiscated by Israeli settlers. The Jabers fight to farm on the land they have left.

As his family clashes with workers from Israel’s water authority, employed to rip up the irrigation systems for their tomato plants, and the Israeli soldiers protecting them, Yosri Jaber, a school teacher, explains: “These clashes with the Israeli authorities are a regular thing; they happen every two to three months or so.

“The Israelis don’t allow us to water our plants. We pay them four shekels ($1) for every cubic metre of water.

“We have a water regulator, which we share with the eight other houses to irrigate our plants and get water to our homes. We’ve paid for it but we can’t use it.”

Palestinians in many areas of the West Bank are not allowed to irrigate their land. Nor are they allowed electricity, to build water cisterns, or indeed, any new structures without a permit from the Israeli authorities.

Crops destroyed

These permits are difficult to come by. According to the Jabers, the Jewish settlers living on what was once their land get water for free; they don’t need a permit to irrigate their crops.

Yosri says: ’the Israelis don’t allow us
to water our plants’

During the clash on the tomato field, Jaber’s 47-year-old sister-in-law, an asthmatic, is pushed roughly to the ground by one of the men she was trying to prevent from tearing up her field.

Her eight year-old daughter Lara is in tears as she watches her being stretchered away by paramedics through a still volatile crowd, many of whom are pushing, shouting and throwing mud.

The Israeli labourers not involved in the altercation continue their work, ripping up water pipes and destroying them immediately.

Jaber says: “We have 25 kids living in our household; they witness this violence every day. This is the tragedy we suffer.”

Water supplies

Hebron, on the south eastern slopes of Palestine, near the border with Jordan, holds one of the largest underground water supplies in the West Bank.

According to new research published by Save the Children this week, Palestinian families living in high risk areas such as this are poorer, less protected and more vulnerable than anywhere else in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The numbers of Palestinians forced from their homes by Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza is on the rise, says the UK charity.

At least half of those living in what the United Nations identifies as “high risk” areas who spoke to the organisation said they have been forced from their homes at least once since 2000, the last major period of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

In the West Bank, most demolished homes are cleared to make way for the Separation Wall that Israel is building to divide Israeli and Palestinian land.

Or the properties are destroyed for “administrative reasons”, such as not holding the correct Israeli permits.

Aside from these demolitions, lack of access to basics like water, sanitation and food is forcing vulnerable families from their homes in ever great numbers.

Accusations denied

Mark Regev, spokesperson for Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, denies any further Palestinian homes are under threat from settlement expansion.

The Jaber’s irrigation system was removed under the watch of Israeli troops

He says: “Israel is not building new settlements in the West Bank nor is it expanding existing settlements. There is no more expropriation of land for settlements and we have got rid of all illegal settlement buildings.

“We are aware of pirate activity by settlers in the West Bank and Israel is tackling illegal settlement activity by taking down any illegal settlement constructions.

“Those who break the law will face the full wrath of the law. There are dozens of cases of settlers in the courts currently who are being held to account for their illegal activity.”

Regev could not explain why the Jaber’s irrigation system was being removed under the watch of Israeli troops.

Atta Jaber, Lara’s father, speaks about the difficulties his family face with barely contained fury.

He says: “The Israelis have demolished my home twice. We want peace but they need to stop building settlements on our land and stealing our property.

“I studied hotel management and speak five languages. I worked in a hotel in Israel for eight years but was stopped from working in Israel by the authorities. Now all I have to live off is our land, which I cultivate with my children.

“We aren’t able to reach the market because of the Israeli restrictions on our movement so we sell our tomatoes right here by the side of the road. We have waited all year to harvest these tomatoes. This is how we support ourselves.”

‘Children traumatised’

Under international law, it is illegal for an occupying power to change the demographic situation of the territory they have occupied and yet Israeli settlers continue to arrive in the West Bank.

Their settlements have contributed to the displacement of tens of thousands of Palestinian families.

Salam Kanaan, Save the Children’s country director in the occupied Palestinian territory, says: “Without a secure future, the lives of Palestinian children living in high risk areas like Hebron are blighted.

“Constant fear of upheaval, combined with a daily struggle for basics like food and water has left children depressed and traumatised. These children are in urgent need of help and protection.”

Atta Jaber claims his family suffer daily harassment from the nearby settlers, he says: “They threaten my children all the time. They ride up on their horses every night and circle our home, threatening us.”

The Jaber family insist they have reported this abuse to the Israeli police but see no change in the settlers’ behaviour.

They have filed a legal case against the confiscation of their land, which has now reached the High Court, but have little hope it will be successful.

The High Court Judge in charge of their case, they claim, is a settler.

“What kind of life is this? No nation, no people can live like this. They want us to leave our land but whatever they do, we will never leave.

“Today’s events will repeat themselves, as they do every day in the West Bank. We just have to survive, one way or another.”

Phoebe Greenwood works for Save the Children UK, a global children’s charity.

We Need More Erdogans


By Aijaz Zaka Syed - Dubai

Turkey’s Ottoman Empire died an unwept death nearly a century ago. But the country continues to enjoy a unique eminence of leadership across the Middle East and in much of the Muslim world. And Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly justified this love and respect for his country with his political courage and candor.

From the lashing Erdogan gave to Israel’s Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos following the Gaza offensive earlier this year to his call this week demanding UN action on Justice Richard Goldstone’s report, Turkey continues to show rare leadership. Erdogan’s nation stands up for justice and fair play, rather than go along with the shameful double standards that the rest of the world seems to take in its stride.

This is remarkable for a country that enjoys close, strategic relations with the United States, is a NATO member and hopes to be the first Muslim country to join the European Union.

More important, it has full diplomatic relations with Israel and is perhaps the only Muslim country with which Israel has close economic and military ties. (So you can’t really throw the regulation accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ against Ankara.)

This is largely because of Turkey’s historical relations with the Jewish community. The Ottoman caliphs sheltered and protected the Jews for centuries while they were being hunted and killed all across Christian Europe.

However, these close ties haven’t deterred Turkey’s present leadership from confronting Israel on its persecution of Palestinians.

Turkey, Erdogan told a huge public rally last week, had never been on the side of oppressors and it had always defended the oppressed: “We are not against any country, but we are against injustice.”

He stopped short of pointing out that yesterday’s oppressed had become today’s oppressors.

Meanwhile in an interesting interview with Britain’s Guardian this week, Erdogan turned the spotlight on another piece of international theatre involving Israel. Commenting on Iran’s nuclear conflict with the US and Europe, the Turkish Prime Minister has slammed the West for being unfair to Iran and applying double standards on the issue.

Dismissing the Western hysteria over Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons as ‘gossip,’ the Turkish leader pointed out that many of those lecturing Iran today on its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons had large nuclear arsenals at their disposal.

In doing so, Erdogan has given voice to an overwhelming majority around the world that has long felt that the West is unreasonably targeting Iran -- just as Iraq had been – even as it turns a blind eye to Israel’s nukes.

This is not the first time Erdogan has underscored the international duplicity. During the UN General Assembly session and the debate on nuclear disarmament in New York last month, he reminded the world that Israel has nuclear weapons and has used the banned phosphorous bombs against Palestinians. “Why are these not on the UN agenda? Why is it always Iran?” he demanded.

If only more Muslim leaders could think and act like Erdogan and confront big bullies of our world, their people wouldn’t be in the mess that they are in today.

Speaking truth to power is never easy. But it is especially difficult in the Middle East. The rest of the world may have bid farewell to colonial hegemony long ago. But the world’s most volatile and sensitive region remains a hostage of its imperial past and its divisive legacy in some way or the other. Which is why leaders such as Erdogan come as a ray of hope in an otherwise dark and dull Middle Eastern sky.

I wonder why no other Muslim leader has had the courage to hold a mirror to the West over Iran. You didn’t hear a single voice of protest across the Middle East against this relentless campaign targeting Iran.

Is it because Iran is a Shia nation and majority of the Muslim world happens to be Sunni? Or do we truly believe the fiction that Iran’s nuclear program and its so-called expansionist ambitions are targeted at its Arab and Muslim neighbors?

How can we ignore the historical reality that until our colonial masters arrived, Arabs and Iranians and Sunnis and Shias had coexisted in peace and total harmony for centuries since the dawn of Islam?

The disastrous, 8-year-long war between Iraq and Iran, the only Arab-Persian conflict in post Islam history, that claimed nearly a million lives had been a gift of the West.

When will we realize that from Palestine to Pakistan the Muslim world is on fire today because of our silence and inaction over the games big powers have been playing in the Middle East for decades. And we are silent once again even as the whole world debates the UN report on Gaza and demands action against Israel.

Hundreds of peace activists, human rights groups and bloggers around the world have been running a tireless campaign to hold Israel to account for its war crimes.

It was thanks to their noble efforts that the UN Human Rights Council decided to refer Goldstone’s findings to the UN Security Council. Defying the US pressure and boycott by the Europeans, the council voted 19 against three to send the report on Gaza to the Security Council.

The matter now rests before the five permanent members of the Security Council. The Big Five have to decide if Israel should be asked to probe the Gaza war crimes or recommend the International Criminal Court action against Israel. But the US is likely to do neither.

Israel’s patron saint could simply veto any UN initiative against Israel, as it always has. The Gaza report stands no chance in the UN as long as the US is there to protect Israel. And it will continue to protect the Israelis even if their hands are dripping with the blood of innocents as long as the Arab and Muslim countries do not speak in one voice.

The report by the South African Jewish judge is not without its flaws. First of all it puts Israel and Hamas on the same level for crimes against humanity during the recent Israeli offensive on Gaza. Which is absurd. One is a nuclear power and the most powerful military in the Middle East and the other is a resistance group. All Hamas has at its disposal are its rudimentary rockets.

Even more absurd is Goldstone’s recommendation asking Israel to investigate its own crimes against Palestinians. How can Israel probe its own sins? And even if it does so to mollify the world opinion, how legitimate can be such an exercise and what would it achieve? Surely, Israel cannot resolve to punish itself!

However, the UN report is crucial in that it sets a historic precedent of confronting a criminal, ruthless power against an utterly defenseless and long persecuted civilian population.

Israel has got away with murder, literally, all these years because the world has failed to confront it and its protectors. This is why it keeps killing and terrorizing the Palestinians again and again. This would stop only if the Israelis are made to pay for their appalling crimes. And the Goldstone report provides a rare opportunity to do so.

By a strange coincidence, the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council and the larger General Assembly are with two countries that are sympathetic to Palestinians – Turkey and Libya.

UN chief Bank Ki-Moon is under intense pressure to end the world body’s inaction on the issue. So it is possible to confront Israel even if its friends try to protect it once again. All it needs is unity in the ranks of Arab and Muslim states. Only this can persuade the US from blindly protecting Israel.

So can the Arab and Muslim countries, and all reasonable people everywhere, please stand up and speak out for a change? History will not forgive them if they fail to do so yet again.

-Aijaz Zaka Syed is Opinion Editor of Khaleej Times. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

Posted by JNOUBIYEH at 10:31 PM

CNN EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Syria’s first lady on Gaza

- October 30, 2009

Homeless by Israeli policy

Homeless by Israeli policy
Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler, The Electronic Intifada, 30 October 2009

SUR BAHER, occupied East Jerusalem (IPS) - "We knew something bad was about to happen when we saw the roadblocks being thrown up, and police everywhere. It soon came down the grapevine -- the Israelis were demolishing more houses."

Naim Awisat, an East Jerusalem Palestinian community leader and entrepreneur, drove quickly down America Way (the winding old valley road that links the city's southern neighborhoods of the Holy Basin with the walled Old City and its holy sites) to Salaa, a rundown quarter at the heart of the wadi.

The tok-tok-tok of the heavy machinery could be heard "even before I'd rounded the last corner into the dusty square. A ring of troops in full anti-riot gear were in position. I have to admit it was something of a relief when I saw that what they were destroying was only that old derelict building with a corrugated iron roof where our kids used to gather to play pool, and who knows what else -- drugs, what have you."

His friend Mohammed Nakhal, an urban planner, was already there. Before they could exchange thoughts about the latest Israeli action, Mohammed's cell phone was ringing non-stop -- a string of calls from Dahiyat al-Salaam in the northern part of the city, and from Sur Baher just over the hill on the way to Bethlehem.

More demolitions were under way.

No more sighs of relief, though.

"Heart wrenching -- that's what it is when you see 15 people, seven of them children, left homeless out of the blue," says Naim when he reaches Sur Baher.

He watches from a distance: the three giant Israeli bulldozers, replete with cranes, hammer away relentlessly at what a half-hour ago had been the Nimr family home.

Barely holding back her tears, the matriarch, Umm Muhammed, brushes off the grey dust that has gathered on her brown headscarf. Her husband, Nimr Ali Nimr, sits incongruously in a large armchair, one of the few sticks of furniture which the family had managed to salvage during the few minutes they'd been given to evacuate before the bulldozers were sent into action.

He tells Naim and Mohammed that here too the demolition squad had been escorted in by a phalanx of heavily-equipped border police.

Still in something of a daze, Nimr says that when the machines began tearing into the concrete two-story building, there'd been a brief protest by the teenagers of the neighborhood. "They threw stones; fortunately, the troops held their fire."

Two hours later, the troops are gone. All that remains of what had once been the extended family home is a pile of rubble -- useless concrete and twisted iron girders. Overriding previous US and international protest, Jerusalem's Israeli municipality had nonetheless gone ahead with a spate of new house demolitions in the occupied eastern part of the city.

Altogether on Tuesday, six buildings were knocked down, leaving 26 people homeless.

The latest round brings the number of East Jerusalem Palestinians displaced since the beginning of the year by forced evictions or house demolitions to over 600, according to figures released by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees.

Israeli authorities say the demolitions are carried out because the Palestinians owners do not have the requisite building permits, rendering them "illegal."

According to the UN, lack of adequate urban planning in the Palestinian areas of Jerusalem, combined with strict administrative requirements and high fees makes it extremely difficult for Palestinian residents to obtain such permits, leaving them no choice but to build "illegally" for their growing families.

"We should hoist them on the petard of their own building policy," says Naim. "If they say we can't build without permits, we say, fine, but then you have to give us permits to develop new residential areas in our neighborhoods. The overcrowding has been unbearable for years."

In addition to the building squeeze, Palestinian families who move outside the city's municipal boundaries risk losing their Jerusalem identity cards, and with that, the right to live in the city, and keep their access to it.

UNRWA officials estimate that "as many as 60,000 of the city's quarter million Palestinians are at risk from forced eviction, demolitions and displacement." Many others face mounting pressure to leave the city due to extensive legal and administrative restrictions that affect many aspects of their daily lives.

"If it goes on like this, over and above the current tension over Israeli intentions to erode our links to our own holy sites, they're simply laying the cornerstone for a new intifada [uprising]," warns Mohammad.

Still, he refuses to see the future as entirely bleak.

The US Secretary of State is due in the city on Saturday in an attempt to revive flagging Palestinian-Israeli peace prospects. When Hillary Clinton visited the city in March, she delivered a strongly-worded rebuke against the house demolition policy, triggering a set-to with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli leader insists that outsiders have "no right" to tell Israel what it can and cannot do "in our capital city."

Because of Israel's determination to go on knocking down Palestinian homes, a shadow again looms over renewed US peacemaking efforts.

Says Mohammed: "What we really need to do is to beat the Israelis on their own ground, work from within to make sure we get what is rightly ours."

"There are also thousands of existing demolition orders against illegal construction in the western [Jewish] part of town. We need to work from inside the municipality if we want to change the situation and to stop the demolitions altogether."

"Sure, we have to protest. But protest is not enough; neither is hand-wringing and just bemoaning our fate. It's just as important for Washington to press Israel to issue us more building permits. That should be part of the 'America way.'"

All rights reserved, IPS -- Inter Press Service (2009). Total or partial publication, retransmission or sale forbidden.

IOF troops attack Palestinians trying to stop demolition
Israeli occupation issues demolition notices to four Palestinian families

[ 30/10/2009 - 07:58 PM ]

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authorities issued on Friday demolition notices to the owners of four homes in Khirbat al-Hajr, to the south of the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil.

Local sources said that IOF troops escorted cars carrying officials from the Israeli occupation's civic planning department to hand the demolition notices to the home owners giving the reason that the homes were built without a proper permit.

The sources added that the owners were told that they have a few days to vacate their houses before they are demolished.

Meanwhile, on Thursday ten Palestinians including a 70-year-old woman, seven women and two journalists were attacked by Israeli forces south of al-Khalil according to local sources.

The incident began when Israeli soldiers and armored vehicles demolished a water reservoir belonging to Al-Baq’a resident Mohammad Mustafa Jaber and family and neighbours tried to stop the demolition.

Four injured women needed to be hospitalized at al-Khalil government hospital; Rudaina Jaber (47), Izdehar Jaber (50), Najah Jaber (42) and Ibtisam al-Rajabi (44). They were all badly bruised all around their bodies.