Studies show that US coverage is Israeli-centric. The main bureaus for CNN, Associated Press, Time, etc. are located in Israel and often staffed by Israelis. The son of the NY Times bureau chief is in the Israeli army;"pundit" Jeffrey Goldberg served in the IDF; Wolf Blitzer worked for AIPAC. Because the U.S. gives Israel over $8 million/day - more than to any other nation - we feel it is essential that we be fully informed on this region. Below are news reports to augment mainstream coverage.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

AIPAC Celebrates 47th Birthday in Court

Antiwar.com - Grany Smith
...In the 1960s the Justice Department and Senate investigators found that the AZC was laundering millions of overseas contributions from the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency in Jerusalem into the U.S. political system. The AZC used this to fund think-tanks, lobbying efforts for arms and aid, and a sophisticated public relations campaign to take over Madison Avenue, academia, civic groups, and major public opinion-makers.

The AZC ran afoul of the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires any individual or group in America acting on behalf of a foreign principal to publicly declare relevant activities. In November 1962, the DOJ ordered the AZC to begin registering as an Israeli foreign agent. Exactly six weeks later, on Jan. 2, 1963, Isaiah Kenen, Isadore Breslau, Joseph Ottenstein, and 30 others jumped the burning AZC ship and incorporated the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [.pdf] in Washington, D.C... full story

[Pro-Israel] Groups Back Somali in Bid To Block Israel Lawsuits

Forward - Nathan Guttman
American Jewish organizations that fought to establish the jurisdiction of U.S. courts for suits against terrorist groups are taking an opposite tack in suits involving human rights abuses.

Jewish groups have filed briefs siding with a former Somali official now living in Virginia who is alleged to bear responsibility for atrocities committed during his tenure.

The case’s outcome is expected to set a precedent on the vulnerability to human rights lawsuits of former and present officials of internationally recognized governments. But supporters of Israel fear the result could enable Palestinians who claim to be victims of Israel to pursue Israeli officials here.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments March 3 in the case of Yousuf v. Samantar, in which a group of Somalis is seeking financial damages from Mohamed Ali Samantar, Somalia’s former defense minister........ Among the five Somalis suing Samantar are a student who was allegedly detained and raped 15 times by a military man, a former officer who alleges he survived a mass execution and a businessman who claims he was tortured for months by the regime Samantar helped lead. Two of the plaintiffs are now American citizens. The case was filed under the Torture Victim Protection Act.

The Supreme Court will rule on the plaintiffs’ right to pursue a civil lawsuit against Samantar. Pro-Israel activists, fearing a precedent that will allow others to pursue legal action against Israel for alleged war crimes — as has happened in Europe — have filed briefs opposing their suit.

“There will be a rash of lawsuits of this kind against Israel” if the court rules for the plaintiffs, warned Alyza Lewin, an attorney with the firm of Lewin & Lewin, which has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of Samantar and against making foreign officials vulnerable to civil lawsuits. The brief was filed on behalf of four Jewish groups: the Zionist Organization of America, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Agudath Israel of America, and the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists.

A couple of Israeli officials already faced this threat in the United States.

..........In 2005, former chief of staff and current Cabinet minister Moshe Ya’alon was served with a civil suit while entering a Washington think tank he was attending as a visiting scholar, filed by families of victims from a 1996 Israeli shelling in Lebanon. A week earlier, Avi Dichter, former head of Israel’s General Security Service, had the same experience in New York. This lawsuit was on behalf of victims of an Israeli bombing in Gaza.

These lawsuits cannot lead to arrests, but they can cause significant financial liabilities to Israelis and eventually deter Israeli officials from visiting America, pro-Israel activists say.

Fighting to maintain immunity for foreign officials seems to place Jewish activists far from positions they have taken in the past.........

On the other side are human- rights groups, led by the Center for Justice & Accountability, representing the Somali citizens suing Samantar. “This case stands for the proposition that the U.S. cannot be a safe haven for human-rights abusers like Samantar,” said Pamela Merchant, the group’s executive director, “and we are confident that the Supreme Court will not allow U.S. law to be manipulated to undermine this principle.” Full story

Internationals injured in Cairo protests

Ma'an
Two women and a man were injured by Egyptian police during demonstrations with the Gaza Freedom March in Cairo Thursday.

A French woman, Marie Renee, died but was not present at any of the protests and reportedly had a heart attack Wednesday afternoon...

Identities of the three injured protesters were not immediately released. Sources said they were among the 450 activists from dozens of nations present at the protest outside Egyptian government buildings.

The French delegates had earlier been camped out on the grounds surrounding the French Embassy in Cairo, reportedly flanked by two lines of Egyptian police.

...On Wednesday, Egyptian security allowed 84 of the 1,300 who registered to participate in the Freedom March into Gaza. All were traveling with the Codepink delegation, which organized two earlier trips into the besieged Palestinian area since the Israeli war on Gaza last year.

The delegation was permitted into the Strip despite protests from other groups demanding all of those wishing to show solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza should be allowed into the area.

Egyptian security sent back buses of protesters from the Suez Canal internal checkpoint earlier in the week.... Full story

Protest at Erez crossing denounces Gaza blockade

Ma'an
Some 500 demonstrators called on Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza during a demonstration at the Erez crossing point on Thursday, as part of the Gaza Freedom March initiative.

The demonstrators, mostly Palestinians living inside Israel, said they came to express solidarity with Gaza residents...

“We also say to the Palestinian people in Gaza: We are one people, and we are with you all the way. .....



.....Thursday’s march was intended to coincide with a thousand-strong march of international protesters from the Gaza side of the crossing. However, Egypt denied entry to the Strip to most of the Gaza Freedom March’s participants.

........International and Jewish-Israeli activists also joined the demonstration... Full story

Israel demolishes two buildings of Hebron family

Ma'an
Israeli forces demolished two agricultural buildings belonging ... Full story

Witnesses: Settlers bulldoze land for settlement expansion

Ma'an
Accompanied by soldiers, Israeli settlers driving bulldozers destroyed the Neweitef Al-Majur spring, the central water source for residents of the nearby West Bank town of Qarawat Bani Hassan on Thursday, locals reported.

The destruction of the spring also involved uprooting several olive trees, eyewitnesses said...

..... the bulldozer incident was preceded by an attack on a young shepherd identified as Nayef Assi, who was threatened and told to stay out of the area of the spring... Full story

Israeli forces detain 15 including PA security officer in raids

Ma'an
Israeli forces detained thirteen young men including an officer with the PA security forces and two minors overnight after storming their home, locals reported.

... Israeli military vehicles stormed the area after midnight and raided a number of houses before detaining the young men [5 were minors]...... Full story

Witnesses: Soldiers assault cab driver

Ma'an
A Jerusalemite cab driver was stopped at the Bethlehem DCO on Thursday by soldiers....... beaten with rifle butts.... Full story

Gaza Ministry of Health runs out of 141 different medicines

Ma'an
The Ministry of Health in Gaza said it has run out of 141 types of medicines and 116 types of medical supplies due to Israeli restrictions on goods brought into Gaza, a monthly report released Wednesday said... Full story

UN: Israel bombed Gaza 'back to the mud age'

Ma'an
The UN relief agency UNRWA said on Tuesday that Gaza had been “bombed back, not to the Stone Age, but to the mud age,” because the agency was reduced to building houses out of mud due to Israel’s ban on construction materials entering the Strip.

“The Israeli blockade has meant that almost no reconstruction materials have been allowed to move into Gaza even though 60,000 homes were either damaged or completely destroyed...

Israel’s three-week offensive on Gaza last December and January left more than 1,400 Palestinians, and 13 Israelis, dead [4 by "friendly fire"].

One year after the war, thousands of buildings remain in ruins due to the ban on construction materials.

Also on Tuesday, the United Nation’s senior expert on Palestinian rights repeated a call for economic sanctions on Israel to force it to end its blockade of Gaza which has prevented recovery from last winter’s war.

“Obviously Israel does not respond to language of diplomacy, which has encouraged the lifting of the blockade and so what I am suggesting is that it has to be reinforced by a threat of adverse economic consequences for Israel,” Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, told UN Radio.

“That probably is something that is politically unlikely to happen, but unless it happens, it really does suggest that the United States and the Quartet and the EU don’t take these calls for lifting the blockade very seriously and are unaffected by Israel’s continuing defiance of those calls,” he said, referring to the diplomatic Quartet of the UN, EU, Russia and US. Full story

UN Report
.......Mr. Falk also deplored the wall being built on the borders between Gaza and Egypt.

“I’m very distressed by that, because it is both an expression of complicity on the part of the government of Egypt and the United States, which apparently is assisting through its corps of engineers with the construction of this underground steel impenetrable wall that’s designed to interfere with the tunnels that have been bringing some food and material relief to the Gaza population,” he told UN Radio.

“And of course, the underground tunnel complex itself is an expression of the desperation created in Gaza as a result of this blockade that’s going on now for two and a half years, something that no people since the end of World War II have experienced in such a severe and continuing form.

...... In a new policy brief, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), entrusted with promoting the integration of developing countries into the world economy, reported that more than 80 per cent of Gaza’s population are now impoverished; 43 per cent unemployed; and 75 per cent lack food security. “In view of the eroded productive base, poverty is likely to widen and deepen unless reconstruction begins in earnest and without further delay,” it warned. Full story

3-min video giving background on Gaza siege:


Family appeals for baby formula banned from Gaza

Ma'an
Gazan resident Muhammad Abu Shabab appealed to the Palestinian Ministry of Health to put pressure on Israel to allow the import of Galactomin 19 infant formula for his 4-month-old nephew.

... his nephew, Yahiya Ahmad Abu Shabab, has been suffering chronic diarrhea since he was born at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, and that the formula is the only thing likely to stabilize his condition.

The formula is designed for children with intolerances to lactose, galactose and glucose.

.......Israel bans hundreds of goods from entering the Gaza Strip as a part of the blockade that began in June 2007.

The list of banned goods is not public but includes numerous food and medical items. According to officials, only 36 different products were allowed into the Gaza Strip via Israeli crossings in December. Full story

Israel detains four Palestinians overnight

Ma'an
The Israeli military announced on Wednesday that it detained four Palestinians during overnight operations in the West Bank.

The detainees were “taken for questioning” the military said... Full story

Witnesses: Soldiers assault four workers

Ma'an
Israeli soldiers assaulted four Palestinian workers on Tuesday night in the West Bank village of Al-Walajah, near Bethlehem...

... the soldiers broke the legs of three men, and arrested a fourth, taking him to an unknown detention center...

The reason for the reported assault was unclear... Full story

Rights group: Israel covers up torture

Ma'an
Israel systematically prevents accountability over allegations of torture against its Shit Bet security force, a new report by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) charges.

The group said the 98-page report “exposes an intolerable reality.”

“Officials at the highest levels of Israel's justice system directly and indirectly thwart the opening of criminal investigations against torture suspects,” the committee said in a statement.

The main finding of the report, titled "Accountability Denied: The Absence of Investigation and Punishment of Torture in Israel" is that Israel has no real mechanism for looking into complaints of torture.

“This results in absolute criminal immunity for interrogators who commit grave crimes,” the committee added. Of hundreds of complaints of torture submitted over the years, PCATI says not one result in a criminal investigation.

.......“In practice, this means that the Attorney General and his assistants provide sweeping approval to use torture in Israel,” ........... Full story

Short Videos on Israeli Torture
Foreign Service Journal report on Israeli torture of American citizens

Barak under heavy guard following settler threats

Ma'an
Israel has put Defense Minister Ehud Barak under heavy security out of concern that right-wing Jewish settlers could attempt to harm him...

...over his role in enforcing the a partial moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements... The minister recieved a threatening letter similar to those to Israeli Police Commissioner David Cohen last week.

The Israeli government declared the 10-month freeze, which does not apply to the greater Jerusalem area or construction that began earlier, in a gesture to the US, which wants renewed peace talks.

....The director of Israel’s Shin Bet security service was quoted in the Channel 2 news report saying that settler extremists would try to sow chaos in order to disrupt enforcement of the freeze.

Earlier on Tuesday, a settler shot and injured a Palestinian shepherd near the settlement of Bat Ayin, north of Hebron. Witnesses and the Israeli military confirmed the incident.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Shin Bet was also investigating the source of a number of threats made against Police Commissioner David Cohen in recent days. Police believe that the threatening letters were sent to Cohen by angry settler activists.

"You have been marked for death," said a letter sent to Cohen, according to the newspaper. "Your day of judgment is near." Full story

US lawmaker: Cut aid to Israel over Gaza blockade

Ma'an
...Brain Baird, a Democrat representing the Third District of the state of Washington, told Al-Jazeera television that the US should impose a financial penalty on Israel if the suffering of Gaza residents is not eased.

“There will be a cost in dollars, in aid, in support, if some fundamental changes don’t happen,” he said.



Baird visited Gaza in February along with fellow congressman Kieth Ellison...

As a part of a blockade that began in June 2007, Israel bans all construction materials from Gaza, preventing reconstruction from the destruction wrought during the war.

According to the Israeli organization Gisha, The Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, some 3,500 homes were completely destroyed during the war, while another 2,800 sustained heavy damage.

Donor states pledged some four billion US dollars to rebuild Gaza at a conference in March in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm Ash-Sheikh. Because of the blockade, little of the pledged aid has actually reached its intended recipients.

Baird represents the hometown of Rachel Corrie, the young American activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003. He and Ellison are somewhat exceptional in their support for Gaza in the US congress, which is heavily influenced by pro-Israeli lobby groups like AIPAC.

Earlier in December Baird announced he would not seek another term in congress

'Israel must allow journalists access to this important story'

Ma'an
Part four of a series recounting the findings of Richard Goldstone's UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict.

At least 375 Palestinians were dead and 1,720 injured, hundreds seriously, by the end of the fourth full day of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza one year ago today.

In Beit Hanoun, Israeli missiles killed two Palestinian girls, four- and 11-year-old sisters, just one day after a mother lost five daughters in a strike on Jabaliya refugee camp the day before.

The attacks, two of dozens that had killed more than 20 children since the military embarked on its operation, sparked a flurry of media reports despite Israel's best efforts to prevent international journalists from reporting the devastation in Gaza.

While Israel's Foreign Ministry opened an international media broadcast center in Sderot the day after its assault began on 27 December 2008, and organized tours for members of the press in the city and its environs, the country banned foreign reporters from entering the war zone. The army also banned reporters from approaching Israeli soil within two kilometers of the coastal Palestinian enclave, declaring both areas a joint "closed military zone."

On 30 December, a coalition of hundreds of locally-based journalists petitioned Israel's High Court over the ban. "[T]he world’s media is unable to accurately report on events inside Gaza at this critical time ... Despite our protests, the Israeli authorities have refused to let journalists in ... Never before have journalists been prevented from doing their work in this way. We believe it is vital that journalists be allowed to find out for themselves what is going on in Gaza. Israel controls access to Gaza. Israel must allow professional journalists access to this important story."

In an open letter published the day before, the Foreign Press Association also protested "in the strongest terms.....

Israeli citizens, including journalists, had been barred from entering Gaza since the abduction in 2006 of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier...

"The media ban, coupled with the comments made by the director of the Israeli Press Office have raised concerns, aired in the media, that the ban was aimed at controlling the narrative of the conflict for political reasons," according to the final report of South African jurist Richard Goldstone's UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.

After the closure, on 5 November 2008, of the Gaza Strip to journalists (among other groups, including human rights monitors), there was international and domestic protest; the ban was lifted briefly on 4 December 2008, but reinstated the following day. At the start of the military operations in Gaza, Israeli security officials indicated that there would be a complete ban on access of the media to Gaza for the duration of the operations.

On 19 November 2008, the heads of many international news organizations, including the BBC, CNN and Reuters, protested against the ban in a letter to the then President Ehud Olmert.

On 24 December 2008, the FPA petitioned the Supreme Court over the ban.

On 31 December 2008, the Supreme Court ruled on the FPA's petition, ordering that the Government of Israel grant 12 journalists entry into Gaza each time the Erez crossing opened. The army refused. On 2 January 2009, the court amended its order to state that eight journalists, rather than 12, should be admitted whenever the Erez crossing opened.

On 8 January 2009, the Israeli authorities briefly gave the BBC and two Israeli channels access to accompany Israeli forces into Gaza. On 22 January 2009, access was granted to eight journalists to accompany Israeli forces into Gaza. The media and non-governmental organizations continued to complain about the lack of independent, unfettered access to Gaza...
Full story

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Witnesses: Israeli forces open fire in north Gaza

Ma'an
Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday night and Tuesday morning, witnesses said.

...Israeli forces shot at farmers at 11:30am in the northern border area... five Israeli tanks entered 300 meters into Palestinian territory and swept the area.

Witnesses also said Israeli soldiers shot at farmers near the Erez crossing point on Monday night. Seven Israeli vehicles were seen patrolling the area. Full story

Changing the Narrative for War

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D. is the Francis Walsingham Fellow at The American Conservative Defense Alliance (www.ACDAlliance.org) and a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer.

Campaign for Libertry - Philip Giraldi
In spite of the calamities of the past eight years, there continues to be no shortage of neoconservatives in one's face in the media, advising their fellow Americans that wars can be won quickly and decisively and that using military force to change how other nations behave is sound policy. The Washington Post features Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, all three Kagans, John Bolton, and Eliot Cohen on a regular basis. The Wall Street Journal editorial page is the epicenter for those who favor muscular interventionism.

The New York Times.......featuring neocons-lite David Brooks and Thomas Friedman regularly....

...occasionally the Times......sets new benchmarks in terms of audacious support of Washington's self proclaimed right to enforce its own standards on the world. Such an op-ed was "There's Only One Way to Stop Iran" by Professor Alan J. Kuperman which, ironically, appeared on Christmas Eve.

As a former intelligence officer I frequently shake my head when I read a piece like "There's Only One Way to Stop Iran" because I know exactly how what the Soviets used to call disinformation works. When the policy stinks and you have to create buzz about it anyway, you dig up someone who can plausibly describe himself as an "expert" and then find some obliging folks in the media to publish a piece that enables you to change the story line.

That is what I used to do myself back in the days when I was working hard to demonize the Soviets. Take an incident or development, twist it a bit so you can come to a conclusion that is at odds with the facts, get your paid asset to write it up, hand it over to another paid agent in the media, and then let it fly. It will be picked up here and there, spread around the world and incorporated into other news coverage, and eventually everyone is saying we have to stand up to the Russians. Or Chinese. Or Iranians. Or the Yemenis.

Recently we have seen change the narrative applied to justify all sorts of outrages, including the pastel revolutions in Eastern Europe, where, so the accepted story goes, brave bands of reformers took on corrupt and authoritarian old regime leaders. The reality was much different, with European and American Non-Government Organizations funding one group of criminals against another with not a touch of genuine reform in sight. And then there is poor little Georgia, hardly plausible that Tbilisi might have been the aggressor against Russia, was it? But it was (John McCain please take note).

That kind of narrative shift is precisely what Kuperman and those who are like minded are doing, changing the story to turn black into white to make war appear to be the only option to resolve a thorny international problem. Appearing in The Times is particularly damaging...

The only problem is that the entire Kuperman narrative is itself nonsense. It starts by rejecting negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program after assuming that something is true, namely that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon. There is no evidence that that is the case and even the US intelligence community continues to assert that Iran abandoned its weapons program in 2003. It then goes on to assume that any agreement with Iran to enable it to buy enriched fuel for electricity generation will inevitably lead to the uranium being further enriched to weapons grade.

That amounts to taking a worst case scenario and combining it with another worst case scenario to draw a conclusion. Kuperman then piles on a third worst case assumption, that Iran would unhesitatingly hand over its expensively acquired nuclear deterrent weapon to a terrorist group. In baseball, three strikes and you are out, but apparently three non sequiturs in a single article does not rule you out for a New York Times op-ed.

Kuperman then describes the mechanics of defanging Iran, how taking out the country's alleged nuclear sites would be quick and relatively painless with little in the way of collateral damage to the US. Does anyone hear the word cakewalk? Kuperman has clearly not spent much time in the real world. Using American air power to attack Iran would be piling Pelion on Ossa, with terrible consequences including making it far more likely that Tehran will actively seek a nuclear weapon while guaranteeing a wave of terrorism that could well become global. There would also be a major spike in oil prices that would sink the already struggling American economy, whether or not the US Navy succeeds in controlling the Straits of Hormuz.

Kuperman concedes that military action could backfire, but he draws on the analogy of the completely dissimilar Israeli destruction of Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981, which he regards as a success. He notes somewhat ominously that Iran's much larger infrastructure would require repeated bombings coupled with the threat to use still more force if Tehran were to retaliate. It all sounds a bit like the Cheney doctrine of first attacking Iran and then threatening it with nuclear weapons if it seeks to defend itself. On an optimistic note, Kuperman also throws in a final added benefit to a bit of devastating aerial bombardment, concluding that "air strikes against Iran would be a strong warning to other would-be proliferators."

Actually, they wouldn't be. Attacking Iran would not necessarily destroy its ability to build an atom bomb if it chooses to do so and would only encourage other potential proliferators to proliferate, if only to obtain a deterrent against being bombed by the United States or Israel. Also, thousands of completely innocent Iranians would die, which does not appear to be a consideration that bothers Kuperman very much. As Ron Paul and others have warned, yet another illegal war of choice in the Middle East would inflict damage on the US constitution and the rule of law and would also be a human and economic catastrophe both for Iran and the United States.

....Professor Alan J. Kuperman is director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at the University of Texas. If a sustained bombing campaign is the best policy that the Prevention Program can come up with it is perhaps time for the good people in Texas to begin to wonder what exactly their tax dollars are supporting. Full story

Israel Rules

Foreign Policy Journal - Paul Craig Roberts
On Christmas eve when Christians were celebrating the Prince of Peace, the New York Times delivered forth a call for war. “There’s only one way to stop Iran,” declared Alan J. Kuperman, and that is “military air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

Kuperman is described as the “director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at the University of Texas at Austin,” but his Christmas eve call to war relies on disinformation and contradiction, not on objective scholarly analysis.

For example, Kuperman contradicts the unanimous report of America’s 16 intelligence agencies, the reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Russian intelligence with his claim that Iran has a nuclear weapon program. Astonishingly, it does not occur to Kuperman that readers might wonder how an academic bureaucrat in Austin, Texas, has better information than these authorities.

Kuperman is so determined to damn President Obama’s plan to have other countries enrich Iran’s uranium for Iran’s nuclear energy program and medical isotopes that Kuperman commits astounding blunders. After claiming that Iran has a “bomb program,” Kuperman claims that “Iran’s uranium contains impurities” and that Ahmadinejad’s threat “to enrich uranium domestically to the 20 percent level . . . is a bluff, because even if Iran could further enrich its impure uranium, it lacks the capacity to fabricate the uranium into fuel elements.”

What was the New York Times op ed editor thinking when he approved Kuperman’s article? Iran, Kuperman writes, needs “90 percent enriched uranium” to have weapons-grade material, but cannot reach 20 percent or even make fuel elements for its nuclear energy. So, how is Iran going to produce a bomb? Yet, Kuperman writes that “we have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. The sooner the United States takes action, the better.”

It could not be made any clearer that, as with the US invasion of Iraq, a military attack on Iran has nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction. An “Iranian nuke” is just another canard behind which hides an undeclared agenda.

One wonders about Kuperman’s non-proliferation credentials. How does a wanton military attack on a country encourage non-proliferation? Aren’t America’s bullying, threats and acts of war more likely to encourage countries to seek nuclear weapons?

At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the United States has wars ongoing in Iraq where the ancient Chaldean Christian community was destroyed–not by Saddam Hussein but by the neoconservatives’ illegal invasion of Iraq–in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yeman, and Sudan. The US initiated a war, which it lost, between its puppet ruler in the former Soviet province of Georgia and Russia.

The US, the world’s greatest supporter of terrorism, is the main financier of terrorist groups that stage attacks within Iran, and US money succeeded in financing protests against President Ahmadinejad’s re-election and in dividing the ruling Islamic clerics. It was American money, weapons, and diplomatic cover that enabled the Israeli war crimes against the Lebanese people during 2006 and against Palestinian civilians in Gaza during 2008-2009, crimes documented in the Goldstone Report.

Iran has never interfered in US internal affairs, but the US has a long record of interfering in Iranian affairs. In 1953 the US overthrew Iran’s popular prime minister, Mohammed Mosaddeq and installed a puppet who tortured Iranians who desired political independence.

Despite this and other American offenses against Iran, Ahmadinejad has repeatedly expressed Iran’s interest to be on friendly terms with the United States, only to be repeatedly rebuffed. The US wants war with Iran in order to expand US world hegemony.

One might expect a non-proliferation expert to take history into account, but Kuperman fails to do so. Kuperman also has nothing to say about Israel’s, India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Unlike Iran, none of these countries are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel, India, and Pakistan all developed their nuclear weapons in secret, and many experts believe Israel had American help, an act of treason. All three countries have been rewarded by Washington despite their perfidy.

Why is Kuperman concerned about Iran, which submits to the IAEA inspections, but is unconcerned with Israel, a country that has never permitted a single inspection?

The answer is that the Israel Lobby, the US military-security complex, and the “Christian” Zionists have succeeded in demonizing Iran. Every real expert knows that an Iranian nuclear weapon would have no function other than deterring an attack on Iran. Ever since the US lost its monopoly on nuclear weapons, after using them offensively and pointlessly against a defeated Japan, nuclear weapons have served no purpose other than deterrence.

The US has no conflicting economic interests with Iran. Iran is simply a supplier of oil, an important one. A US attack on Iran, such as the one advocated by Kuperman, would most likely shut down oil flows to the West through the Strait of Hormuz. This might benefit refiners, who sell gasoline to the West and could charge enormous prices, but no one else would benefit.

Adding to the war cry are congregations of fake Christians. A great number of them, organized by someone’s money under the banner, “Christian Leaders for a Nuclear-free Iran,” has written to Congress demanding sanctions against Iran that amount to an act of war. The roll call includes the “Christian” Zionist John Hagee, who, according to reports, denigrates Jesus Christ and preaches to his illiterate congregation that it is God’s will for Americans to fight and die for Israel, the oppressor of the Palestinian people.

Among the signatories of the “Christians” demanding an act of war against Iran, are Dr. Pat Robertson, president of Christian Broadcasting Network, Nixon-era criminal Chuck Colson, and Richard Land, president of Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention. Obviously, for southern baptists ethics means murdering Islamists, and religious liberty excludes everyone but “Christian” Zionists.

It is a simple matter for an educated person to make fools of these morons who profess to be Christians. However, these morons have vast constituencies numbering in the tens of millions of Americans. There are, in fact, more of them than there are intelligent, informed, moral, and real Christian Americans.

The votes of the morons will prevail.

In the second decade of the 21st century, America’s Zionist wars against Islam will expand. America’s wars in behalf of Israel’s territorial expansion will complete the bankruptcy of America. The Treasury’s bonds to finance the US government’s enormous deficits will lack for buyers. Therefore, the bonds will be monetized by the Federal Reserve.

The result will be rising rates of inflation. The inflation will destroy the dollar as world reserve currency, and the US will no longer be able to pay for its imports. Shortages will appear, including food and gasoline, and “Superpower America” will find itself pressed to the wall as a third world country unable to pay its debts.

America has been brought low, both morally and economically, by its obeisance to the Israel Lobby. Even Jimmy Carter, a former President of the United States and Governor of Georgia recently had to apologize to the Israel Lobby for his honest criticisms of Israel’s inhumane treatment of the occupied Palestinians in order for his grandson to be able to run for a seat in the Georgia state senate.

This should tell the macho super-power American tough guys who really runs “their” country.

Paul Craig Roberts
Hon. Paul Craig Roberts was educated at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Virginia, the University of California, Berkeley, and Oxford University where he was a member of Merton College. Dr. Roberts has held numerous academic appointments, including Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University. Dr. Roberts served in the Congressional Staff in the House and Senate and was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Treasury by President Ronald Reagan. He was awarded the French Legion of Honor in 1987. Dr. Roberts is author of 'Alienation and the Soviet Economy' and 'The Supply-Side Revolution'. He is coauthor with Matthew Stephenson of 'Marx’s Theory of Exchange, Alienation, and Crisis'. He is coauthor with Karen LaFollette Araujo of 'Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy and The Capitalist Revolution in Latin America'. He is coauthor with Lawrence Stratton of 'The New Color Line and The Tyranny of Good Intentions'. His latest book, 'How The Economy Was Lost', will be published by CounterPunch in October 2009. Dr. Roberts is a columnist for Creators Syndicate in Los Angeles. Full story

Settler shoots Palestinian north of Hebron

Ma'an
An Israeli settler on Tuesday shot and injured a Palestinian shepherd near the settlement of Bat Ayin, north of the city of Hebron, a witness and the Israeli military said.

The settlement is built on lands that were confiscated from Palestinian villages of Al-Jab’a, Safa, and Surif.

Ahmad Shakarna, a taxi driver who witnessed the shooting, told Ma’an that Nabil Ibrahim Abdul Majid, in his thirties from Al-Jab’a, and a Bedouin man who lives in the same village, were herding their sheep in the fields near the village.

A settler from Bat Ayn approached them and ordered them to leave claiming the land belonged to the settlement, Shakarna said. When the shepherds tried to explain that the land belongs to their village, and that the settler in fact was the intruder, a heated argument began, he said. According to Shakarna, the settler then took out a handgun and shot Abdul Majid in his the shoulder.

Shakarna added that large numbers of Israeli troops and border police immediately arrived and took the injured Palestinian for interrogation.

An Israeli military spokesman said that based on an initial inquiry, an argument broke out between a civilian security officer and two Palestinians.

“During the argument a bullet discharged from his [the security guard’s] weapon, hitting and lightly wounding one of them.”

He added that the wounded man received first aid in the field and was taken to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem.

Israeli media reported a different account, saying that the security coordinator of the settlement claimed the Palestinians attempted to steal his weapon before he fired gunshots into the air while they fled.

The website of Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported a Palestinian shepherd was found injured not far from the area mentioned by the security coordinator.

Shakarna, the eyewitness said this report was completely false. The military spokesman said it was “possible,” but stressed that the incident was under police investigation.

Beit Ayn, which houses 3,500 settlers, has been known in the past as a base for extremists. Three men from the settlement were jailed in 2002 for attempting to bomb a Palestinian girls’ school in Jerusalem and plotting attacks on other targets.

Bat Ayin’s settlers also prohibit Palestinians from entering the settlement, even those with Israeli IDs. Full story

Living in rubble, Gaza unchanged one year on

Ma'an
The war might as well have ended yesterday for all the rubble, desolation and uncertainty.

With the onset of winter, survivors living in makeshift shelters are still searching for more permanent living quarters.

....all reconstruction efforts came to naught because of the ongoing siege.

...the Al-Athamneh family recently moved into one of the mud-brick homes constructed by the UN Relief and Works Agency, when lobbying efforts to bring in cement failed. The family is grateful for the home, but the location of the building kilometers from their demolished community meant uprooting social ties.

The family, owners of a taxi company, are also out of work, since the cars were destroyed in the war, and no replacements have been allowed in.

Eighteen members of the family were also killed during the war, when Israeli fighter jets slammed their Beit Hanoun neighborhood with 13 missiles. Israel later declared the bombing a mistake.

Five of the family homes were destroyed along with three taxi cars, leaving 52 without an income.

...The Ubeid family decided not to opt for one of the new UNRWA homes, preferring to try and rehabilitate the family farm - the only source of income before the war - and remain where they are in northern Gaza.

The family lost two members during the attack, as well as six apartments. The farm was decimated, bulldozed and neglected because of its proximity to Israeli troop activity in the winter months last year. The men and women of the family have been collecting the remains of the buildings and trying to start over.

"We are used to aid organizations coming in and counting up our losses," Sabha Ubeid said, "but we have lost hope that help will come from any of them." ...

.......Hani Abu Zour had a blacksmith workshop that was damaged in the war, he lost most of the equipment. What was not destroyed stands in disrepair as he waits for parts to be shipped in, but they were barred along with the cement...

....In the Jabal Al-Rais area of Gaza City, totally destroyed during the war, Sharif Khader and his family still live in the rubble of their home.

Khader has also had a dozen international organizations through his property, but has not received aid from any of them. Before the war he lived off the income generated by the olive grove next to his home. The trees were uprooted and cut during the war, they too are near the border area, and now he relies on his son, a taxi driver, for sustenance. Full story

Police arrest nuclear whistleblower Vanunu

Ha'aretz
Jerusalem police arrested nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu on Monday, on suspicion that he met with foreigners in direct violation of his parole orders.

Vanunu was released from prison in 2004 after serving an 18-year sentence for revealing details of Israel's nuclear weapons program.

.... to appear in a Jerusalem court later Tuesday.

Vanunu was a former low-level technician at an Israeli nuclear plant who leaked details and pictures of the operation to the Sunday Times of London in 1986.

From the material, experts concluded that Israel had the world's sixth-largest nuclear arsenal.

Vanunu was later kidnapped by Israeli intelligence agents in Rome and brought back to Israel to stand trial.

Four months ago, the High Court decided that the order prohibiting Vanunu from leaving the country, speaking with foreigners or approaching foreign embassies would remain in force for another six months...
Full story

Israeli forces detain four teens, three minors overnight.

Ma'an
Two 16-year-old boys were among four detained by Israeli troops overnight, while dozens of citizens reported harassment at the hands of the invading soldiers.

Bil'in residents reported the invasion of Israeli soldiers into the village at 2am Tuesday morning. .... approximately 50 soldiers entered the area on food accompanied by a dozen military vehicles.

...The two had just been released from Israeli prison, where they spent five months. "This is the latest in a series of raids and arrests that have continued in Bil'in [during] the last six months," the statement said.

......In Burka village near Nablus, Israeli forces detained Muhammad Abdel Raouf ,15, and Ahmad Jihad Salah, 19.

During the raid, a police statement said, troops harassed Abdullah Shuqer, 22, from Az-Zawyeh village. The man was assaulted when he passed through an Israeli military checkpoint in the north of the West Bank. A second assault was reported by Mustapha Daraghmeh from Tubas, who said he was harassed while passing the Hebron checkpoint.

Both men were taken to hospital for treatment of their injuries. Full story

Settler stoning causes bus to overturn, hurting 5

Ma'an
Five people were injured on Monday evening when a bus skidded out of control and overturned after it was pelted with stones thrown by Israeli settlers near the West Bank city of Nablus.

........Medical officials also said a medical relief vehicle was stoned by settlers on Monday morning on the Nablus-Ramallah road.

Tensions were already high in the Nablus area after Israeli special forces gunned down three Palestinian men in the city on Saturday. Israel alleged the three were behind the killing of a settler on Thursday.

The fatal shooting of the settler coincided with reported incidents of settler violence in the area. Full story

Erekat: New Jerusalem homes further sabotage US effort for peace

Ma'an
Every home Israel builds is a resounding "No" to international efforts to foster peace between Israel and Palestinians, Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat said in a statement on Monday.

Responding to Israel's latest announcement that a further 692 settlement units will be built in East Jerusalem, for which Palestinian land will be confiscated, Erekat called Israel's settlement moratorium a "mockery."
.
.... followed close on the heels of the decision to construct 900 units in Gilo [an Israeli settlement built on confiscated Palestinian Christian land], which came only days before Israel announced its partial moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements. Full story

Egypt denies U.S. rights activists entry to Gaza

Ha'aretz - DPA
Egyptian security forces on Tuesday prevented dozens of American activists from reaching the U.S. embassy in Cairo, where they hoped to ask the ambassador to help them reach the Gaza Strip.

Riot police surrounded 41 U.S. citizens and one Egyptian...

The police stopped the activists on a side street near the embassy and kept them there for hours, before allowing them to see consular officials in groups of 10 at a time.

"We have three people inside the embassy right now. We believe the U.S. embassy asked Egyptian state security to act against its own citizens and prevent them from entering the Embassy," Gael Murphy, one of the activists, told the German Press Agency dpa.

"We are outraged as U.S. citizens about being detained simply for trying to get to our embassy," she said... Full story

Pro-Gaza protesters 'besieged' in Cairo

Ma'an
Surrounded by police, an international group of human rights advocates staged a demonstration at a UN installation in Cairo on Monday after the Egyptian government denied their request to enter Gaza.

Former EU parliament vice president Luisa Morgantini, Filipino Senator and president of the Transnational Institute Walden Bello and others held a news conference outside the UN building in Cairo in hopes to negotiate their entry in Gaza via the Rafah crossing.

..........Meanwhile, several hundred French activists who amassed on Sunday in front of the French embassy in Cairo, demanding that buses be allowed to take them to the Rafah crossing, remain camped out in front of the embassy in an attempt to secure their entry into Gaza.

The activists, from the solidarity group EuroPalestine, erected several tents in front of the French embassy. The French Ambassador, as a result, met with the activists to negotiate on their behalf....

Lunat said that the “French Ambassador has promised to help.”

......The commotion in Cairo also comes amid controversy around Egypt’s construction of a steel wall along the border with Gaza intended to cut of underground smuggling tunnels.

The tunnels represent a lifeline for Gaza’s 1.5 million residents, who rely on them to import food, fuel, medicine, and other goods made scarce by two and a half years of an Israeli blockade. Full story

Hunger strikers press Egypt on Gaza march

Sydney Morning Herald - AFP
An 85-year-old Holocaust survivor is among a group of grandmothers on a hunger strike to protest against Egypt's refusal to allow a Gaza solidarity march to proceed.

Hedy Epstein, an American activist, and other grandmothers participating in the Gaza Freedom March began their hunger strike on Monday.

....hundreds of protesters outside the United Nations building in Cairo.

Egyptian authorities had said they would not allow any of the 1300 protesters from 42 countries to take part in the march to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing.

High-ranking officers and riot police were placed on the Nile bank, where the UN building is and where hundreds of Freedom March participants asked the UN to mediate with Cairo to let their convoy into Gaza.

They met the UN resident co-ordinator in Cairo, James Rawley, ''and we are waiting for a response'', a Philippines senator, Walden Bello, told protesters. ''We will wait as long as it takes.''

Egypt has increased security along the 380-kilometre road to the Rafah border crossing, a security official said. ''Measures have been tightened along the road from Cairo to Rafah to prevent activists from the Gaza Freedom March from staging the march,'' the official said.

Separately, organisers of another aid convoy trying to reach the blockaded enclave - known as Viva Palestina and led by the British MP George Galloway - said it would head to Syria on its way to Egypt after being stranded in Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba for five days.

Turkey dispatched an official on Saturday to try to convince the Egyptians to allow Viva Palestina to go through the Red Sea port of Nuweiba - the most direct route - but Egypt insisted the convoy may enter only through El-Arish, on its Mediterranean coast.

The Gaza Freedom March and Viva Palestina were planning to arrive one year after Israel's devastating war on Gaza that killed about 1300 Palestinians. Thirteen Israelis were also killed. Full story

Previous Video of Hedy Epstein

Troops Invade Bil’in, kidnap two children

IMEMC
Israeli soldiers invaded on Tuesday at dawn the village of Bil’in, near the Central West Bank city of Ramallah, and kidnapped two children after breaking into their homes.
The Friends of Freedom and Justice (FTJ)– Bil’in, reported that several Israeli military jeeps loaded with approximately 50 soldiers invaded the village and kidnapped Hamouda Imad Yassin, 16, and Ibrahim Khalil Yassin, 16.

...... one month since Hamouda and Khalil were released from prison where they had been held for five months.

The village is Bil’in, the leading in nonviolent resistance against the illegal annexation Wall and illegal Jewish settlements. This invasion is the latest of a series of ongoing attacks carried out by the military for the last six months.

The army is trying to stop the villages and their supporters from conducting their weekly nonviolent protests against the Wall and settlements. Full story

Al-Aqsa Brigades claim Gaza shelling: fired homemade projectile at Israeli installation

Ma'an
The Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, said on Monday that they fired a homemade projectile overnight at an Israeli installation near the Kissufim crossing in the central Gaza Strip.

The group said in a statement that this was in retaliation for the Israeli operation in the West Bank city of Nablus on Saturday when three Al-Aqsa-affiliated men were killed.

........ Also on Saturday, Israeli force shot death three Palestinians who Israel claimed tried to enter Israel. Palestinian officials said the three were collecting scrap metal near the border. Full story

Daily Situation Report: Dec 27, 2009

PMG

Israelis on Palestinian Territories (West Bank & Gaza):
  • Physical Assaults — 3 Incl. beating 2 school pupils in Al Auja
  • Arrests (per person) — 17 Incl. 3 children, 2 brothers, a civilian & son
  • Detentions — 16 At checkpoints & in residential locales
  • Raids — 20 Incl. 4 in Hebron & 4 in Salfit
  • Checkpoints — 10 Access impeded at 6 checkpoints
  • Flying Checkpoints — 26 Incl. 3 in Jerusalem & 2 in Ramallah
  • Attacks — 4 Incl. 1 by settlers & 1 in confrontations
  • Provocation of Pal. Forces — 1 Position troops near Palestinian location
  • Wall Construction — 21 Jer., Raml’h., Qalq., Salfit, Heb., Beth.
  • Closure (per District) — 7 Jer., Beth. (2 villages) & Hebron (4 areas)
  • Closure of Main Roads — 38 Incl. 1 in Jenin & 2 in Tulkarm
  • Closure of Crossing Points — 4 Partial opening of 3 crossings
  • Settler Violence — 3 Incl. open fire at woman civilian in Heb. Full report

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Stoking the fires of fear and hatred - American Zionist fear monger David Harris campaigns for Iran’s destruction

Americans Jewish Committee head 'David Harris does not speak for all Jewish Americans'

Redress - Paul J. Balles
Paul J. Balles views one of the fear-producing packages of a major Zionist voice in America, David Harris, Director of the American Jewish Committee, who advocates destroying Iran economically, politically and militarily for the nuclear weapons it doesn't have, while overlooking Israel's vast arsenal of nuclear bombs.

”...Harris tries to drum up global fear of Iran, a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, while Harris knows full well that Israel has over 200 nuclear warheads and Iran has none.

“Harris ignores the fact that Israel has been in attack-mode since its beginnings – ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, invasion and sponsorship of Sabre and Shatilla murders in Lebanon's refugee camps, slaughter in Gaza, military theft of the Golan Heights from Syria.

“On the other hand, Iran's military history has involved only defence.”

.....David Harris is spreading his fear-mongering widely. For European audiences, his propaganda is targeting Germany through Der Tagesspiegel and Italy through L'Opinione.

His article on "Iran policy: what price failure" also spreads the message of fear through the Huffington Post to Americans.

...... "An Iran capable of producing – and delivering – nuclear weapons would have major global consequences."

An American voice for Israel, Harris tries to drum up global fear of Iran, a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, while Harris knows full well that Israel has over 200 nuclear warheads and Iran has none.

........Harris, Director of the American Jewish Committee, started pumping fear of Iran into the heads of his readers some time ago....

....Harris's solution is typical of a fear-monger's: destroy Iran economically, politically and militarily, but make the prescription sound pleasant while referring to a "UN-defying, human-rights-abusing, Holocaust-denying, vote-rigging president?"... Full story

Iran vote set for Senate next month

Left: Senators Lieberman and Dodd

Reid addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference

JTA
Senate leaders promised a vote on Iran sanctions legislation as early as next month.

The legislation "would impose new sanctions on Iran's refined petroleum sector and tighten existing U.S. sanctions in an effort to create new pressure on the Iranian regime and help stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate majority leader, said Thursday during a news conference with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who originally sponsored the legislation. "I want everyone to know that I am committed to getting this legislation to the floor sometime after we return in January," Ried added.

.....The U.S. House of Representatives passed similar legislation earlier this month. Full story

It is easy for Netanyahu to circumvent Obama

Ha'aretz - Zvi Bar'el
...And still, this American jitterbug has quickly become a tap dance - a bit of graceful gliding and snazzy clothes, but mostly just a lot of noisy hopping in place. The peace process has not been renewed either with the Palestinians or Syria, and dialogue with Iran has been replaced by downgraded American sanctions. And Mitchell, the Mideast envoy? It's been a long time since we heard from him. The only achievements Barack Obama can claim on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are in extorting a declaration from Netanyahu that he is amenable to the two-state vision and a temporary and limited suspension of settlement construction.

..........
It's true, not even a year has passed since Obama entered the White House, but the rules have already been set. Circumventing Obama is no longer such a complex act. For a reasonable price, Washington can be sedated... Full story

'Just the beginning of an all-out war'




Ma'an
Marking the first anniversary of Israel's war on Gaza, the first of a series recounting the findings of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.

During the first four minutes of Israel's devastating winter assault on the Gaza Strip, launched 11:25am local time one year ago today, over 60 warplanes struck 50 targets, ultimately killing and injuring hundreds by midnight.

At least 228 Palestinians lost their lives during the opening hours of the offensive, including 25 women and children, making 27 December 2008 the deadliest day for the local population in the occupied territories since Israel first invaded in 1967.

Medical officials say some 700 Palestinians were injured by nightfall, 140 of them seriously. Hospitals turned away patients as doctors performed multiple surgeries in the same operating theaters, as well as in ordinary examination rooms.

"The situation – actually there was chaos, total chaos," according to the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Strip, Mahmoud Daher, who was enjoying his day off when Israeli fighter jets leveled the Gaza City police headquarters just south of Ash-Shifa Hospital, the first medical center to receive the injured and dead.

"I was on leave that day. At around 11:30 the Israeli fighter bombers targeted the area. We heard very loud explosions. I heard the explosions, and I'm talking here in my capacity as a WHO officer, and in my capacity as a Gaza citizen," he told the UN's Gaza fact-finding mission. "There was a great number of injured pouring into the hospital. I was not able to talk to any of the hospital officials because they were all busy, very busy caring for the patients."

The first attacks came during scheduled lunch breaks for tens of thousands of school children, a choice of timing widely blamed for the day's inordinate toll in killed and injured minors. Eight students died during an UNRWA training course when an Israeli missile struck a PA office housed next door.

Daher recounted: "I was scared because my children were at school. I went to my children's school and I tried to take my daughters out of the school. There was panic all over the school. Parents rushed to the school to get their children. I was able to take my daughters back home. So we did not understand the situation at the beginning. We didn't know – was that only [one] air raid, or was that just the beginning of an all-out war. We didn't really understand the situation as such."

According to Israel's own assessment of what its army termed Operation Cast Lead, a number of non-military facilities were deemed acceptable targets because of their connection to the Hamas-run, de facto government in the coastal territory.

"This operation is different from previous ones. We have set a high goal which we are aiming for. We are hitting not only terrorists and [rocket] launchers, but also the whole Hamas government and all its wings," announced Israel's deputy chief of staff, Maj Gen Dan Harel. "After this operation there will not be one Hamas building left standing in Gaza, and we plan to change the rules of the game."

Israel broadly interpreted the definition of Hamas-linked facilities, however, targeting Palestinian Authority (PA) and civilian infrastructure throughout Gaza. As many as 165 police officers died on the first day of the assault in multiple airstrikes on PA security compounds in Gaza City and Rafah, as well as civil police stations and naval posts. About 60 new recruits died in a single attack on a police academy graduation ceremony in Gaza City, just minutes into the three-week assault.

Between 250 to 300 patients hurt in that strike were immediately transferred to Ash-Shifa Hospital, which was quickly overwhelmed, according to Daher, the WHO chief.

He noted: "A certain number of the surgical operations could not absorb this great number of injured. That is why there was more than one surgery carried out in the same room at the same time. Of course, under normal circumstances, this would not happen, but there was no other choice but for the medical crews to operate this way.

"There was this great number also of patients and injured lying on the floor, simply because there was not enough beds. They were treated while lying on the floor. The operations were also carried out in the ordinary rooms, but these were not equipped with the necessary equipment for surgery."

Strangled by the years-long Israeli and Egyptian blockade, Daher said Gaza was entirely underprepared even for the first day of hostilities. "On December 26th, 2008, the night before the first Israeli bombing, the Palestinian health care warehouses had shortages in about over 100 basic medical items ... So many of the medicine items were lacking. I'm talking about 100 most basic medicine items for a period of one month. I think 250 medicine items [and] consumable items were lacking."

Days later, the arrival of foreign specialists and aid filled some gaps, the official noted. But Daher applauded his colleagues' steadfastness in the face of attacks that would eventually kill 16 medics in the line of duty, as well as destroy ambulances and health facilities.

"The medical crews were present around the clock. And during the weeks, the first weeks of the war when the ground troops invaded Gaza ... their daily movements posed risks, great risks for them," he said. "They were extremely tired; they were exhausted. And yet they performed in a remarkable manner, and they were able to exert [every] effort, despite all the pressure, despite all the tasks, despite the great number of injured pouring in at any moment." Full story

Ban: Israel's Gaza blockade 'unacceptable'

Ma'an
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza on Sunday in a message marking the one-year anniversary of the attack on the Palestinian territory.

...“There is a sense of hopelessness in Gaza today for 1.5 million Palestinians, half of whom are under eighteen. Their fate and the well-being of Israelis are intimately connected.”

Ban called on Israel “to end the unacceptable and counterproductive blockade of Gaza, facilitate economic activity and civilian reconstruction, and fully respect and uphold international law.”... Full story

The Children of Gaza share their experiences of "Cast Lead" - 27 Dec 09

Al Jazeera
...School children were among those going about their ordinary lives on the day of the attack. Their world was flung quickly into chaos.

Some of them told Al Jazeera their recollections of the horror... Full story

Gaza Freedom Marchers: 38 detained by Egypt

Ma'an
Egyptian security forces detained 38 participants of the Gaza Freedom March from a hotel in Al-Arish on Sunday at noon, according to a statement issued by the event's organizers.

"Egyptian security forces detained a group of 30 internationals in their hotel in el-Arish and another group of eight at the bus station. They also broke up a memorial action commemorating the Cast Lead massacre at the Kasr al Nil Bridge,"...

The Freedom March plans to bring more than 1,300 international protesters to Gaza this week to denounce the blockade of the Palestinian territory.

The detainees include Spanish, French, British, American and Japanese nationals. Another group of eight people, including American, British, Spanish, Japanese and Greek citizens, were detained at Al-Arish bus station in the afternoon of 27 December, the organizers said.

"The Egyptian security forces eventually yielded, letting most of the marchers leave the hotel, but did not permit them to leave the town...

Meanwhile, in Cairo, Egyptian security police broke up a commemoration ceremony marking the anniversary of the Israeli invasion of Gaza organized by the Gaza Freedom March at the Kasr An-Nil Bridge.

"As a nonviolent way of commemorating the more than 1,300 Palestinians killed in the Israeli assault on Gaza that began a year ago on December 27, 2008, Gaza Freedom Marchers tied hundreds of strings with notes, poems, art and the names of those killed to the bridge," the group said.

“We’re saddened that the Egyptian authorities have blocked our participants’ freedom of movement and interfered with a peaceful commemoration of the dead,” said Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, one of the March’s organizers...

They visited the Arab League asking for support, various foreign embassies and the Presidential Palace to deliver an appeal to President Mubarak. They are calling their supporters around the world to contact Egyptian embassies and urge them to free the marchers and allow them to proceed to Gaza... Full story

Gaza officials say land contaminated by Israel

Ma'an
... Gaza’s soil was contaminated by chemicals released by Israeli weapons during last year's war on Gaza...

... estimated that the prohibition on farming in some areas would affect the livelihoods of 8,478 farmers and 33,000 agricultural workers.

According to the statement, losses sustained by the agricultural even before areas were declared unfit, was 587million US dollars.

... deputy head of the environmental quality authority, estimated that three million kilos of explosives were dropped on Gaza, averaging one ton per square kilometer of land.

The contamination may also affect rubble families are using to rebuild. The resourceful turning to recycled materials may prove disastrous, Naim warned, if the material is also contaminated with radioactive particles from the bombs. "It could affect the next several generations," he said.

Assistant professor of environmental science at the Islamic university Abdel Fattah Abed Rabbo 17% of the agricultural land was destroyed during the war, and 5% was now contaminated. Full story

Gaza blockade continues, Israel opens one crossing

Ma'an
Southern Gaza's Kerem Shalom crossing will be opened for 86 truckloads of aid entering the Gaza Strip including limited amounts of cooking oil, crossings official Raed Fattouh said.

.....According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), last week Israel allowed in only one fifth of pre-siege supplies, mostly food and hygiene items. No reconstruction materials were permitted into the Strip last week.

Last week Israel continued its siege of Gaza by sea, with six recorded incidents in the last week of Israeli naval vessels opening fire on Gaza fishing dinghies.

In the south, Egypt continues its construction of a sub-surface border wall, extending ten kilometers long and 25 meters deep, in what it says is an effort to stop the smuggling tunnel trade. Full story

Report: US seeks clarification about Nablus killing

Ma'an
The US President Barack Obama’s administration asked Israel to explain a raid on Nablus in which special forces killed three Palestinian men, an Israeli newspaper reported on Sunday.

.....Unnamed Israeli sources told the newspaper that the Obama administration did not formally protest or complain about the incident, but only sought clarifications, passing on a complaint from the Palestinian Authority.

A senior US official quoted in the article said the United States sought to calm the situation and "encouraged both sides to continue their security cooperation."

The PA complained to the US on Saturday that Israel had violated agreements by invading Area A of the West Bank, which is supposed to be under full Palestinian control.

In the aftermath of Thursday’s shooting, the PA said it arrested more than 150 people in a search for those behind the attack, according to reports in Israeli media...... Full story

Unholy Night

FailedMessiah: ... Originally published five years ago, but still interesting:

For them, it's wholly unholy
By Shahar Ilan • Ha'aretz


......On Christmas Eve, known in Jewish circles as Nitel Night, the klipot (shells) are in total control. The klipot are parasitical evil forces that attach themselves to the forces of good. According to kabbala (Jewish mysticism), on the night on which "that man" - a Jewish euphemism for Jesus - was born, not even a trace of holiness is present and the klipot exploit every act of holiness for their own purposes.

For this reason, Nitel Night, from nightfall to midnight, is one of the few occasions when Hasidim refrain from Torah study. On this horrific night, they neither conduct weddings nor do they go to the mikveh (ritual bath). An entire folkloric literature has developed around the unusual recreational activities of Nitel Night. The customs, it should be emphasized, are practiced only by Hasidim. Lithuanian and Sephardic ultra-Orthodox Jews do not suspend their regular Torah study on Christmas Eve.

......The Knesset correspondent of the ultra-Orthodox newspaper Hamodia, Zvi Rosen, relates that celebrated Hasidic admorim (sect leaders) would cut a year's supply of toilet paper for Sabbath use (to avoid tearing toilet paper on Sabbath) on this night.

...has profound kabbalistic significance, because kabbalistic literature extensively discusses Christianity as waste material excreted from the body of the Jewish people......

....Some people maintain that the Nitel customs need not be observed in Israel, because of the Holy Land's sacredness.....Nonetheless, Hasidic sect leaders who came to the Holy Land continued the Nitel custom, and their disciples followed their example.... Full story

Shonda file: Spinka Rebbe Naftali Tzi Weisz sentenced to two years in prison for tax evasion


Grand Rabbi used secret accounts at Bank of Israel

SDJewishWorld
The Grand Rabbi of Spinka, a religious group within Orthodox Judaism, was sentenced Monday morning to two years in federal prison for orchestrating a tax evasion scheme that prosecutors called “an astonishingly complex and sinister enterprise.”

[
Spinka charities received nearly $8.5 million in donations and made $744,596 in "profits."]

Grand Rabbi Naftali Tzi Weisz, 61, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty last summer to a criminal conspiracy charge in which he admitting working with others to obstruct the Internal Revenue Service by soliciting charitable donations to Spinka-related organizations with secret promises to refund donors the vast majority of the money they “donated.”

Weisz was sentenced by United States District Judge John F. Walter, who echoed findings in a pre-sentence report that the refunding and laundering of charitable contributions is a routine and generational practice among certain Hasidic sects that has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of unreported income.

........a total of seven individuals have been convicted and sentenced for working together to obstruct the IRS and to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business. Additionally, three donors who “donated” money to Spinka organizations have pleaded guilty to tax evasion prior to indictment and received sentences ranging from three months to six months in prison. Prosecutors have told judge Walter that authorities are investigating more than 100 individuals who were contributors to Spinka organizations. In sentencing one of the donors earlier this year to six months in prison, Judge Walter said that the crime reflected “arrogance” and that other contributors who do not come forward to authorities could face “significantly higher” sentences.

........solicited millions of dollars of contributions to the Spinka organizations by promising to secretly refund up to 95 percent of the contributions. In this manner, the contributors could claim as tax deductions the full amounts of their contributions, while actually having contributed as little as 5 percent of the amount they would declare on their federal income tax returns.

.....In some cases, the contributors received cash payments through an underground money transfer network involving various parties, some of whom operated businesses in and around the Los Angeles jewelry district......

....wire transfers from Spinka-controlled entities into accounts secretly held at a bank in Israel. The accounts were established with the assistance of an international accounts manager at the bank, Joseph Roth, 68, of Tel Aviv, who received a 14-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to helping contributors in the United States obtain loans from the Los Angeles branch of the Israeli bank, loans that were secured by the funds in the secret bank accounts in Israel, so the contributors could have the use of the funds in the United States.

......“This was not a case about religion, tradition, or charitable giving. This was simply a case about greed,” said Leslie P. DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge of IRS – Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles Field Office..... Full story

Spinka Rebbe Busted on Money Laundering Charges

This is the same type of scam allegedly run by the head of Chabad-Lubavitch in Israel, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Ahranow...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bethlehem during Christmas

Raprochement Centre


Only 13 per cent of land in Bethlehem is available for Palestinian use, and much of it is fragmented, the report shows.

Al Jazeera

PA: Israel dragging Palestine into cycle of violence

Ma'an
"Israel is attempting to trick the Palestinian people into a cycle of violence in order to avoid international pressure to stop settlement expansion and restart peace talks," presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeina said Saturday.

The comments came following two incidents on Saturday that saw six killed in the deadliest single day of the Israeli occupation since the end of the war on Gaza, whose anniversary is tomorrow. Israeli forces killed more than 1,400 Palestinians during that three-week offensive.

...“The Israeli escalation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the return to targeted assassinations and aimless killing, proves the occupation government has decided to damage the safety and stability of the Palestinian people and drag them into a bloody cycle of violence"...

He called the two attacks part of a plot to "ruin the PA’s successes in the West Bank" and to "break the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip."

....... In March, Israeli airstrikes on Gaza killed four in two separate incidents in 24 hours.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the attack follows the first week since the beginning of 2009 that Israeli military and security activities throughout the West Bank ended with no Palestinian casualties. Full story

Hamas: Israel recognizes only murder and terrorism

Ma'an
Hamas officials called the six Palestinian deaths at the hands of Israeli forces Saturday part of the policy of "hunting down resistance groups" and vehemently condemned the two attacks.

The targeted extrajudicial executions of three Fatah-affiliated former fighters in the West Bank city of Nablus were coupled with a deadly airstrike on what Israel claimed were Palestinians attempting to infiltrate the country. The attack killed three and injured a fourth.

...called the assassinations a "war crime" since all three Fatah members were shot at close range in or beside their homes after they had been detained by Israeli forces. The official speculated that the Palestinian Authority was involved in supporting the assassinations, and suggested that "resistance should be enhanced, not plotted against."

......"the crime coincides with the first anniversary of the Israeli war against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. It confirms that the enemy believes only in murder and terrorism." Full story

Wife, brothers describe Israeli assassinations

Home of Raed Sarakji, assassinated in front of family [MaanImages]
Ma'an
Family members of three slain Fatah members gave testimony of the last moments of their loved ones' lives on Saturday, hours after the men were assassinated by Israeli forces in their own homes in Nablus.

Raed Sarakji, 38

Now a widow, Tahani Ja’ara is 32 years old and seven months pregnant. "We were sleeping in our bedroom, not bigger than six square meters, when Israeli soldiers began yelling 'get out, get out.' I thought I was dreaming. When I heard the Israeli soldiers and their police dogs outside the room, that was when I realized it was real."

Tahani said her husband told soldiers he would get out of the house, so they started shooting through the door and the windows. “He fell between my hands bleeding. I started crying 'they killed him, they killed him.' Then soldiers broke the door and got in. He was already dead, but they continued to riddle his body with bullets to make sure he was killed."

Three months before his death, Sarakji opened a used tools shop in the Old City of Nablus. He had just been released from Israeli prison in January 2009 after spending seven years in jail. He was trying to restart his life, according to Tahani.....

Ghassan Abu Sharkh, 39

Ghassan's 16-year-old brother Diyaa Abu Sharkh saw him shot dead Saturday morning. “Everything happened very quickly… when we opened the door and saw the soldiers, two masked collaborators pointed to my brother Ghassan who was walking down the stairs. Before I knew it he was being shot. I couldn’t really make sense of what was going on at all. Then an Israeli officer asked me whether the dead man was Ghassan, and I said yes. 'Good, then ask everybody to leave the house,' the officer said."

“I was stading close to Ghassan when they killed him. They could have detained him very easily. He passed to join my brother Nayif who was killed by Israeli forces a few years ago [2004].”

Ghassan Abu Sharkh was a car electrician and owned a small workshop. He left behind a wife, three sons, and a daughter.....

Anan Subih, 33

Farid Subih is 45; his brother Anan was killed Saturday morning in the Ras Al-Ain neighborhood of Nablus. “At 3am, dozens of Israeli troops surrounded our four-story building. They blew open the the main gate then started shooting randomly and throwing grenades in all directions. Anan was inside, and he asked everybody to leave the building to avoid being hurt.”

He continued, “We headed to the nearby house of the Al-‘Amoudi family. Then soldiers entered the house with police dogs, and they started throwing more grenades, and a fire erupted in the warehouse full of plastic chairs and sponge material.

“My brother was not armed, but we could see soldiers continue to ransack the house. For three hours, we didn’t know what was going on. After the soldiers left, we found Anan dead … bullets tore all his body and bones. They could have detained him, and he died believing he had been granted amnesty by Israeli forces. He left behind a widow, two sons, and five daughters,” added Farid......

Anan had been affiliated with Fatah's Al-Aqsa Brigades years before, but he was completely pardoned in an amnesty deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Full story