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Spiralling out of Control: The Risk of a New Korean War

By Gregory Elich | Global Research | December 4, 2010

An artillery duel between North and South Korean forces on November 23 has set in motion a series of events which threaten to spiral out of control.

On November 22, South Korea began its annual military exercise, involving including 70,000 troops, dozens of South Korean and U.S. warships and some 500 aircraft. The following day, South Korean artillery stationed on Yeonpyeong Island began a live ammunition drill, firing shells into the surrounding sea.

The island is situated quite near to the North Korean mainland, and lies in disputed waters. At the end of the Korean War in 1953, U.S. General Mark Clark unilaterally established the western sea border to North Korea’s disadvantage. Rather than in a perpendicular line, the Northern Limit Line was drawn to curve sharply upwards, handing over islands and a prime fishing area to the South that would otherwise have gone to North Korea. The North, having had no say in the delineation of its sea border, has never recognized the Northern Limit Line. (1)

South Korean troops have been based on the island since the end of the Korean War. There is also a small fishing village in close proximity to the military base; unavoidably so, given that the island is less than three square miles in size.

In response to the South Korean announcement of an impending artillery drill, North Korea telephoned the South Korean military on the morning of November 23, urging them to cancel plans to fire shells into what the North regarded as its territorial waters. The North warned that if the drill proceeded, they would respond with a “resolute physical counter-strike.” (2)

Nevertheless, the artillery drill proceeded and four hours later, North Korean artillery fired on the island. In the first round, 150 shells were shot, of which 60 hit the island. Then 20 more shells were fired in a second round. In all, four people on the island were killed and 18 wounded. (3)

The South Korean military telegraphed the North, asking them to cease, but to no avail. Then their artillery returned fire at the North, firing 80 shells. One shell directly hit a North Korean military barracks. Although many of the shells appeared to have inflicted little damage, an official at the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff noted, “Satellite images show our shells landed on a cluster of barracks in North Korea, so we presume there have been many casualties and considerable property damage.” (4)

Facing a barrage of criticism from domestic hawks for having responded in too tepid a manner, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young resigned from his position. Yet the South Korean response probably could not have been increased significantly without risking a wider conflict.

During the drill, South Korean artillery on Yeonpyeong Island fired in a southward direction, away from the North Korean mainland, and this was not the first time that such drills had been conducted. North Korean forces could have made their point sufficiently by splashing some shells into the sea. Instead, they overreacted in a manner that manifested an inexcusable disregard for human life by targeting the island.

Why the North did so can best be explained by recent developments in relations between the two Koreas. This was, after all, the first artillery duel between the two nations in forty years, so something led to it.

President Lee Myung-bak of the conservative Grand National Party took office in February 2008, vowing to reverse the Sunshine Policy of warming relations with North Korea. The government of Lee’s predecessor, Roh Moo-hyun, had signed several agreements on economic cooperation with North Korea, including joint mining operations in the North. Lee killed every one these agreements, ensuring that they would never be implemented. The railroad leading from the South to the North, which had just been reconnected under former President Roh, is now closed for good. That project had promised to benefit both Koreas, providing the South with a cheaper and more convenient route for shipping goods to China and Russia, and giving the North added income through user fees. South Korean tourist operations at Mt. Kumgang in the North are closed. Reunions of family members separated by the border have stopped. The only remaining remnant of the Sunshine Policy is the presence of South Korean firms operating at an industrial park in Kaesong, North Korea, and its days are probably numbered.

Then there was the incident in which the South Korean corvette Cheonan was sunk, in May of this year. In a stacked investigation, South Korea concluded that a North Korean submarine had targeted the vessel with a torpedo. The evidence, however, does not fully back that assertion and a Russian team’s investigation determined that an accidental encounter with a sea mine was a more likely cause. (5) North Korea’s repeated requests to participate in an investigation, or to at least view the evidence, were consistently rebuffed. Instead the Lee Administration utilized the incident to further sour relations between the two Koreas.

Perhaps most significantly, when Roh Moo-hyun was president of South Korea, emergency communication channels were established between the two Koreas, specifically for the purpose of opening dialogue and limiting or preventing armed conflicts whenever they arose or threatened to do so. On a number of occasions, those communication channels stopped potential conflicts before they either occurred or escalated. Those channels no longer exist, thanks to Lee’s dismantling of agreements with North Korea, and as a result four South Koreans and an unknown number of North Koreans are now dead. (6)

That North Korea would feel threatened is not surprising. Its economy is crippled by the imposition of draconian Western sanctions, and the annual South Korean-U.S. military exercises are intended to intimidate. Furthermore, the rhetoric from Washington has been unremittingly hostile, and now with a more conservative government, so is South Korea’s.

Nor is North Korea unaware of the fact that in February 2003, President Bush told Chinese President Jiang Zemin that if the nuclear issue could not be solved diplomatically, he would “have to consider a military strike against North Korea.” (7) One month later, Bush ordered a fleet into the region, including the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. Six F-117 Stealth bombers were sent to South Korea, and nearly 50 fighters and bombers to Guam. The possibility of military action was on the table, Bush told a South Korean official. (8) Due to the efforts of China and South Korea’s progressive president at the time, Bush chose dialogue, albeit offset to a large degree by his imposition of further sanctions against North Korea. It has also certainly not gone unnoticed by North Korea that any halting diplomatic efforts have ceased altogether once President Obama took office. And with the pronounced deterioration in relations set in motion by President Lee Myung-bak, his administration has made it clear that he has no interest in diplomacy either.

Following the clash over Yeonpyeong, China called for dialogue and a reduction of tensions, sending envoys to both South and North Korea. It proposed that the six nations that had at one time participated in denuclearization talks, South and North Korea, the U.S., Japan, China and Russia, meet for emergency discussions “to exchange views on major issues of concern to the parties at present.” The meetings would not be a resumption of talks on denuclearization, although China hoped that “they will create conditions for their resumption.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei stated, “The starting point for China proposing emergency consultations is to ease the tensions on the Korean Peninsula and provide a platform of engagement and dialogue.” (9)

The Chinese proposal should have been welcomed as the only sensible approach to the problem. But officials of the Obama Administration condemned China for being “irresponsible” by putting forth such a proposal. Instead, they urged China to get on board with the program of pressuring North Korea and further escalating tensions and the risk of war. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs snottily dismissed the proposal by saying that the U.S. and other nations “are not interested in stabilizing the region through a series of P.R. activities.” (10)

South Korea, too, rejected China’s proposal. The U.S., South Korea, and Japan willfully misrepresented China’s proposal as merely being a call for a resumption of the six-party talks on denuclearization. Domestic audiences were not hearing that the proposal’s purpose was to prevent further conflict. Instead, Japan said that talks would be “impossible” under the circumstances, while a South Korean official said that President Lee “made it clear that now is not the time for discussing” six-party talks. (11) Indeed. Not when one’s goal is to further inflame the situation. To further that objective, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is meeting with the foreign secretaries of South Korea and Japan to map out a common program in dealing with North Korea. (12) It goes without saying that dialogue with North Korea will not be part of that program.

President Lee has promised to take a much harder line on North Korea, and already the South has sent 400,000 propaganda leaflets across the border on balloons. (13) There has also been talk of resuming loudspeaker broadcasts across the border. The sending of leaflets was in violation of a 2004 agreement between the two sides to halt propaganda campaigns aimed at each other.

By the end of December, South Korea plans to hold another round of artillery drills on islands lying in disputed waters, including, dismayingly enough, Yeonpyeong Island. Nothing could be calculated to be more provoking under the circumstances. In preparation for the response to the drills that are expected from North Korea, island defenses are being beefed up. South Korea has added multiple rocket launchers, howitzers, missile systems and advanced precision-guided artillery to the Yeonpyeong arsenal. (14)

According to a South Korean official, “We decided to stage the same kind of fire drill as the one we carried out on the island on November 23 to display our determination.” (15)

The new drills appear calculated to provoke a conflict, and this time South Korea is intent on an asymmetrical response. The military is revising its rules of engagement so as to jettison concerns about starting a wider conflict. If former Defense Minister Kim Tae-young is to believed, if there is another North Korean strike, then warships and fighter jets of both South Korea and the U.S. will launch attacks on the North. (16)

Incoming Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin is if anything even more determined to fan the flames of conflict into a wider conflagration. The South Korean military will immediately launch “psychological warfare,” including, presumably, loudspeaker broadcasts across the border. The North has promised to target loudspeakers if they are put in operation, and that would in turn provide the pretext for the South Korean military to launch combat operations. If there is another exchange of fire with the North, Kim announced, “We will definitely air raid North Korea.” All combat forces available would be mobilized, he promised. The newly minted rules of engagement are also going to permit “preemptive” strikes on North Korea based on the presumption of a possible attack. In other words, if North Korea fails to provide a pretext for military action, the Lee Administration can attack the North without provocation, if it chooses to do so. (17)

Lee Myung-bak has already achieved his dream of demolishing the Sunshine Policy. Relations between the two Koreas are at their lowest point since the end of military dictatorship in South Korea. Now he aims to deliberately trigger armed conflict in order to demonstrate “toughness,” and not incidentally, drive the final nail into the coffin of the Sunshine Policy. Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin feels that the risk of war is low. “It will be difficult for North Korea to conduct a full-scale war because there are some elements of insecurity in the country, such as the national economy and power transfer.” (18) Those may be arguments against North Korea’s ability to successfully sustain a long-term war over the course of a year or two, but it seriously misreads the ability and will of the North Korean military to put up a determined fight. The extent of possible South Korean air strikes on the North is not clear, but anything other than an extremely limited and localized action is likely to trigger total war. And that is a war that the U.S. will inevitably be drawn into. Even presuming a quick defeat of the North (which would be unlikely), eighty percent of North Korea is mountainous, providing ideal terrain for North Korean forces to conduct guerrilla warfare. The U.S. could find itself involved in another failing military occupation. With both sides heavily armed, the consequences could be much worse for Koreans, and casualties could reach alarming totals. Four million Koreans died in the Korean War. Even one percent of that total in a new war would be unconscionable, and Lee Myung-bak is deluded if he believes he can ride the tiger of armed conflict and remain in control of the path it takes.


(1) For a map of the Northern Limit Line and Yeonpyeong’s placement, see: The blue line identifies the Northern Limit Line recognized by South Korea and the U.S., and the red line, the border as recognized by North Korea. Yeonpyeong Island is marked #1 on the map.

(2) “Panmunjom Mission of KPA Sends Notice to U.S. Forces Side,” KCNA (Pyongyang), November 25, 2010.

(3) “Military Under Fire for Response to N. Korean Attack,” Chosun Ilbo (Seoul), November 25, 2010.

(4) “Military Suggests Counterfire Caused ‘Many Casualties’ in N. Korea,” Yonhap (Seoul), December 2, 2010. Jung Sung-ki, “Satellite Image Shows Damages in NK Artillery Site,” Korea Times (Seoul), December 2, 2010.


(6) “Containment After N.Korea’s Unacceptable Provocation,” Hankyoreh (Seoul), November 24, 2010.

(7) Hwang Doo-hyong, “Bush Expresses Frustration at China’s Reluctance to Dissuade N. Korea from Going Nuclear: Memoir,” Yonhap (Seoul), November 10, 2010.

(8) “Bush Admits He Considered a Military Strike Against North Korea,” Korean Broadcasting System (Seoul), March 18, 2004. “Carl Vinson Strike Group CVN-70 ‘Gold Eagle’,” Will Dunham, “U.S. Military Operations for N.Korea Fraught with Peril,” Reuters, April 25, 2003.

(9) Kim Young-gyo, “China Calls for Emergency Talks on N. Korean Nukes,” Yonhap (Seoul), November 28, 2010. “China Calls for Resumption of Dialogue, Negotiations for Korean Peninsula Situation,” Xinhua (Beijing), November 30, 2010. “Chinese FM Talks with DPRK, ROK, U.S. Diplomats on Korean Peninsular Situation,” Xinhua (Beijing), November 26, 2010.

(10) Helene Cooper and Sharon LaFraniere, “U.S. and South Korea Balk at Talks with North,” New York Times, November 30, 2010.

(11) Hwang Joon bum and Park Min-hee, “Lee Administration Rejects Six-Party Talks Proposal,” Hankyoreh (Seoul), November 29, 2010. Tania Branigan, “US Rejects Talks with North Korea,” The Guardian (London), November 30, 2010.

(12) “Kim, Clinton Agree to Reject China’s Proposal for Talks on N. Korea,” Yonahp (Seoul), December 1, 2010.

(13) “S. Korea Sent Propaganda Leaflets to N. Korea After Artillery Attack,” Yonhap (Seoul), November 26, 2010.

(14) Jung Sung-ki, “Seoul Plans Live-Fire Drill Next Week,” Korea Times (Seoul), December 1, 2010. “New Defence Minister to Decide When to Stage Firing Drills in Yellow Sea,” Yonhap (Seoul), December 3, 2010. “Tension Mounts as Firing Drill Planned,” JoongAng Ilbo (Seoul), December 2, 2010.

(15) “S. Korea to Stage Fresh Firing Drill on Yeonpyeong Island,” Chosun Ilbo (Seoul), November 30, 2010.

(16) Jung Sung-ki, “Seoul Vows Naval, Air Strikes on NK,” Korea Times (Seoul), November 29, 2010.

(17) “Defense Minister Nominee Vows Air Strikes if Attacked by N. Korea,” Yonhap (Seoul), December 3, 2010. Kim Kwang-tae, “SKorea Defense Nominee Vows Airstrikes on North,” Associated Press, December 2, 2010. Song Sang-ho, “Kim Warns Air Strike on North Korea,” Korea Herald (Seoul), December 3, 2010. Na Jeong-ju, “Defense Chief-Nominee Vows Air Strikes if Attacked,” Korea Times (Seoul), December 3, 2010. Mark McDonald, “South Korean Outlines Muscular Military Postures,” New York Times, December 3, 2010.

(18) “Defense Minister Nominee Vows Air Strikes if Attacked by N. Korea,” Yonhap (Seoul), December 3, 2010.

Gregory Elich is on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute and on the Advisory Board of the Korea Truth Commission. He is the author of the book Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit.

December 4, 2010 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | 1 Comment

Why Jerusalem? – Israel’s Hidden Agenda

By Dan Lieberman – Palestine Chronicle – July 2, 2009

Jerusalem – Three huge granite stones rest comfortably on the top of Midbar Sinai Street, in Givat Havatzim, Jerusalem’s northernmost district. Cut to specification, the imposing stones represent one of several preparations by the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement’s to erect a Third Temple on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. Since the Islamic Wafq owns and controls all the property on the Haram al-Sharif, by what means can these stones be transferred to the Temple Mount and how can a Temple be constructed there? Not by any legal means. The stones are a provocation, which the Israel government refuses to halt. Neglect and passivity lead to a belief that an eventual Muslim reaction to the increasing provocations will give Israel an excuse to seize total control of the Holy Basin – the ultimate of the properties that Israel intends to incorporate into a greater Jerusalem.

For decades, Israeli authorities have spoken of a united Jerusalem – suggesting a spiritual quality to its message – as if Israel wants the home for the three monotheistic faiths to be solid and stable. By being guided from one central authority, a united Jerusalem also offers a preservation of a common and ancient heritage. However, by stressing the word ‘unification,’ Israel disguises the lack of a sufficiently supporting and verifiable historical narrative that could bolster its thrust to incorporate all of an artificially created greater Jerusalem into its boundaries. Coupled with inconsistencies and contradictions, Israel’s eagerness to create a greater Jerusalem under its total control becomes suspect. The intensive concentration on a ‘united’ Jerusalem reveals a hidden agenda that debases Jerusalem’s religious ingathering and heightens division, hatred and strife.

Examine the Holy Basin. The Holy Basin contains well marked Christian and Muslim institutions and holy places that have had historical placement for millenniums. Although people of the Jewish faith had major presence in Jerusalem during the centuries of Biblical Jerusalem, which included rule by King Hezekiah and control by the Hasmonean dynasties, their control and presence were interrupted for two millennia. Extensive commentary has enabled the two thousand years of lack of control and presence to seem as if it never happened and that today is only a short time from the years of Hezekiah. Some remains of Jewish dwellings and ritual baths can be found, but few if any major Jewish monuments, buildings or institutions from the Biblical era exist in the “Old City” of today’s Jerusalem. The often cited Western Wall is the supporting wall for Herod’s platform and is not directly related to the Second Temple. No remains of the Jewish Temple have been located in Jerusalem – not even a rock.

According to Karen Armstrong, Jerusalem, Jews did not pray at the Western Wall until the Mamluks in the 15th century allowed them to move their congregations from a dangerous Mount of Olives and pray daily at the Wall. At that time she estimates that there may have been no more than 70 Jewish families in Jerusalem. After the Ottomans replaced the Mamluks, Suleiman the Magnificent issued a formal edict in the 16th century that permitted Jews to have a place of prayer at the Western Wall.

The only remaining major symbol of Jewish presence in Jerusalem’s Holy City is the Jewish quarter, which Israel cleared of Arabs and rebuilt after 1967. During its clearing operations, Israel demolished the Maghribi Quarter adjacent to the Western Wall, destroyed the al-Buraq Mosque and the Tomb of the Sheikh al-Afdhaliyyah, and displaced about 175 Arab families. Although the Jewish population in previous centuries comprised a large segment of the Old City (estimates have 7000 Jews during the mid-19th century), the Jews gradually left the Old City and migrated to new neighborhoods in West Jerusalem, leaving only about 2000 Jews in the Old City. Jordanian control after the 1948 war reduced the number to nil. By 2009, the population of the Jewish quarter in the Old City had grown to 3000, or nine percent of the Old City population. The Christian, Armenian and Muslim populations are the principal constituents and their quarters contain almost the entire Old City commerce.

In an attempt to attach ancient Israel to present day Jerusalem, Israeli authorities  continue the attachment of spurious labels to Holy Basin landmarks, while claiming the falsification is due to the Byzantines, who got it all wrong.

King David’s Tower’s earliest remains were constructed several hundred years after the Bible dates David’s reign. It is a now an obvious Islamic minaret.

King David’s Citadel earliest remains are from the Hasmonean period (200 B.C.). The Citadel was entirely rebuilt by the Ottomans between 1537 and 1541.

King David’s tomb, located in the Dormition Abbey, is a cloth-covered cenotaph (no remains) that honors King David. It’s only an unverified guess that the casket is related to David.

The Pools of Solomon, located in a village near Bethlehem, are considered to be part of a Roman construction during the reign of Herod the Great. The pools supplied water to an aqueduct that carried the water to Bethlehem and to Jerusalem.

The Stables of Solomon, under the Temple Mount, are assumed to be a construction of vaults that King Herod built in order to extend the Temple Mount platform.

Absalom’s Tomb is an obvious Greek sculptured edifice and therefore cannot be the tomb of David’s son.

The City of David contains artifacts that date before and during David’s time. However, some archaeologists maintain there is an insufficient number of artifacts to conclude any Israelite presence, including that of King David, before the late ninth century. In any case any Israelite presence must have been in a small and unfortified settlement.

The Jerusalem Archaeological Park within the Old City, together with the Davidson Exhibition and Virtual Reconstruction Center also tell the story. Promising to reveal much of a Hebrew civilization, the museums shed little light on its subject. The Davidson Center highlights a coin exhibition, Jerusalem bowls and stone vessels. The Archeological Park in the Old City contains among many artifacts, Herodian structures, ritual baths, a floor of an Umayyad palace, a Roman road, Ottoman gates, and the façade of what is termed Robinson’s arch, an assumed Herodian entryway to the Temple Mount. The exhibitions don’t reveal many, if any, ancient Hebrew structures or institutions of special significance.

Reliable archaeologists, after examining excavations that contain pottery shards and buildings, concluded that archaeological finds don’t substantiate the biblical history of Jerusalem and its importance during the eras of a united Jewish kingdom under David and Solomon.

Margaret Steiner in an article titled It’s Not There: Archaeology Proves a Negative in the Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August, 1998, states:

“…from the tenth century B.C.E. there is no archaeological evidence that many people actually lived in Jerusalem, only that it was some kind of public administrative center…We are left with nothing that indicates a city was here during their supposed reigns (of David and Solomon)…It seems unlikely, however, that this Jerusalem was the capital of a large state, the United monarchy, as described in Biblical texts.”

West Jerusalem is another matter. With banditry prolific and Old City gates being closed before nightfall, living outside the city gates did not appeal to the population. Wealthy philanthropist Moses Montefiore wanted to attract the Jewish population to new surroundings and he constructed the first Jewish community outside of the Old City – Yemin Moshe’s first houses were completed in 1860. From that time Jewish presence played a role in creating a West Jerusalem. Other institutions, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Russian Orthodox and Muslim soon ventured forth and owned much property in the evolving West Jerusalem.

In 1948, After the Israeli army seized absolute control of West Jerusalem, the new Israeli government confiscated all West Jerusalem property owned by Muslim institutions. Reason – enemy property. Few Muslims and no mosques remain in today’s West Jerusalem.

One contradiction. By attacking and ethnically cleansing the Christian Arab communities of Deir Yassin and Ein Kerem, Israeli forces characterized Christian Palestinians as an enemy. Nevertheless, Israel did not confiscate Christian properties, many of which are apparent in West Jerusalem. The Greek Orthodox Church owns extensive properties in West Jerusalem, many marked by its “TΦ” (Tau + Phi) symbol, interpreted as the word ‘Sepulchre.’

Another contradiction. Israel has cared for the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives and expanded it as a heritage site. Part of the famous Muslim Mamilla cemetery in West Jerusalem has been classified as refugee property and is being prepared to be demolished for the new Museum of Tolerance.

East Jerusalem reveals more contradictions. The repeated warning by Israeli leaders that co-existence is not feasible and that it is necessary to separate the Jewish and Palestinian communities is contradicted by Israel’s desire to incorporate East Jerusalem into Israel. Incorporation means accepting somewhere between 160,000 and 225,000 Palestinians into a Jewish state. Or does it? Whereas the older historical Jewish neighborhoods in West Jerusalem have their character meticulously maintained or are rebuilt in their original style, the older Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are entirely neglected (all of Arab East Jerusalem is neglected) or destroyed. How much deterioration and destruction can Palestinians absorb before they decide to leave?

Construction of Jewish homes in East Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods proceeds and destruction of Arab homes, either declared illegally constructed or illegally purchased, continues. On 44 dunums of lands confiscated from Palestinian families, a private company has constructed the gated community of Nof Zion, and conveniently separated Palestinian Jabal Al Mukabir from other parts of East Jerusalem. No Arabs need apply. The million dollar condominiums are advertised for American investors.

The Israeli ministry of Interior has approved a plan to demolish a kindergarten and wholesale market in East Jerusalem’s Wadi Joz neighborhood in order to construct a new hotel close to the Old City and near the Rockefeller Museum. The result will be the destruction of an Arab neighborhood and its replacement by Jewish interests, which will one day join other Jewish interests.

These are only two examples of a master plan to replace the centuries old Arab presence in East Jerusalem with a modern Jewish presence. The ancient Arab presence in an ancient land is further subdivided by the Separation Wall, which runs through the East Jerusalem landscape and detaches East Jerusalem from the West Bank, making it unlikely for a Palestinian state to have its capital in East Jerusalem. The master plan extends the boundaries of Jerusalem to include the large Israeli settlement (city) of Maale Adumim. Between Maale Adumim and East Jerusalem, Israel proposes to construct the E1 corridor, which joins settlements in a ring and adds to the separation of East Jerusalem from the West Bank. The E1 corridor will divide the northern and southern West Bank and will impede direct transit between Palestine Bethlehem, which is south of E1 and Palestine Ramallah, which is north of E1. Construction of the E1 corridor, portions of which are owned by Palestinians, could prevent the formation of a viable Palestinian state.

So, if Israel is destroying Jerusalem’s heritage and subjugating its spiritual meaning, why does Israel want to unify Jerusalem?

Israel’s Hidden Agenda

Israel is a physically small and relatively new country with an eager population and big ambitions. It needs more prestige and wants to be viewed as a power broker on the world stage. To gain those perspectives Israel needs a capital city that commands respect, contains ancient traditions and is recognized as one of the world’s most important and leading cities. Almost all of the world’s principal nations, from Egypt to Germany to Great Britain, have capitals that are great cities of the world. To assure its objectives, Israel wants an oversized Jerusalem that contains the Holy City.

That’s not all.

Jerusalem has significant tourism that can be expanded. It can provide new commercial opportunities as an entry to all of the Mid-East. An indivisible Jerusalem under Israeli control is worth a lot of shekels.

Israel competes with the United States as the focus of the Jewish people. It needs a unique Jerusalem to gain recognition as the home of Judaism.

By controlling all of the holy sites, Israel commands attention from Moslem and Christian leaders. These leaders will be forced to talk with Israel and Israel will have a bargaining advantage in disputes.

Whatever Israel gains the Palestinians are denied. Even if Israel agrees to the establishment of a Palestinian state, it will direct its policies to limit the effectiveness of that state. Since East Jerusalem and its holy sites greatly benefit a Palestinian economy and increase Palestine legitimacy, Israel will do everything to prevent East Jerusalem being ceded to the new state of Palestine. An “indivisible” Jerusalem is part of that effort.

West Jerusalem only gives Israel a North/South capital. An indivisible Jerusalem gives Israel a forward look towards an East/West capital or a centralized capital of the land of previous biblical Jewish tribes.

The Zionist socialist ideals and the cooperative Kibbutzim received support and sympathy from idealistic world peoples for many years. Israel’s attachment to the Holocaust tragedy extended that sympathy and support to more of the world. With the end of the Zionist dream, the decline of kibbutz life and the over-popularizing of the Holocaust, Israel needs a new symbol of identity that captures world attention.

If Israel has legitimate claims to Jerusalem, then those claims should be heard and discussed in a proper forum. However, that is not the process forthcoming. The process has the Israeli government using illegal and illegitimate procedures, as well as deceitful and hypocritical methods to force its agenda. Israel is not presenting its case but is exerting its powers to trample all legal, moral and historical considerations.

In the Museum of the Citadel of David is an inscription: The land of Israel is in the center of the world and Jerusalem is the center of the land of Israel.

This self praise was echoed at a West Jerusalem coffee house in a conversation with several Israelis, A youthful Israeli abruptly sat at the table and entered the conversation with the words: “All the world looks to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the center of the world and Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Everyone needs Jerusalem and they will need to talk with Israel.’

And that is why Israel desperately wants its greater Jerusalem.

– Dan Lieberman is the editor of Alternative Insight, a monthly web based newsletter. Dan has written many articles on the Middle East conflict, which have circulated on websites and media throughout the world. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

December 4, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | 2 Comments

Boycott roundup: French companies to drop out of Jerusalem rail project

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 3 December 2010

In a significant victory for the global Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, French companies Veolia and Alstom have dropped out of the Jerusalem light rail project due to sustained pressure from Palestine solidarity groups. The companies were contracted by the Israeli government to construct and manage the tramway linking Jerusalem to several illegal Israeli settlement colonies in the occupied West Bank.

The Associated Press reported on 28 November that Yoni Yitzhak, the spokesperson for Veolia Israel, “denied the company had succumbed to political pressures,” saying that “[a]ll decisions by Veolia Israel are based on financial, not political, considerations (“French firm drops out of Israeli light rail project,” 28 November 2010).

However, a spokesperson for Dan bus lines, an Israeli company that hoped to secure the contract after Veolia dropped out, said that Veolia had told Dan executives that the company had decided to end its involvement in the Jerusalem light rail project specifically because of the mounting BDS campaigns and political pressure, according to the Associated Press report.

Speaking at the recent London session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, The Electronic Intifada contributor Adri Nieuwhof testified against Veolia for its involvement in profiting from the illegal settlement industry. Nieuwhof is a human rights advocate whose writing focuses on corporate complicity in violations of international law, including Veolia’s role in the project. The jury subsequently included Veolia in a list of seven corporations it identified with “corporate complicity in Israeli violations of international law.”

The Jerusalem light rail project was designed to accommodate 200,000 Israeli settlers traveling between West Jerusalem and colonies in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, such as Pisgat Zeev, Neve Yaakov and Ramot.

According to a statement by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) on 25 November, campaigners are marking this move by Veolia and Alstom as an important activism milestone. The BNC also emphasized that “pressure must be increased to ensure that these companies truly end their involvement in the Jerusalem light rail and in all other Israeli projects that violate international law” (“Veolia and Alstom feel the heat – BNC calls for intensifying pressure!,” 25 November 2010).

The BNC added “Veolia has agreed to sell its shares over a five year period. Not only will it receive [euro] 9 million [US $11.9 million] for its shares, but Veolia will continue to operate a system designed to dispossess Palestinians throughout this period and it is easily conceivable that the deal will break down during the sale process.”

Selling their shares, stated the BNC, does not absolve Veolia nor Alstom of their “legal, moral and political responsibility” toward Palestinians who will continue to suffer injustices because of the rail project, or of their “ongoing complicity in other Israeli projects that contravene international law.”

According to the BNC, campaigners across the globe “successfully secured the exclusion of Veolia from an impressive array of public sector contracts and pension funds.” The BNC cited several instances of Veolia’s loss of billions of dollars worth of public contracts in several countries in Europe, and in Australia and Iran, following effective campaigns by human rights activists.


In related news, the BNC also called on the French government to “immediately cease all undemocratic, repressive measures against its own conscientious citizens who promote or engage in nonviolent boycotts, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel until it complies with international law” (“Palestinian civil society reaffirms support for persecuted French activists,” 23 November 2010).

The statement follows waves of repressive action by the French government against Palestine solidarity activists working within the growing BDS movement. On 14 October, the BNC reported that a French court dismissed charges of incitement to “discrimination, hatred or violence” brought against Senator Alima Boumediene-Thiery and prominent activist Omar Slaouti, both of whom participated in boycott-related direct actions. “However, a [euro] 1,000 [US $1,300] fine against campaigner Sakina Arnaud for attaching a ‘Boycott Israel’ sticker to a fruit juice carton was upheld the following week,” the BNC stated.

Earlier this week, at least a dozen French BDS activists will appear in court to face similar charges, and other trials will take place over the course of the next year, according to the BNC.

These charges were brought against the French activists by pro-Israel lobby groups. “The self-styled Bureau National de Vigilance Contre l’Antisemitisme [National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism] and other pro-Israel groups claim to have filed over eighty complaints,” the BNC added. “According to activists, police regularly demand the names and addresses of those present at BDS demonstrations.”


Boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigners in Ireland welcomed a unanimous vote by the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) to support a comprehensive boycott campaign of Israeli goods and services and “a policy of disinvestment from Israeli companies” as a result of Israel’s ongoing violations of international law and human rights against the Palestinian people.

In a 24 November press release from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), campaigners say TEEU’s management welcomed the motion, which was submitted to the union’s Executive Management Committee the weekend before (“Another BDS victory: TEEU votes to Boycott Israel,” 24 November 2010).

Upon the passage of the motion, one union delegate remarked “The global trade union movement has consistently demonstrated its commitment to Palestinian rights by adopting labor-led sanctions as a form of effective solidarity with Palestinians. The TEEU should be proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Palestinian trade union brothers and sisters, those brave Israelis — Jewish and Arab — who promote BDS, and those trade unions from Britain, to Belgium, to Canada to South Africa and beyond that have taken the principled decision to support BDS.”

Also in Ireland, members of the Dublin Food Co-Op voted overwhelmingly to boycott Israeli-made products during a special general meeting on 25 November. The IPSC stated that this was the third attempt in two years to authorize a boycott of Israeli goods, but after a determined campaign by BDS activists, the motion passed by a 50-6 vote (“Dublin Food Co-Op passes Israeli boycott motion,” 26 November 2010).

In the motion proposal, BDS campaigners called for a boycott of all Israeli products until the state of Israel agrees “to allow humanitarian aid and unarmed peace activists entry into Palestine without the threat of violence and death from Israeli armed forces,” and “agrees to honor United Nations resolutions regarding the unlawful occupation of Palestine in the so-called Israeli ‘settlements.'”

United Kingdom

Thousands of customers of British Telecom (BT) have signed onto a campaign led by a coalition of Palestine solidarity groups calling for an end to the company’s ties with Israeli telecommunications corporation Bezeq International. People who joined the Disconnect Now campaign have emailed BT asking for “an end to the company’s complicity in illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” according to a press release from Disconnect Now coalition member group Just Peace for Palestine (“Thousands write to BT about complicity in Israeli occupation,” 24 November 2010).

In January 2010, said the press release, BT welcomed Israeli company Bezeq International, a subsidiary of Bezeq Israel, into its Global Alliance. The Bezeq corporation provides telecommunication services to illegal Israeli settlement colonies in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“Members of the public who contacted BT via email have received a standard reply that while failing to address the main issue of the settlements and human rights, mentions that Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel has an arrangement with Bezeq,” stated the press release. “But in an official statement, Paltel have explained that ‘the Palestinian telecommunications sector is a captive sector in its own market and is forced into having operational relationships with Bezeq and other Israeli operators.'”


Japanese retail giant MUJI canceled plans to open a store in Israel following a targeted boycott campaign by grassroots Palestine solidarity organizations inside the country and around the region, including South Korea.

Organizers with the Palestine Forum Japan’s Stop!! MUJI Campaign drafted an online petition calling on the company not to open a retail shop in Israel, drawing hundreds of signatures in support. Activists also held solidarity actions in Osaka, where they set up a mock Israeli checkpoint with an “Israeli soldier” who pretended to harass civilians. A video was posted on YouTube showing the Osaka checkpoint action and a meeting between a MUJI store owner and solidarity activists in Kyobashi (“Mock checkpoint in Osaka).

On 1 December, MUJI declared that the company canceled its plans in Israel due to “economic reasons as a result of concrete research” but activists say that MUJI executives had been responding to their emails and telephone calls with careful reconsideration of their Israel plan for political reasons.

Activists say this is the first boycott victory in Japan.

United States — Chicago

Activists with the DePaul University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) released a statement on 29 November admonishing the university’s move to overturn a recent decision to discontinue the sale of Sabra hummus products.

On 11 November, SJP activists wrote to the university administration objecting to the sale of Sabra hummus in campus dining facilities.

The university subsequently suspended sale of Sabra products, but reversed its decision days later, saying that the process needed review by the Fair Business Practices Committee. SJP activists stated that the Sabra products should remain off the shelves until the committee reaches a decision.

In a statement issued after the university reversed its decision, the activists said “SJP’s concerns are based on the activities of Sabra’s parent company, the Strauss Group, an Israel-based corporation which provides vocal and material support to Israeli military practices that stand in direct contravention to international and human rights law,” the group stated (“Public Statement on the Return of Sabra Products to DePaul University,” 29 November 2010).

The group called on DePaul University to “adhere to more ethical business practices by indefinitely suspending Sabra sales and withdrawing financial support from a company openly promoting the endangerment of Palestinian lives.”

“As DePaul students, we are deeply concerned with DePaul University’s support for any company that actively supports Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land,” their statement added. “In light of the Strauss Group’s ongoing support of the Golani and Givati brigades, which both act against international human rights standards, the university’s affiliation with the Strauss Group is inconsistent with DePaul’s Vincentian values. Continued distribution of Sabra hummus products aligns DePaul University with the perpetuation of egregious harms and shocking injustices. Therefore, we call on DePaul to permanently refrain from buying, stocking and using Sabra hummus products.”

New Jersey

In a related issue, students at Princeton University are seeking a referendum to have the student government make a formal request to school dining facilities to provide alternative brands to the Sabra products currently being offered.

Activists with the Princeton Committee on Palestine gathered the two hundred signatures required to introduce a referendum into the student senate. The Daily Princetonian quoted the committee’s president, Yoel Bitran, as stating that “The Princeton Committee on Palestine objects to the fact that Sabra is the only hummus brand that is offered in most university stores and that students who wish to eat this traditional Arab food are forced to buy a product that is connected to human rights abuses against Arab civilians” (“Students campaign for alternative hummus,” 19 November 2010).

The issue will be voted on this week.

Meanwhile, the Strauss Group recently deleted all mentions of their support for the Israeli military from its website. Under the heading “In the Field With Soldiers,” the Strauss Group formerly mentioned that its “connection with soldiers goes as far back as the country, and even further,” and detailed its relationships with Israeli military platoons. The section is now only found in cached versions of the website content.

Tel Aviv-South Africa

Anti-apartheid Israeli activists in Tel Aviv organized a “flash mob” action outside the Tel Aviv Opera House on 15 November, calling on the performers of the visiting Cape Town Opera to boycott Israel.

The action followed a months-long campaign by Palestinian, Israeli and South African activists urging the Cape Town Opera to respect the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Organizing within the context of the Cape Town Opera activity, South African artists and cultural workers released a declaration in support of a broad-based boycott against the Israeli government and Israeli cultural institutions (“South African Artists Against Apartheid, a declaration,” 1 November 2010).

“As South African artists and cultural workers who have lived under, survived and in many cases resisted apartheid, we acknowledge the value of international solidarity in our own struggle,” read the declaration. “It is in this context that we respond to the call by Palestinians, and their Israeli allies, for such solidarity.”

“As artists of conscience we say no to apartheid — anywhere,” the artists added. “We respond to the call for international solidarity and undertake not to avail any invitation to perform or exhibit in Israel. Nor will we accept funding from institutions linked to the government of Israel. This is our position until such time as Israel, in the least, complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. Until then, we too unite with international colleagues under the banner of ‘Artists Against Apartheid.'”

In October, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu had called on the Cape Town Opera to cancel their scheduled performances of the American classic Porgy and Bess, stating that Israel was “luring” artists and cultural workers to the Tel Aviv Opera House to advance its “fallacious claim to being a ‘civilized democracy'” (“Tutu urges South African opera not to tour Israel,” Associated Press, 26 October 2010).

A longtime supporter of the boycott movement against Israeli apartheid, Tutu added it would be “unconscionable” for the Cape Town Opera to perform Porgy and Bess, which he said has a “universal message of nondiscrimination.”

Palestine-based news blog The Daily Nuisance produced a video of the flash mob, in which more than two dozen activists participated outside the Opera House (Tel Aviv flash mob).

Gaza Strip

Palestinian soccer players, coaches and athletic clubs in the occupied Gaza Strip released an open letter on 20 November to Michel Platini, president of the Union of European Football Associations, calling on the organization to “reverse apartheid Israel’s participation” in European soccer matches (“An Open letter from Besieged Gaza to Michel Platini and UEFA: Reverse Apartheid Israel’s Participation in European Competitive Football,” 20 November 2010).

In August, the Israeli government denied players from Gaza to travel to Mauritania for a match. A month later, Platini threatened Israel with expulsion from the soccer union if it continued to restrict Palestinian athletes from freedom of movement. “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behavior,” he added (“Platini: I’ll kick Israel out of Europe,” Palestine Monitor, 2 October 2010).

The athletes’ letter praised Platini’s remarks, and accounted in detail the various ways in which Israel’s ongoing siege and blockade against the Gaza Strip affects daily life for Palestinians — athletes or not.

“Like all residents of Gaza, footballers are continually deprived entry or exit from what many mainstream human rights organizations call the world’s largest open-air prison,” stated the letter. “You must know that we are still grieving the loss of over 430 of our children, who were among the 1,443 people killed during Israel’s three-week bombing of Gaza in winter 2009. Two of our national football team heroes, Ayman Alkurd and Wajeh Moshate, were among those 1,443. 5,300 more people were injured. Many had their legs amputated. They will never have the chance to play football.”

The authors of the letter, representing more than thirty athletic and civic organizations in Gaza, highlighted the historic anti-racism campaigns by European soccer unions, including UEFA’s recent policy to support referees in stopping games for racist behavior. The letter pointed out that racism “is at the heart of why our national team cannot play abroad. It is the core reason why our sporting equipment does not arrive. It is the reason why our stadiums do not get built and why our football season ends prematurely through resource shortages or violent attacks.

The letter concluded with a plea to Platini and UEFA to rescind Israel’s participation in European competitions until the state’s racist policies end against Palestinians and it abides by international law.

December 4, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Boycott roundup: French companies to drop out of Jerusalem rail project

As Palestinians ‘Commute’ to Work

By Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler | IPS | December 4, 2010

BETHLEHEM CHECKPOINT, Occupied West Bank – It’s 5am. The late autumn dawn is about to break. But for 3,500 Palestinian workers, a hard day’s work began hours ago.

Young and old men push and shove their way out through the narrow lane, barely a metre wide, bars of iron rising above them on either side. Over their heads sits a corrugated steel roof.

Some try to sneak into the lane through a gap in the roof.

“Being in jail is easier!” cries out one man angrily. He’s a builder from Hebron. “Donkeys are made to stand like this! Even cattle are not hemmed in like this.”

“They have no respect for us. We’re human beings, not animals!” adds another, an electrician whose home is in Bethlehem. “No human being should be put behind bars like this. It’s not right!” They choose not to give their names.

The Palestinians grasp the bars, not just for fear of being trampled, but to keep their place in line. “I’ve got to be at work at seven, not at eight or ten! When I’m late, my Israeli boss tells me, ‘You can go home, I don’t need you’.”

This is the Israeli occupation writ small, the nitty-gritty battles to survive the Occupation in a single lane.

All for the prospect of earning from 200 plus shekels (roughly 50 dollars) a day. Some have been stuck here from as early as 3am. And, they must pay for their own food and transportation to and from their jobs inside Israel (60-80 shekels).

One after the other, minibuses arrive at the checkpoint adjacent to Israel’s eight-metre high concrete security wall. The workers scramble out, and scramble for position in the lane; the minibuses head off to pick up more workers in towns and villages across the southern West Bank.

The checkpoint – “crossing-point” as the Israeli euphemism has it – is on the seam that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem.

The two holy cities are within walking distance from one another. It’s been five years that Palestinians in the two cities have been cut off from each other, divided by a maze of security walls and watch towers…and by the unholy lane.

The checkpoint at the end of the lane is like a border terminal. But there is no agreed border between Israel and the Palestinian state-to-be.

To enter Jerusalem, every Palestinian from the West Bank, not just labourers, must pass through the lane, then present a permit they have been issued by the Israeli military authorities.

It’s called ‘commuting’ for these workers. But it’s far worse than a nerve- wracking traffic jam. “We’re moving along at just ten metres an hour,” says one man gloomily.

Humanitarian workers, three Australian women from the World Council of Churches, are helpless. From the other side of the bars shadowing the lane, Aimee Kent says, “On a good day, the rush will finish by 6:30; on a slow day or a difficult day, the crush will go on until eight.”

Alongside the ‘security’ lane, there’s a ‘humanitarian lane’, reserved for Palestinian women, children, the ill and the handicapped. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week – at least in principle. Now it’s empty.

“The humanitarian lane has been closed since four this morning and it’s now past six. It’s not normal, not safe for the women to be in the security lane, but what option do they have,” says Kent.

The Israel police who run the checkpoint insist that the humanitarian lane is in fact open, but they say they’re compelled to keep it closed once the security lane is full to the brim. They can’t handle the extra congestion, they say.

Often, the workers have to wait two to three hours just to get through the electronic gate that leads into the checkpoint terminal. There they have to undergo a thorough security check. That entails another 30 to 40 minutes while their ID cards are checked and they go through scanning procedures.

“If they give us permits, why do they need to create all these extra complications,” complains a young Palestinian woman, anxious to get through in time to prepare breakfast at the Swedish Theological Institute in Jerusalem where she’s employed as a cook.

The head of the Israeli checkpoint, chief superintendent Shmuel Barak, states the Israeli position blandly: “The work permit allows the holder to enter Jerusalem from 5am. If they decide to come earlier, it’s their decision. We’re not responsible for that. Our job is to maintain security for Jerusalem and for the State of Israel.”

Moshe Pinchi, spokesman for the border police, is keen to put a human face on the whole procedure: “We’re trying our best to maintain the delicate balance between our security needs and enabling Palestinians with permits to work inside Israel and to live a normal life. The wave of terror which swept Israel from the West Bank during the Intifada uprising imposed this situation upon us. Now, we stop terror at these gates.”

The police insist that knives, explosives, and weapons are often uncovered during the draconian security checks.

Yet, what Israeli officials acknowledge is that the relative calm of recent years is also due to the success of the Palestinian Authority in bringing a measure of security and good governance to the West Bank.

In the absence, however, of tangible moves towards peace between Israel and the PA, nowhere does the economic development that has improved conditions in the West Bank seem further away than here, in face of the thousands of Palestinians desperate to work in Israel, willing to endure the daily hardship of getting through to their job inside Israel or inside Israeli- occupied East Jerusalem.

A middle-aged man from Bethlehem who teaches in a Palestinian school in East Jerusalem describes the harrowing scene: “Welcome world to see our situation! This is not a checkpoint; it’s a humiliation of the Palestinian people! I am a human being. All the people here are human beings. But the Israelis trap us like animals! For them Palestinians are simply animals or terrorists! But no,” he adds sarcastically, “No, the Israelis, they want peace! What a joke!”

The moment anyone gets through the elaborate checking procedure, another rush is on – for another minibus that will dispatch them to their workplace.

Running for freedom remains a forlorn dream for Palestinians. For now, they’re just running for their livelihood.

December 4, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | 1 Comment

Iraqi Interior Minister demands execution of al-Qai’da suspects

AI – 3 December 2010

Amnesty International today strongly condemned a call by the Iraqi Interior Minister for the swift execution of 39 alleged al-Qai’da members as they were paraded before journalists, handcuffed and clad in orange jumpsuits.

“For Jawad al-Bolani to abuse his position as Interior minister by parading these men publicly and calling for their execution before they have even gone to trial, flagrantly flaunting the requirement for defendants to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court, is absolutely outrageous,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“It makes a complete mockery of any suggestion that these suspects will receive a fair trial, and sets a most ominous precedent for others.”

Jawad al-Bolani said at a press conference in Baghdad on Thursday:

“Today, we will send those criminals and the investigation results to the courts that will sentence them to death. Our demand is not to delay the carrying out of the executions against these criminals so that to deter terrorist and criminal elements.”

According to media reports he also said that most of the 39 suspects had rejoined al-Qai’da linked groups after being released from Iraqi prisons administered by the USA. One of them was identified as Hazim al-Zawi, al-Qai’da in Iraq’s third-highest leader.

Amnesty International highlighted serious concerns about human rights abuses suffered by the many thousands of detainees in Iraq, many of whom were transferred from US to Iraqi custody in the months up to mid-July 2010, in its report New Order, Same Abuses: Unlawful detentions and torture in Iraq, published in September.

The report detailed how many detainees were arbitrarily held, sometimes for several years without charge or trial, and often tortured to obtain forced confessions.

“We have been saying for a long time that ‘confessions’ in Iraq are regularly extracted under torture, so any ‘confessions’ these 39 suspects have made, which may be used in their trial, must be thoroughly investigated to ensure that they have not been made under duress, torture or other ill-treatment,” said Malcolm Smart.

“What chance can there be for any defendant to receive a fair trial if so senior a government minister shows such contempt for the rule of law?”

Amnesty International has called on the Iraqi government to ensure that these and other detainees awaiting trial must receive fair trials that conform to recognized international standards.

The organization said it recognizes that the security situation in Iraq remains precarious and that it is the government’s duty to protect its population, including members of religious and ethnic minorities. However this must be done with full respect of human rights and the rule of law.

Amnesty International has on numerous occasions strongly condemned human rights abuses committed by armed groups in Iraq.

Amnesty International said it opposes the death penalty unconditionally as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

The organization has called on Iraq to end executions as a step toward complete abolition of the death penalty.

Read More

Thousands of Iraqi detainees at risk of torture after US handover (Report, 12 September 2010)

December 4, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Iraqi Interior Minister demands execution of al-Qai’da suspects

US-led troops abduct Afghan journalist

Press TV – December 4, 2010

US-led forces have abducted an Afghan journalist in the eastern province of Khost amid escalating anti-American sentiments in the war-ravaged country.

The troops stormed into the journalist’s home overnight and took him and his three brothers. Reports say they have been taken to a military base.

The move has caused uproar among other Afghan journalists, who say he is arrested without being charged. They maintain that even if he is to face charges he should be tried at an Afghan court. US-led troops in Afghanistan have abducted four other journalists in recent months.

This comes two days after Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered an investigation into the NATO killing of a local Afghan official in the country’s south.

According to Karzai’s office, troops broke into the house of a former district governor in the province of Helmand earlier this week, killing him and arresting six members of his family.

Local officials say preliminary investigations have revealed that the man was innocent. They say NATO forces have not responded to inquiries about the killing.

The developments follow US President Barack Obama’s brief visit to Bagram airbase and prison, located north of the capital Kabul, on Friday. He spent a total of four hours on the ground in Afghanistan.

Obama has told US troops that they will have difficult days during their stay in the war-torn country. “Progress comes slow” and “there are going to be difficult days ahead,” Obama told thousands of US troops at Bagram Airbase.

US-led forces have some 150,000 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan. They are often accused of killing civilians during operations against the country’s militants.

December 4, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | 1 Comment

“GOD-TV” evangelical Christian channel funds Israeli ethnic cleansing

By  Neve Gordon | Redress | 4 December 2010

Despite the fact that it was the seventh demolition since last July, this time the destruction of the Bedouin village of Al-Arakib in the  Israeli Negev was different. The difference is not because the homeless residents had to deal this time with the harsh desert winter; nor in the fact that the bulldozers began razing the homes just minutes before the 40 children left for school, thus engraving another violent scene in their memory. Rather, the demolition was different because this time Christian evangelists from the United States and England were involved.

I know this for a fact because right next to the demolished homes, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) put up a big sign that reads: “GOD-TV FOREST, a generous donation by God-TV made 1,000,000 tree saplings available to be planted in the land of Israel and also provided for the creation of water projects throughout the Negev.” GOD-TV justifies this contribution by citing the book of Isaiah: “I will turn the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into springs.”

The JNF’s objective, however, is not altruistic, but rather to plant a pine or eucalyptus forest on the desert land so that the Bedouins cannot return to their ancestral homes. The practice of planting forests in an attempt to Judaize more territory is by no means new. Right after Israel’s establishment in 1948, the JNF planted millions of trees to cover up the remains of Palestinian villages that had been destroyed during or after the war. The objective was to help ensure that the 750,000 Palestinian residents who either fled or were expelled during the war would never return to their villages and to suppress the fact that they had been the rightful owners of the land before the State of Israel was created. Scores of Palestinian villages disappeared from the landscape in this way, and the grounds were converted into picnic parks, thus helping engender a national amnesia regarding the Palestinian  Nakba.

For several years, I thought this practice had been discontinued, but thanks to the JNF’s new bedfellows and the generous donation of  Rory and Wendy Alec, who established the international evangelical television channel GOD-TV, within the next few months a million saplings will be planted on land belonging to uprooted Bedouins.

God-TV can afford such lavish gifts, since it boasts a viewership of nearly half a billion people, with 20 million in the United States and 14 million in Britain. The television channel regularly features evangelical leaders such as Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and John Hagee, at least some of whom espouse  Christian Dispensationalism and believe that all Jews must convert to Christianity before the “Second Coming”.

The viewers are asked to open their wallets in order to “sow a seed for God”. In this case, the donations seem to have actually been allocated toward sowing seeds, but these seeds are ones of hate and strife. They are antithetical to Isaiah’s prophecy about the people beating their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Indeed, if Isaiah were alive today, he would probably be among the first to lie in front of the bulldozers in an effort to stop the destruction of the Bedouin homes.

December 4, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | 4 Comments