Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Islamists Will Settle for Nothing Less Than 100% Control of Egypt

The Islamists Now Control the Parliament....
They Control Writing the New Constitution....
And Above is the M.B.'s Candidate for President.

Shari'a Law and Beheading Can't be Far Behind.
And This is the "New" Egypt??
What a Cruel Joke!

Al-Jazeera Video: Sudan governor to troops: 'Take no prisoners'

"Troops in Sudan have been ordered to show no mercy to rebel fighters.

Al Jazeera has obtained a video clearly showing the Governor of Southern Kordofan ordering army soldiers to take no prisoners.

Ahmed Harun tells the men "don't bring them back alive".

Harun is already wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.

Peter Greste report from the Nuba Mountains in this Al Jazeera Exclusive."

Palestinian Authority jails journalist for publishing exposé on foreign ministry

Asa Winstanley
The Electronic Intifada
Ramallah 30 March 2012

"The Palestinian Authority imprisoned journalist Yousef al-Shayab Wednesday because of something he wrote, and because he insists on protecting his sources, say his colleagues. Al-Shayab hit back by announcing in court he would go on hunger strike.

Based on anonymous sources, al-Shayab’s January article alleged that the PA diplomatic mission to France was involved in spying on Muslim student groups for the benefit of “Palestinian and foreign security.” It also alleged that PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki helped cover up the scandal.....

Lack of press freedoms in West Bank

Israeli abuses against Palestinian journalists are well-documented, but the role of the Palestinian Authority in repressing free speech in the West Bank is perhaps less well-known.

Another Palestinian journalist was arrested for something he wrote at the end of January. According to a press release by MADA, a Palestinian press freedom group, Rami Samara was arrested at his office on 31 January and held for nearly four hours. He had written a critical commentary about Palestine Liberation Organization negotiations with Israel in Amman on his Facebook page (“MADA Condemns the Arrest of the Journalist Rami Samara in Ramallah”).

The Palestinian territories including the West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip was placed at 153 out of 179 on the Reporters Without Borders 2011-12 Press Freedom Index. RSF included the PA’s security forces on its 2010 list of “Forty predators of press freedom” along with the Israeli army and Hamas forces in Gaza. According to the group, “security forces and intelligence service controlled by President Mahmoud Abbas made many arbitrary arrests of pro-Hamas journalists in 2010.”

Amnesty International’s 2011 annual report on the PA states that “[b]oth the PA in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza maintained tight controls on freedom of expression, and harassed and prosecuted journalists, bloggers and other critics.”"

Bolton Accuses Obama Admin. of Leaking Israeli Info to Avoid War

Bolton referred to the administration's "campaign against an Israeli attack"

"Former U.S. diplomat and leading neoconservative John Bolton alleged Thursday that the Obama administration leaked secret information about Israel’s plans to attack Iran in order to foil those plans and avoid a war.

Bolton was referring specifically to an article in Foreign Affairs revealing that Israel has recently supplied Azerbaijan with a $1.6 billion arms deal including “sophisticated drones and missile defense systems” and has also, U.S. officials suspect, secured access to airfields which could be essential to Israeli fighter jets flying bombing missions over Iran.
“I think this leak today is part of the administration’s campaign against an Israeli attack,” Bolton claimed on Fox News, as if a campaign against an unnecessary, unprovoked war was a bad thing....."

In Pictures: Syria's Old Homs in ruins

Constant shelling by government forces and clashes with rebels destroyed homes and ancient mosques and churches.


(8 photos)

"The old neighbourhoods of Homs, located in the centre of the city, have been under attack by government forces for weeks now.

The troops of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been attempting to regain control of opposition-held areas there, and have so far managed to consolidate control over several neighbourhoods.

Constant shelling by government forces and clashes with rebels at the edges of these neighbourhoods have left most of Old Homs in ruins.

The area contains the city’s oldest mosques and churches and was one of the few districts in Homs that retained its older look.

Scores have reportedly been killed in these neighbourhoods and hundreds of families displaced."

Al-Jazeera Cartoon: The Damascus Butcher Propped up by Iran and Russia

Watch us lead the UN donkey up the Khyber

By Robert Fisk

"So back to THAT BLOODY WAR. I mean not the Syrian one – where we're going to stay hands off – or the Libyan one (where we were hands on, but not touching the ground). Nor the Iraqi one, which is a war at 60-a-day fatalities (pretty much equal with Syria's daily death toll, though we can't make that comparison). Nope. Of course, I mean the Afghan war which we fought in 1842 and in 1878-80 and in 1919 and from 2001 to 2014 (or 2015 or 2016, who knows?). We wouldn't let them down this time, we said about the Afghans – or Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara said – in 2001. Oh yes we will.

We learned our lesson in Iraq where our belief in a bloodless victory – bloodless for us, very bloody indeed for them – came hopelessly unstuck. We died, too. Which is why the Americans went home. Vietnam was supposed to see the end of Western casualties. But we are not immune to death. No more in Afghanistan than in Iraq. So we are going home there, too. We may not leave behind a "perfect" democracy – the Americans were admitting years ago that we might not leave a "Jeffersonian democracy" behind. Ho-hum, no we're not!......."

George Galloway's Respect could help Britain to break the political impasse

UK politics has been governed by Thatcherism for decades. Galloway's triumph should force people to rethink their passivity

Tariq Ali
The Guardian, Thursday 29 March 2012

"George Galloway's stunning electoral triumph in the Bradford by-election has shaken the petrified world of English politics. It was unexpected, and for that reason the Respect campaign was treated by much of the media (Helen Pidd of the Guardian being an honourable exception) as a loony fringe show.....

British politics has been governed by the consensus established by Margaret Thatcher during the locust decades of the 80s and 90s, since New Labour accepted the basic tenets of Thatcherism (its model was the New Democrats' embrace of Reaganism). Those were the roots of the extreme centre, which encompasses both centre-left and centre-right and exercises power, promoting austerity measures that privilege the wealthy, and backing wars and occupations abroad. President Obama is far from isolated within the Euro-American political sphere. New movements are now springing up at home, challenging political orthodoxies without offering one of their own. They're little more than a scream for help.

Respect is different. It puts forward a leftist social-democratic programme that challenges the status quo and is loud in its condemnation of imperial misdeeds. In other words, it is not frightened by politics. Its triumph in Bradford should force some to rethink their passivity and others to realise that there are ways in which the Occupiers of yesteryear can help to break the political impasse."

Also, Read This by George Galloway:

This was Bradford's version of the riots

The battle over Egypt's constitution reveals the risks of majority rule

"God willing we will write a constitution stipulating the term for the Parliament to be 70 years..."

Egypt's new constitution should focus on democracy, equality and human rights, not religious identity or military budgets

Osama Diab, Saturday 31 March 2012

"....The constitution, however, is not the right place to debate these matters. The constitution's role should be to tackle the basic fundamental issues such as personal freedoms, equality before the law, citizenship and democracy. On top of this, it should organise the relation between the executive, legislative and judicial powers while setting the stage for all the political powers to compete equally and freely. Issues that are fluid and prone to change such as the military budget and religious identity should not be entrenched in the document.

Risking even further Islamist domination of the committee, the strife and disappointment have caused many non-Islamist members to withdraw from the committee as a gesture of protest against the under-representation of many groups.

Ziad Bahaa al-Din, a lawyer and parliamentary who withdrew from the committee, wrote in an article for al-Shorouk newspaper that was translated into English by the Arabist blog saying that "all of Egypt – including all its legal, constitutional and academic experts, labour leaders, NGOs, judges, intellectuals, and writers, men and women, Muslims and Christians, people young and old – […] will be represented in the Constituent Assembly by 50 people, while the MPs alone have reserved the remaining half for themselves."

The Brotherhood and other Islamist groups should realise that in drafting a constitution, parliamentary representation should be irrelevant, not just because it's temporary, but also because bigger religious or political groups should not be able to grant themselves greater rights. Democracy, equality and human rights should be the backbone of the new constitution; the role of the constitution in a democracy should be to limit, not increase, the lengths in which the majority can exercise power over the minority."

Guardian Video: Land Day protesters clash with Israeli police

Clashes break out during the commemoration of a 1976 protest in which six Palestinians were killed by Israeli police. Worshippers scuffle with police as they are prevented from attending Friday prayers in the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, while in Qalandiya, near Ramallah, protesters throw rocks at police, Friday 30 March 2012

For Israel’s Palestinian Citizens, an Issue Unsettled

Today, on “Land Day,” Israel should rethink its discriminatory land-use policies

Human Rights Watch
March 30, 2012

"(Jerusalem) – Where two villages once stood just inside Israel’s border with Lebanon, the only structures remaining are the two Catholic churches. Former residents of Iqrit and Kafr Bir’im return to worship, marry, and bury their dead. But they can’t move back.

While Palestinian aspirations for a state on the land Israel occupied in 1967 are well known, the importance of land to the Palestinian minority within Israel, some 20 percent of the country’s population, is often overlooked. March 30 is marked by Palestinians as “Land Day,” a pivotal event in their struggle against discriminatory land policies.

In November 1948, the Haganah – the pre-Israel Zionist military force – rounded up the residents of Iqrit and Kafr Bir’im and expelled them. Fighting in the area had already ended, and the villagers put up no resistance. Haganah officers told them that the expulsions were temporary.

In 1951, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the state must allow the uprooted villagers to go home. The military then declared the villages “closed military areas,” to defend the border region against armed infiltrators. The court scheduled a new hearing on Iqrit for February 1952, but on Christmas Day, 1951, the army blew up all the houses there. In January 1952, the court decided that the residents of Kafr Bir’in could return once they obtained the military’s permission. The army never granted it, and blew up the village in September 1953. The churches were left standing....."

Palestinian detainee in Gaza deportation deal should be released to West Bank

Amnesty International
30 March 2012

"A deal that led to Palestinian Hana Shalabi halting her hunger strike and facing transfer to the Gaza Strip for a three year period could amount to a forcible deportation, Amnesty International said.

Shalabi, 30, was arrested by Israeli troops last month in the West Bank and has been held under administrative detention. She is allegedly affiliated with the Islamic Jihad movement but has never been charged with a criminal offence.

She spent 43 days on hunger strike and suffers from impaired thyroid functions, weakness and dizziness, according to Physicians for Human Rights Israel. Despite halting her hunger strike, she continues to require specialised medical care.

“The fact that Hana Shalabi was denied access to her independent lawyers raises serious concerns about her deportation to the Gaza Strip,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Amnesty International fears the deal may amount to a forcible deportation given her medical condition and the denial of access to independent doctors and lawyers.”

“Instead of deporting her to the Gaza Strip, where access to specialized medical care is limited, due to the Israeli blockade and the ongoing fuel crisis which threatens hospitals, she should be released along with other Palestinians held in administrative detention, or promptly charged with a recognizable criminal offence.”

Israeli military orders allow the authorities to detain Palestinians from the occupied West Bank indefinitely and without trial under administrative detention if they are deemed to pose a “security threat”....."

Friday, March 30, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Diplomatic efforts fail to end Syria conflict

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera's Cal Perry reports from Qalandiya on Land Day

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Has the Arab Spring widened the Arab divide?

Al-Jazeera Video: The Stream: Tunisia debates religion's role in new constitution

"What role should religion play in the new constitution? We look at the growing debate between secularist and conservatives in Tunisia."

Israel Encircles Iran

By Philip Giraldi

"Israel is tightening the noose around Iran. The Israeli government has signed a secret agreement with the government of Azerbaijan to lease two former Soviet military airfields located close to the Iranian border. One of the facilities is being used as an intelligence collection site, with advanced Sigint capabilities and preparations underway for drone operations. The other base is being designated a search-and-rescue facility. It will eventually have helicopters that will presumably be dispatched to aid downed Israeli fliers if there is a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The base will also have limited refueling and recovery capabilities for planes too damaged to make the long flight back to Israel over Iraqi or Saudi airspace. The Azerbaijani bases are much closer to the prime Iranian nuclear targets at Natanz and Fordow than are airfields in Israel itself. Recent Iranian government and media complaints about threatening Azerbaijani activities reflect official concern on the part of Tehran over the new developments.

Tel Aviv is also increasing its presence in neighboring Georgia, which is serving as the conduit for equipment going to Azerbaijan, which is shipped through the Black Sea port of Poti. The Israelis control an airfield in Georgia that is being used for intelligence gathering and logistical support for the large Israeli private-contractor and military-adviser presence in the country. Israeli advisers are training the Georgian army in the use of largely U.S.-supplied military equipment and are effectively partners in the country’s intelligence and security agencies. Drones operating over northwest Iran have been flying out of the Georgian base. John McCain’s 2008 claim when the country went to war with Russia that “we are all Georgians now” becomes a lot more comprehensible when one realizes that the drive to aid the country was largely about supporting Israel.

Israeli intelligence officers and military personnel in mufti are active in Iraqi Kurdistan as well, where they have been recruiting agents to collect information and carry out operations inside Iran. Many of the recruits are affiliated with Pajak, a U.S. State Department-listed terrorist organization. There are concerns within the U.S. intelligence community that the Israelis are playing fast and loose with their affiliation in what are known as false-flag operations, frequently representing themselves as Americans in actions similar to those relating to Mossad’s efforts to recruit Jundallah militants in Western Europe. Israel also reportedly attempted to hide behind a false flag in January when one of its drones that had been operating over Syria went down in Turkey. The Israeli Foreign Ministry initially denied any knowledge, suggesting that the device was American. But the Turks, who have U.S. drones flying from airbases in their own country, recognized that the drone was not of American manufacture, and the Israeli Embassy was forced to recant and eventually apologize. No apology was forthcoming to the United States. Back at home, the FBI is investigating persistent reports that Israeli intelligence officers operating in the U.S. are again pretending to be FBI or CIA to obtain the cooperation of Arab-Americans."

Israel Shields Public from Risks of War with Iran

By Gareth Porter

"The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been telling Israelis that Israel can attack Iran with minimal civilian Israeli casualties as a result of retaliation, and that reassuring message appears to have headed off any widespread Israeli fear of war with Iran and other adversaries.

But the message that Iran is too weak to threaten an effective counterattack is contradicted by one of Israel’s leading experts on Iranian missiles and the head of its missile defense program for nearly a decade, who says Iranian missiles are capable of doing significant damage to Israeli targets.

The Israeli population has shown little serious anxiety about the possibility of war with Iran, in large part because they have not been told that it involves a risk of Iranian missiles destroying Israeli neighborhoods and key economic and administrative targets.

"People are not losing sleep over this," Yossi Alpher, a consultant and writer on strategic issues and former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, told IPS in an interview. "This is not a preoccupation of the public the way the suicide bombers were a decade ago."......"

On Lebanon's border, silent Syrians are flocking to an unknown future

Our writer visits a village where families flee Assad's wrath

By Robert Fisk

"....A truckload of soldiers (big, burly guys in heavy, black flak jackets, with Kalashnikovs), pulls up and watches silently as flocks of Syrian refugees, fleeing the bloody government crackdown in their nation, plead to enter Lebanon. Lebanese Red Cross ambulances – Syrian wounded lying inside – are waved through. But for the sad, pathetic creatures walking down the road with neither bags nor documents, there is no easy passage.

To enter Lebanon, a Syrian must hold his papers and documents showing his father's name. "I can't get them – they are on the other side of the border, please," says a thin man in a long black coat too big for him, a small boy at his side. "No – back," says the security man. "I told you, back." He pushes the man and the boy, not roughly but with determination, away from the custom house.....

"At night, they all come this way, along the path," she says. "Nobody stops them. They are [Syrian] opposition moving into Lebanon and Syrian refugees. Whoever they are, we don't ask and we just say 'God help them'. Many civilians are Christians running away." Al-Qaa is a Christian village.

The mud-covered path beside the olive grove involves climbs of two feet of rock. Broken shoes and boots with their soles ripped off and filthy, torn socks line the path. These desperate people walk into Lebanon at night and cannot see and must fall on the unseen rocks and slither in the mud. A silent people, armed or not, making their way into an unknown future."

Israel 'does Azerbaijan airbase deal' in plan to attack Iran

Americans may have leaked news in effort to stop Israelis carrying out their threats

Donald Macintyre
The Independent

"Israel's military may have negotiated access to strategically placed air bases in Azerbaijan that could be used in an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, US officials have said.

The unconfirmed report in Foreign Policy magazine suggested deepening co-operation between Israel and the Caucasian republic, which shares a border with Iran. It said that Israel and Azerbaijan secured a $1.6bn arms deal in February, which included the pledged sale of drones and anti-aircraft missile systems to Baku.....

Apparently reflecting this Israeli government discomfort, the veteran military commentator Ron Ben-Yishai speculated in the Yedhiot Ahronot newspaper that the US was leaking information to the media with the specific purpose of averting an Israeli strike on Iran. "The flood of reports in the American media in recent weeks attests not only to the genuine US fear that Israel intends to realise its threats; moreover, it indicates that the Obama administration has decided to take its gloves off," he wrote....."

Israel and Azerbaijan: unlikely allies?

Claims – disputed by both countries – that Israel has secured Azerbaijani airbases has awakened interest in the Caucasus

The Guardian

"In the latest in a series of explosive reports on Israel's covert hostilities against Iran, one vigorously denied by both the Israeli government and Baku, Foreign Policy magazine has quoted anonymous US officials saying that Israel has secured access to airbases on Iran's northern border through its well-nurtured defence alliance with Azerbaijan."The Israelis have bought an airfield," a senior US administration official was quoted telling Foreign Policy's Mark Perry, "and the airfield is called Azerbaijan."

Israel has refused to validate the report, which goes on to outline US concerns that the claimed move will inflame already raw Israeli-Iran relations and potentially draw the Caucasus into any war. One of Perry's US intelligence sources told him:

We're watching what Iran does closely. But we're now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it......

"Iran's fear that its considerable Azeri minority may have aspirations for independence is the current bed of its relations with Azerbaijan. As a result, Azerbaijan is very interested in firming up its relationship with Israel."

Last month Israel confirmed the sale of drones and anti-aircraft missile defence systems to the former Soviet state in a $1.6bn arms deal.....

More than 30% of the Iranian population are ethnic Azeris, including Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's spiritual leader, and the opposition leader, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who is currently being held under house arrest....."

Bahrain: Release leading rights activist at risk of death from hungerstrike

29 March 2012

"A leading Bahraini human rights defender serving a life sentence for his role in anti-government protests last year must be released immediately, Amnesty International said, amid fears the activist is at risk of death after 50 days on hunger strike.

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, 52, is a former protection co-ordinator with Frontline, an NGO which supports human rights defenders. He was arrested in April last year for being one of the leaders of anti-government protests. He was tortured in custody and sentenced to life imprisonment in a grossly unfair trial by a military court last June.

Bahrain must ensure that Al-Khawaja is released immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

“The Bahraini authorities have made pledges that they would release people who were imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression, but the continued imprisonment of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja demonstrates that they are not serious about fulfilling such promises.”

Amnesty International considers Al-Khawaja to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

He has not used or advocated violence in his participation in the anti-government protests, and no such evidence was shown by the authorities during the trial......"

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Leaked video | Assad Forces Celebrate Shooting Man, Abuse his Body

These cowards run from Israeli soldiers like Chickens , look what they do to this civilian in Syria.

Deal reached to free Hana Shalabi

A deal to release Palestinian hunger-striker Hana Shalabi to the Gaza Strip temporarily was reached late Thursday, officials with knowledge of the negotiations told Ma'an. 

The officials say Shalabi will be sent to Gaza for three years in exchange for giving up a 43-day strike against Israel's policy of holding detainees without charge.
The Palestinian prisoners society confirmed the deal in a statement praising Shalabi's resolve. It expressed its appreciation for her efforts to bring attention to Israel's policies toward prisoners. 

Qadoura Fares of the prisoners society said Shalabi agreed to the deal "in return for ending her strike and being freed. ... We reject deportation, but this is her decision and her own life," Fares said. 

Shalabi's lawyer, Jawwad Boulous, also confirmed the agreement.

Egypt: A Culture of Subjugation is Dying

“The surprise is not that there is so much violence, but that there is so little.”

By Patrick Cockburn

"...Compared to most Arab uprisings last year, such as those in Libya, Yemen and Syria, political violence in Egypt has been moderate. “Looked at historically this has been a remarkably peaceful revolution so far,” says Professor Khaled Fahmy, head of the history department at the American University in Cairo. “There has been no bloodbath.” But he adds that Scaf (The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces), the ruling authority over the last year, has encouraged an exaggerated perception of insecurity in order to blame the revolutionaries for increasing crime and a faltering economy.....

In the longer term, it may prove impossible for the army and police to restore the monopoly of power they enjoyed under the old regime. Egyptians retain a strong sense of hierarchy but power is fragmenting and the state is no longer absolute. The Interior Ministry in Cairo used to vet the promotion of everybody from judges to journalists. Even favorable mentions of the army in the press had to receive official permission.

But Cairo today is full of signs that this culture of subjugation is eroding.....

The activists who packed Tahrir Square a year ago are dispirited and speak of the triumph of the counter-revolution. They fear that the army, police and intelligence services are re-establishing their authority. But power in post-Mubarak Egypt is divided and may become more so. The Muslim Brotherhood and military, who would like to keep a supervisory role, are engaged in a long-term struggle....

The political struggle means that none of the centers for power are really in charge or capable of taking important decisions. And this is at a moment when the Egyptian economy is teetering on the edge of crisis.....

The authority of the Egyptian military and police will ebb unless they stage a coup which appears unlikely. But, even if they are edged out of power, it will take a long time to reconstruct the country they ruined during their 60-year-long rule."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you believe that the Baghdad summit has fulfilled the expectations of the Arab people?

With over 1,000 responding, 93% said no.

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Political rift threatening Egypt's democracy

Al-Jazeera Video: Hunger strike a last resort for Palestinian prisoners

"A hunger strike by a Palestinian woman, being held prisoner without charge by Israel, is about to enter its sixth week.

Hana al-Shalabi is being held on so-called administrative detention. Up to 30 other prisoners have followed her lead.

Al Jazeera's Cal Perry reports from Ramallah."

Al-Jazeera Video: US drone raids in Yemen 'kill hundreds'

"Covert US drone attacks on Yemen have increased this month [Thanks to the "Arab Spring" and the "Removal" of President Saleh!] to exceed the number of strikes on Pakistan's tribal areas, a Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports states.

Up to 500 people, many of whom were civilians, have been killed since last May as part of the US drive to eliminate al-Qaeda from the Arabian Peninsula, according to the report.

But, even after attacks with civilian casualties, there has been little reaction from the Yemeni government.[Where is Tawakkul Karman; why is she so quiet??]

Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba reports."

Real News Video : Russia’s “Jurassic Capitalism”: A Caricature of the West?

Aleksandr Buzgalin: A strata of bureaucrats and oligarchs rule a caricature of Western capitalism, amassing fabulous wealth

More at The Real News

Don't Exert Yourself, by Mike Luckovich

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

New book shows how the PA enriched an elite and normalized occupation

Mayssun Sukarieh
The Electronic Intifada
28 March 2012

"Globalized Palestine: The National Sell-Out of a Homeland explores the rise of a new Palestinian elite that works together with international organizations against the will of the majority of its compatriots.

The book’s author, Khalil Nakhleh, worked in the development sector as director of the Welfare Association (a Palestinian organization) for more than a decade, as well as a consultant on the expenditure of European Union aid. He witnessed first-hand the marriage of the business class and the international aid organizations in Palestine.

Thus, the book is a participant’s observation of how the coalition of Palestinian capitalists (the political and economic elite which benefited from the Oslo accords), the newly-emerging Palestinian nongovernmental organizations and the transnational aid agencies work together — while under occupation — for the myth of “economic development.”

Nakhleh suggests that this coalition is not consciously pre-planned, but that “the longer the current status quo — which is built on the internalized and marketed premise that there is no contradiction between being under occupation and economic development — is accepted and internalized, the more the tripartite coalition becomes purposeful and intentional”(xxi)......"

Computing Intifada: When Will Palestinians Revolt?

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"When will the Palestinians revolt?

The answer, according to an Israeli official: not this year (as quoted by Agency France Press).

An internal Israeli Foreign Ministry report last month also concluded that a third Palestinian intifada or uprising was ‘unlikely’ this year. According to the unnamed official, “This report, which is more than 100 pages long, judges that an explosion of generalized violence in the form of a third intifada is unlikely.”.....

Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav said of his enemies: “There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies? Not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred meters away, there are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy” (The Jerusalem Post, May 10, 2001).

This might be a transition from Golda Meir’s wholesale denial of the existence of the Palestinian, or of other Zionist leaders depicting Palestinians as animals, beasts and cockroaches. It is also a more advanced and conscious form of dehumanization. Palestinians here are essentially ‘people’, yet devoid of every shred of humanity; they are temporarily elevated, to be fully destroyed. Worse, they are like aliens from another galaxy; ‘our enemies.’

Within the confines of this logic, everything that is obstinately frowned upon by the law, ethics or morality, becomes effectively good, expected and embraced: from the ethnic cleansing in 1947- 48 to the war on Gaza (2008-09), the continued state siege, the so-called Separation Wall, the daily violent practices of the Israeli occupation army, the unlawful, arbitrary imprisonments, the torture, the humiliation, the discrimination......

The Israeli report on the ‘unlikely’ revolt of the Palestinians in 2012 took 100 pages to articulate. I was present in 1987 at the first mass protest in Gaza which sparked the First Palestinian Intifada, the people’s revolution that took Israel and the whole world by surprise. And I can testify it took very few words to pronounce and articulate this revolution: “With our blood, with our souls, we will sacrifice for you, Palestine.”

No official analysis could ever predict such a moment."

Living on the edge of Syria's bloody war

As Assad's troops fire shots across the border into Lebanon, the nation's religious factions remain bitterly divided on how to tackle their neighbour from hell: President Assad

By Robert Fisk

"Syria's bloodbath is carving further divisions in Lebanon as President Bashar al-Assad's Lebanese allies and enemies shout more and more insults at each other. The Christians have even divided among themselves, the old Phalangist leadership calling for Assad's overthrow while the Catholic Maronite church performs its old role of fence-sitting on behalf of Syria's minority Christians.

Only this week has the Maronite patriarch, Bechara Rai, had to re-explain himself for the umpteenth time after once more pleading for dialogue between Assad's regime and the Syrian people – instead of denouncing the government in Damascus for its killings. What will the Sunni majority of Syria think of such foot-dragging when its own Sunni kinsmen in Lebanon support them? Or so the Christians have been asked.

No one, of course, has gone further in calling for Assad's overthrow than Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader who took the road to Damascus in 2010, only to denounce the Syrian authorities this month, adding that he knew they were responsible for his own father Kemal's murder 35 years ago....

Amid all the sound and fury and changing of sides – an essential act of all Lebanese politicians who want to survive – it is easy to forget that France, whose condemnation of Assad has been among the harshest, created this whole mess in the first place....."

Arab League: Carry Out, Monitor Syria Sanctions

Take Consistent Approach to Uprisings in Region

March 29, 2012

"(New York) – The League of Arab States should at its summit in Baghdad that began on March 27, 2012, commit to carrying out and monitoring the implementation of the targeted sanctions against the Syrian leadership it agreed to in November 2011, Human Rights Watch said today.

Taking such steps will signal to the Syrian government that sanctions will remain in place until security forces halt their human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said. It will also make clear that the Arab League will not ease its pressure on Syria until it carries out the steps included in the proposal by the Arab League and the United Nations Special Envoy.

For Annan’s plan to work, the Syrian government must stop stalling for time and actually change course,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “By moving forward with the sanctions against the Syrian leadership, the Arab League will send a convincing message that actions are more important than words.”....."

Palestinians forge new strategies of resistance

A new generation of Palestinian activists is breaking down old divisions imposed by Israel.

By Ben White

"A one-state solution in Palestine/Israel is a subject being increasingly discussed and debated. One way in which the conversation has emerged is through an analysis of the current situation as a de facto one state, a regime which privileges Jews above Palestinians (the latter being granted or denied different rights according to geography and legal status).

This challenges the orthodoxy that makes a clean distinction between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In doing so, it not only provides a framework for interpreting various policies, but also counters the fragmentation of Palestinians over the decades into "Israeli Arabs", "West Bank" or "Gaza" Palestinians, Jerusalemites - and of course, refugees.

But apart from this discursive "reintegration", as the apartheid regime has been consolidated irrespective of the "Green Line", a new generation of Palestinian activists is breaking down old divisions imposed by Israel and forging new connections and strategies of resistance.

Lana Khaskia is an activist from Haifa. Last October, she worked alongside other comrades to organise a hunger strike in support of Palestinian prisoners. The action went under the name "Hungry for Freedom", a slogan Lana says covers "many demands that can be summarised in one demand: ending Zionist colonialism in all of historic Palestine".....

For now, these flourishing connections are still restricted to youth activists. But Ameer Makhoul, writing from his Israeli jail cell, highlighted how a campaign like the one for Khader Adnan "illustrated how the components of popular struggle can be brought together". After all, as Janan Abdu, an activist and researcher (and Ameer's wife), put it to me, "the connection and co-operation between Palestinians are natural, as one people that was separated by the Nakba and military regime".

As the peace process stalls and stagnates, it is easy to look at events in Palestine/Israel and see only unimpeded Israeli colonisation, coupled with a lack of legitimate, empowering leadership to marshal Palestinian efforts at resistance. This gloomy picture is accurate - but it misses out the signs of hope that are emerging at a grassroots level."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

IDF Colonel-rabbi implies: Rape is permitted in war

Is it permitted for a Jewish soldier to rape a gentile woman during wartime? This question – based on the biblical mitzvah of Eshet Yefat Toar (“a comely woman”) – was referred to nine years ago (Hebrew) by Rabbi Eyal Qarim. The questioning party seemed anxious and worried, and wanted to know whether the iron-age mitzvah (religious deed) is applicable to IDF soldiers today. Rabbi Qarim answered thus:
The wars of Israel […] are mitzvah wars, in which they differ from the rest of the wars the nations wage among themselves. Since, essentially, a war is not an individual matter, but rather nations wage war as a whole, there are cases in which the personality of the individual is “erased” for the benefit of the whole. And vice versa: sometimes you risk a large unit for the saving of an individual, when it is essential for purposes of morale. One of the important and critical values during war is maintaining the army’s fighting ability […]
As in war the prohibition against risking your life is broken for the benefit of others, so are the prohibitions against immorality and of kashrut. Wine touched by gentiles, consumption of which is prohibited in peacetime, is allowed at war, to maintain the good spirit of the warriors. Consumption of prohibited foods is permitted at war (and some say, even when kosher food is available), to maintain the fitness of the warriors, even though they are prohibited during peacetime. Just so, war removes some of the prohibitions on sexual relations (gilui arayot in the original – YZG), and even though fraternizing with a gentile woman is a very serious matter, it was permitted during wartime (under the specific terms) out of understanding for the hardship endured by the warriors. And since the success of the whole at war is our goal, the Torah permitted the individual to satisfy the evil urge (yetzer ha’ra in the original  -YZG), under the conditions mentioned, for the purpose of the success of the whole.”
Wow. Herein lies a hornet’s nest. The first is that according to Qarim, the rape of female prisoners is not just permitted, it is also essential to war; the success of the whole at war relies on it.

Hana al-Shalabi’s hunger strike: Listen to Ali Abunimah interview on Flashpoints

"Hana al-Shalabi has been on hunger strike since 16 February – more than 40 days – since she was seized from her home by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank village of Burqin. Hana, who previously spent more than two years in Israeli detention, has never been charged with any crime.

Dennis Bernstein spoke to Ali Abunimah on KPFA’s Flashpoints, about Hana al-Shalabi and the struggles of other Palestinian political prisoners against Israel’s systematic abuses......"

Click Here to Listen

Flashpoints - March 27, 2012 at 5:00pm

Click to listen (or download)

Obama’s Foreign Policy Guru

… is a neocon

by Justin Raimondo, March 28, 2012

"On the eve of the President’s last State of the Union speech the White House let it be known that a recent essay by Robert Kagan in The New Republic, which excerpted his book, The World America Made, had been sent to his national security staff for their perusal. As the President told reporters beforehand, Kagan’s thesis – that America is not in decline and must maintain its hegemonic stature in the world, or all is lost – was a major theme of his peroration:

“The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. From the coalitions we’ve built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we’ve led against hunger and disease; from the blows we’ve dealt to our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back. Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

Have no fear – the empire endures!

That President Barack Obama, ostensibly a Democrat of the liberal variety, was touting the views of a neoconservative foreign policy maven whose work has been published in The Weekly Standard, should come as a surprise to exactly no one. The overarching bipartisan consensus in Washington in favor of global intervention ensures that foreign policy disputes are limited to “debates” over means rather than ends. In short, it isn’t a question of whether we ought to have an empire, but of how to best to maintain and expand it....."

Peter Beinart's liberal Zionist fantasy

The lie behind Beinart's ideals was revealed a decade ago when he strongly supported the US invasion of Iraq.

By Mark LeVine

".....And this is perhaps the biggest problem with the world view of commentators such as Beinart and "liberal" groups such as J Street, which aims to be a liberal answer to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) - and to which Beinart has strong ties.

They can only get a seat at the table of power to the extent they refrain from offering the kind of systematic, historically grounded and ruthlessly honest critique of policies that would show the flaws in the system to be fundamental and irreparable - precisely what those in power work so hard to ensure no-one understands. And so, J Street has publicly distanced itself even from Beinart's mild settlement boycott, while also refusing to hold Israel to account for the Gaza war.

If Beinart had spent some time reading the Hebrew prophets before writing The Crisis of Zionism, he might have realised that half-hearted critique gets you nowhere. Yet at the same time, the prophets offer some of the most angry and damning criticisms ever penned against one's own people. They also offer some of the most radical inspiration and hope for a different future the world has ever seen. The moral and spiritual narratives of not only Judaism, but Christianity and Islam as well, would be unimaginable without them.

And that is perhaps the saddest part of Beinart's argument: By remaining within a narrow and flawed historical and political liberal vision, Beinart and other so-called "left Zionists" are unable to imagine a truly progressive future for Israel, one in which all Jews and Palestinians can, in fact, achieve security, justice, peace and democracy - without fundamentally denying the same to the other.

Whether it is bi-nationalism, parallel states, confederation or some other form of political and economic association still to be imagined, there are many ways for Israel to remain what Beinart so desperately wants it to be - a haven for Jews - while allowing Palestinians the full share of rights they have for so long been denied. It would take great imagination and courage to design and push for such a vision, but if the future of Israel and its relationship with American Jews is as threatened as Beinart imagines, there's no excuse for not trying."

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Israel: A 'democratic' violator of rights?

"Israel has cut ties with the UN Human Rights Council after its settlement policy was condemned. How can it violate the human rights of Palestinians and claim to be the only democracy in the region? Guests: Jessica Montell, Akiva Eldar, Mark Ellis."

Al-Jazeera Video: Sunni Iraqis yearn to remain part of Arab fold

"Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, some Sunni Muslims in Iraq say they feel that their country has drifted away from an Arab identity.

They worry Iraq's Shia leadership is growing too close with neighbouring Iran and prompting distrust from Sunni members of the Arab League which is meeting in Baghdad this week.

Shias, meanwhile, argue that Iraq has many regional allies and that it is wrong to focus on Iran.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from Baghdad."

Real News Video : High Oil Prices Must be Subject of Criminal Investigation

Michael Greenberger: Big banks and traders involved in a criminal conspiracy to raise oil prices

More at The Real News

Real News Video : Egypt's Workers Movement Strikes Back

After months of failed negotiations with government ministries, Egyptians workers organized nationwide strikes in both the public and private sectors.

More at The Real News

يا شباب العرب: هؤلاء يسرقون مستقبلكم!

يا شباب العرب: هؤلاء يسرقون مستقبلكم!
رشاد أبوشاور

"شباب العرب هم الذين أشعلوا الثورات العربيّة، وهم وقودها، ولا عجب أن يندفعوا إلى الشوارع والساحات و..الميادين، بعد أن يئسوا من إمكانية التغيير في بلاد العرب، وانغلاق المستقبل في وجوههم، وتوحش المتحكمين في مصائر الأوطان، والقابضين على الحكم بأيد من حديد لا يمكن الفكاك منها إلاّ بكسرها، وليس بالمناشدات، أو بانتظار التغيير التلقائي بأريحية وعن طيب خاطر.
شباب العرب بعد أن يئسوا من إمكانية تحرّك الأحزاب، ونزولها إلى الشوارع، فعلوها هم، في لحظة نادرة في تاريخنا العربي المعاصر، لأن الأحزاب إمّا ضعيفة عاجزة، أو متلكئة مترددة رغم ما يتوفر لديها من قدرة وإمكانات.
هؤلاء الشباب ينظرون هذه الأيام بحسرة إلى حصيلة ثوراتهم التي لم تتوج بانتصارات مؤزرة تغييرية شاملة، فمن اقتُلعوا بقيت أذرعهم الأخطبوطية، وزيادة على ذلك دخلت قوى عمدت إلى اختطاف الثورات، والحراكات، والانتفاضات، وها بعضها مستفيدة من الديمقراطية، وصناديق الاقتراع، تغلق أبواب المستقبل بقبضها على الحاضر، ولجمها للثورات، غير آبهة من غضب الشباب، وندم من منحوها الأصوات مؤملين أن تأتيهم بما حُرموا منه..وهو ليس الخبز وحده بالتأكيد، فالشعوب لم تثر من أجل الخبز وحده، والشباب لم يثوروا من أجل الخبز وحده!
منذ تفجرت ثورتا تونس ومصر الشابتان اللتان اجتذبتا الكهول الذين تبددت أعمارهم وهم يعيشون على أمل التغيير _ لقد هرمنا..._ وكادوا ييأسون، فجددوا شبابهم في شارع بورقيبة، وميدان التحرير، هبّت رياح الأمل على كل بلاد العرب مشرقا ومغربا..وبدا أن نهوض أمة العرب قد حان، وأن الجماهير التي طال تغييبها ستمسك بمصيرها، وستستعيد ثرواتها، وتنهي حكم الفاسدين، وتوحد قدراتها وطاقاتها..وتأخذ مكانها تحت الشمس.
في زمن النهوض العربي الذي قاده جمال عبد الناصر، رُفع شعار دوّى في تلك المرحلة: بترول العرب للعرب..فليتأمل شباب العرب هذا الشعار الذي يوصف مع شعارات كثيرة..بالخشبيّة، وشعارات الستينات..وكأنها سبّة، أو ناتجة عن عقدة نفسية لثوّار ذلك الزمن الشجاع!
قبل أيام قليلة نشر خبر في وسائط إعلامية عربية وأجنبية عن استيلاء أحد أبناء الملوك النفطيين على 40 مليار دولار بطرق غير مشروعة..ترى: هل كان امتلاك هذه المليارات وغيرها مشروعا للأب الراحل؟!
تأملوا يا شباب العرب كيف تنهب الثروات النفطية، وكيف تبدد بسفاهة، وكيف تُحرمون منها، أنتم الذين لا ترثون من آبائكم سوى الألم، والغربة، والفقر..في بلاد العرب التي لا ينتفع من تعدد دولها سوى هؤلاء الذين يضعون أيديهم على ثروات شعوب يسرقون إرادتها، وأمة يحرمونها من هذه الثروات الهائلة التي يمكن أن تنتقل بها الأمة من حال التخلف، والفقر، والجوع، والبطالة، إلى التقدم والتطور، وامتلاك التكنولوجيا، والدخول في نادي الأمم القوية الصاعدة كالصين والهند والبرازيل..وروسيا التي نهضت من كبوتها، وها هي ترفع صوتها في وجه أمريكا الغارقة في العراق وأفغانستان، والمفلسة الآيلة إلى السقوط كما توقع لها المفكر الأمريكي بول كندي...
يا شباب العرب: لن تحل مشاكلكم في هذا البلد، أو ذاك..إقليميا، لأن النفط سيلاحق ثوراتكم، ويعمل على حرفها عن مسارها..وشراء رموزها، والتلاعب بها..خدمة لأعداء الأمة، وإغلاقا لأبواب مستقبل نهوض الأمة.
من ينهبون الثروات ويبددونها..لا يريدون الخير للأمة، وهم دائما، منذ زمن جمال عبد الناصر، وحتى يومنا، اختاروا أن يكونوا في صف الأعداء.
بكلمة واحدة يا شباب: هذه الثروات ثرواتكم جميعا، في كل بلاد العرب، ومن حقكم، وواجبكم أن تتساءلوا إلى أين تذهب، وماذا قدمت للأمة..أين الصناعة المتطورة، والزراعة المتطورة، والتعليم المتطور، و..أين دور هذه الثروات في جعلنا أمة قوية قادرة يا شباب ؟!
أنا واثق أنكم سترفعون هذا الشعار من جديد: بترول العرب للعرب ..وليس للغرب أيها الفاسدون!

Syria: a devious diplomacy

Assad's side believe that if they give quarter it will be the end of them, while the opposition groups differ on many matters but not at all on the imperative of revenge

Editorial, Tuesday 27 March 2012

"If government and opposition in Syria can be brought to accept the plan urged on them by Kofi Annan, the special envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League, there is one thing that can be stated with complete certainty. Both sides would be doing so in bad faith, the one with the intention of relinquishing not a shred of real control, the other in the hope of manipulating a post-ceasefire situation in such a way as to soon bring down Bashar al-Assad, his family and his associates.

Assad's side believe that if they give quarter it will be the end of them, while the opposition groups differ on many matters but not at all on the imperative of revenge. That revenge might conceivably be postponed, but it will not be renounced. The question, then, is whether such a patently artificial solution is worth pursuing. The answer is yes, for a number of reasons.....

....As the Syrian opposition meets to try to resolve some of its differences, and a big "Friends of Syria" conference convenes this weekend in Istanbul, Annan's diplomacy continues. But nothing is clear, including what the Syrian government has really decided to do. If the plan falls, that would not be a surprise. If it, or something like it, succeeds, it will only extend the conflict in a new form, but one which might reduce its human costs."

Guardian Video: Israel 'faces isolation' as new border fence is erected

A frontier fence is being erected at high speed along the 150-mile boundary between the Sinai and Negev deserts. Once it is finished, Israel will be almost completely enclosed by steel, barbed wire and concrete, leaving only the southern border with Jordan between the Dead and Red Seas without a physical barrier

Harriet Sherwood and Mat Heywood, Wednesday 28 March 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One Nation, Indivisible, by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

The Massacre of the Afghan 17 and the Obama Cover-Up

By James Petras

"The March 11 Massacre of the 17 Afghan citizens, including at least nine children and four women, raises many fundamental issues about the nature of a colonial war, the practices of a colonial army engaged in a prolonged (eleven-year) occupation and the character of an imperial state as it commits war crimes and increasingly relies on arbitrary dictatorial measures to secure public compliance and suppress dissent...."

8,000 West Bank children arrested since 2000, says new report

Jillian Kestler-D'Amours
The Electronic Intifada
Beit Sahour 26 March 2012

"BEIT SAHOUR, West Bank (IPS) - Hamza has memories that no 17-year-old should have.

Last year, he was arrested in the middle of the night on suspicion that he threw stones at Israeli settlers near his school in the West Bank. He was handcuffed, blindfolded and beaten on the way to interrogation.....

Save the Children and the East Jerusalem YMCA Rehabilitation Program released a report on 11 March about the impact of Israeli arrests and detention on Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation. The organizations estimate that since 2000, Israel has arrested and detained over 8,000 Palestinian children in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including some as young as 12.

Handcuffed and blindfolded, the children — who are most often arrested on suspicion of throwing stones — are transported to either Israeli prisons or settlements in the West Bank for interrogation, which almost always take place without the children’s parents or a lawyer present, the report stated.

All Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to Israel’s military courts system, which was set up shortly after Israel began occupying the territory in 1967. According to the report, these courts “are not intended to function as a comprehensive legal system” but rather, “must be understood as the ‘judicial arm’ of the occupying power, which means that the emphasis lies more on security than on justice.”....."

Could the Druze Minority Tip the Scales of Syria’s Revolution?

By Mona Alami

"BEIRUT, Mar. 26, 2012 (IPS) - The Druze stronghold of Sweida, Syria, witnessed several pro-democracy protests last week. While the movement remains marginal, it is charged with symbolism: the Druze have long been considered the "spiritual cousins" of the Alawites, the religious group to which the Assad family belongs.

The question now on the table is whether or not the recent outbursts of Druze opposition to the regime could be a tipping point in favour of the Syrian revolutionaries...."

Death penalty 2011: Alarming levels of executions in the few countries that kill

"Countries that carried out executions in 2011 did so at an alarming rate but those employing capital punishment have decreased by more than a third compared to a decade ago, Amnesty International found in its annual review of death sentences and executions.

Only 10 percent of countries in the world, 20 out of 198, carried out executions last year.

People were executed or sentenced to death for a range of offences including adultery and sodomy in Iran, blasphemy in Pakistan, sorcery in Saudi Arabia, the trafficking of human bones in the Republic of Congo, and drug offences in more than 10 countries.....

In the Middle East there has been a steep rise in recorded executions [It goes with the "Arab Spring??"] – up almost 50 per cent on the previous year.

This was due to four countriesIraq (at least 68 executions), Iran (at least 360), Saudi Arabia (at least 82) and Yemen (at least 41) – which accounted for 99 per cent of all recorded executions in the Middle East and North Africa. The rise in Iran and Saudi Arabia alone accounted for the net increase in recorded executions across the world of 149, compared to 2010......"

Egypt: Children on Trial

Stop Sending Juveniles Before Military Courts

March 27, 2012

"(New York) – Egypt’s military courts have investigated or tried at least 43 children over the past year, Human Rights Watch said today,including the pending trial of 13-year-old Ahmed Hamdy Abdel Aziz in connection with the Port Said football riots. Children prosecuted in military courts have not had access to lawyers, and often to their families, until after military authorities have investigated and sentenced them. Since coming to power in February 2011, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has referred over 12,000 civilians for prosecution by military courts before military judges, though these courts fail to meet minimum due process standards.

The Egyptian military should end all investigations and trials of children before military courts, Human Rights Watch said, and should release or transfer all those already convicted to the juvenile justice system.In particular, the military should immediately release Islam Harby, a 16-year-old boy who has served nearly a full year in an adult maximum-security prison after an unfair trial before a military court in March 2011, Human Rights Watch said.

It’s bad enough that the SCAF is trying civilians in military courts, but to put Egyptian children through the military justice system is an even graver injustice,” said Priyanka Motaparthy, Middle East children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The military has brought children before military courts without even the most basic protections, like access to lawyers or their families. Even worse, authorities have abused them in detention.”......."