Saturday, October 23, 2010

'US not admitting its crimes in Iraq'

(Scroll Down for More New Posts)

Video Interview with Raed Jarrar, senior fellow, Peace Action, Washington

Press TV


It is interesting how little coverage this major story is getting in Iran and from Hizbullah; I wonder why?

In this interview, Press TV ignores the major portion of the leaked documents which deals with the torture and slaughter of tens of thousands by the Shiite death squads. Those squads were carrying out the ethnic cleansing by direct orders from Muqtada Sadr (based in Iran now) and
the puppet Maliki, whom Iran is backing fully and twisting every one's arm to back him up.
The role of Iran's intelligence in arming and supervising their death squads in Iraq has also been documented in these leaks. Iranian commanders were with the thugs of Muqtada at check points and in the interrogation and torture centers.

Is this why Al-Manar is also ignoring this story completely, as if it happened on another planet?

Shame on you Al-Manar and shame on you Sayyed Nasrallah for endorsing sectarian war criminals such as Muqtada and Maliki. I had higher hopes and expectations from you, but this is what sectarianism is all about.

Tony Sayegh

"Copies of the documents allege that the US-led forces deliberately killed civilians, including pregnant women, at checkpoints.

WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange says the documents show compelling evidence of war crimes committed by the US-led forces.

The documents say excessive use of force was not routinely investigated and the guilty parties were rarely brought to account.

The files also show that over 66,000 civilians were killed between January 2004 and December 2009. That figure is much higher than previous estimates.

The Pentagon has already condemned the move by WikiLeaks.

Press TV has interviewed Senior Fellow with Peace Action Raed Jarrar in Washington to ask for his take on the issue......"

The Vatican is antisemitic

Vatican body asks UN to 'end Israeli occupation'

Israel cannot use the Biblical concept of a promised land or a chosen people to justify new "settlements" in Jerusalem or territorial claims, a Vatican synod on the Middle East said on Saturday.

"Recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable," the document said.

Many Jewish settlers and right-wing Israelis claim a biblical birthright to the West Bank, which they call Judea and Samaria and regard as a part of historical, ancient Israel given to the Jews by God.

Asked about the passage at a news conference, Greek-Melchite Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros, said:

"We Christians cannot speak about the promised land for the Jewish people. There is no longer a chosen people. All men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.

"The concept of the promised land cannot be used as a base for the justification of the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of Palestinians," he added. "The justification of Israel's occupation of the land of Palestine cannot be based on sacred scriptures."

Al-Jazeera Video: Iraq files 'not surprising'

"For the past 10 weeks, working with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London, Al Jazeera has analysed tens of thousands of documents, sourced through WikiLeaks, which cover six years of war - in the biggest leak of US military secrets in history.

The secret files reveal extensive abuse at Iraqi police stations, army bases and prisons.

According to the files, coalition troops reported the allegations to their superiors on more than 1,300 occasions.

Sabah al-Mukhtar, lawyer and president of the Arab Lawyers Association in London, spoke to Al Jazeera about the allegations of "torture", and said Iraqis will not be surprised by the findings."

Al-Jazeera Video: Checkpoint Killings

"The Iraq war documents from WikiLeaks contain details of hundreds of civilian deaths at US military checkpoints."

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera interviews Julian Assange

"Wikileaks founder speaks to Al Jazeera about new leaked documents on Iraq war."

Real News: Iraq Secret War Files, 400,000 Leaked

Channel 4: 400,000 Iraq war logs reveal the massive scale of civilian deaths and new torture allegations

More at The Real News

Echoes of El Salvador in tales of US-approved death squads

Analysis by Patrick Cockburn

"....The leaks are important because they prove much of what was previously only suspected but never admitted by the US army or explained in detail. It was obvious from 2004 that US forces almost always ignored cases of torture by Iraqi government forces, but this is now shown to have been official policy. Of particular interest to Iraqis, when Wikileaks releases the rest of its hoard of documents, will be to see if there is any sign of how far US forces were involved in death squad activities from 2004....

Iraqi leaders whispered that the Americans were involved in the training of what were in fact death squads in official guise. It was said that US actions were modelled on counter-insurgency methods pioneered in El Salvador by US-trained Salvadoran government units.

It was no secret that torture of prisoners had become the norm in Iraqi government prisons as it established its own security services from 2004. Men who were clearly the victims of torture were often put on television where they would confess to murder, torture and rape. But after a time it was noticed that many of those whom they claimed to have killed were still alive.

The Sunni community at this time were terrified of mass sweeps by the US forces, sometimes accompanied by Iraqi government units, in which all young men of military age were arrested. Tribal elders would often rush to the American to demand that the prisoners not be handed over to the Iraqi army or police who were likely to torture or murder them. The power drill was a favourite measure of torture [of Muqtada's drill team!]. It is clear that the US military knew all about this.....

There were a series of interconnected conflicts going on in in Iraq during the American occupation in 2004-9. One that the seldom made headlines involved a series of tit-for-tat killings and kidnappings against each other by the Americans and Iranians....."

They're trying to sell the Brooklyn Bridge again

By Robert Fisk

"....Why do our scribes write this horseshit? My old mate Alexander Cockburn calls it "selling the Brooklyn Bridge" and claims that Michael Gordon, chief military correspondent of The New York Times, is always ready to buy it. True. In 2002, Mike was banging the gong about aluminium tubes in Iraq being part of Saddam's nuclear programme. Then in 2007, "American officials" – of course – briefed Mike on how Iran was providing Iraqi insurgents with "explosive formed penetrators" for use against American troops in Iraq; the fact that most of the insurgents killing US forces there were Sunni and wouldn't have anything to do with Iran failed to make it into Mike's story. Oh yes, and the Iranians were also supplying their Hizbollah allies in Lebanon with the weapon to use against the Israelis. Well at least the Hizbollah, who are Shia, are armed by Iran, though we'll have to wait for the next Lebanon war to see if these mysterious "penetrators" make their appearance.

The real problem, of course, is that we are sold the Brooklyn Bridge over and over again. Now here's a good quote. "Iran is the centre of terrorism, fundamentalism and subversion and is in my view more dangerous than Nazism, because Hitler did not possess a nuclear bomb, where the Iranians are trying to perfect a nuclear option." This prediction was not made by Benjamin Netanyahu but – and thank God for Roger Cohen who spotted this particular Brooklyn Bridge – by then prime minister Shimon Peres, now president of Israel, in 1996. And four years earlier, the very same Peres predicted that Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 1999.

In other words, Iran – if Peres's preposterous statement was true – acquired a nuclear bomb 11 years ago. By 2007, "American officials" said it would be another six years before Iran acquired a bomb, and last year Israel said it could take less than two years. So let's remember 2013. Or 2011. Or 1999 for all I care. It was, indeed, the very same Peres, who bleated out this year that Hizbollah had acquired Scud missiles from Syria – presumably fitted with a few of Mike's explosive formed penetrators – to use against Israel. Now I rather think Hizbollah has a lot more sophisticated weapons than these antiquated old Russian rockets that Saddam used against Israel in the 1991 Gulf War; Hizbollah has been playing around with pilotless drone aircraft and even sent one on a trial flight over Israel – it returned safely to Lebanon. But Scuds?
Well, of course, that was the story that caught fire. The Americans stepped in with an oblique warning to Syria, even though there was not a grain of evidence that the lumbering old Scuds had been trucked into Lebanon. The Brooklyn Bridge was bought again. Then this very week, it was Netanyahu's turn. "The security problem," quoth he, "is not just the new (sic) rockets that will (sic) enter the area and will threaten city centres. I don't know if you know this, but today we are struggling to fly near Gaza because they have anti-aircraft missiles there." Now Hamas is so inefficient and corrupt that I doubt if it's found a way of bringing such a weapon through the tunnels from Egypt, unless it's got hold of some of the shoulder-fired rockets that proved so militarily lamentable when the Palestinians tried to use them in 1982 over Beirut.

But the Brooklyn Bridge was quickly bought again. The Associated Press wrote from its Jerusalem bureau that Netanyahu's claim was "a potentially game-changing development that could threaten the Israeli air force's ability to strike at the Islamic militant group". Funny, that. So why didn't Hamas use these wonder weapons in January of last year when the Israelis were bashing the hell out of Gaza? Or why didn't the Israelis find them when they occupied Gaza? But then again, why didn't they find their missing soldier, Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas more than four years ago, when they smashed their way into Gaza?

But, of course, it's not just the Americans and Israelis who sell us the Brooklyn Bridge. When the outrageous Iranian president, visiting southern Lebanon last week, told the Israelis their country was doomed – Yasser Arafat used to sell this old bridge at almost the same spot in southern Lebanon 33 years ago – the world's headlines trumpeted this latest threat to Israel as if he had arrived in Beirut with one of his famous nukes in his baggage. And bingo, Israel denounced Lebanon as "a new centre of regional terror". Then that went round the world too. Having lived in Lebanon for 34 years, I remember the Israelis used exactly the same phrase in 1978, 1981, 1982, 1993, 1996 and 2006. I guess those danged Lebanese just go on rebuilding new centres of regional terror every time Israel's enormously successful elite army rampages over their land.

Any more Brooklyn Bridges on the way? You bet there are. It is, after all, only a few months since that great bridge-seller Daniel Pipes was advising the US government in the Jerusalem Post under the headline: "How to save the Obama presidency: Bomb Iran." I suppose, given such widespread domestic opposition inside Iran, that some of the top man's retinue there might switch it round: "How to save the Ahmadinejad presidency: Bomb Israel." And our scribes would buy that bridge as well."

It was the Gaza assault's worst atrocity. Now the truth may finally be told

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

"Israeli military police are investigating whether an air strike which killed 21 members of the same family sheltering in a building during the Army's Gaza offensive in 2008-9 was authorised by a senior brigade commander who had been warned of the danger to civilians.

The new turn in the enquiry has cast a fresh spotlight on what is widely thought to be the worst single incident involving civilian casualties during Operation Cast Lead, the missile attack on a building in the Zeitoun district of Gaza City, where around 100 members of the extended Samouni family were taking refuge on the morning of 4 January, 2009.

The missile attack, which also injured 19 people, came early in the ground offensive. According to many Palestinian witnesses, it came after troops in the Givati brigade ordered dozens of family members, including women and children, to move to the building the previous day....."

Iraq war logs: secret files show how US ignored torture

• Massive leak reveals serial detainee abuse

• 15,000 unknown civilian deaths in war

Full coverage of the Iraq war logs

The Guardian

"A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.

Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.

The new logs detail how....

Although US generals have claimed their army does not carry out body counts and British ministers still say no official statistics exist, the war logs show these claims are untrue....
WikiLeaks says it is posting online the entire set of 400,000 Iraq field reports – in defiance of the Pentagon......"

Video: Iraq war logs: Frago 242 – a licence to torture

How the newly released US military files reveal an instruction to ignore detainee abuse by Iraqi authorities; what that meant on the ground; and just how far up the chain of command the order went,
Saturday 23 October 2010

الجزيرة "تكشف المستور" في العراق

وثائق سرية تتهم المالكي بالقتل

"كشفت الجزيرة في برنامج "كشف المستور" -الذي استند إلى وثائق سرية عن حرب العراق- تفاصيل تعلن لأول مرة تحدثت عن تورط رئيس الوزراء العراقي المنتهية ولايته نوري المالكي في إدارة فرق للقتل والتعذيب.

كما توضح الوثائق حقيقة الدور الإيراني ونشاط القاعدة وممارسة الصحوات، وتميط هذه التقارير اللثام عن مأساة عشرات آلاف الضحايا المدنيين الذين سقطوا بنيران الجيش الأميركي. كما تظهر حقائق جديدة عن تورط القوات العراقية في تعذيب السجناء وحتى اغتصابهم وقتلهم أحيانا.

وترسم الوثائق صورة للمالكي بعيون الأميركيين، فيبدو رئيس الوزراء المنتهية ولايته شخصا طائفيا منحازا بالقوة إلى طائفته الشيعية على حساب مواطنيه السنة، كما تصور هذه الوثائق وجها خفيا للمالكي وهو يقود فرقا عسكرية تنفذ أوامره في الاغتيالات والاعتقالات.

الدور الإيراني
أما إيران فكانت حاضرة في المشهد العراقي ولكن على نحو سري عبر تهريب السلاح التقليدي لإمداد الأحزاب والمنظمات الشيعية الموالية لها وخصوصا جيش المهدي التابع لمقتدى الصدر، ومنظمة بدر التي كانت الجناح العسكري للمجلس الإسلامي العراقي الأعلى بقيادة عائلة الحكيم، قبل أن تتحول تلك المنظمة إلى تنظيم سياسي وفق ما هو معلن.

واللافت أن التقارير السرية في حالة إيران تذكر أسماء عملاء تقول إنهم ضباط مخابرات إيرانيون كانوا يعملون بشكل يومي في العراق وإن بعضهم متورط في شن هجمات بالصواريخ على المنطقة الخضراء، علاوة على إقامة نقاط تفتيش مشتركة في المناطق الشيعية يشرف عليها عناصر أمن إيرانيون بوجود عناصر من جيش المهدي ومنظمة بدر.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Shit Has Hit the Fan! WikiLeaks releases secret Iraq file

Al Jazeera accesses 400,000 secret US military documents, which reveal the inside story of the Iraq war.


"In the biggest leak of military secrets in history, WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website, has released 400,000 secret US files detailing every aspect of the war in Iraq, copies of which have been obtained by Al Jazeera.

The sheer magnitude of data contained in the secret files reveals a graphic narrative of the war that goes far beyond any information about the conflict ever released into the public domain.

Using thousands of classified US military reports, Al Jazeera is now able to tell the inside story of a war which left thousands dead and a country fractured along sectarian lines.

Working with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London for the past 10 weeks, Al Jazeera has analysed tens of thousands of documents, finding facts the US has kept hidden from public scrutiny.

What has been uncovered often contradicts the official narrative of the conflict. For example, the leaked data shows that the US has been keeping records of Iraqi deaths and injuries throughout the war, despite public statements to the contrary.

The latest cache of files pertains to a period of six years – from January 1, 2004, to December 31, 2009 – and shows that 109,000 people died during this time. Of those, a staggering 66,081 – two-thirds of the total – were civilians.

The figures are much higher than previously estimated and they will inevitably lead to an upward revision of the overall death toll of the conflict.....

The reports reveal how torture was rampant and how ordinary civilians bore the brunt of the conflict.

The files record horrifying tales: of pregnant women being shot dead at checkpoints, of priests kidnapped and murdered, of Iraqi prison guards using electric drills to force their prisoners to confess.

Equally disturbing is the response of the military to the civilian deaths caused by its troops. Excessive use of force was routinely not investigated and the guilty were rarely brought to book.
We understand that lives could be put at risk with the publication of such sensitive data, so you'll notice we've redacted almost all the names that appear in these cables – the exception being very well-known figures, people like Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. Our media partners have done the same.

But working alongside the New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, and the UK's Channel 4 TV, Al Jazeera is clear that releasing the Iraq files – despite their secret nature – is vital to the public interest."

Al Jazeera's access to leaked documents reveals secret US military order not to investigate Iraqi torture.

"It is the biggest leak of military secrets in history. Al Jazeera has details of nearly 400,000 classified US documents. They are the secret Iraq files, leaked to whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

For the past ten weeks Al Jazeera has had complete access to those files. As part of our forthcoming coverage, we reveal how the US military gave a secret order not to investigate torture by Iraqi authorities discovered by American troops.

Our full coverage will begin on Friday, October 22, at 2100 GMT."

WikiLeaks War Logs: 391,832 Iraq War Files Released to Media

Documents Reveal Civilian Killings, Ignoring of Torture

"...According to WikiLeaks’ twitter, the documents were made available in advance to “TBIJ, IBC, Guardian, Spiegel, NYT, Le Monde, Al Jazeera, Chan4, SVT, CNN, BBC,” all of which are expected to release coverage related to it. Al-Jazeera is running an hour-long special beginning at 5:00 PM Eastern. Below is a list of the coverage so far from these sites, more will be added as they are available.

The interactive: Every death mapped
The story: How US ignored torture
The deaths: 15,000 previously unlisted
Grim toll at Iraq’s checkpoints
Men who tried to surrender killed
‘No further action’ – US order on abuse
How friendly fire became routine
No answer for deaths of journalists
Apache helicopters kill 14 civilians
Serial abuse by coalition troops
Civilians in the crossfire
Crazy Horse’ and collateral damage
Reports Detail Iran Aid to Iraq Militias
Civilians Paid War’s Heaviest Toll "

Justice, Israeli style

By Sherine Tadros, October 21st, 2010.

".....And hear is all we could do - thanks to an unusual request filed by the state, and accepted by the judge, the driver and other soldiers testifying in this case have done so behind a dark screen to protect their identity (for "security" reasons).

I can't tell you the driver's name (there is a gag order) but I can say that he is a Russian immigrant to Israel that, ironically, shares the same birthday as Rachel.

It was a long and painful testimony, the driver answering the questions with variations of the phrase: "I don't remember."

He couldn't even recall the time of day Rachel was killed and claimed he did not realize when he knocked Rachel down and drove over her with his four-tonne Caterpillar bulldozer. Presumably, he also didn't realize when he then backed up over her a second time crushing her body with his blade.....

Whether they are preventing an aid ship from getting to Gaza, or in Rachel's case stopping an activist defending a Palestinian accountant's home, Israeli soldiers too often act with force, which shows they believe they are above the law. And, as will be shown if the Corries lose this case, it's because Israeli law will always protect them."

WikiLeaks Prepares Largest Intel Leak in U.S. History With Release of 400,000 Iraq War Docs


Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"The whistleblowing group WikiLeaks is preparing to release up to 400,000 US intelligence reports on the Iraq war. The disclosure would comprise the biggest leak in US history, far more than the 91,000 Afghanistan war logs WikiLeaks released this summer. We speak to the nation’s most famous whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the secret history of the Vietnam War in 1971......"

Ahmedinejad in Lebanon: shifting regional power balance

Matthew Cassel, The Electronic Intifada, 21 October 2010

".....While this was portrayed in most mainstream media as a highly "controversial" visit, Ahmadinejad was invited to Lebanon during Lebanese President Michel Suleiman's official state visit to Iran in 2008. Much of the media's focus has been on Iran's close relationship to Hizballah, the Lebanese Shia Islamic political party and military resistance organization.

Since Hizballah's founding in the early 1980s, Iran has financed the group, providing it with both weapons and military training. That support is one of the factors that has made Hizballah the most effective military resistance force against Israel to date....

Hizballah's role as the premier resistance force is something that sets it apart from all other political groups in Lebanon. In a country deeply divided across sectarian and political lines, resistance to Israel is probably one of the few causes that can still unite a majority of Lebanese."


Viva Palestina

"Amidst scenes of jubilation from thousands of Palestinians there to greet the convoy, Kevin Ovenden, the convoy director, expressed his joy at being in Gaza once again. "We have driven more than 3,000 miles to bring this essential aid and to break this illegal siege of Gaza. We have been joined by supporters from Morocco and Algeria and from the Gulf States and Jordan, to make this the biggest convoy ever to break the siege of Gaza. We are absolutely overjoyed to be here and to bring with us the soil from the graves of those who were massacred on the Mavi Marmara which will be used to plant trees as a memorial to their sacrifice."

The convoy set out four weeks and five days ago from London......"

Treasure House Under Threat

By Eva Bartlett

"GAZA CITY, Oct 22, 2010 (IPS) - Few outside of Gaza would consider its history much beyond the decades of Israeli occupation. But Gaza is a historical treasure house. Many of those treasures are now in Israeli museums, and those that remain are becoming difficult to preserve due to the Israeli siege.

Gaza, set along the historical silk road and on the bridge between Africa and Asia, was host to civilisations, including the Pharaohs, Canaanites, Philistines, Crusaders, Mamluks, Romans and many following. Alexander the Great invaded Gaza; Napoleon Bonaparte passed through.

"Throughout Gaza, you find pottery and carved columns and capitals, and the remnants of civilisations past, including artifacts from early human presence like the iron and bronze ages," says Asad Ashoor from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Gaza.

"There are visible relics in Gaza," says Ashoor. These have survived civilisations and more recently, Israeli bombings....."

The Violence Debate: Teaching the Oppressed How to Fight Oppression


By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"....Misreading history often leads to an erroneous assessment of the present, and thus a flawed prescription for the future. For some, Palestinians cannot possibly get it right, whether they respond to oppression non-violently, violently, with political defiance or with utter submissiveness. The onus will always be on them to come up with solution, and do so creatively and in ways that suit our Western sensibilities and our often selective interpretations of Gandhi’s teachings.

Violence and non-violence are mostly collective decisions that are shaped and driven by specific political and socio-economic conditions and contexts. Unfortunately, the violence of the occupier has a tremendous role in creating and manipulating these conditions. It is unsurprising that the Second Palestinian Uprising was much more violent than the first, and that violent resistance in Palestine gained a huge boost after the victory scored by the Lebanese resistance in 2000, and again in 2006.

These factors must be contemplated seriously and with humility, and their complexity should be taken into account before any judgments are made. No oppressed nation should be faced with the demands that Palestinians constantly face. There may well be a thousand Palestinian Gandhis. There may be none. Frankly, it shouldn’t matter. Only the unique experience of the Palestinian people and their genuine struggle for freedom could yield what Palestinians as a collective deem appropriate for their own. This is what happened with the people of India, France, Algeria and South Africa, and many others nations that sought and eventually attained their freedom."

Palestine’s Burning Olive Groves

by Rannie Amiri, October 22, 2010

""Lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it … " -- Quran 24:35

"And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives." -- Judges 15:5

Olives and olive oil. Nothing symbolizes Palestinian land, identity and culture as they do. They are the hallmarks of national pride and the veritable heart of Palestine’s agricultural economy.

Although the subjugation and daily humiliation of occupation takes various forms in East Jerusalem and the West Bank—demeaning checkpoint searches; arrest and interrogation of minors; preventing ambulances from expeditiously transporting the sick to hospitals; the eviction of families and demolition of homes—few situations evoke more outrage and deep sadness as do the torching of olive orchards by vigilante settlers.

In a five-year study tracking 97 cases of Palestinian land vandalism, the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din (Volunteers for Human Rights) found that police investigations did not yield a single indictment, with all cases closed due to of insufficient evidence or "unknown perpetrators." "The law enforcement authorities are not responding to the ongoing harm done to the livelihood of Palestinian families," said lead researcher Yior Lavne.

Savaging the cultural heritage and economic viability of a people is an odious practice. Under any other circumstance, the deliberate, purposeful desecration of land and sabotage of livelihoods would be considered a war crime. It is time the international community call what is happening in the West Bank just that.

Support Palestinian farmers through fair-trade purchase of their olive oil. "

Preview: New Statesman interview with Mike Leigh

The director explains his refusal to visit Israel and says he received "exhortations not to go" from within the country.

"Earlier this week, I interviewed the director Mike Leigh, whose new film Another Year is one of the main attractions at the current London Film Festival. The full interview will appear in a forthcoming issue of the NS, but here's an excerpt where Leigh explains his recently-publicised decision not to attend a film teaching event in Israel, in protest at the country's loyalty oath bill.

"I was going to go and give workshops at the film school [the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem]. I agreed to go with great misgivings, for all the obvious reasons, but there is a very committed guy who runs the school. He persuaded me, I allowed myself to be persuaded [to go] in solidarity with what undoubtedly are very committed film-makers. But the truth is that just after I agreed to do that, there was the flotilla, then [settlement] building began again on the West Bank and then we have the loyalty oath.

I have become increasingly uncomfortable, I really felt that I simply had to join [the cultural boycott]. I have been a signatory to Jews for Justice in Palestine and various other things for a number of years. In the end you can go and indulge in comfortable cultural activity but just less distance from that activity then we are from the centre of Guilford, probably nearer [the interview took place in central London], it's hell on earth in Gaza and it's not acceptable. And that's the bottom line."

Leigh says that his decision was not taken lightly:

"Unlike a whole lot of other filmmakers, I come at this from a long background because I was in Zionist socialist youth groups. I actually come from a Zionist background. And I walked away from it a long time ago. It gets worse, it's got worse and worse and it really isn't on. Despite all the protestations from artists inside Israel, it is absolutely not on to support any kind of institutions.

Incidentally I've actually also received, from within Israel, exhortations not to go and congratulations on having made the decision.""

Peres: ME Peace Can Help US Battle Iran, We can’t Exist without US. What a Guy! Wants to Help US by Making US Die for Him!


"22/10/2010 “Israel could aid the United States in its attempts to thwart Iran's nuclear program by pushing forward with peace talks with the Palestinian Authority,” Israeli President Shimon Peres said Thursday, adding that Israel couldn’t exist without US.

Speaking at a meeting of worldwide Jewish leaders in occupied Jerusalem as reported by Haaretz, Peres said that while "Israel cannot give America what it gives us, we, in our small way, can help the U.S. by putting an end to the minor conflict with the Palestinians and allowing it to focus on the main threat – Iran."

Peres said that, "for our existence, we need the friendship of the United States of America."

Speaking of how Israel can give back to the US, he said that just "as the US is trying to understand the security needs of Israel, we Israelis ourselves must understand the security needs of the US."...."

Breaking News: The Rabbit Has Finally Figured it Out..."says Israel not after peace." Then He Asks Turkey to Mediate with Israel!

Press TV

"Amid stalemate of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says that Tel Aviv is not seeking peace in the Middle East.

"Israel does not wish for and is not ready to make peace," Assad said during a meeting with visiting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Thursday.

Tel Aviv is following a "tactical course aimed at persuading the world that it is passionate about peace and that it is the Arabs who reject it."

"Israel murders the Palestinians, and the process of judaising Jerusalem (al-Quds) is a racist act," Assad went on to say......"

Report from Israel: the occupation is the Stanley Milgram experiment, for American Jews

I have no doubt that the ruthlessly selfish political culture of Israel belongs to a different age. Young Americans, and young American Jews must make this clear. This militant racist society does not represent our values. And it doesn’t matter if it’s two states or twenty, unless Jews in power start to respect other peoples’ rights, we’re screwed.

I agree that the Middle East is a tough neighborhood that is dominated by authoritarian governments and riven by ethnic tension. That doesn't get Israel off the hook. It is oppressing half the population, on a racial basis, and American Jews are enabling the whole business. If we Jews have any desire to be a moral example to other people, as the tradition holds, we will accept our responsibility and power, throw ourselves into Palestinian solidarity work, listen to Palestinians describe their conditions, bear witness to those conditions, take on our elders, press boycott, shake Israelis from their lavish complacence, and help to build a society of fairness and equality that can lead the Middle East. The other way is just more darkness and screaming.

Ardent Zionist turns boycott advocate

Yonatan Shapira, 38, was fired from his job, has been verbally abused in public, subjected to death threats in newspaper talk-back comments, called a traitor by many Israelis, falsely charged with assaulting Israeli security forces, and interrogated by Israel's domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet.

While Israel often gets a lot of negative publicity for its brutal treatment of Palestinians and the inherent racism within its society, there is a growing core of Israeli human rights activists who are challenging government policy -- and paying a high price for their courage.

"Now I believe Israel is a racist state that brutalizes the Palestinians in the occupied territories and discriminates against [Palestinians] within Israel. My friends and I have come to the conclusion that the only way to save Israel from itself is through international support of the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign against Israel," says Shapira.

"Israelis have two choices. To either admit to the injustices committed against the Palestinians and take responsibility for this or to continue to play the role of the victim and become more entrenched in racist behavior," says Shapira.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Jordanian Candidate Uses Debate to Call for Curtailing King's Powers

Daoud Kuttab-The Huffington Post
The hall where a lively debate had been taken place suddenly went silent. A courageous Jordanian journalist asked a candidate for Jordan's parliamentary elections a question rarely asked.
The hall where a lively debate had taken place for 80 minutes suddenly went silent. A courageous Jordanian journalist had just asked a feisty candidate for Jordan's parliamentary elections a question rarely asked. "Are you in favor of a constitutional change that will allow prime minister's to be elected and would curtail the King's power's to dissolve the parliament?" asked Hamza Al Soud, Radio al Balad's parliamentary reporter.

Odeh Kawas a former member of parliament and a long time human rights fighter took on the question directly:

I think any constitutional amendment should be studied by an elected group of experienced thinkers and not in a forum like this, but I do agree that the prime minister should be elected and not appointed and that the King's power to dissolve the parliament should be curtailed.

Satellite TV in the Arab World, by Emad Hajjaj

Satellite TV in the Arab World, by Emad Hajjaj

Egyptian President to Run for Re-Election in 2011


"21/10/2010 Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak is to run for re-election in 2011, a high-ranking ruling party official said on Thursday.

"The candidate of the National Democratic Party (NDP) will be President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak. At that moment, the candidate will be Mohammed Hosni Mubarak," Ali El Din Hilal said in an interview broadcast by Arabic-language US satellite TV channel Alhurra.

"The candidate of the National Democratic Party in October next year, God willing, will be President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak," Hilal repeated....."

West Bank: Reports of Torture in Palestinian Detention

(Scroll Down for More New Posts)

Two New Cases Among More Than 100 in 2010 Alleged Against Security Services

"(Jerusalem) - The Palestinian Authority should promptly investigate the alleged torture of two detainees over the past month in a Jericho prison and ensure that officials responsible for the abuse are prosecuted, Human Rights Watch said today. These two cases are among more than 100 allegations of torture registered so far this year with the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), the official Palestinian human rights ombudsman, against security services in the West Bank.

Members of the Preventive Security agency, which reports to the minister of interior, arrested Ahmad Salhab, a 42-year-old mechanic from Hebron, on September 19, 2010, and detained him until October 16, first in Hebron and then in Jericho. On October 16, Preventive Security officials transferred him to a hospital in Hebron suffering from injury to previously torn spinal discs and severe mental distress, which he told Human Rights Watch resulted from torture in custody. The second man, M.B., who asked that his name not be used, was arrested September 16 and held first in the Preventive Security detention facility in Hebron and then in Jericho, where, he said, he was tortured for 10 days. Both were accused of having ties to Hamas. The human rights commission said that Salhab's and M.B.'s are the first cases of alleged torture in the Jericho prison.

"The reports of torture by Palestinian security services keep rolling in," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad are well aware of the situation. They need to reverse this rampant impunity and make sure that those responsible are prosecuted."
On August 31, Hamas's armed wing, Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for an attack that killed four Israeli settlers in the Hebron area. The Palestinian Authority (PA) subsequently detained hundreds of people around Hebron who were suspected of Hamas ties.

Both Salhab and the other man were detained arbitrarily. Although Palestinian law requires that officials carrying out arrests present a warrant, arresting officials did not show a warrant either to Salhab or to the other man, M.B., the men told Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch said that the PA has been extremely lax in prosecuting security officials for torture and ill-treatment of detainees. In the only known prosecution, a Palestinian military court in July acquitted five General Intelligence Service officers from Hebron who allegedly tortured Haitham Amr to death in June 2009. Palestinian detainees registered 106 complaints of torture with the human rights commission from January through September 2010. Since June 2007, according to the commission, PA security services have allegedly been responsible for the deaths in custody of eight detainees in the West Bank.

Human Rights Watch met Salhab in a Hebron hospital on October 17 and reviewed his medical records from his 2008 detention, which indicated that several of his spinal discs had been torn. Human Rights Watch observed that Salhab apparently currently cannot walk or sit and that his right leg appears to be nearly paralyzed......

"A year after President Abbas was informed that this man had been tortured to the point of disability, Palestinian security services denied him medical care, tortured him again, and then detained him for days after he was essentially paralyzed by pain and fear," Stork said. "This revolting case is the clear result of the Palestinian Authority's failure to end impunity for abuse.".......

On September 30, Preventive Security agents moved M.B., together with six or seven other men, to Jericho prison, where he was put alone in an underground room without a mattress, and then questioned about a connection with Hamas. M.B. said that guards then took him to the prison's director, who told him that the prison "is a slaughter house," adding, "You will be slaughtered. We will take out your eyes and make you paralyzed. You will leave here on a gurney."

In August 2009 the PA's Interior Ministry responded to the deaths in custody of four detainees by issuing orders (Decision No. 149) prohibiting Preventive Security officials from "taking part in any kind of torture." Officials stated that 43 security service officials, including civil police, had been disciplined for abuses, but the officials did not publish any further information....."

Jewistan: Finally Recognizing Israel as the Jewish State

By Francis Boyle
Information Clearing House

"Netanyahu’s racist ultimatum would lead to the denationalization of the 1.5 million Palestinians who are already less than third-class citizens of Israel and set the stage for their mass expulsion to the Palestinian Bantustan envisioned by Netanyahu as the “final solution” to Zionism’s “demographic problem”....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Facing death on Gaza's border

"Three Palestinians have been shot and injured by Israeli troops in recent days while collecting rubble near the Gaza Strip's border with Israel.

Many young Palestinians scour the area to gather the bricks and stones from demolished homes to sell to help them scratch out a living.

A UN report says that at least 25 Palestinians have been killed and scores of others injured by Israeli gunfire along the border since last year. Doctors say about one-third of the victims are under the age of 18.

Human rights groups in Gaza and Israel have threatened to launch a legal challenge over what they describe as Israeli violations of the buffer zone.

Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba reports from Beit Hanoum in Gaza."

Al-Jazeera Video: US activist's family sue Israel

"A civil lawsuit brought by the parents of a US peace activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli forces bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in March 2003 has begun being heard in the Israeli city of Haifa.

The two drivers of the bulldozer that crushed Rachel Corrie to death will testify in court on Thursday, while the military commander in charge of the unit on the day will give evidence at a future date.

Rachel Corrie's family filed the private lawsuit against the state of Israel five years ago after an Israeli military investigation into the incident concluded that the soldiers operating the bulldozers could not see Rachel and closed the case."

Letter from Islamophobistan

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"The extreme right is more turbocharged than ever in scores of European cities. From France to Denmark, from Italy to Sweden, savvy populists are oversimplifying issues to the point that their take seems logical - as ammunition against mosques, minarets and headscarves. Throughout Europe, Islamophobia is gleefully practiced as an electoral business of fear......"

Dutch company raided over involvement in occupation

Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 20 October 2010

"Last week, the Dutch National Crime Squad raided and searched the headquarters of Riwal in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, following criminal complaints lodged by the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq. Riwal is a European company that makes large-scale cranes and access equipment for construction sites and has been involved in the construction of Israel's wall and settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Early morning on 13 October, more than forty detectives in plain clothes entered the Riwal building from different sides and ordered the staff to stay in the cafeteria as they conducted a thorough search for documents....

For more than four years a group of Dutch, Palestinian and Israeli organizations, parliamentarians, concerned individuals and lawyers worked together to document Riwal's activities and hold the company accountable. The raid of Riwal's offices by the Dutch public prosecutor shows the success of this cooperation and is likely to send a ripple though the European corporate community and may represent a tipping point in the financial and material support of European companies for Israel's occupation."

Video: Viva Palestina Convoy Finally Sets Sail For GAZA شريان الحياة تبحر الى غزة

Press TV

Such a Parcel o’ Rogues in a Nation

By Philip Giraldi

"Last Friday Condoleezza Rice visited the White House and reportedly had a long chat with President Barack Obama which included an extended discussion of foreign policy that "covered the waterfront." Afterwards, Rice commented approvingly that "there is still a foreign policy community that believes that foreign policy ought to be bipartisan." Rice, who is on a book promotion tour, described the problem exactly, though the word she should have used was "monolithic" rather than "bipartisan." The Obama Administration foreign policy is virtually indistinguishable from that of George W. Bush, whose heavy handed form of internationalism combined with regime change has brought calamity to the United States. Presumably Obama and Rice were able to congratulate each other on their ability to unite Republicans and Democrats in supporting a seamless vision of the world as it might be if only those poor heathen devils out there would learn to behave.....

And so it goes with Condoleezza Rice off on her book signing. No one is found guilty for starting an unnecessary war that has killed 4,425 Americans and many thousands of Iraqis. No one is punished or even tarnished by his or her role. On the contrary, all are, in fact, richly rewarded for their presumed dedication to their country. One can well presume that the old saw about every good deed being rewarded has been turned on its head in the US government, with only those guilty of crimes against humanity being considered for promotion. Can there be any wonder why ambitious people who are ethically challenged flock to start wars and torture for Uncle Sam? They know they will never be held accountable for anything they do and will reap the financial rewards that they think they deserve. Until that culture is eradicated by something like a Nuremberg trial demonstrating that no one is above the law the United States will continue to be a place that the rest of the world quite rightly regards as preaching respect for rules and values while rewarding just the opposite."

A colder, crueller country – for no gain

Cameron has revealed that his baby sleeps in a cardboard box decorated by her big sister. Thanks to him, a lot more people are going to be sleeping in cardboard boxes

By Johann Hari
The Independent

"Margaret Thatcher is lying sick in a private hospital bed in Belgravia but her political children have just pushed her agenda further and harder and deeper than she ever dreamed of. When was the last time Britain's public spending was slashed by more than 20 per cent? Not in my mother's lifetime. Not even in my grandmother's lifetime. No, it was in 1918, when a Conservative-Liberal coalition said the best response to a global economic crisis was to rapidly pay off this country's debts. The result? Unemployment soared from 6 per cent to 19 per cent, and the country's economy collapsed so severely that they lost all ability to pay their bills and the debt actually rose from 114 per cent to 180 per cent. "History doesn't repeat itself," Mark Twain said, "but it does rhyme."......"

Justice, even for princes

Britain's conviction of a Saudi prince for the murder of his servant has inspired Saudi Arabians longing for impartial justice

Ali al-Ahmed, Wednesday 20 October 2010

"The prince is guilty of murder. That was the verdict rendered against the Saudi prince, Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Saud, regarding the death of his servant, Bandar Abdulaziz. It is a victory for the people of Saudi Arabia who, for the first time in their lives, can see a "blueblood" royal held accountable for his actions against a commoner.

His trial at the Old Bailey sent a strong message that a Saudi prince and a pauper are the same in the eyes of the law in Britain, and that British justice is superior to the Saudi court system, which claims to uphold Islamic standards.

Many Saudis are cheering the verdict: they know that if this murder had occurred in Saudi Arabia, the killer would not have seen a single day in prison. The victim in this case had no hopes of receiving justice in his homeland, but the British court has upheld the fundamental principle of equality under law......"

Egyptian government fears a Facebook revolution

The talk about banning Facebook is only the surface of a greater crackdown on independent media by an insecure government

Osama Diab, Thursday 21 October 2010

"Many Egyptians, in what is still a police state, regard Facebook as a safe haven where they can campaign and express their opinions freely. But that could soon change following a crackdown by the authorities against various types of media.

In Egypt, many opposition movements have either started or have grown significantly on Facebook, most notably the April 6 youth movement and the national campaign to support Nobel peace prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei as a presidential candidate.....

The recent media crackdown – and the talk of "regulating" Facebook in Egypt – is an indicator that the regime does not have the slightest intention of playing the political game fairly and freely. The crackdown is fed by the regime's insecurity as it loses public support. With such lack of popularity, the regime has to choose between losing and cheating – and losing doesn't sound like a viable option.

It won't be surprising if the government tries to link some criminal incidents with the use of Facebook in order to gain support for regulation – for example, by making it a crime to start a political group on Facebook....

The suggestion of a ban on Facebook shows that the regime is worried of any medium that shows real trends and statistics in Egypt that they have no control over. It's also because the regime is definitely losing the Facebook numbers game....."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Red Hot France; Tepid Britain

A Tale of Two Nations


"France is grinding to a standstill as millions of workers and students erupt in the streets at the government’s prposal to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. Across the Channel, the new Tory Chancellor has announced savage cuts in public expenditures that will slice away more than a million jobs, drive workers out of south east England and doom the country to years of austerity (unequally imposed, bien sur.) Yet the response has been muted.....

There is growing bitterness and growing anger in England, too, but not much else so far. It could change. The French epidemic could spread, but nothing will happen from above. Young and old fought against Thatcher and lost. Her New Labor successors made sure that the defeats she inflicted were institutionalized....."

Obama Hires a Hustler

By Robert Scheer

"Behind the wonderfully engaging smile of this president there is the increasingly disturbing suggestion of a cynical power-grabbing politician whose swift rise in power reflects less the earnestness of his message and far more the skills of a traditional political hack....."


"After a wait in Syria lasting sixteen days, the convoy of 150 vehicles and 370 people is just setting sail from Latakia, Syria, on the final leg of the epic journey to deliver aid to Gaza. The last formalities have been completed and the vehicles are on board.

Convoy members are jubilant that their objective of bringing medical aid to the besieged people of Gaza is finally in sight. Some 30 of the human rights activists, including survivors of the Mavi Marmara, will make the voyage to Al Arish in Egypt, passing the place at which the Mavi Marmara was attacked.

A memorial ceremony will be held at the exact spot where the massacre was carried out. The convoy will reach Al Arish tomorrow evening.

The bulk of the activists from Britain, Northern Ireland, France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United States, Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Qatar, Malaysia and more than a dozen other countries will be reunited with their vehicles there, having flown the final leg of the journey into Egypt. Convoy leaders are now hopeful that the convoy will enter Gaza on Friday. "

Gag Tightens on Media Ahead of Elections

By Cam McGrath

"CAIRO, Oct 20, 2010 (IPS) - Media watchdogs see the "invisible hand" of the ruling party behind a string of firings and resignations that have removed some of Egypt's most prominent government critics from their soapboxes just weeks before parliamentary elections.

"Oblique threats and backroom deals that are not visibly linked to the government have started silencing some of Egypt's most critical independent voices," says Mohamed Abdel Dayem, Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists......"

Foreign Policy and the Midterms

The silence is deafening

by Justin Raimondo, October 20, 2010

"The United States is currently fighting two wars, and a third one in Pakistan that is as yet unacknowledged – and yet, with the midterm elections coming up in a matter of a few weeks, we don’t hear anything about this from the candidates. Why is that?

Three reasons, the first being the old adage, attributed to noted turncoat “isolationist”-cum-interventionist Arthur Vandenberg, that “politics stops at the water’s edge.” ......

As it is, however, politicians of both parties are content to give the military the lion’s share and dole out the crumbs to the rest of us, and get us to fighting among ourselves for the choicest morsels, like starving prisoners inveigling the warden for an extra portion of porridge.

The war question, however, isn’t going away. As the economic crisis puts everything on the table – after all, a bankrupt empire must either shrink, or go into foreclosure – the evasions of our “leaders” will prove insufficient. The laws of economics are the weapons of mass destruction that will get us in the end."
Why Bother with Sculpture?
Just Spray His Comatose Corpse with Thin Plaster of Paris.
It Will Harden Fast, and Voila!
It is a Lot Cheaper!

Lebanon – land of phantom oil deals, spies and political murder

Robert Fisk on the real story behind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent visit

"....And the dark spectre of Iranian oil men drilling the Mediterranean seabed 70 miles north of the Israeli border is also illusory. French and Norwegian companies have done much of the drilling in Iran; the refining has been carried out by French and Italian companies. Now the Russians and Chinese are doing the same job in Iran. The idea that Tehran would furnish cash to pay Moscow and Peking to explore reserves off Lebanon is close to fantasy.

So why on earth did the Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and the Lebanese Energy Minister Gebran Bassil sit down to sign those 17 agreements a week ago? Herein lies a tale. For it just so happens that Mr Bassil is the son-in-law of the Christian Maronite ex-general Michel Aoun whose political party long ago aligned itself with Syria and Iran. In Lebanon, its Christian supporters have thus found themselves an ally of Hizbollah and in opposition to the majority government of the Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

On the surface, this makes sense. Aoun is helping the Iranians to move into the Lebanese economy. But right now, the ex-general has a few other things on his mind. For a start, three of the team of alleged spies for Israel arrested by the Lebanese army over the past nine months have turned out to be working for Aoun's party. And this "spy ring" is supposed to have been involved in amassing data within the Lebanese communications system. Indeed, one of them was a senior official in Lebanon's largest mobile telephone network...."

Sarkozy came to power on a mission to change a nation. He has failed

By John Lichfield
The Independent

"President Nicolas Sarkozy came to power three years ago planning not just to reform France but to mess with, and change, the country's mind. Like Margaret Thatcher in Britain in the 1980s, he set out to create a more enterprising, can-do country; less obsessed with acquired rights and traditions and prepared to unleash its own latent creativity and to "work harder to earn more".

Whatever the outcome of the present dispute, it seems that Mr Sarkozy has already lost this battle. Millions of people took to the French streets yesterday.....

Whose fault is that? Mostly it is Mr Sarkozy's fault. There was a mood for real change in the country after his election in May 2007. But this has been frittered away by the President on a series of half-hearted and disconnected reforms which have often seemed to favour the rich. Having promised the French a government that would be all about Vous, he has delivered a presidency which has often been about Moi.

Worse may be still to come. The more militant, or more mindless, protests have no coherent leadership, no realistic objectives and could yet spin out of control. Mr Sarkozy will not back down but he could decide to crack down – with unforeseeable consequences."