Aletho News


Teens held over mosque arson: Britain

Press TV -December 5, 2010

Britain’s police have arrested four teenagers in connection with a “racist” arson attack on a mosque in Staffordshire, which damaged the newly completed building.

Staffordshire police said three men and a woman, aged 16 to 19, were arrested after an investigation into the fire at the mosque in Hanley, Stoke-On-Trent.

A blaze alert came at around 6:30 after CCTV footage showed smoke coming out of the building.

Police said they are examining any connection between damage to a nearby gas main and the fire, which did not affect the mosque’s structure.

“We are treating this incident as a racist attack on a religious building,” said Chief Inspector Wayne Jones, who called the attack ‘appalling.’

“Local neighborhood police officers are meeting with members of the community to keep them informed and to address their concerns and obvious anger about this criminal incident,” Jones added.

Police said they are questioning the four suspects while reviewing CCTV footage from the area and leading house-to-house inquiries.

Stoke-On-Trent has been the scene of racial tensions against ethnic minorities including Muslims after the far-right British National Party won five seats at the local council elections in May.

Ethnic minorities comprise some 7 percent of the city’s population.

December 5, 2010 Posted by | Islamophobia | Comments Off on Teens held over mosque arson: Britain

The Native American analogy doesn’t work

By Ali Abunimah  | Mondoweiss | December 5, 2010

Earlier today Phil Weiss did a post mentioning Native Americans and the argument that American historical sins immunize the Israelis from the Palestinian right of return.

Citing the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans as a way to justify not recognizing the Palestinian right of return, as I’ve often heard people do, is usually disingenuous. The situation is comparable up to a point and then breaks down. Native Americans were ethnically cleansed as Palestinians were and are being ethnically cleansed. As a percentage of the US population today, Native Americans constitute less than one percent. We should support doing everything possible to recognize and support their rights, including returning traditional land as has happened to greater or lesser degrees in other settler-colonial countries including Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The main reason people can flippantly say “well if you support the Palestinian right of return then you should support Native Americans returning to their land” in order to justify Israel not recognizing the Palestinian right is that there are simply so few Native Americans that the question does not really arise. Native Americans in the United States are struggling for survival, justice and recognition, but generally not by seeking the return of land that is now, say, a neighborhood of Chicago. Their struggle came poignantly to light recently in the affair of the US refusal to recognize tribal passports of the Iroquois Lacrosse team that was supposed to travel to the UK (link here).

But imagine if the situation were more analogous to Palestine today in terms of numbers. Imagine if Native Americans constituted 30, 40, or 50 or even 20 percent of the population of the United States and that they lived in sealed reservations in conditions similar to those in the Gaza Strip or refugee camps in the West Bank or Lebanon?

If there were 30, 70 or 100 million people who identified as Native Americans and existed in such conditions, no one would be able to so flippantly dismiss either their right to return to their original lands or any challenge they would make to the legitimacy of the United States. The United States would have a legitimacy crisis and bloodbath on its hands.

The only reason the United States can so easily ignore the rights of Native Americans is that they suffered near-genocide. Palestinians today are 50 percent of the population in their historic homeland and cannot simply be ignored as they could be if they were one percent. This is why Benny Morris said in 2004 that yes, ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians was necessary and justified to create Israel, but if Ben-Gurion had made a mistake it was that he did not “finish the job.” The United States, Canada, Australia did “finish the job” and those are the settler-colonial states that survive. French Algeria, Portuguese Mozambique, Rhodesia, Apartheid South Africa, Protestant-ruled Northern Ireland and Israel are the settler-colonial states where the native population remained either a majority or a substantial minority that could challenge the legitimacy of the state. How many of them are left?

Finally, it is disingenuous to make this an issue solely about property rights. Property rights are a difficult issue that would affect a fraction of Palestinians and Israelis. Most Palestinians, however, could return to land in Israel that is currently empty. Israelis reject the right of return primarily on ethnoreligious grounds: they just don’t want too many Palestinians polluting the “Jewish democracy.”

December 5, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 6 Comments

START for Israel; START against Iran

Ali Gharib | Lobe Log | November 22nd, 2010

Earlier today on National Review’s The Corner blog, Foundation for Defense of Democracies head honcho Cliff May wrote:

I’m now hearing from more than one source on the Hill that the Obama administration has just added a new argument in favor of lame-duck ratification: failure to adopt START will “hurt Israel.”

May demurs, naturally (the New START is an Obama Administration initiative, after all), then tells a joke, sets up a straw man, and knocks it down. May thinks the Obama administration scare tactic will be that without START, Russia’s nukes will  start “somehow leaking out and getting into the hands of Iran’s bad boys or other terrorists.”

But that wasn’t the Israel angle played by Jewish groups later in the day — though their tack does have something to do with Iran.

Laura Rozen reports for Politico:

Both the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) cited the importance of passage of the U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reduction treaty in order to maintain American-Russian cooperation in countering the Iran nuclear threat.

“We are deeply concerned that failure to ratify the New START treaty will have national security consequences far beyond the subject of the treaty itself,” the ADL said in a letter sent to every Senator Friday.

“The U.S. diplomatic strategy to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons requires a U.S.-Russia relationship of trust and cooperation,” ADL continues. “The severe damage that could be inflicted on that relationship by failing to ratify the treaty would inevitably hamper effective American international leadership to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program.”

The New START treaty may indeed be a necessary step for global security, but questions should be raised about linking it to Iran. This support by pro-Israel groups may prove to haunt U.S. policy towards Iran in the future.

One might compare this tack in pushing START to the sort of message Benjamin Netanyahu took away from meeting with Barack Obama about engaging in Palestinian-Israeli peace talks: that getting the job done (or at least getting to the table) will help the U.S. isolate Iran and contain its nuclear ambitions.

How many of these bargains can Obama enter into before he must pay the piper and make the ultimate escalation against Iran? If the diplomatic strategy fails, then what?

Perhaps this is pointing out the obvious: Something is truly amiss when a treaty to limit nuclear proliferation is being sold as the way to defend and protect a country that has an ever expanding — and clandestine — nuclear arsenal.


Obama Pushes START Treaty to Top of Legislative Agenda

By Jim Lobe | IPS | December 2, 2010

WASHINGTON – With time running out before he faces a much more hostile and Republican Congress, President Barack Obama appears to have made Senate ratification of the pending New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia his top legislative priority.

Not only has he bowed to Republican demands to allocate more money for Washington’s nuclear arms programme, but he has suggested that he’s also willing to cave in to Republican demands to extend tax cuts for high-income households – despite record federal deficits – in order to gain START ratification.

And he’s getting considerable help from big guns in what remains of the Republican foreign policy Establishment, including five former secretaries of state whose service spanned the last five Republican administrations.

In an op-ed heralded by the White House on the eve of its publication in Thursday’s Washington Post, former secretaries Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger and Colin Powell concluded that the New START was “clearly in our national interest” and should be ratified. […]

Obama, who had promised during the 2008 election campaign not to raise taxes on households earning 250,000 dollars a year or less, had hoped that allowing the cuts to expire on those earning more than that would help cut the federal deficit by several hundred billion dollars over the next few years.

His apparent willingness to compromise on this issue in order to secure START is causing growing dismay among his supporters. … Full article by Jim Lobe

December 5, 2010 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | 2 Comments