Saturday, April 3, 2010

Israeli Peace Plan, by Carlos Latuff

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Al-Jazeera Video: UN helps free Gaza of Israeli bombs

"More than a year after Israel's military offensive in Gaza, many Palestinians in the territory are still being killed or injured by unexploded bombs and mortars left behind.

A UN bomb disposal team is now working to help clear the region of the danger.

The team's leader says they have found traces of white phosphorous - a highly toxic chemical compound - in some of the explosives.

Casey Kauffman reports from Gaza on the highly challenging UN mission."

Al-Jazeera Video: Jerusalem ban angers Christians

"Thousands of Palestinian pilgrims are celebrating Easter week's fire ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - which is built on Christianity's holiest shrine in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, thousands of Christians in the occupied West Bank are not being allowed to attend the rituals because all Palestinians in the territory have been banned by Israel from visiting the Holy city."

Deja Vu All Over Again; Following the Fatah Footsteps!

Confirmed: A US sanctioned meeting with Hamas in Doha

By Clayton Swisher

"On February 23rd a US foreign service officer named Rachel Schneller appeared on a panel with Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan, right here in Doha, at a Forum I attended that was hosted by the Al Jazeera Cente for Strategic Studies.

According to today's Wall Street Journal, she acknowledged sitting with Hamdan afterwards for a friendly cup of tea, in a meeting that had the blessing of her superiors back at the US state department. Now that is news......

could not believe my eyes this morning at the Al Jazeera Centre for Strategic Studies conference on Political Islam. Perusing the programme I noticed a panel that included Hamas politburo member and spokesman Osama Hamdan alongside my friend and fellow blogger Steve Clemons.

But what made my eyes pop out was the panel's inclusion of Rachel Schneller, an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations AND commissioned US Foreign Service Officer. ....."

Reporters Without Borders:“Palestinian Journalists Repeatedly Targeted By Israel”

"Reporters Without Borders reported that the Israeli army is violating the freedom of press in the occupied territories and repeatedly opened fire at them. At least eight Palestinian reporters were wounded by Israeli army fire in March, in the West Bank and in Jerusalem...."

Normalization? Emirates airlines advertises on website of Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot. #BDS

By Ali Abunimah

"An ad I captured from the Ynet website, which belongs to the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot. Is this a sign of normalization? Emirates is the airline of the United Arab Emirates. Ironically, that is where Dubai is located, and where dozens of Israelis using stolen identities are alleged to have carried out the murder of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh."

“Coalition to Break the Blockade on Gaza Announced”

Written by Free Gaza Team 03 April 2010

"Istanbul, Turkey – Following months of preparation, a coalition bringing together a number of organizations and movements working to break Israel’s illegal blockade on Gaza was announced yesterday in Istanbul. The coalition, comprised of the Turkey-based IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi) organization, the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG), the Greek Ship to Gaza campaign, the Swedish Ship to Gaza campaign and the Free Gaza Movement, will launch a flotilla of ships laden with cargo, media, parliamentarians, celebrities and activists to Gaza next month.

The flotilla includes at least eight vessels, including three cargo ships, and will set sail from European ports beginning May 3, reaching the port of Gaza later in the month. Over 500 passengers from more than 20 countries will take part, and 5,000 tons of cargo, including cement, prefabricated housing, other building materials, medical equipment, and educational supplies will be delivered to Palestinians in Gaza.

The Free Gaza Movement has been launching ships to Gaza since August 2008, partnering with organizations and activists around the world on these missions. In December 2009, IHH led a land convoy to Gaza that brought tons of humanitarian aid and other supplies. In January 2010 the European Campaign brought 50 parliamentarians to Gaza in solidarity with the Palestinian people and to witness the devastation wrought by Israel’s illegal policies. Ship to Gaza/Greece and Ship to Gaza/Sweden meanwhile have had ongoing campaigns in their countries to raise awareness and funds for this effort and for materials to be brought to Gaza......"

Israel Gags News on Extra-Judicial Killings

By Mel Frykberg

RAMALLAH, Apr 2, 2010 (IPS) - An Israeli journalist remains under house arrest and another lives abroad, after they broke news on Israeli undercover units carrying out assassinations or "targeted killings" of non-combatant Palestinian political opponents.

Anat Kam, 23, who used to work for the Israeli news site ‘Walla’, was arrested last December for allegedly copying secret Israeli Defence Force (IDF) documents during her compulsory military service.

These documents outlined how Israeli assassination squads would plan the killing of Palestinian political leaders and fighters months beforehand and then pass their deaths off as "mishaps" during "failed" attempts to arrest them.

Uri Blau, a reporter from the daily ‘Haaretz’, then wrote a piece on the copied documents and is refusing to return to Israel from Britain fearing that Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, will arrest him if he does.

Due to a military gag order the news has remained suppressed even as Israeli journalists fight the suppression order in court.

The news was broken several days ago by Donald McIntyre from Britain’s ‘Independent’ [Posted here on PP ]......"

The Bomb-Bomb-Iran 'Parlor Game'

By Robert Parry
April 2, 2010

"Normally, if two countries with powerful nuclear arsenals were openly musing about attacking a third country over mere suspicions that it might want to join the nuclear club, we’d tend to sympathize with the non-nuclear underdog as the victim of bullying and possible aggression.

You might think that – unless you were told that the two nuclear-armed countries are Israel and the United States and the non-nuclear country is Iran. Then, different rules apply, especially it seems in leading American news outlets like the New York Times.....

It would seem that if the Times truly wanted to provide an objective assessment of the Iranian nuclear issue – including Tehran’s possible motives for wanting a nuclear bomb – the Times would routinely make reference to the region's rogue nuclear states of Israel, India and Pakistan.
That the Times typically ignores that key fact suggests the Times sees its journalism on Iran as similar to its credulous reporting about Iraq’s non-existent WMD in 2002-03, more as propaganda than as a fair-minded presentation of the relevant facts."

Fayyad's Subversion of Right of Return

A Very Good Comment

By Iqbal Jassat – Pretoria
Palestine Chronicle

"A tweet on twitter by the editor of the Electronic Intifada Ali Abunimah 'Fayyad just gave away your right of return' alerted me to access the link and discover that indeed, the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister has done the unforgivable.

In an interview with Akiva Eldar of Haaretz, Fayyad made the following comment in response to question about refugees: “Of course, Palestinians would have the right to reside within the State of Palestine”.

The Palestinian State he refers to is what many analysts have come to regard as no different to apartheid South Africa’s version of “independent homelands” for blacks, commonly referred to as “Bantustans”. It is within the confines of this oxymoron that he envisions the return of refugees – not to the land from where they were forcibly uprooted!

This is a blatant subversion of a fundamental right of Palestinians in the diaspora, millions of whom have been living in miserable conditions for more than sixty years as stateless refugees. Their right to return – guaranteed by International Conventions – has remained sacrosanct.

As Abunimah correctly tweets, Fayyad has no right to waive away the hopes and aspirations of victims of a terrible ordeal perpetrated by the founders of the illegitimate state of Israel through massacres and ethnic cleansing. These brutal policies have remained and been applied at regular intervals by successive Zionist leaders. Both the colonial foundations and apartheid character of Israel testify to its illegitimacy. Dispossession and dismemberment resulting from the enforcement of colonial practices paved the way for a migrant population of European Jews to establish a Jewish state on the ruins of Palestine.

Now in one sentence, the darling of America Salam Fayyad desires to not only obliterate the memory of the Nakba, but also to reward those in possession of stolen loot! .......

Settler expansion in Occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank is at an all time high, despite warnings by Obama. Evidence of Israel’s defiance is visible in the frenzied activities of giant cranes and military bulldozers. Yet Fayyad seems to consider Israeli leaders as partners with integrity.

By cautioning Netanyahu not to succumb to “settlers”, he seems oblivious of the fact that entire Israel is a huge settlement! It is this mass of land that many historians and solidarity activists regard as colonized Palestine awaiting liberation and to which refugees are anxious to return."

Spare me the academics who only want a 'safe, positive space'

I put my medium bomber squadron on alert to defend the English language

By Robert Fisk

".....The University of Ottawa – an institution I had the pleasure of addressing only last year – is currently sinking into a slough of despond over a lady called Ann Coulter, a right-wing ranter of the Fox News/internet-raver/hate variety that now dominates the Republican party in America. After the international crimes against humanity of 11 September 2001, she said that the West should invade all Muslim countries and force their inhabitants to become Christians. In other words, she's a pretty nasty piece of work. Not long ago, she even suggested that Muslims should not be allowed to fly – because they could always travel by magic carpet or camel. Cute, sensitive, childlike humour. Got it?

Anyway, Coulter was booked to talk at Ottawa but received an email of such pomposity from the university's provost, M. François Houle, that students took their cue to protest at her presence; her "security" men decided she should cancel her appearance. When I left Ottawa this week, she was still pushing up the headlines.

So let's take a look at the preposterous M. Houle. In an email to Coulter – why he couldn't write a proper letter, I have no idea – he quoth: "I hereby encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here. Promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges." Note here the linguistic giveaways. "Hereby" – indeed! Houle, the legalistic town crier. Then "to educate yourself" – the implication, of course, is that Coulter is a drop-out. "Inappropriate." Oh my God, yes, we've got to behave in an "appropriate" way, haven't we, in our nice happy-clappy liberal society? And then the killer: "criminal charges". Yup, M. Houle is a thought-policeman. "'Criminal", mark you. Wow!.....

O lordy, lordy. Weasel words – and universities are full of weasels – have sharp teeth. They bring out the wolves. And wolves have sharp teeth, too. I think I'm safer back in the Middle East."

The Sole, "Legitimate" Representative of Over 10 Million Palestinians?
What a Farcical End to the Struggle of 3 Generations of Palestinians!

Would the Last Palestinian to Leave, Turn Off the Lights!

No Tea Parties for Bibi

"The political and ideological love affair between Netanyahu and the neocons goes back to the Reagan presidency and the final years of the Cold War, when Bibi served as Israel’s representative to the United Nations and then as ambassador to the United States. Members of the first generation of the neoconservative movement – including the likes of Richard Perle, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Elliott Abrams, Kenneth Adelman, and Max Kampelman – were occupying top foreign-policy positions in the administration. For Israel’s ruling Likud Party, the policies of the Republican Party seemed to offer the country time to consolidate its hold on the West Bank and Gaza as it encouraged a receptive Washington to view the Arab-Israeli conflict through a Cold War lens."

Surprise, Surprise!....“US, Israel See Eye to Eye on Iran”


"03/04/2010 The United States and Israel are fully in sync when it comes to Iran, a senior member of the US National Security Council told Jewish leaders in Washington Friday.

The official, who according to Politico, was Dan Shapiro, Director for Near East Affairs at the National Security Council, assured the leaders that Iran is the National Security Council's top priority and that the US is adamant to prevent Iran from obtaining “nuclear weapons.”

The meeting between Shapiro and Jewish community heads in the US took place following recent tensions between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Shapiro added that there was no crisis between Washington and Tel Aviv, saying that American criticism on Israel "makes for attractive news," and adding that the US equally criticizes “Palestinian incitement”.

When asked about possible sanctions against Iran, Shapiro said that the US was close to achieving the necessary consensus within the UN Security Council. Shapiro said that sanction were unlikely to compel Tehran to cease its nuclear efforts, but added he believed “they would demonstrate – to both the leaders and people in Iran – that the Islamic Republic would have to pay a heavy price if it continues on its current path.”

As for the persistent rumors of a crisis between Washington and Tel Aviv over construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, Shapiro said that "there is no crisis. Media reports are wrong… there is more agreement than disagreement." Reports suggesting Washington was considering cutting back on its aid to Israel were also wrong, he said, stressing that the subject was not up for debate.

The administration, he told the Jewish leaders, wants to reignite the Israeli-Palestinian so-called peace process and Israel's actions in occupied east Jerusalem introduced a difficult reality. Nevertheless, the relations between the two remain as solid as ever and any reports of tensions "were exaggerated." Both countries, concluded Shapiro, see eye to eye on most issues."

Ahmadinejad warns Israel against second Gaza war

Press TV

"....On Thursday, a single Qassam rocket landed near the Israeli town of Ashkelon on Thursday and caused some minor damages but no casualties.

Although the Palestinian Resistance movement of Hamas did not claim responsibility for the attack, Israel nevertheless responded to the incident by carrying out six waves of air raids overnight.

"If this rocket fire against Israel does not stop … it will force us to launch another military operation," Shalom told public radio.

Hamas has emphasized that it is looking to calm the situation. In an April 1 phone conversation with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the Chairman of Hamas Political Bureau Khaled Mashaal said: "Hamas is not interested in the escalation of tensions and is taking corresponding measures to prevent missile strikes from the Gaza," reported ITAR-Tass News Agency.

President Ahmadinejad, in a formal speech at the inauguration of the Middle East's biggest iron ore pellet factory in the southern city of Sirjan, warned Israel against making plans for a new offensive against Gazans, who are still reeling from the devastating attack by Tel Aviv two years ago.

They are looking for an excuse to attack Gaza. What I want to say to Zionists and their supporters is 'enough with the crimes. Do not make your load [of sin] even heavier than it is'. The president said "the myth of an undefeatable Israel was over," adding that Tel Aviv was only trying to maintain its image of a dreaded power to sustain its existence. "They had created the illusion in everyone's mind that they (the Zionists) can not be defeated. But that myth was shattered after the regime suffered two defeats, once in southern Lebanon and later on in Gaza," he explained. "Now, they are trying to make up [for those defeats], as they know that they will reach the end if they lose the awe attributed to them and if regional nations no longer fear them."

Ahmadinejad condemned Israel's continued crimes in Palestine and Lebanon, stressing that the Tel Aviv regime is the sole obstacle to the establishment of peace and security in the region.

Referring to Israel's use of foreign passports to assassinate senior Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, Ahmadinejad said Israel has “clearly been given carte blanche by Western powers “to commit whatever crime it pleases and violate whatever law it deems necessary.”....."


It is worthy of note that not a single "Arab" leader, including the stooge Abbas, has warned Israel against a new Gaza attack. What does that say?

Friday, April 2, 2010

China and Israel, a growing relationship

Autumn in Shanghai by Gilad Atzmon
"Zionism, as we learn from Herzl and his too many followers, is all about tracing the bond between the Jewish national interests and world dominating powers. China is no doubt the rising power; it is in fact a rising sensation. In just one week in China I saw for myself the intensity of the Israeli activity on the ground.

As we all know, some naive peace activists around put all their cards on a possible growing rift between Israel and the USA. They forget that Israel can easily change its leagues as they did rather often in the past. Israel is always building relationships with rising powers. The Israelis have already invested some enormous energy on India and China.

A lot of China's success story is because it is run by a very unique People’s party political system. It is a miracle because it somehow manages to restrain hard capitalism with a unique socially orientated system. It is a big question whether there is room in this system to accommodate Israel, a bourgeoisie nationalist philosophy based on racial supremacy and choseness in general."

"Palestinian" Herzl to HAARETZ: We will have a state next year

"RAMALLAH - Next year, "the birth of a Palestinian state will be celebrated as a day of joy by the entire community of nations," says Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in an exclusive interview to Haaretz.

Relaying Passover greetings to the Jewish community, Fayyad hopes Israelis will also participate in the celebrations for the birth of a new state.

"The time for this baby to be born will come," he says, "and we estimate it will come around 2011. That is our vision, and a reflection of our will to exercise our right to live in freedom and dignity in the country [where] we are born, alongside the State of Israel in complete harmony," says Fayyad, 58......

Fayyad says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has succumbed to the settlers who, he says, do not reflect the vision of the majority of Israelis. "We have universally shared values," he says, and notes that "peace will be made between equals, not between masters and slaves."

Fayyad, who has positioned himself at the forefront of popular opposition to occupation, criticizes Israel's policies on protests at Bil'in and Na'alin and for targeting demonstrators. "It is expecting too much of Palestinians not to react," he says.

"It is the right of an oppressed nation to say 'enough'," says Fayyad. "No one should be expected to stand for injustice, not least the Palestinians, who have endured long decades of occupation. Is it not what Gandhi stood for, what Martin Luther King stood for?....

"Related to the Zionist ethos, fine, Israel is a biblical country, there are lots of hilltops, lots of vacant space, why don't they use that, and let us get on with it?"

Q: Are the American demands of Israel moving us in the right direction? Do you agree with the argument that putting an end to our conflict will help to contain Iran?

A: "The conflict of the region is not about us at all; it's between radicals and moderates. It is clear to me that ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is an American national interest. The world should be able to do what they want to do to help - in their own interest as well but they can't do it.

"The issue should not be looked at as if the United States wants to take a position, it is doing so to favor the Palestinians, at the expense of Israelis. And for the U.S. to succeed it should not be the other way around, either. Basically, for the world to succeed in helping us get to where we want, both sides should be held accountable.....

Q: Can you build a Palestinian state as long as Hamas controls Gaza and you are not able to hold elections?

A. "People in Gaza are looking at us as well, and saying they also want to have a better life......

Q: What are you doing to stop incitement against Israel?

A: Incitement can take the form of many things - things said, things done, provocations - but there are ways for dealing with this. We are dealing with this. " .....

Q: Your plan takes into consideration the need to absorb refugees.

A: Of course, Palestinians would have the right to reside within the State of Palestine[Translation: NO RIGHT OF RETURN!]. "

Israeli Court Decides Not To File Charges Against Soldier Who Killed Nonviolent Protestor in Bil’in

(Photo: Bassem Abu Rahma after he was shot, last April)

"Despite a video clearly showing the death of Bassem Abu Rahma, who was shot in the chest by a gas bomb, an Israeli court decided Thursday that the killing that took place during a nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall in Ni’lin near Ramallah, was not intentional.

The brother of Abu Rahma slammed the decision and said it comes to give the soldiers more chances to continue the killing of innocent, nonviolent protestors. The soldier will not face any charges, and will be allowed to resume his military service as if nothing happened.

Bassem Abu Rahma, 31, was killed in April of last year. Israeli and International peace activists were also at the scene.

The Israeli army claimed that Abu Rahma and other protestors were throwing stones at the soldiers, yet the video footage clearly shows him shouting at the soldiers asking them not to open fire. “rega, rega, catzin” the Hebrew words Abu Rahma told the soldiers… “officer… officer… wait.. listen..”.

The Israeli court disregarded the facts and decided to close all investigations in the issue, and decided that the gas bomb fired by the army was not intentionally aimed at Abu Rahma.

This decision disregarded the fact that the soldiers did not have to open fire at the protestors to start with as they were not under attack, and the nonviolent protestors were on the other side of a barbed-wire fence installed by the army.

Bil’in in the scene of weekly nonviolent protests against the illegal Israeli Annexation Wall and settlements. Israeli and International peace activists join the residents in their protests in Bil’in and in several other Palestinian villages in the West Bank......

In July of 2008, Ashraf was detained by Israeli soldiers during a nonviolent protest in the nearby village of Ni’lin, and after he was cuffed and blindfolded a soldier, standing next to him, pointed his gun at his leg and shot him with a rubber-coated bullet.

The shooting of Ashraf was also caught on tape by a young Palestinian girl. Israeli soldiers kidnapped her father later on as a punishment just for exposing the crime.

Commenting on his brother’s death, Ashraf said that hundreds witnessed the attack, and heard Bassem call out to the soldier asking him to hold his fire, but the soldier shot him while he was only six meters (nearly 20 feet)away.

Ashraf stated that the family will file an appeal to the Israeli High Court of Justice, and should it also fail to achieve justice, the family would resort to the International Court.....

Video: The Shooting of Ashraf Abu Rahma
Video: The Fatal Shooting of Bassem Abu Rahma"

Abbas' Humiliating Plea

Resuce Me


"........Although the feckless Arab League routinely depends on lofty rhetoric to make itself appear relevant, one would assume the Palestinian leadership had long seen past its platitudes and hollow promises. Unfortunately, their misplaced trust was again evident in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ opening speech.

As Agence France-Presse reported, “Abbas echoed widespread concern that the Middle East peace process was in peril and urged his Arab peers to ‘rescue’ Jerusalem.”


With little to show for a presidential term long since expired, Abbas was in truth asking his fellow Arab leaders to not only “rescue” Jerusalem, but his failed presidency as well. Indeed, one disastrous pitfall into which nearly all Palestinian leaders have fallen is the belief that a savior among the Arabs will come to “rescue” them.

Have they failed to notice how half-heartedly Arab heads-of-state had taken up their cause? Or hijacked it to suit their domestic political agendas? Were the decades of vacuous rhetoric insufficient in demonstrating their assistance was unreliable and untrustworthy?......

How can any Palestinian civilian or official therefore rely on Arab rulers to help “rescue” Jerusalem when they passively watched as Lebanon and Gaza were viciously attacked? While their mosques, schools, hospitals, airports, municipal buildings, bridges, roads, water treatment plants and food storage facilities were destroyed?

Some will say that countries like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia had their own agendas against Hezbollah and Hamas, and were clearly hoping for their imminent collapse. And that is the point: if “agendas” of the Arab states took precedence over the welfare of the Lebanese or Gaza’s Palestinians, what will make those residing in East Jerusalem or the West Bank any different?

Abbas naively hopes Arab League countries will come to Jerusalem’s “rescue” while Egypt abets the inhumane siege of Gaza by keeping its Rafah crossing closed—and hardly a one objects. Similarly, the underground barrier being constructed along Egypt’s border with Gaza is being lauded by the Israelis.....

So let Jerusalem’s Palestinians distance themselves from the indignity Abbas brings by calling on those who long ago sold out their cause and shamelessly abandoned Lebanon and Gaza. Let them repudiate a leadership that has been complicit in the very Israeli expansionism now condemned in exchange for staying in the good graces of the United States. Let them recognize that all they have endured under Israeli occupation makes Abbas’ plea to “rescue” them nothing but humiliating."

Real News Video with Transcript: Activist leaders targeted in E.Jerusalem

Police target activist leaders who protest settler takeovers in Sheikh Jarrah (E.J'slem) in recent weeks

More at The Real News

"In recent weeks, municipal police in Jerusalem have been targeting key activists who fight against the settler take-overs of Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah. A neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah has hosted weekly protests for nearly a year by a broad coalition of Israelis and Palestinians. Saleh Abo Dayeb was among the leaders who was recently arrested. Police claimed he pushed back a settler who attempted to photograph him and that in this supposed attack he committed a terrorist act against the state of Israel. The judge found no evidence that Abo Dayeb was even involved in the alleged altercation. A week later, Mikhael Solsbury, one of the key Jewish solidarity activists was also arrested due to his involvement in organizing the weekly protests. In his case the judge also found no evidence and again noted police misconduct. The Real News' Lia Tarachansky spoke to activists, lawyers, settlers, and residents of Sheikh Jarrah to understand the struggle and the recent repression."

Out From the Shadows

AIPAC confronts its worst fear: daylight.

By Philip Weiss

"....Mearsheimer says that the spell has been broken among well-informed Americans: “AIPAC will surely remain a powerful lobbying organization in the short term, but it is hard to see how it can maintain its present level of influence over the long term. Not only is it trying to sell flawed merchandise—the special relationship—but it now operates out in the open in ways that can only reduce its effectiveness.”

Ironically, he now believes less in the lobby’s power than the lobby itself. When Netanyahu dares to defy U.S. policy on the settlements and his American hosts give him standing ovations, they are all betting that Israel’s friends in Congress and the media will be able to defy presidential policy as in days past. It’s a reasonable bet. The lockstep of Schumer and Howard Berman and Henry Waxman and other so-called liberals on AIPAC’s Iran agenda reminds us that the Jewish establishment is committed to the Jewish claim to an undivided Jerusalem and is mixed on giving up land in the West Bank. Even J Street, the alternative Israel lobby, which boldly supported Obama against Netanyahu, has been lukewarm in its criticism of Israel’s colonization project.

What about the bet on Obama? “Everyone in this city is wondering that,” says Matt Duss of the Center for American Progress. “He played a successful long game with healthcare. Is he going to make clear what American interests are?”

The bad news from AIPAC is that the Jewish community is so wedded to Jim Crow in Palestine that it won’t offer Obama much support. That is quite a comedown for an American group long associated with freethinking and minority rights. But the good news is that this Jewish tragedy doesn’t have to be an American one."

Glossy new front in battle for hearts and minds

Once it was grainy video footage on websites. Now the Taliban believes its best chance of winning the propaganda war lies in a magazine

By Robert Fisk

"....The propaganda wing of the Taliban calls itself the "Information and Cultural Department" which is run by Abdul Hai Mutmain from Zabul. He was once head of the Taliban's "information department" in Kandahar where, though not a minister, he was close to the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar. "The Americans say they came to save Afghanistan from war," Abu Ahmed continues. "But this war is only harvesting our civilians. The Americans are coming with their war planes and killing civilians. The Americans see everything from the sky – surely they can tell the difference between two or three cars of civilians and military targets? So this means they are either doing it deliberately or they do not know how to fight."

And as the peacock on the lawn tries to attack the remains of our food, Abu Ahmed adds his own personal warning. "My father and grandfather told me: 'You have to fight the Russians'. Now I tell my son: 'You must fight the Americans'. The first thing we teach our children is 'Allah'. The second is fighting the Americans. As for the British, they are making the same mistakes they made before – they will experience a second Maiwand."

Afghan forces routed a British army at Maiwand in the Second Afghan War. Only later, however, does Abu Ahmed tell me that his son is just three years old. By the time he grows up, I ask him, doesn't he think the Nato forces will have left Afghanistan? In return, I get a thin-lipped smile and a raising of eyebrows. I suspect that means they will be staying."

Video: The Story of Palestine from A to X

Contributed by Fatima

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sweden's main pension funds drops Israeli company

STOCKHOLM — Israel says it is "regrettable" that Sweden's main pension funds dropped an Israeli company from their portfolios because it provides surveillance equipment to the West Bank barrier.

The Swedish AP funds dropped Elbit Systems Ltd. on the recommendation of their ethical council, which noted that Sweden and the European Union consider the barrier a violation of international law.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Shachar Arieli on Thursday said the barrier was built to save lives.

The decision follows a similar move by Norway's main pension fund last year.

Elbit provides surveillance equipment for the separation barrier between Israel and the West Bank.

Fighting Iranian fire with fire


"Prof. Anthony H. Cordesman is considered a leading strategic expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. A few days ago he and another scholar, Abdullah Toukan, published a new study entitled "Options in Dealing with Iran's Nuclear Program." This is a study over 200 pages in length, which discusses Iran's nuclear program, the way the Iranian nuclear threat is perceived by the United States, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel, and possible reactions of each of these states. The study concludes that, "if all peaceful options have been exhausted and Iran has left no other means to convince it to stop or change its course in pursuing nuclear weapons, the U.S. is the only country that can launch a successful military strike." But the report also examines the military options of the other players, such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and surveys their military power.

The chapter dealing with Israel discusses two possible scenarios: One is an Israeli attack with conventional weapons by planes, and by the launching of Jericho ground-to-ground missiles, ballistic missiles and missiles launched from Dolphin submarines. Another scenario is using nuclear warheads to attack deeply buried nuclear facilities in Iran. According to the report, "Some believe that nuclear weapons are the only weapons that can destroy targets deep underground or in tunnels," the way some of the Iranian nuclear sites were constructed (for example, the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom)....."

Some Stupid Palestinians Wishing Their Jailer and Tormentor Well! فلسطينيون يحتشدون على الحدود مع مصر لتهنئة مبارك على سلامته

فلسطينيون يحتشدون على الحدود مع مصر لتهنئة مبارك على سلامته

"غزة- احتشد عشرات الفلسطينيين قبالة الحدود بين قطاع غزة ومصر الأربعاء لتقديم التهنئة للرئيس حسني مبارك بنجاح العملية الجراحية التي خضع لها قبل حوالي ثلاثة أسابيع في ألمانيا، وعودته إلى مصر.
كما طالبوا بالإفراج عن المعتقلين الفلسطينيين في السجون المصرية.

ورفع الفلسطينيون، بدعوة من (اللجان الشعبية) في قطاع غزة، الأعلام المصرية والفلسطينية وصور للرئيس مبارك ولافتات تؤكد عمق العلاقة بين الشعبين، وأخرى تحث القاهرة على تكثيف جهودها من أجل إنجاز المصالحة الفلسطينية، ورفع الحصار عن قطاع غزة.

وطالب متحدث باسم اللجان الرئيس مبارك بالتدخل العاجل للإفراج عن المعتقلين الفلسطينيين في السجون المصرية للحفاظ على الوئام والتلاحم التاريخي بين الشعبين الفلسطيني والمصري.

وقال: ندعو للرئيس مبارك بدوام الصحة والعافية ونحن نتقدم لمصر وكل شعبها بالتهنئة بمناسبة سلامة الرئيس وعودته إلى وطنه غانما سالما متأملين منه أن يبادر للإفراج عن أبنائنا المعتقلين.

وأضاف: كلنا أمل أن يستجيب الرئيس مبارك والحكومة المصرية للإفراج عن كافة المعتقلين الفلسطينيين وإنهاء معاناتهم.

وأكدت حركة حماس التي تسيطر على قطاع غزة إن مصر تعتقل في سجونها 24 فلسطينيا، بعضهم أمضوا أكثر من خمسة أعوام في السجن.

وأغلب هذه الاعتقالات التي تقول القاهرة إنها جاءت على خلفيات أمنية، جرت إبان اجتياز آلاف الفلسطينيين الحدود بين قطاع غزة ومصر وعبورهم الأراضي المصرية، قبل عامين.


This item shows the mendacity and lack of principle on the part of Hamas and the so-called "popular committees" which it backs in Gaza.

These "committees" sent a few dozen Palestinian women with flags and pictures of the Pharaoh to the fence of the Gaza ghetto. To do what? To wish their tormentor and jailer Pharaoh well and to congratulate him (and Egypt) on his recovery!

Angry Arab Interviews Comrade Madawi Al-Rasheed

"This is the second Angry Arab interview in the series. More will follow. Here are the answers by comrade Madawi Al-Rasheed....

4) What is your assessment of the Saudi control of Arab media, publishing, and think tanks?

I occasionally write in al-Quds al-Arabi in London and it is the only newspaper that tolerates my critical opinion. Other media is totally dominated by petrodollar and is shut to any critical evaluation of current affairs. Saudi control of the media was the subject of a book I edited. In Kingdom without Borders, I focused on the new Saudi control of the media and explored its impact on public opinion in the Arab world.

The interests of the West and Saudi Arabia are connected and this meant that even Western Academic circles, the media and think tanks are now careful not to criticise Saudi regime or write about the country in a way that implicates the regime. The West sees Saudi Arabia as a strategic ally, a source of oil and investment, and a regime that can be trusted to shape the Arab and Muslim world. As a result, criticising Saudi Arabia amounts to undermining Western interests. But this does not bother me as there is always an opportunity in the West to voice a dissident opinion that is not silenced by Saudi Arabia....."

Stop This! By Emad Hajjaj

Real News Video: Helen Thomas on gender and journalism

DC's most experienced journalist on Feminism, McCarthyism and the White House Press Corps

More at The Real News

Night raids belie McChrystal's new image

By Gareth Porter
Asia Times

"A dramatic increase in night raids on private homes in Afghanistan glaringly contradicts General Stanley McChrystal's focus on winning over civilians rather than killing insurgents. The commander of international forces acknowledges in a recently revealed directive that the raids - responsible for nearly half the civilian deaths last year - are the ''single greatest irritant" for Afghans....."

Free Gaza Movement to Launch Cargo Ship from Ireland

The Free Gaza Movement

"On March 30, the Free Gaza Movement bought a 1200 tonne cargo ship at an auction in Dundalk, Ireland.

The vessel had been impounded a year ago following an inspection by the International Transport Federation (ITF) which found that its’ owners had exploited it’s Lithuanian crew members- not paying their wages and subjecting them to humiliating treatment.

ITF Inspector and SIPTU organiser Ken Fleming said, ‘We are pleased to announce that this vessel which was used to subject workers to modern day slavery, will now be used to promote human rights for the people of Palestine’.

The Free Gaza Movement now owns four ships including three passenger vessels.

Free Gaza’s ships will take part in an international flotilla taking humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza strip this May. Passenger and cargo ships are also being organised by the Turkish humanitarian organisation I.H.H., and by groups in Greece, Sweden, Malaysia and Belgium.

Free Gaza has launched eight missions to Gaza over the past two years. Five were successful. The last three were violently stopped by the Israeli Navy.....

The vessel, the MV Linda, will be re-named the MV Rachel Corrie, in memory of the 23 year old solidarity activist crushed to death in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer as she attempted to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza. The Free Gaza Movement pays tribute to Rachel and the thousands of Palestinian men, women and children killed, wounded or imprisoned under Israeli Occupation....."

EGYPT: Death Sentences Rise With Poverty

By Cam McGrath

"CAIRO, Mar 31, 2010 (IPS) - Egyptian courts are handing down death sentences with "alarming frequency" as the state attempts to use capital punishment to stem rising crime rates.

Over 269 death sentences were imposed in 2009, up from 86 the previous year. Rights groups say the courts appear to be acting under government pressure to send a strong message to the public.

"We've haven't seen anything like this in over 200 years," says Nasser Amin, director of the Cairo-based Arab Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary and Legal Profession. "The numbers are alarming. In one case last year 24 people were sentenced to hang, and in another a judge handed down 10 death sentences."

Egypt has expanded its application of capital punishment since President Hosni Mubarak took office in 1981. Capital offences, previously confined to premeditated murder and crimes against the state, now number over 40 and include drug trafficking, rape and arson......"

Lobby vs. America: Netanyahu's Lies and the Spineless Politicians

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"As I listened to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address an animated crowed of supporters on March 22, I felt physically sick. The man has already displayed time and again a complete lack of moral sense or ethical framework in his words and actions. In his recent arguments, he once again twisted history, manipulated facts and fabricated his own selective, self-interested and highly questionable narrative. Netanyahu, a colonialist from a faraway land, also had the audacity to convince himself and a few others that he had legal, moral and historic rights over my land. While I am the son of a Palestinian family rooted in Palestine since time immemorial, Netanyahu is the son of an immigrant from Lithuania. While he giddily robs more Palestinian land in Jerusalem, I live in exile....."

Honest in the Worst Way

by Philip Giraldi, April 01, 2010

"....What is lacking is any restraint on the activity of the promoters of the war economy. The salesmen for total war would not be so dangerous if they were not portrayed as experts and given a platform to parlay their former government positions into private gain. A skeptical media would be nice, asking hard questions about what financial interests former senior government officials might have. But we are long past the point where we might expect the media to do its job or do anything at all but promote the long war, which presumably sells newspapers and ad time on television. It would also be nice to stop senior government officials from setting up their own companies like The Chertoff Group that then turning around to do contracting with the government. That’s not only unseemly, it involves potential conflict of interest and could lead to more serious forms of corruption. It would be far better to close the revolving door completely and send the Chertoffs and McConnells off to a comfortable retirement somewhere where they would no longer be reaching into in the taxpayers’ pockets to fund scanners we don’t need and a new global conflict, which, if the pattern holds true to form, will no doubt be dubbed the war on cyber."

Pakistan's advocates of justice

The top judge is again on a collision course with the country's political leaders, this time over corruption. Robert Fisk reports from Islamabad on the judiciary's battle to uphold due process and the rule of law

By Robert Fisk

".....In a sense, the Pakistani judiciary had become an equivalent to the press in Britain after Tony Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq: they were the real opposition party; they – and not the politicians – represented the people....."

Lebanon as a model for Iraq

As post-election horse-trading looms, we might look to Lebanon to understand the potential direction for politics in the new Iraq

James Denselow, Wednesday 31 March 2010

"....However, there is another direction that Iraqi politics might take – and for that we should be looking at Beirut in order to understand Baghdad.

Lebanon is an example of institutionalised sectarian power sharing, where the current government of "national unity" includes both pro-Syria Hezbollah ministers and anti-Syrian March 14 ministers.....

To speak of Lebanon as a "model" is not to say that this is a positive idea or even a matter of choice. Examining this model is also not a matter of exact political science that seeks a one-size-fits-all framework to force on to Iraq. Instead, the history and the dynamics of Lebanon's political system should act as a touchstone to understanding the fledging body-politic emerging in Iraq.

Both Lebanon and Iraq are weak states that have experienced the collapse of central institutions and have a history of internal conflict and the prominent involvement of external powers.

Syria and Iran in particular are old hands at operating within Lebanon, a country regularly referred to as "a house of many mansions", or "paradise divided". In Iraq, Syria has used its hosting of the largest expatriate Iraqi community (including former regime elements and tribal connections) to ensure that it has a continued role influencing events. Iran, meanwhile, has had a direct hand in the formation of many of the previously exiled groups that now make up the government....."

The dark side of skin-whitening cream

The dangerous fashion for skin-whitening across Asia perpetuates racism and should be stigmatised as such

Sunny Hundal, Thursday 1 April 2010

"....More worryingly, it condemns a new generation of Asians to grow up deeply insecure about the colour of their skin. Darker-skinned people of the same ethnicity grow up emotionally scarred and completely unrepresented by the media images they are subjected to daily.

Much of this isn't new, except that skin-whitening cream is increasingly being aimed at men. In most places in Thailand, I couldn't actually buy facial products for men without skin-whitening agents.

More recently, this has also spread to the UK. Skin-whitening products aimed at African-Caribbeans, Asians and Arabs fill the ethnic media and are even advertised on the London underground. Even most Asian matrimonial websites ask sign-ups to describe their skintone.

Let's be clear about this: skin-whitening perpetuates a form of racism. It should be stigmatised as such. If you get angry about it, then boycott the companies that produce and market the products. Complain when the ads are shown.

Skin-whitening products are a disease – it's time to eradicate them."

Mohamed ElBaradei hits out at west's support for repressive regimes

Exclusive: Ex-nuclear chief says west must rethink Middle East policy as speculation grows he may run for office in Egypt

Jack Shenker in Cairo, Wednesday 31 March 2010

"Western governments risk creating a new generation of Islamist extremists if they continue to support repressive regimes in the Middle East, the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, has told the Guardian.

In his first English-language interview since returning to Cairo in February, the Nobel peace prize-winner said the strategy of supporting authoritarian rulers in an effort to combat the threat of Islamic extremism had been a failure, with potentially disastrous consequences.......
Current Egyptian law effectively prohibits independent candidates from getting their name on the ballot paper,
which has fuelled ElBaradei's demands for a "constitutional revolution" to make the poll free and fair. Analysts believe Mubarak, who is 81 and currently recovering from a gall bladder operation, is planning to engineer a succession of power to his youngest son, Gamal.

ElBaradei said he was not afraid of intimidation by Egypt's vast security apparatus, but revealed that several foreign governments had expressed concern about his safety in the country, following recent reports of his followers being arrested and tortured by police.

Speaking at his home, he said: "I hear that from so many different governments, people coming to me and saying 'you should be careful'. But I don't want to go around with bodyguards … people who are extremely poor and deprived are coalescing around me in the streets saying 'we need change', and I want to listen.""

East al-Quds only open to 'non-Palestinian' Christians

Press TV

"Only non-Palestinian Christians will be allowed to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in East Jerusalem (al-Quds) on Saturday, when eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate "Saturday of Light."

Israeli security officials informed church officials that only international pilgrims would be allowed to access the Old City and the church located in the site.

Saturday of Light is held the day before Easter with Christians lining in the streets of the Old City and holding bunches of candles in anticipation of the miracle fire.

Worshipers in the church light their candles and spread the fire to waiting pilgrims who take the miracle fire back to their homes as a symbol of community, hope and renewal.

The Israeli restrictions are the latest in a wave of prohibitions targeting Christian Palestinian worshipers in the Easter season.

On Palm Sunday, West Bank Christians were prevented from taking part in the Triumphal Entry procession, which traces the path believed to have been taken by Jesus on his return to the holy city before his crucifixion....."

Al-Jazeera Video: US and Iran: The best of enemies?

"US-Iranian relations have taken a turn for the worse. The time for hands extended in friendship has been replaced by menacing fists, as both sides ratchet-up the rhetoric.

The US has tried to be the dominant superpower in the Middle East for decades.

With hundreds of thousands of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, on either side of Iran's borders, Tehran feels surrounded.

For the US, Iran is the perfect target, big enough to justify a major US build-up in the region, with vast reserves of oil and natural gas, and a leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, threatening to go nuclear.

Dr Zbigniew Brzezinski
US national security advisor, 1977-81

Ambassador Thomas Pickering
US under-secretary of state, 1997-2000

Lawrence Wilkerson
Former chief of staff, US State Department

Jon B Alterman
Center for Strategic and International Studies

Ali Akbar Salehi
Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency

For its part, Tehran wants to reassert its regional role.

With internal discontent and weakened neighbours, confronting US hegemony strengthens the regime's credibility.

However, the threat of international sanctions, or even military strikes, makes this a dangerous gamble, for both sides.

So will this mini cold war continue, giving both US and Iran time and face to get back to the negotiating table, or will the bellicose words lead to a confrontation that neither side wants?

We ask veteran Iran specialists, former officials and military experts whether diplomacy has been exhausted, if there is a future for sanctions, and perhaps the biggest question, can the US live with a nuclear Iran? "

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Obscenity of War

By Amy Goodman

President Barack Obama has just returned from his first trip as commander in chief to Afghanistan. The U.S.-led invasion and occupation of that country are now in their ninth year, amid increasing comparisons to Vietnam.

Daniel Ellsberg, whom Henry Kissinger once called “the most dangerous man in America,” leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Ellsberg, who was a top Pentagon analyst, photocopied this secret, 7,000-page history of the U.S. role in Vietnam and released it to the press, helping to end the Vietnam War.

“President Obama is taking every symbolic step he can to nominate this as Obama’s war,” Ellsberg told me recently. He cites the “Eikenberry memos,” written by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, which were leaked, then printed last January by The New York Times.

Ellsberg said: “Eikenberry’s cables read like a summary of the Pentagon Papers of Afghanistan. ... Just change the place names from ‘Saigon’ to ‘Kabul’ ... and they read almost exactly the same.”

... Petraeus and McChrystal prevailed. The military will launch a major campaign in June in Afghanistan’s second-largest city, Kandahar. Meanwhile, with shocking candor, McChrystal said in a video conference this week, regarding the number of civilians killed by the U.S. military, “We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat.” U.S. troop fatalities, meanwhile, are occurring now at twice the rate of one year ago.

Like King, Obama is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech, Obama mentioned King six times, yet defended his war in Afghanistan. Princeton University professor Cornel West, interviewed by Smiley, said of Obama’s Nobel speech, “It upset me when I heard my dear brother Barack Obama criticize Martin on the global stage, saying that Martin Luther King Jr.‘s insights were not useful for a commander in chief, because evil exists, as if Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t know about evil.”

A rare voice of courage: journalist Gideon Levy interviewed

David Cronin, The Electronic Intifada, 31 March 2010

"Gideon Levy is a rare voice of courage in an Israeli media generally supine towards the political establishment. Since 1988, he has written the "Twilight Zone" column for the Israeli daily Haaretz, documenting unflinchingly the myriad cruelties inflicted on the Palestinian people under occupation. In his new book Gaza, a collection of articles which has just been published in French, Levy utters phrases that, by his own admission, are considered "insane" by most of his compatriots. The Electronic Intifada contributor David Cronin spoke with Gideon Levy about his background and journalism....

DC: What role can journalists play in trying to achieve a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

GL: There is an enormous historic role that the Israeli media is playing. The Israeli media, which is a free media, free of censorship, free of governmental pressure, has been dehumanizing the Palestinians, demonizing them. Without the cooperation of the Israeli media, the occupation would not have lasted so long. It is destructive in ways I cannot even describe. It's not Romania, it's not Soviet Russia. It's a free democracy, the media could play any role but it has chosen to play this role. The main thing is about the flow of information. It is so one-sided, so much propaganda and lies and ignorance."

Islam in the Service of .....the Pharaoh, and Israel!

'لأن الشجب والتنديد تحصيل حاصل ولن يؤدي لتغيير'

Right: شيطان أخرس

شيخ الأزهر يرفض إدانة انتهاكات إسرائيل ومحاصرة غزة

"القاهرة ـ'القدس العربي' من حسام أبوطالب: رفض شيخ الازهر الجديد الدكتور احمد محمد الطيب التنديد بالانتهاكات الإسرائيلية في حق المسجد الأقصى والمقدسات الإسلامية، وعلل موقفه بأن تنديده لن يسفر عن جديد يذكر.
وقال الطيب الذي تم تعيـــينه مؤخـــرا بقــــرار مــن الرئيس المصري إن الشجب والإدانة للجرائم الإسرائيلية تحصيل حاصل وبلا قيمة ولن يسفر عن شيء.
وأضاف أن هناك قاعدة أزهرية تقول إن 'تحصيل الحاصل محال' وبالتالي فإن الكلام في قضية القدس وما يجري للمقدسات هناك والإعتداءات التي تقع على المسجد بلاقيمة وأصبح مضيعة للوقت، وأصر على رفض مطالب الصحافيين بأن يصدر أي تعليق حول الانتهاكات.
وكان العديد من الصحافيين قد إحتشدوا أمس في انتظار انتهاء اجتماع شيخ الأزهر مع الشيخ عكرمة صبري المفتي السابق للقدس من أجل معرفة رأيه في عدد من القضايا لم يتحدث فيها بعد وعلى رأسها موقفه من اتفاقية السلام مع اسرائيل والجدار الفولاذي الذي تبنيه مصر على حدودها مع غزة فضلا عن الحصار الذي تفرضه على القطاع للعام الثالث على التوالي، غير ان الطيب رفض الإجابة عن أي سؤال له علاقة بالقضية الفلسطينينة بذريعة أنه لا طائل من إضاعة الكلام فيما لاجدوى منه.
وساهم في مزيد من الإحباط للصحافيين رفض الشيخ عكرمة صبري الذي بدا في مأزق بسبب الموقف الذي وجد فيه الطيب أن يجيب هوالآخر على أي سؤال له علاقة بالقضية الفلسطينية ،واعتذر بأدب، مؤكدا ان لكل مقام مقالا وأنه إنما جاء من أجل لقاء شيخ الأزهر الدكتور احمد الطيب وتهنئته على ثقة الرئيس مبارك الغالية فيه من خلال تنصيبه المقام السامي.
وكان مفتي الديار المصرية الأسبق نصر فريد واصل قد أكد على ان رجل الدين مطالب بأن يدافع عن مصالح المسلمين وأن يندد بالحصار الذي يفرض على الشعب الفلسطيني. واعتبرالصمت في قضية مثل تدمير المقدسات والسعي لهدم الأقصى هو جريمة سوف نسأل عنها إذا ما تعاملنا معها بسلبية.
ولفت الشيخ سيد عسكر النائب عن الإخوان في مجلس الشعب الأنظار إلى أن التنديد بما تقوم به إسرائيل من جرائم في المسجد الأقصى وسائر فلسطين المحتلة مسؤولية كل رجل دين، محذراً الذين يتحدثون عن أن التنديد لم يعد له قيمة من أن الساكت عن الحق شيطان أخرس

Al Jazeera Chief Wadah Khanfar on Obama’s Expansion of the Afghan War, US Policy in the Middle East and the Role of Independent Voices in the Media

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"As US and NATO forces are preparing to launch a major military offensive in the Afghan city of Kandahar this June, we speak with Wadah Khanfar, the Director General of Al Jazeera. “Bombing and killing will always increase the anger and frustration against the Americans, and it will always be in favor of the Taliban,” says Khanfar. We also look at the US military’s history of targeting Al Jazeera’s reporters, including Sami al-Hajj, who was held at Guantánamo for over six years without charge....."

"Liberation" to Die For! Inside Afghanistan's Jails

Where Two-Thirds of Boy Inmates are Brutalized


"Nearly two of every three male juveniles arrested in Afghanistan are physically abused, according to a study based on interviews with 40 per cent of all those now incarcerated in the country's juvenile justice system. The study, carried out by U.S. defense attorney Kimberly Motley for the international children's rights organization Terre des Hommes, reveals a justice system that subjects juveniles, many of whom are already innocent victims, to torture, forced confessions and blatant violation of their rights in court.....

Describing his treatment at the hands of the police, another boy said, "They would ask us, 'have you committed this crime?', and if we said no, they would beat us.""

Al-Jazeera Video: Palestinians mark "Land Day"

"It has been 34 years since six Palestinian activists were killed by Israeli troops during a demonstration against Israeli occupation. It is a day remembered annually as the Palestinian Land Day.

Like every year, Palestinians around the world used the day to voice their opposition against the occuption of their land.

Nour Odeh reports from the Palestinian town of Beit Sahoor, where many Palestinians planted olives as a symbolic statement of preserving their land."

The Black Widow riddle

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

".....Not by accident, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is using almost the same words as when elected president in March 2000: "The Chechens, we will throw them down the toilet". He has just ordered his intelligence services to "sweep the sewers" to find the terrorists. The best and the brightest Russian political scientists seem to agree that the suicide bombings will help Putin to turbo-charge repression all across the Caucasus, not only in Chechnya but also in Ingushetia and Dagestan.

The issue is becoming pressing: On Wednesday, at least nine people, including a regional police official, were killed by two bombs in the restive republic of Dagestan. The BBC reported that a car bomb went off outside the offices of the local Interior Ministry and the FSB (Federal Security Service, the former KGB security) agency in the town of Kizlyar. This was followed by a second bomb soon after in the same street.

For de la Grange, "He [Putin] has two years ahead of him to show off as the country's strongman, the one who will save the population from terrorism - a sine qua non condition to reclaim his position as president. So the attacks could have been orchestrated, or facilitated, by the FSB and Putin himself. There have been troubled alliances before between Chechen rebels, Islamists and the FSB. Anyway we look at it, the crime in Moscow profits most of all Putin and the FSB."

So did the Black Widows end up working for Russian intelligence? And what if these Black Widows were nothing but ... ghosts? "

Here We WMD Again: Iraq and the Mythical Pakistani Package

By Scott Ritter

"On March 10, The Washington Post published an article that caught my eye. Under a headline proclaiming “Saddam Hussein weighed nuclear ‘package deal’ in 1990, documents show,” Joby Warrick, the author of the article, declared in his opening paragraph, “As troops massed on his border near the start of the Persian Gulf War, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein weighed the purchase of a $150 million nuclear ‘package’ deal that included not only weapons designs but also production plants and foreign experts to supervise the building of a nuclear bomb, according to documents uncovered by a former U.N. weapons inspector.”

The source of the documents was David Albright, a nonproliferation specialist and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a nonprofit organization that Albright himself founded. Albright talked to The Washington Post about these “newly uncovered” documents as part of a publicity campaign for the release of his new book, “Peddling Peril: How the Secret Nuclear Trade Arms America’s Enemies.” The Washington Post article was picked up by newspapers and other media outlets around the world, and has been cited by the Pakistani government as one of the reasons behind its recent decision to open a new investigation into the nuclear proliferation dealings of A.Q. Khan, who is also accused of selling nuclear weapons plans and related technology to Iran and Libya.

There is only one problem with The Washington Post story—it isn’t true. The fact is, there never was any such “package deal” worthy of the name, and, in any event, a Pakistani “deal” for a potential nuclear weapon was never “weighed” by Saddam Hussein or any other Iraqi official of note......

...The danger of The Washington Post’s fanciful reinterpretation of history, whether dealing with Iraq or Iran, is that, when picked up and disseminated by the mainstream media, it may shape public sentiment in a manner that will be detrimental to Obama’s disarmament vision. Americans need to start spending more time looking at the sources from which they draw their information. The stakes cannot get much higher, and the consequences of failure are grave."

Health workers and advocates support call for U of Arizona to divest

Press release, UA Health for Human Rights, 30 March 2010

The following press release was issued on 30 March 2010 by UA Health for Human Rights, an ad hoc group formed by the broader University Community for Human Rights, a student-led board leading divestment initiatives at the University of Arizona:

"A joint group of more than 50 Jewish, Christian, Muslim and agnostic medical and health advocates of the Tucson and surrounding region, following student initiative, are calling on the University of Arizona to divest from corporations benefiting from the global health and humanitarian crisis in Palestine caused by Israel's military occupation, supported by the United States.....

This initiative follows the historic resolution recently passed on Thursday, 18 March by the Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley, in support of financial divestment from two companies associated with their university for the companies' connection to human rights abuses committed by Israel in its US-backed military occupation of Palestine. On 25 February 2010 a similar bill was passed by the student government of the University of Michigan's Dearborn campus. Last year, Hampshire College became the first college or university to financially divest from the occupation. This past September, Norway became the first state to obey the July 2004 ruling by the United Nations International Court of Justice which proclaimed upon the entire international community "not to render aid or assistance in maintaining" the "illegal situation created" by Israel's separation wall which cuts and divides Palestinian lands and communities. Divestment movements led by students, trade unions, private sector firms and other members of civil society are active in dozens of countries throughout the world......"

Galloway launches Summer University of Palestine

Sign up now at

"BEIRUT: British MP George Galloway announced on Tuesday the foundation of the first annual University of Palestine, due to take place in Lebanon each year to educate Lebanese and international students on the Palestinian cause.

"We are going to bring 500 students from all over the world to study intensively for one week the Palestinian question: the history, the geography the culture and the politics. They will come from America, Australia and I hope from all over the world, with a substantial number from here in Lebanon," Galloway said.

"We will make excursions to the border, to the Palestinian camps, to places of interest. We will hold lectures and workshops, sporting and cultural events," he added.

The summer university will take place for one week each year at the campus of the Lebanese International University in the Bekaa Valley. Galloway said many prominent international speakers were expected to attend, such as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Naomi Klein, Fadwa Barghouti, the wife of jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, and Hizbullah spokesman Ibrahim Mousawi. The luminaries will give lectures, and "plan the next 12 months of solidarity with the Palestinian people," according to Galloway......"