Saturday, 17 July 2010

Israel imprisoned my father for nonviolently resisting the occupation

Saeed Amireh writing from Nilin, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 16 July 2010
Palestinians protest Israel's wall in Nilin. (Keren Manor/ActiveStills)

On 12 January 2010 my father Ibrahim was arrested by the Israeli army and sentenced to two years in prison for organizing and participating in nonviolent protests against the Israel's wall in the occupied West Bank. The wall cuts us off from our land and our olive groves, robbing our family of its livelihood.

To date there have already been 15 court hearings. We feel the Israeli occupation bureaucracy is deliberately delaying court proceedings. This creates an additional layer of punishment for my father and for his family. At each hearing, he must wait from 6am to 2pm in a hot room without food or water. Once each hearing begins he is tired, hungry and thirsty.

My father has been charged with the following offenses:

Being present in a declared military zone. The "military zone" is actually our olive groves, which Israel declared a military zone, once they started building the wall. The continued construction of the wall is a clear violation of the July 2004 International Court of Justice ruling declaring it illegal under international law.

Organizing illegal and violent demonstrations. My father is a strong opponent to violence and in fact has discouraged others from reacting violently whenever we have been attacked by the Israeli military.

Incitement to throw stones and use other means of violence. The Israeli authorities claim that my father paid money to demonstrators to throw stones at soldiers, their jeeps and the wall. This charge is completely absurd. After my father first got involved with the nonviolent protests in 2008, the Israeli authorities revoked his work permit. Since then he has been unemployed and struggles to put enough food on the table for my six siblings, our mother and myself. To claim that he was paying others to throw stones or cause damage to the wall mocks the terrible daily reality our life and the lives of other Palestinians living under occupation.

All of these charges are based on the forced confessions of two young men from Nilin, one of them mentally ill.

Mostly, my father is worried about us, his family. Not only because it is even harder now, without him, to cover our bare necessities, but also because our family is being intimidated regularly by the Israeli military. They have raided our house already 25 times in the middle of the night, eight times after my father was arrested. Sometimes they just come to harass, mock and threaten us. Other times they come with dogs, unleash them inside the house, rummage through the house and cause a great deal of damage. Due to the repeated abuse we have endured, both of my five-year-old twin brothers are terrified and suffer from nightmares.

My father wishes for nothing but peace and freedom and he believes that a lasting peace can only be reached with peaceful methods. In his opinion, violence will only add to the hatred and confusion and further worsen the situation of Palestinians living under occupation. This is why he taught us not to consider violence a solution in our struggle to restore our rights.

However, he does believe that it is our duty to protest a terrible wrong that destroys the very existence of the inhabitants of Nilin village. Hence, when Israel started marking the course of the wall that led straight through our olive groves in May 2008 stealing a third of the village's land, the inhabitants came together and formed the Nilin Popular Committee Against The Wall. The Popular Committee nonviolently resists the construction of the wall.

The Popular Committee chose my father to be part of the leadership as well as its official representative, because they want the world to see the truth about us: we are peaceful people who reject violence and we do not intend to harm anybody. We believe in freedom, peace and justice for every human being on earth and we dream to spread it from Nilin throughout the entire world.

We started with our protests on 27 May 2008, walking toward the bulldozers that were uprooting our olive trees. We walked with our hands raised, so that the Israeli soldiers could see that we were unarmed. Initially, our protests were successful and we managed to delay the construction. Soon Israeli forces started to shoot sound bombs, tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and even live ammunition to disperse our peaceful demonstrations.

Since the protests started, five persons have been killed by Israeli soldiers, including a 10-year-old child, Ahmed Moussa, and more than 500 individuals have been detained. We have endured curfews, destruction of our property, snipers shooting demonstrators in their legs from the roofs of houses in Nilin. All of these acts of repression are intended to to discourage villagers from participating in the nonviolent protests. My 12-year-old sister Sammer has been shot in her hand with live ammunition simply for participating in the protests. My 10-year-old sister Rajaa was hit in her leg by a sound bomb when she tried to prevent snipers from climbing on our rooftop to shoot at other villagers.

Nilin, our village, our home, is being turned into an open-air prison. The current entrance to the village will be closed, and will be replaced by a tunnel that will be built under Route 446 -- a road which only Jewish settlers are allowed to use. The tunnel will not only divide Nilin into two parts. It will also give the Israeli military the power to decide when and if they will open or close the gate, and therefore cut us all off from the outside world.

On Monday 12 July, my father appeared in court again. The Ofer Military Court sentenced my father to 11 months and 15 days in prison and a fine of 9,000 shekels ($2,330) with a prohibition from joining future protests. To avoid staying in prison my father pleaded guilty, otherwise he would stay in jail longer and the authorities would continue to postpone the hearing. We have been given two months to pay the 9000 shekels, but have no means to pay this amount. If we do not pay the fine then my father's sentence will increase to 20 months and 15 days.

Together with my father, two more members of the Popular Committee, Hassan Mousa and Zaydoon Srour, each received the same sentence as my father. Their families are undergoing the same ordeal that we are.

We always try to be strong in the face of the oppressor. However, when they read the sentences, my mother started crying. We had to watch as my father, Hassan and Zaydoon and left the court room in shackles. When my father was asked if he wanted to say something, he stated that this ruling is against humanity and that we all suffer from the occupation and can't do anything about it.

We are all very upset and worried about my father. He is sick and he doesn't even get the medication he needs while in jail. We are also very sad, because only my mother can visit him in jail, and only after he had been in prison for four months. Still, my father maintains that nonviolent protests are the only solution. Please show your support for Ibrahim Amireh and your objection to his illegal imprisonment; for more information join the Facebook group "Support My Father: Peace & Freedom Activist Ibrahim Amireh."

Saeed Amireh is from the occupied West Bank village of Nilin.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Jumblatt to Al-Manar: Thank God I Left March 14 Bloc!


17/07/2010 The head of the Democratic Gathering MP Walid Jumblatt said on Friday that the Resistance should remain ready to face all challenges, renewing commitment to the State, People and Resistance's balance, adding that the July 2006 war against Lebanon proved the capacities of the Resistance in the face of the Israeli enemy.

Speaking to Al-Manar Television, Jumblatt said that Lebanese division regarding wars with Israel is historical "since in 1982 there had been division and also in 1978." He thanked God for leaving the March 14 camp, calling on his one-time allies to benefit from the resistance against Israel – "from those who volunteer to defend Lebanon for nothing in return."

"Some still long for the neutrality theory and they adopt the theory that says that the Resistance's arms give Israel an alibi," Jumblatt pointed out, stressing that neutrality won't come for free but would link Lebanon to the Zionist entity.

The Progressive Socialist Party leader noted that the decision to wage an all-out aggression against Lebanon in 2006 was not taken only by Israel, highlighting that Israel can't do anything without the permission of the US. "The Americans were trying to employ some Lebanese for the sake of their plan to push Lebanon away from its natural environment, and maybe the 2006 aggression had aimed at making Lebanon abandon the Taef Accord, but that aim failed," he went on to say.

"I took part in the lunch at the US Embassy with (former US Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice (in 2006), and I believe that was a shameful scene: Lebanon was being destroyed and we were waiting for the US envoy," Jumblatt said. "One has to acknowledge his mistakes and not hide behind a finger, we were taken by the mottos of freedom and independence while the reality was different. I'm not ashamed to perform self-criticism and some have to understand that."

The head of the Democratic Gathering tackled the spying issue during his interview with Al-Manar, reiterating that spying is a dangerous thing and calling for the execution of all spies. "Enough with some civil society calls on the need to abolish the death penalty for the sake of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership because the country's security is more important than that partnership," he said.

While ruling out a new war in the near future, Jumblatt revealed that Mount Lebanon will become a strategic depth for the Resistance in any new war, as all areas must be. "I tell some hesitators that Israel has not and will not be merciful on anyone in its war."

On the other hand, Jumblatt said that some of UNIFIL's behaviors and photographing of some places, "and maybe provocations and maneuvers without coordinating with the army, led to the reaction of the southerners."

"Lebanese theoreticians are the ones who want to change UNIFIL's rules of engagement and I don't believe that the West wants to reach the foolishness of changing the rules of engagement because they would be subjecting themselves and Lebanon to dangers."

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian


Via My Catbird Seat

- 13. Jul, 2010



I got back from Arizona a bit ago, visiting with friends, mostly Vietnam vets.  From Veterans Today we had Jim Hanke, Jeff Gates, regular Army and me, as usual, the lone Marine and with our hosts, Navy Seal Hershel Davis.  Years ago it would have been talk about POWs and politics.  Now its down to motorcycles and single malt.  We did get a few minutes in on John McCain as he is running around the state playing war hero to stay in the thieving Senate.  Some of us had fought both Kerry and McCain for years as POW advocates.

I could never understand those two, corrupt and heartless bastards.  Special Forces Colonel Earl Hopper was most vocal about McCain, Hopper and Sgt. Major John Holland.  Colonel Ted Guy wanted McCain jailed as did Holland, they claimed treason.  This is what Hopper, veteran of both Korea and Vietnam said before he died (on video):
“Within five or seven days of being captured, McCain made a deal to trade medical care in exchange for highly classified military information including specific details of the package routes for bombing North Vietnam.  He also told them the primary bombing targets.  We lost 60% more aircraft and men because of the information McCain gave to the North Vietnamese.  After about a month things had gotten so bad that we called off bombing North Vietnam.”
Hell, what do I know.  Who am I to say that the military is corrupt and that we just ran someone for president with the most serious charges made against him of any member of America’s armed forces in her 234 year history.  Maybe McCain is right and all these decorated heroes are liars.  Whenever challenged about his record, McCain’s face goes red as a beet and he brings out “Bud Day.” If these leftover blowhards from Vietnam, McCain, Kerry and especially Oliver North,  would simply fade away and let the rest of us get past the shame they brought on all of us, we could move on, the few of us still around.  With tens of thousands dying of Agent Orange, maybe hundreds of thousands, OK, probably hundreds of thousands at least we have our PTSD to keep us warm.  Ah, PTSD, always an issue.

We don’t talk about what we did to the Vietnamese, dumping hundreds of tons of the most powerful carcinogens in the world, right into soil and water table.  This is a medical disaster that continues to this day, killing people Americans hate even more than their own veterans, if that is possible.  Hell, what do we care anyway, anyone different from us isn’t people anyway.  You know what I mean.  You can see where this can go, hell, why don’t we take it home!  Albanians!  Now that’s a group we can all get behind sending away. 

My mother warned me about the Japanese.  Others have said people with brown eyes couldn’t be trusted.  We already know people with blue eyes are bad.  Let’s get bulldozers and knock down some homes, illegal in every country save one, where, if you are the right religion, you can do anything imaginable.

People and their racial, ethnic and religious ideas, especially when they start to take them seriously, can be tiring.

The Department of Veterans Affairs claims that thousands of Vietnam vets have been found guilty of fraud for falsifying PTSD claims.  We checked, this was actually in a Chicago press release some time ago.  When our legal advisor, Law Professor Bob Walsh (Vietnam 101st Airborne) got the records through Freedom of Information, it all turned out to be a lie.  The claim made then, that the proof was that veterans were filing claims up to 39 years after leaving Vietnam meant they were fakers.

Lets take a moment with this, shall we.  By the way, I am always available to testify before congress.  I can be both stimulating and entertaining, PTSD rage is quite photogenic.  The first time I heard the term Post Traumatic Stress, I had been out of Vietnam twenty five years.  Vietnam vets didn’t get Traumatic Brain Injuries or PTSD or even malaria, in fact, if it required medical treatment, in most VA regions, we didn’t get anything at all.  Agent Orange cancers were misdiagnosed, undiagnosed and many diseases and disorders related to dioxin poisoning, something I certainly have, are still being looked into.  Those of us still around watched our friends die, one by one, while things were being “looked into.”

Gulf War vets are experts at waiting for things to be looked into also.  When the South African Truth Commission issued a report proving the United States used experimental chemical warfare agents in the Gulf War, a fact kept from our own scientists and medical personnel, the thousands of dead and dying vets from that military action know they have been written off as dead, another “inconvenient truth” as Al Gore would say.

It may be hard for someone outside the United States to understand how a medical disability case for a war veteran can take 25 years.  Ah, but you have to know the American post war psyche.  The second a war is over, won, lost, it doesn’t matter, soldiers, prisoners of war, missing in action become a burden on society.  After all, John Kerry and John McCain did so well, although McCain is the PTSD poster boy of all time.  I actually love that about him.  That makes one thing anyway.


Do we start by talking about military records.  All records of Vietnam vets were destroyed in a fire in 1975.  Without records, no help.  Hey, it gets better, rules were instituted that the government didn’t have to help veterans find records.  When all the burned records showed up decades later, it was a actually very funny.   Records weren’t all that was burned.  Thus far we have found that 16 million pieces of mail were destroyed, some burned, some shredded, some simply hidden in basements of VA facilities.  My old squad leader from Vietnam worked for the VA for 34 years, a division head.  He watched them carry mail bags, VA police, to a shredding office every day.  When you think of what destroying a single piece of mail could do, cost a child a term of college, cost a widow an insurance payment or simply a destroyed medical diagnosis for an otherwise treatable disease, and multiply that by 16 million or 160 million, we will never know….

Attacking Vietnam vets is all the rage today.  With two more wars lost, the survivors of Vietnam are an easy target.  Vietnam was an odd war, I suspect all are.  As Marines, we slept on the ground, never the same place twice, every night.  We ate only C-Rations, often leftovers from World War 2.  We all suffered malnutrition as any X-Ray of a combat vet will show.   If you know a Vietnam vet, a “ground pounder,” you will also know someone with joint replacements, some from wear and abuse and some from poor diet.  You will also see a mouth full of caps, bridgework or false teeth.  Hell, a year of living on 30 year old canned peaches could have been worse.  It could have been applesauce.

That “hot chow” we see on the war movies, always being slopped out in a rainstorm is actually funny.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, same thing, canned spaghetti or lima beans.  There were people who lived well, unimaginably well, grew fat, rich, selling food, weapons and narcotics.  These were our leaders.  The few prosecuted criminal cases have long since been put away.  Troops were starved in Vietnam because their food, their uniforms, booths, even malaria pills, were all sold on the black market.

At least that part is still true today.  With $300 billion missing in Iraq alone, at least the accounting being attempted although I suspect we have misplaced more like $1.6 trillion dollars or more.

It is hard not to be angry, and I suspect I am being manipulated that way as are so many, when I see our current “volunteer army” being praised and us being horse whipped by the ignorant media.  We destroyed the army we sent to Vietnam, killed off 2/3rds of them in their 40s and 50s.  Today, with hundreds of billions spent on, well, we aren’t sure, tens of thousands of our troops in the Middle East are on anti-psychotic medications and nearly 400,000 recent vets have applied for disabilty compensation, most for psychiatric disorders.  The myth that playstations and stealth bombers can save troops from being destroyed by war is just that, myth.

As the weather gets hotter, I remember more of Vietnam.  I remember the m-16 rifle best of all.  There was a model, called the M-16 E1, that simply didn’t work.  It jammed continually, even worse than the other M-16s, if that is possible.  Marines got those.  The real M-16s, the M-16A1, was given to the South Vietnamese, or as we would joke, “never fired, dropped only once.”  Everything they got was new, .45 caliber pistols which they would sell for $25 and guys would mail home. 

So what if it took months to get malaria pills distributed?  I do so enjoy my malaria but at least I am still around.

I wonder how things are going to be when, perhaps we should say “if” our troops start catching on about the “war on terror.”  With our “mainstream press” increasingly fictional, to the point of being amusing, there isn’t going to be much warning.  One day those buying the lies will quit paying and the stories will change.  The ‘war on terror” will be exposed as the fraud it is, a few false flag attacks, lots of drug money, corruption and a military led by “third stringers” who sold their souls to the ignorant bible thumpers for quick promotions and safe assignments well out of range of combat.

I still remember being told to kill farmers, with a knife if possible, to cause “terror” and end the threat of global communism.  Happily, I can assure you we didn’t kill any farmers, not on purpose anyway, not during the day.  At night, you never knew who was who.  Ah, I picture those days out there with the villagers discussing political theories, Marks, Engels and the moral superiority of capitalism.   Killing two million people, 95% of whom were illiterate, because of their obscure political beliefs tied to a 19th century German born philosopher that none of them could name makes sense, I guess.  Our new CENTCOM guy, you know, the nutcase taking Petraeus’ place plans on killing everyone in Afghanistan because they wear towels on their heads.

I know alot of those people.  I hope he plans on sending “other people” to do his childish bigoted dirtywork or he is going to be getting more than a bit of Afghan foot up his ass.  Mattis is his name.  He joined the corps, 3rd Marine Division, in 1972.  Problem is, 3rd MARDIV left Vietnam in 1969.  However, he wears a CAR, Combat Action Ribbon, earned in two subsequent wars, one as a regimental commander and one as a division commander.  I would love reading those citations.  Mickey Spillane must have written them.

Marines are very particular about the CAR.  Of the over 15,000 combat Marines killed in Vietnam, this was their only individual award.  We’ll give a Navy Cross to a tree stump but not a CAR.

While writing this, I just got an email from a reader reminding me “The war is over.”  No it isn’t.  We are still stuck with John McCain and John Kerry, the weasel twins.   The dead, maimed and abused are still everywhere, older, sick and dying many of them but not gone yet, not soon enough for 300 million Americans that have forgotten Vietnam.  Hey, they have forgotten Iraq (1 and 2) and Afghanistan also.  Nobody is waiting for that big win in Afghanistan.  A curious few are wondering exactly how we plan on surrendering to the Taliban and marching away with flags held high.  As a specialist on the region, heaven forbid, I am watching it all come together.  A cease fire, some honest nation building and throwing the thieves and spies, tens of thousands of them, out of Afghanistan and we could have a happy ending.

Ah, I digress.  Yes, Vietnam is over.  Take the clock back to 1970 when prisons were filling with PTSD vets.  Its happening again.  President Obama has decided to spend billions putting everyone on disability for PTSD.  My own experience, flawed though it is, and certainly not based on any clinical expertise, indicates that our current vets PTSD will kick into high gear in about 15 years.  As a Vietnam War combat vet (very different from a Vietnam War vet, only 9% were combat vets) about this.  If we think we are treating PTSD, hold on.  This is like disarming a time bomb by putting it in a trash bag under our beds.

What led me down this road?  Every time Veterans Affairs opens their mouths I feel pushed too far.  The idea of putting the lives of Amerias soldiers in the hands of bean counters and neo-con elitists who believe that veterans, represented by unbelievably ineffective service organizations, “fairlyland” outfits, can be silently disposed of offends me.  When Bush staffed the Veterans Court of Appeals with neo-con vet haters, he announced, almost as though he  had printed it on every billboard in America, that vets were fair game.

Why take care of veterans?  Military recruiting is easy now, simply ship our remaining jobs to China, if there are any, crash the real estate markets, loot the banks, leave the economy with the liquidity necessary to restore employment and rebuild communities without printing more counterfeit money, and you will have all the soldiers you need.  They can fight or starve.

When they break, drug them and send them back.  When that doesn’t work, give them bad conduct discharges, eliminate their benefits and hope the kill themselves.

If you don’t know this was the plan from the beginning, you aren’t paying attention.
But….first, clean up the mess for Vietnam.  America owed $500 billion in back benefits to families of Vietnam vets who have been denied EVERYTHING for decades.  One of these days, when the TV announcer comes on and tries to pass off a blown up nuclear plant or dirty bomb in a port as a terrorist act, Americans aren’t going to buy it anymore.  A country that treats its veterans like dirt isn’t the greatest country in the world.  Millions of Americans claim to know nothing.  “I know nothing.”

Bibi Netanyahu dropped a list of countries he wanted attacked when he was at the White House with Obama last week.  If we are going to be mercenaries working for a pimp, we should expect better pay.

Even The Troops Are Waking Up

Gordon Duff is a Marine Vietnam veteran.  A 100% disabled vet.  He has been a featured commentator on TV and radio including Al Jazeera and his articles have been carried by news services around the world. He has been a UN Diplomat, defense contractor and is a widely published expert on military and defense issues.  This article first appeared in Veterans and Foreign Affairs Journal.

Senior Editor: Veterans Today .



River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Gilad Atzmon Interviewed by Shabana Syed: "I come from them, and I know how they think."

Israeli-born British jazz saxophonist Gilad Atzmon
According to the famous Israeli-born Jazz musician, Gilad Atzmon, "The ideology that carried out execution-style killings on the Gaza aid flotilla the 'Mavi Marmara' is the same ideology that carried out the massacres at Deir Yassin, Qibya, Sabra and Shatilla, Qana, Gaza, Jenin and the murder of Rachel Corrie — more than that it is the same ideology that killed Christ."

He continues: "there is no biological, racial or ethnic continuum between the ancient Israelites and the contemporary Israelis. The attack on the aid convoy is a continuum of the same ideology that killed Christ. Christ's killing is a symbol of a brutal assault against goodness, in the same way the attack on the aid convoy was against humanity and compassion." Speaking to Arab News after the deadly attack on the aid Flotilla where 9 peace activists were shot dead and around 50 injured Atzmon was scathing against Israel's actions and demanded that it should be stripped of its UN membership.

Atzmon is a former Israeli soldier who now lives in London. He is not only a renowned author and writer but also a famous award-winning jazz musician. Described as a musical genius he has recorded with the likes of Robbie Williams, Sinead O Connor, Robert Wyatt Paul McCartney, Tunisian singer Dhaffer Youssef and countless others.

With a strong presence on and off stage and a disarming smile, Atzmon has a huge following not only for his music but for being a unique thinker and philosopher.

Admired for his fearless stance against oppression, he is also at the forefront of a taboo discourse that many will not venture into out of fear of being branded anti-Semite; and that is the discourse on the Jewish identity, Zionism and Israel.

Because of this stance, he has been branded a "Jew self-hater." Atzmon smiles: "in fact I correct them 'I am not only a self-hater but a proud self- hater.'"

The accusations do not deter him as he is quite vocal about the self-hatred he feels for the Israeli part of him.

He argues: "We are dealing here with a morbid collective that sets itself against humanity.” He believes the reason why he is at the forefront of this discourse is because he is more able than others to understand Israeli mentality because, "I come from them, and I know how they think."

He himself has studied for many years the issue of the Jewish identity, and in his talks is often found quoting philosophers like the Austrian Otto Weininger, Kant, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Lacan, Marx as well as Eastern philosophers.

He explains: "Israel has violated all international laws, it has never been held accountable for the countless massacres." However, he argues the latest massacre of peace activists on the aid flotilla with the emerging forensic reports which suggest Israeli execution-style killings of the 9 peace activists has resulted in shock horror around the world.

"The remarkable fact is they don't understand why the world is beginning to stand against them in the same way they didn't understand why the Europeans stood against them in the 1930s. Instead of asking why we are hated they continue to toss accusations on others."

In his latest article titled "Jewish Ideology and World Peace," he argues: "Within the discourse of Jewish politics and history there is no room for causality... Within the Jewish tribal discourse every narrative starts to evolve when Jewish pain establishes itself. ...It also explains why for most Jews the history of the holocaust starts in the gas chambers or with the rise of the Nazis. I have hardly seen any Israelis or Jews attempt to understand the circumstances that led to the clear resentment of Europeans toward their Jewish neighbors in the 1920s-40s.”

Born and brought up as a Zionist in Israel, Atzmon believes it was his love of music that first opened his eyes to the world. "I was brought up to believe that Jews were the chosen people and no one was better than us. Then I discovered jazz and found out that many of the great jazz musicians were black Afro-Americans. That was the first dent in the theory of our greatness and as I picked up the stones more truths began to come out."

At 19, Atzmon was stationed as a soldier to Lebanon where he saw for the first time thousands of Palestinians living as refugees. "We were told that the Palestinians had left and gone to other Arab countries, so when I saw thousands of refugees living without the basics I realized that we had stolen their land."

Atzmon also witnessed the atrocities the Israeli Army was committing against the Palestinians; so as soon as he could, he left the army and left the country for good.

"My studies have shown me that the Jewish identity is foreign to humanism, it is tribal and has evolved as an outcome of an exilic culture." He argues that we can learn a lot about Jewish collective ideology by looking closely to the biblical "Story of Esther" which he argues teaches Jews the art of infiltration into politics and governments.

He continues: "This form of infiltration is clearly evident in America today where the Jewish lobby (AIPAC) dominates the political discourse. Also in Britain we have the British Jewish lobby, and the 'Friends of Israel', we also have people like David Aaronovitch, The Times columnist and Nick Cohen of The Observer, who advocated for war with Iraq. Both write for the Jewish papers, are known sympathizers of Israel and have contributed extensively to the growing Islamophobia in Britain. Lord Levy, a rabid Zionist was funding the Labour Party when it went into an illegal war with Iraq which led to over a million Iraqi fatalities.”

He continues: "We have the likes of David Miliband the Labour MP; I wonder how many people know that he is listed on the Israeli propaganda site as an Israeli propagandist author. Did you know that under the last government, when everyone was talking about Israel's killing of a Hamas leader in Dubai by using forged British passports, David Miliband was busy attempting to amend the laws of universal jurisdiction so Israeli war criminals could enter Britain.”

In his latest article Atzmon writes: "Enough is enough; it is time to name and shame every Israeli and Zionist infiltrator within political circles, media and academia."

Maybe it is the soldier in him but there are not many subjects that Atzmon is not afraid to confront. The biggest taboo subject today is to question the holocaust. In many European countries one can be jailed for questioning the numbers killed or to what extent gas chambers were used?

Atzmon however has no fear when he says: "I do not deny that Jewish suffering took place, I also lost family in it. However if the established holocaust narrative is true why do we need laws to protect it?" He continues: "We want a coherent narrative open to scrutiny. We owe it to ourselves, to history to find out the truth and I don't mean the truth through emotionally charged Hollywood films. Also I reiterate that those involved in an academic and historic inquiry should not be threatened with law suits and abuse.”

To stop further world conflicts, Atzmon believes that governments should confront Israel. He argues that unlike the last Labour government that indulged Israel to continue its brutal assaults, while its leaders Blair and Brown were honorary patrons of the Jewish National Fund UK, the new government has to take a stronger stand. "In order to end one of the most brutal occupations of Gaza we need to ban Israeli aircraft from British airspace, impose EU trade sanctions against Israel and strip Israel of its UN membership." For Atzmon the tide is turning and humanity which is bound together by human ethics and morals need to stand together against Israel before it takes us to war with Iran which according to him "is its next step.”

Friday, 16 July 2010

Israel's economic warfare still keenly felt in Gaza

Mel Frykberg, The Electronic Intifada, 16 July 2010

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) --

Israel has received international praise for its decision to ease its crippling blockade on Gaza following the country's deadly assault on a humanitarian flotilla trying to bring desperately needed humanitarian aid to the coastal territory.

But according to the UN and human rights organizations, the easing of the blockade is insufficient in meeting Gaza's needs.

"Even if the blockade is eased it remains illegal under international law as it is a collective form of punishment on a civilian population," Chris Gunness from the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) told IPS.

"Eighty percent of Gaza's population is aid-dependent. Allowing more aid in is perpetuating this dependency and not addressing the issue of self-sufficiency or the root causes of the crisis," added Gunness.

Israeli commandos shot dead nine activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, one of the Freedom Flotilla boats, when they raided it in international waters at the end of May. The killings sparked international outrage but also drew global attention to the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza as a result of Israel's, and to a lesser degree Egypt's, hermetic sealing of the territory.

Following international pressure Israel decided to ease the closure. Towards the end of June the government of Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu issued a six-point plan to facilitate increased access for civilian goods entering Gaza and to expand economic activity, reports the Israeli human rights organization Gisha.

The plan stated that all commercial products -- other than a list of banned dual-purpose goods -- would be permitted entry to the strip; 250 daily truckloads of goods would enter; the entrance of construction materials would be better facilitated; and the movement of humanitarian cases and international nongovernmental organizations would be streamlined.

Gisha reports that there has been a moderate rise in the volume of trucks entering Gaza and an increase in imports of consumer goods, but that this volume still falls way below pre-embargo days, and isn't sufficient to meet the daily needs of Gaza's 1.5 million civilians.

During the week after 20 June, 695 trucks of goods entered Gaza. This compares with 2,400 per week prior to the closure, and meets only 30 percent of Palestinian needs. Over the past three years 2,328 trucks entered Gaza on a monthly basis compared with 10,400 trucks monthly prior to the blockade.

Additionally, items which could be used for industry and manufacturing and which present no security threat are still being restricted. There appears to be "no change in the policy of inflicting economic warfare or by preventing entry of goods necessary for production," says the Gisha report. "Textiles, industrial-sized buckets of margarine, glucose, packaging boxes and other raw materials are still banned."

"Permitting mayonnaise and potato chips into Gaza is really irrelevant in dealing with the underlying issues," says Maxwell Gaylard, UN Deputy Special and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Middle East.

"What we need to see is an improvement in Gaza's water, sanitation, power grid, educational and health sectors. Gaza's economy is shot to pieces and its infrastructure is extremely fragile," Gaylard told IPS.

"What have not been addressed by the easing of the closure are the issues of exports as well as the limited number of crossings open to facilitate the flow of goods," said Gunness.

A major step towards helping to rehabilitate Gaza's economy would be permitting exports on which Gaza's economy is heavily reliant. A 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2005, agreed to 400 daily truckloads of exports. In the last three years 295 export trucks have exited Gaza.

Gisha reports that "critical manufacturing sectors such as furniture, clothing and textile, and food production are dependent upon revenues acquired by selling their goods outside the strip."

The near collapse of these industries has been aggravated by restrictions on Gaza's banking ties with the outside world, making the legal transfer of money almost impossible.

These industries have been further decimated by the ban on the entrance of raw materials and spare parts.

"Operation Cast Lead destroyed at least 60,000 homes and structures which need to be urgently repaired and rebuilt. The easing of the blockade is not addressing this adequately," Gunness told IPS.

One of the biggest humanitarian issues remains the continued restrictions on movement, including Gazans trying to leave for medical treatment, to continue their studies, or to visit family in the West Bank.

In 2000, 26,000 Palestinian laborers traveled to Israel on a daily basis to earn a living and support large families. Revenue from Israel provided a major boost to Gaza's economy. In the last few weeks a daily average of 95 people have been permitted to pass through Gaza's Erez crossing into Israel. Students wishing to pursue their studies in the West Bank have been repeatedly turned back.

Twenty-nine-year-old Fatma Sharif, a lawyer with the Gaza-based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, had her application to enter the West Bank to study for her masters degree at Birzeit University near Ramallah turned down by Israel's high court.

The decision of the judges was not based on Sharif being a security threat but rather that her application did not meet Israel's guidelines on travel restrictions imposed on Gaza's residents under the blockades.

All rights reserved, IPS -- Inter Press Service (2010). Total or partial publication, retransmission or sale forbidden.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Palestinians May Soon Have to Swear Loyalty to the Zionist Entity

16/07/2010 The Israeli cabinet is expected to approve a series of measures on Sunday that would make it harder for Palestinians to acquire permanent residency or citizenship in the Zionist entity. The most notable would require Palestinians to declare their loyalty to "a Jewish and democratic state" before being granted Israeli citizenship.

The measures will primarily affect Palestinian men and women who marry Israeli citizens and then seek citizenship on the basis of family reunification.

Adalah - the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in the occupied territories Thursday protested the proposed wording of the loyalty declaration. In a written statement, the group said "it views the conditioning of entry into Israel on a declaration of loyalty to a Jewish and democratic state, and of respect for the laws of the state, very gravely, because it requires all non-Jews to identify with Zionism and imposes a political ideology and loyalty to the principles of Judaism and Zionism."

The other restrictions to be imposed on Palestinians wishing to gain residency or citizenship are not actually new; they are part of a law enacted in 2005, originally for one year, that has since been renewed annually. On Sunday, however, the Israeli cabinet is expected to approve its extension for yet another year.

One restriction in that law bars Palestinians married to Israelis from joining their families before the Israeli Interior Ministry agrees to their right to live in the Zionist entity. The law also denies residency rights to any foreign spouse or his children if he is married to other women in addition to his Israeli wife.

Finally, it requires Palestinians who seek citizenship to provide financial guarantees and prove that they have a home in the occupied territories.

The explanatory notes accompanying the proposed restrictions state that their purpose is to make it harder for Palestinian resistance groups to recruit Palestinians who have acquired Israeli citizenship to carry out attacks.

"An examination of the security reality since the outbreak of armed confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians revealed growing involvement by Palestinians who took advantage of their status in Israel, received on the basis of their family reunification process with Israelis, to become involved in terrorism and abet suicide bombing attacks," the notes said.

"The Israeli identity cards granted to [these] Palestinians provided them with freedom of movement between Israel and the [Palestinian] Authority and thus made them into the terrorist organizations' preferred population for carrying out hostile actions in general and inside Israel in particular."

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Obama’s and Netanyahu’s Converging Interests



For many years, people in our region believed that only the United States had the power and the means to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict. Year after year, actually decade after decade, of total American adoption of the Israeli illegal position were not able to shake that belief.

The Palestinian Authority, the Arab states, the European Union and many more continue to presume that if this conflict has to end one day, only the US can end it. For that reason, we have all got accustomed to accepting that Washington alone holds the keys. All have been patiently, and quite helplessly, waiting for Washington to use them. All, including the United Nations, have absolved themselves of any responsibility vis-à-vis this century-old struggle, convinced that the resolution of this conflict is Washington’s responsibility. This was accompanied by the complacent assumption that Washington has always been waiting for the right circumstances and for the mediation efforts to yield results.

Time has shown that the “right circumstances” for the US purposes would never come. The striking reality is that the chances for any meaningful US action are diminishing.

It is true that the United States is the superpower upon which Israel depends entirely and therefore could not challenge its positions without fearing adverse consequences. But the American-Israeli relations are more complex than just that. It is still the case that no American can run for high office, particularly the presidency, without first securing the support of the Israel lobby. The lobby remains very powerful and highly influential despite significant cracks.

Without any doubt, the United States has the means to discipline Israel by making it comply with the rules of international law, and therefore compel Israel to accept a settlement of its conflict with its neighbours.  But without any doubt, also, no American president so far has been willing to risk his political future by confronting Israel.

The obstacles in the way are usually many. The Congress is one of them. The question, therefore, is who needs who? Is it the US that needs Israeli support or vice versa? Obviously it is the US. The huge financial and political aid that Washington offers Israel on regular basis could not be used as an instrument of pressure because it is originally offered as a price; it could not therefore be used to exact an opposite price.
Americans who compete for the top job at the White House need Israel lobby support. When they plan for a second term, they often watch every move in their first term, lest it would anger Israel or the lobby and thus jeopardise the president’s chance for a second term in office. This clearly applies to Obama now, and explains his acquiescence to Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s repeated defiance of America’s policies towards the region.

A look at the long history of the conflict reveals that one American president after another openly took the Israeli side while pretending to honestly broker an Arab-Israeli peace settlement. Yet the belief that only America can achieve an historic breakthrough was never shaken in the Arab world.

When Obama was elected president, peculiar euphoria swept the Arab, and to a certain extent the Muslim, world that this finally is the president who would stand by the side of justice and would, therefore, end America’s trailing behind Israeli aggression and lawlessness. No amount of clear signals otherwise were enough to check the rising tide of optimism that the Obama promise of “hope and change” meant Arabs and Muslims as well.

Although Obama’s Cairo speech in January 2009 was hollow, it was hailed as the long-awaited beginning of that change. But there was no change from the way the Bush administration had handled this historic conflict. Bush was totally on Israel’s side and so is Obama. “Pro-Israel” Democrats can proclaim Obama to be “the most pro-Israel president ever”, says MJ Rosenberg (Political Correction, July 7), reminding that Bush was the last president to hold that title.

But why does Obama deserve this title? Simply because he lost every battle he tried with Netanyahu. Right from the beginning, Netanyahu rejected every American demand put to him, and his rejectionism had been rewarded.

Netanyahu got away with everything he wanted, building more settlements, expanding Jerusalem colonisation, evicting Palestinians from their homes to build recreation parks, maintaining a punitive siege on one million and a half Palestinians in Gaza and blocking every effort to resume meaningful talks while persistently calling for resuming direct negotiations.

The proximity talks, which made a second start two months ago, following massive American pressure on the Palestinians - the first attempt collapsed before it even started - were not meant to achieve results.
No one in his right mind could have expected results. Even the PA president and other advisers of his admitted no sign of progress in response to a White House signal that they were achieving something. To move from sterile proximity talks to direct talks, as Obama is demanding, is another mockery. But again, it could not be possible that anyone would expect any results, neither does it seem that results are the goal of such negotiations.

The goal is to enable a failed US policy for the region to claim any success. This could not be accomplished without additional appeasement of Netanyahu. This is what Netanyahu returned home with from his last visit to the White House, without agreeing to one single demand.

“Each leader [Obama and Netanyahu] accomplished what he needed,” says MJ Rosenberg, adding: “Netanyahu goes home looking far stronger than when he departed and without making any compromises that would offend his right flank. Obama can inform the chairs of the House and Senate campaign committees that they can tell disgruntled donors that his relations with Netanyahu are good as gold.”

That is what really matters. Not the future of the region, not stability, not even peace, not Gaza, not the rule of law, not the fate of the Palestinians, not the occupation, not the colonisation of Palestinian lands, not Lebanon, not another war against Iran. All that does not matter. What matters is Obama’s future and whether he will return to the White House for a second term with the help of the lobby.
Source: The Jordan Times, 14 July. 2010

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

American Double Standards Unjustifiable: Interview With Eric Garris

July 15, 2010 by politicaltheatrics

The following was written by freelance Iranian journalist Kourosh Ziabari

Things are getting more complex concerning Iran’s nuclear program. The Brazil, Turkey-brokered Tehran Declaration according to which Iran agreed to ship 1,200 kilograms of its Low Enriched Uranium to Turkey for further enrichment to be used in Tehran’s research reactor was welcomed by a fourth round of UNSC sanctions and a set of unilateral sanctions imposed by the EU and United States against Iran.

At the same time, Tel Aviv has renewed its war threats against Tehran, cautioning that it might use the Saudi Arabia’s airspace to launch a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities; however, the war of words and struggle over dominance and superiority between the governments does nothing but costing the daily life of ordinary Iranians who has been already entangled in a 30-year-long embargo by the United States.

“Sanctions rarely accomplish what they are intended to do, or what they are claimed to intend to do. They usually hurt the poor and middle class the most,” says Eric Garris, the prominent American peace activist and the founder of Antiwar website.

“The Iraq sanctions are an excellent example. Sanctions are nothing more than a form of collective punishment and a step toward war,” he adds.

According to Garris, the United States has resorted to the exercise of double standards by putting a lethal pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program while neglecting the atomic arsenal of Israel that has threatened Iran with a nuclear strike several times: “Of course these double standards are not justifiable. But it is not just Israel. The U.S. and several Western nations have threatened Iran with nuclear weapons, yet they deny the right of Iran to possess the same sorts of weapons.”

“It would not be surprising if Iran was trying to obtain nuclear weapons, although there is no evidence that they are trying to obtain them, given the number of countries threatening them with the same. The U.S. should begin disarmament of its own nukes and encourage others to do the same,” stressed Garris.
Eric Garris believes that the obligations of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are being imposed on Iran discriminatorily: “The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has become a farce. Nations like Israel, Pakistan, and India are not pressured to sign or submit to inspections, while Iran is forced to comply with even more inspections than are required by the treaty. The treaty can only work if it is applied equally across the board.”

The co-founder of Antiwar website also believes that the United States has labeled Iran a “state sponsor of terrorism” fallaciously: “Iran is no more a state sponsor of terrorism than the U.S. is. By labeling a nation this way, the West is able to deny it basic respect and rights and to paint it as some sort of backward nation of thugs. Americans need to learn the recent history of Iran, including the US-backed overthrow of the democratic regime in 1953 and US support for Saddam in the Iran-Iraq War.”

Responding to my question about the prospect of Israel without the unconditional sponsorship of the United States, Garris stated that it would be so effortful for Israel to survive politically should the White House lifts its support for Tel Aviv: “Israel would have a hard time sustaining their warfare, welfare state without the billions of U.S. aid and its unconditional diplomatic support. Americans need to kick the ultimate welfare queen, Israel, off the dole and cut off all foreign aid.”

And the final word of Eric Garris was about the recent Freedom Flotilla massacre: “The international community, by and large, let Israel get away with an act of piracy on the high seas. They also continue to let Israel get away with turning the Gaza Strip into a giant prison camp, using collective punishment as the only rule of law.”

- Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian freelance journalist and media correspondent. His articles and interviews have appeared on Tehran Times, Press TV, Global Research and Foreign Policy Journal. He has interviewed Noam Chomsky, Vicente Fox, Peter D. Feaver, Theodoros Pangalos, Joshua Frank and Gilad Atzmon.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Lieberman Thanks Suleiman over Libya-chartered Gaza Aid Ship

15/07/2010 Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke to Egypt's intelligence chief on Thursday, thanking him for Cairo's cooperation in preventing the Libya-sponsored aid ship from breaking the Gaza blockade.

Speaking with the director General Intelligence Services Omar Suleiman, Lieberman said that the ties between the two countries led to positive results and that the situation was resolved without necessitating the use of force and without any injuries.

According to Israeli daily Ynet, Lieberman also updated Suleiman on Israel's new policy regarding Gaza, and the two agreed to meet during Suleiman's next visit to the occupied territories, when Lieberman will present him with new information.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Kidnapped Iranian scientist exposes US government as a criminal enterprise

Via Silver Lining

Posted on July 14, 2010 by realistic bird

{Diplomatic solution for Iranian nuclear program} by Faris Garabet
The Shahram Affair

by Justin Raimondo, July 14, 2010, source

Confronted with the accusation that Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri had been kidnapped by US and Saudi intelligence agencies while on a trip to Mecca, and brought to the US for interrogation, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley averred: “We are not in the habit of going around kidnapping people.”
To which the only proper response is: Oh, really?

Given the numerous instances of “extraordinary rendition” in which our government has been engaged, and no doubt continues to be engaged, one wonders how Senor Crowley can say that with a straight face. But then again, being an official spokesman for the US Department of State no doubt requires some sort of facial surgery – or, perhaps, an industrial-strength shot of Botox – to achieve the desired results.
Now that Shahram has shown up at the Iranian interests section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C., claiming to have been abducted by the US and Saudi intelligence services, and tortured, Crowley may want to review his knowledge of US habits.

In March, ABC News released an “exclusive” report hailing Shahram’s “defection” as a great US “intelligence coup,” the missing link in the puzzle piecing together a picture of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. Shahram is said to have worked for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and news of his “defection” appeared alongside reports of an Iranian “secret” nuclear facility on the outskirts of the city of Qom.

As it was, the Iranians themselves revealed the existence of the Qom facility and opened it up to inspection by the IAEA, but the matter of Shahram’s disappearance appeared to throw a shadow over their efforts at openness. We were to be told that the defector had brought with him a laptop which contained all the secrets of Iran’s nukes, and this was to be touted as yet more evidence – as if this administration needed any – Iran was harboring nuclear ambitions in defiance of the “international community.” “According to the people briefed on the intelligence operation,” ABC “reported,” “Amiri’s disappearance was part of a long-planned CIA operation to get him to defect. The CIA reportedly approached the scientist in Iran through an intermediary who made an offer of resettlement on behalf of the United States.”

That, at least, was the official story, dutifully relayed to the world by ABC “News”: Shahram, however, upended their neat little narrative, months later, with a YouTube video – that indispensable weapon of counter-propaganda – in which he told us:

“I was kidnapped last year (2009) in the holy city of Medina on 3 June in a joint operation by the terror and abduction units of the American CIA and Saudi Arabia’s Istikhbarat [intelligence agency].They took me to a house located somewhere that I didn’t know. They gave me an anesthetic injection. When I became conscious I was in a big [voice interrupted] towards America.

“During the eight months that I was kept in America, I was subject to the most severe tortures and psychological pressures by the American intelligence investigation groups.

“And the main aim behind these investigation teams and the pressure imposed on me was to make me take part in an interview conducted by an American media source and claim that I was an important figure in Iran’s nuclear program and I had sought asylum in America at my own will. And (to say) while seeking asylum I took some very important documents and a laptop with classified information on Iran’s military nuclear program in it to America from my country.”

This was followed, hours later, by yet another video, in which someone claiming to be Shahram – and looking, admittedly, just like him – said he wanted to clear up “rumors,” denied having any political views or that he had betrayed his country, and stated: “I am in America and intend to continue my education here. I am free here and I assure everyone that I am safe.”

Gee, it’s a good thing the CIA has their own YouTube channel: now there’s a solid investment of the US taxpayers’ money. But Shahram wasn’t done with them quite yet.

On June 29, a third video cropped up, which was played by Iranian television, in which the real Shahram cleared up the mystery:

“I, Shahram Amiri, am a national of the Islamic Republic of Iran and a few minutes ago I succeeded in escaping US security agents in Virginia. Presently, I am producing this video in a safe place. I could be re-arrested at any time.”

After appealing to Western human rights organizations to intervene on his behalf – fat chance! – he continued:

“The second video which was published on YouTube by the US government, where I have said that I am free and want to continue my education here, is not true and is a complete fabrication. If something happens and I do not return home alive, the US government will be responsible.”

All this time Washington had refused to acknowledge Shahram’s presence in the US, but when he showed up at the Pakistani embassy an official who refused to be named told the media: “He came to this country freely, he lived here freely, and he has chosen freely to return to Iran.”

Such evidence as we have indicates only the last of those three assertions bears any resemblance to the facts. Aside from Shahram’s testimony, and his presence at the embassy, the high quality of the second video, and the relatively poor quality of the first and third, is suggestive of an effort by US intelligence to cover up a badly botched job.

What’s interesting about this story isn’t only the scandal of a kidnapping carried out by our spooks – after all, we should be inured to that by now – but the role the US media was slated to play if Shahram had gone along for the ride. I wonder which “American media source” was tasked with interviewing him. Could it be ABC “News,” the outlet given the “exclusive” story of his alleged “defection” just before the Qom story broke? Just guessing there, but amid all the controversy over media folk partying with administration movers-and-shakers, this kind of beach party ought to make us stop and think about the degree to which the media is functioning as an arm of government.

Not that this is anything all that new. Back in the day, you’ll recall, it was a Washington Post reporter, Dillard Stokes, who, in league with the FBI and the Roosevelt administration, wrote a letter under an assumed name to the defendants in the Great Sedition Trial of 1940, seeking antiwar literature which he proposed to distribute to US soldiers: this was later used as evidence by the prosecution. During the cold war era, the media was utilized by the FBI” s “red squad” to plant stories and spread disinformation, and there’s no reason to believe this symbiosis has ended with the coming of the Obama-ites to Washington: quite the opposite, I’m sure. We are also all too familiar with “cooked” intelligence, the smell of it having permeated Washington (and the front page of the New York Times – thanks, Judy!) in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

The signal achievement of the Obama administration may have been to combine these elements of deception, and add to them the crime of kidnapping.

Let no one berate us libertarians for describing the US government as a criminal enterprise: it isn’t disloyalty to the country, or even a penchant for overstatement, that drives us to such rhetorical excesses. It’s the story of what happened to Shahram Amiri: it’s the lies, the thuggery and hubris of a ruling elite that believes it can get away with anything. Such is their contempt for the American people – and the peoples of the world – that they think we’ll swallow any tall tale, no matter how crudely fabricated, because we’re just not as smart as their cunning selves.

However, it looks like they’re not cunning enough by half, having blown the Shahram operation and exposed their embarrassingly inept tradecraft. They can try to patch up this gaping hole in US credibility by claiming Shahram left only to protect his family from retaliation, but there are certain problems with this.
Since the family wasn’t harmed in the year Shahram spent in captivity in the US, one can reasonably infer they were never in any danger. Indeed, if they were in danger, and the US let him return home because of it, then wouldn’t revealing this alleged “threat” plant suspicion in the minds of Iranian officials that perhaps he had turned over valuable intelligence to the Americans – and place Shahram and his family in mortal danger?
In any case, I did warn you far in advance that we’d soon be treated to a veritable cornucopia of “news” stories detailing the nefarious plans of Iranian ayatollahs to nuke Israel, and Brooklyn, too. The Obama-ites are under increasing pressure from the Israel lobby to abandon the CIA’s assessment that Iran ended a nascent nuclear weapons program in 2003: Shahram’s “defection” was supposed to have facilitated this development. Instead, the whole scheme backfired, and, rather than making the case for war with Iran, the Shahram affair has confirmed what some of us knew already: that the US government is a criminal enterprise with no morals, no credibility.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Attack on Iran Would Open Long War: Think Tank

15/07/2010 An Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would start a long war and probably not prevent Iran from eventually acquiring nuclear weapons”, a think-tank said on Thursday.

The Oxford Research Group, said military action should be ruled out as a response to Iran's possible nuclear weapons ambitions.

"An Israeli attack on Iran would be the start of a protracted conflict that would be unlikely to prevent the eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran and might even encourage it," it said in a report. It would also lead to instability and unpredictable security consequences for the region and the wider world, it added.

The report, by Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at the University of Bradford, said U.S. military action against Iran appeared unlikely but Israel's capabilities had increased. "Long-range strike aircraft acquired from the United States, combined with an improved fleet of tanker aircraft, the deployment of long-range drones and the probable availability of support facilities in northeast Iraq and Azerbaijan, all increase Israel's potential for action against Iran," the report said.

The Oxford report estimated it might take three to seven years for Iran to develop a small arsenal of nuclear weapons if it decided to do so. It said there was no firm evidence such a decision had been taken by the Islamic Republic.

Any Israeli strike would be focused not only on destroying nuclear and missile targets but would also hit factories and research centers and even university laboratories to damage Iranian expertise, the report said. This would cause many civilian casualties, the report added.

Iran's responses to an Israeli attack could include withdrawing from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and immediate action to produce “nuclear weapons” to deter further attacks, the report explained.

They could also include missile attacks on Israel, closing the Strait of Hormuz to push up oil prices and paramilitary or missile attacks on Western oil facilities in the Gulf.

After a first strike, Israel might have to carry out regular air strikes to stop Iran developing “atom bombs” and medium-range missiles, the report said. "Iranian responses would also be long-term, ushering in a lengthy war with global as well as regional implications," Rogers said.

Other options open to the West were to redouble efforts to get a diplomatic settlement or accept that Iran may eventually acquire a nuclear capability and use that as the start of a process of balanced regional de-nuclearization, the report concluded.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

"They want us to be loyal to the occupation": Muhammad Totah interviewed

Max Blumenthal, The Electronic Intifada, 15 July 2010

Muhammad Totah (Max Blumenthal)

On 9 July, as Israeli Border Police officers brutalized demonstrators at the weekly protest in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, forcing them away from a street where several homes had been seized by radical right-wing Jewish settlers, I visited the Jerusalem International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) headquarters just a few hundred meters away.

Though the din of protest chants and police megaphones could not be heard from the ICRC center, the three Palestinian legislators who had staged a sit-in there for more than a week to protest their forced expulsion from Jerusalem insisted that their plight was the same as the families forced from their homes down the street.

"All the Israeli steps in East Jerusalem are designed to evacuate Jerusalem of its Palestinian heritage," remarked Muhammad Totah, an elected Palestinian Legislative Council member who has been ordered to permanently leave Jerusalem by the Israeli government. "Whether it's through home demolition, taking homes or deporting us, the goal is the same."

According to the Israel's Ministry of the Interior, the three legislators are guilty of a vaguely defined "breach of trust," ostensibly for their membership in a foreign government. The charge leveled against them recalls nothing more than the campaign platform of the far-right Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, which demanded the mass expulsion of "disloyal" Palestinian citizens of Israel.

For this reason, the Israel-based legal advocacy group Adalah described the Israeli government's actions as "characteristic of dark and totalitarian regimes" ("Motion for Injunction filed to Israeli Supreme Court to Stop Imminent Deportation Process of Palestinian Legislative Council Members from Jerusalem," 15 June 2010).

The lawmakers' problems began in 2006 when they ran for the Palestinian Legislative Council in the West Bank as members of the Change and Reform list, an offshoot of Hamas. Though the Israeli government allowed the men to campaign for office and vote for the Chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council, as soon as they were elected, Israel warned them to resign from office or face the cancellation of their status as residents of Jerusalem.

When they failed to heed the Israeli government's demand, in June 2006, the men were arrested and sentenced to two to four years in prison. Two days after they were released, the Israeli police confiscated their identification cards and ordered them to leave Jerusalem for another part of the West Bank.

As a result of the expulsion orders, the first of their kind since 1967, the three lawmakers are virtual hostages in the city their families have lived in for generations -- if they leave the Red Cross center they will be immediately arrested. Their colleague, Muhammad Abu Tir, is already in an Israeli jail cell. Despite having been separated from their families for years, they remain steadfast in their rejection of the government's orders, fearing that their expulsion will open the door for mass deportations of Palestinians from East Jerusalem.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, along with the rest of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Syrian Golan Heights and the Sinai peninsula, which was returned to Egypt in a peace deal a decade later. No country recognizes Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem, and the UN Security Council has declared repeatedly that Israel's occupation of all the territories it seized in 1967 is governed by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, a treaty Israel was compelled to sign which specifically forbids an occupying power from expelling civilians from the territory it occupies. Thus the legislators' expulsion has been issued in explicit violation of binding international law.

Totah told me that the Israeli interior ministry has a list of 315 members of Palestinian civil society in East Jerusalem -- academics, lawmakers, activists -- whom it plans to expel in the near future on charges of disloyalty to the Jewish state. "They are trying to legalize the Nakba," Totah remarked, using the Arabic word Palestinians use to describe their mass expulsion from their homeland in 1948.

I talked with the 42-year-old Totah for a half hour in the leafy courtyard of the ICRC headquarters. He was visibly tired, having spent the past two days in meetings with British parliamentarians, the head of Jerusalem's Greek Orthodox Church and left-wing Israeli groups ranging from Anarchists Against The Wall to Gush Shalom. While a wiry young boy rushed around the yard, serving us a seemingly endless stream of Turkish coffee shots, Totah described to me his experience as a prisoner in his hometown.

Max Blumenthal: The Israeli government says you are guilty of a "breach of trust." Does this mean they are accusing you of disloyalty to the state?

Muhammad Totah: The main reason they are expelling us is that we are accused of disloyalty. And every one on the list [of 315 Palestinian civil society members Israel seeks to expel] is accused of disloyalty. They want us to be loyal to the occupation. This is insane! So they are seeking any excuse to get rid of us. They want us to leave at any price. Basically, they want to finish the project that they began in 1948 because it has taken too long.

MB: Why did you decide to conduct a sit-in inside the Red Cross headquarters?

MT: We are determined to prevent the occupation from coming and taking us away. Beyond that, we are using our time here to make sure the international community hears our case. The occupation is against all international laws and we believe if the door of deportation is open in Jerusalem, it means that hundreds or even thousands will be deported. Right now, we are in danger of being arrested at any time. In fact, our colleague Abu Tir was arrested last month. So they could come at any time for us.

MB: Do you believe the Israelis would go as far as raiding a Red Cross center in Jerusalem to carry out your expulsion?

MT: The occupation will do anything. They are killing people constantly, demolishing buildings and doing what they have done for years. Ten thousand Palestinians are in currently in prison. So yes, we would not be surprised by such an action.

MB: Has the international community responded to your protest?

MT: We sent a letter to [US] President [Barack] Obama and asked him to interfere and to put pressure on the Israeli side to cancel this illegal decision. So far, we have not heard a response. We have sat with [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas two times and he said that he had sent my letters to all the human rights organization and USAID [the US Agency for International Development] and sent letters to the occupation authorities and he said they're making communications all the time time. But until now nothing on the ground. We have put out a call for international human rights organizations as well. And we have sent letters to all the leaders of Islamic and Arab states.

Our letters stress that our protest is not about our case in particular, but that it is about all the Palestinians living in Jerusalem. We believe that this decision is designed to begin a process that will empty Jerusalem of Palestinian people. The UN and international community admits that East Jerusalem is occupied by Israel, so clearly this is an illegal decision under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

MB: How much of Israel's decision is motivated by your affiliation with Hamas and how does the tension between Hamas and Fatah effect the Palestinian Authority's involvement in the case?

MT: This is an international case. It has nothing to do with Fatah and Hamas. There is a list of over 300 people who will be deported after us -- the heart of Palestinian civil society in East Jerusalem -- and for this reason all the parties in Jerusalem are united against this decision. They feel that we are the first and they will be the second. We know that the occupation doesn't discriminate between political parties.

MB: How has your predicament affected your family?

MT: My son who is six years old does not want to leave the house anymore. He said, "I will not leave the house until my father comes back!" As soon as I was released from prison I was sent to so many meetings right away and couldn't see my family, who I had hardly seen for four years. Now he's having his own protest at home. "I will not leave home!" he says. This is a very big problem for me because I don't want to break his heart. One of my children who is even younger wakes up every night screaming and crying with terrible nightmares. "Why are you crying?" my wife says. He says, "The soldiers are coming to throw me in jail!" My wife is suffering because of course we have been split for a very long time. The occupation wants to scare my family and if any information gets to my wife or children about what is happening to me they become extremely upset. This is not just my problem, though. All my colleagues are suffering this same way.

MB: How much of a burden has been placed on you by the Palestinian community in Jerusalem to resist your expulsion?

MT: The fact is that if we accept the deportation it means we accept deportation for thousand of Palestinians in Jerusalem. Even as hard as it is to be here without our families for so long we think that is the only means we have to declare that [our expulsion] is illegal and is against all international laws. We have nowhere else to go. This is our original country and our original city. My father was born here; my grandfather was born here so we have been here hundreds of years. All we are demanding is to stay in our homes and we are sure that we will get it because it's our right and the deportation is against all international laws.

MB: If deporting you is the first step in a plan for mass deportations, what do you think Israel's end game is?

MT: We think that there is a plan from the Israeli side to make East Jerusalem Jewish and they have many practices to do so. One of them that is the most dangerous is our deportation. If they demolish your house, you can always build another building. But deporting people -- how can you talk about a city without people? What they want is to legalize the Nakba.

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author working in Israel-Palestine. His articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Huffington Post,, Al-Jazeera English and many other publications. He is a writing fellow for the Nation Institute. His book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, is a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian