Apr 12, 2010

Israeli Firms Accused of Profiting Off Holocaust


Families Battle for Assets in Court

Israeli Firms Accused of Profiting Off Holocaust


June 25, 2009


Israel's second largest bank will be forced to defend itself in court in the coming weeks over claims it is withholding tens of millions of dollars in "lost" accounts belonging to Jews who died in the Nazi death camps.

Bank Leumi has denied it holds any such funds despite a parliamentary committee revealing in 2004 that the bank owes at least $75 million to the families of several thousand Holocaust victims.

Analysts said the bank's role is only the tip of an iceberg in which Israeli companies and state bodies could be found to have withheld billions of dollars invested by Holocaust victims in the country -- dwarfing the high-profile reparations payouts from such European countries as Switzerland.

"All I want is justice," said David Hillinger, 73, whose grandfather, Aaron, died in Auschwitz, a Nazi camp in Poland. Lawyers are demanding reparations of $100,000 for Bank Leumi accounts held by his father and grandfather.

The allegations against Bank Leumi surfaced more than a decade ago following research by Yossi Katz, an Israeli historian.

He uncovered bank correspondence in the immediate wake of the Second World War in which it cited "commercial secrecy" as grounds for refusing to divulge the names of account holders who had been killed in the Holocaust.

"I was shocked," said Dr Katz, from Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv. "My first reaction was: 'My God, this isn't Switzerland!' "

In 1998, following widespread censure, Swiss banks agreed to pay $1.25 billion in reparations after they there were accused of having profited from the dormant accounts of Holocaust victims.

Dr Katz's revelations led to the establishment of a parliamentary committee in 2000 to investigate the behaviour of Israel's banks. Its report came to light belatedly in 2004 after Bank Leumi put pressure on the government to prevent publication.

Investigators found thousands of dormant accounts belonging to Holocaust victims in several banks, though the lion's share were located at Bank Leumi. Obstructions from Leumi meant many other account holders had probably not been identified, the investigators warned.

The parliamentary committee originally estimated the accounts it had located to be worth more than $160m, using the valuation formula applied to the Swiss banks. But under pressure from Leumi and the government, it later reduced the figure by more than half.

A restitution company was created in 2006 to search for account holders and return the assets to their families.

Meital Noy, a spokeswoman for the company, said it had been forced to begin legal proceedings this week after Bank Leumi had continued to claim that its findings were "baseless".

The bank paid $5m two years ago in what it says was a "goodwill gesture". Ms Noy called the payment "a joke". She said 3,500 families, most of them in Israel, were seeking reparations from Bank Leumi.

The bank was further embarrassed by revelations in 2007 that one per cent of its shares -- worth about $80 million -- belonged to tens of thousands of Jews killed during the Holocaust.

Mr Hillinger, who was born in Belgium in 1936 and spent the Second Wold War hiding in southern France, today lives in Petah Tikva in central Israel.

He said before the outbreak of war his father and grandfather had invested money in the Anglo-Palestine Bank, the forerunner of Leumi, in the hope it would gain them a visa to what was then British-ruled Palestine.

Although his parents escaped the death camps, his grandparents were sent to Auschwitz and died in the gas chambers shortly after arrival.

Mr Hillinger said he had only learnt of the outstanding debt from Bank Leumi after his father, Moses, died in 1996. Papers showed the bank had paid his father "a pittance" in 1952 when he closed his account and that it had never returned his grandfather's money.

When he wrote to Bank Leumi in 1998, it denied his grandfather had ever opened an account.

"My grandfather died because he was a Jew, and it is shameful that other Jews are exploiting his death," he said. "We need to wake people up about this."

A quarter of a million Holocaust survivors are reported to be in Israel, with one-third of them living in poverty, according to welfare organisations.

Shraga Elam, an Israeli investigative financial journalist based in Zurich, said after the war many Israelis showed little sympathy for the European Jewish refugees who arrived in Israel.

"David Ben Gurion [Israel's first prime minister] notoriously called them 'human dust', and I remember as children we referred to them as sabonim, the Hebrew word for soap," he said, in reference to the rumoured Nazi practice of making soap from Jewish corpses.

"In fact, I can't think of any place in the world where [Holocaust] survivors are as badly treated as they are in Israel," Mr Elam said.

He said Bank Leumi's "lost" accounts were only a small fraction of Holocaust assets held by Israeli companies and the Israeli state that should have been returned. The total could be as much as $20bn.

He said European Jews had invested heavily in Palestine in the pre-war years, buying land, shares and insurance policies and opening bank accounts. During the Second World War Britain seized most of these assets as enemy property because the owners were living in Nazi-occupied lands.

In 1950 Britain repaid some $1.4 million to the new state of Israel, which was supposed to make reparations to the original owners.

However, little effort was made to trace them or, in the case of those who died in the Holocaust, their heirs. Instead the Israeli government is believed to have used the funds to settle new immigrants in Israel.

"These are huge assets, including real estate in some of the most desirable parts of Israel," Mr Elam said.

Last year the Israeli media reported an investigation showing that the finance ministry destroyed its real estate files in the 1950s, apparently to conceal the extent of the state's holding of Holocaust assets.

The case against Bank Leumi may end the generally muted criticism inside Israel of the banks' role. Officials and even the families themselves have been concerned about the damage the case might do to Israel's image as the guardian of Jewish interests.

In 2003 Ram Caspi, Bank Leumi's lawyer, used such an argument before the parliamentary committee, warning its members that the US media "will say the Israeli banks also hide money, not just the Swiss".

Organisations that led the campaign for reparations from European banks, such as the Jewish Claims Conference and the World Jewish Restitution Organisation, have also downplayed the role of the Israeli banks.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair" (Zed Books). His website is

A version of this article originally appeared in The National (, published in Abu Dhabi.



Michael Santomauro
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Israeli groups fight orders allowing army to jail West Bank residents

Israeli human rights campaigners claim Palestinians or foreigners could be labelled infiltrators

west bank orders

Israeli human rights groups say that Palestinians and any foreigners living in the West Bank could be deemed 'infiltrators' and deported within 72 hours or jailed for seven years if they are found without the correct permit under the new orders. Photograph: Musa Al-Shaer/AFP/Getty Images

Israel's leading human rights groups are trying to stop two new Israeli military orders which will make any resident of the occupied West Bank who does not have an Israeli-issued permit liable for deportation or jail.

The new Order Regarding Prevention of Infiltration and Order Regarding Security Provisions, which comes into force on Tuesday have "severe ramifications," the rights groups say. Palestinians, and any foreigners living in the West Bank, could be labelled infiltrators and deported within 72 hours or jailed for seven years if they are found without the correct permit. It does not define what Israel considers a valid permit.

"The orders … are worded so broadly such as theoretically allowing the military to empty the West Bank of almost all its Palestinian inhabitants," said the 10 rights groups, which include Ha-Moked, B'Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and Rabbis for Human Rights. Until now the vast majority of Palestinians in the West Bank have not been required to hold a permit just to be present in their homes, the groups say.

"The military will be able to prosecute and deport any Palestinian defined as an infiltrator in stark contradiction to the Geneva conventions," they said. The law broadens the definition of an "infiltrator" and could allow Israel to transfer some Palestinians from the West Bank to Gaza, or to deport foreign passport holders married to West Bank Palestinians, or to deport Israelis or foreigners living in the West Bank. The groups said tens of thousands of Palestinians were in those categories.

Israel effectively controls the Palestinian population register and since 2000, apart from once in 2007, the Israeli authorities have frozen applications for renewal of visitor permits for foreign nationals, or applications to grant permanent status in the occupied territories. As a result, many Palestinians live in the West Bank without formal status and are now vulnerable under the new orders. The human rights groups wrote to the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, today asking him to delay or revoke the orders, which they said were "unlawful and allow extreme and arbitrary injury to a vast number of people".

The Israeli military said the purpose of the orders was "the extradition of those residing illegally in Judea and Samaria," an Israeli term for the West Bank. The orders had been "corrected" in order to "assure judicial oversight of the extradition process," it said.

However, Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the orders would make it easy for Israel to imprison or expel Palestinians from the West Bank. "These military orders belong in an apartheid state," he said. "They are an assault on ordinary Palestinians and an affront to the most fundamental principles of human rights. Israel's endgame is not peace. It is the colonisation of the West Bank."

This is what living under occupation means: you can't move from one place to another in your own country, you can't marry, you can't choose your University, you can't work... The Occupation Statutory book  becomes more and more unacceptable even 43 years later, and on and on...What next? Fight back! Resist! Refuse to obey such orders of tyranny! Pressure up worldwide to make occupation vanish from the page of time! International solidarity, support BDS movement!
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Photo by: AP
New law could deport of thousands of West Bank Palestinians

The new order makes it a criminal act for anyone to live in the West Bank without a permit.
New legislation is due to go into effect on Tuesday granting the army authority to deport thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip or Arab countries from which they originally hailed, even if they entered the area legally and have lived there for many years, Israeli human rights organizations warned Sunday.

The new order makes it a criminal act for anyone to live in the West Bank without a permit. Violators can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

In a letter addressed to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the organizations demanded that he revoke two military orders or at least postpone them "as they are unlawful and allow extreme and arbitrary injury to a vast number of people." The letter was signed by Hamoked – Defense of the Individual, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Bimkom, Planners for Planning Rights, B'Tselem, Gisha, The Public Committee against Torture in Israel, Yesh Din, Adalah, Rabbis for Human Rights and Physicians for Human Rights.

The key new military order is and amendment to the Order regarding Prevention of Infiltration, which was originally legislated in 1969 to prevent and punish infiltration from Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon, all of which were enemy countries at the time.

The amendment, however, is aimed at anyone living in the West Bank who does not have a legal permit or certificate issued either by the West Bank military commander or the Interior Ministry.

According to an attorney for Hamoked, Elad Cahana, the military commander of the West Bank has never issued such permits so that even Palestinians who were born in the West Bank do not have them. Nevertheless, according to the amendment, an infiltrator is defined as "anyone who enters the Area [i.e. the West Bank] illegally after the date established by this law or who is [already] residing in the Area and does not have a permit in accordance with the law."

Cahana told The Jerusalem Post that based on recent Israeli policy, the main target of the legislation are Palestinians who moved from Gaza to the West Bank, the overwhelming majority of which did so in order to marry.

Until 2000, Cahana said, Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza could move back and forth between the areas without restrictions. In the following years, they had to receive permission from military authorities to do so. But in 2007, the authorities began to turn down requests from Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip to move to the West Bank. In many cases, Gazan women could not join their husbands and even in humanitarian cases, the army established narrow criteria for allowing the move.

Several petitions, mostly filed by individual Palestinians from Gaza seeking to move to the West Bank for family reunification or humanitarian reasons, are currently being heard in the High Court of Justice.

The problem is intensified by the fact that over the past 10 years, except for a brief interlude, Israel has refused to grant residential status to non-West Bank natives, from Gaza or foreign countries, who have been living in the West Bank. These Palestinians lack residential status and all the benefits that go with it, such as the right to work, because of Israeli policy. But with the new military law, they also face the prospect of going to prison.

Another group that stands to be hard hit by the new order is immigrants to the West Bank from Jordan, most of whom moved there to marry.

Cahana said Barak has not yet replied to the organizations' letter.

The IDF Spokesperson said in response to the report: "The laws in Judea and Samaria have in the past permitted the expulsion of Palestinians who are illegally residing in the West Bank.

"The objective of changing the order to prevent infiltrations that will go into effect on April 13 and was signed a half-a-year-ago and was publicized is to allow for a legal process on the deportation procedure of Palestinians illegally in the West Bank by a committee which is headed by a judge and to enable additional oversight of this procedure," the IDF added.

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

IDF bid to expel West Bank Palestinians is a step too far
By Haaretz Editorial

A new military order will take effect this week, enabling the army to deport tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank and prosecute them on infiltration charges, which carry long prison terms. The order, uncovered by Amira Hass in Haaretz yesterday, bears the signature of Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni in his previous capacity as commander of the Israel Defense Forces in Judea and Samaria.

The order's vague language will allow army officers to exploit it arbitrarily to carry out mass expulsions, in accordance with military orders which were issued under unclear circumstances. The first candidates for expulsion will be people whose ID cards bear addresses in the Gaza Strip, including children born in the West Bank and Palestinians living in the West Bank who have lost their residency status for various reasons.

This would be a grave and dangerous move, unprecedented during the Israeli occupation. For years, Israel has used a heavy hand against the Palestinian population registry, trampling basic human rights such as the freedom to move one's residence within the occupied territories. Many Palestinians' lives have thus been made very difficult because they have been cut off from their previous places of residence without being able to return or legally register their new addresses.

The right of all Palestinians to choose where to live in the West Bank or Gaza marks a very low threshold for defining their human rights. Israel, which justifiably prevents Palestinians from returning to where they lived before 1948 and does not offer them fair compensation for their property (while enabling Jews to recover property from the same period, as has happened in Sheikh Jarrah), cannot expel Palestinians from the occupied territories on the basis of dubious bureaucratic claims.

Implementing this new military order is not only likely to spark a new conflagration in the territories, it is liable to give the world clear-cut proof that Israel's aim is a mass deportation of Palestinians from the West Bank. While all Jews can settle wherever they wish, in Israel or in the territories, Israel is trying to deprive the Palestinians of even the minimal right to choose where to live in the West Bank or Gaza. The prime minister and defense minister should immediately shelve this military order before the IDF feels free to begin carrying out expulsions.

Fayyad: New IDF orders threaten to empty West Bank of Palestinians




Tags: Israel news, West Bank  



The Palestinian leadership on Monday protested against Israeli military orders that could see tens of thousands of Palestinians deported from the West Bank.


On Sunday Haaretz revealed that a new military order aimed at preventing infiltration will come into force this week, enabling the deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, or their indictment on charges carrying prison terms of up to seven years.


The measure, due to come into force on Tuesday, "threatens the emptying of large areas of land from its Palestinian inhabitants," Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in a statement.


Ten Israeli human rights organizations have appealed to Defense Minister Ehud Barak to freeze the orders, which were issued on October 13, 2009, with the provision they come into force within six months.


The military orders class people living in the West Bank without the proper documentation as "infiltrators".


"The order targets thousands of Palestinians from Gaza who work and live in the West Bank and could lead to their forced deportation to the Gaza Strip," Fayyad said.


Also affected are Palestinians who have identification papers from neighboring countries as well as foreign women married to Palestinians residing in the West Bank.


Fayyad said the measures contradict International Humanitarian Law as well as UN Security Council decisions which condemn forced deportations.


With the measures, Israel "aims at deepening the hold of the occupation in the West Bank and facilitating more Israel land-grab," the prime minister said.


Earlier Monday, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa also condemned the Israeli move, telling reporters in Damascus that "it is hard to establish real peace in the region due to the Israeli measure." His comments followed a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


"We reject such measures and we call on the international community to bear responsibility," Moussa said, adding that an Arab League meeting will be held to discuss the situation.


IDF order will enable mass deportation from West Bank
By Amira Hass

A new military order aimed at preventing infiltration will come into force this week, enabling the deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, or their indictment on charges carrying prison terms of up to seven years.

When the order comes into effect, tens of thousands of Palestinians will automatically become criminal offenders liable to be severely punished.

Given the security authorities' actions over the past decade, the first Palestinians likely to be targeted under the new rules will be those whose ID cards bear home addresses in the Gaza Strip - people born in Gaza and their West Bank-born children - or those born in the West Bank or abroad who for various reasons lost their residency status. Also likely to be targeted are foreign-born spouses of Palestinians.

Until now, Israeli civil courts have occasionally prevented the expulsion of these three groups from the West Bank. The new order, however, puts them under the sole jurisdiction of Israeli military courts.

The new order defines anyone who enters the West Bank illegally as an infiltrator, as well as "a person who is present in the area and does not lawfully hold a permit." The order takes the original 1969 definition of infiltrator to the extreme, as the term originally applied only to those illegally staying in Israel after having passed through countries then classified as enemy states - Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

The order's language is both general and ambiguous, stipulating that the term infiltrator will also be applied to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, citizens of countries with which Israel has friendly ties (such as the United States) and Israeli citizens, whether Arab or Jewish. All this depends on the judgment of Israel Defense Forces commanders in the field.

The Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual was the first Israeli human rights to issue warnings against the order, signed six months ago by then-commander of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria Area Gadi Shamni.

Two weeks ago, Hamoked director Dalia Kerstein sent GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi a request to delay the order, given "the dramatic change it causes in relation to the human rights of a tremendous number of people."

According to the provisions, "a person is presumed to be an infiltrator if he is present in the area without a document or permit which attest to his lawful presence in the area without reasonable justification." Such documentation, it says, must be "issued by the commander of IDF forces in the Judea and Samaria area or someone acting on his behalf."

The instructions, however, are unclear over whether the permits referred to are those currently in force, or also refer to new permits that military commanders might issue in the future. The provision are also unclear about the status of bearers of West Bank residency cards, and disregards the existence of the Palestinian Authority and the agreements Israel signed with it and the PLO.

The order stipulates that if a commander discovers that an infiltrator has recently entered a given area, he "may order his deportation before 72 hours elapse from the time he is served the written deportation order, provided the infiltrator is deported to the country or area from whence he infiltrated."

The order also allows for criminal proceedings against suspected infiltrators that could produce sentences of up to seven years. Individuals able to prove that they entered the West Bank legally but without permission to remain there will also be tried, on charges carrying a maximum sentence of three years. (According to current Israeli law, illegal residents typically receive one-year sentences.)

The new provision also allow the IDF commander in the area to require that the infiltrator pay for the cost of his own detention, custody and expulsion, up to a total of NIS 7,500.

The fear that Palestinians with Gaza addresses will be the first to be targeted by this order is based on measures that Israel has taken in recent years to curtail their right to live, work, study or even visit the West Bank. These measures violated the Oslo Accords.

According to a decision by the West Bank commander that was not backed by military legislation, since 2007, Palestinians with Gaza addresses must request a permit to stay in the West Bank. Since 2000, they have been defined as illegal sojourners if they have Gaza addresses, as if they were citizens of a foreign state. Many of them have been deported to Gaza, including those born in the West Bank.

Currently, Palestinians need special permits to enter areas near the separation fence, even if their homes are there, and Palestinians have long been barred from the Jordan Valley without special authorization. Until 2009, East Jerusalemites needed permission to enter Area A, territory under full PA control.

Another group expected to be particularly harmed by the new rules are Palestinians who moved to the West Bank under family reunification provisions, which Israel stopped granting for several years.

In 2007, amid a number of Hamoked petitions and as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, tens of thousands of people received Palestinian residency cards. The PA distributed the cards, but Israel had exclusive control over who could receive them. Thousands of Palestinians, however, remained classified as "illegal sojourners," including many who are not citizens of any other country.

The new order is the latest step by the Israeli government in recent years to require permits that limit the freedom of movement and residency previously conferred by Palestinian ID cards. The new regulations are particularly sweeping, allowing for criminal measures and the mass expulsion of people from their homes.

The IDF Spokesman's Office said in response, "The amendments to the order on preventing infiltration, signed by GOC Central Command, were issued as part of a series of manifests, orders and appointments in Judea and Samaria, in Hebrew and Arabic as required, and will be posted in the offices of the Civil Administration and military courts' defense attorneys in Judea and Samaria. The IDF is ready to implement the order, which is not intended to apply to Israelis, but to illegal sojourners in Judea and Samaria."

Israelis Could Expel Thousands of Palestinians from Palestine

Posted on April 12, 2010 by Juan Cole

New Israeli regulations allow authorities potentially to imprison or expel from the West Bank tens of thousands of Palestinians.

The Israeli right has long favored "transfer" (i.e. ethnic cleansing) as a means of dealing both with Palestinian-Israelis and with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Given the extreme-right character of the government of Binyamin Netanyahu, it is no cause for wonder that practical steps are now being taken toward expulsions and deportations of anyone who even peacefully opposes the government's systematic colonization of the West Bank.

The Guardian summarizes objections of Israeli peace groups who complain that "Palestinians, and any foreigners living in the West Bank" would be liable to deportation within 72 hours if they lack the right permit. "Valid permit" is not defined by the Israelis.

Rory McCarthy writes, "The orders … are worded so broadly such as theoretically allowing the military to empty the West Bank of almost all its Palestinian inhabitants," said the 10 rights groups, which include Ha-Moked, B'Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and Rabbis for Human Rights. Until now the vast majority of Palestinians in the West Bank have not been required to hold a permit just to be present in their homes, the groups say."

The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 requires two things of Israel, the Occupying Power in the Palestinian West Bank:

"Art. 49. Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive . . . The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

Aljazeera English has a video report:

Meanwhile, Palestinians have begun a petition drive to collect a million signatures asking President Obama to end their Occupation. There is an increasing push among Palestinians to simply declare statehood within the next year or two, in hopes of forestalling the complete destruction by the Israelis of Palestinian nationhood.

Video: Israeli ID order set to criminalise Palestinians


April 11, 2010

Thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank may soon be evicted or face criminal charges by Israeli authorities, the Israeli daily Haaretz has said.

An amendment to an Israeli military order on "preventing infiltration" could soon stipulate that residents of the West Bank without ID cards may now need one issued by the occupying authorities.

Anyone without such a document could either be expelled or jailed.

Haaretz said the new order would likely be used first against Palestinians in the West Bank with Gaza ID cards and the foreign spouses of Palestinians living in the territory.

Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland explains.

:: Article nr. 64996 sent on 12-apr-2010 02:13 ECT

Military order targets thousands for deportation
Published Sunday 11/04/2010 (updated) 12/04/2010 09:28
Font- Font+
Israeli soldiers force Palestinians and international activists out of the main
Bethlehem checkpoint on 28 March 2010, following the Palm Sunday rally
protesting Israeli restrictions placed on Palestinian Christians from the West
Bank and Gaza Strip wishing to access Jerusalem over Easter for religious
services. [MaanImages/Luay Sababa]
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Two signed military orders awaiting implementation give military officials broad and almost total control over the deportation of Palestinians whose residency status in the West Bank is called into question.

Specifically, the Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual alleged that the order will be used to deport residents of Gaza from the West Bank, and will likely also target foreign passport holders and non-Palestinian spouses of West Bank residents.

The center said tens of thousands of Palestinians and West Bank residents could be caught in the net of the orders, which Israeli journalist Amira Hass said in a Sunday report were "expected to clamp down on protests in the West Bank."

The new orders, by substantively changing the definition of an "infiltrator," HaMoked said in a statement "effectively apply [the term] to anyone who is present in the West Bank without an Israeli permit," noting "the orders do not define what Israel considers a valid permit," and that "the vast majority of people now living in the West Bank have never been required to hold any sort of permit to be present therein."

The amendments apply to a 1969 order issued following the start of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem. The order was first amended in 1980, when an infiltrator was defined as "a person who entered the Area knowingly and unlawfully having been present in the east bank of the Jordan, Syria, Egypt or Lebanon following the effective date."

In the latest order, an "infiltrator" is defined as: "A person who entered the Area unlawfully following the effective date, or a person who is present in the Area and does not lawfully hold a permit."

The presumption that the orders will be used to clamp-down on Palestinians participating in popular protests against land confiscation and the construction of the separation wall follows a series of failed measures by the Israeli army to stifle the increasingly broadly supported actions.

In March, Israeli forces entered the villages of Ni'lin and Bi'lin to post orders declaring the zone typically used as a protest site a "closed military zone" from that day until August. Once an area is declared a closed zone, Israeli forces say they have the power to make arrests. Protest sights are often declared closed zones as demonstrators gather.

The pending orders also recall the case of Bethlehem University student Berlanty Azzam, a Gaza Christian only one semester away from graduation. The business administration student was pulled from a shared taxi on the Ramallah-Bethlehem road because her ID card had her registered as a Gaza resident. Berlanty had left Gaza on a legal permit three years before and traveled to the West Bank to study.

Without appearing before a judge, Berlanty was bound, blindfolded and driven directly to the northern Erez crossing at Gaza and told to re-enter the Strip. Human rights lawyers challenged the deportation, saying Israel had no right to determine where Palestinians lived, particularly when they were moving from one Palestinian-controlled area to another.

The second amendment, the HaMoked statement said, will allow the Israeli military to "prosecute and deport any Palestinian defined as [an] infiltrator in stark contradiction to the Geneva Convention," and noted that "there is a possibility that some of the deportees will not be given an opportunity for a hearing before being removed from the West Bank."

According to the orders, the deportation may be executed within 72 hours whereas it is possible to delay bringing a person before the appeals committee for up to eight days from issuance of a deportation order.

Human Rights Groups Warn of New Powers for Israel

Published: April 11, 2010

JERUSALEM — A recently amended military order that allows Israel to remove people from the West Bank if it does not recognize their legal status could lead to the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians, Israeli human rights groups warned Sunday.


The amendment — to a 1969 order on dealings with those judged to be infiltrators of the West Bank — was signed by military officials last October and is due to take effect on Tuesday.


In the original document, issued two years after Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war, "infiltrator" was defined as a person who entered the area illegally from a neighboring Arab country. The amendment redefined the term to refer broadly to anyone who entered the West Bank "unlawfully" or who "does not lawfully hold a permit." The permit required is not specified.


"The wide definitions are the problem," said Elad Cahana, a lawyer for HaMoked: The Center for the Defense of the Individual, one of 10 groups appealing for a delay on the change in the order. The group estimated that tens of thousands of Palestinians could theoretically be at risk.


The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, denounced the change. "These military orders belong in an apartheid state," he said. "Extensive in scope, they make it infinitely easier for Israel to imprison and expel Palestinians from the West Bank."


But Capt. Barak Raz, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said that there had been no change in policy regarding the extradition of illegal residents from the West Bank, and that "anyone who has the right paperwork" allowing residency "has nothing to worry about."


Mr. Cahana said the concern was less of a mass expulsion than of the military deporting those officially registered as residents of Gaza, as well as Palestinians or their spouses who moved to the West Bank from abroad.


When the military currently tries to remove such individuals from the West Bank, it often faces difficulties in arguing the cases before Israel's Supreme Court. The amended order could help the military overcome those difficulties, Mr. Cahana said.


Under the revised order, a deportation cannot be carried out until 72 hours after legal papers have been issued, and until the person served has had a chance to appeal in a military court.


Those convicted under the order could now face up to seven years in jail.


In the past, deportation orders could be carried out the same day they were served, with no appeal, so Captain Raz, of the Israeli military, said the amendment could actually help those without legal residency.


"It makes it easier for people without the right paperwork to appeal," he said.


A version of this article appeared in print on April 12, 2010, on page A8 of the New York edition.

Ref: 25/2010

Date: 12 April 2010

Time: 11:00 GMT


PCHR Condemn New Israeli Military Orders Aimed at Expelling West Bank Palestinians


Tomorrow, 13 April 2010, two new Israeli military orders will come into effect, potentially turning all West Bank residents into "infiltrators".


Order No. 1650 regarding Prevention of Infiltration and Order No. 1649 regarding Security Provisions were issued in October 2009 as amendments to an old military order (1969) which declared "infiltrators" coming from Jordan, Syria, Egypt or Lebanon (the so-called "enemy states" at the time of the issuance of the order) liable to imprisonment and deportation.


The new orders define an "infiltrator" in such generic terms that virtually any person currently present in the West Bank could potentially fall under that definition and consequently incur criminal liability and/or be subject to deportation.


An "infiltrator" is defined as "a person who entered the Area unlawfully" or "a person who is present in the Area and does not lawfully hold a permit". The 'Area' refers to the occupied West Bank.


Pursuant to Military order No. 1650 any person who unlawfully entered the area shall be sentenced to seven years imprisonment, whereas an individual who has lawfully entered the area but does not "hold a permit" shall be sentenced to three years imprisonment.


Moreover, regardless of whether the "infiltrator" is charged with an offence under the Order or not, the military commander may order the deportation of the person from the area; the issuance of the deportation order shall be considered as an arrest order and serve as the "legal source for holding such infiltrator in custody pending his deportation". The deportation can be executed 72 hours after the order, and in some cases even sooner.


As a consequence of the dramatic expansion and ambiguity of the new definition of "infiltrator" the Order not applies to people coming from so-called "enemy states", as in the past; it now applies to every Palestinian, both those who were born in the West Bank and those who lawfully moved to it, for instance from Gaza or from abroad.


The new regulation establishes that every person without a document or permit is "presumed to be an infiltrator". According to Order 1650 the permit is a document issued by the military commander, or a person appointed by him in accordance with security legislation, or by Israeli authorities under the Entry into Israel Law, 5712-1952. As has been highlighted by Hamoked



Center for the Defence of the Individual, the broadness of the definition suggests that the Order applies to every person currently present in the West Bank regardless of his status, identity, or nationality.


In fact over the past number of years, thousands of applications made by persons living in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) since decades in accordance with the Interim Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority or by Palestinians seeking family reunification have been illegally "frozen" by the Israeli authorities who refused to grant them status in the oPt.


Additionally, since 1967 thousands of Palestinians moved to the West Bank from the Gaza Strip  and they were never required to have a written permit, as there was no requirement under the military legislation to hold a written permit.


It appears that pursuant to the new military orders thousands of residents in the West Bank will be potentially subject to immediate deportation.


Such a practice would constitute a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and in particular of Article 49, which prohibits any kind of forcible transfer as well as the deportation of protected persons (civilians) from the occupied territory.


It must also be noted that pursuant to military order No. 1649 regarding Security Provisions a person can challenge the deportation order before a committee appointed by the military commander ("The Committee for Examining Deportation Orders") which shall be established accordingly.


The Order does not regulate the modalities pursuant to which the appeal can be brought before the Committee; however, it is established that the person who is held in custody pursuant to a deportation order "shall be brought before the Committee as soon as possible and no later than 8 days from the date of issuance of the deportation order".


It is evident that this system is intrinsically flawed: first of all PCHR stresses again that no genuine judicial system is possible pursuant to the Israeli military system (see the most recent PCHR Report "Genuinely Unwilling" of February 2010).

Second, according to Order No. 1650 the deportation order can be implemented within 3 days (or even less in certain circumstances), long before the 8 day time frame established for appeals hearings by Order No.1649.


It can be expected that in most of the cases the person will be deported without any possibility of challenging the order pursuant to which he has been arrested and deported.



Such a system is a blatant breach of international human rights standards, which require that every provision involving restriction of liberty must be subject to judicial review.


PCHR strongly condemns the issuance of these new military orders and calls upon Israel not to implement them.


These orders form part of the criminal policy that Israel has developed over the years against the Palestinian people; this policy combine occupation, apartheid, colonization and forced displacement of the population.


The contents of the new military orders are in blatant violation of international human rights standards and international law principles and represent one more tool in the hand of the Israeli occupation forces to control and alter the demographic composition of the oPt and ultimately impose a Jewish majority in Israel and the occupied territory.


These new orders – ostensibly enacted as 'security measures' – are, in fact, aimed at legitimising the forcible transfer and deportation of the civilian population of the oPt.


Israel, through its military commanders, is taking unlawful measures to eradicate the Palestinian people from their territory and take overall control of the area.


PCHR is seriously concerned about the implementation of these orders which could amount to individual or mass forcible transfer, as well as deportation of protected persons, measures absolutely prohibited under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.


PCHR calls the international community to take action and put an end to the illegal population transfer, segregation and displacement that is taking place in the oPt and to impede the implementation of these new unlawful tools. PCHR remind that States Parties to the Geneva Convention have the duty to ensure respect for the conventions in all circumstances.


Immediate action must be taken if the international community is to prevent the aggravation of the criminal policy pursued by Israel in the oPt.

Public Document


For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 - 2825893

PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail:, Webpage


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Joint Advocacy Initiative

Urgent Call - 12 April 2010

Action Alert

Threat of massive deportation of Palestinians!

Two signed military orders with new amendments awaiting implementation give military officials broad and almost unlimited control over the deportation of Palestinians whose residency status in the West Bank is suspected! Orders were signed on the 13th of October 2009, and are due to come into affect in the West Bank on the 13th of April 2010!

Read more about the orders, some of their consequences, reports, and JAI call for urgent actions!

Anat Kam: I stole IDF documents to expose West Bank war crimes
By Ofra Edelman and Haaretz Service

Classified documents reveal that the Israel Defense Forces had committed war crimes in the West Bank, Anat Kam, the former soldier indicted for espionage over an alleged theft of top secret material, told the court earlier in the year, according to police documents released allowed for publication Monday at the request of Haaretz.

In the newly released material documenting court hearings surrounding Kam's arrest, the journalist and former IDF soldier said that the motivation behind her removal of sensitive military material was to expose "certain aspects of the IDF's conduct in the West Bank that I thought were of interest to the public."

Kam added that her thinking behind taking the top secret papers was to ensure that "if and when the war crime the IDF was and is committing in the West Bank would be investigated, then I would have evidence to present."

Kam said that she didn?t think that transferring the documents would endanger the country, as she did not think "the journalist would focus on the details of the military actions, but rather on the principles and the policies that were behind the the top officers' decisions."

Kam also explained that she turned to Israeli journalists because she assumed that "the censorship would not allow the publication of information classified as top secret or that is dangerous for publication."

Referring to the possibility that she would be penalized for the theft, Kam said that when she "burned the material [onto a CD] I thought that in the test of history, people who warned of war crimes were forgiven."

"I didn't have the chance to change some of the things that I found it important to change during my military service, and I thought that by exposing these [materials] I would make a change," the former soldier said, adding that it was for those reasons that "it was important for me to bring the IDF's policy to public knowledge."

The state has decided to prosecute Kam for the most serious crimes of espionage: passing on classified information with the intent of harming state security, charges which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Kam faces other charges, including gathering and possessing classified materials with intent to harm state security, which carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

Presiding Judge Ze'ev Hammer wrote that "in order to inform the public of several aspects of IDF action in the West Bank, or to investigate war crimes in the West Bank, there is no need to gather and steal thousands of classified documents from the IDF which deal with the various military planning and action."

"Kam admitted during her investigation that her computer is not guarded and that she did not take interest into where the Haaretz reporter Uri Blau would store the documents or who would have access to them," Hammer added.

"She disrespected their [the document's] safekeeping and the importance and secrecy of the information," Hammer added.

Attorneys for Blau, Mibi Moser and Tal Leiblich said in response that "we consider this to be a positive development. Blau's attorney's will meet with Kam's attorneys in the coming days in order to evaluate the offer and take a stance following consultations with Blau."

On Sunday, Kam's defense attorney Avigdor Feldman told Haaretz that his client would relinquish her journalistic immunity as the source of Haaretz reporter Uri Blau and that she was calling on him to return to Israel from London with all the documents she has given him.

Feldman said that "the message we relayed to him is for the sake of Anat he should come back to Israel."

"We are working hard to convince Uri Blau through indirect ways to return to the country with the documents. I did not speak with him directly but we relayed a message to him. I think that he did not reveal the documents because he wants to protect her. Now she gave up her immunity as a source, and I am asking that he return, and his return, as far as I understand, will minimize the affair," Feldman said.

"I do not think he will be tricked," Feldman said. "I believe he will bring back the documents, he will not be harmed and the affair with Anat will also come to an end, I hope, quickly."

Journalist whistleblower faces life imprisonment, or worse
Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 9 April 2010

Israeli forces have extrajudicially executed hundreds of Palestinians during the past several years. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

What is misleadingly being called in Israel the "Anat Kamm espionage affair" is quickly revealing the dark underbelly of a nation that has worshipped for decades at the altar of a security state.

Next week 23-year-old Kamm is due to stand trial for her life -- or rather the state's demand that she serve a life sentence for passing secret documents to an Israeli reporter, Uri Blau, of the liberal Haaretz daily. She is charged with spying.

Blau himself is in hiding in London, facing, if not a Mossad hit squad, at least the stringent efforts of Israel's security services to get him back to Israel over the opposition of his editors, who fear he will be put away too.

This episode has been dragging on behind the scenes for months, since at least December, when Kamm was placed under house arrest pending the trial.

Not a word about the case leaked in Israel until this week when the security services, who had won from the courts a blanket gag order -- a gag on the gag, so to speak -- were forced to reverse course when foreign bloggers began making the restrictions futile. Hebrew pages on Facebook had already laid out the bare bones of the story.

So, now that much of the case is out in the light, what are the crimes committed by Kamm and Blau?

During her conscription, Kamm copied possibly hundreds of army documents that revealed systematic law-breaking by the Israeli high command operating in the occupied Palestinian territories, including orders to ignore court rulings. She was working at the time in the office of Brig Gen Yair Naveh, who is in charge of operations in the West Bank.

Blau's crime is that he published a series of scoops based on her leaked information that have highly embarrassed senior Israeli officers by showing their contempt for the rule of law.

His reports included revelations that the senior command had approved targeting Palestinian bystanders during the military's extrajudicial assassinations in the occupied territories; that, in violation of a commitment to the high court, the army had issued orders to execute wanted Palestinians even if they could be safely apprehended; and that the defense ministry had a compiled a secret report showing that the great majority of settlements in the West Bank were illegal even under Israeli law (all are illegal in international law).

In a properly democratic country, Kamm would have an honorable defense against the charges, of being a whistle-blower rather than a spy, and Blau would be winning journalism prizes not huddling away in exile.

But this is Israel. Here, despite a desperate last-stand for the principles of free speech and the rule of law in the pages of the Haaretz newspaper today, which is itself in the firing line over its role, there is almost no public sympathy for Kamm or even Blau.

The pair are already being described, both by officials and in chat forums and talkback columns, as traitors who should be jailed, disappeared or executed for the crime of endangering the state.

The telling comparison being made is to Mordechai Vanunu, the former technician at the Dimona nuclear plant who exposed Israel's secret nuclear arsenal. Inside Israel, he is universally reviled to this day, having spent nearly two decades in harsh confinement. He is still under a loose house arrest, denied the chance to leave the country.

Blau and Kamm have every reason to be worried they may share a similar fate. Yuval Diskin, the head of the Shin Bet, Israel's secret police, which has been leading the investigation, said yesterday that they had been too "sensitive to the media world" in pursuing the case for so long and that the Shin Bet would now "remove its gloves."

Maybe that explains why Kamm's home address was still visible on the charge sheet published yesterday, putting her life in danger from one of those crazed talkbackers.

It certainly echoes warnings we have had before from the Shin Bet about how it operates.

Much like Blau, Azmi Bishara, once head of a leading Arab party in Israel, is today living in exile after the Shin Bet put him in their sights. He had been campaigning for democratic reforms that would make Israel a "state of all its citizens" rather than a Jewish state.

While he was abroad in 2007, the Shin Bet announced that he would be put on trial for treason when he returned, supposedly because he had had contacts with Hizballah during Israel's attack on Lebanon in 2006.

Few experts believe Bishara could have had any useful information for Hizballah, but the Shin Bet's goals and modus operandi were revealed later by Diskin in a letter on its attitude to Bishara and his democratization campaign. The Shin Bet was there, he said, to thwart the activities of groups or individuals who threatened the state's Jewish character "even if such activity is sanctioned by the law."

Diskin called this the principle of "a democracy defending itself" when it was really a case of Jewish leaders in a state based on Jewish privilege protecting those privileges. This time it is about the leaders of Israel's massive security industry protecting their privileges in a security state by silencing witnesses to their crimes and keeping ordinary citizens in ignorance.

Justifying his decision to "take the gloves off" in the case of Kamm and Blau, Diskin said: "It is a dream of every enemy state to get its hands on these kinds of documents" -- that is, documents proving that the Israeli army has repeatedly broken the country's laws, in addition, of course, to its systematic violations of international law.

Diskin claims that national security has been put at risk, even though the reports Blau based on the documents -- and even the documents themselves -- were presented to, and approved by, the military censor for publication. The censor can restrict publication based only on national security concerns, unlike Diskin, the army senior command and the government, who obey other kinds of concerns.

Diskin knows there is every chance he will get away with his ploy because of a brainwashed Israeli public, a largely patriotic media and a supine judiciary.

The two judges who oversaw the months of gagging orders to silence any press discussion of this case did so on the say-so of the Shin Bet that there were vital national security issues at stake. Both judges are stalwarts of Israel's enormous security industry.

Einat Ron was appointed a civilian judge in 2007 after working her way up the ranks of the military legal establishment, there to give a legal gloss to the occupation. Notoriously in 2003, when she was the chief military prosecutor, she secretly proposed various fabrications to the army so that it could cover up the killing of an 11-year-old Palestinian boy, Khalil al-Mughrabi, two years earlier. Her role only came to light because a secret report into the boy's death was mistakenly attached to the army's letter to an Israeli human rights group.

The other judge is Ze'ev Hammer, who finally overturned the gag order this week -- but only after a former high court judge, Dalia Dorner, now the head of Israel's Press Council, belatedly heaped scorn on it. She argued that, with so much discussion of the case outside Israel, the world was getting the impression that Israel flouted democratic norms.

Judge Hammer has his own distinguished place in Israel's security industry, according to Israeli analyst Dimi Reider. During his eight years of legal study, Hammer worked for both the Shin Bet and Israel's Mossad spy agency.

Judge Hammer and Judge Ron are deeply implicated in the same criminal outfit -- the Israeli security establishment -- that is now trying to cover up the tracks that lead directly to its door. Kamm is doubtless wondering what similar vested interests the judges who hear her case next week will not be declaring.

Writing in Haaretz today, Blau said he had been warned "that if I return to Israel I could be silenced forever, and that I would be charged for crimes related to espionage." He concluded that "this isn't only a war for my personal freedom but for Israel's image."

He should leave worrying about Israel's image to Netanyahu, Diskin and judges like Dorner. That was why the gag order was enforced in the first place. This is not a battle for Israel's image; it's a battle for what is left of its soul.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is


by Suzanne Weiss  -  10 April 2010

In Canada, Holocaust Memorial Day has been established by Heritage Canada to be on April 11. It is a good opportunity to review what we learn from the Holocaust experience and how we apply these lessons to the troubled situation in the Middle East.

This year, students in more than 60 cities took part in educational meetings on conditions in Palestine as part of Israeli Apartheid Week, held March 1–7. It is a controversial event, not popular in Canadian government circles. It is criticized for supposedly dishonouring the victims of Hitler's holocaust.

I am a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust, the Nazis' mass murder of Europe's Jews. The tragic experience of my family and community under Hitler makes me alert to the suffering of other peoples denied their human rights today – including the Palestinians.

True, Hitler's Holocaust was unique. The Palestinians are victims of ethnic cleansing and apartheid. Hitler started with that, but went on to extermination. In my family's city in Poland, Piotrkow, 99% of the Jews perished.

Yet for me, the Israeli government's actions toward the Palestinians awaken horrific memories of my family's experiences under Hitlerism: the inhuman walls, the check points, the daily humiliations, killings, diseases, the systematic deprivation. There's no escaping the fact that Israel has occupied the entire country of Palestine, and taken most of the land, while the Palestinians have been expelled, walled off, and deprived of human rights and human dignity.

Many levels of government have recently been attacking the movement against Israeli apartheid, saying that it is anti-Jewish in character. This is bizarre. When Nelson Mandela opposed South African apartheid, was this anti-White? No, Mandela proposed that all South Africans, Whites included, join on a basis of democracy and equality in freeing the country from racial oppression. And that is precisely the proposal that the movement against Israeli apartheid makes to all inhabitants of Israel/Palestine.

We are told that Israeli Jews will never accept such a democratic solution. Why? Is there something wrong with their genes or their culture? The very notion is absurd – in fact, its logic is anti-Jewish. Opposition to Israeli apartheid is based on hope – a hope founded on the common humanity of the region's Jewish and Palestinian inhabitants.

Hope from Holocaust Resistance
My family and their community in Piotrkow, Poland, suffered a hard fate under Hitler. The Nazis forced the city's 25,000 Jews into the first ghetto in occupied Poland. The resistance movement in the ghetto was unable to link up with resistance outside. Only a couple of hundred Piotrkow Jews escaped death.

But my mother and father then lived in Paris. They were active in the 'Union des Juifs,' a Jewish resistance organization closely linked to socialist parties and other anti-Nazi groups. When the Nazis started rounding up Jews in France, the Union des Juifs hid thousands of Jewish children among anti-Nazis across the country. My parents were killed. But a brave peasant family in Auvergne, at great risk, took me in and hid me. And that is why I am here today.

The Nazis were routed, and the resistance dealt blows to racism that are felt in France even to this day.

There is a lesson here for us today. Hitler seemed all-powerful at the time. But he could not crush the resistance, a broad people's alliance embracing many religions and many political viewpoints.

We need that kind of alliance in resisting oppression today – including the oppression of the Palestinians.

Jewish Values Are Not Those of Israel's Apartheid
The United Nations has defined apartheid as "inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them."

The apartheid concept was found in North America when indigenous peoples were confined to reservations in remote corners of the lands stolen from them. The South African Dutch settlers and Israeli government further developed the concept.
Eliminating Israeli apartheid involves three simple measures:

The right of exiled Palestinians to return to their country.

An end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

The right of Palestinians within Israel to full equality.

On July 9, 2005, 170 Palestinian civil society organizations called for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the institutions of Israeli apartheid. The BDS movement helped to end the crime of South African apartheid. Since 2005, the BDS movement against Israeli apartheid movement has won wide support around the world.

Nelson Mandela, the great leader of BDS against South African Apartheid, said, that justice for the Palestinians is "the greatest moral issue of the age."

Support from Jewish Community
I recently discovered that my name is included in a website list of "7,000 self-hating Jews." Why are Jewish supporters of Palestine labeled as "self-hating"? Because those who make this charge have redefined Judaism in terms of the present policies and character of the Israeli state. They see Judaism as nothing more than a rationale for oppressing Palestinians. What an insult to Jewish religion and culture!

As for the 7,000 self-haters, they need to add a couple of zeros to that total. In my experience, support of Palestine is stronger in the Jewish population than in society as a whole. And Jewish people work alongside their Palestinian brothers and sisters as a strong component of the Palestine solidarity movement.
Holocaust Awareness Week is an appropriate time to review our proud history as Jewish universalists, welcoming and encompassing humanity. We, as Jewish supporters of the Palestinians, stand on the finest traditions of Judaism, its great contributions to human religion, philosophy, science, and solidarity through the ages. The rights we expect for the Jewish people, we demand for all humanity – above all, for the Palestinians that the Israeli government oppresses in our name.

Suzanne Weiss is a Holocaust survivor and member of Not In Our Name: Jewish Voices Against Zionism and of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid. You will find a collection of some of her articles in pamphlet form here.


April 11, 2010 at 18:20 (DesertPeace Editorial, Ethnic Cleansing, Flashback.... from the archives, Genocide, History, Holocaust, Israel, Oppression, Palestine)

Before you read the following post, please read this  one …. THE FORGOTTEN CHILD OF THE HOLOCAUST

Images 'Copyleft' by Carlos Latuff

It is difficult to not remember the holocaust if you live in Israel…. it is not only something that occurred in history, it is something that is unfolding right here, right now. We read of the horrors in our history books…. we continue reading about them in our daily newspaper reports…



Those are two of the most famous quotes associated with the holocaust. Two quotes that have completely lost their meaning. They are literally shoved down our throats every day by the ADL and other groups associated with AIPAC…. not in the context of what they mean…. but as justification of the crimes committed by the zionists today.

The second quote 'Never Again' has also lost meaning…. never again to whom? If we look at the suffering of the holocaust victims in the death camps of Eastern Europe… we see the same suffering in the death camp known as the Gaza Strip today. The quote does not go … Never again, EXCEPT…. it's Never Again! Yet it is happening again…. by the very people that coined the phrase in the first place.

To even associate what happened in the past to what is happening today is immediately labeled as anti Semitic. Is trying to salvage the one time good name of the Jewish people anti Semitic? Is trying to prevent the horrors of yesteryear from becoming a reality once again anti Semitic?? What would groups like the ADL do if we were all silent and allowed this to continue? Who would they prey on with their cancerous venom of hatred?

The very name of that group is deceiving… Anti Defamation League… the word defamation is the communication of a statement that makes a false claim, expressively stated or implied to be factual, that may harm the reputation of an individual, business, product, group, government or nation. Most jurisdictions allow legal actions, civil and/or criminal, to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against groundless criticism. Perhaps the group should be called the Defamation League, as that is what they do best….

The actual survivors of the holocaust living in Israel today are a forgotten species. Their needs are ignored by the government forcing many to return to their native Germany. Israel seems to have gotten what it wanted as a result of the holocaust, those that suffered can continue to according to the state.They are 'paraded' by various organisations at Holocaust Remembrance ceremonies to remind us of the suffering they endured…. but their present suffering is kept pretty quiet by these groups.

In ending, I want to stress that I am not saying not to remember the holocaust, but rather let us learn from it…. learn that it must NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN…. anytime or anywhere. TO ANYONE!

April 12, 2010

Can Lebanon Clean Up Its Act?

Hiba's Story



Ein el Helwe Palestinian Refugee Camp, Lebanon.

More than six decades after their expulsion from Palestine, Lebanon's unwanted refugees just might be granted some basic civil rights. Granting even the most elementary and normally taken for granted civil rights to Palestinians in Lebanon won't be easy and it may not be pretty. Yet there is undeniable and growing Lebanese and international resolve for Lebanon's politicians to end a dark bleak chapter in Arab brotherly relations.

The disturbing paradox of Lebanon depriving its refugees of the most elementary civil rights, some of which are even granted Palestinians by their arch-nemesis, the Zionist occupiers of their own country, is increasingly being condemned in Lebanon. In addition, there is the gaping contradiction between the sweet words and the clarion trumpeting calls by groups wanting to liberate Jerusalem and all of Palestine and enforce the internationally mandated Right of Return (UNSCR 194), while at the same time appearing to avert their eyes from the very ones seeking to return and who exist in abject squalor, humiliation and indignity, thus appearing to tolerate their brothers and sisters' degradation. These contradictions are motivating an expanding panoply of Lebanese leaders, civil society organizations, side by side with local and international NGO's, to demand civil rights legislation from the current Cabinet and Parliament. What civil rights advocates seek is compliance with basic international law and indeed Lebanon's Constitution, both sources of law mandating civil rights for Palestine refugees including the right to work and to own a home.

In plenty of Lebanese neighborhoods, polite society often avoids the subject of 'haydoulik' ('they') when a foreigner mentions the teeming and squalid Palestinian camps, or brings up the subject of yet another local media or NGO's report detailing the alarming and accelerating deterioration of the world's oldest and largest refugee population. Close to half of Lebanon's Palestinian refugees are crammed into 12 camps and 27 unofficial 'gatherings'. Of the original 120,000 who were forced across the full length of the Palestine-Lebanon border during the 1948 Nakba, their offspring now number close to 450,000—some 425,640 of whom are registered with the United Nations Refugee Works Administration (UNRWA) as of April, 2010, and some also with the Lebanese Ministry of Interior. Since 1948, roughly 22 per cent of the refugees in Lebanon have left loved ones and family members to seek jobs abroad so as to remit their foreign earnings back to the fetid camps. Lebanon leads the world in the amount of per capita in bound remittances, a significant contribution to its Gross Domestic Product.

The Untouchables

According to a Sunni Muslim family in the Sanayeh area of Beirut who has a long history of support for the Palestinians, including two sons who fought with the PLO against Israeli forces in 1982-83, a father who used to hide sensitive PLO documents inside his apartment walls as Israeli forces searched West Beirut house to house in the fall of 1982, and a mother who prepared home cooked meals during the summer of 1982 for 'Abu Ammar' (Yassir Arafat) and 'Abu Jihad' (Khalil al Wazir) and their office staffs, between 90-95 per cent of Lebanese have never been inside a Palestinian camp. A teen-age member of the same Beirut family snarled to this observer, "Not since the ( 1982 ) Sabra-Shatila Massacre has a group of our Lebanese brothers visited a Palestinian camp!", referring to the right wing Phalange Lebanese groups who conducted the camp slaughter after being egged-on and equipped by the occupying Israeli military leadership including Israel's then Minister of Defense, Ariel Sharon.

With the exception of Druze leader, MP Walid Jumblatt, and a couple of Hezbollah members of Parliament, and one from the Saad Hariri Future Movement, not one member of the 128 member Parliament or the 30 Member Cabinet has acknowledged visiting a Palestinian refugee camp in the past five years, according to a March 2010 survey taken by the Sabra Shatila Foundation and the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign-Lebanon. For some of Lebanon's population the very idea of " going inside" a camp in enough to produce an exaggerated grimace.

As shocking as it is true, Lebanon by refusing to even allow Palestinians the right to work in dozens of professions or to own homes, stands in clear violation of no fewer than 43 international legal obligations contained in treaties, conventions, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Lebanon played a major role in drafting, international customary law, and indeed its own Constitution.

The arguments against granting civil rights to Palestine refugees are numerous, with some as imaginative as they are spurious. They vary widely depending on who from which of the 18 confessions is discussing the subject.

Some arguments for the status quo currently being heard by advocates working to change Lebanon's right to work and home ownership laws include the following sampling:

"If we grant civil rights to our Palestinian Refugees it could interfere with their Right of Return!"

"How are Palestine Refugees in Lebanon deprived of the civil right to work since some do manage to find a job illegally."

"The Palestinian refugee population poses a security risk for Lebanon and before any civil rights are discussed this must be resolved."

"Palestinians are Sunni Muslim and giving them civil rights will interfere with the fragile sectarian balance among Christian, Druze and Shia Muslims."

"Why shouldn't Lebanon take more time considering civil rights for the Palestinian Refugee families? At least their children are being looked after in UNWRA schools and are fine. Their elders must be more patient and haven't the Palestinians caused many of their own problems."

"Lebanon needs more time to straighten out the "situation" with the Palestinians. Also, don't forget, Lebanon is quietly issuing Identification Cards to the 5000 plus Palestinian refugees who have never had either UNRWA or Interior Ministry registrations subjecting them to arrest at any time. So aren't we making solid progress?"

"Since all other foreigners need work permits, how has the requirement that Palestine Refugees obtain a work permit unfairly affected Palestinians right to work in Lebanon?"

"Lebanese women also are deprived of civil rights. They must get theirs before Palestine Refugees are given any."

"Palestinian refugees don't contribute to Lebanon's economy so why should Lebanon allow them the right to work?"

" Lebanon is a very small country and we cannot afford to allow refugees to own a home, given our limited available housing space."

"If Lebanon grants civil rights to the Palestinian Refugees, they may become too comfortable and seek permanency in Lebanon via Naturalization (Tawtin)"

An analysis of these and other arguments against granting civil rights to Palestine refugees will be considered in a future instalment of this discussion but should any of these arguments prevail with Parliament, a least a quarter million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon will remain deprived of achieving much more than subsistence during their wait and struggle to return to Palestine.

Miss Hiba Hajj

One of the hundreds of thousands wretched refuse facing continuing condemnation is a gifted 15 year old named Hiba Hajj, born and raised in the teeming 90,000 plus resident Ein el Helwe Palestinian Camp, in the 6000 year old town of Saida Lebanon.

Hiba, is a savvy, totally charming, hijabed Palestinian youngster who lives with her large family near the Sharia Bustan Yahoudi (Jewish Park Street) area of Ein el Helweh ('Eye of the Beauty' or 'Source of sweet water'). Hiba's neighborhood is named after the Jewish community that used to live in the quarter before Zionist colonials invaded Palestine. Most Jews who stayed in Lebanon after 1948 left during the 1982 Israeli invasion and the subsequent 18 year occupation-fewer than 30 are thought to remain in the country today.

To this foreign observer, when Hiba ('gift from God') relates her story of dreams defered, she becomes every Palestinian Refugee in Lebanon and her personal and anguished narrative embodies the urgency and historical imperative for Lebanon to immediately grant the most elementary civil rights for her and Hiba's close to 450,000 fellow Palestinian refugee.

Like many of her friends, Hiba, reputed to be one of the best female teenage football players and long distance runners in Lebanon (she runs an approximate 5 minute 20 second mile on her slower days) is considering dropping out of school to help support her family , whose income has plummeted since the recent fighting between camp factions because, as she explains to an American visitor, people are too afraid to enter the camp to have their cars fixed at her father's auto repair shop. The American Embassy has instructed the Lebanese army which has blocked off seven entrances to the camp and mans checkpoints at the four remaining entrances to Ein el Helwe, not to allow American passport holders inside the camp "for their personal safety".

Hiba often spends her free time at her sister Zeina's home, filled with four squirming babies, which is located in the explosive no-man's-land known as Taamir, between the boundary of Ein al-Hilweh and one of the Lebanese army checkpoints that overlooks the camp.

Hiba's peers consider her an expert on the camps factions, that range from the Saudi Wahhabi Takfiri groups who she says, "want to kill us Muslims and anyone else who don't follow their Wahabist version of our religion", to Osbat al-Nour (League of Light), Ansar Allah (Followers of God), Fatah al Islam remnants on the lam from the 15 week battle at Nahr al Bared in the summer of 2007, Jund al-Sham (Soldiers of Greater Syria) Islamic Jihad, Asbat-al-Ansar (League of Followers) seven or eight Palestinian factions including Fatah, Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Ahmad Jebril's Syrian bankrolled Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the defunct Saiqa, along with some upstart secretive and well armed global jihadist cells sporting new heavy weapons from Iraq according to camp officials, courtesy of US military inventory "shrinkage."

"Hiba acts crazy sometimes," her older sister anguishes, " and our family worries about her. I have seen her walk into the center of a gathering of young fighters, many of whom she knows from rival gangs while they are yelling and threatening to shoot each other. Just last month she grabbed a boy's AK-47 from him just as he took aim at a rival and she screamed at the boys to go home and read the Koran!" And they left without firing one shot"

Hiba needs to stay in school where she is an excellent student but like so many Palestinian teenagers she sees no point because she can do nothing with an advanced education. For all her energy and 'don't blame others just make your own life the way you want it' attitude Hiba grows introspective and seems sad as she explains to visitors what she would like to do with her life.

Like all Palestinian refugees born in Lebanon, Hiba is stateless and unprotected, brought up in the misery and hopelessness of a Lebanese Palestinian refugee camp. This sweet kid, like all Palestinian refugees, has no civil or political rights in Lebanon. She is barred from working in over 70 professions, cannot own or inherit property, is subject to I.D. checks every time she enters or exits the camp, and has no access to public healthcare or public education.

No Palestinian need apply

Her brother Ahmad explains: " To start off, if you are a 'camp kid' in Lebanon that is a big strike against you. For us we feel there is nothing here. Our country is there (he points in the direction of the Palestinian border 35 miles South). There is nothing to do here, maybe play games on the internet if you can find somewhere with a connection-if you go and play games at the internet place, you're happy that you did something for the day. Some of my friends accept a small salary and join a militia group."

Refugee-camp teenagers like Hiba once fuelled the anger and resistance to Israel occupying their land. "Not now" says Ahmad "Much of that anger has turned into depression, increasing drug use, gang violence, dropping out of school, domestic violence, feelings of hopelessness. "

"My sister wants to become an eye doctor", he explains, "She has no chance".

Today, Palestinians in Lebanon continue to suffer from draconian measures which the Lebanese state claims are needed to prevent them from becoming permanent guests.

As of February 10, 2010, the following dozens of jobs remain off limits to Palestinians in Lebanon per Ministry of Labor Regulation No. 10l1--either because they are restricted to Lebanese nationals, or are forbidden due to the Reciprocity requirements. Since Palestine is not recognized by Lebanon as a country it is impossible to fulfill the Reciprocity requirement, since the job seeker must be licensed in his recognized country and his country must allow a Lebanese to work at the same job. In addition, a Palestinian job seeker must have been a very expensive and difficult to obtain work permit by the Lebanese government.. The Minister of Labor can theoretically exempt a person from the laws for certain jobs if the job-seeker:

* has been residing in Lebanon since birth

* has a Lebanese mother

* has been married to a Lebanese woman for more than one year.

* or if he or she is from a recognized country that allows Lebanese nationals to do the same job, i.e. the barrier of Reciprocity again.

The jobs that Hiba and her fellow refugees are barred from include the following updated forbidden careers:

"Archeology Guide, Banking and administrative work of all kinds, particularly: Manager-Assistant manager-Staff manager-Treasurer-Accountant-Secretary Manager Clerk-Documentalist-Archivist, Computer worker-Commercial representative-Marketing representative-Forman-Warehouse keeper-Salesman-Jeweler-Tailor-Darning worker with the exception of darning carpets-Electrical installations-Mechanics and maintenance-Painters, Glass panes installer-Doorman-Watchman-Driver-Waiter-Hairdresser-Electronic work-Arabic food chef, All technical professions in the construction sector and its derivatives such as tiling, coating, plastering, installation of aluminum, iron, wood or decoration works and the like-Teaching at the elementary, intermediate and secondary levels with the exception of foreign language teacher when necessary, hairdressing, Ironing and dry-cleaning upholstery, publishing, printing, Engineering work in all specialties, Smithery and upholstery work. All kinds of work in pharmacies, drug warehouses and medical laboratories. In general all occupations and professions which can be filled by Lebanese nationals- money changer, real estate agent, attorney, physician, dentist, taxi driver or driver training instructor, registered nurse or assistant nurse, or other job in the Medical field, dentistry, health controller, any job in the engineering field, licensed health controller, medical laboratory worker, clinical health industry jobs, prosthetic devices fitter, certified accountants, dental laboratory science technician, jobs relating to nutrition and meals, topography, physiotherapy, veterinary medicine."

The only four jobs listed by the Lebanese Ministry of Labor that are open to Palestinian refugees are:

1. midwife

2. financial brokerage firm owner

3. roving photographer

4. land surveyor.

All Palestinian job seekers for the "available" four jobs are required to have been issued the nearly impossible to obtain work permit.

"This scheme by Lebanon is among the most egregious easily preventable massive human rights violations imaginable, given what the largest and oldest refugee population on earth has been through", according to Dr. Suoheil El-Natour, long time analyst of the Palestinian camp populations in Lebanon, and director of a Human Development Center (HDC) in Mar Elias camp.

Meanwhile, Hiba has promised her family and the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign-Lebanon that she will stay in school through the current academic year to see what Parliament will do about allowing Palestine refugees some basic civil rights. She has joined the PCRC from her camp and recently emailed her colleagues in Shatila Camp to get to work on the Petition drive to Parliament with the following message:

"Failure is not an option for us, our only choice is success."

The online version of the hard copy Petition can be signed at:

Franklin Lamb is a researcher and volunteer with the PCRC in Lebanon. He can be reached at


Talking Palestine to power

Sonja Karkar, The Electronic Intifada, 12 April 2010

Israel claims exceptionalism no matter how extreme its crimes. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

Today, there is no excuse for not knowing the truth about Palestine, especially what is happening in Gaza. Even taking into account the disinformation spread in mainstream media, there are enough glimpses one gets of a ravaged Gaza and a brutalized people that should compel us to ask questions. There are enough websites and blogs easily available for anyone to learn more, even if it requires sifting through and evaluating the available information. Certainly, the alarm bells should be ringing when our political leaders declare undying fealty to Israel or cavalierly wear it as a badge of honor, despite the documented reports of Israel's war crimes by human rights groups and official enquiries.

But the world lacks courage from government leaders, acquiescent mainstream media, nongovernmental organizations dependent on government support, academics looking for tenure and populations too long fed on a diet of Zionist myths. People are terrified of being labelled anti-Semitic, a mendacious charge against anyone criticizing Israel. Palestinians too, afraid of being further shunned and disadvantaged in countries that give them refuge, so often remain silent. Not only do people fear repercussions, but speaking the truth or even just hearing it has a way of taking people out of their comfort zones. They fear their troubled consciences may require them to act and so they bury their heads deeper into the sand where they hope even the sounds of silence might be extinguished.

This then is the challenge for advocates the world over. How does one talk Palestine to power if one cannot even talk Palestine to the people who are in fear of the powerful?

In the face of media saturation with Zionist viewpoints and the new "Brand Israel" campaigns, many wanting to advocate for Palestine might feel defeated, but time and again we see that the power of one can be enormously effective.

The great scholar and public intellectual Edward Said showed more than anyone else that individuals can make a difference in the public defense of Palestine. He particularly saw the intellectual's voice as having "resonance."

But one does not need to be an intellectual. Said's words can just as aptly apply to any one of us. He said avoidance was "reprehensible" and in his 1994 book Representations of the Intellectual, described it as "that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take. You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming too controversial; you need the approval of a boss or an authority figure; you want to keep a reputation for being balanced, objective, moderate; your hope is ... to remain within the responsible mainstream ... ."

In 1993 when almost everyone else thought the handshakes at the White House steps would seal the negotiated Oslo accords and at long last give the Palestinians their freedom and bring peace to the region, Edward Said saw that these accords would merely provide the cover for Israel to pursue its colonial expansionism and consolidate its occupation of Palestine. However, he knew to criticize Oslo meant in effect taking a position against "hope" and "peace." His decision to do so flew in the face of the Palestinian revolutionary leadership that had bartered for statehood.

Although Said was denounced for his views, he was not prepared to buy into the deception that he knew would leave the Palestinians with neither hope nor peace. And just as he predicted, each fruitless year of peacemaking finally exposed the horrible reality of Oslo as Palestinians found themselves the victims of Israel's matrix of control, a term first used to describe the situation by Israeli professor Jeff Halper in 1999. And this domination of one people over another without any intention of addressing the injustices against the Palestinians ethnically cleansed from their homeland, has undeniably reduced Israel to an apartheid state.

The Palestinians have nothing left worth calling a state and they are facing an existential threat on all fronts. Yet, some intellectuals are still talking about a two-state solution in lock step with politicians, a mantra that is repeated uncritically, even mendaciously, in the mainstream media.

This pandering to an idea for decades has been undermined by the furious sounds of drills and hammers reverberating in illegal settlements throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the catastrophic societal ruptures engineered in Gaza. Now those sounds are muffled by the rhetoric of "economic peace," "institution-building," "democracy," "internal security" and "statehood." They are words that must be challenged at every opportunity, for they are not mere words, but dangerous concepts when isolated from truth on the ground.

It is no use talking about "economic peace" when industrial estates built for Palestinian workers are intended to provide Israel with slave labor and cheap goods. It is useless to support "institution-building" when Israel continues to undermine and obstruct those programs already struggling to service Palestinian society. It is a lie to speak of "democracy" when fair elections in 2006 had Israel and the "international community" denying Hamas the right to govern. It is a charade to accept "internal security" when arming and training Palestinians to police their own people covers for Israel's and America's divide-and-conquer scheme. It is hollow to speak of "statehood" when Israel keeps stealing land and building illegal settlements that deprive the Palestinians of their homes and livelihoods while herding them into isolated and walled-in ghettoes.

Edward Said was proven right. Now, it is our turn to speak the truth and act fearlessly, regardless of the censure we are likely to encounter. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer is believed to have said that truth passes through three stages: "first, it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed; third, it is accepted as being self-evident." Today, we are at the third stage: the 11 million Palestinians living under occupation, apartheid and as stateless refugees are the living truth. That is Israel's Achilles' heel.

The Palestinians are no longer the humble shepherds and farmers that Zionist forces terrorized into fleeing to make way for the Jewish State of Israel. A new generation wants justice and it is demanding it eloquently, nonviolently and strategically. Their message: no normal relations with Israel while it oppresses Palestinians, denies their rights and violates international law. And boycott, divestment and sanctions have to be legitimate tools for challenging a state that claims exceptionalism no matter how extreme and criminal its actions.

The temptation of course is always to opt for the path of least resistance. Therefore, we must appeal to the individual, not even to sacrifice for others, but to recognize that no matter where we live in this global village, we are all vulnerable if we do not stand up for universal human rights and uphold the principles and application of international law.

Despite his own Zionist affiliations and loyalty to Israel, Justice Richard Goldstone saw the danger of tailoring his UN-backed report on war crimes in Gaza to exonerate Israel. He had the decency and courage to put the rule of law and humanity ahead of the savage condemnation he knew would come from talking truth to power.

The same can be said of Richard Falk, the Jewish professor emeritus from Princeton University and UN special rapporteur in the occupied Palestinian territories, who was denied entry into Israel because he described Israel's siege on Gaza as a "Holocaust in the making" ("Israel deports American academic," Guardian, 15 December 2008). Israel's treatment was insulting enough, but now shamefully, the Palestinian Authority has asked the Human Rights Council to "postpone" his report on Gaza and, as Nadia Hijab reported, is asking him to resign ("PA's betrayal of human rights defenders the unkindest cut," Nadia Hijab, 14 March 2010).

These are honorable men, but we too can stand on principle in smaller ways, whether that is refusing to buy Israeli goods at our local store, boycotting an Israeli-government sponsored event or exposing and protesting the collusion between governments and corporations with Israel. That is what it means to become part of a worldwide civil movement that will do what our leaders will not: pressure Israel to dismantle the matrix of control on Palestine and make reparations for the decades of injustices it has perpetrated against its people.

It is indeed possible for all of us to "squeeze out of reality some of its potentialities," the reality that University of Melbourne Professor Ghassan Hage has said is found in those utopic moments that come from challenging our own thoughts, fears and biases. In that space lies the untapped power we seek, to speak the truth without fear or favor. In that space lies the potential for political change. In that space, there will always be hope for Palestine.

A version of this essay was originally published on the website of Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East (UK)

Sonja Karkar is the founder and president of Women for Palestine and one of the founders and co-convener of Australians for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia. She is also the editor of and contributes articles on Palestine regularly to various publications. She can be contacted at sonjakarkar A T womenforpalestine D O T org.

Alarming Racism In Israel

By Stephen Lendman

12 April, 2010

Mossawa means equality, the Mossawa Advocacy Center promoting it for Israel's Arab citizens - about 1.5 million, comprising 20% of the population. Established in 1997, it "strives to improve the social, economic and political status of (Israeli Arabs), while preserving their national and cultural rights as Palestinians." It also promotes gender equality "in all spheres of society."

Its September 29, 2009 press release headlined the "High Follow-up Committee for Arab citizens (an organization representing Israeli Arabs) call for a general" October 1 one-day work stoppage to protest deteriorating conditions they face, and Israel's failure "to bring justice to the families of the 13 Arab victims that were killed by security forces during the events of October 2000," the start of the second Intifada.

The Committee asked all Arab institutions, organizations and businesses to honor it in opposition to Triangle and Negev area home demolitions; Galilee and Triangle area settlement building; discrimination in allocating resources; police violence, intimidation, racial, and political incitement; and the right of Arab citizens "to exist and live in dignity in their historic homeland."

Mossawa Center Calls the Current Knesset the Most Racist in History

A March 21 Jack Khoury/Dana Weiler-Polark Haaretz article headlined the above accusation, saying Mossawa's report shows "that in 2008 there were (12) bills (not 11 Haaretz reported) defined as racist," followed by 12 more in 2009, specifically against Israeli Arabs. Report authors Lizi Sagi and Nidal Othman said:

"There has never been a Knesset as active in proposing discriminating and racist legislation against the country's Arab citizens."

They accused right-wing MKs of being "unhindered via proposed legislation," many in violation of Supreme Court rulings, including cosmetically altering illegal bills to get them passed. Others trying to harm Arab citizens, segregate them from Jews, and "even call for the expulsion of the (entire) Arab population."

Further discriminatory measures target services, benefits, and imposing a year's imprisonment for anyone publishing or saying something that would "bring contempt upon or discomfort to the country."

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz wants road signs traditionally in Hebrew, Arabic and English changed solely to Hebrew to erase their historic identity. But doing so violates the Supreme Court's recognition of Arabic as an official Israeli language.

Other measures target those who can buy land and the so-called Nakba law, watered down from its original version to exclude imprisonment, but including a provision to withhold public funding for any state-supported body holding Nakba commemorations. Arab school curricula exclude its mention, and outright banning it denies Israeli Arabs their collective identity, memory, and right to freely express opinions, especially about something this important.

The Incitement Law threatens prison for anyone denying Israel's existence as a Jewish, democratic state, and the proposed Loyalty to Israel Law rescinds citizenship for anyone unwilling to pledge it. Still another measure bans demonstrations near public officials and service provider homes as well as others responsible for public welfare. It's one step short of prohibiting all demonstrations critical of government policies.

The Prevention of Inflation Law includes provisions denying protections and care for asylum seekers, and long prison terms for convicted "infiltrators" and human rights activists helping them. Other measures affect free expression, housing, political involvement, and Bedouin rights in so-called unrecognized villages, the home for tens of thousands living under appalling conditions, compounded by involuntary dispossessions to Judaize the Negev and Galilee.

Mossawa Center's 2009 Racism Report

It began saying "almost every day" another Israeli Arab is victimized by racist actions. Mossawa documented 271 cases in various categories, confirmed by media and police reports. "Most documentation refers to events," not individuals, but their total number far exceeds the events mentioned.

Mossawa was alarmed that Occupied Territory (OPT) abuses have incrementally crossed the Green Line. Since the second Intifada's onset (after Ariel Sharon's provocative September 28 Al-Aqsa Mosque visit), few Israeli - Arab citizen confrontations occurred until Acre, Galilee's October 2008 violence. Incidents now "create separation between communities that used to" coexist peacefully. As a result, Israeli Arab citizens face disruptive social, economic and cultural futures.

Besides Acre, organized groups attacked Arab civilians in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Nazareth Illit, Carmiel and other cities - suggesting more to come unless measures are taken to curb it.

Specific Mossawa Findings

From 2000 through 2008, 42 Arab Israelis were killed. Only once was a police officer indicted and convicted, sentenced only to six months in prison for murder. Another accused officer still serves, "receiving support" from his commander.

Since trials of two officers began in 2006, judges have delayed ruling, six months after proceedings ended. As a result, 13 families of initial Intifada killings await justice despite clear Or Commission recommendations (established to investigate them) not implemented by the Attorney General.

Two Jews who killed Arabs were admitted to mental hospitals and declared unfit to stand trial. Four years after Natan Zadah killed four Arabs, investigations continue. After his death, 15 Shefaram residents were arrested on suspicion of their involvement. Four East Jerusalem Palestinians were killed after being repeatedly shot "even after they were clearly paralyzed." No investigation was conducted.

Police attacked and injured 17 Israeli Arabs, a 300% increase since 2008. During the Gaza war, police intensified violence and arrested 700 Arab citizens. Yet a small number of them were indicted.

Jewish civilians were involved in most racist incidents (about 70), up tenfold from the previous year. Most targeted Arabs and involved attacks and property destruction. The October 2008 Acre incidents resulted in over 80 people evacuated from their homes, most after being "repeatedly injured." Despite making arrests, police "failed to prevent massive confrontations" and didn't arrest youths involved in Acre and Carmiel attacks.

Knesset members, other public figures, and rabbis were involved in 29 racist incidents, especially during the Gaza war, and in the run-up to elections through mass media reports. The Central Elections Committee (CEC) took no action.

The New Israel Fund and Football Union reported 39 racist incidents during contests, not against Arabs but dark skinned targets - compared to 32 recorded 2008 cases. Another 15 incidents of "racial profiling and discrimination in services" were reported, showing a drop because courts now fine business discrimination on the basis of race.

The Supreme Court, however, hasn't addressed airport profiling.

Ten cases of religious discrimination were reported, included cemetery destruction and holy book burnings.

The 2008 Knesset introduced 12 discriminatory bills, and the Supreme Court failed to disqualify the 2003 temporary Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, renewed every six months. It makes West Bank and Gaza Palestinians ineligible for residency permits if they marry an Israeli citizen, a measure harmful to thousands of families yearly.

Israeli Arab leaders have been systematically delegitimized. "Israeli political leaders, the government, the police and government legal advisors use the demographic threat to force their political positions on Arab minority leaders," including prohibiting their visits to regional states that don't diplomatically recognize Israel. Also forcing them to accept Israel as a Jewish state to qualify as MKs, or in other words, renounce their own heritage.

Arab leaders violating these terms are investigated to persecute and delegitimize them. During the Gaza war, police and security services made numerous arrests as a warning to local Arab leaders. In addition, for the third time since the early 1990s, the Central Elections Committee (CEC) disqualified two Arab political parties from participating in national elections. Though the Supreme Court overruled the decision, the Arab community got a chilling message, suggesting harsher measures to come.

Jews as well experienced racism, specifically Russian and Ethiopian immigrants as well as gays.

Summary of Mossawa's 2008 and 2009 Racist Incidents

-- police violence since October 2000 killing Arab Israelis: in 2008, 41; in 2009, 42;

-- other police violence against Arab Israelis: in 2008, 6; in 2009, 17;

-- Jewish civilian attacks against Arab Israelis: in 2008, 7; in 2009, 70;

-- racial incitement: in 2008, 27; in 2009, 29;

-- religious discrimination: in 2008, 8; in 2009, 10;

-- discrimination in public services: in 2008, 26; in 2009, 15;

-- football related racism: in 2008, 32; in 2009, 39 through March;

-- delegitimizations of Israeli Arab political leaders: in 2008, 15; in 2009, 23;

-- racist Knesset bills: in 2008, 12; in 2009, 12; and

-- discrimination against Russian and Ethiopian immigrants as well as gays: in 2008, 6; in 2009, 14.

Totals: in 2008, 180; in 2009, 271.

Mossawa was alarmed that Israeli Arabs are increasingly being persecuted like Occupied Palestinians - perhaps one step short of facing targeted killings, much greater dispossession rates, mass incarcerations, and torture. They're already denied rights afforded solely to Jews.

Civilized societies accept all citizens as equals, or are supposed to. Israel rejects that standard, including for disfavored Jews, shunned for more privileged ones the way America treats minorities, the poor, disadvantaged, undocumented Latino immigrants called illegal, and Muslims persecuted as terrorists.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Breaking in with intent to terrorise

By Haggai Mattar
Dimi's notes

There was one point that stood out for me in Uri Blau's recollection of his pursuit by the Shin Bet in the Anat Kamm affair. Blau, Haaretz's outstanding investigative reporter, recalls how as he was traveling in the Far East he got a call saying his house was broken into. "It looks like they were looking for something," said the policeman on the phone. Reading this reminded me how they broke into my home, too.

It was about 8 years ago. I was active for the Shimnistim Letter (a statement of refusal by conscientious draft objectors), and I was one of those tasked with coordinating the signatories' name lists. One day, my parents' home was broken into, and my computer was taken. Nothing else. Computers belonging to other family members, money, valuables were all spared. In the same month, break-ins took place in the homes of prominent activists in Courage to Refuse and Yesh Gvul, two other conscientious objection organisations. The houses were all turned upside down, and in all of them the only items missing were computers with CO name lists.

I remember being appalled – not really comprehending back then how Israeli "security forces" operated – and as the years went by, I learned to smile back at my naivety. But reading Blau's account today got me wondering. Why, come to think of it, do they need to break into our homes? After all, there are legal routes to obtain search warrants and confiscate computers, in a perfectly orderly manner. If they could legally confiscate "Anarchists Against the Wall" t-shirts from the home of one of my friends, or if they found an ex-Mossad, friendly judge to discuss the gag order on the Anat Kamm affair – in other words, if the law is on their side, they could've knocked on our door and confiscate everything legally. So why burgle?

The answer is that breaking in signifies the deeper truth about the nature of their work. Like the policeman who handcuffs a demonstrator, beats him up out of the camera's sight and then claims he used reasonable force; or like the Mossad that murders people in faraway countries without ever admitting it – the innermost essence of the Shin Bet is embedded into such break-ins. A break-in like that is a statement: "We are the law, and we are above the law, and under the radar of the law, as we please"; and also, "you know it's us, and there's nothing you can do about it"; and at the end of the day, "we are everywhere in your life, all the time, and don't you forget it." It's breaking in with intent to terrorise.

Not too long after the break-in I was already in jail [for conscientious objection - D.R.], and my room and belongings have been searched many times. And still, few experiences can be as humiliating as finding out someone roamed over your things without your presence. It's not for nothing that the law says searches must be conducted in the presence of two witnesses; and it's not for nothing that this law doesn't apply in the Occupied Territories, where activists, academics, farmers, workers, teachers and children are dragged from their beds into the streets in the dead of night, and are only allowed to return once their home has been thoroughly turned upside down. I've seen them: Coming back and digging through what had been a wardrobe, a bed or a chest of drawers, trying to figure out what had survived, and trying to second-guess the thoughts of these demigods, omnipotent and omnipresent, who went through their belongings and left but destruction in their wake.

Uri Blau is in exile in Britain, his email and his phone are tapped, and he is threatened with interrogation and arrest if he dares to return to Israel. He is also awaited by his upturned flat, a silent testimony to the terror hovering over all of us.

Translation from Hebrew: Dimi Reider

An ominous political storm is gathering across Palestine and the Middle East following the announcement of an Israeli military order due to come into effect this week.
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Monday, 12 April 2010 16:25 Khalid
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MEMO CommentaryAn ominous political storm is gathering across Palestine and the Middle East following the announcement of an Israeli military order due to come into effect this week. The order will pave the way for the expulsion of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank on the pretext that they are "infiltrators" or "illegal" residents. If enacted, this may well lead to the largest single act of ethnic cleansing conducted in Palestine since 1948.

The timing of this announcement by the Israelis could not be more cynical. It coincides with the 62nd anniversary of the 9th April 1948 Zionist massacre of 254 Palestinians in the village of Deir Yassin. When Jacques de Reynier, head of the International Red Cross visited the village on 11th April 1948, he found 150 bodies thrown into a cistern. Of the total number killed, 145 were women, 35 of whom were pregnant. The massacre at Deir Yassin created a climate of fear and panic which triggered the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland. An Israeli historian has since described this as "the ethnic cleansing of Palestine".

This current plan to expel thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank must be seen in the context of Israel's efforts to create an exclusive "Jewish state" in all of historic Palestine. A statement from the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Spokesman's Office was brutally explicit: "The IDF is ready to implement the order, which is not intended to apply to Israelis, but to illegal sojourners in Judea and Samaria." International law regards Jewish settlers as "illegal sojourners" across the occupied West Bank. If the Israeli military does not recognize the West Bank as Occupied Territory and chooses to refer to it in biblical terms, that is irrelevant in legal terms. The fact is, if this order is carried out, it would not simply be a violation of Palestinian rights but also a war crime and a crime against humanity.

Expulsion of a native population from its homeland is so morally depraved and repugnant that the Nuremberg Tribunal declared it to be a war crime and a crime against humanity. Article 6(b) of the 1945 Nuremberg Charter defines war crimes in part as follows:

"War Crimes: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to... deportation to slave labour or for any other purpose of the civilian population of or in occupied territory..."

Likewise, Article 6(c) of the Charter defines crimes against humanity as:

"Crimes against humanity: namely... deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population..."

Similarly, the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War states unambiguously:

"Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive." (Article 49)

This move by the Israelis should be regarded very seriously indeed. The army which issued the order is not an ordinary army; it emerged in 1948 out of a number of terrorist organisations, including the Irgun, headed by Menachem Begin, and the Stern Gang which attacked Deir Yassin in April 1948. As such, this announcement should be rejected and resisted in its entirety by all those involved in the search for peace, especially the Palestinian Authority, which has failed to protect its people since its establishment two decades ago. The world community must reaffirm its rejection of ethnic cleansing, given the horrors of the 20th century and the deliberate codification of laws to prevent this practice.

The massacre carried out at Deir Yasin in 1948 did not extirpate the national aspirations of the Palestinians and no similar policy will succeed today, especially now that the true character and objectives of the Zionist project are known. The international community must act, and act quickly, to make sure that another round of ethnic cleansing in Palestine is prevented before it can even begin.

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Israel Finds a New Way to Play the Victim

by Ira Chernus, January 21, 2010

A report released by the United Nations last year says that Israeli settlers, angered over the destruction of Jewish outposts, could exact revenge on up to a quarter million Palestinians in the West Bank.

It's not just vague speculation. The report, issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Occupied Palestinian Territory, names 22 specific Palestinian communities, with a total population of 75,900, that are "highly vulnerable" to revenge attacks, and another 59, with about 175,000 residents, that are "moderately vulnerable." It also names numerous road segments and junctions where Palestinians are especially at risk.

The people who wrote this report have obviously been there, observed carefully, and know what they are talking about.

They've also listened to the Jewish settlers, who boast openly of their so-called "price tag" policy, by which they exact a "price" from Palestinians in response not just to terror attacks, but also to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) actions to evacuate unauthorized outposts. Of course, since they are more or less helpless against the IDF soldiers, the settlers intend to make Palestinians pay the price.

But the UN report stresses that the IDF is hardly the good guy here: "The main concern is the frequent failure of the Israeli security forces to intervene and stop settler attacks in real time, including the failure to arrest suspected settlers on the spot. … Among the main reasons behind this failure is the ambiguous message delivered by the government of Israel and the IDF top officials to the security forces in the field regarding their authority and responsibility to enforce the law on Israeli settlers."

"Ambiguous" means that the IDF officially tells its soldiers to enforce the law, even when it means safeguarding Palestinian life. But when Israeli soldiers ignore that instruction, letting Palestinians suffer, the guilty Israelis virtually never suffer any consequences themselves. It's the Israeli version of "Don't ask, don't tell."

So the Israeli government, the occupying force ultimately responsible for the West Bank Palestinians' security, is on notice that it's facing a real risk of disaster. And it's no longer a secret in Israel, where the nation's top newspaper, Ha'aretz, has just made the UN report public.

So far, though, there is no indication that Israeli leaders have taken any steps to head off these revenge attacks. It's certainly not being treated as a major issue in the Israeli press.

No, the Israelis have other worries on their minds. Right now, the hot new source of anxiety in Israel is an imagined worldwide conspiracy of anti-Semites bent on "delegitimization" – attacking the right of the Jewish state to exist. For many Israeli officials, it seems, this supposed conspiracy is all too real and all too dangerous. Soon they may be on full-scale alert, mobilizing their nation and its supporters to name this threat their "new battlefield," make it a top priority, and fight back hard.

The idea of the "new battlefield" seems to have been born in the Reut Institute, a think-tank described by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times as "Israel's premier policy strategy group."

"Reut was established to serve Israeli government agencies and decisionmakers … from top-ranking politicians to government professionals," its Web site explains – all at no charge, and no matter which party controls the government. When the current opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, was in the government as foreign minister, one of her advisers praised Reut: "They are very influential and highly respected. … Their alerts sometimes save the day."

Now Reut is sounding the alert about the "new battlefield," in a new report that's been well-covered in the Israeli press. Here's how Reut founder and president Gidi Grinstein explains it: "Turning Israel into a pariah state is central to its adversaries' efforts. Israel is a geopolitical island. Its survival and prosperity depend on its relations with the world in trade, science, arts, and culture – all of which rely on its legitimacy. When the latter is compromised, the former may be severed, with harsh political, social, and economic consequences."

The attack is being directed, Reut claims, from "hubs of delegitimization" – places like London, Toronto, Brussels, Madrid, and Berkeley that are hotbeds of anti-Israel criticism fueled by anti-Semitism.

One piece of this picture – and one piece only – is accurate enough. Worldwide criticism of Israel's harsh occupation policies is growing rapidly, even among Jews, as well as millions of non-Jews whose moral credentials are spotless. That means the simplistic old charge that all critics of Israel are anti-Semitic is no longer plausible, even as a PR tactic.

So the sophisticated think-tankers at Reut have dreamed up a new way to try to make the stale charge of anti-Semitism stick. Now, it turns out, there is a crucial distinction we must all learn to make. "Soft critics" (including human rights groups like Oxfam) condemn Israeli policy but not necessarily the state's legitimacy, and that's apparently OK. Israel's real enemies are the "hard-core delegitimizers," fueled by anti-Semitic hatred, who are out to destroy the Jews.

The problem, Reut warns in good McCarthyite fashion, is that the "soft critics" are dupes of the "hard-core" anti-Semites, who want to use the "softies" to blur the difference between criticizing Israeli policy and denying Israel's basic legitimacy. Reut calls for an all-out effort by Israel's defenders to drive a wedge between the soft and hard-core critics.

That's just part of the larger strategy described by Grinstein: "In every major country, Israel and its supporters must develop and sustain personal connections with the entire elite in business, politics, arts and culture, science, and academia."

For example, a Reut blogger recently wrote, "Promoting Israel studies on campus [in the U.S.] and 'branding Israel' – a strategy aimed at associating Israel with positive characteristics unrelated to the Arab-Israeli conflict – are central to improving Israel's international standing and countering delegitimacy."

All this might be just a tempest in a think-tank teapot. But it seems that Reut's claim of influence on the Israeli government is well-founded, at least in this case. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon recently told a group of diplomats in Jerusalem that Israel's foes now rely mainly on tactics like boycotts and economic and legal sanctions to delegitimize Israel.

Ayalon dubbed it "lawfare" – and apparently the name is catching on. Britain's attorney general, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, just gave a lecture at the law school of Jerusalem's Hebrew University. The title: "Lawfare: Time for Rules of Engagement?"

But Ayalon took Reut's intellectual fantasy one crucial step further, into the very real and violent world of the Israel-Palestine conflict, when he charged that the whole "lawfare" campaign is being directed by the Palestinian Authority. Since Palestinian violence has declined so precipitously, Ayalon would have us believe, the Palestinians are taking the struggle to a new phase, centered on the global battlefield of "delegitimizing Israel."

It all makes a neat package – much too neat, in fact. Rather than responding to the moderating trends in both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas with any concessions of their own, these Israeli leaders would rather find a new way to go on portraying Israel as the innocent victim of irrational hatreds, which can never be mollified at any negotiating table.

Ayalon made the punch line of his argument clear enough: The so-called lawfare will "directly damage our relations with the Palestinians and any possibility of a smooth and viable political process." So, the whole fanciful notion of a Palestinian-directed global campaign becomes another excuse to avoid serious peace talks with the Palestinians.

Ayalon certainly does not speak for all Israelis. He's a darling of the political Right. But lately some right-wing ideas have had a nasty way of moving toward the center of Israeli politics.

Most disturbingly, this idea may also be picked up by Israel's the military professionals. Ayalon's view was repeated almost verbatim by Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin in his latest testimony to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "The Palestinian Authority is encouraging the international arena to challenge Israel's legitimacy and its activities," he told the lawmakers. "The fact that Israel is no longer suffering from terror or from an immediate military threat has made it easier for the international community to accept claims against Israel's security activities."

Military officers have always been the most respected voices in Israel when it comes to issues of war and national security. If others repeat Yadlin's claims, the "new battlefield" theory could easily become the common wisdom among Israeli Jews. And the Reut Institute's subtle distinction between "soft" and "hard-core" critics of Israel is likely to get lost, as the right-wingers tout the other side of the Reut coin: the nonsensical but often repeated view that all the critics are ultimately driven by anti-Semitism.

That would be a disaster for Israel's security, which can be improved only by negotiations leading to guaranteed security not only for Israel but for an independent, viable Palestinian state. The fundamental roadblock to peace and security for both sides is the persistent sense of fear and victimization that is the bedrock of political culture for Israeli Jews and for Israel's apologists around the world.

The rising popularity of the "new battlefield" theory shows how far they will go to hold on to their fear and victimization – to see anti-Semitism, rather than the occupation, as the source of all their woes – and to avoid making the compromises that could open the path to peace.

Monday, 12 April 2010 16:11 Added by PT Editor Omar Ghraieb
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iof_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copyQalqilyah, April 12, (Pal Telegraph) The Israeli occupation forces surrounded Yasser Arafat's school which is placed in the main western town of Azzun east of Qalqilya, claiming that their tanks faced rock-throwing at the main street near the town.

The Director of the school, Majid Odwan, said that three militant vehicles surrounded the school and a number of soldiers and officers stepped out asking him to gather the students at the school grounds because they threw stones at the main street, claiming that the school's students threw these stones which was completely declined by the administration.

Odwan added that the soldiers told him they would stay at the entrances of the school until the students get out then arrest the suspected ones.

The school teaches 224 students from grades fifth to the ninth. Odwan appealed to international institutions to intervene and end the siege on the school because they need to prevent friction between students and the occupation soldiers.

Monday, 12 April 2010 11:52 Added by PT Editor maysaa jarour
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iof8West Bank, April 12, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) - The Israeli occupation authorities, today, declared the area of Ain Al-Maleh, in Tubas in the northern West Bank, a closed military zone and prevented farmers and herders from entering their lands.

Security sources said that the occupation forces reinforced their military presence in the village of Ein Al-Maleh and prevented farmers and herders from entering their lands in preparation for the conduct of military maneuvers.

The people of the area call on all human rights groups and the official authorities in the Palestinian National Authority to save their crops, which can be damaged because of the exercises.

Monday, 12 April 2010 10:38 Added by PT Editor maysaa jarour
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ki88Hebron, April 12, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) - Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained today three Palestinians from Bait Omar village in Hebron, Palestinian sources reported.

The spokesman for the solidarity project, Mohammed Awad, told WAFA news agency that the Israeli occupation forces raided some houses in Al-Ain area and fired sound and tear bombs. They also detained three citizens Mohammed Sabarnah, 17, Nabail Adi, 24, and Naser Sabarnah, 20.

The IOF searched the house of Deeb Maraqa, in Hebron, and notified him to visit the Israeli intelligence.

Monday, April 12, 2010 23:36

Bookstore chain removes leftist book from shelves

Tzomet Sfarim stops distribution of The National Left after right-wing sources put pressure on management. Book contains harsh criticism of settlers, settlement enterprise. Shulamit Aloni: Settlers do whatever they want

Attile Somfalvi

Latest Update: 04.12.10, 01:02 / Israel News

Days after it began selling the political doctrine The National Left, written by playwright Shmuel Hasfari and attorney Eldad Yaniv, which was sold for NIS 1 ($0.27), Tzomet Sfarim bookstore chain on Sunday announced it will stop distributing the book.


According to information received by Ynet, right-wing elements have been pressuring the chain's management in recent days to stop distributing the book in which the authors make harsh accusations against settlers and the settlement enterprise, calling to dismantle it and "stop the occupation." Ynet also learned that sources at Tzomet Sfarim expressed concern that the affair will harm the chain.
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The bookstore chain's spokesperson said, "Tzomet Sfarim is a chain for all of the people of Israel and has no political affiliation. It is never responsible for the content of the books that are distributed in its stores. Because we received many complaints that the book hurts the feelings of some of our customers, we decided to stop selling it."


Last September, the authors began distributing the book, which contains ideas on how to resurrect the social-democratic dialogue, and is written in a witty language, interwoven with provocations.


The authors described the settlers as "the lords of the land, hardly pioneers. They never planted a tree or built a house. It's the Ahmeds that did all that for them. For years the settlers have been forcing us to build the future Palestinian land – at our expense."


The authors continue to slam the settlers and write, "The settlers operate on a different type of fuel, which is called messianism. Their god appeared at once and defeated their enemies. After his mishap during the Holocaust – he is back and mightier than ever. They graduated from yeshiva high schools and stormed Judea, Samaria and Gaza with unconquerable messianic passion.


"No one realized that the 'new pioneers' were possessed by demons of messianic madness. Think about the brainwashed minds, hypnotized zombies, gangs of horny teenagers forcing themselves on the country. The young generation of settlers forgot what it's like to be a Zionist."


'Settlers rule the land'

In the book, the authors also describe the differences between the Right and the Left, "A rightist is conservative. A yapper. Polemicist. Resistor. Especially in the face of change. A leftist is a revolutionist. Practical. Leads the way, dares and is victorious. The Right believes that if we continue having the upper hand, we will be saved by the heavens. The Left believes that we must redeem ourselves, by ourselves. That is the reason that Zionism is leftist."


Shulamit Aloni, former chairwoman of the leftist Meretz party, said in response to the chain's decision, "Israel has not been democratic for some time now. Our declaration of independence promised equality. I there equality? This is a racist state in which savages do what they want in the name of G-d and their rabbis."


"The settlers rule the land. The government supports them so much; it's a disgrace," Aloni told Ynet Sunday night. Tzomet Sfarim succumbed to the pressure because everyone is afraid of the settlers. They are savages, racists and hate all those who do not support them.


"This country is not democratic anymore. The fact that there are political parties and elections – there are political parties and elections in Iran also. There are zealots in Iran and there are crazy zealots here. The police must deal with the settler threats. We cannot surrender to them," she said.


Yaniv also expressed resentment about the decision to remove the book from the chain's shelves, but promised to fight back.



"Just as they twist the prime minister and defense minister round their little finger, just as they control the state's entire budget – they also think they can control which books get sold," he said. "They are trying to terrorize commercial bodies."


Their response, he said, would be creative. "We intend to take hundreds of thousands of copies left after they sold 5,000 in three days, and distribute them for free at the weekend on campuses and at universities," he explained.


"We intend to print another few thousand, and distribute them in all sorts of places for free, throughout the country. If the settlers think they can shut people up, they're confused. They don't really understand who they're dealing with.


"I think that today they proved that what the book says about them is justified. For many years they have held Israeli society and the state by the balls, and it's time to put them in their place, and say that we are Zionist and Israeli and want to stop the occupation.",7340,L-3874378,00.html

They've Stolen Our Road!

Palestine Monitor
8 April 2010
We sat with Jamal and Susan and in their home in Shufa. Their seven children peeped in from time to time, daring each other to go and speak to the foreigners. Jamal explained how the road to their village has literally been stolen by some Israelis who live in a nearby illegal settlement.

We already knew about this, because our taxi-ride to Shufa had been interrupted by a huge earth mound and some concrete blocks in the road. We had to get out and walk the last mile up a steep hill.

This stretch of road is now solely for the use of the settlers, who use it to get to their settlement from the main road. The Israeli army will not allow Palestinians to use the road except on foot or on a donkey.

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Photo: Peter Balaam

The road was built in 1950 by the Palestinians. In 1987, the Israelis built 40 houses on Palestinian land and started to share the road with the local villagers. The settlement expanded for some years, and then in 1995, the Israeli army suddenly built the earth mound and forbade the Palestinians to use the road. Now Jamal has to drive home from the school where he is the headteacher, park his car by the earth mound and walk the last mile uphill to his home. And he does this every day, in all weathers, including temperatures in the 40s in summer.

"Why?" I asked Jamal. "Why can't they share the road with you?" Jamal had no answer. For years they had shared the road with no problem. The Israeli answer is just "Security", but they refuse to explain what they mean by this.

The only explanation that Jamal can think of is that the Israelis simply want to cause the Palestinians to suffer. Another explanation I have heard is that if someone wished to attack people in the settlement, the road would have provided an easy way of escape. But there has been no such attack in 23 years. Perhaps it's just that the settlers feel nervous about sharing a road with people whose land they appropriated in order to build their settlement.

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Photo: Peter Balaam

The stolen road has all sorts of other consequences. Jamal and Susan cannot drive to see their family in Lower Shufa, which is the other side of the earth mound. Farmers' profits are reduced because each time they take their produce to market in Tulkarem, they need fuel for a 25 km journey instead of 6 km.

The villagers of Shufa have learnt to live with the settlers. In the past, they have been attacked by settlers during the olive harvest and settlers have destroyed hundreds of their olive trees. But they do not face the daily threat of settler violence that other Palestinians face. Life is merely uncomfortable. And nothing changes the fact that their road has been stolen. They live with this reality every day - just one more quiet, unchanging injustice.

The article was written by Peter Balaam. He works for Quaker Peace and Social Witness as an Ecumenical Accompanier serving on the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The views contained in this article are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of QPSW or the WCC.

Monday, 12 April 2010 11:40 Added by PT Editor maysaa jarour
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11Gaza, April 12, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) - The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened today fire toward the Palestinian demonstrators in Khan Younis in a protest against the Israeli buffer zone around the Gaza Strip, no injuries were reported.

The Popular Committee to Resist the Buffer Zone organized the demonstration to express their solidarity with the farmers who are unable to reach their lands which locate near the borders.

Photo Mohammed Asad

Gaza: Affecting And Affected

By Eva Bartlett

12 April, 2010
In Gaza

Abu Basel (right) is one of the long-termers, having served over 20 years as a medic in Gaza.

"Who will take care of people if not us? Someone has to do this work. Without medics, who will care for the injured? Everyone has something to contribute," he replied to the question: why do you do such dangerous work.

Dangerous work. Being a medic hardly seems dangerous…anywhere else. But in a place like Palestine, medics have to contend with more than tending to the injured or bringing in the dead. They have to be aware of Israeli soldiers' shooting, shelling from Apaches, F-16s, tanks, the sea…

Having spoken with Abu Basel many times during and after the Israeli massacre of Gaza last year, I thought I'd heard most of his horror stories.

He is a calm man, when not driving the ambulance, and relates all his stories in the same laid-back tone, whether joyful or atrocious.

Upon request, he begins to recall some of the many dangers he was exposed to during the last Israeli attacks, not to mention the nearly 2 decades before that.

He recalls being with medics and 4 ambulances, 2 metres from the Al Kurdi house in the Jabaliya region when an F-16 bombed it.

"How in the world are you alive?" I ask.

"It's in God's hands," he replies.

He remembers a night in Beit Lahiya when they rushed to the site of a drone missile bombing.

"It was 1 am. We found the injured and brought the stretcher. A drone dropped another missile. Because it was night and there were not as many noises as during the day, I heard the sssss of the missile and we ran. The missile landed 1 metre from ambulance and 1.5 metres from the injured.

We ran back and grabbed the injured and drove. Two minutes later an F-16 bombed the house where we'd taken the injured from."

He relates another incident in Sheyjayee where, similarly, a drone attacked his ambulance, dropping a missile metres from his ambulance.

"We'd gone to retrieve 5 injured but were only able to take four before the missile struck. A man nearby who had come to help us load the injured was killed by the missile. The ambulance windows shattered and my colleagues were injured."

He then recalls 2 incidents when he says his ambulance had coordination via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to reach an area the Israeli soldiers were occupying or preventing ambulances from accessing.

We went to Attatra with 3 Red Crescent ambulances and an ICRC jeep to bring out injured. When we reached the area, Israeli tanks started firing on us with machine gun fire. An ICRC employee started speaking with the Israelis via phone. 'You're firing on us,' he said and the Israelis denied it. But the tanks kept firing and we had to leave quickly because of the danger.

Another time, in Esserah area, Beit Lahiya, we again went with coordination. We went there along the sea rou and when near the area got on the microphone. 'If there's anyone injured or anyone needs to leave or has an ill person or needs help, we're ICRC and RC, we're here to help,' we told them.

There was a guy sitting outside his destroyed house. He told us 13 people from his family were inside the house (children, elderly, women). We began helping them, loading them into our ambulances. When the Israeli soldiers saw us helping the people, they began firing on us from their tanks. We hurried, took the 13 people into our ambulance. Two tires were blown out on one ambulance, but there wasn't time to transfer the people or wait for other ambulances. They'd been in there, the 14 of them, since their house was destroyed a week earlier. They'd been without food for the week, just had water."

Iyad has been a medic for 16 years and equally has too many close calls to remember.

He shares some of his near-death escapes.

"I was working in the Red Crescent centre near Al Quds hospital, in the Tel el Howa area of Gaza City. After the Samounis were bombed, I went one afternoon to bring some of the martyrs. A zanana (drone) and tanks fired missiles on the road we were driving on. Six missiles, the closest was just 8 metres away. We had gone without coordination, because there were many martyrs and the area where we headed was somewhat far from the Israelis, maybe 500 metres away. I saw them and they saw me. We managed to take a marytr and leave."

Living in central Gaza, Iyad was among the medics completely cut off from his family during the massacre.

"For about a week I didn't know anything on my family, the phone reception was so bad we couldn't call each other. I live in Nussierat, and the road was severed by the Israelis, so I couldn't get to them or communicate with them."

"There are so many incidents," Abu Basel says, "but I can't remember them all, so many."

He repeats what most medics have said.

"We weren't afraid, despite the danger. But it was hard. We weren't sleeping, not eating well –there was no time to eat or sleep. Most didn't see our families during the war, just a minute or two here or there."

While you'd think the most difficult time was the Israeli war on Gaza itself, because the medics were kept busy, most didn't have time to think about the horrors of what they were seeing and experiencing.

"The hardest hardest was after the war," says Abu Basel. "During the war, I knew there was death. I'd see a body, then a different body. I woulnd't dwell on what I had seen, would just think about what I had to do next.

But after the war, I began to have terrible dreams, I'd remember everything. For 2 months I dreamed horrible dreams, warplanes, the bodies, everything I saw in the war I re-lived in my dreams.

That was much harder than the war."

I remember Abu Basel telling me about finding Shahed Abu Halima, the infant girl killed by white phosphorous shelling, her corpse left for days as medics and family were unable to bring it out. Abu Basel was among the medics who uncovered the Abu Halima massacre, the charred remains of those family members killed in the shelling, and the gnawed body of Shahed, partially eaten by dogs.

"For the rest of my life I'll remember that day. I'll never get over it," he had said.

Do they feel scarred by their work and experiences?

"After 20 years of this, this kind of stress and work is normal.

But still, after this last war, the worst so far, people were extremely nervous and agitated. Some developed diabetes. Many found that after the war they got angry easily and were not sociable, didn't want to speak to people… but now most are better.

Many medics can't have babies. I know one who after 7 years still hasn't had children.

Many take medications to have kids. It's because they are very stressed, they see a lot of terrible things and begin to have problems with psychology."

After the massacre, a psychologist came to the Red Crescent to do workshops with the medics, says Abu Basel.

"For a month and a half, two days per week, we had sessions. He spoke with us, showed us exercises for relaxation, took us to the sea…

He gave us the will and spirit to work and live well.

The problem for us isn't our psychology. We only need a break, to go somewhere else for a vacation and see something different. Go to Europe or somewhere, see a different life and try to forget what we saw.

For Iyad, there is no relaxation.

I sleep. Only. There's nothing else to do. When I use the internet, there's news. I watch TV or listen to the radio, and I hear news. I walk on the street, and all I hear is politics. There is no escape from this stress, no way to relax but to sleep."

Ahmed Abu Foul's daughter Hola is 6 months old now. Married just one week before the Israeli massacre of Gaza erupted, Ahmed's honeymoon was 23 days of hell in his dual positions of medic with the Red Crescent and with the Civil Defense, along with the hell of being separated from family.

Although only 27, Ahmed's stories are too many to recount.

He re-visits some of them, which I marveled over before:

-The time he went to retrieve a martyr near a cemetery in Beit Lahiya. Israeli machine gun fire erupts at him and Ahmed is trapped, lying on the road, breaking for it and zig-zagging his way back to the ambulance.

-When they went to the site of a bombing in Sheik Radwan, north of Gaza City.

"There had been a drone strike on a house, they said there were injured.

I was looking to see if anyone injured. I was next to a 5 storey house, in the alley, when an F-16 hit the house next to me. It fell in the other direction, but the rubble fell on me.

I wasn't badly injured, somehow, but my hair stood on end and I lost my hearing for 4 or 5 days," Ahmed tells with a grin.

But his most troubling recent injury is that inflicted as he attempted to evacuate a martyr from a Jabaliya apartment.

"The Israelis had fired numerous missiles on Hamouda tower, a 5 storey building in Jabaliya district. When we got there, we were told there was a martyr on 5th floor. I was the first to enter, everyone else was afraid. I found the body and Dr Issa Salah came up to help.

We were carrying the corpse down the stairs when the Israelis fired on us. The bomb blast decapitated Dr. Issa. His head hit me in the back of my head . I thought I'd been hit by shrapnel or something. Now I've got shrapnel in my head, but its bone shrapnel, from the dr. Issa. And shrapnel in leg from the bomb blast.

In a society where nearly everyone suffers from the continuous Israeli attacks, invasions, and wars, venting is not easy, and going to a psychologist is not the norm.

"After the war, I became extremely, extremely nervous. I was agitated and got angry easily. Sometimes if someone was making noise or annoying me I'd want to hit them," he says, still smiling his open smile.

"I was never rested. When I'd wake, I'd still feel like I hadn't slept.

Until today, I still have nightmares from the war.

I went to a doctor. Every 2 days I saw her. If I hadn't gone I would have been completely destroyed long ago.

We talked about my feelings. I just talked and talked, no medicine, just talking. By the end she said I was fine.

Some people are afraid to go to a therapist. Others might say they are crazy. But I know I wasn't crazy, I just needed to talk, needed to fix my psychological state."

And like the others, Ahmed longs for a reprieve, even for a week.

"If I could just leave Gaza for one week, breathe a different air, all my psychological problems and stress would go. Even if I just went to Cairo."

Gaza militant: Hamas stopping rocket fire into Israel

By Avi Issacharoff
Hamas is forcing other Gaza Palestinian factions to guarantee they do not launch rockets or mortar bombs at Israel, a source told the French AFP news agency on Monday.

The source, a member of the Strip's Islamic Jihad militant group, told AFP that members of Hamas' security force arrested four Islamic Jihad militants, forcing them to sign a document stating that they pledged not to fire Qassam missiles or mortar bombs at Israel.

The official added that the Hamas men also confiscated the weapons found on the Islamic Jihad militants.


Last week, Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha told the BBC that Hamas was working to curb rocket attacks against Israel by Gaza militants.

"The government in Gaza is in charge of the situation, and it does know clearly who launches rockets," Taha told the BBC. "It is working hard to deter any faction from acting individually.

Also last week, the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat reported that armed Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip detained several Palestinians who had fired Qassam rockets at Israel.

The Hamas forces arrested several militants linked to a radical Islamist group in the northern Strip, the report said, an area in which the ruling movement has recently bolstered its security presence to prevent rocket fire.

The head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said his government is in contact with other Palestinian factions to reach an agreement over a rocket cease-fire - in order to, in his words, "protect our nation."

Meanwhile, however, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal said in Damascus that all options for confronting Israel remain open, including war. "We will do everything to obtain the rights stolen from us, including confrontation with the enemy," he told journalists, adding that in the event of war, Hamas militants would fight "like men."

'Israel may drag US into new war'
Mon, 12 Apr 2010 12:40:01 GMT
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Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has expressed fears that Israel may attempt to involve the US in a new aggression against Lebanon or the Gaza Strip.

"Because of Israel's current disagreements with the US, the Israeli side could get the US involved in what is a 'crazy move,'" Berri was quoted as saying by Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat .

He added that there were no guarantees that Israel would not start another war in the region.

In 2006, Israel fought a 33-day war against Lebanon, aimed at destroying Hezbollah's military power but eventually left the battle scene without achieving any of its objectives.

In August 2006, the United Nations Security Counsel passed Resolution 1701, which called on Israel to withdraw its troops from Lebanon.

The Lebanese resistance movement has reportedly doubled its military might since its victory over Tel Aviv in the war.

In May, Israel is expected to join the prestigious organization of developed economies, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Although the OECD claims to be an organization of democratic countries, in the past year it has accelerated efforts to invite Israel to become a member, despite Israel's numerous violations of international law and military occupation of the Palestinian and Syrian territories. Israel seeks membership in the OECD vigorously, as it would be a powerful affirmation of international legitimacy to Israel's policies.

It only takes one country to vote against accepting Israel in order to block the process, and that is why it is important for activists in all OECD countries to put pressure on their governments, raise questions in parliament and ask their foreign ministers how can they accept a state which violates international law, and doesn't even meet the most basic requirements of the OECD.

What is especially interesting, is that the OECD is not even able to define Israel. What are the borders of this new state set to join the organization? It seems that OECD officials are well aware that Israel is very different than OECD countries. In fact, in its assessment of the Israeli social and economic situation, the OECD said that Israeli politics are defined by "policy agendas rooted in ethnicity and religion" (OECD, 2010a: 11). Nevertheless, there seem to be a great deal of pressure within the OECD to accept Israel, mainly because whitewashing Israel's crimes helps legitimize similar crimes by other OECD countries.

The OECD Committee on Statistics was asked by the OECD to find a technical solution to what is essentially a political problem: how to deal with the occupied Palestinian territories under Israeli control. The Committee published a report, in which the confusion within the OECD regarding Israel's territory is evident. The committee realizes that although the internationally-recognized borders of Israel are the 1967 borders (the "Green Line"), Israel controls a much larger territory, including the Gaza Strip, Syrian Golan Heights and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem). Furthermore, though Israel controls this wide territory, it ignores the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and only collects statistical data on the Israeli colonists in these areas, who comprise approximately 13% of the population there. Furthermore, Israeli statistics render it impossible to get an accurate view of the Israeli economy excluding the occupied territories, as the illegal settlements are included in every piece of data.

The OECD uses the 1993 System of National Accounts (SNA) in formulating statistical reports on OECD countries and on prospected members, which provides for situations where the political boundaries of a state may not coincide precisely with the economic boundaries of a state. However, the OECD Committee on Statistics found that this does not resolve the political issue – that Israel ignores the Palestinians but counts the settlers, creating an intentionally-distorted picture of the area which it controls, as well as of its national economy. Although Israel does indeed enforce full economic control over the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, it does not include the majority of the population in these areas in its statistics, thus leaving the OECD Committee on Statistics with no statistical way to separate the data between the occupied territories and Israel proper (Statistics Directorate, Committee on Statistics, 2010: 4). As a result, the OECD asks that Israel will not include any statistics concerning these territories (although this would exclude about 7% of Israeli citizens from the statistics as well).

The insistence of the OECD that Israel exclude statistics concerning East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights from its reports to the OECD is tantamount to burying their head in the sand. The occupation of these areas remains in effect whether it is reported to the OECD or not.

Thus, the OECD reports presents false and deceptive information, as if 74.2% of people under Israeli control in 2007 were Jews (OECD, 2010a: 30), a figure which counts Israelis illegally living in the West Bank and the Golan Heights, but ignores the 3.8 million Palestinians under Israel's control who are deprived of citizenship. Including the unemancipated Palestinians would bring the proportion of Jews in the areas under Israel's control down to about 49%, clearly demonstrating Israel's colonial policies of ethnic stratification, which the OECD chooses to ignore.

Indeed, by excluding about four million Palestinian subjects of Israeli occupation from the statistics, Israel creates a distorted and unrealistic image of its economy. It masks the stark inequality in income and in standards of living, it masks the deep poverty of large segments of the population, it masks the true extent of unemployment and the atrocious condition of welfare and social benefits in the areas controlled by Israel.

An internal discussion in the OECD has evolved around this question. Israel has proposed a technical solution, simply adding a footnote to the accession papers which states that the data including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights is used for technical reasons, and does not comment on the legal status of these territories. However, the OECD staff realizes that Israel can block the approval and publications of OECD documents containing this footnote, and thus suggests adopting a "language for the footnote which is acceptable to both OECD members and Israel." In other words, the OECD is not putting any pressure on Israel to change its policies, but merely attempts to find a semantic way to avoid this explosive political topic (OECD, 2010b: 5).

As Israel is responsible, according to international humanitarian law, for the economic wellbeing of the Palestinian population under its control, the OECD should instead demand that Israel include in its statistics not only East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, but the entire area under Israeli control and under Israeli responsibility: the entire West Bank and the Gaza Strip. If this data would have been provided, Israel would not even be close to meeting the OECD standards for acceptance, and would be correctly seen as a developing country with deep social divides, a state of civil war, a non-democratic regime and a highly unstable political situation (Loss, 2010).

OECD's tendency to ignore a large segment of population controlled by Israel represents uncritical acceptance of Israel's views. Israeli officials have adopted a hostile approach even to groups among Israel's own citizenry (and of course, maintain their hostility towards the occupied Palestinians). In the recent Herzaliya Conference in February (an annual high-profile conference where the Israeli elite meets to discuss policy) Haim Shani, the CEO of the Israeli Ministry of Finance, said that if the Arab and Haredi (ultra-orthodox Jews) populations would have been deducted from the calculation of Israel's per-capita GDP, Israel would be one of the richest countries in the world (Foyer, 2010). His statement clearly demonstrates an establishment desire to see a "pure" Israel, devoid of ultra-orthodox religious Jews and devoid of Palestinians. This approach stands in complete contradiction to policies aimed at promoting equality and closing social gaps in society, and are conducive to policies of discrimination, patronizing minorities and eventually even ethnic cleansing.

The OECD takes decisions unanimously. It only takes a single OECD country, out of 30 current members, to block Israel's inclusion into the organization. In light of the information above, it is puzzling and worrying that so far no country has made a clear stand on the matter.

1. The text for the footnote that was put forward by Israel is: "This report/review/document is not intended to cover the territories known as the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem and is without prejudice to positions regarding those territories. However, for technical reasons, this report/review/document uses Israel's official statistics, which include data relating to the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and the Israeli settlements in the West Bank."

    Foyer, Dror, 2010, "The Main thing is the Statistics," Globes Magazine, February 11th, 2010.
        Loss, Yossi, 2010, "The True Data of Israel," Haoketz, 23.1.2010, file:///E:/Files/To%20Work%20ON/Bulletin%2026%20-%20OECD/Sources/Haoketz_real%20Israeli%20stats.asp.
        OECD, 2010a, OECD Economic Surveys: Israel, Volume 2009/21-January 2010, Supplement No. 3, OECD Publishing.
    OECD, 2010b, Accession Progress Reort, February 11th, 2010.
    Statistics Directorate, Committee on Statistics, 2010, "Accesion of Israel to the Organization: Draft Formal Opinion of the Committee on Statistics," OECD, February 1st, 2010.

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Reader Commentaries:

Singling out Israel is the right thing to do

By Yaman Salahi
Thursday April 08, 2010
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Two weeks ago, UC Berkeley's student senate made a historic 16-4 decision to divest from General Electric and United Technologies, two American companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. A week later, the student body president vetoed the bill, citing its "focus on a specific country," Israel. His veto echoed identical claims by Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, that "in a world filled with human rights abuses across Africa, Asia and the Americas, the UC Berkeley students vote to single out Israel for censure is hypocritical."

As the international movement calling for Palestinian freedom and urging boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel grows, this particular defense will likely become more pronounced. Thus, it merits a response so that its troubling implications for people who organize for justice and human rights can be cast aside once and for all. So: what does it mean to "single out Israel," and is it really "hypocritical" to do so?

Under one meaning, it is unclear how anyone could ever do, say, or think anything pertaining to Israel without necessarily "singling out" Israel. Anytime one talks about Israel one must, by definition, "single out" Israel -- whether cognitively or linguistically. In that sense, "singling out" means focusing in some way on its actions. For example, for decades the US Congress "singled out" Israel to receive the largest share of the United States' foreign aid budget, amounting over the past half-century to more than all aid to sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined. [1]

Under another meaning, the critic might be claiming that divestment "singles out" Israel unfairly. In order to assess that claim, one must look at the merits of criticisms toward Israeli policy to see if they are fair. What are these criticisms? Namely, that Israel repeatedly engages in gross violations of human rights and international law. The evidence for such claims comes from sources as numerous, varied, and reputable as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Committee on the Red Cross, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, B'Tselem, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, the Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the United Nations Commissioner on Human Rights, Reporters Without Borders, the European Union, and finally, the United Nations General Assembly. In the face of such evidence, any claim that there is no basis on which to fairly "single out" Israel requires a remarkable amount of self-delusion or deliberate ignorance.

Under a third meaning, the critic could be saying that "singling out" Israel for criticism is unfair because while Israel is under scrutiny, other human rights violators are off the hook. But is it really true that those who report on Israel never hold other violators to task for their actions? In addition to extensive documentation of Israeli human rights abuses, every single organization above, without exception, has also documented and investigated claims about other parties. Some even have reports about nearly every country in the world. These organizations are not above criticism or scrutiny, but they also do not have reputations for dishonesty. While these organizations are routinely cited when discussing human rights violations in Darfur, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Burma, Russia, and China, just to name a few – it is only their criticism of Israel that is deemed "unfair," "biased," or "one-sided." Who, then, is "singling out" Israel, and why?

There are certainly anti-Semites who criticize Israel because they are racist, but these marginal people simply do not characterize those organizations mentioned above, the Palestinian people, or those of us in the international movement to boycott Israel for its long-standing human rights abuses. Indeed, refusing to address fair claims because of the occasional unfair accuser removes the anti-Semites from the margins and sacrifices the entire system of rights and the majority who support it at their altar.

Under a final meaning, the critic could be claiming that "singling out" Israel for divestment is unfair, because divestment does not target every other country that also violates human rights. This argument is disingenuous. On its face, it appears to advocate for greater action on more human rights issues. In practice, however, it is deployed in order to silence those who would call for greater action in the face of Israeli war crimes and other violations of Palestinian rights under international law. Indeed, many of those who argue that divestment "singles out" Israel have no similar reservations when applying economic and political pressure to other countries and conflicts, such as Darfur.

As Naomi Klein has written, divestment is not a dogma: it's a tactic. Up against powerful state and corporate actors, civil society must focus its energies for collective actions such as boycott or divestment to succeed. Such was the case when companies that enabled the South African apartheid regime were targeted for divestment. A similar campaign succeeded regarding Darfur, and today another campaign is underway against Sri Lanka for its continuing oppression of the Tamil people. In all three cases those nations were or are singled out for divestment while at the same time other injustices loomed in the world. To do so made tactical sense while re-inforcing the principle that companies are legitimate targets for boycott and divestment wherever they are integral actors in a system of oppression. When all other measures fail, consumers and investors have one last recourse: to chose to spend and invest their money elsewhere. For many around the world, this is the best way to intervene against Israel's systematized racism and oppression of the Palestinian people.

Those who believe that confronting Israel is unfair are themselves relying on an unacceptable double standard, "singling out" Israel, so to speak, as the one country expressly permitted to wantonly attack and persecute its minority citizens and subjects while the rest of the world passively watches. However, there can be only one universal standard of human rights. Privileging one state or actor over all others to remove it from accountability creates double standards that undermine the integrity of social justice activism all over the world. No one who chooses to engage in war crimes, colonization or human rights violations should expect the complicity of people around the world. Today, more than ever, is the time to single out Israel for criticism and boycott – not because it is the only purveyor of injustice in the world, or even necessarily the worst – but because no other international institution has succeeded in stopping the injustices against the Palestinians that continue to unfold before our eyes and in the full light of history.

[1]"In fact, from 1949 through 1997, the total of U.S. aid to all of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean combined was $64,127,500,000—considerably less than the $71,077,600,000 Israel received in the same 1949 through 1997 time period. According to the Population Reference Bureau of Washington, DC, in mid-1999 the sub-Saharan and Latin American and Caribbean countries have a combined population of 1.142 billion people, while Israel's mid-1999 population is 6.1 million people." Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Yaman Salahi, a UC Berkeley alumnus and member of Students for Justice in Palestine, is currently a student at Yale Law School.
Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian policy network, is an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and foster public debate on Palestinian human rights and self-determination within the framework of international law.
Dear Friends,
It is with great pleasure that we announce the launch of Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network. Al-Shabaka is the first independent strategy and policy related think tank for Palestinians and by Palestinians. A think tank without borders, Al-Shabaka draws on and benefits from the diverse experiences of Palestinians from across the world.
In this initial phase of the launch, Al-Shabaka brings together 35 policy advisors from the Arab world, the United States, Canada, and Europe. The network of policy advisors, who are established scholars and writers, will be expanded on an ad hoc basis over the next six months.  In addition, Al-Shabaka will begin accepting as members, Palestinians who are committed to Al-Shabaka's vision and principles and wish to participate in the network. As Al-Shabaka becomes established we hope to add ten members per month.
The first policy briefs are by policy advisors Camille Mansour and Samer Abdelnour. Dr. Mansour, a former professor of political science at Birzeit University and founder of its law school, examines how negotiations over the two-state solution should address the issue ofsovereignty. Mr. Abdelnour, a PhD candidate in Management, proposes a new model for Palestinian development. We also have a special commentaryon the impact of negotiations on achieving sovereignty from policy advisor Diana Buttu, who formerly advised the Palestine Liberation Organization's Negotiations Support Unit.
Over the next two months, we will be publishing policy briefs by Omar Barghouti, a founder of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement on the strategic potential of BDS, Dalal Yassine on the Right to Work Campaign in Lebanon, and Ali Abunimah on sovereignty and self-determination.
We encourage you to visit the Al-Shabaka website, review the policy briefs, and share them with others. If you have any questions or want additional information about Al-Shabaka, please contact us at:
With your support, Al-Shabaka will provide a vital forum for Palestinian policy and strategy development and analysis.
The Al-Shabaka Network Managers

April 12, 2010

A Night of Comedy and Music for Palestine


On Tuesday April 20th, a fundraising night for Palestine is being held at The Doghouse in Brixton, London, featuring a top line of comedians including Jeremy Hardy and Ivor Dembina, and music by the Amigans.


The night has been arranged by a small group of dedicated activists who work widely around the Palestinian struggle for justice. Tickets for the event sold out very quickly, and all funds raised at the event will be donated to 3 grassroots and 'people-led' organizations – Lajee Center, The Russell Tribunal on Palestine, and the International Solidarity Movement.


Lajee Center would like to express our thanks to all involved in arranging this event, and our solidarity with all those around the world who are working for Palestinian justice with dedication and creativity.



Medvedev: Israeli strike on Iran to lead to global catastrophe
Dmitry Medvedev think Israel may strike on Iran.

Medvedev: Israeli strike on Iran to lead to global catastrophe

Today at 15:17 | Interfax-Ukraine
Moscow, April 12 (Interfax) - Israel may strike on Iran, President Dmitry Medvedev told ABC News.

"I can be sure only of my decisions, but the Israeli government forms its policy independently. I have good relations with the Israeli president and prime minister but they are independent people. I would say they are very stubborn and harsh in many affairs," he said.

An Israeli strike on Iran "would be the worst option," Medvedev said. "Firstly, any war means deaths. Secondly, you know what a war in the Middle East can do. The place is so small that no one will stand aside," he said.

"If a conflict occurs and a strike happens, anything can be expected, including the use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons used in the Middle East imply a global catastrophe, a huge casualty rate," Medvedev said.

U.S., Israeli attack on Iran would be 'unacceptable' - Russia military

Any airstrike against Iran by the United States or Israel would be "unacceptable," the chief of the Russian General Staff Nikolai Makarov said on Monday.

"This is a last resort that exists in the plans of both the United States and Israel," Nikolai Makarov said.

Western powers suspect that Iran's nuclear program is aimed at making weapons, while Tehran claims it is pursuing nuclear technology for its civilian energy needs.

Makarov said that the Iranian leadership should also take into account that "the whole world is concerned about the [nuclear] problem."

"We should hear Iran and Iran should hear us and the global community, and undertake measures," Makarov added.

He also said that other states are likely to follow suit if Iran develops nuclear weapons.

"If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it might become an impetus for other states, and lead to further expansion of the nuclear club," he said, adding the Russian military department was against such a scenario.

He added that Russia's decision on whether to deliver S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran should be made by the country's leaders.

"This decision should be made at state level. We, the military, will follow the leadership's commands," Makarov said.

Russia signed a contract with Iran on the supply of at least five S-300 air defense systems to Tehran in December 2005. However, Moscow has not so far honored the contract, which many experts say is due to pressure from Washington and Tel Aviv.

Both the United States and Israel have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program and have expressed concern over S-300 deliveries, which would significantly strengthen Iran's air defenses.

MOSCOW, April 12 (RIA Novosti)

Members of Iranian reformist group handed prison terms

Report by Radio Zamaneh

Mohsen Safai Farahani

Mohsen Safai Farahani, senior member of the reformist group, Islamic Iran Participation Front was sentenced to five years in prison by the appellate court.

Tehran Revolutionary Court announced that the political activist had been sentenced to six years in prison last December and the appeals court has thus reduced the sentence by one year.

Safai Farahani is amongst the numerous post-election detainees who have been arrested to quell the protests against the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran's June presidential elections last year. He is accused of "activity against national security," propaganda against the regime," "insulting government officials," and "publishing falsehoods."

Ali Tajernia

Another Participation Front member, Ali Tajernia was also handed a final decision by the appellate court receiving a one year prison term which was reduced from six years handed to him in the preliminary hearing.

Tajernia is accused of "assembly and colluding with the purpose of disturbing public security," "propaganda against the regime" and "insulting public officials on duty."

Islamic Participation Front has been the direct target of government attacks in the post-election clampdown on reformists and the organization has been accused of being party to a conspiracy to topple the government through a "velvet revolution."

Many senior members of this organization, such as Mohsen Mirdamadi, Abdollah Ramazanzadeh, Mostafa Tajzadeh and Shahabeddin Tabatabai, were arrested in the post election events.

Kianush Asa's Mother: I Will Not Stay Silent Until My Son's Murder is Punished

By Fereshteh Ghazi, Rooz Online

The mother of Kianush Asa, an Elm va Sanat (Science and Industry) University student who was shot and killed on June 15 demanded in an interview with Rooz that those  responsible for her son's murder and the perpetrators be identified and prosecuted.

Kianush Asa was an art painter, cartoonist, musician and chemistry student at Tehran's Science and Industry University.  He had been thought to be just missing for a few days, whereas he had actually been shot on June 15, 2009.  Nine days later, his family received his body at the Tehran coroner's office.  

Despite receiving various threats in the past nine months, Kianush Asa's family members insist that they would not rest in peace until their son's murderer is identified and punished.  The pressure exerted on the family has gone so far as to cause Kianush's brother to be arrested and spend two months in prison.

An image from Fatemeh Fallah, Kianush Asa's mother, while she was holding a picture of her martyred son in one hand and one of her imprisoned son in the other, aroused many hearts.  This mourning she asked Rooz , "Do they not have children of their own to treat other people's children in this manner?  What have I done to see one of my son's in grave and the other in prison?"

Kamran has since been released on bail, but Mrs. Fallah still does not believe that the 25-year-old Kianush is dead.  She spoke to Rooz about pressures, threats, Kianush Asa's martyrdom and Kamran Asa's interrogations.  Here are her touching words.

Rooz: You had said earlier that your son went missing after in fact he had been shot.  Apparently some eyewitnesses on the scene explained the circumstances of Kianush's injury.  Can you explain?

Fatemeh Fallah (Fallah): Kianush went to the June 15 protest with his friends, but because of the size of the crowds he lost them. Those who saw him being shot found us later and told us that they didn't know Kianush prior to the shooting, but that he gave them his name after he was shot.  After he was shot in his ribs people come to help him and that is when he told them his name. These eyewitnesses said that Kianush was shot only once, in the ribs, and that he was not in critical condition. He was conscious and speaking.  No one knows what happened after they took Kianush away in an ambulance along some others who had also been shot.

Rooz: But when you saw Kianush's body you saw two bullet holes, is that correct?

Fallah: Yes, on June 24 we identified Kianush in photos that they showed us.  His face had severely changed and his mouth was full of blood.  We couldn't believe it was a photo of Kianush, until we saw the death certificate and his body on June 25.  Eyewitnesses said that Kianush was shot only once, but there were two bullet holes in my son's body.  The second bullet had hit him under the neck.  An autopsy had been performed and all his clothes were removed.

Memorial of Kianush Asa in Kermanshah

Rooz: Are you still determined to investigate Kianush's murder, despite all the threats and pressures?

Fallah: No threat or amount of pressure can make me give up on my son's blood.  My Kianush was a role model and my pillar.  His was my heart and soul and they should explain why they killed him.  Why were there two bullet holes in his body when he had been shot only once?  When and why was he shot the second time?  Who ordered the murder of our children?  Who killed him?  I will never back down.

On one hand they killed one of my sons and on the other hand they arrested my other son while he was mourning for his brother. They kept him at the Ghezel Hesar prison along with dangerous criminals and drug smugglers.  When Kamran was released he was suffering from a colon infection and underwent medical treatment for a long time.  My daughter who was supposed to be studying and live her private life, was forced to spend two months in front of the revolutionary court.  My other daughter studied for two years for the university entrance exam only to attend her brother's funeral on the day of the exam.  She is in no mood to study anymore.  They completely disrupted our lives and I won't give up on my son's blood.  How can they think these threats would silence me?  Can you believe that I wake up every morning with the thought of talking with Kianush and telling him to do this and that?  But when I open my eyes I see his picture on the wall and his musical instrument by the wall and only then I realize in disbelief that there is no Kianush.  None of our family members can believe that there is no Kianush.  I will not be silent until the day of punishment for my son's murderer and those who ordered it.


Students holding Memorial for Kianush Asa

So, We Are Terrorists!

By Kourosh Ziabari



Once Dr. Hossein Beik-baghban, a renowned Iranian professor of Oriental Studies at the University of Strasbourg, while addressing a gathering in our university, digressed to explain a bitterly interesting memory from his first years as an Iranian scholar in France: "I was standing in a queue in a large shopping mall in Alsace, waiting for my turn to hand the goods over to the salesman and get the receipt, when a rustic old German woman appeared before and started talking to me immediately. We talked for some 10 minutes on different topics, and eventually, it came to nationality. I asked her first and she replied that she is German. Correspondingly, she began guessing about me, before I told her myself, and all of her guesses, one after another, were wrong: Lebanese, Turkish, Azeri, Arab and Russian. I told her that I'm Iranian. She remained silent and somewhat in shock for a few seconds, and suddenly yelled with excitement: Oh! So, you are a terrorist!"


For me, as the member of a developing society, and the citizen of a part of the so-called "Axis of Evil", it would be more than probably a delightful experience to travel to the proximity of the "Beacon of Freedom", and witness what I may never envision or even think of. When I first received the acceptance letter, telling me that my paper had been selected to be presented in an international conference in Calgary, Canada, I instantaneously began to imagine myself in a British Airways flight from Tehran to London, and to Calgary thereafter, wearing a navy-blue suit, addressing a large public of young people and students from all around the world, sharing a series of informative data and figures on energy crises and global warming and so on; however, I could never imagine that such a dream would be in vain within less than 3 weeks.


When I first submitted my forms for the visa application and the relevant travel documentations to the Canadian Embassy in Tehran, I never on earth was aware of the fact that "over 61 percent of Iranian applicants' visa applications had been rejected by the Canadian Embassy in 2007 and 2008," according to Vincent Valai, the member of the Quebec Law Society.


The standoff between Tehran and Ottawa started in mid-2003 on the grounds of the suspicious death of Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-Canadian photographer and freelance journalist who was allegedly "murdered" while she was in the custody of Iranian officials in the Evin Prison of Tehran.


In late 2007 and following the escalation of mutual tensions over the frequent complaints of Ottawa against the "negative human rights record" of Iran, Tehran ordered the Canadian Ambassador John Mundy to leave the country and expelled him to degrade the representation of Canada in Iran to the level of Charge d'Affaires.


Canada's then Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier described the act as "retaliatory and entirely unjustifiable" while casting doubts and concerns and expressing that "we stand behind our ambassador, who has performed his diplomatic duties with professionalism and dedication."


Mutually, under the pretext of the possibility of having links with the radical students of the 1970s who subsequently engaged in the U.S. embassy hostage-taking in 1980 in Tehran, Canada refused to accept several candidates who were proposed by Iran for ambassadorship in Ottawa and now, it's the third year that the bilateral presence of the two countries is limited to the level of Charge d'Affaires.


Poor, terrorist Iranians


Following the emergence of new tensions between Iran and Canada and after Michel de Salaberry, the former Canadian Ambassador to Egypt and Jordan, took office as the Charge d'Affaires, confusion and haphazardness culminated to its pinnacle in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran.


According to the Canadian Department of Citizenship and Immigration, 32 percent of Iranians' applications in 2006 were rejected by the Embassy, while it aggravated to 51 percent in 2007 and hit the record in 2008 of 61 percent.


Netherlands-based Persian-language Radio Zamaneh reported in February 2009 that "200 Iranians apply for temporary residence visas at the Canadian Embassy daily, and the Embassy receives 60 dollars per each applicant regularly. Altogether, the total income of the Embassy exceeds $360,000 per month and amounts to $4,320,000 annually and this accounts for approximately 12% of Canada's yearly imports from Iran!"


Nevertheless, this is not the whole story. Aside from the unreasonable and questionable rejections of visa applications, the mechanism of the Embassy's interaction with applicants is thoroughly unfair and discriminatory.


Daily Star reported in May 2009 that "leading dissidents from Iran were insulted and humiliated by visa officers at the Canadian Embassy in Tehran before two were barred entry to Canada for a conference at York University." Mistreatment and humiliation have long become a routine practice of the Embassy staff who don't even permit the applicants to enter the Embassy and speak to the high-ranking officials.


It has not been precisely identified what objectives the Canadian Embassy pursues by taking such approaches; however, there are some allegations and suspicions which would require an elaborate investigation. In a brief and unbelievable conversation with a middle-age woman who was seeking a temporary visa to meet her sons in Quebec, I figured out that she had paid an extra $200 to the embassy staff and they facilitated the issuance of her visa under 5 days; something which is almost unprecedented and impossible in most cases.


Clearly, the Embassy now considers the procedure of visa issuance a lucrative source of business for itself, though the deterioration of bilateral ties has contributed to the inequitable hostility against Iranian applicants.


After 18 days of submitting my materials to the Embassy, they handed me a piece of paper, explaining that my visa will be issued "possibly" on June 9, and the conference which I was going to attend was slated for June 7. I'll be deprived of attending the conference for which I dedicated 2 months of research, more than probably because "I'm a terrorist".



About the author: Born in 1991, freelance journalist and writer. Kourosh Ziabari is the author of book "7+1" and a contributing writer for magazines of Netherlands, Canada, Italy, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, South Korea, Belgium, Germany, UK and the US.

Persian Blog:
English Blog:

Campaign Against Iran Sanctions Grows Within Political Right and Left

By Shayan Ghajar,

President Obama's push for U.N. sanctions on Iran is gaining in intensity this week even as the U.N. Security Council neglected to include the issue in its April agenda. Simultaneously, the president is urging Congress not to rush into passing sanctions on Iran in hopes that such legislation would not derail his attempts at a diplomatic resolution or mustering support for international sanctions from Russia and China, two of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. The debate continues, however, as to whether any sanctions whatsoever would be effective at this point in slowing Iran's nuclear program.

Many policymakers feel that sanctions will be ineffective, though for widely varying reasons. Some, such as Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) support President Obama's efforts to resolve the issue diplomatically. Increasing sanctions, Rep. Ellison argues, would strengthen rather than harm the regime, both politically and economically.

Politically the regime would benefit doubly, Ellison contends, as increased pressure from the outside world would result in a surge of nationalism and galvanize many into rallying around the nuclear program even if they disagree with their government. The Green Movement would be marginalized by the exigencies of national solidarity. Opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi has repeatedly denounced sanctions, Rep. Ellison points out, and has explicitly stated that opposition to sanctions is fundamental to the Green philosophy.

Rep. Ellison also argues that sanctions would, ironically, benefit the government economically. A RAND Corporation report on the efficacy of existing sanctions indicates that there is a direct correlation between broad sanctions, such as on gasoline, and an increase in the Revolutionary Guards' wealth. The guards, taking advantage of the withering private sectors most affected by sanctions, gain monopolies on essential goods and services. "The more effective the embargo, the greater the shortages, the larger the Revolutionary Guards profits," the report says.

The RAND report, however, supported targeted sanctions aimed primarily at the Revolutionary Guard and key members of the government. Sanctions, RAND conceded, were of limited utility in halting the nuclear program or economically impacting the regime: "further sanctions against Iran are not likely to alter Teheran's nuclear policies." At the same time, making a show of solidarity with the opposition movement and condemning the nuclear program at least symbolically is essential, the report argues. "In any case, further sanctions are almost inevitable, given the paucity of other viable options." In other words, RAND believes symbolic targeted sanctions with limited practical value remain the only option for American policymakers.

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, appears to see sanctions as a necessary last step before America either accepts the reality of a nuclear Iran, or engages in military strikes to attempt to destroy the program. His statements frame sanctions more as a warning shot across Iran's bow than a measure with actual tangible effect on the nuclear program.

This approach may explain the reluctance of P5 members Russia and China to support the American bid for sanctions in the U.N. Security Council. RIA Novosti, a state-owned Russian news agency, quotes Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying sanctions should not be a mere precursor to an air strike on Iran. "Any Security Council decision [on Iran] should clearly state that they can not be used as a basis for the use of force [against Iran]," Lavrov stated. Reluctance to back sanctions proposed by the United States may also stem from tension between Russia and the U.S. over their mutual nuclear treaties and the American missile shield being installed in the region.

Reasons for China's continued ambiguity on the topic of sanctions is even more opaque, though the Christian Science Monitor hypothesizes it may have to do with upcoming debates on China's influence on the value of the dollar.

U.N. sanctions are too little, too late, according to two recent articles in the Wall Street Journal. Detailing the nuances of current and proposed sanctions, an article by Steve Stecklow highlights the miniscule impact of current sanctions on the Iranian economy, saying the financial impact is one quarter of what Iran makes in a day in oil revenues. Asset freezes are the most prevalent tool used in existing sanctions, a strategy that proves effective only against small sums of money and leaves many back doors open for Iran to continue pursuing its technological and financial interests. Newer sanctions may adjust for this, attempting to make conducting business difficult for Iran rather than simply tracking accounts down and freezing them, though exactly how remains to be seen.

A WSJ Opinion article published yesterday excoriates the Obama administration for its perceived lack of resolve on the Iranian nuclear issue. The President's approach, the Journal argues, has been too wavering and hasn't had enough of a definitive impact on Iranian policy. The U.N. sanctions, the Journal argues, should have been sidelined in favor of American sanctions in tandem with allies such as France and the United Kingdom. The article neglects to enumerate precisely how American sanctions would halt or even delay Iran's nuclear program whatsoever.

The article continues, attacking President Obama for his recent diplomatic tension with America's regional ally Israel, which the Journal feels has de-fanged the threat of increased sanctions further. "All of these actions suggest to us that Mr. Obama has concluded that a nuclear Iran is inevitable, even if he can't or won't admit it publicly." The opinion piece closes by saying that President Bush is also to blame for neglecting to let Israel "act more firmly" during his term, presumably an allusion to a military strike. Evidently the authors of the article have not read the myriad studies and analyses indicating the explosive and unpredictable consequences of engaging in a conflict with Iran, or the fact that such a strike at this point may only briefly delay the program, if at all.

The article accuses President Obama of "acting as if he believes a nuclear Tehran is inevitable." Given the uncertainty of the efficacy of air strikes, and the lack of support for sweeping sanctions from P5 members Russia and China, accepting a nuclear Iran may not be a matter of choice for President Obama, but a matter of realism.

About: is a bi-weekly journal of analysis and research written primarily by scholars and activists living inside Iran and those who have recently left the country. Our purpose is to provide in-depth information about the internal political dynamic that is unavailable in the mainstream media. Through research and commentary, we will continue to document the political and theological crisis.

Wikileaks 'to release video of US strike on Afghan civilians'

Wikileaks, the whistle-blower website, is reportedly preparing to release secret video of a notorious US air strike said to have killed scores of Afghan civilians.

Video footage of the strike could prove highly damaging to the Nato-led coalition if it showed pilots failing to safeguard civilian lives.

A harrowing video showing a US helicopter gunship crew killing a crowd of Iraqis including two journalists in Baghdad caused anger when it was published by Wikileaks last week.

An American inquiry into the May 4 Farah incident was only partially released and estimated that 26 died, but added: "no one will ever be able conclusively to determine the number of civilian casualties that occurred".

The jets repeatedly dropped 500lb and 2,000lb bombs to support US and Afghan forces at they battled Taliban fighters and tried to evacuate wounded soldiers.

"The inability to discern the presence of civilians and avoid and/or minimise accompanying collateral damage resulted in the unintended consequence of civilian casualties," the US inquiry found.

A spokesman for the Nato-led coalition said: "All I have heard is the reports that they are going to release it." Employees of Wikileaks have said they are facing intimidation and attempts by intelligence services to shut them down after releasing a series of sensitive documents.

Wikileaks was unavailable for comment.

New Kyrgyz government to re-examine U.S. military base deal

Kyrgyzstan's interim government will take a close look at the agreement under which the Central Asian country hosts a U.S. transit center serving Afghanistan, a first deputy prime minister said on Monday.

"We are a civilized country and we will fulfill our international obligations, but we will investigate whether several agreements were concluded against the interests of the people or for bribes," Almazbek Atambayev said at a news conference.

The military base on the territory of Bishkek's Manas airport was built in 2001 as a part of U.S.led international military operations in nearby Afghanistan. In early 2009, the Kyrgyz government announced that all U.S. troops would have to leave the country, but later agreed a deal with the Pentagon on improved terms under which the facility was turned into a transit center.

"We are interested in common action for stability and security in the world, but it seems the United States plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan next year. We will approach the transit center issue in a civilized way and resolve it with the U.S. leadership," Atambayev said.

The Kyrgyz opposition took power in the former Soviet country last week after anti-government protests in several cities turned violent, particularly in the capital, Bishkek.

Moscow has been broadly supportive of the new government, and Atambayev was in the Russian capital for talks over the weekend. He said on his return that the interim government expected to receive Russian aid of more than $150 million.

Ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev struck a deal in February 2009 to write off Kyrgyzstan's $180 million debt to Moscow, and the promise of a $2 billion discounted loan and $150 million in financial aid, shortly before the closure of the U.S. base was announced.

Both Kyrgyzstan and Russia said at the time that the financial aid and the base closure were unrelated.

Revolution in Kyrgyzstan: nothing to do with tulips

Richard Seymour

April 11, 2010

The 'colour revolutions' of the Bush era are not exactly in rude health. Ukraine, whose future was orange back in December 2004, has reverted to its post-Soviet rulers. Georgia, which had its 'Rose revolution' in 2003, has lost a fight it picked with Russia, and its leadership has barely survived the subsequent protests and armed mutiny. Now Kyrgyzstan has overthrown the government established by its 'Tulip revolution' some five years ago.

Kyrgyzstan's revolt was never quite like the others, however. The opposition leaders, to be sure, were educated in the techniques of popular mobilisation by right-wing Liberty Institute activists in Georgia. And they were hugely reliant on support from US institutions like USAID, as well as publishing support from Freedom House. But, whereas the masses played a largely passive role in Georgia and Ukraine, essentially supporting a struggle carried on within the state machinery, the opposition in Kyrgyzstan had to mobilise people to revolt if it wanted to take power. President Akayev was not going peacefully. They had to seize government buildings and police stations, which they did beginning in the southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad. They had to convoke mass meetings, kurultai, at which they passed resolutions declaring Akayev's reign illegitemate. They had to physically occupy the palace and drive the president out. Dragan Plavsic narrates:

on 24 March, the protests spread to the capital, Bishkek, where a mass demonstration, swelling to some 50,000, stormed the presidential palace, forcing Akayev from power. Widespread looting and arson then followed. Something of the flavour of these events was captured by Times reporter Jeremy Page when he visited the presidential palace:

In Mr Akayev's personal quarters I found a protester in a general's hat raiding the fridge. Another was having a go on the president's exercise bike and a third was trying on his multicoloured ceremonial felt robes. The president himself had fled.12

These events demonstrate that, to use Page's phrase, 'geopolitics was not the driving force behind the Kyrgyz revolution'.
Just as it would have been wrong then to reduce the 'Tulip' revolt to external manipulation, so it would be wrong now to reduce the revolt against Kurmanbek Bakiyev's government to the "long arm of Moscow". Russia's government has certainly been agitating against Bakiyev since he declined to host a Russian military base while hosting a US base. One immediate source of the rebellion was high energy prices brought about by Russia's decision to impose new import duties on Kyrgyzstan's energy from Russia. And Roza Utunbayeva, of the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan, who has declared herself the country's 'interim leader', has been cultivating Russian support, appearing on Interfax to denounce the government for having "stolen our revolution". She now thanks them for helping to "expose" the "criminal, nepotistic" regime of Bakiyev. The Social Democrats, themselves participants in the 'Tulip' revolution, allege that their candidate, Almazbek Atambayev, won last year's presidential elections, which Bakiyev claimed to have won by 83%, and are thus quite ready to pluck the fruit of this revolt with Moscow's support. And in the service of ensuring their control, they are authorising the police and militias to shoot any suspected 'looters'. (No trivial matter: the presidential fir trees have already been pinched.)

However, the Social Democrats didn't make this revolution, nor did they or Russian supporters cause it. After all, Russia's influence in Kyrgyzstan is not greater than that of America. The underlying issue is that Bakiyev embarked on exactly the same programme of privatizing and expropriating public goods as all the neoliberal rulers in central Asia have, and resorted to thuggery, nepotism and suppression of the media when his power base and popular support began to fragment. The Social Democrats are already promising to restore two major electricity companies to public ownership. Bakiyev had explicitly opposed privatization in opposition, and his victory was won on the basis of popular revulsion against the dicatorial methods of his predecessor, so when the opposition accused him of stealing the revolution, there was some merit to it. And the government's reliance on US backing, as well as its continued support for the American military base, has generated massive public opposition. American backing is held partially responsible for enabling Bakiyev's corrupt and dictatorial regime. If, as looks possible, the US base is closed, that will be one of the most popular policies the new government implements. It will also shut down one of the key bases from which the US wages war on Afghanistan, something Obama is anxious to prevent. The struggle between Russia and the US for hegemony over this region remains, despite recent nuptials in Prague, lethal.

Notwithstanding the efforts by the Social Democrats to crown themselves the victors, this is not just a repeat of the 'Tulip revolution', in which public protests facilitate a shift of power between wealthy ruling class blocs. This sharp analysis explains why:
One difference between the 7 April protests and the Tulip Revolution is the level of violence. This week's events were the bloodiest in Kyrgyz history. In confronting protesters, the police relied on live bullets while protesters used stones and Molotov cocktails. Official reports put the number of people killed at more than 60 and those wounded at more than 500.

Another difference was of regional character. While the Tulip Revolution was sparked by protests and government building seizures in the southern regions (Jalal-Abad, Osh), this time the protests erupted mainly in the poor and remote northern regions such as Talas and Naryn, where residents have long complained of exclusion.

There are other remarkable differences between the current protests and those of five years ago.

Triggers for the protests differed. Unlike the Tulip Revolution, when the spark for mass mobilization was the Akaev regime's efforts to block a number of wealthy opposition elites from gaining seats in parliament, the current protests were triggered by simmering anger at the grassroots level    ....

Yet another notable difference between April 2010 and March 2005 were the "engines" behind the change. During the March 2005 protests, demonstrations were organized by wealthy elites who felt that their bids to gain seats in the parliament were threatened by the incumbent Akaev regime. Such elites then mobilized their supporters in their towns and villages, relying on local networks and offers of cash. The protests we saw on 7 April were sporadic and chaotic. In many ways, they appeared to be more an uncoordinated grass-roots revolt by a disenchanted population than an elite-driven and planned campaign. As a result, the speed with which the protests erupted and spread was surprising, not only to international observers, but also to many locals. The administration and some opposition leaders seem to have not appreciated the extent of popular anger and were themselves taken aback. In other words, because there was no credible information about the distribution of power before the protests, there was little room for opposition factions and the incumbent regime to come to a negotiated settlement.

Neither the government nor opposition factions are in full control of the crowds. Already, there are reports of destruction of property and marauding in Bishkek and the regions that have seen protests.
If the 'Tulip revolution' wasn't a precise replica of its Georgian and Ukrainian cousins, this revolt is as different as can be. Despite an extraordinarily violent crackdown by Bakiyev, the grassroots insurgency prevailed. Protesters succeeded in taking over police stations, weapons, even winning police over to their side. They have demonstrated that the state does not possess a tight control over the means of violence, and that therefore popular demands cannot be ignored or suppressed. The Social Democrats, despite attempting to take the reins of power, still don't really control the country. If they attempt to control it with violence, they may face the same end as Bakiyev and Akayev.

:: Article nr. 65006 sent on 12-apr-2010 16:50 ECT


Flights diverted from Manas amid turmoil

By Peter Leonard - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Apr 12, 2010 8:56:15 EDT

JALAL-ABAD, Kyrgyzstan — U.S. personnel flights in and out of Afghanistan are being diverted from a key air base in Kyrgyzstan to Kuwait, while resupply flights out of the central Asian base are taking place only on a "case-by-case" basis, a U.S. military official said Saturday.

Normal flight operations out of Manas air base, a key transit point for the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, had resumed Friday afternoon following a 12-hour shutdown imposed by Kyrgyz authorities that ended Thursday night in Kyrgyzstan, said the official, who spoke on background because he wasn't authorized to discuss the situation.

The subsequent decision to divert personnel flights was "security-related" and made by the U.S. base leadership at Manas, the official said. The precise basis of the security concerns, however, remains unclear. The base, which the U.S. shares with civilian airlines, is about 20 miles from the downtown Bishkek area where the past week's opposition uprising was centered.

Resupply flights out of Manas have been made only on a case-by-case basis since the shutdown ended Thursday. The U.S. official did not know what factors enter into allowing each flight.

The delays have not caused a freeze in troop rotations in and out of Afghanistan, the official said. But about 1,300 in- and outbound U.S. troops remain in limbo at Manas while awaiting the resumption of normal flights, which will be a "conditions-based" call by U.S. base officials.

The Kuwait diversion is expected to last only a few more days, the official said.

Meanwhile, in the stronghold of Kyrgyzstan's deposed president, residents clustered on the streets Saturday, holding intense discussions on whether to follow the figures who claim to be the new government.

Some said Kurmanbek Bakiyev did a lot of good for the country and dismissed the complaints of the opposition members who drove him out, but many other appeared weary of the country's turmoil and were willing to support anyone who can bring them a measure of stability and comfort.

Bakiyev fled the capital, Bishkek, on Wednesday after a protest rally against corruption, rising utility bills and deteriorating human rights exploded into police gunfire and chaos that left at least 79 people dead and sparked protesters to storm government buildings. He was believed to be in his home Jalal-Abad region on Saturday.

"He built the economy. He built schools, roads and kindergartens. The protesters were just a minority," said Aizat Zupukharova, a health worker in Jalal-Abad.

But, she added, "People are afraid to come out."

"Bakiyev did some good things, but his family led him astray," said another resident, Sapar Usmonov, referring to widespread allegations that Bakiyev's relatives profited hugely and improperly from his nearly five years in office. Those claims echo those made against Bakiyev's predecessor, Askar Akayev, who was driven out of office in protests in 2005.

The interim rulers say they have offered Bakiyev safe passage out of the country if he steps down, but he has made no public sign of capitulation. That stalemate leaves Kyrgyzstan's near-term stability in doubt, a strategic worry for the West because of the air base's importance to the U.S. and allied war effort.

Kyrgyzstan's society is strongly clannish, but there are few overt signs that Bakiyev's fellow southerners would coalesce into support for him against the self-declared opposition interim government even though they think well of him.

Jalal-Abad is on the southern side of the soaring mountain massifs that divide Kyrgyzstan into often-rival sections. Usmonov expressed fatigue with such jockeying for power.

"It doesn't matter where the president comes from — he just has to be a fitting man," he said.

Across the mountains in the capital, hundreds of people gathered in one of Kyrgyzstan's most prestigious cemeteries for the burial of some of those who died Wednesday. The interments tacitly conferred national hero status on the dead.

"For the sake of the future, for the power of the people, young people gave their lives," Roza Otunbayeva, a former foreign minister and onetime Bakiyev ally who heads the interim government, said at the Ata-Beit cemetery. "The people who came into power five years ago on the wave of revolution turned out to be criminals."

"We won't let Bakiyev come back; the people won't let him back into Bishkek," vowed mourner Mehlis Usubakanov.

Otunbayeva said Friday the base agreement will be continued at least for the near future. Opposition figures in the past have said they wanted to close the U.S. base, located at the international airport serving the capital.

Russia, which also maintains a military base in Kyrgyzstan, had pushed Bakiyev's government to evict the U.S. military. But after announcing that American forces would have to leave the Manas base, Kyrgyzstan agreed to allow them to stay after the U.S. raised the annual rent to about $63 million from $17 million.

The status of the base has been a significant strategic question since the uprising Wednesday.

"We have no intentions whatsoever to deal with the American base now. Our priority is the lives of the people who suffered. A top priority is to normalize the situation, to secure peace and stability," Otunbayeva said Friday as she visited a Bishkek hospital that had treated many wounded.


Staff writer William H. McMichael and Associated Press Writers Yuras Karmanau in Bishkek and Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.

Criminals of War Clinton and Blair have got away with it, for the moment...

11 years since NATO attack on train
12 April 2010 | 13:41 | Source: Tanjug
GRDELICA -- Monday marks eleven years since the Grdelički Bridge, which had a passenger train on it at the time, was bombed by NATO in 1999.

A file photo of the destroyed train (FoNet)
A file photo of the destroyed train (FoNet)

The international train was hit with four missiles as it was traveling from Belgrade to Thessaloniki, Greece, and the exact number of victims was never determined.

Authorities said that more than 30 people perished, while scores of others were injured. NATO at the time said their deaths were "collateral damage".

Wreaths will be placed at the monument built to honor the victims of train 393, who were killed on April 12, 1999.

Family members of the victims, Serbian Railway officials, as well as those from the nearby town of Leskovac, and various party and union representatives will attend the ceremony today, it was announced.

Chavez Fuels the South Bronx PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lainie Cassel   
Sunday, 11 April 2010 19:49
In 2005, during a visit to the South Bronx in New York City, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a lofty promise to help active community members cope with local issues. A half-decade and a few million dollars later, Chavez's promise has become a reality and residents from the community are reaping the benefits.

The program, which officially took off in 2007, is controlled by CITGO Petroleum Corporation, the Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela's national oil company. With a three-year agreement to provide $1 million annually, CITGO's profits have now funded numerous social projects in what is one of the poorest congressional districts in the United States.

With over 500,000 residents and around 50% living in poverty, no one expected the modest $1 million would generate an economic recovery. However, for many start-up organizations and small nonprofits, the funds have been a vital resource especially during the economic slump.

Petro-Bronx, a coalition of resident volunteers, decides through consensus how the money will be divided annually based on proposals submitted by various groups around the South Bronx.

The groups funded are a majority community-based and built as a response to what they argue has been a decades long recession in the South Bronx. From worker-run and food cooperatives to environmental justice and women of color collectives, many of the groups are also creating new democratic alternatives in an area that has received little attention from the city.

The South Bronx and its People

"We have people with chronic problems in the world's wealthiest country. Considering all the wealth and resources which are present to solve these issues, this should not exist," said Felix Leo Campos, an active community member and loyal Petro-Bronx representative.

Despite high unemployment and poverty, however, the South Bronx has become a hotbed of community involvement. "This is very much an activist community. If there is something that the South Bronx community members think is unjust or unfair, they will organize and attack that issue," Sonia Pichardo told me from the Green Worker's Cooperative warehouse.

Pichardo, like many of the activists from around the South Bronx are optimistic about the future of the area. Unlike many other low-income communities near Manhattan, the South Bronx has not faced high levels of displacement and many of the grassroots organizations are fighting to keep it that way.

One of these organizations is Green Worker's Cooperative, which is part of a movement to create a self-sustaining community through worker ownership and environmentally friendly jobs.

In one of its programs, the Rebuilder's Source, workers rescue surplus building materials that would otherwise get thrown into landfills. Jobs are then created by those willing to rebuild the materials and resources are brought into the community without creating waste.

Smaller organizations such as For a Better Bronx rely heavily on CITGO. According to co-founder Jaime Rivera, some 75% of the budget comes from the funds they receive through Petro-Bronx.

With only two full-time staff members, For A Better Bronx is able to run a youth collective that focuses on empowering young residents through activism and direct-action. Additionally, they lead campaigns against pollution and teach households to grow their own produce.

"We depend a lot on Petro Bronx and CITGO to understand our more radical concepts," said Rivera. "We don't have professional grant writers. [The agreement] allows groups like ours to get the funding we need."

Another group funded by CITGO, the South Bronx Food Coop, sells organic goods and locally grown produce in its store. Furthermore, it has been an important education tool in mobilizing community members to become more active in their own health and in fighting diabetes and obesity.

In the 90's, the CITGO-funded group, Mother's on the Move began fighting for better schools and later expanded to issues of housing and environmental justice. Since then, they have been extremely active in campaigns opposing the pollution that according to surveys has caused the South Bronx to have the highest rates of asthma in the US.

The Logistics

North Star Fund, a New York City-based community foundation administers the transfer of funds directly from CITGO to the various organizations. However, the actual decision-making is left to Petro-Bronx.

The Petro-Bronx assembly meets on a monthly basis and is open to community members and representatives from groups interested in applying for grants. A smaller team of committed volunteers then takes part in sight visits and scores project ideas based on grant proposals.

From there the proposals are voted on and North Star Fund sends out the money. CITGO and the North Star Fund have little say in the direction of the money and any decisions made by CITGO are first discussed with the Petro-Bronx coalition.

While over 20 organizations have been funded with the help of Petro-Bronx, other South Bronx-based groups have received one-time grants directly from CITGO.

A Political Tool for Chavez?

The agreement with CITGO has received criticism both inside Venezuela and the United States. Some politicians are skeptical of Chavez's interest in funding US-based organizations and Venezuelan opposition members are angry that money is being spent in a country much wealthier than there own.

Additionally, the largely popular South Bronx, New York State Congressman, José E. Serrano, has been criticized for supporting the Chavez initiative. As a result he has had to defend the South Bronx-CITGO relationship on numerous occasions. In a report from 2007, during the commencement of the grant program, he said:

"If CITGO wants to score points with my community by funding good organizations and important projects, then we would be foolish to reject their generosity. I'd be happy to have any other corporations come here and score all the political points they can afford,"

Omar Freilla, founder of Green Worker's Cooperative said, "The reality is that you have a company that is distributing funds to the country that it is operating in. It's a pretty common practice."

While philanthropy is customary among corporations, Rivera believes the relationship goes beyond that, "I think [Chavez's] intentions were to connect to the community and the people. The money isn't supporting electoral campaigns or going to Wall Street, it is putting funds in our community that we have identified we need."

In addition, the relationship between Venezuela and the South Bronx extends beyond the annual grants. In 2005, a letter was written from a dozen US-Senators asking 10 of the largest oil companies to use their record profits to help low-income families pay for home heating oil. CITGO was the only corporation to respond to the call.

Since then thousands of residents in the South Bronx have received a 40% reduction in home heating oil prices during the winter. The deal, which now extends to hundreds of thousands of households, shelters and Native American tribes around the country annually, has earned CITGO a lot of publicity.

With the success of the heating-oil and the South Bronx grant program, the Petro-Bronx team is in the process of setting up plans to travel to Venezuela. Their plan is to meet with similar community-based organizations in Caracas and personally thank Chavez for his support.

As the program nears the end of its third year and the final installment of the three-year agreement, it is still unclear if CITGO will continue sending money. However, Rivera and the others are confident in the program's continuation. They hope that as a result of its past success it will grow in the years to come and further empower the South Bronx community.

Lainie Cassel is currently studying in New York City and can be reached at: Lainie.Cassel[at]gmail[dot]com

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International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 

Weekend of Solidarity with the Cuban 5 in the 
 Los Angeles Area , May 22-23
Tony and Che
Original paintings by Antonio Guerrero,
one of the Cuban 5 
Political Prisoners Held in the U.S.
SATURDAY MAY 22, 7:30pm 
At Social Public Art Resource
Center (SPARC)
685 Venice Blvd., Venice, CA 
Suggested minimum donations: $10  
 Danny GloverEd Asner 
Special Guests, actors/activists  
Opening reception followed by poetry readings, documentary film and  update on the case of the Cuban 5  next door at: Beyond Baroque Literary Art Center
Presented by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5.
Exhibit co-sponsors include: SPARC, Beyond Baroque, Joe Perez, Aris Anagnos, Venice Arts Council, Media Sponsor KPFK and Southern California Americans for Democratic Action. Art exhibit ends Sunday 6/13
Dolores Huerta
Fundraising Brunch
at SPARC, 685 Venice Blvd., Venice, CA 
Special Guest,

Hear about the denial of family visits to the Cuban 5 and how to get involved to reverse this injustice. Tickets start at $25.00.  

For more information about both events call 310-570-5419 or write to

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
Join Our Mailing List

"They have succeeded in dominating us more
through ignorance, than through force".

--Simon Bolivar

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."  --Voltaire



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