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Omar Barghouti: J Street’s Ben Ami has Jews-only policy on BDS debates

By Max Blumenthal | 04.12.11

Last night I went to Columbia University to see Omar Barghouti discuss his new book, “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights.” For those who don’t know, Barghouti is one of the BDS movement’s most effective strategists and promoters, basing his advocacy on a platform of human rights and international law while explicitly rejecting arcane ideology. His book offers the most in-depth and accessible analysis to date of the movement, its history, and why it is gaining so much momentum. Read an excerpt here.

During his talk, Barghouti mentioned that he had approached J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami about arranging a debate on BDS. The response from Ben-Ami was as follows, according to Barghouti: “We want to keep this debate inside the Jewish community. So we won’t participate in a debate with any Palestinians.”

Barghouti joked, “Why would BDS have anything to do with Palestinians?” He went on to describe Ben-Ami’s policy as racist.

Last December, I debated the issue of BDS against the director of J Street U, Daniel May. My debate partner was Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace. Daniel May’s partner was a Jewish student from Princeton also named Daniel May. Everyone involved in the debate was an Ashkenazi Jew, yet we were debating a movement founded and controlled by Palestinian civil society. If I had known at the time that J Street had an alleged policy of refusing to debate with non-Jews, especially Palestinians, I would not have participated at all. […]

Last week, the Columbia University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) responded to a demand by the campus Hillel house for a “dialogue session” by requesting a debate instead. SJP’s leadership told Hillel’s director that he could choose the topic, time and place of the debate. Hillel refused the proposal. Besides international law and human rights, what do they have to be afraid of?

April 12, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | 2 Comments

Netanyahu (Feb-2001) A secure peace and not just peace

“Their time is running out”

Uploaded by argonium79 on Apr 12, 2011

Ronald Reagan Banquet
February 16th 2001

April 12, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | Comments Off on Netanyahu (Feb-2001) A secure peace and not just peace

Displaced indigenous Guatemalans, undaunted by war crimes, re-establish communities

Written by Emma Volonté, Translation by Alex Cachinero-Gorman | Upside Down World | 11 April 2011

Clinica Salvador Fajardo

“The CPRs [Communities of Popular Resistance] exist because the army has forced us to resist. We carry with us the scraps of bombs and bullets that you tried to kill us with. (…)You know very well that we are not guerrillas, but rather peasants, civilians; you know well how you have fired on our huts, which you’ve burned many times before (…) You have bombarded our communities, kidnapped thousands of our brothers; you have also ordered civilian patrols to stop us from setting up businesses (…). The Constitution gives us the right to resist when you place yourself above the reproach of civil society, when you persecute us, when you kidnap us illegally, when you have poisoned our rivers and tried to kill us by starvation.” ~ Message to the Guatemalan Army from the CPRs.

At first sight, CPR-Salvador Farjado (Petén) seems like any other community in Guatemala. A few small shops, a school, and houses made of wooden boards, out of which one can catch always smell that wafting, warm perfume—firewood being burnt in preparation for dinner.

About 400 families—hailing from Cobán, Santa Rosa, Alta Verapaz, Huehuetenango and Chimaltenango—now live in Salvador Fajardo, a meager human community carved out of a small portion of the Petén jungle. There, I got to know Ms. Elvira, who told me of her past and of the community’s history, which reflect the extreme extent of violence that Guatemala had seen until 1996.

The Guatemalan state has always been characterized as authoritarian, militarized, and managed by the ruling classes to serve their own interests. In the ’60s, various guerilla groups began to form as state violence and repression increased. These groups joined together as the URNG (Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity) in 1982.

The tension between guerrillas and the army intensified between ’78 and ’83: but the atrocious “scorched earth politics” advanced by the ‘Kaibiles‘ special operations unit, the PACs (Civilian Self Defense Patrols), and various paramilitary groups, showed clearly that the growing counter-insurgency effort was, without a doubt, disproportionately brutal.

According to the Historical Clarification Commission of Guatemala, the total sum of both dead and ‘disappeared’ during the conflict in Guatemala is over 200,000, 83% of which are indigenous Mayans. In their report, the Commission writes: “The great majority of these human rights violations were carried out viciously and in public. […] Assassinating defenseless boys and girls, on many occasions by throwing them against walls or tossing them into ditches alive, only later to be buried by the corpses of adults; the traumatic amputation or removing of limbs; assassination by being burned alive; disembowelment of still-living victims with others looking on; the internment of victims who had already been fatally tortured, and keeping them alive deliberately in a state of constant agony; the cutting open of pregnant womens’ stomachs. Extreme cruelty was consciously utilized as a technique to create a climate of terror in the population. The vast majority of victims of the State’s actions were not guerrilla combatants, but rather civilians.”

It is estimated that in the early ’80s, between 500,000 and 1 and a half million people were forced to flee from Guatemala because of the violence: of these, around 150,000 took refuge in Mexico, while the rest were condemned to continual, internal displacement within the country. Some of these internally displaced persons [IDPs] formed the CPRs: in Ixcán, in the high plateaus of Quiché (CPR Sierra), and in the Petén jungle. These then became the preferred target of military operations.

The CPR-Petén hid in the impenetrable snare that is the Lacandon Jungle, in a strip of Guatemalan land that borders the Eastern frontier of Chiapas. Ms. Elvira, who was originally displaced from the Santa Rosa District, lived there for 12 years. She gladly recounted her experience there, in what has come to be known as “the mountain” in Salvador Fajardo.

Back then, military incursions were so frequent that every morning the families of the CPR-Petén packed up the few things that they had so that they would be ready to flee at any moment. “We always had lookouts at four different points”, Ms. Elvira told me. “When the army arrived, a shot fired into the air was the signal that it was time to grab your suitcase and go. And the army would make incursions continually: sometimes every four days, at the very least every month. When they came, we had to escape, to go to some other part of the mountains—if we didn’t have enough time to take our things, they would just destroy everything. So we would set up camp somewhere else, because the army already knew where we’d settled and would check to see if we came back—that’s why you would never return to the same encampment.”

Ms. Elvira told me about the difficulties she faced in those years, of the constant fear, of a solidarity of both the community and hunger. One ate what the jungle gave you: roots, plants, and fruits. Some managed to get into Mexico to get food—“a bit limited”, Ms. Elvira emphasizes. “Sometimes when community members walked around they would come across milpas [small crop fields] and they would steal a little bit of corn to feed their children…there were a lot of children in the mountain. We cooked what little bit of corn they took: we would walk around with a mill and a pot, and wherever you came across corn you would grind it right there. We would make little balls of dough out of it and then wrap it in leaves. Then we would go look for a place to eat safely, each person with their own portion tucked away in their bag, but you couldn’t light a fire in the daytime, because there was always a plane hovering over the mountain—if it detected the smoke from a campfire, it would drop bombs on the whole encampment. So we would cook at night.”

After the final offensive in 1992, the displaced families of CPR-Petén realised that the army would no longer be as vigilant of their presence, and that they had the possibility to settle down in the Lacandon Jungle. There they founded four communities: Fajardo, Esmeralda, Virgilio, and Albeño, where they sowed milpa fields and vegetable gardens. They also decided to begin pressuring the government to award them a finca [agricultural plot of land] so that they could leave the jungle and begin life anew.

It was in 1998 that the CPR-Petén founded a community in memory of Salvador Fajardo in Santa Rita, after the “Firm and Lasting Peace Agreement” (1996) was signed. Fajardo was a community member who, in the ’80s, after the umpteenth flight to the jungle, offered to return to the encampment to retrieve their pots and pans. When he arrived, he found that the army had already taken all except one pot, which was sitting in the middle of a campfire. When he lifted it up, it exploded—a mine had been planted beneath the firewood.

“When we came here we didn’t bring anything with us, because we had nothing to bring, but after being here for awhile many organizations supported us”, Ms. Elvira told me. “The only governmental institution that gave us a little bit of support was FONAPAZ [National Peace Fund]: they helped by giving us food, but it wasn’t much. Everything we have was possible because of support from international organizations: the preschool and elementary school, the clinic, the radio station, the store. But the government did not fulfill its promises—the only thing it followed up on was building a mechanical well to secure a water supply. And sure, they bore the well; they even bought a bomb to clear it out but in the end it didn’t serve us well: after three months it was completely dry and we were left without water. The municipality didn’t help us either, instead claiming we were guerrillas—they discriminated against us.”

Many have accused members of the CPRs of being part of the UNRG, but they have always responded that they have only ever served as bases of support for the guerrillas, whom they guaranteed a place to eat and rest. In exchange, the UNRG offered an indispensable service to the CPRs: “the guerrillas defended us, because in reality, if the guerrillas were not around, the army would have annihilated us already. They were with us; they knew that there were people, women and children, elders, defenseless people here. It was when they neglected us, when they retreated from the surrounding area, that the army would come in. But as long as they were with us, nothing would happen to us”, said Ms. Elvira—a very special woman indeed.

April 12, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | Comments Off on Displaced indigenous Guatemalans, undaunted by war crimes, re-establish communities

Apartheid and steadfastness in Nuaman

Alternative Information Center | 12 April 2011

Al Nuaman is a Palestinian village in southeast Jerusalem. Israel annexed it to Jerusalem in 1967, yet its people weren’t given Jerusalem residency rights. Today, the residents of Al Nuaman continue to fight for the right to remain on their lands.

April 12, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, Video | Comments Off on Apartheid and steadfastness in Nuaman

Bahrain to try independent journalists

Press TV – April 11, 2011

Bahrain intends to try three former editors-in-chief of a leading independent newspaper for their coverage of the popular revolution against the kingdom’s royal family.

Bahraini authorities banned the publication of Al Wasat — Bahrain’s most popular opposition newspaper — earlier in the month. They then forced the daily to fire its chief editor Mansur al-Jamri so it would be allowed to reprint.

The former opposition activist is now forced to attend trial alongside two of his former workmates on charges of “unethical” reporting of the government protests, the Associated Press reported.

The editors are accused of “publishing fabricated news,” “harming public safety” and “damaging national interests.”

Bahraini people, emboldened by the popular revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, have been demanding an end to the two-century-plus rule of the Al Khalifa dynasty since February 14.

Scores of protesters have been killed and many others gone missing since the beginning of the revolution during government-sanctioned crackdown.

Bahraini forces have reinforced their violent armed attacks on the protesters with the help of troops dispatched from neighboring Arab states in the Persian Gulf.

The much-condemned military intervention has been led by Saudi Arabia.

April 12, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | Comments Off on Bahrain to try independent journalists

Subsidiary of Israeli Elbit Company Wins Contract to Upgrade Brazilian Air Force Jets

Tania Kepler for the Alternative Information Center | 12 April 2011

A Brazilian subsidiary of Israel’s Elbit Systems Ltd. has won an $85 million contract to upgrade eleven Brazilian Air Force F-5 fighter-bomber jets, Elbit announced in a press release on 11 April. The contract will be carried out in 2013.

The subsidiary is AEL Sistemas, a Brazilian company that became part of the Elbit Systems Group in 2001. Elbit Systems Ltd. is one of the world’s largest defense electronics manufacturers and integrators.

In addition to its numerous international contracts, Elbit Systems also provides both Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and other military technology for Israel’s Occupation forces, as well as security systems for the Separation Wall and settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Responding to the new contract, Elbit Systems president and CEO Joseph Ackerman said, “We trust that the new contract will further strengthen the excellent cooperation between AEL, Embraer and the Brazilian Air Force, and we hope that other customers will decide to follow Brazil and select our combat-proven upgrade programs.”

In January of this year Elbit also announced that AEL was awarded a contract to supply Hermes(R) 450 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to the Brazilian Air Force.

According to Elbit, the project is part of the Brazilian Air Forces’ objective to establish independent UAS capabilities, allowing for self-reliant operation and development of UAS in Brazil.

AEL is not Elbit’s only subsidiary in Brazi. In January 2011, Elbit announced that it had purchased two more Brazilian companies: Ares Aeroespecial e Defesa, and Periscopio Equipamentos Optronicos.

Elbit also recently announced that a subsidiary of Elbit Systems of America, M7 Aerospace, was awarded a $15.6 million contract with the U.S. Navy for logistics support and maintenance for a mixed fleet of seven C-26 and UC-35 utility aircraft.

In March, the company announced another contract for $9.6M to provide a laser target designator and marker to the United States Marine Corps.

Elbit is a war profiteer and has earned much from Israel’s numerous attacks and assaults on the Palestinian and Lebanese people. Gaza and southern Lebanon in particular serve as testing grounds for Elbit’s weapons and technology, as it continually develops and enhances its products based on the expertise gained by the attacks on the people in this area, according to a profile of the company from War Resisters International.

In 2009 the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) divested from Elbit Systems, based on a recommendation of the country’s Council on Ethics.

“Elbit supplies a surveillance system that is part of the separation barrier being built by the Israeli government in the West Bank. The construction of parts of the barrier may be considered to constitute violations of international law, and Elbit, through its supply contract, is thus helping to sustain these violations,” the Council wrote to the Ministry of Finance.

“The Council on Ethics considers the Fund’s investment in Elbit to constitute an unacceptable risk of complicity in serious violations of fundamental ethical norms.”

April 12, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | 1 Comment

Director of Jerusalem Media Center Detained by Israeli Troops

By Saed Bannoura – IMEMC News – April 12, 2011

After filming an Israeli jeep blocking traffic and driving through pedestrians in Silwan neighborhood, in East Jerusalem, Muhammed Sadeq of the Jerusalem Media Center was detained by Israeli forces, then released soon after.

The neighborhood of Silwan has become a flashpoint for joint Palestinian-Israeli nonviolent protests against home demolitions and settler takeovers of Palestinian homes. The area was designated by the Jerusalem municipality five years ago, in the Jerusalem E1 Plan, as an area where the indigenous Palestinians would be removed, and Israeli Jewish settlers moved in. The municipality also plans to construct a Biblical Theme Park on the site of the historic homes and buildings, after it demolishes many of the homes.

According to local sources, Muhammed Sadeq was detained along with Fakhri Abu Diab, who is the leader of a non-governmental organization in Jerusalem known as the al-Bustan Committee.

They were questioned by an Israeli soldier, who took their IDs and held the men until a crowd gathered demanding their release. After several hours, the two men were released.

A number of people known as ‘leaders’ in the non-violent struggle in Silwan neighborhood have been detained and abducted by Israeli forces in recent days. Last week, Jawad Siyam, the head of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, was held in Israeli custody until his wife agreed to come in and be interrogated. Such coercion of witnesses is considered illegal under international law.

April 12, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Director of Jerusalem Media Center Detained by Israeli Troops