Aletho News


Israel OKs super-settlement in West Bank

Press TV – May 13, 2010

The Islamic Christian Commission for Support of Jerusalem and Holy Places says Israel has approved plans for the construction of a new settlement near al-Quds.

Hasan Khatir, the commission’s secretary general, revealed the Israeli officials’ green light for the new settlement of Givat Yael during a Wednesday news conference in Ramallah, the Saudi English-language daily Arab News said on its website.

The complex planned to be built on 741 acres of land in the West Bank village of Walaja — lying east of the 1967 armistice line and inside the West Bank — will include 12,000 settlement units and will provide accommodation for 40,000 Israeli settlers.

The new project — the largest outside al-Quds municipal boundaries since the construction of Pisgat Ze’ev, Gilo and Har Homa settlements — has raised warnings of Israeli attempts toward the construction of a “Greater Jerusalem.”

The new Israeli plan will “lay the foundation for the appropriation of the land between al-Quds and Gush Etzion settlement,” Khatir warned, describing the plan as “a dangerous development toward settlement construction and judaization of al-Quds, Ma’an news agency reported.

Israeli authorities earlier disqualified building plans submitted by Walaja residents, and decided to demolish 90 of their houses, labeling the buildings as illegal.

The approval of the super-settlement project comes despite US warnings to both Israelis and Palestinians against any provocations undermining the ongoing indirect talks between the foe sides.

Israel’s Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch on Wednesday announced plans to raze a number of Palestinian homes in East al-Quds. He said the demolitions orders were previously delayed in the light of US efforts to renew the so-called peace process.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | 1 Comment

Nakba Will Eventually Become a Memory

Mohamad Shmaysani | Al-Manar TV | May 14, 2010

Maybe it’s a crime to ask why Germany is still paying off its debt to Israel for a massacre the Zionists claim the Nazi Fuhrer committed in 1940s. For more than half a century, the Germans, generation after generation, have been “compensating” Israel for a “Holocaust” half of the world is still questioning.

Perhaps it’s a crime to ask why the United States isn’t making up for the Native Americans or why Israel isn’t paying off its debt to the Palestinians, the Egyptians, the Lebanese, and recently the Emiratis. For more than half a century, the whole world has been watching Israel’s atrocities, massacres, usurpations, wars, assassinations, conspiracies and blackmail live on television networks, and of course Rupert Murdoch’s outlets excluded.

But it’s an indisputable right to ask why Arabs are still idle and indifferent about a shrinking Palestine. How can some Arab leaders send congratulations letters to Israel for its creation 62 years ago. In less than a year, starting February 1948, Zionist gangs like the Haganah, the Irgun and LEHI started to systematically commit massacre after massacre in a bid, a successful one apparently, to force a mass dispossession of the Palestinians. 750 thousand Palestinians were ruthlessly uprooted, their destroyed homes and lands confiscated. This was later called the Nakba, or the catastrophe, and it was documented.

It took America hundreds of years to declare its “independence” ever since the white man colonized the “new world.” It only took Israel 51 years to declare its creation on the ruins of Palestine ever since Theodore Herzl held the first “International Zionist Organization” conference in Bazle, Switzerland (1897) to “bring” Jews in Diaspora together.

In the early 30’s, the Britons issued the so called “White Paper” that determined the quotas for Jewish emigrants with an annual cut to 15 thousand Jews for five years. Ten years later, according to the “Paper”, the Palestinians would rule their own unified state after they declare their independence. However Zionists sought to nullify this “Paper” in 1939. Then Zionist leader Ben Gurion said: “We will fight the war (WW2) as if there were no White Paper and we will fight the White Paper as if there were no war.”

When Palestine was ruled by the British mandatory government, it faced resistance and managed during the 1936 – 1939 revolution, to cause extensive damage to the Palestinian leadership. One can argue that the royal army wasn’t directly paving the way for Zionist gangs to attack a defenseless people. Yet ethnic cleansing and dispossession had started under British eyes but without their interference.

Back then, Arabs were as helpless as they are today although more connected with the fresh cause. And just as the case is today, the Palestinians surrendered their fate to the Arab League, in perhaps one of the biggest mistakes in the course of the Arab – Israeli conflict. Apparently, the Zionists were not very much concerned about the Arabs as much as they were about the strong international community that was shaping up after World War II. Blackmail was their most effective weapon and their tool was of course the “Holocaust.” The United Nations was supposed to declare the independence of Palestine in 1947, instead the world body issued the notorious partition resolution that stipulates allocating Palestinians less than half their country and the other bigger half to Israeli settlers.

The Zionists were compensated for the Holocaust with more than half of Palestine. It has nothing to do with religion as Zionists allege.

“There is a country, and its name is by chance Palestine. A country without a people and on the other hand, there is the Jewish people without a homeland,” said Hayeem Wiseman who played a significant role in issuing the notorious Balfour promise and then became the first Israeli president, said during the Nakba.

Seeking atonement, the Europeans did not stop and this was dwarfing the rights of the Palestinians on the one hand and encouraging Zionist gangs to commit massacres without fear of international condemnation; actually this has never stopped being the case.

Now that most of the Jews of Europe had set sail for Palestine, the Holocaust issue became much easier to tackle with a “state” representing the victims, not with the victims themselves. Edward Said’s “chain of victimization” began and the so called “Holocaust victims” now had victims of their own; the Palestinians.

The Europeans maintain a virtual silence toward what the Zionists are doing to the Palestinians under the pretext of showing sympathy for the “victims of the Holocaust.”

German chancellor, Angela Merkel last year made very biased speech in the Israeli Knesset. She did not mention the occupation, and only praised Israel as a “paragon of justice, democracy and civilization. She left the Palestinians with no hope for a different future.

To uproot more Palestinians and expand the Zionist entity with the consent of the International Community, demonizing the Palestinians was a prerequisite; otherwise the Israelis – in the international understanding – would be doing to the Palestinians what they claim the Nazis did to them. With the help of the United States of America, it sort of succeeded; after all, both entities had uprooted two different peoples and replaced them.

The Palestinians were labeled as “Mukharribeen” or ravagers and then terrorists because they’d decided to take matters from the Arab League’s hands into their own.

The American veto at the UN Security Council was a very effective tool to give Israel more power to kill Palestinians and Arabs throughout decades.

On the 15th of May 1948, David Ben Gurion declared the “State of Israel,” and 62 years on, Western states and some spineless Arab leaders continue to celebrate this black day.

But on the other side of picture, Israel is ailing, exposed, vulnerable, and in its weakest state. The International community is no longer showing leniency after the Zionists crossed the line – in the European conception – and did to the Gazans what the Nazis allegedly did to the Jews; the US is trying to pressure defiant Israel over settlement construction; Turkey is turning its back on it; the economic crisis has plagued its economy as exports to Europe have extensively diminished; and most importantly, the resistance movement in the Middle East is growing stronger.

In 2000, Israel pulled out of most of south Lebanon due to force, not settlement and concessions. In 2006, and after 33 days of war, Israel tasted the bitter defeat at the hands of a few thousand resistance fighters, after its “invincible army” used to defeat regular Arab armies in a less than a week. Today Israel is threatening Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and the whole region with war; a war that is strongly believed to be Israel’s very last.

Some see it on the verge of collapse, others believe Israel has already slipped into the abyss and Nakba is very close to becoming just a memory that Palestinians, including the refugees who would have returned to Palestine, will recount to their children.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 1 Comment

Obama wants US taxpayers to pay for an Israeli ‘defense’ scam

By Paul Woodward on May 14, 2010

Israel’s newly developed “Iron Dome” missile defense shield will supposedly provide vital protection from rocket attacks from Gaza or Lebanon.

The system’s manufacturer, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, says:

The Iron dome is a cost effective system that can handle multiple threats simultaneously and efficiently [and] has been selected by the Israeli Defense Ministry as the best system offering the most comprehensive defense solution against a wide range of threats in a relatively short development cycle and at low cost.

Israel receives $3 billion annually in military aid from US taxpayers, so you’d imagine that the Israeli government would allocate some of that generous aid to pay for Iron Dome. No, instead President Obama just agreed that we should chip in an extra $205 million because Iron Dome “addresses an immediately existing threat to each Israeli citizen,” a senior administration official said.

But while Israel isn’t willing to cover the cost of deploying this system, it is already looking at opportunities to sell it to NATO.

As for the “low cost” the manufacturers tout, perhaps what they mean is that it will be a low cost for Israelis so long as its paid for by Americans. Whether the system would have any real value — that’s a completely different question.

Some of the harshest criticism of the system comes from inside Israel where Tel Aviv University professor and noted military analyst Reuven Pedatzur charged that despite the well-known ineffectiveness of Iron Dome and other missile defense systems, “for the aeronautics and defense industries, it’s a matter of money; and for politicians, supporting such projects allows them to tell the public that they’re doing something, they’re trying to find answers to the threats we face.”

“The Iron Dome is all a scam,” he said. “The flight-time of a Kassam rocket to Sderot is 14 seconds, while the time the Iron Dome needs to identify a target and fire is something like 15 seconds. This means it can’t defend against anything fired from fewer than five kilometers; but it probably couldn’t defend against anything fired from 15 km., either.”

Added Pedatzur: “Considering the fact that each Iron Dome missile costs about $100,000 and each Kassam $5, all the Palestinians would need to do is build and launch a ton of rockets and hit our pocketbook.

The  David’s Sling is even worse, he said. “Each one of its missiles costs $1 million, and Hizbullah has well over 40,000 rockets. This issue has no logic to it whatsoever.”

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | Comments Off on Obama wants US taxpayers to pay for an Israeli ‘defense’ scam

It’s Not Just Vermont: State Lawmakers Do Not Share Congress’ Love for the Nuclear Industry

PRNewswire-USNewswire | May 13, 2010

It was front-page news across America this February when the Vermont Senate voted to shut down the troubled Vermont Yankee reactor in 2012.  But what most Americans don’t know is that the nuclear industry also lost all of its seven other major state legislative pushes this year – going 0-8 and putting yet another nail in the coffin of the myth of the “nuclear renaissance” in the United States, according to an analysis by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS).

Even as some in Congress would lavish tens of billions of dollars – and even unlimited – loan guarantees on the embattled nuclear power industry, state lawmakers in Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Vermont and West Virginia and Wisconsin said a firm “no” this year to more nuclear power.  The legislative issues ranged from attempts by nuclear industry lobbyists to overturn bans on new reactors to “construction work in progress” (CWIP) assessments to pay for new reactors to reclassifying nuclear power as a “renewable resource.”

How bad is the nuclear power industry doing in state legislatures?  In 2009, the industry went 0-5 with reactor moratorium overturn efforts in Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, and West Virginia.  Even after stepping up its on-the-ground efforts in 2010 with paid lobbyists and extensive public relations efforts in states like Wisconsin, the industry again came up with nothing.

Michael Mariotte, executive director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service said:

”The much-hyped nuclear ‘renaissance’ is grinding to a halt in state after state. Too many lawmakers and journalists in Washington, D.C., have been blinded by the nuclear industry’s $650 million lobbying campaign. But the state elected officials closest to the public know that the American people long ago rejected nuclear power as an electricity source and they’re continuing to vote against the nuclear industry. The public wants clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity, not dirty, dangerous and expensive nuclear power, and most state officials continue to show they understand that.”

Dave Kraft, director, Nuclear Energy Information Service, Chicago, IL, said:

“For the last three years nuclear power advocates in the Illinois legislature have tried unsuccessfully to repeal the state’s 1987 nuclear construction moratorium law.  Illinois is better off for their abject failure.  This moratorium has successfully protected the state from the threat of additional nuclear waste build-up, a job made even more necessary and pressing today than in 1987 with the cancellation of the Yucca Mt. project, the Federal Government’s only plan for permanent disposal of these deadly, long-lived wastes.  Repealing a law that successfully protects Illinois under today’s much more dire radioactive circumstances is irrational, irresponsible and dangerous.”

Daniel Endreson, program coordinator, Clean Water Action Midwest Office, Minneapolis, MN, said:

“Nuclear proponents have once again attempted to repeal the moratorium on new nuclear plants in Minnesota. This year nuclear proponents were faced with the prospect to allow the moratorium to be lifted, but with conditions which would have protected ratepayers and the environment. Instead of accepting this option, proponents instead chose to quickly abandon their attempts. Even though proponents like to claim nuclear is clean, safe and cheap energy source, they appeared unwilling to prove these claims. This should be a signal to all Minnesotans that new nuclear is the wrong direction for our state and that we should remain focused on developing actual clean, home-grown energy.”

Sandy Bahr, chapter director, Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter, Phoenix, AZ, said:

“The last two years bills have been introduced in the Arizona Legislature to include nuclear power in the definition of renewable energy.  Not only is that incorrect, it is just plain wrong and would be a disaster for Arizona‘s growing renewable energy industry.  Solar energy industry representatives, small businesses, and even utilities told legislators and the governor this was a bad idea and a huge step backwards, which resulted in the bill being withdrawn.”

The following is an overview of the nuclear industry’s failed state legislative efforts in 2010:

  • Arizona. SolarCity, Kyocera Solar, Inc. and Suntech Power Holdings joined with other solar energy providers in February to warn that if Arizona House Bill 2701 (HB 2701) was passed into law, it would have jeopardized Arizona‘s entire renewable energy industry. The failed HB 2701 proposed to replace the existing Renewable Energy Standard (RES) in Arizona with one that would allow utilities to use existing nuclear and hydroelectric power to meet the RES requirements, eliminate distributed generation requirements within the bill and eliminate any interim energy requirements between now and 2025.  According to the state’s solar industry leaders, the bill’s inclusion of non-renewables in the definition of renewable energy, new “double regulation” and other changes to the RES would have halted all new renewable energy development in the state, undercut one of Arizona‘s fastest growing industries and put thousands of existing and future jobs in jeopardy as the state’s economy recovers from the effects of the recession.
  • Illinois. Another attempt to repeal the Illinois nuclear construction moratorium failed to move in the state legislature.  The Illinois House chose not to move on Rep. JoAnn Osmond‘s HB875; it was never voted on.  Attempts to advance the bill in the Senate as an amendment to another measure failed.
  • Iowa. The nuclear industry sought the authority to impose a CWIP fee to finance a possible second nuclear reactor in the state.   That proposal was shot down by state lawmakers.  Instead, a watered-down measure, HB 2399, was signed into law, authorizing one of Iowa‘s utilities to collect $15 million from ratepayers over the next three years to conduct feasibility studies.
  • Kentucky. Senate Bill 26 would have overturned a 1984 moratorium on the building of nuclear reactors.   The measure died in the House, which elected to keep the state’s more than quarter-century old moratorium in place.
  • Minnesota. Efforts in the Minnesota Legislature to lift the state’s ban on new nuclear reactors are now dying in the waning days of the legislative session.  However, the measure that remains alive for the moment bans CWIP financing arrangements, and has been described by the nuclear industry as so restrictive that it would not actually permit new reactor construction projects in the state.
  • Vermont. After allegations of mismanagement and ongoing concern about radioactive tritium leaks, the Vermont Senate voted 26 to 4 in February to shut down the nuclear reactor in 2012, marking the first time a state legislature has voted to close an existing nuclear reactor.  Entergy is seeking to relicense the 40-year-old reactor, which faces much criticism for the tritium leaks, collapsed cooling towers and other problems.
  • West Virginia. West Virginia‘s official ban on the construction of nuclear reactors remains unchanged. In February, the West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee by a lopsided voice vote killed a move to eliminate the prohibition.
  • Wisconsin. When they elected to pour substantial funds into Wisconsin to prevail in the state legislature, the nuclear industry appeared confident of success.  Wisconsin legislators included a provision to gut the nuclear moratorium law in a climate bill during the 2010 legislative session, but their efforts failed when the session ended on April 22nd, without the bill coming up for a vote. Wisconsin‘s existing state law requires that any proposed nuclear power facility be proven economical for ratepayers and that federally licensed waste repository be available to safely store spent nuclear fuel.  In practice, affordable power and long-term waste disposal are two requirements that nuclear power is incapable of meeting.

ABOUT Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), a 32-year old public interest organization, was founded to be the national information and networking center for citizens and environmental activists concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation and sustainable energy issues (

CONTACT: Ailis Aaron Wolf, for NIRS, (703) 276-3265 or

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Nuclear Power | Comments Off on It’s Not Just Vermont: State Lawmakers Do Not Share Congress’ Love for the Nuclear Industry

Obama’s torture loophole

By Paul Woodward on May 14, 2010

What’s the difference between a US-military-run detention facility and an intelligence gathering facility? For one thing, Red Cross officials are being prevented from seeing how prisoners are treated when held at Bagram’s intelligence gathering facility. Is that so that they can be tortured in secret?

Two days after taking office, Barack Obama signed an executive order banning torture. The era of secret detention facilities and CIA-administered waterboarding were over. Or so we thought.

Earlier this week, the BBC reported:

The US airbase at Bagram in Afghanistan contains a facility for detainees that is distinct from its main prison, the Red Cross has confirmed to the BBC.

Nine former prisoners have told the BBC that they were held in a separate building, and subjected to abuse.

The US military says the main prison, now called the Detention Facility in Parwan, is the only detention facility on the base.

However, it has said it will look into the abuse allegations made to the BBC.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that since August 2009 US authorities have been notifying it of names of detained people in a separate structure at Bagram.

“The ICRC is being notified by the US authorities of detained people within 14 days of their arrest,” a Red Cross spokesman said.

“This has been routine practice since August 2009 and is a development welcomed by the ICRC.”

The spokesman was responding to a question from the BBC about the existence of the facility, referred to by many former prisoners as the Tor Jail, which translates as “black jail”.

Prisoners say they have been kept in isolation in cold cells and subjected to sleep deprivation, but it turns out the CIA’s hands are clean — this time it’s the Defense Intelligence Agency at work. And as for the fact that the Red Cross has been barred from entering this facility, that’s because it isn’t being called a detention facility.

Marc Ambinder reports:

Defense officials said that the White House is kept appraised of the methods used by interrogators at the site. The reason why the Red Cross hasn’t been invited to tour it, officials said, was because the U.S. does not believe it to be a detention facility, classifying it instead as an intelligence gathering facility.

A Defense official said that the agency’s inspector general had launched an internal investigation into reports in the Washington Post that several teenagers were beaten by the interrogators, but [Pentagon spokesman, Bryan] Whitman disputes this.

When the Obama Administration took over, it forbade the DIA from keeping prisoners in the facility longer than 30 days, although it is not clear how that dictum is enforced. It is also not clear how much Congress knows about the DIA’s interrogation procedures, which have largely escaped public scrutiny.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | 4 Comments

Afghans angry at ‘civilian deaths’

Al-Jazeera | May 14, 2010

One person has been shot dead by police as hundreds of protesters took to the streets in eastern Afghanistan, accusing Nato-led forces of killing civilians during an overnight raid near the city of Jalalabad.

Angry Afghans set fire to tyres and blocked roads in the Surkh Road district of Nangahar province on Friday, demanding an explanation for the deaths.

Witnesses told Al Jazeera that between nine and 15 civilians had been killed in the Nato attack. Mohammed Arish, a government administrator in Surkh Rod, said a father and his four sons and four members of another family were among the dead.

“They are farmers. They are innocent. They are not insurgents or militants,” Arish told The Associated Press by phone.

Arish said the protesters had tried to march toward the provincial capital of Jalalabad before being turned back by police. The Nangahar governor’s office said at least three people were injured during a clash with police.

‘Taliban firefight’

A Nato spokesman confirmed foreign and Afghan forces had conducted some operations in the area but said he was not aware of any civilian deaths and the alliance was checking the incident.

Colonel Wayne Shanks said eight Taliban fighters were killed in a firefight, adding that fighters fired rocket-propelled grenades at Nato forces. Two other people were captured during the operation, and weapons and communications gear were confiscated at the targeted compound, Shanks said.

Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel Hamid reporting from Kabul said international forces and Afghan troops were flown to the area by helicopters overnight and carried out the raid.

“According to a Nato and Isaf [International Security Assistance Force] statement they were targeting Taliban sub-commanders and some fighters which their intelligence said were hiding in a compound outside a village.

“But the villagers said none of those killed had anything to do with the Taliban, that all of them were innocent civilians and members of two different families.” … Full article

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | Comments Off on Afghans angry at ‘civilian deaths’

Israel’s Disappeared

Legal Persecution

By NADIA HIJAB | May 14, 2010

At first it seemed bizarre. Israel slapped a blanket gag order to prevent media coverage of the May 6 arrest of Ameer Makhoul, a prominent Palestinian citizen of Israel who heads Ittijah, a coalition of 64 major civil society organizations. Yet in no time at all the news had shot round the world, and Facebook pages were up calling for his freedom and for a demonstration in Haifa to demand his release.

So is there a point to such gag orders? It turns out there is. Unlike Makhoul’s case, the news about some arrestees remains unknown for weeks. As people mobilized for Makhoul, reports began to surface about another Palestinian citizen of Israel, Omar Said, who was arrested on April 25 on his way to Jordan.

Said holds a PhD from Israel’s Technion, and his innovative work at the Antaki Center for Herbal Medicine was featured in Haaretz in 2007. Legal sources affirmed that there was also a gag order against media coverage of his case and that, like Makhoul, he has not yet been allowed to see a lawyer.

Then of course there is the now famous case of Anat Kamm, the journalist who was held secretly under house arrest for more than three months earlier this year, accused of having leaked Israeli military documents concerning the premeditated killing of Palestinians in the occupied territories.

How many more are there? So wonders Didi Remez, an Israeli Jewish human rights advocate who blogs at Coteret. How many indeed? As Remez notes, Makhoul’s prominence may now draw attention to a much more widespread phenomenon. Writing about the Kamm case, The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli police ask the courts for a gag order about 100 times a year.

Although Israel on Monday lifted the gag orders against both Makhoul and Said, the question of “how many more” is now posed with urgency, given the Israeli state’s growing crackdown on its citizens — crackdowns that are enthusiastically supported by the settler movement as it remorselessly colonizes Palestinian land.

The Israeli Palestinian community is clearly at risk. Israel has now accused Makhoul and Said of spying for Hizbullah — similar accusations drove former Knesset member and community leader Azmi Bishara into self-imposed exile to avoid ending up in prison. Still. the community is determined to stand its ground. “We won’t be silent,” Ynet quoted Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights, and others as saying, but will struggle against “the ‘legal’ persecution by the Israeli government against the Arab sector.”

But Jewish human rights advocates are at risk too. Israeli rightwing groups have targeted both Naomi Chazan, head of the New Israel Fund, along with Adalah in the same billboard campaign.

One outcome of the crackdown may be growing Israeli Palestinian and Jewish collaboration in defence of basic rights and freedoms: Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel together protested the Makhoul gag order to the Supreme Court. As Moshe Yaroni wrote in Zeek, a progressive American Jewish online magazine, “The erosion of rights is a dynamic that threatens every Israeli,” And, he predicted, “Israel is moving toward a very frightening future; a future where most Jews will no longer be able to support Israel.”

Frightening is the word that best describes the state of a person completely cut off from his world, without recourse or rights. The soft-spoken, steel-willed Makhoul has played a major role in defending Palestinian rights and identity in Israel — indeed, Ittijah’s member groups have doubled over the past few years. Makhoul’s dedication has now landed him in jail. His wife, feminist scholar Janan Abdu, writes bravely on her Facebook page, “No prison in the world can absorb a whole nation.” But the family must be frantic with worry — as must other community activists. Who will be next?

Not many countries claiming to be democracies “disappear” their own citizens and deny them due process. Ironically the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sets democracy as a condition of membership, just welcomed Israel into its midst. By so doing, the OECD sent a terrible signal that state power trumps human rights. Further, by not holding Israel accountable for its ongoing violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, its member states risk rendering themselves complicit in its crimes.

Ever since its attack on Gaza in 2008-2009, Israel has mounted a major public relations campaign to counter popular outrage and the growing boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement calling on it to uphold international law. It accuses its critics of anti-Semitism — even the fast-growing Jewish communities working for equality and justice. Wouldn’t it be easier to admit that maybe, just maybe, Israel is doing something wrong? And that until it respects equality, justice and freedom at home and abroad, it will not secure the legitimacy it craves?

Nadia Hijab is a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Israel’s Disappeared

Israeli settler kills Palestinian youth

There has been a spike in settler violence against Palestinians in recent weeks

Al-Jazeera | May 14, 2010

A Palestinian teenager has been shot dead by an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank, witnesses and activists said.

The settler opened fire after Palestinian youths threw stones at his car travelling along Route 60 in Mazra’a al-Sharqia, east of Ramallah.

The Popular Struggle Co-ordination Committee activist group said that Aysar al-Zaben was not involved in the stone throwing, but was tending his family’s land when he was shot.

“According to his uncle, his lifeless body was found lying face down on the ground with a bullet hole in his back,” the group said in a statement.

Israeli police said that the killing was being investigated, while the Israeli military stressed that it was not involved in the incident during which “shots were fired after stones were thrown at an Israeli car”.

Route 60, which runs from Beersheba to Nazareth and connects a number of Israeli settlements, is closed to Palestinians in areas of the West Bank. It has seen a number of protests against the restrictions imposed on Palestinians by Israel.

Settler violence

About 500,000 settlers and about 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and areas near Jerusalem annexed by Israel after the 1967 Middle East war.

Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from the West Bank, said there had recently been a spike in settler violence against Palestinians.

“Many people are saying this is a direct response to what the settlers feel is a threat from the United States that there will be pressure put on the Israeli administration to stop, or at least freeze, its settlement building empire that it’s constructed here in the occupied West Bank,” she said.

“Many people are saying Palestinian blood has been shed as a price tag, if you like, for the setters to give that message to Prime Minister Netanyahu and his administration that he cannot touch these illegal settlements in the West Bank.

“And if he does try and dismantle them in any way or freeze construction, this will be the result.”

In a report published on Thursday, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian territories said that there had been been at least nine violent incidents involving Israeli settlers in the last week.

Israeli settlers injured five Palestinians, including three children, aged five, nine and 12, in two separate incidents of stone-throwing and physical assault, it said.

‘Catastrophe continues’

Thursday’s attack in the West Bank came as Palestinians marked the 62nd anniversary of the Nakba, or Catastrophe, when an estimated 700,000 Arabs were forced to flee the creation of Israel.

Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian negotiator, said “the catastrophe continues” for Palestinians.

“In other conflicts, refugee rights have been honoured and respected, including the right of return, restitution and compensation. In stark contrast, however, Israel refuses to even recognise the Palestinian right of return, thus continuing to deny the refugees’ basic rights.

“No state is above the law,” Erekat said, calling on the international community to end Israeli “beligerence and disregard for international law”.

Candle-lit vigils were planned in refugee camps on Friday evening and major demonstrations were scheduled in the Palestinian territories on Saturday, including a march to the grave of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah.

The Palestinians recently resumed indirect peace talks with Israel, mediated by the United States, but both sides have spoken pessimistically about the chances of tangible results.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | 2 Comments

Israel’s red line: Shin Bet arrests boycott leader

By Jonathan Cook | May 14, 2010

Amir Makhoul is leading an emerging movement inside Israel

The recent arrest of two respected public figures from Israel’s Palestinian Arab minority in night-time raids on their homes by the Shin Bet secret police – brought to light this week when a gag order was partially lifted – sent shock waves through the community.

The arrests were not the first of their kind. The Shin Bet has been hounding and imprisoning politicians and intellectuals from the country’s Palestinian minority, a fifth of the population, since the birth of the Jewish state more than six decades ago. Currently, two MKs from Arab political parties, as well as the leader of the popular Islamic Movement, are facing trials.

But the detention of Amir Makhoul and Omar Sayid by Israeli intelligence forces has been seen differently – as the gathering storm clouds in a political climate already fiercely hostile to its Palestinian citizens.

Mohammed Zeidan, the head of the Human Rights Association in Nazareth, said: “We are used to our political leaders being persecuted but now the Shin Bet is turning its sights on the leaders of Palestinian civil society in Israel, and that’s a dangerous development.”

Makhoul and Sayid were not accused of the usual public order offenses, nor had they simply violated chauvinistic legislation that criminalizes Palestinian citizens’ visits to neighboring Arab states. Both are facing the much more serious charge of espionage, on behalf of Lebanon’s Hizbullah.

Makhoul, who appears to be the chief object of the Shin Bet’s interest, is the head of Ittijah, an umbrella organization coordinating the activities of Palestinian human rights groups in Israel. More specifically, he has become the leading voice inside Israel backing the growing international campaign for boycott, sanctions and divestment against Israel.

On Wednesday, the courts approved an extension of Makhoul’s remand. He was not allowed to be present and was denied the right to a lawyer until at least next Monday, 12 days since his arrest. He is reportedly being interrogated around the clock.

Sayid, an activist with the Tajamu political party and a scientist who specialises in developing new medicines from Middle Eastern plants, has been held by the Shin Bet since 24 April.

Amnesty International threatened to declare Makhoul a “prisoner of conscience,” saying his arrest “smacks of pure harassment, designed to hinder his human rights work.”

Observers from the Palestinian minority too have ridiculed the allegations, based on secret evidence, that the pair made “contact with a foreign agent.” They point out that under the draconian emergency regulations being used in this case the Shin Bet needs only the flimsiest circumstantial evidence to lay such a charge.

Zeidan called it an easy, “one size fits all” security offense that was difficult to challenge but persuasive to the Jewish majority. “You only need unwittingly to meet at a conference a relative of a relative of someone in Hizbullah and the Shin Bet thinks it has grounds to arrest you.”

The Palestinian minority is not alone in believing that Makhoul and Sayid have not spied in the accepted sense of passing classified or sensitive information to an enemy: Israel’s military correspondents have been largely dismissive of the espionage charges too. In the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, writers Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff pointed out that neither Palestinian citizen is privy to secrets that would interest Hizbullah.

Instead, the correspondents hinted at other motives behind the arrests. Any contacts between Israel’s enemies such as Hizbullah and Palestinian rights activists in Israel are a threat, they surmise, because Palestinian leaders in Israel might offer assistance in “co-ordinating political positions” or initiate “protests and riots during sensitive periods.” That radically expands the traditional definition of “espionage”.

The Shin Bet’s pursuit of Makhoul and Sayid, in the view of community leaders, needs to be understood in terms of a fixed assumption by the Israeli establishment that the Arab minority poses a political threat to the continued survival of a Jewish state.

The roots of this worldview can be traced back to the signing of the Oslo accords. With the launch of a peace process with the Palestinians, Israeli politicians began to reconsider the status of the large Palestinian minority. Many believed that allowing a significant population of Palestinians to remain inside Israel as citizens after the creation of a neighboring Palestinian state might one day prove to be the country’s Achilles’ heel.

Might not the Palestinian minority provide the Palestinians in the occupied territories with a “foot in the door” to try to win back the whole of historic Palestine rather than settle for a mini-state in the West Bank and Gaza?

Those fears escalated dramatically when Oslo turned sour and the second intifada erupted in 2000. Israel believed the Palestinians had refused its “generous” offer at Camp David in the hope that they could use the Palestinian minority as a “Trojan horse” to destroy the Jewish state demographically from within.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister at the time, called the Palestinian minority the “spear point” of what he believed was Yasser Arafat’s attempt to dismantle Israel as a Jewish state. He feared that a political reform program demanding a “state of all its citizens”, which had become a rallying cry for Palestinian citizens, was really intended to bring the return of millions of Palestinian refugees under cover of an equal rights struggle.

Israel responded by making contact all but impossible between Palestinians in Israel and those in the occupied territories, including by building a wall around the West Bank and legislating an effective ban on marriages across the Green Line.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Shin Bet’s chief target prior to the latest arrests was Azmi Bishara, the architect of the “state of all its citizens” campaign. In 2007 Bishara was accused of spying for Hizbullah too, and has been in exile ever since.

At that time, Yuval Diskin, the head of the Shin Bet, warned that he regarded it as his job to “thwart” any activities, including political ones, that threatened Israel’s survival as a Jewish state.

According to Zeidan and other analysts, the Shin Bet’s hand in the latest arrests appears to be guided by a similar assessment that the Palestinian minority is again posing an “existential threat” to Israel – even if for different reasons.

Makhoul is seen as the figurehead of an emerging movement inside Israel that, faced with the refusal of Israelis to countenance political reforms to democratize the country, is devising new political strategies.

He has not hidden the extensive contacts he has developed both among western Palestinian solidarity activists and in the Arab world, urging the need for a boycott of Israel. He was also at the forefront of the protests inside Israel against its attack on Gaza last year. He was called in for interrogation by the Shin Bet at the time.

“The occupation isn’t news anymore,” Zeidan said. “The big threats facing Israel, in the Shin Bet’s view, are its deteriorating image in terms of human rights and the growing sense abroad that it is an apartheid state.

“Palestinian civil society in Israel, more so even than our political parties, is best placed to make the case on those issues to the international community, to expose the racism and discrimination inherent in a Jewish state. Amir Makhoul’s arrest should be understood in that light.

“The Shin Bet believes we have crossed a red line in our international advocacy.”

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Israel’s red line: Shin Bet arrests boycott leader

Obama Seeks $205 Million ‘special assistance’ for Israel Iron Dome System

The money comes on top of annual US assistance to Israel

Al-Manar TV – 14/05/2010

The budgetary difficulty that has been delaying Israel’s armament with the anti-missile defense system Iron Dome has apparently been resolved. The Pentagon has issued a message to Israel’s Defense Ministry that U.S. President Barack Obama has approved the transfer of special assistance totaling $205 million for the purchase of more than ten Iron Dome batteries.

The Iron Dome missile defense system aced a test run in January, an event that convinced senior defense officials that the defense system was on its way to becoming operational and that it will be able to effectively protect against short-range missiles, such as Katyushas and Qassams, which often hit Israeli settlements.

Produced by Israeli state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., Iron Dome uses small radar-guided missiles to blow up rockets with ranges of between 5 kilometers and 70 kilometer, as well as mortar bombs, in mid-air.

However, the plan was not allotted an adequate budget. The Israel Defense Forces ducked away from funding the project with its budget, explaining that offensive readiness was a higher priority, and the Defense Ministry has been looking for other budgetary avenues. Among other things, Israel has struck a deal with an unnamed eastern Asian country (Singapore, according to a recent report in a French magazine) to participate in the funding of future phases in the project.

Israel has recently raised the possibility that the U.S. assist in funding the project by transferring a sum of money beyond the U.S. annual defense assistance. The request was reviewed closely during Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s last visit to Washington earlier this month, and during talks between Barak and Obama and other senior American defense officials.

Its development was spurred by the 2006 Lebanon war and the Gaza Strip war a year ago. In both cases, Israeli towns within reach of short-range rockets were in some respects defenseless.

“The president recognizes the threat missiles and rockets fired by Hamas and Hezbollah pose to Israelis, and has therefore decided to seek funding from Congress to support the production of Israel’s short range rocket defense system called Iron Dome,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

Two Iron Dome batteries are under construction, an Israeli defense official said in February. Designed to be towed by vehicle, they will be available for any Israeli front at a few hours’ notice.

Bryan Whitman, Pentagon spokesman, said it was the first direct US investment in the Iron Dome system. “This funding will expand what they can produce and deploy, and how quickly they’re able to do it,” he said. The decision was made to pour funds into the system after US officials observed tests last fall, officials said.

The money comes on top of annual US assistance to Israel.

According to the State Department, US military aid to Israel in 2009 totaled $2.55 billion. This will increase to $3 billion in 2012, and will total $3.15 billion a year from 2013 to 2018.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | Comments Off on Obama Seeks $205 Million ‘special assistance’ for Israel Iron Dome System