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Another protester shot dead in Yemen

Press TV – February 21, 2011

Forces loyal to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime have shot dead a pro-democracy protester and injured another in the southern city of Aden.

The incident occurred on Sunday, the tenth day of consecutive protests, as police fired tear gas and bullets to disperse thousands of protesters demanding a change in leadership.

Security in Aden was stepped up on Sunday with tanks and armored vehicles out on main streets.

In the capital city of Sana’a, police fired shots at demonstrators.

Hasan Baoum, the leader of Yemen’s secessionist Southern Movement, was detained in an Aden hospital where he was receiving treatment, his son Fadi Hasan Baoum told Reuters.

Thousands of people have also staged sit-ins in the cities of Ibb and Taiz, demanding the ouster of the US-backed president, who has ruled the country for 33 years.

President Saleh, however, has said he will only step down after his term ends in 2013.

Earlier, Yemen’s parliamentary opposition said it is planning to join the street protests and have rejected a call by Saleh for dialog, slamming the government for using force against demonstrators.

Over a dozen protesters have been killed by the government loyalists across Yemen over the past few days.

February 20, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | 2 Comments

Japanese protest against US base

Press TV – February 21, 2011
The Futenma air base is in an urbanized area on Okinawa island

Japanese activists have gathered in front of the US embassy in Tokyo to protest against a planned heliport near the village of Takae, northern Okinawa.

The demonstrators shouted slogans against the American military base on Okinawa, demanding the removal of the base from the island, The Japan Times reported on Sunday.

They tried to submit a letter to Washington’s Ambassador in Japan John Victor Roos, but they were prevented from reaching the embassy by a wall of Japanese police.

Futenma airbase, hosting about half the US troops in Japan, is extremely unpopular with locals who associate it with crime and pollution.

Futenma has provoked a wave of anger in the country, urging Tokyo to remove US military installations from the country.

Tens of thousands of people have held several rallies against the American military engagement in the country over the past months.

The relocation of the air station is not the only unbearable issue for Okinawans, as Tokyo has agreed to construct six helipads (each 75 meters in diameter) for the US Marine Corps’ Bell-Boeing V-22 Ospreys around the village.

Noise pollution from Ospreys is said to be beyond human tolerance. The citizens of Brewton, Alabama, also staged a protest against Osprey maneuvers in the region last month.

Earlier this week, Japanese people staged another street protest against the trans-Pacific free trade pact, which broadens relationships with the United States.

People from political left and right gave speeches and rallied in the streets on Wednesday, saying that the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is aimed at strengthening the US-Japan military alliance and has political purposes.

February 20, 2011 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | 4 Comments

American Zionism against the Egyptian Pro-Democracy Movement

By James Petras | The People’s Voice | February 20th, 2011

One of the least analyzed aspects of the Egyptian pro-democracy movement and US policy toward it, is the role of the influential Zionist power configuration (ZPC) including the leading umbrella organization – the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CPMAJO) – Congressional Middle East committee members, officials occupying strategic positions in the Obama Administration’s Middle East bureaus, as well as prominent editors, publicists and journalists who play a major role in the prestigious newspapers and popular weekly magazines. This essay is based on a survey of every issue of the Daily Alert (propaganda bulletin of the CPMAJO), the NY Times and the Washington Post between January 25 – February 17, 2011.

From the very beginning of the Egyptian pro-democracy movement, the ZPC, called into question the legitimacy of the anti-dictatorial demands by focusing on the “Islamic threat”. In particular the ultra-Zionist Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Alert harped on the “threat” of an “Islamic takeover” by the Muslim Brotherhood even as the overwhelming number of non-Zionist experts and reporters in Egypt demonstrated that the vast majority of protestors were not members of any Islamic political movement, but largely advocates of a secular democratic republic (see the Financial Times 1/26/11-2/17/11).

Once their initial propaganda ploy failed, the ZPC developed several new propaganda lines: the most prominent of which was a sustained defense of the Mubarak dictatorship as a bulwark of Israel’s ‘security’ and guardian of the so-called “Peace Accord” of 1979. In other words the ZPC pressured the US administration, via Congressional hearings, the press and AIPAC to support Mubarak as a key guarantor and collaborator of Israel’s supremacy in the Middle East; although it meant that the Obama regime would have to openly oppose the million-member Egyptian freedom movement. Israeli journalists, officials and their US Zionist counterparts willingly admitted that although the Mubarak regime was a bloody, corrupt tyranny, he should be supported because a democratic government in Cairo might end Egypt’s decades-old collaboration with the brutal Israeli colonization of Palestine.

Once it became clear that uncritical support for Mubarak was no longer a viable position and the Obama Administration was appealing to the democratic movement to “dialogue” and negotiate with the dictator, the ZPC demanded caution in backing a “dialogue” and assurance that the dialogue did not lead to any abrupt changes in the Mubarak-Israeli treaty. The ZPC and its scribes in the Washington Post presented Mubarak’s hand picked “Vice President” Omar Suleiman, a notorious torturer and long-term collaborator of Israel’s Mossad, as the legitimate interlocutor for the dialogue – even as he was unanimously rejected by the entire pro-democracy movement.

As the demonstrators grew in number and engulfed the major public squares throughout the country and extended beyond the first week, Israel and the ZPC promoted a possible alternative solution, which would keep Mubarak in power, during a nine month ‘transition’ period. Caught off guard by the rapid growth of Egypt’s pro-democracy movement, Israel’s willing accomplices in the US administration and media conceded that an end to the dictatorship would be a good thing… if it was managed appropriately; namely, if it excluded or minimized the role of the Muslim Brotherhood and maximized the role of the pro-Israel military high command and intelligence services as overseers of the “transition”. The ZPC contemptuously rejected Egypt’s independent pro-democracy movement and its leaders and sought to undermine the Egyptian people’s movement by inflating the role of the “best organized” Islamic Brotherhood and warned of a future Islamist “seizure of power”.

The leading Zionist official in the Obama Administration and AIPAC point man, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg traveled to Israel to assure the Netanyahu/Lieberman regime that the US was in contact with the Egyptian military high command and sectors of the civilian opposition (ElBaradei) and that Washington’s support of the democracy movement was conditioned by their assurance that the Israeli-Egyptian Treaty would remain unchanged.

When Mubarak was finally forced to resign, handing power to a military junta, the ZPC congratulated the coup-makers, supported its demobilization of the movement and more importantly, celebrated the Egyptian generals’ endorsement of the “Peace Agreement of 1979”. Now the Israeli propaganda machine began to harshly criticize Mubarak and portrayed the military coup as a positive step toward an “orderly and peaceful transition”. By ‘orderly’ the Zionist think tankers meant a ‘regime change’ that did nothing to change the blockade of Gaza, the regular shipment of fuel to Israel, or the hotline of collaboration between Tel Aviv and Cairo. Israeli and American Zionists rejected early elections and promoted a prolonged process in which the Egyptian military, the US Administration and the ZPC could handpick members of the ‘transitional constitutional and electoral commissions’ committed to continuing Mubarak’s policy of unconditional submission to Israel. By “peaceful” the pro-Israel diplomats in the Obama Administration meant clearing the streets of the masses of pro-democracy activists and demonstrators so that decisions could be controlled by the small circle of Mubarak military and civilian holdovers behind closed doors. By “transition”, the circles of Zionists propagandists, US/Israeli policy makers and Egyptian generals meant that nothing would change but the face of Mubarak.

While Israel and the bulk of Zionist scribes and propagandists in the US opposed or questioned the pro-democracy movements against pro-Israeli rulers in the Middle East, they embraced and publicized the social movements opposing the Iranian regime. In every print and electronic outlet, the pro-Israel journalists emphasized the repressive, brutal nature of the Iranian regime, called for regime change and raised the specter of a military confrontation if Iranian warships traversed the Suez Canal, Iran’s right by international maritime law. Israeli security, the threat of ‘radical Islam’ and Iran were cited to place narrow limits on all discussions and debates over US policy regarding the enormous and growing mass pro-democracy movements throughout the Arab world.

The same prominent US Zionist scribes who, at first, defended US support for the dictatorial Mubarak regime and then supported the military takeover in Cairo, have now become born-again backers of anti-regime democrats in Iran. This is not inconsistent: the issue for US Zionists is how might pro-democracy movements affect Israel’s colonial policies in Palestine and Israel’s expanding power in the Middle East? In other words, the ZPC in Congress and the White House are not concerned about promoting democracy through American foreign policy, but only about harnessing US diplomacy and military leverage to serve Israel.

What is striking about Obama’s twist and turns in policy toward the mass popular struggles in Egypt is how closely it repeats and implements the policy positions of the US Zionist power configuration clearly presented in the ‘52 organizations’ propaganda organ, the Daily Alert.

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James Petras is the author of over 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, The Guardian, The Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review, TempsModerne, Le Monde Diplomatique, and his commentary is widely carried out in the Internet. James Petras is a former professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, has a 50-year membership in the class struggle, the author is an advisor to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina and is co – author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books) and Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of U.S. Power (Clarity Press, 2008). James Petras latest book is War Crimes in Gaza and the Zionist Fifth Column in America (Atlanta:Clarity Pres 2010)

James Petras can be reached at: jpetras@binghamton.edu or visit his website: http://petras.lahaine.org/index.php

February 20, 2011 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | 2 Comments

Press TV News Analysis-Bahrain Uprising

PressTVGlobalNews | February 18, 2011

This edition of Press TV’s News Analysis is discussing the developments in Bahrain. Friday saw the funerals of those killed in that early morning attack on Pearl Square at 3a.m. on Thursday. The day saw those funerals turn into protests while the army stood by and watched. But as those funeral goers walked silently to the mosque for sunset prayers, everything took a violent turn. The army started firing live ammunition on the crowds, from behind. Many were injured, some are feared dead. We have spoken to eyewitnesses who were scared to give us their names. We have spoken to doctors, human rights activists and MPs on the ground and at the hospital. Emotional telephone cries desperately crying for help, in a state of shock. So what does this second violent day in Bahrain mean for the uprising there?

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Anti-government protests continue – February 20, 2011

February 20, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism, Video | 5 Comments

In Whose Name Are You Speaking? A Response to Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal

By Rifat Odeh Kassis | AIC | 20 February 2011

In recent weeks and months, a number of Latin American countries have publicly expressed their recognition of Palestinian statehood. Given that a Palestinian state doesn’t yet exist, this recognition also amounts to supporting the Palestinian right to statehood.

dutch_foreign_minister

Both to Israel and to defenders of its policies around the world, the “snowball effect” of nations recognizing this right is, unsurprisingly, unnerving.

One such defender is the Dutch Foreign Minister, Uri Rosenthal. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post,[1] Mr. Rosenthal argues why he believes international support for a Palestinian declaration of statehood “does no good.” But what strikes me most about the interview is not the straightforwardness of his opposition. Rather, I am struck by what his opposition barely manages to mask: the hypocrisy of his rhetoric on “negotiations” and “democratic values;” a repressive attitude toward what he characterizes as “inflammatory language regarding Israel” within the EU; and, ultimately, a betrayal both of the Netherlands’ strong record of commitment to international law and of his responsibilities as their representative.

It is important not only for Palestinians and Israelis to know exactly what Mr. Rosenthal is defending (inequality, systematic human rights violations, restrictions of free speech and press, the moral bankruptcy of an apartheid state). It is also important for all citizens of the Netherlands to know what their own Foreign Minister is saying and doing in their name.

With this in mind, I’d like to examine a number of the statements made by Mr. Rosenthal in his interview with the Jerusalem Post, as well as the contextual remarks provided by Herb Keinon, his interviewer.

  • Mr. Rosenthal asserts, “on the one hand, steps should be taken” to advance the diplomatic peace process, but international recognition of a Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood “does not do any good whatsoever” to “bring the Middle East process to a higher level.” According to the article, “Rosenthal’s comments came before an afternoon meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, during which Netanyahu stressed that a unilateralist track would ‘kill negotiations with the Palestinians.’”

Part of what Mr. Rosenthal clearly opposes is a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. But he doesn’t utter a word of objection to the unilateral steps taken by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), which are internationally recognized as such. Israel has illegally annexed East Jerusalem, confiscated vast amounts of Palestinian land to build its apartheid wall and protect terrain for illegal settlements, built and encouraged people to inhabit those settlements (which have eaten away at more than 40% of the West Bank), practiced brutal detention policies, restricted freedom of movement and other fundamental liberties, tried children in military courts, put the Gaza Strip under a state of permanent siege, and killed over 1,400 Gazans in a total bombardment in late 2008/early 2009 (mostly civilians, including over 300 children). The list of unilateral acts – the list of crimes – goes on and on. Mr. Rosenthal claims to oppose decisions taken by governments without balanced, negotiated political processes. But if this were really true, he would understand the need to bring Israel before the Hague instead of defending it in the Jerusalem Post.

As for the “negotiations with the Palestinians” in danger of being “killed,” according to Netanyahu, they have taken place for twenty years and accomplished virtually nothing. Perhaps it is such negotiations – tired, redundant, increasingly irrelevant as Israel creates more and more facts on the ground – that must die in order for a just peace to come alive in our region.

  • The interview informs us that “the Dutch parliament recently passed a resolution calling on the government to work against EU recognition of a Palestinian state….”

Let’s translate. The Dutch government (including Mr. Rosenthal) doesn’t want to take positive steps toward stopping the bloodshed – positive steps in the form of granting Palestinians their inalienable rights as stipulated by numerous UN resolutions and tenets of international law. That would be “unilateral”! That would be wrong. Instead, the Dutch government would rather decide (unilaterally, by the way) to prolong inequality and suffering by prohibiting other nations from taking a positive, proactive, and peaceful stance on ending the conflict altogether.

This is the language of hypocrisy, not of justice.

  • The article mentions, “Rosenthal, who is Jewish and married to an Israeli, was characterized recently by Czech Foreign Minister Karl Schwartzenberg as one of the two most active supporters of Israel among EU foreign ministers.” And he defines himself as “among the ones” in the EU who ‘regularly try to warn against unnecessary inflammatory language’ on Israel, and says his government has actively worked against efforts to “bash” and “delegitimize” Israel partly through the use and “disproportionate” application of such “inflammatory” language.

The passages quoted above constitute an exercise in euphemisms. Within the Dutch context, Rosenthal’s role is not simply a “supporter” of Israel, one who tries to “warn” against “unnecessary inflammatory language” that aims to “delegitimize” the Israeli state. Rather, it is the role of a censor, a repressor of criticism, and a political blacklister, supported by and supporting the work of Zionist lobbies like NGO Monitor and CIDI.[2] Mr. Rosenthal’s rhetoric and policies go hand-in-hand with those of such organizations, which terrorize NGOs exposing the truth of the Israeli occupation and bully the Dutch public out of hearing it. For instance, NGO Monitor recently slammed ICCO, a Dutch aid organization, for financing the Electronic Intifada, an independent news source focused on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. (ICCO is also under fire from CIDI for supporting the Olive Tree Campaign, “Keep Hope Alive,” realized by the YMCA/YWCA JAI.) NGO Monitor vilified the Electronic Intifada and condemned ICCO by association. Rosenthal’s response? “I will look into the matter personally,” he said. If ICCO’s funding proves to be true, “it will have a serious problem with me.”

Is this the really level that Mr. Rosenthal – not to mention the lobbies who share his tactics of finger-pointing, threats, and repression – has stooped to? Persecuting organizations and publications that support human rights and social justice for Palestinians as “delegitimizing” and “anti-Semitic,” publicly smearing them, and seeking to sabotage not only their work but also their rights to free speech and free press? This is an appalling position for any human being to have. It is all the more appalling to see it in a democratic representative, ostensibly part of an apparatus designed to uphold those rights in the first place.

It is important for Mr. Rosenthal to be confronted by Jewish and Israeli human rights organizations and activists, of which there are many; he must be told “not in our name.” It is equally important for these organizations and activists to condemn NGO Monitor, CIDI, and other repressive lobbies: to remind them that their tactics serve only to prolong the damage done to both Israelis and Palestinians, that everyone suffers when rights are denied and governments are given a blank check to inflict harm without monitoring or criticism.

  • Mr. Rosenthal says, “We have seen over the last few months some events where some of the EU partners were eager to engage in straightforward initiatives, and I was among those who said ‘Let’s keep a little bit more restrained attitude, and look especially at whether this will be conducive to the Middle East peace process at large.” Later, he denies portrayals of Israel’s image within the EU as “the lowest it has been in decades,” replying, “I think this is an exaggeration. When you look at the conclusions of a series of council of foreign affairs ministers’ meetings, you will see balanced conclusions vis-à-vis the Middle East peace process.”

Mr. Rosenthal advocates being “restrained” in responding to policies that flagrantly violate international law and human rights – a “restraint” that seeks to prohibit other EU countries from taking positive initiatives that might bring the conflict closer to an end. Even worse, he defends these violations through public office, and thus makes his own country a partner in their perpetuation. The Dutch people are well-admired throughout the world as prioritizing human rights and international law; they, then, are being damaged and degraded by Mr. Rosenthal’s audacity. Likewise, his praise for “balanced” views in an utterly imbalanced situation serve to make the EU complicit in Israeli crimes committed against Palestinians. The Dutch people must know that their Foreign Minister is sacrificing the image of the Netherlands for the sake of Israel – that he is working hard to represent Israel’s interests while tarnishing those of his own country – and they should reject this insult, this injury.

  • He asserts, “If you take a positive stance toward Israel you might expect from Israel something in return. I’m happy to say that in the last few months Israel has taken an open attitude toward the requests made by the Dutch government to be more lenient on exports and goods from Gaza. That is a subtle game.”

It is not subtle, and it is not a game. Economic “leniency,” the mere relaxation of commercial restrictions imposed on Palestinians, solves nothing. The last 43 years have proven to Palestinians that economic band-aids will only prolong our occupation, will only intensify the destructive dependency of the Palestinian economy on the Israeli one, will distract the international community into thinking Israel is taking concrete steps toward meaningful change – when in reality it allows Israel to get away with taking none at all.

As we have read, Mr. Rosenthal urges taking a “positive stance” toward Israel. But showing a “positive stance” toward Israel should never mean sacrificing one’s own principles of justice and dignity, nor should it involve sacrificing Palestinians’ human rights. I urge Mr. Rosenthal to adopt a “positive stance” toward Israel that respects these values – because Israel certainly has not adopted one of its own. The Israeli state is responsible for the deaths of 352 Palestinian children during its 2008/2009 attack on Gaza; between 26 March 2010 and 18 January 2011, its military shot 24 children while collecting gravel near the border between Gaza and Israel; it has demolished Al-Araqib, a Bedouin village in the Naqab (Negev) Desert, 18 times in the past several months; the state continues to build illegal settlements on confiscated land in the oPt, including East Jerusalem. Is this openness? Is this positive? This is devastation; this is violence; these are policies that seek to crush, control, and erase. The only truly “positive stance” toward Israel is one that insists that these crimes must end.

  • “Rosenthal also dismissed reports that the US was interested in the EU taking a tough stand on Israel, since domestic political constraints prevented Washington from doing so itself – a kind of good cop/bad cop arrangement. ‘I hear that story over and over again,’ he said. ‘I would not like to be placed in the position of the bad cop; I don’t think Europeans like to be placed in the position of bad cops.’”

Mr. Rosenthal may not like to be placed in the position of the bad cop, but he is undeniably putting both the Netherlands and the EU in the position of the bad friend – to Israel. Israel needs good friends to remind her that its treatment of Palestinians, its behavior at home and on the international stage, cannot go on forever. To really understand this, we need only to look toward Egypt: the Mubarak regime, a dictatorship supported by the US and many European countries for the past 30 years, was brought down in a mere 18 days by the nation’s youth and peaceful means. The young people of Egypt managed to do, in 18 days and with tremendous integrity and clarity, what three decades of “positive engagement” by the US and the EU (trying to “convince the regime” of taking democratic steps while continuing to fund its dictator) failed to do. We Palestinians are going to do the same against our occupation – with the support of the EU or without it.

  • “Rosenthal diplomatically declined to weigh in on the debate whether it was ‘undemocratic’ for the Knesset to establish a committee to investigate where certain NGOs were getting their funds, saying this was ‘for the Knesset to decide.’” With respect to the Knesset panel, he added, “There is no reason to hide anything. I am in favor of transparency,” and “a vivid and lively civil society, where NGOs are a part of it, is very important.”

The contradictions continue. Is it not the role of the Dutch Parliament to also investigate the funding sources of, say, CIDI? How can Rosenthal claim to support transparency, not to mention the vividness and liveliness of civil society, while only acting repressively against groups and individuals he disagrees with? How can he say, free of irony, that the presence of NGOs in civil society is “very important,” when he supports a smear campaign against NGOs in his own civil society? And how can he praise the ideals of civil society in the first place while simultaneously practicing another campaign – silence – when it comes to Israel’s repression of the NGOs whose existence he finds so valuable in abstract?

FM Rosenthal’s pronouncements on the Israeli government are so blind, so brazen, hypocritical, and so unjust that I am sometimes surprised he can utter them comfortably in his own name. But when we consider his vocal and prominent role in the parliament of his own country, and in the political arena of others’, it is especially important for all communities and individuals he attempts to represent (Jewish, Israeli, Dutch, European, etc.) to say, loud and clear:

“Not in ours.”

Rifat Odeh Kassis is the President of Defence of Children-International, the Director of Defence of Children – Palestine Section and a Board Member of the Alternative Information Center (AIC).

[1] Keinon, Herb. “Dutch FM: Recognition of Palestinian state does no good,” http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=207384. 08/02/11

[2] It is worth mentioning that a CIDI board member, Mr. Doron Livnat, is the director of the Riwal, a European company that produces access equipment and large-scale cranes for construction sites, and which has assisted in building the separation wall and illegal settlements within the oPt. Riwal’s headquarters in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, was raided and searched by the Dutch National Crime Squad after Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group, levied criminal complaints against its activities.

February 20, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | 3 Comments

Bloody protests rock Iraqi Kurdistan

Press TV – February 20, 2011

Violence has again rocked the streets of the Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah as Kurdish demonstrators continue to demand the ouster of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Following a peaceful demonstration Saturday afternoon, protesters began burning tires on the street in front of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) headquarters and pelting rocks at military and police forces, a Press TV correspondent reported.

They said the move was in retaliation for those killed and injured during Thursday’s protest.

Based on unofficial reports and eyewitnesses, demonstrations that began Thursday have so far left four dead and around 70 injured.

The report adds that some 5,000 KDP military forces were deployed on the streets of Sulaymaniyah over the past two days.

Following popular demonstrations in Iraqi Kurdistan over poverty and unemployment as well as financial and administrative corruption, Sulaymaniyah University students also joined the protests on Saturday.

As shots rang out on streets in the background during a brief talk with the Press TV reporter, Sulaymaniyah Police Chief Amed Salar claimed he had no idea who was shooting and why.

“I have no information, I don’t know what is going on, I don’t have any idea,” Salar told our correspondent.

Riot police were called in to stop the unrest. In ensuing clashes, 10 were arrested and 15 injured, including one journalist that was shot in the foot and at least two more that were beaten by police.

“I was covering the protests when security forces attacked me, they beat me with baton and never asked who I was. I have an ID card and I said I am working for Payam TV channel,” journalist Wrya Hussein told Press TV.

Ruling parties have pointed the finger at the leading opposition party Goran for inciting unrest after they released a statement last month calling for the dissolution of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

But the Goran Party says their members have had no role in recent demonstrations. Although the party supports the right of people to protest, it says that it does not, in any way, condone violence used by protesters over the past three days.

Students at the University of Sulaymaniyah say they will continue demonstrations until the KDP forces leave the city and they receive answers from the government about Thursday’s shootings.

February 20, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | 1 Comment

Indian Air Force Purchases Missiles from Israeli Weapons Manufacturer Rafael

Tania Kepler for the Alternative Information Center – 20 February 2011

The Indian Air Force and the Israeli weapons manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems are set to sign a major contract in March 2011, which will outfit India’s Tejas fighter jets with Rafael’s Derby missile.

The Derby air-to-air missile system will be fitted on some 200 jets, said P.S. Subramanya, director of India’s Aeronautical Development Agency.

This is not the Indian Air Force’s first deal with Rafael, a former sub-division of the Israeli Defense Ministry, now considered a governmental firm that develops and produces fighting-technologies for the Israel Defense Forces as well for exporting abroad.

The Indian Army purchased $270 million worth of Spyder anti-aircraft missile systems in 2008.

In 2009, Rafael agreed to supply the Indian Army with advanced anti-aircraft systems with a range of up to 45 kilometers. The deal was worth $1 billion.

“Israel’s homeland security systems are very advanced and India can benefit from your experience. We are friendly countries and strategic partners based on sound fundamental principles. We have to cooperate to the fullest extent to combat the menace of terror,” Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Jyotiraditya Scindia said in February 2010.

Israel’s defense exports to India have now reached around $3 billion, making it the largest arms supplier to India, reported the BDS movement

Israel and India are enhancing cooperation in other areas as well.

“We have outlined several areas of cooperation but will be mainly focusing in the area of renewable energy and computer sciences in the coming years where we see tremendous potential for both the countries”, India’s Minister for Science and Technology, Prithviraj Chavan said on a three day visit to Israel in March 2010.

“The leading Israeli institutions have shown a keen interest in working with our IITs on exchange and collaboration of research, faculty and students. I think this will be an important step in enhancing scientific cooperation between the two countries”, Mr. Chavan said.

Bilateral trade between India and Israel has grown from around $200 million in 1992 when the diplomatic relations were established to most recently around $4 billion.

Israel is now working on winning the minds of Indians as well, in order to add the very populous country to Israel’s list of supporters.

Most recently, The Israel Project (TIP), a non-profit, non-government organization that “works tirelessly to help protect Israel by improving Israel’s image”, launched a new campaign in India to strengthen relations between the two countries.

“As relations between Israel and India, the world’s largest democracy and a growing economic power strengthen, The Israel Project is proud to announce the formation of our new India program,” TIP said in a January press release.

The new initiative will target Indian policymakers, journalists and the public “to spread awareness about Israel and help strengthen ties with India, especially in the fields of trade, tourism and technology,” reported India’s SIFY News.

February 20, 2011 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | 2 Comments

Israel demolishes tents in West Bank village

Ma’an – 20/02/2011

NABLUS — Israeli forces bulldozed dozens of tents on Sunday, donated by the Palestinian Authority to the residents of Tana, a village east of the West Bank city of Nablus, locals said.

Atif Hanini — mayor of nearby town Beit Furik — said six Israeli army jeeps accompanied bulldozers to demolish the tents.

Hanini said residents were left homeless in harsh weather conditions, and appealed to international organizations to intervene in Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

The spokesman for Israel’s Civil Administration could not be reached for comment.

The demolitions were the fourth in just over a year. On February 9, 52 residents were displaced when Israeli authorities destroyed six residential structures and 21 animal pens in the community, according to a UN report.

Most of the tents had been provided by the Red Cross.

Following that demolition, a statement from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said humanitarian organizations were “currently working on assessing basic needs and providing an emergency response.”

Khirbet Tana falls in Area C, which covers 60 percent of the West Bank and is under full Israeli military and civil control. Residents must apply to Israeli authorities for permission to build on their land, but say permits are routinely refused.

According to the UN, in practice Israel’s Civil Administration allows Palestinians to build in less than one percent of Area C.

Israeli authorities frequently destroy Palestinian structures without permits. Residents say the demolitions are an attempt to force villagers from their land in order to confiscate it for illegal settlements.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Civil Administration “has established preferential practices for Israeli settlements and settlement outposts, approving detailed plans for almost all Israeli settlements located in the West Bank,” according to a UN report.

“Additionally, while settlement outposts – many of which are built on privately owned Palestinian land – have no approved plans, and, thus, no building permits, they rarely face the demolition of their structures,” the report adds.

Despite the repeated demolitions in Khirbet Tana, residents continue to rebuild.

According to OCHA, villagers need grazing land for their livestock and “most have no choice but to stay in the area, in order to sustain their livelihood.

“As such, the community has repeatedly re-built modest structures on the land, including residential tents and animal shelters.”

However, the repeated waves of demolitions “make it extremely difficult for Khirbet Tana residents to live in stability, sustain their livelihood, or, given the repeated demolition of the village school, educate their children,” the UN office says.

February 20, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 3 Comments

Erekat Criticises PA, Calls For Re-examination of Peace Process

By Circarre Parrhesia – IMEMC & Agencies – February 20, 2011

Following his resignation as Chief Negotiator for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Saeb Erekat has, on Sunday, called for a re-examination of the Palestinian Authority.

Erekat, speaking to the military run Israel Radio, stated that the PA had become inefficient, and should re-examine all issues regarding the peace process with Israel, including the possibility of land transfer.

Erekat’s statement comes a little over one week after his resignation as Chief Negotiator for the PLO. Erekat resigned on February 12, 2011, following the release of the Palestine Papers by Doha’s al-Jazeera Network and the British daily, the Guardian.

Erekat initially claimed that the papers were a fabrication, but later acquiesced and tendered his resignation, as the source of the leak was attributed to his office. Although Erekat changed his stance, and admitted the legitimacy of the leaked documents, he maintains that the context of the releases was distorted.

February 20, 2011 Posted by | Aletho News | 4 Comments