Saturday, December 13, 2008

Real News Video: UN official calls Israel 'Apartheid'

President of UN General Assembly urges Israel to be recognized as an Apartheid State

"UN General Assembly president Miguel d'Escoto referred to Israel as an Apartheid state. Phyllis Bennis analyzes the significance of this identification as compared to South African apartheid and the popular resistance struggles worldwide that helped end it. Isreali apartheid is built into a system of roads, walls, and fences which create segregation of Palestinians and Jews both inside the West Bank and between the West Bank and Israel. Gazan Palestinians are separated from Israel and West Bank Palestinians by the siege imposed by Israel after the election of Hamas. Bennis analyses the validity of the term 'apartheid' in the case of Israel and the proposed peace plan many Arab states have presented as a possible solution."

Amira Hass returns to Gaza after a two-year absence

The first thing that captures your eyes, after two years away, is a visual quiet. Gone are the flags of every color (including green) that once flew everywhere; the billboards commemorating shaheeds with their weapons, new ones popping up nearly every day; the large banners emblazoned with slogans. Yes, here and there you still come across a tattered flag or faded sign, old graffiti on the walls, or a smiling Arafat beaming down from a giant poster that no one took the trouble to remove, the colors dulled by time. But the loud, aggressive, competitive profusion that was frequently replenished is all gone. Pictures of government officials in Gaza don't impose upon you, they don't hang on every corner. Instead, one notices bougainvillea, tree-lined avenues, wrought-iron gates, colorful head coverings. The Hamas government doesn't need external symbols to prove its strength and announce its presence. The conclusion is obvious as it is.

'Thousands' desert Somalia forces


"More than 80% of Somalia's soldiers and police - about 15,000 members - have deserted, some taking weapons, uniforms and vehicles, the UN says.

The head of the UN monitoring group on Somalia, Dumisani Kumalo, said Islamist insurgents got many of their weapons and ammunition from the deserters......"

Barack Obama: “America’s First Jewish President”

A Very Good Article

By James Petras
Information Clearing House

"According to a nationally prominent Zionist spokesperson, former Congressman, Federal Judge, White House Counsel to President Bill Clinton and early backer of Obama, Abner Mikvner, “Barack Obama is the first Jewish President”. Mikvner’s affirmation reflects both Obama’s one-sided and longstanding commitment to the State of Israel and loyalty to the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) in the United States, as well as the long-term and successful effort of a network of financially and politically powerful Jewish Zionists to ‘embed’ Obama to their ‘Israel First’ political apparatus. What is striking about the latter is the demeaning and arrogant claims made by some leading Jewish Zionist about their ‘central roles’ in the making of Obama’s professional and political careers – in effect denying the President-Elect any credit for his own academic or professional success......... Even their personal flattery about his ‘wisdom’, ‘brilliance’ and ‘intellectual acuity’ is always linked with his unconditional support of the State of Israel. One can envision how quickly his Zionist colleagues would replace their plaudits with crude insults regarding his intelligence if he suggested Israel end its starvation blockade of Gaza… Needless to say the Zionists know their man, as they confidently proclaim, he is a cautious and prudent politician, who measures power before he speaks, especially as he has filled the White House, economic councils and security apparatus with Zionist zealots.......


The ascent of a minority of ambitious power-driven political operatives acting first and foremost for a militarist colonial power in a strategic region of the world economy represents the biggest threat to world peace and to US democratic values in recent history.

Think about it: Not only do the Zionists and their embedded clones rule the White House, they also have the political apparatus (left, liberal, center and right) to silence, insult, witch hunt and isolate any critic of their agenda, their organizations and of the State of Israel. When confronted by a critic the entire apparatus brays in unison about ‘anti-Semitism’ and follows up with severe civil sanctions. As Obama’s career under his Zionist handlers illustrates, they are capable of hurling repulsive denunciations against his former African-American mentor and spiritual councilor, Reverend Wright; capable of publicly humiliating and pushing aside a former President and Obama supporter, Jimmy Carter; capable of isolating and ‘sanitizing’ former top foreign policymakers from earlier Democratic Administration like Brzezinski, simply for pointing out Israeli crimes against humanity (although such observations are made daily in the European press and political circles).

The apparatus combines the carrot (embedding and promoting Obama) and the stick (stigmatizing Carter): It all depends on whether an individual, politician, academic, writer or journalist is ‘useful’ (i.e., an unconditional supporter) or ‘harmful’ (i.e., critical) to the State of Israel.

The Obama experience illustrates how a small, close knit, well-organized and well financed minority operating through prestigious professional posts and powerful economic enterprises can penetrate major political institutions, capture upwardly mobile politicians and ‘turn’ them into willing accomplices in promoting wars on behalf of a foreign colonial militarist power. If in the past we have experienced Zionist thuggery mugging our freedom of speech in civil society, think of what we can expect when these thugs have complete control of the White House. The ‘First Jewish President’ of the United States indeed! Where does that leave the American people, their rights, their interests and their country’s independent foreign policy?......

Currently Likud and its fascists have the support of a plurality of Israeli Jews. If they win, it is a virtual certainty they will receive the automatic support of all the principal respectable pro-Israel Jewish organizations in the US, who follow the line that: “It is not ours to question whom the Israelis vote for office. It is our duty to back the State of Israel.”

The election of an Israeli-fascist regime will up the ante in Washington. Does Obama’s embedding in the Zionist apparatus include support for Jewish fascism , the total ethnic cleansing of Palestine and their unilateral decision to ‘nuke’ Iran? Three weeks into his presidency Obama will face his biggest Middle East challenge, which will define the nature of US policy in the region......."

Hezbollah Slams Livni for Comments on Arab Israelis

"13/12/2008 Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah accused Israeli occupation Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Saturday of wanting to expel Arab Israelis after saying their national aspirations lay outside the Zionist entity. "It is not at all surprising that an Israeli official would hold this position, for the Zionist plan is essentially based on expelling an entire population from its land," a Hezbollah statement said.

"We point out these comments to the international community, which continues to ignore the racist reality of the Zionist entity. "As long as blood continues to flow in the veins of the resistance, all of Palestine will remain Palestinian," it added.

On Thursday, Livni said "my solution for maintaining a Jewish and democratic state of Israel is to have two distinct national entities." Once a Palestinian state is established, she said she would "be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel, those whom we call Arab Israelis, and tell them: 'your national aspirations lie elsewhere.'"

Her remarks drew an angry rebuttal from Arab Israeli MP Ahmed Tibi and from the Palestinian Authority of president Mahmud Abbas, and she tempered them the following day.

"She must decide whether she means to leave a million Arabs without political rights or a national identity, or whether she really intends to transfer a million Arab citizens to the Palestinian state that will be established," Tibi said.

On Friday, Livni repeated her assertion that "the national aspirations (of the Arabs) should be realized elsewhere," but added that "there is no question of carrying out a transfer or forcing them to leave." "I am willing to give up a part of the country over which I believe we have rights so that Israel will remain a Jewish and democratic state in which citizens have equal rights, whatever their religion," she said in reference to the creation of a Palestinian state."

Arabs 'ready' to normalize ties with Israel

Press TV

"Arab League states have announced their readiness to enter into a peace deal with Israel in a letter to US President-elect Barack Obama.

In the letter, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the bloc is ready to reach a lasting peace with Israel based on an Arab peace proposal, the AL General Secretariat announced in a Thursday statement. "The Arab side is ready to establish a just and lasting peace with Israel in line with the land-for-peace principle, the Arab Peace Initiative, and relevant UN resolutions," said the statement......

Reports indicate that the Saudi ambassador to the United States delivered the letter to one of Obama's advisors.

The Saudi-proposed Arab Peace Initiative, which was endorsed by the Arab sates in 2002, says that Israel must withdraw from the land it occupied in 1967, in exchange for diplomatic ties with Arab states. The 2002 version of the proposal also says that Tel Aviv must allow Palestinian refugees to return to their land and accept Al-Quds as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

However, recent reports indicate that in secret talks with Israeli officials during a November UN interfaith conference, Arab officials agreed to give certain concessions to Israel.

Israel's UN envoy Gabriela Shalev has confirmed the reports that Arab officials held secret meetings with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni during the conference. Anonymous Saudi sources have also revealed that King Abdullah and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal took part in the secret talks, where the two sides discussed a new peace plan between Arab states and Israel.

The new plan, which is to be unveiled after US president-elect Barack Obama takes office, reportedly relinquishes two key Palestinian rights -- naming Jerusalem (al-Quds) as the future Palestinian capital and the 'Right of Return' of Palestinian refugees....... "

اسرائيل خائفة.. لكن ليس من العرب

اسرائيل خائفة.. لكن ليس من العرب

عبد الباري عطوان

اولا: التفوق العسكري في المحيط العربي لم يعد يشكل ضمانة لتخويف الآخرين، ويوفر الطمأنينة للاسرائيليين، فالاخطار التي تواجه الدولة العبرية في الحاضر، والمستقبل القريب، لم تعد محصورة في الانظمة الرسمية العربية، فهذه الانظمة استسلمت في معظمها ورفعت الرايات البيضاء، وانخرطت في اتصالات مباشرة مع تل ابيب، وتقدمت بمبادرة سلام تحقق لها جميع مطالبها. العدو الجديد لاسرائيل يأتي من المنظمات الجهادية على وجه التحديد، صغيرة كانت ام كبيرة، مثل 'حزب الله' و'الجهاد الاسلامي'، وحركة 'حماس'، و'لجان المقاومة الشعبية'، و'القاعدة'. فالجيش الاسرائيلي المزود بأحدث الاسلحة واكثرها تطورا غير مجهز او مدرب لمواجهة هذه المنظمات والانتصار عليها، وتجربة اسرائيل في الحرب الاخيرة على لبنان تعطي مثالا حيا في هذا الصدد.
* ثانيا: حل الدولتين الذي راهنت اسرائيل للوصول اليه وفق مواصفاتها الخاصة، ومن خلال عملية سلام مدعومة امريكيا، سقط بشكل مريع، فالجناح الفلسطيني المؤمن بهذا الحل، والمنخرط في العملية السياسية التفاوضية التي من المفترض ان تتكلل به في نهايتها يواجه الافلاس، وشعبيته تتراجع في اوساط الفلسطينيين بشكل سريع، خاصة مع انتهاء هذا العام دون قيام الدولة الفلسطينية المستقلة التي وعد بها الرئيس الامريكي جورج بوش
اما التيار الثاني، فيطالب بالتحرير الكامل لفلسطين. وفشل سلطة رام الله في رهاناتها السلمية، وصمود حركة 'حماس' في قطاع غزة، وانهيار الحوار الداخلي الفلسطيني، كلها عوامل تعزز هذا التيار.
* ثالثا: انحسار نفوذ النظام الرسمي العربي على الساحة الفلسطينية، وتآكل اوراق الضغط المادية والمعنوية التي كان يستخدمها على الطرف الفلسطيني، ومنظمة التحرير على وجه الخصوص، لتعزيز مسيرة الاعتدال، والدفع باتجاه التسوية السلمية. فالمقاومة الفلسطينية لا تستمد وجودها واستمرارها من اي دعم عربي رسمي، مادي او عسكري. والشيء نفسه يقال عن المقاومة اللبنانية 'حزب الله'. والاهم من ذلك تراجع دور مصر 'عرّاب السلام' عربيا، فلم تعد بوابة التسوية مثلما كان عليه الحال قبل عشر سنوات.
هذا البرنامج المتطرف هو الذي دفع ليفني الى الحديث عن عزمها طرد العرب من اسرائيل الى الدولة الفلسطينية، اي تكرار نكسة عام 48، او بالأحرى اكمال ما لم يتحقق من 'ترانسفير' قبل ستين عاما.
ما يمكن قوله وباختصار شديد، ان اسرائيل التي تضع الأمن على قمة اولوياتها، وتفهم السلام مع الفلسطينيين على ان يقوم هؤلاء بدور الحارس الامين لحدودها ومواطنيها، تشعر ان سلطة عباس لا تستطيع تحقيق هذا الهدف حتى لو ارادت، وترى ان امتلاك ايران لاسلحة نووية قد يجعل امنها الخارجي في مهب الريح اذا ما تطورت تحالفات ايران في لبنان وسورية وغزة.
العام الجديد قد يعكس هذه المخاوف الاسرائيلية سواء من حيث شن هجوم على قطاع غزة لانهاء سلطة 'حماس' وقوتها الصاروخية المتنامية، اوارسال الطائرات لضرب المنشآت النووية الايرانية.
صحيح ان امريكا التي تخوض حربين فاشلتين في العراق وافغانستان قد لا تؤيد حربا جديدة ضد ايران، ولكن علينا ان نضع في اعتبارنا ان اسرائيل دمرت المفاعل النووي العراقي عام 1981 والعراق كان حليفا آنذاك لامريكا، وشنت حربين ضد العرب، الاولى عام 1956، والثانية عام 1967 دون التنسيق الكامل مع الولايات المتحدة.
الفارق الابرز بين حروب اسرائيل السابقة واي حروب مستقبلية، انها كانت قادرة على الانتصار في الاولى، ولكن الحال قد لا يكون كذلك في الثانية، فالانتصار الامريكي العسكري على العراق لم يحقق الاستقرار، وكذلك في افغانستان، فالانتقام الايراني وارد سواء بالصواريخ او عبر حزب الله، واجتياح غزة جائز، ولكن السؤال المهم ماذا سيحصل بعده؟ وهذا ما يفسر تهديدات ايهود باراك اليومية باجتياح القطاع منذ عام دون ان يجرؤ على هذه الخطوة."

Are the Greek riots a taste of things to come?

Greece's riots are a sign of the economic times. Other countries should beware, says Peter Popham in Athens

The Independent

"After firing 4,600 tear-gas canisters in the past week, the Greek police have nearly exhausted their stock. As they seek emergency supplies from Israel and Germany, still the petrol bombs and stones of the protesters rain down, with clashes again outside parliament yesterday.

Bringing together youths in their early twenties struggling to survive amid mass youth unemployment and schoolchildren swotting for highly competitive university exams that may not ultimately help them in a treacherous jobs market, the events of the past week could be called the first credit-crunch riots. There have been smaller-scale sympathy attacks from Moscow to Copenhagen, and economists say countries with similarly high youth unemployment problems such as Spain and Italy should prepare for unrest......."

Joy is in short supply for Eid

Gaza's blockade means that this is the hardest holiday its people can remember.

By Donald Macintyre
Saturday, 13 December 2008

"....."Despite there being no salaries, the money we don't have to give to our children, the high price of Egyptian lamb, and the switching off of power, we will celebrate by the light of an Egyptian candle," read one. It summed up the daily power cuts, the utter impossibility for most families this year of affording the traditional Eid sheep and the fact that smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt have turned into a lifeline for the 1.5 million inhabitants of blockaded, Hamas-controlled Gaza.

The sardonic text message marking the most miserable Eid in Gaza anyone can remember came up on the mobile belonging to Adel Razeq. He runs Gaza's National Agency for Family Care and has been struggling with meagre resources to set up a "food bank" intended to distribute meals – in some cases repackaged leftovers from restaurants, wedding parties and even funerals – to the growing legion of undernourished in Gaza, where more than 50 per cent of families have for the first time been classified as living below the "deep poverty" line of £315 per month for two adults and six children.

Mr Razeq's team has identified severe need in 10 times the 400 to 500 families he is already helping and he believes that a much higher underlying demand is hidden by the pride of unemployed fathers. "We even get kids coming in here when the parents won't," he explains. "They will say 'I love my dad but he can't give us what we need'."......"

Pigs in a trough, by Shahid, The Guardian

The Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich enjoys a snack with friends

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Friday, December 12, 2008

YouTube Partners with MOSSAD - ADL

It seems that the days of using YouTube as #1 media to distribute documentaries, videos and presentations about the truth of Israel and Zionist and their horrific war-crimes history and terrorism profile, has come to END.

Yesterday, it was announced that YouTube officially connected to the infamous ADL as partner to "Fight Against Hate."

NEW YORK, Dec. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — YouTube has reached out to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for its expertise in dealing with hate on the Internet. In one outgrowth of that partnership, the League is now a contributor to YouTube's newly launched Abuse & Safety Center, where users are empowered to identify and confront hate, and to report abuses.

This partnership has many dimensions and should not be taken lightly.

1. As YouTube is one of the most viewed websites worldwide, controlling it means controlling the minds of hundreds of millions of its viewers...

2. From now on, you should expect that no more videos that are anti-Zionist, anti-Israel, anti-war and anti-war crimes to be shown for more than the few hours (if lucky enough) after you upload your video. Sooner or later - and the period depends how critical the video is - all will be tagged with the infamous "anti-Semitism" tag and will be removed, ultimately the user will be blocked and banned. In no time, YouTube will become the official oasis for Mossad, therefore, only the Zionist version of the story will be found and endorsed by the media that follows blindly. I regret to break this news to you, but from now on Israel controls the most influential and powerful alternative media. No more "Israel crimes" to be seen or found and only pro-Zionist, pro-Israel users will continue to control the media, not only conventional, but online.
From Sabbah

Beware Of Obama's Groundhog Day

By John Pilger

".....Another product of "continuity" is Obama's first choice for CIA chief, John Brennan, who shares responsibility for the systematic kidnapping and torturing of people, known as "extraordinary rendition". Obama has assigned Madeleine Albright to report on how to "strengthen US leadership in responding to genocide". Albright, as secretary of state, was largely responsible for the siege of Iraq in the 1990s, described by the UN's Denis Halliday as genocide.....

....In exploiting this hope, Obama has all but neutered the anti-war movement that is historically allied to the Democrats. After all, who can argue with the symbol of the first black president in this country of slavery, regardless of whether he is a warmonger? As Noam Chomsky has pointed out, Obama is a "brand" like none other, having won the highest advertising campaign accolade and attracted unprecedented sums of money. The brand will sell for a while. He will close Guantanamo Bay, whose inmates represent less than one per cent of America's 27,000 "ghost prisoners". He will continue to make stirring, platitudinous speeches, but the tears will dry as people understand that President Obama is the latest manager of an ideological machine that transcends electoral power. Asked what his supporters would do when reality intruded, Stephen Walt, an Obama adviser, said: "They have nowhere else to go."

Not yet. If there is a happy ending to the Groundhog Day of repeated wars and plunder, it may well be found in the very mass movement whose enthusiasts registered voters and knocked on doors and brought Obama to power. Will they now be satisfied as spectators to the cynicism of "continuity"? In less than three months, millions of angry Americans have been politicised by the spectacle of billions of dollars of handouts to Wall Street as they struggle to save their jobs and homes. It as if seeds have begun to sprout beneath the political snow. And history, like Groundhog Day, can repeat itself. Few predicted the epoch-making events of the 1960s and the speed with which they happened. As a beneficiary of that time, Obama should know that when the blinkers are removed, anything is possible."

EUCSG Slams Abbas for Describing Solidarity Ships as a “Ridiculous Game”

"The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (EUCSG) slammed a statement from Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who described the ships that sail to Gaza to break the unjust Israeli siege and deliver humanitarian supplies, as a “ridiculous game

The campaign added that these statements indicate that Abbas does not really want the siege to end as he expressed his skepticism of the role of these ships and their effectiveness.

Dr. Arafat Madi, head of the EUCSG in Brussels, said on Thursday, that the statements of Abbas describing the ships as a “ridiculous game” indicates that Abbas is part of the unjust siege, as such statements are considered a public call to stop the ships in spite of these ships delivering aid to 1.5 million Palestinians living in poverty in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Dr. Arafat also said that Abbas' claim that the Israeli Embassy in Cyprus is checking the passports of the activists who board the ships and is also examining the aid supplies on the ships, are false and are a contradiction to the truth.

Furthermore, Dr. Arafat added that the activists who sail to Gaza do not ask for permission from the Israeli embassy, and that only the authorities in Cyprus examine the ships before they depart from the harbor. He also added that the ships sail to Gaza via regional waters and Israel violates international law and is conducting piracy when they intercep the ships.

The EUCSG apologized to the international activists who risk their lives in expressing their solidarity with the Palestinian people “while Abbas doubts their intensions". These statements do not represent the Palestinian people, especially since the Palestinians respect and value the campaigns that are meant to help them and ease their suffering”, the EUCSG reported. "

Livni fantasises about MORE Arab expulsion, in reality, this is a crime against humanity

By Mary Rizzo
Palestine Think Tank

"Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a frontrunner in the race to become premier, said on Thursday that Arab Israelis should move to a Palestinian state when it is eventually created.

"My solution for maintaining a Jewish and democratic state of Israel is to have two distinct national entities," she told a group of secondary school students in Tel Aviv in remarks broadcast by army radio.

"And among other things I will also be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel, those whom we call Arab Israelis, and tell them: 'your national aspirations lie elsewhere.'"......."


Change or deja vu? Obama divides Iran

By Gareth Porter
Asia Times

"Iran is split down the middle on whether United States president-elect Barack Obama has the freedom to change entrenched Washington policies. One view is that he offers a chance for Iran to end its decades-long conflict with the US. Others say he's just a puppet of powerful forces - especially the pro-Israel lobby - that are hostile to Iran......"

This is the first article in a five-part series.

Testimony: Jewish settlers assault family in Hebron

Report, B'Tselem, 11 December 2008

"Raja Yusef Rashid al-Matariyeh, 40, married and a mother of five children, is a homemaker and a resident of Hebron. Her testimony was given to Issa Amro at the witness' home on 7 December 2008......"

What was wrong in apartheid S. Africa is wrong in Palestine

Ida Audeh writing from Boulder, Colorado, US, Live from Palestine, 11 December 2008

"......Last month, a group I work with, the Middle East Collective of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, located in Boulder, organized a lecture, "Separate is Never Equal," featuring Palestinian-Canadian lawyer Diana Buttu and South African anti-apartheid activist Reverend Edward Makue.

Buttu gave a well-documented presentation that showed clearly the Bantustans that Israel has carved out of the West Bank. Her presentation included an outline of the consequences of Israeli policies, which has been the immobilization and pauperization by design of the Palestinian people.

For Israel's die-hard supporters in the audience, the question and answer session was an opportunity to make Israel's case, not to explore further the content of the presentations. Two expressed support for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians (a war crime); a few seemed enraged by the Israel-apartheid connection but could not refute it credibly, considering that the Israeli government itself calls its policy toward the Palestinians one of separation (which is what "apartheid" means), and Israeli law expressly privileges Jewish citizens over non-Jewish (i.e., Palestinian) citizens......"

"I was afraid they would destroy our trees"

Eva Bartlett writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 12 December 2008

( Eva Bartlett is a Canadian human rights advocate and freelancer who spent eight months in 2007 living in West Bank communities and four months in Cairo and at the Rafah crossing. She is currently based in Gaza, after the third successful voyage of the Free Gaza Movement to break the siege on Gaza)

"Leila pointed towards a lone tree and small house on a ridge above what appeared to be a vacant lot. "This was a great field," she said, "filled with lime, guava and orange trees. They destroyed them, killed the trees," she explained, referring to Israeli invasions over the years. "A few days after he learned his trees had been destroyed, the man who owned and tended to the trees passed away."

She began to speak of Israel's last large-scale invasion, at the end of February and into the first week of March, which Israel dubbed "Hot Winter." During the invasion Israeli forces killed at least 120 Palestinians, and wounded hundreds more. This was the invasion during which Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai threatened Palestinians in Gaza with a "holocaust" in response to the firing of homemade rockets from the Strip towards Israel........"


The Free Gaza Movement

"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date : 12-11-2008

For More Information, please contact:
(Gaza) Ewa Jasiewicz, +972 598 700 497 /
(Cyprus) Osama Qashoo, +357 97 793 595 /
(Cyprus) Ramzi Kysia, +357 99 081 767 /
(GAZA PORT, GAZA - 11 December 2008) - The Free Gaza Ship “Dignity,” departed from Gaza International Port at 22:10 hours, Thursday 11 December. Aboard the ship were eleven Palestinian students who had been denied exit by Israel to attend their universities abroad. Over 700 students are currently trapped in Gaza, unable to obtain permission from Israel to continue their education.

Accompanying the students are two British academics, Jonathan Rosenhead and Mike Cushman, of the London School of Economics and the British Committee for Universities for Palestine (BRICUP), an organization of UK-based academics responding to Palestine's Call for an Academic Boycott of Israel.

According to Rosenhead and Cushman, “As academics we are particularly pleased to be traveling on the Dignity on this mission to enable at least some of the hundreds of students trapped in Gaza by the Israeli siege to get out and take up their places at universities round the world. This siege is an affront to any idea of academic freedom or human rights. How can anyone justify preventing young people from fulfilling their potential and learning how to serve their community more fully?”

In an act of nonviolent defiance to the ongoing Israeli Occupation of Palestine, the Free Gaza Movement has been running civil resistance ships to Gaza for several months. This voyage is the fourth such trip, helping to reunite families, and delivering medical supplies, mail, and international humanitarian and human rights workers to besieged Gaza......"

COMMENT: The stooge Abbas derided such missions and called them, "silly and ridiculous games!" What a moron, traitor and USraeli puppet! What do you expect from someone who takes his orders from the US Consul in Jerusalem and from the American General Dayton who trains Abbas' "forces?"

Larijani: Obama no different than Bush. Well,... DAH! It Took You That Long? Why Did Iran Support SOFA,Then??

Press TV

"Iran's Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani has warned against any new adventurism being pursued by the US and Israel in the Middle East region. "It is naive to think that with the transition of power from George W. Bush to Barack Obama the situation will change," he said.

Larijani stated that the US' strategy is to increase the economic pressures on Iran, Mehr news agency reported. "US President-elect Barack Obama said that he will get tough on Iran because of Iran's nuclear program and its support for the Islamic movements Hamas and Hezbollah," he added.

The Majlis speaker noted that it seems that Obama's motto of change is nothing but continuation of his predecessor's policies....."

Music and Peace

By Daniel Barenboim – New York
Palestine Chronicle

"The sovereign independent republic of the West-Eastern Divan, as I like to call the orchestra I founded with Edward Said to promote dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, began as an unpredictable experiment in 1999.

Over the years, it has grown into an example of how Middle Eastern society could function under the best of circumstances. Our musicians have gone through the painful process of learning to express themselves, while simultaneously listening to the narrative of their counterparts. I cannot imagine a better way of implementing the first and most fundamental article of the United Nations' declaration of human rights: that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, that they are endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Unfortunately, today in the Middle East, not all human beings are granted the same freedom and equality in dignity and rights. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is a musical organisation, not a political one, but for the approximately six-week duration of its annual existence it is able to provide its members with one basic need: equality.

The same two young people who might encounter each other at a checkpoint in the roles of border guard and citizen under occupation sit next to one another in this orchestra, equally striving for perfection of musical expression and equally responsible for the result of their striving.

Music, unlike any other art, requires the ability to express oneself with absolute commitment and passion while listening carefully and sensitively to another voice that may even contradict one's own statement. This is the essence of musical counterpoint and a limitless source of inspiration to us in our ‘extra-musical’ dialogues.

Before a Beethoven Symphony we are all equal. Regardless of our origins, we must all approach the music with the same humility, curiosity, knowledge and passion. Music makes it possible for the subjects of mutually hostile governments to support one another because it engenders a true and effortless spirit of creativity and brotherhood.

This year, I carry the title of United Nations Messenger of Peace, which I believe gives me both the right and the responsibility to work toward abolishing ignorance, and to contribute in whatever modest way I can toward real equality. Without equality, there can be no justice, and without justice there will be no peace."

Obama, Iraq, and the Cyprus Solution

Out of Iraq? Not so fast …

By Justin Raimondo

"How, one wonders, could President-elect Barack Obama possibly hope to implement his announced foreign policy goals when he's entrusted his enemies – the Clntonites, and the Republicans – to implement them? I've wondered that myself, but now the mystery is cleared up by Robert Gates, the GOP defense secretary who says we'll be in Iraq "for decades." In an interview with George Will, Gates let the cat out of the bag:

"Regarding Iraq, Gates is parsimonious with his confidence, noting that ‘the multisectarian democracy has not sunk very deep roots yet.' He stresses, however, that there is bipartisan congressional support for ‘a long-term residual presence' of perhaps 40,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and that the president-elect's recent statements have not precluded that. Such a presence "for decades" has, he says, followed major US military operations since 1945, other than in Vietnam. And he says, ‘Look at how long Britain has had troops in Cyprus.'".

Cyprus was a British colony in 1956 when a revolt, led by the EOKA group, broke out: 40,000 troops were tied down until 1960......."

Intervention: A Problem of Means?

By William S. Lind

"Panglossading through reality, the New York Times recently offered the sort of thoughtless sunny picture of the Obama administration's security policy that lulls children to sleep but leaves adults restlessly wakeful. In a front-page story on December 1, "A Handpicked Team for a Foreign Policy Shift" by David Sanger, the Times reported that the new administration's key national security policy appointees were selected in large part because they have embraced a sweeping shift of resources in the national security arena.

The shift, which would come partly out of the military's huge budget, would create a greatly expanded corps of diplomats and aid workers that, in the vision of the coming Obama administration, would be engaged in projects around the world aimed at preventing conflicts and rebuilding failed states.

Whether they can make the change…"will be the great foreign policy experiment of the Obama presidency," one of his senior advisors said recently.

In the best Christmas spirit of my old friend Mr. Scrooge, I will spoil the story by spilling the ending up front. The "great foreign policy experiment" will fail......"

The Extent of Arab "Activism"!
By Emad Hajjaj

عباس اساء.. وعليه ان يعتذر

عباس اساء.. وعليه ان يعتذر

رأي القدس

"...... ولكن ان يتهجم الرئيس عباس على مناضلين احرار من اجانب وعرب، ركبوا البحر، وضحوا بحياتهم، من اجل كسر حصار تفرضه اسرائيل على مليون ونصف المليون فلسطيني، فهذا امر يجب ألا يمر بسهولة بسبب حجم الضرر الذي يلحق بالقضية الفلسطينية من جرائه.
فالمناضلون الاجانب الذين استقلوا هذه السفن معظمهم من السياسيين والنواب البريطانيين والايرلنديين والفرنسيين واليونانيين ومختلف الدول الاوروبية، بل ان طلابا عاديين واعضاء في منظمات حقوق الانسان يتدافعون للتضامن مع الشعب الفلسطيني في مواجهة هذا الحصار. ولا نعرف اذا كان الرئيس عباس قد تابع أنباء هذه السفن والنشطاء الاجانب الذين كانوا من ابرز ركابها، وتعرّف على هوياتهم، ام انه كان مشغولا بالالتقاء بصديقه ايهود اولمرت الذي يفرض هذا الحصار، ويحكم اغلاق المعابر، لتجويع المحاصرين وقتلهم بردا ومرضا في اسوأ عقوبات جماعية عرفها التاريخ الحديث.
الرئيس عباس لو انه يمثل جميع الفلسطينيين، ويحرص على سلامتهم فعلا، لبادر بالاتصال بهؤلاء المناضلين مهنئا على شجاعتهم وإقدامهم، وشادا على ايديهم، ومقلدا إياهم اوسمة الشجاعة، بل اعلى الأوسمة لدى سلطته الفلسطينية، وهو الذي يوزعها على كل من هب ودب.
الرئيس عباس ارتكب خطأ فادحا في حق الشعب الفلسطيني عندما وصف سفن كسر الحصار بانها 'مهزلة' و'لعبة سخيفة'، وعليه ان يبادر فورا بسحب هذه التصريحات، والاعتذار عنها فورا، الاعتذار للنشطاء الاجانب اولا، وللشعب الفلسطيني بأسره ثانيا.
اخيرا نذكّر الرئيس عباس بانه يتولى العديد من المناصب كرئيس للدولة الفلسطينية، ورئيس للجنة التنفيذية لمنظمة التحرير، ورئيس لحركة 'فتح' ورئيس للسلطة الفلسطينية، ولذلك عليه ان يرتقي الى مستواها قولا اذا لم يستطع فعلا، اي ان يختار الفاظه بعناية، وان يفرق بين كونه رئيسا، وضيفا على احدى الفضائيات العربية."

Real News Video with Ray McGovern: Obama's Vietnam?

Ray McGovern: Will Afghanistan be Obama's Vietnam?

"Ray McGovern speaks to Paul Jay about Barack Obama's appointment of Robert Gates to his cabinet. Though Obama campaigned on a platform of change in the U.S.'s approach to foreign policy, McGovern says Obama’s appointments don't indicate a change is coming. He says the appointments demonstrate a continuation of the mentality that led the United States into war in Vietnam, Iraq, and now again, in Afghanistan. This mentality has been demonstrated to fail in Iraq by a UCLA researcher who used satellite imagery to show the U.S.'s occupation has favored Shias over Sunis. This mentality, of going to war to liberate a people, according to McGovern, is a result of a lack of diversity in the kind of advisers previous presidents have chosen to surround themselves with, and he sees it repeated with Obama's chosen cabinet ."

Real News Video with Gareth Porter: Iranian factions debate nuclear negotiations

Gareth Porter: Potential Iranian Presidential candidates differ on nuclear policy Part 2/3

The sheikh's handshake

The Grand Imam of Cairo caused uproar by embracing Israel's president. But there's more behind the fuss than antisemitism

Jack Shenker, Thursday 11 December 2008

"......The ill-fated clasp took place at an interfaith conference in New York and the recipient was Israeli president Shimon Peres. Sheikh Tantawi, who as the Grand Imam of Cairo's al-Azhar mosque and university occupies the highest seat of learning in the Sunni world, claims the embrace was purely accidental. "I shook his hand like I did the others: at random, without even knowing him," Tantawi told the incredulous Egyptian press. Israeli reporters tell a different story, suggesting that it was Tantawi who approached Peres and that the two men had a warm and serious conversation throughout dinner.

Regardless of who is right, the handshake stirred up a storm of controversy that has dominated front pages for days in Egypt and beyond. The problem is that, intended or not, a friendly gesture between the Supreme Islamic Guide for the Muslim world on the one side and the president of a Zionist state on the other is seen by many in the Middle East as a painful propaganda gift to the Israelis, just as hundreds and thousands of Gazan Muslims remain trapped under brutal siege by the Israeli army. The pan-Arab newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi called Tantawi "absurd"; the Egyptian opposition daily, al-Dostour, is now running a high-profile campaign for his dismissal.......

The detachment many Muslims feel from the formal centre of Sunni Islam stems at least partly from its transformation into a government mouthpiece. Like many of his predecessors, Tantawi was appointed by Egypt's wildly unpopular President Mubarak, and — in contrast to the Coptic Christian Pope Shenouda, spiritual leader of Egypt's other major religious community — the sheikh has placidly toed the government line. Al-Quds al-Arabi has labelled him a mouthpiece of Egypt's authoritarian regime and the popular cynicism this has engendered among the general public has led many Muslims to seek new sources of religious guidance away from Al-Azhar......."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Obama to offer Israel 'nuclear umbrella'

Obama plans to offer Israel a strategic pact designed to fend off any nuclear attack on the Jewish state by Iran, an Israeli newspaper reported on Thursday.
Quoting an unnamed American source close to Obama's administration, the Haaretz daily said Washington would pledge under the proposed "nuclear umbrella" to respond to any Iranian nuclear strike against Israel with a U.S. retaliation in kind.

EU awards Israel for starving Gazans, expanding colonies

By Khalid Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem

".....There is no doubt that the EU decision to upgrade relations with Israel despite the latter’s pornographic oppression of Palestinians and grave violations of the human and civil rights of non-Jews in Palestine-Israel is a brazen insult to the so-called “moderate” Arab regimes who may be thinking that by savaging their own people and succumbing to Israeli dictates, they will gain respect in the capitals of Europe.

For these regimes, the EU decision should be a wake-up call. However, it is amply clear that these “moderate” leaders are too bereft of dignity, self-respect and national honor to understand the meaning of the European decision......

.....In fact, the EU is acting within the normal order of things as far the Palestinian Authority is concerned. A few months ago, one of the highest ranking PA military commander told his Israeli “colleagues”!!! that “we (the PA and Israel) are allies, with a common enemy,” an allusion to Hamas. Well, if Israel is a PA ally, then helping Israel should also benefit the PA.

The same can be said about Egypt, a country of nearly 80 million people rendered nearly impotent by a decadent tyrant who prefers to enjoy the legitimacy that comes from American, Israeli and European acceptance than the legitimacy that comes from the Egyptian masses.

This is the regime that has been complementing and perfecting the Nazi-like Israeli siege to Gaza for the purpose of obtaining a certificate of good conduct from the outgoing Bush administration, the very administration that a majority of US citizens are now glad it will finally be consigned to the dustbin of history.

And how about the Saudi dynasty, which has been currying favor with Israel by preventing Gazan pilgrims from traveling to Mecca to perform the annual pilgrimage and by organizing so-called “inter-religious conferences” which everyone knows are aimed at normalizing relations with the Zionist regime via the back door. So, why would Europe respect a Saudi leadership that has since time immemorial been sacrificing Arab and Muslim dignity in order to please America so that the House of Saud will remain in power for as long as possible.

Thanks to their cheap enslavement by the US and the West, tyrannical Arab regimes may gain a few more years in power. However, they should remember that their place in history will be no better than that of the disgraced Shah of Iran or King Faruk of Egypt...... "

8 really, really scary predictions

Dow 4,000. Food shortages. A bubble in Treasury notes. Fortune spoke to eight of the market's sharpest thinkers and what they had to say about the future is frightening.

Nouriel Roubini: "We are in the middle of a very severe recession that's going to continue through all of 2009 - the worst U.S. recession in the past 50 years. It's the bursting of a huge leveraged-up credit bubble. There's no going back, and there is no bottom to it. It was excessive in everything from subprime to prime, from credit cards to student loans, from corporate bonds to muni bonds. You name it. And it's all reversing right now in a very, very massive way. At this point it's not just a U.S. recession. All of the advanced economies are at the beginning of a hard landing. And emerging markets, beginning with China, are in a severe slowdown. So we're having a global recession and it's becoming worse.

Things are going to be awful for everyday people. U.S. GDP growth is going to be negative through the end of 2009. And the recovery in 2010 and 2011, if there is one, is going to be so weak - with a growth rate of 1% to 1.5% - that it's going to feel like a recession. I see the unemployment rate peaking at around 9% by 2010. The value of homes has already fallen 25%. In my view, home prices are going to fall by another 15% before bottoming out in 2010.

For the next 12 months I would stay away from risky assets. I would stay away from the stock market. I would stay away from commodities. I would stay away from credit, both high-yield and high-grade. I would stay in cash or cashlike instruments such as short-term or longer-term government bonds. It's better to stay in things with low returns rather than to lose 50% of your wealth. You should preserve capital. It'll be hard and challenging enough. I wish I could be more cheerful, but I was right a year ago, and I think I'll be right this year too. "

See also:

Bill Gross, Robert Shiller, Sheila Bair, Jim Rogers, John Train, Meredith Whitney, Wilbur Ross.

Total Defeat for U.S. in Iraq

It's All Spelled Out in Unpublicized Agreement


Comment: An astonishingly poor analysis by Patrick Cockburn, who jumps to incorrect and premature conclusions.

In reality, the concluded agreements have loopholes large enough to drive several trains though them. The puppet government in the Green Zone is totally dependent on the occupation for its very survival and will "request" permanent stationing of occupation troops for that purpose. As to Iran, well.....Iran is Iran. Iran wants to play games and offer Obama a .....present! Well, it will blow up in Teheran's face and those troops may one day be used to topple that same regime offering presents to Obama now. We will see about that soon enough.

".......The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), signed after eight months of rancorous negotiations, is categorical and unconditional. America’s bid to act as the world’s only super-power and to establish quasi-colonial control of Iraq, an attempt which began with the invasion of 2003, has ended in failure. There will be a national referendum on the new agreement next July, but the accord is to be implemented immediately so the poll will be largely irrelevant. Even Iran, which had furiously denounced the first drafts of the SOFA saying that they would establish a permanent US presence in Iraq, now says blithely that it will officially back the new security pact after the referendum. This is a sure sign that Iran, as America’s main rival in the Middle East, sees the pact as marking the final end of the US occupation and as a launching pad for military assaults on neighbours such as Iran......"

Uprising in Greece: Protests, Riots, Strikes Enter 6th Day Following Fatal Police Shooting of Teen

Cartoon by Carlos Latuff

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"Protests, riots and clashes with police have overtaken Greece for the sixth straight day since the fatal police shooting of a teenage boy in Athens Saturday night. One day after Wednesday’s massive general strike over pension reform and privatization shut down the country, more than a hundred schools and at least fifteen university campuses remain occupied by student demonstrators. A major rally is expected Friday, and as solidarity protests spread to neighboring Turkey, as well as Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, Denmark and the Netherlands, dozens of arrests have been made across the continent. We speak to a student activist and writer from Athens......"

Israeli Army Awaiting Order for Ground Offensive in Gaza

"As the fragile Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Hamas and Israel is ending in eight days, Israeli military leaders stated on Wednesday that the Army is ready to carry out any military offensive the political leaders order, Israeli Ynet News reported. Military sources said that the army already submitted to the political leadership in Israel several scenarios of action that were, in turn, handed to the cabinet.

The army said that Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip renewed the firing of homemade shells into an adjacent Israeli area. Resistance groups stated that the act was in retaliation to military offensives and assaults carried out by the army in Gaza.

A senior security official in Israel slammed statements made by several members of the cabinet for publically calling for a military offensive in Gaza. The source said that there is no need to make a public call for an offensive. The official added that the army is ready for the offensive and ready to implement any plan in this regard, but he also said that the political leadership should make a decision.

Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, called for an immediate military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. [To restore her puppet Abbas to Gaza]

Several Israel leaders called for a military offensive against Hamas and also called for a financial choking of Gaza. On the ground, the Gaza Strip has already been choked by the siege as its hospitals have run out of medical supplies and equipments; stores are empty and hundreds of patients, including children and elderly, have died after being banned from leaving Gaza for medical treatment abroad.

Last week, Israeli soldiers killed three Palestinians, including two children, and wounded at least ten others in the West Bank and Gaza."

Report: Israeli envoy to U.K. accuses church service of being anti-Semitic

"......."Twelve assassinations/Eleven homes demolished/Ten wells obstructed/Nine sniper towers/Eight gunships firing/Seven checkpoints blocking/Six tanks a-rolling/Five settlement rings. Four falling bombs/Three trench guns/Two trampled doves/And an uprooted olive tree": Perfect!......."

The EU's blind eye to Israel

David Morrison, The Electronic Intifada, 10 December 2008

"On 1 September 2008, the European Union decided that meetings with Russia about a new partnership agreement would be postponed until the latter ended its military occupation of Georgia. In contrast, on 16 June 2008 the 27-member EU decided to "upgrade" its relations with Israel. This has now been put into effect by a decision of the EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels on 8 December.

Was this in recognition of Israeli adherence to previous agreements with the EU, or progress in the peace process with the Palestinians? On the contrary, by the EU's very own standards it appears to have been a reward for Israel's military occupation of the territory of several countries, and gross violations of human rights and international law, as well as specific commitments made to the EU. If the conditions applied to Russia today were applied to Israel, the EU would immediately terminate its partnership agreements with Israel......"

On int'l human rights day, Palestinians traumatized

Press release, Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, 10 December 2008

"Today marks the 60th anniversary of International Human Rights Day. It is the day the United Nations declared the issuance of the International Declarations of Human Rights to put new international foundations for enforcing and respecting the sacred life and dignity of all human beings. It is a noteworthy coincidence that the birth of this declaration shares the anniversary of the Palestinian uprooting in 1948, still experienced by Palestinians up until today.

This occasion comes as Palestine and the whole Middle East region are immersed in continuing violence, political instability and violations of human rights. Palestinian people are witnessing tremendous violations of their rights. Moreover, Israel has continued tightening a strict political and economical siege as well as partitioning the whole of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and restricting freedom of movement, controlling Palestinian civil life, and converting the Gaza Strip into a huge prison.......

On the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, we call upon the international community, especially the signatories of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and human rights organizations to fulfill their responsibilities and urge all countries to respect articles of international law. We urgently appeal to the international community to rescue and protect Palestinians citizens and to break the Israeli-imposed siege. We also urge them to pressure Israel to prevent its continued violations of Palestinian human rights in all of its forms, and to urgently act to lift the siege imposed on the Palestinian people."

Eid Greetings

Dayton: New PA Forces Trained Not to Fight Israel

These are the Dayton-Trained "Troops" After They Were Routed by Hamas in Gaza, and Rescued by Israel!

An Important Article

"11/12/2008 Keith Dayton, the US army general who is overseeing the training in Jordan of the Palestinian Authority's National Security Force for the occupied West Bank, has praised the new recruits as "the most capable Palestinian security forces that have ever been fielded here," and firmly played down the notion that they might one day come to turn their weapons on the Zionist entity.

In a rare interview, marking the third anniversary of his arrival to head the United States Security Coordinator (USSC) hierarchy, Dayton told Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post that the trainees are taught over and again that "you are not here to learn how to fight against the Israeli occupation." Their focus, rather, he said, is "totally on the lawless elements within Palestinian society." [COMMENT: meaning fighting any resistance to the occupation. Therefore, they are trained as subcontractors to the IOF]

Unlike many Middle East envoys, who fly in and out, Dayton has spent the three years on the ground, maintaining thorough oversight of the American-funded training programs, which are carried out by the Jordanians.

Several hundred graduates have already been deployed in the West Bank, notably in Jenin and Al-Khalil, and several hundred more are in the middle of training programs. The ultimate goal, said Dayton, is for the deployment of seven battalions of the NSF.

The three-star general, a 38-year army veteran who was formerly the US defense attaché in Russia, led the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and served as the US army's chief strategic planner, said there were "long-term" plans for two battalions of the NSF to deploy in Gaza as well. But he said there was no likelihood of this at present, and that he had no answer to the question of how Gaza might be revived under the control of Mahmoud Abbas.

Dayton stressed that the training program he oversees began only after Hamas came to power in Gaza in a coup in June 2007. "We had no responsibility for training anyone in Gaza," he said.

But he spoke in defense of the Palestinian Authority security forces that fought there at the time. They "lost 250 dead," he noted. "These aren't people that just simply, immediately raised their hands and surrendered. I know this. It took five days. One could say, 'Well, they overran them in five days.' Baloney. They were clearly outgunned and still they stood their ground for five days... So this wasn't the surrender that is often portrayed." What the failure in Gaza had shown, he said, "was that the Palestinian security forces need to be organized, well led, well trained, responsible to a civilian authority."

Hence, he said, the PA's embrace of the idea "of sending their young men to Jordan" for proper training, as a critical element of future statehood and to prevent "something like June 2007 from occurring again."

Dayton repeatedly stressed in the interview that none of his work here - which also includes training courses for senior Palestinian leaders and various infrastructure projects - would harm Israel's security. Indeed, the reverse was true, he said.

Organizing competent Palestinian security forces, within the framework of President George W. Bush's vision of two states living side by side in peace and security, he said, was intended to enable "improved law and order in the territories, increased safety and security for the Palestinian people, and improved security for Israel."

He also stressed that while some of the $161 million approved by Congress for his programs had been spent on equipment, this included nothing lethal. "If you ever hear or read that the USSC has been equipping people with guns or ammunition, it is simply not true."

Asked whether he could unequivocally state that the new NSF personnel would never use their weapons against Israel, he responded: "What I can say is that so far, in their operations since May, there has not been a single incident of Palestinian security force engagement with Israelis. Either Israeli civilians or IDF, even in Hebron, a very complex environment with settlers. OK? I think that speaks for itself." "

Obama's atomic umbrella: U.S. nuclear strike if Iran nukes Israel

"U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's administration will offer Israel a "nuclear umbrella" against the threat of a nuclear attack by Iran, a well-placed American source said earlier this week. The source, who is close to the new administration, said the U.S. will declare that an attack on Israel by Tehran would result in a devastating U.S. nuclear response against Iran.

But America's nuclear guarantee to Israel could also be interpreted as a sign the U.S. believes Iran will eventually acquire nuclear arms.

Secretary of state-designate Hillary Clinton had raised the idea of a nuclear guarantee to Israel during her campaign for the Democratic Party's nomination for the presidency. During a debate with Obama in April, Clinton said that Israel and Arab countries must be given "deterrent backing." She added, "Iran must know that an attack on Israel will draw a massive response."......"

Will Obama Buy Torture-Lite?

By Ray McGovern
December 11, 2008

"You’ve got to hand it to them. Torture aficionados at the White House and CIA have conned key congressional leaders into insisting not only that torture-lite would be a swell idea, but advocating that the overseers of torture be kept on.

From change-you-can-believe-in, we seem to be slipping back to fear-you-can-trade-on......"

An Israeli in Gaza: An Interview with Jeff Halper

A Good Interview

By Frank Barat - London
Palestine Chronicle

"Frank Barat: You recently took part in the Free Gaza movement (1) and successfully reached Gaza by boat with others activists, journalists and human rights workers from around the globe. How did you get involved in such an initiative and why was it important for you to take part?

Jeff Halper: As an Israeli and the head of an Israeli peace organization (ICAHD – The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions), I was asked by the Free Gaza Movement organizers to take part in their action to Break the Siege of Gaza by sailing two boats from Cyprus to Gaza City port. I agreed because this was a non-violent political action; breaking the siege and by implication highlighting Israel’s responsibility for it (which it tries to shrug) fit into ICAHD’s mission, to end the Israeli Occupation completely. Had this been defined as a humanitarian mission I would not have participated, since the so-called “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza is not the result of some natural calamity, but of a deliberate policy of Israel – plus the US, Europe and Japan, it must be said, and aided by Egypt – to break the will of the Palestinians to resist and to replace the democratically elected government of Hamas by a collaborationist regime more amenable to Israeli control......

Iranian Leaders Debate Obama's Policy Freedom

By Gareth Porter

"TEHRAN - Iranian national security officials and political leaders have been carrying out an internal debate over how much freedom President-elect Barack Obama will have to change US policy toward Iran, and those who have argued that he will not be able to do so have gained the upper hand since Obama's announcement of his national security team, interviews with Iranian officials and their advisers reveal.

The outcome of that debate, which is very sensitive to signals from Obama and his national security team, could be a key factor in how far Iran goes in indicating its own willingness to make concessions to Washington next year.

Two different views of Obama and his administration's likely policy toward Iran emerged within the regime in the first weeks after his election, according to the officials interviewed in Tehran. One interpretation was that Obama's election is the result of a fundamental shift in US politics and offers an opportunity for Iran to find a way out of its decades-long conflict with the United States.

The other view sees Obama as subject to the control of powerful forces – especially the pro-Israel lobby – that are inherently hostile to Iran. That interpretation implies that Iran should make no conciliatory move toward the Obama administration......

However, Obama's choice of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state has strengthened the conviction of pessimists and has raised doubts among those holding a more optimistic view, according to officials familiar with the debate......."

اسرائيل ومسرحية فتح المعابر

اسرائيل ومسرحية فتح المعابر

رأي القدس

"مراقبة السياسة الاسرائيلية تجاه قطاع غزة تكشف عن توجه على درجة كبيرة من الخطورة، يتمثل في فتح المعابر لفترة محدودة للغاية لادخال كميات قليلة من الوقود والطعام لامتصاص ردود الفعل العربية والدولية، ثم يعاد اغلاقها مجددا لاسابيع عدة.
الحكومة الاسرائيلية استمرأت هذه السياسة وباتت تعتمدها بشكل دوري للضغط على ابناء القطاع من اجل تركيعهم، وحركات المقاومة في اوساطهم، مستغلة صمت العالم العربي والاسلامي اولا، والمجتمع الدولي ثانيا.
ابناء قطاع غزة البالغ عددهم المليون ونصف المليون انسان صمدوا صمود الابطال في مواجهة هذا الحصار، وافشلوا الهدف الاساسي منه، اي الانقلاب على حركات المقاومة، والقبول بدور المتسول للمساعدات الدولية مقابل التنازل عن حقوقهم المشروعة وثوابتهم الوطنية
ريتشارد فولك خبير الامم المتحدة لحقوق الانسان صرح بالامس 'أن ما تمارسه اسرائيل في الاراضي المحتلة، وقطاع غزة على وجه الخصوص من حصار المواطنين الابرياء هو 'جريمة ضد الانسانية' ويدعو الامم المتحدة الى تحرك عاجل لتطبيق المعيار المتفق عليه حول مسؤولية حماية السكان المدنيين الذين يتعرضون لعقاب جماعي'.
صرخة هذا المسؤول الاممي يجب ان تجد اكبر قدر ممكن من الصدى في اوساط العرب والمسلمين، لوضع حد لهذه الجرائم في اسرع وقت ممكن، ولكن ما حدث هو العكس تماما، فالعرب، والانظمة الحاكمة بالذات، لا يريدون ان يسمعوا أنين الجوعى والمرضى في القطاع المحاصر، بل ويساهم بعضهم في زيادة معاناة هؤلاء من خلال تشديد الحصار والاستمرار في اغلاق معبر رفح، ونسف الانفاق فوق رؤوس اصحابها حتى لا يصل اي طعام او دواء للمحاصرين، مثلما يفعل النظام المصري.
من المفترض ان تبادر السلطة الفلسطينية في رام الله التي تقول انها تمثل كل الفلسطينيين الى التحرك بشكل عاجل ومكثف على المستويين العربي والدولي لتعبئة الجميع لنصرة المحاصرين ورفع الظلم الواقع عليهم، ولكنها للأسف لم تتحرك، وانشغل الرئيس محمود عباس بالذهاب الى الاراضي المقدسة لاداء مناسك الحج، ولا نعتقد ان اداء هذه الفريضة اكثر الحاحا من التفرغ لانقاذ مليون ونصف المليون فلسطيني من الموت جوعاً ومرضاً.
كنا نتمنى لو ان 'سفير' فلسطين في الأمم المتحدة قد تحرك لطلب جلسة عاجلة لمجلس الأمن الدولي لبحث هذه العقوبات الجماعية ضد أبناء شعبه، ولكنه للأسف لم يفعل، ولا يبدو انه سيفعل في المستقبل القريب، فقطاع غزة أصبح 'كياناً متمرداً على الشرعية' في نظره، وأهله لا يستحقون أي تحرك لتخفيف معاناتهم ورفع الحصار عنهم.
فتح اسرائيل المعابر بطريقة مسرحية لادخال مجموعة من الشاحنات هو أسوأ انواع التضليل وأكثرها مدعاة للسخرية. فهذه المعابر يجب ان لا تغلق باي شكل من الأشكال لأنها الممر الوحيد لأبناء القطاع، والشريان الرئيسي للحصول على أبسط حاجاته الأساسية. فهي ليست معابر لايصال الأسلحة، وانما الطعام والدواء.
اسرائيل أعادت أبناء القطاع أكثر من قرنين إلى الوراء. وبات الناس يلجأون إلى أفران الطين، و'بوابير الكاز' من أجل الطهي، هذا إذا توفر الكاز، وأصبح الأطفال صرعى أمراض البرد بسبب الشتاء القارس دون أن يجدوا أبسط أنواع التدفئة. فقطاع غزة ليس معروفاً بغاباته وأشجاره حتى يلجأ الناس إلى الحطب في حال نقص الغاز والمازوت، وانقطاع الكهرباء.
أمر معيب أن ينخدع العالم بالخدع الاسرائيلية المتمثلة في فتح المعابر لساعات معدودة، ولا يتحرك لوقف هذه الممارسات النازية التي تتم في وضح النهار، وما هو معيب أكثر أن ينخرط بعض العرب في حوار أديان مع أناس هم أكثر اساءة للأديان وأتباعها، من مسلمين ومسيحيين عرب فلسطينيين."

Real News Video with Gareth Porter: Iran debates negotiations

Gareth Porter: While Obama talks carrots and sticks, Iran questions sitting at the table

"Hours after returning from a fact-finding mission to Iran, Gareth Porter sat down with The Real News Network's Senior Editor Paul Jay to discuss his findings. Gareth responds to recent Obama statements toward Iran, pointing out that Iran has a long history of walking away from negotiations with the West and this debate over the value of participation in negotiations is raring up again against the backdrop of Obama's election victory. The debate in Iran over entering negotiations, primarily to address Iran's nuclear power program and support for Hamas and Hezbollah, has now split between those in the Iranian leadership who believe that Obama's victory represents a change in direction in US foreign policy that may validate Iran's participation and those who believe that the forces in Washington are too strong to permit such a change in direction. Gareth explains that since Obama's appointment of Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State, a key player in the passing of the controversial Kyl-Lieberman Amendment that labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, served as a signal to most that Obama would not bring the change of course that Iran was hoping for."

Britain leaves Iraq in shame. The US won't go so quietly

Obama was elected on the back of revulsion at Bush's war, but greater pressure will be needed to force a full withdrawal

Seumas Milne
The Guardian, Thursday December 11 2008

"If British troops are indeed withdrawn from Iraq by next June, it will signal the end of the most shameful and disastrous episode in modern British history. Branded only last month by Lord Bingham, until recently Britain's most senior law lord, as a "serious violation of international law", the aggression against Iraq has not only devastated an entire country and left hundreds of thousands dead - it has also been a political and military humiliation for the invading powers.

In the case of Britain, which marched into a sovereign state at the bidding of an extreme and reckless US administration, the war has been a national disgrace which has damaged the country's international standing. Britain's armed forces will withdraw from Iraq with dishonour. Not only were they driven from Basra city last summer under cover of darkness by determined resistance, just as British colonial troops were forced out of Aden 40 years ago - and Iraq and Afghanistan, among other places, before that. But they leave behind them an accumulation of evidence of prisoner beatings, torture and killings, for which only one low-ranking soldier, Corporal Payne, has so far been singled out for punishment.....

And since his November triumph, Obama has gone out of his way to emphasise his commitment to maintaining a "residual force" for fighting "terrorism", training and protection of US civilians - which his security adviser Richard Danzig estimated could amount to between 30,000 and 55,000 troops.

Briefings by Pentagon officials have also made clear this residual force could remain long after 2011. It turns out that the new security agreement can be ditched by either side, while the Iraqi government is fully entitled to invite US troops to remain, as explained in the accompanying "strategic framework agreement", so long as its bases or presence are not defined as "permanent". And given that the current Iraqi government would be unlikely to survive a week without US protection, such a request is a fair bet. Combat troops can also be "re-missioned" as "support units", it transpires, and even the last-minute concession of a referendum on the agreement next year will not, the Iraqi government now says, be binding.

None of this means there won't be a substantial withdrawal of troops from Iraq after Obama takes over the White House next month. But how far that withdrawal goes will depend on the kind of pressure he faces both at home and in Iraq. The US establishment clearly remains committed to a long-term stewardship of Iraq. The Iraqi government is at this moment negotiating secret 20-year contracts with US and British oil majors to manage 90% of the country's oil production. The struggle to end US occupation and control of the country is far from won......"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

UN attacks Israeli rights 'crimes'


"Israel's policies against the Palestinians are tantamount to a "crime against humanity", the United Nations' human rights rapporteur has said.

Richard Falk [COMMENT: Dr. Falk is a Jewish American emeritus professor of international law at Princeton University] said in a statement on Tuesday that the UN must "implement the agreed norm of a responsibility to protect a civilian population being collectively punished by policies that amount to a crime against humanity".

The statement came on the same day that the UN Human Rights Council urged Israel to implement 99 measures to improve its rights record.

Falk said it would seem "mandatory" that the UN's International Criminal Court investigate Israel’s policies in regard to the Palestinians.

"[The court could] determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law," he said.

The Israeli government has faced a level of criticism by "normally cautious UN officials" not seen since the "the heyday of South African apartheid," Falk said.

"And still Israel maintains its Gaza siege in its full fury, allowing only barely enough food and fuel to enter to stave off mass famine and disease."......"