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In Libya, as in Iraq, “End of Combat” Means “More Combat”

By Michael Tennant | New American | April 14, 2011

Truth, it has been said, is the first casualty of war. The latest evidence of the veracity of this saying: The United States supposedly stopped attacking Libya on April 4, yet since that time U.S. aircraft have continued to fly over the beleaguered nation and assault its air defenses. Back on March 31, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the House Armed Services Committee, “We will not be taking an active part in strike activities [after turning over the lead to NATO] and we believe our allies can sustain this for some period of time.” The United States, he said, was moving into a “support role,” assisting NATO with “electronic warfare, aerial refueling, lift, search and rescue and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support.”

Nine days after the U.S. supposedly became a mere supporting player, Reuters reported that “[11] U.S. aircraft have flown 97 sorties in Libya since April 4 and fired on air defense targets three times, the Pentagon said.”

Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan told reporters that U.S. aircraft are being used for “not just aerial refueling, not just surveillance” but also “suppression of enemy air defenses.” This would seem to contradict Gates’s description of the “support” mission as well as his department’s previous assertion that “it would not conduct strike sorties after April 4 without a specific request from” NATO, as Reuters put it.

In Washington, however, (as in Orwell’s 1984) words usually mean the opposite of their dictionary definitions. Thus, the Pentagon, says Reuters, “clarified on Wednesday that this did not apply to attacks on Gaddafi’s air defenses, which have continued.” In other words, “not conduct[ing] strike sorties” actually means “conducting strike sorties.” This explains why Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell was able to say with a straight face: “It is completely consistent with how we have described our support role ever since the transition to NATO lead.”

Contra Morrell, it is completely inconsistent not only with Defense Department pronouncements but also with the words of the President himself. On March 22, Obama, referring to the post-transition role of the U.S. military, said, “When this transition takes place, it is not going to be our planes that are maintaining the no-fly zone.” Yet a military official told Reuters that the sorties and strikes that have occurred since the transition “are defensive missions that are simply to protect the aircraft flying the no-fly zone.” Furthermore, as NBC News noted, “The revelation [of the ongoing strikes] appears to contradict President Barack Obama’s claim that the combat portion of the Libyan operation would be handed over to NATO ‘within days, not weeks.’ ”

Obama’s unconstitutional war, therefore, continues apace, with no end in sight. The United States remains in a combat role, enforcing a no-fly zone (itself an act of war) against a country that did not threaten it. The air campaign “has caused rather than broken a military stalemate” in Libya, according to Reuters, leading Gen. Carter Ham, head of the U.S. African Command, to suggest that ground troops might be needed to bring a resolution to the conflict.

Diligent students of history and strict defenders of the Constitution will likely advocate that Congress exercise its constitutional authority to end this war before it turns into the proverbial quagmire.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on In Libya, as in Iraq, “End of Combat” Means “More Combat”

Venezuelans Celebrate Rescue of Democracy as Threats Continue

 By Eva Golinger | April 14, 2011

This Wednesday, April 13, thousands of Venezuelans marched on the nation’s capital, celebrating what has come to be known as the “Day of Civil-Military Strength and Dignity”. It was nine years ago on this day that millions of Caracas residents, together with loyal armed forces and the Presidential Guard, defeated a US-backed coup d’etat that had forcefully taken power just 48 hours prior.

The coup, executed by business leaders, corrupt union officials, private media owners, power-hungry military officers, former ruling-party politicians and “civil society” organizations – all financially and politically supported by US government agencies, the State Department and the White House (see “The Chavez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela” by Eva Golinger, Olive Branch Press 2006) – succeeded briefly in ousting President Chavez and his government from power on April 11, 2002.

Utilizing images manipulated by private television station, Venevision, the coup forces justified their actions by blaming the violence and deaths that occured that day on the Venezuelan head of state. In reality, as top secret Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents have revealed, the coup was planned in the days and weeks prior to its execution. The objective was to use an anti-Chavez protest to provoke violence and unrest in the capital, Caracas, putting into action a detailed plot using snipers to fire on the crowds, causing deaths and injuries, which would be blamed on the government, justifying its ouster. As one top secret, now partially-declassifed CIA document from April 6, 2002 (5 days before the coup took place) outlines, after the violence was provoked by coup forces, “President Chavez and other top members in his cabinet…would be arrested” and a “transitional government” would be installed.

Chavez was detained by force on the evening of April 11, 2002, and kidnapped by dissident military officers, on the orders of the coup leaders. Meanwhile, the US ambassador in Caracas, Charles Shapiro, was coordinating the actions on the ground with media owners, metropolitan police forces involved in the sniper shootings, and of course the business and political leaders that forcefully took over the government. Documentary evidence proves that Shapiro held several meetings and conversations during the events of April 11, 2002, with the metropolitan police commissioner, Henry Vivas, as well as with Gustavo Cisneros, owner of Venevision, and Pedro Carmona, who subsequently took over the presidency and declared himself head of state.

PEOPLE’S POWER

As the coup unfolded and Carmona, then head of Venezuela’s chamber of commerce, Fedecamaras, unilaterally and illegally swore himself into office as president, the constitutional president, Hugo Chavez, was held hostage and incomunicado on a small island military base off Venezuela’s coast. The only non-private national television station, state-owned VTV, was taken off the air by then governor of the state of Miranda, Enrique Mendoza, in an effort to silence pro-Chavez forces and conceal information and events from the people. Private media – all involved in the coup – broadcast cartoons, old movies and soap operas, while print media published articles justifying and supporting the “transition government”.

Before an audience of about 400 people in the presidential palace, Miraflores, Pedro Carmona issued a decree dissolving all of the nation’s democratic institutions: the Supreme Court, the National Assembly (Congress), the Attorney General, Public Defender, Comptroller, the Executive cabinet, and even the national Constitution. Police forces, under the control of the coup regime, repressed pro-Chavez protestors in the streets, killing and injuring over 100 people during those hours.

But despite the media blackout on the real events that were taking place, millions of Venezuelans, unwilling to accept the disappearance of their constitutionally-elected president and the imposition of a dictatorship that openly dissolved their democracy, took to the streets in protest. Armed forces loyal to President Chavez began taking over military barracks and urging people to come out in the streets to express their popular will. Within hours, the presidential palace was flooded with demonstrators, demanding the return of President Chavez and the ouster of the coup government.

Meanwhile, a low-ranking soldier guarding Chavez, urged the Venezuelan chief to write a note saying he was alive and still President of Venezuela, pledging he would find a way to get the letter into the public light. He succeeded. The famous letter, written in Chavez’s unmistakable handwriting, declaring the Venezuelan president had never “renounced the legitimate power given to him by the people”, made it into the hands of military forces loyal to their Commander in Chief. A rescue mission was immediately activated and Chavez was flown back in a helicopter to the presidential palace right around midnight on April 13.

The millions that surrounded the palace, together with the loyal presidential guard, were able to force out the coup leaders, who incredibly emptied the presidential safes and stole as much as they could before escaping. As Chavez descended from the helicopter, cries and cheers were heard from the crowd. An extraordinary feeling of community power, justice and love eminated from those who had risked their lives to rescue their democracy, their constitution, their president, and most of all, their dignity.

THREATS CONTINUE

During the celebration this Wednesday, President Chavez, speaking before a volumunious crowd that marched to the presidential palace grounds, reaffirmed that “Nobody can topple our Revolution again”, warning those who continue with destabilization plans that they will be “swept away” and “never return”.

As the crowds chanted “The people united will never be defeated”, the Venezuelan President, reflected on the events 9 years ago, “They came at us with a coup backed by powerful interests, the US government and the elite, but they were met but something even more powerful: the people of Venezuela and our real soldiers”.

Nonetheless, the majority of those involved in the coup remain present in Venezuelan politics today, still aiming to oust Chavez’s government and put an end to the Bolivarian Revolution. During the 9 years since the coup, US government funding for opposition groups and parties in Venezuela has increased exponentially, reaching nearly $15 million annually from State Department agencies alone.

Several of the key members of the coup, who were given amnesty by President Chavez in 2007 in an attempt to promote national dialogue, today hold positions in regional governments (governors and mayors), and in the nation’s National Assembly. From these legitimate platforms, they continue to conspire against the Chavez administration.

Ironically, during this week’s coup anniversary, one participant in the April 2002 events, Maria Corina Machado, now a member of the National Assembly, was invited by the Department of State to dictate several conferences in the US, including one in Miami titled “600 Days to Eradicate Authoritarianism: Transforming Venezuela”. While in Miami, Machado “celebrated” with a community of self-exiled Venezuelans, many of whom played key roles in the coup. Machado is slated to be an opposition contender in Venezuela’s presidential elections in 2012.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Venezuelans Celebrate Rescue of Democracy as Threats Continue

Who Shot the Nine Soldiers in Banyas? Not Syrian Security Forces

By Joshua Landis | Syria Comment | April 13th, 2011

A number of news reports by AFP, the Guardian, and other news agencies and outlets are suggesting that Syrian security forces were responsible for shooting nine Syrian soldiers, who were killed in Banyas on Sunday. Some versions insist that they were shot for refusing orders to shoot at demonstrators.

Considerable evidence suggests this is not true and that western journalists are passing on bad information.

* Testimony of colonel `Uday Ahmad. My wife spoke this morning to one witness who denied the story. He is colonel `Uday Ahmad, brother-in-law of Lt. Col. Yasir Qash`ur, who was shot and killed in Banyas with eight other Syrian soldiers on Sunday April 10, 2011. Uday Ahmad was sitting in the back seat of the truck which Yasir was driving when he was shot dead on the highway outside Banyas. Uday said that shooting was coming from two directions. One was from the roof of a building facing the highway and another from people hiding behind the cement median of the highway. They jumped up and shot into the two trucks carrying Syrian troops, killing 9. Col. Uday survived. Here is video of the shooting shown on Syrian TV sent by my brother-in-law, Firas, who lives in Latakia.

* Video of one soldier purportedly confessing to being shot in the back by security forces and linked to by the Guardian has been completely misconstrued. The Guardian irresponsibly repeats a false interpretation of the video provided by an informant.

  1. This is what the Guardian writes: “Footage on YouTube shows an injured soldier saying he was shot in the back by security forces.”

The video does not “support” the story that the Guardian says it does. The soldier denies that he was ordered to fire on people. Instead, he says he was on his way to Banyas to enforce security. He does not say that he was shot at by government agents or soldiers. In fact he denies it. The interviewer tries to put words in his mouth but the soldier clearly denies the story that the interviewer is trying to make him confess to.  In the video, the wounded soldier is surrounded by people who are trying to get him to say that he was shot by a military officer. The soldier says clearly, “They [our superiors] told us, ‘Shoot at them IF they shoot at you.’”

The interviewer tried to get the wounded soldier to say that he had refused orders to shoot at the people when he asked : “When you did not shoot at us what happened?” But the soldier doesn’t understand the question because he has just said that he was not given orders to shoot at the people. The soldier replies, “Nothing, the shooting started from all directions”.  The interviewer repeats his question in another way by asking, “Why were you shooting at us, we are Muslims?” The soldier answers him, “I am Muslim too.”  The interviewer asks, “So why were you going to shoot at us?” The soldier replies, “We did not shoot at people. They shot at us at the bridge.”

* Alix Van Buren, a veteran reporter for la Repubblica, Italy’s leading newspaper, is in Damascus and sends the following report about the possible role of armed Khaddam agitators in Banyas.

Josh, the picture is extremely confusing and it is often impossible to confirm data on the web. The absence of most foreign media here in Syria adds to that murky picture. What I can contribute about the question of “foreign meddling” is the following. These are direct quotes from leading and respected opposition members:

Sunday two of ex-Vice President Khaddam’s men were arrested in Banyas. A human rights activist confirmed that they were sowing trouble by distributing money and weapons. I don’t know what to make of the confessions of the three guys shown on Syrian tv today. However, several Syrian dissidents believe in the presence and the role of “infiltrators”. Michel Kilo, though he accepts that possibility, cautioned that the issue of “infiltrators and conspiracies” should not be exploited as an obstacle in the quick transition towards democracy.

Haytham al-Maleh was the most explicit in pointing to the meddling of Khaddam people in and around Banias. He also mentioned the “loose dogs” loyal to Rifa’t al-Assad. According to him they are active particularly along the coast between Tartous and Latakya. Here is a link to my interview with al-Maleh in La Repubblica.

The veteran blogger Ahmed Abu ElKheir, unfortunately now in prison for the second time in less than a month, and not yet released, has links to Banyas. The first, peaceful demonstration of Saturday morning was also sparked by the request for his release. In his Facebook profile, before being arrested, he too lashed out against Khaddam. Several commentators from that area agreed with him, cursing Khaddam for meddling “with the blood of the innocents”.

Finally, what do you make of the remarks by Haytham al-Manna from Paris to Al Jazeera?

There is much buzz about that over here, although, the Western media doesn’t seem to have picked upon it yet. See the text in Arabic from Al Watan. Manna basically says that he was approached by a group of men, including a Syrian businessman holding a foreign passport, who asked him to facilitate the distribution of money and weapons to the young demonstrators. There is a vague reference to a person in the group, linked to a “major Arab Gulf country”. Al-Manna is from Dera’a, and if what he said is confirmed, his origin adds significance to the context. He reportedly issued a warning to the people in Dera’a not to accept offers of money or weapons from anyone.

I am trying to get confirmation of the above directly from him.

Also see my interview with Suhair al-Atassi

Post script to the previous note sent by Alix Van Buren:

I finally got through to Haytham Manna in Paris. He confirmed the story of Al Watan, adding a few details: he spoke about three groups having contacted him to provide money and weapons to the rebels in Syria. First, a Syrian businessman (the story reported by Al Jazeera); secondly, he was contacted by “several pro-American Syrian opposers” to put it in his words. (he referred to more than one individual); thirdly, he mentioned approaches of the same kind by “Syrians in Lebanon who are loyal to a Lebanese party which is against Syria”. Well, he probably means Hariri. But that is MY OWN ASSUMPTION, as he flatly refused to name names, for he said he does not want to get into “les contrastes libano-libanaises”. But when I pronounced that name asking him to fully express his thought, he did not contradict me. He did also refer to other nationalities “meddling” in the Syrian rebellion. He stated that the “Intifadat Karama”, the Intifada of Dignity, is a “purely Syrian affair” and that no one, “neither Jordanians, nor Lebanese, nor Saudis” should interfere. “It is a matter that Syrians must resolve among themselves”.

He also was extremely firm in saying that anyone providing money and weapons to the Syrian rebels, is “pushing them to commit suicide”, as “the confrontation with the Security apparatus cannot be won through armed clashes. Both the firepower and the sheer numbers of the military plus the security (which he puts at 2,5 millions in total) would crush them”, he says. In his opinion, “the young can prevail only through non-violence. He agrees that there are people close to Khaddam and Rifa’t along the coast, but he believes “they are very few – in the dozens” – and that the two exiled Syrians “don’t really have a political base of support”. The people who do create trouble and receive money for doing so, according to him, are simple “misérables”, “destitute individuals who will do so in exchange for money”.

All of the above is part of the current discourse among the Syrian opposition.

* A three-page document purporting to be a “top secret” Mukhabarat memo, giving instruction to intelligence forces that “it is acceptable to shoot some of the security agents or army officers in order to further deceive the enemy” has been published on the web and republished by all4Syria. A copy was sent to me with a translation by a journalist with a leading magazine for my thoughts. It has blood splattered on it and is clearly a fake. What army, after all, would survive even days if its top officers were publishing orders to shoot its own officers? Not a good morale booster for the troops.

AFP and other news agencies have quoted opposition members from Banyas insisting that the nine officers and soldiers of the Syrian army shot by government forces in Banyas. They also claim that “shadowy agents” opening fire on the people are agents of the regime.

“Banias is surrounded by tanks. No one can get in or out. It is like a prison,” said Yasser, a shopkeeper. “Security forces were responsible for killing soldiers in Banias because they had refused to attack the city,” he added – an account that differed sharply from the official version.

The official Sana news agency had said nine soldiers, including two officers, had been killed on Monday when their patrol was ambushed outside the town.

The army has encircled Banias since Monday, when shadowy agents of the regime opened fire on residents, particularly in front of mosques, killing four people and wounding 17….

Syrian soldiers shot for refusing to fire on protesters.
Katherine Marsh – a pseudonym – in Damascus
guardian, Tuesday 12 April 2011

Witnesses claim soldiers who disobeyed orders in Banias were shot by security services as crackdown on protests intensifies.

Syrian soldiers have been shot by security forces after refusing to fire on protesters, witnesses said, as a crackdown on anti-government demonstrations intensified.

Witnesses told al-Jazeera and the BBC that some soldiers had refused to shoot after the army moved into Banias in the wake of intense protests on Friday.

Human rights monitors named Mourad Hejjo, a conscript from Madaya village, as one of those shot by security snipers. “His family and town are saying he refused to shoot at his people,” said Wassim Tarif, a local human rights monitor.

Footage on YouTube shows an injured soldier saying he was shot in the back by security forces, while another video shows the funeral of Muhammad Awad Qunbar, who sources said was killed for refusing to fire on protesters. Signs of defections will be worrying to Syria’s regime. State media reported a different version of events, claiming nine soldiers had been killed in an ambush by an armed group in Banias.

Activists said not all soldiers reported dead or injured were shot after refusing to fire. “We are investigating reports that some people have personal weapons and used them in self-defence,” said Tarif….

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 1 Comment

Teenage girl released from prison: Awarta

International Solidarity Movement | April 15, 2011

Late on Thursday afternoon sixteen year old Julia Manzen Awwad arrived back to the village of Awarta, following her release from Israeli military prison. She had been detained for five days after being arrested by force during an army raid on her family home in the early hours of Sunday morning. Upon arrest Julia was taken blindfolded and bound by her wrists and ankles to the military base at Huwwara, where she was detained for a night. She was then transferred to a military prison.

During her detention Julia was denied basic human rights and prevented from contacting either her family or a lawyer. Instead she was confined to a dark room and intensively interrogated about the murders of the Fogel family at Itamar, the nearby illegal settlement. Julia described being woken at regular intervals and asked the same questions repeatedly. Confused and frightened she answered that she knew nothing, only to be met with aggressive retorts accusing her of lying.

Ill treatment and abuses included the refusal of her request for a doctor when experiencing stomach pains, being fed food she described as fit for animals, and being handcuffed and marched to the toilet furthest from her cell. At times she was not even allowed to use the toilet. Prior to her release Julia was coerced into signing a document she could not understand and had wires attached to various parts of her body during a lie detector test.

Whilst Julia was welcomed by her mother, Noaf, and extended family members, she spoke of the sorrow she felt returning to her house as her brothers, George (20) and Hakim (17), along with their father, Mazen, still remain in custody. Her mother, who was also detained in the raid last weekend, was released on Monday.

Earlier in the day a demonstration organized by a local Palestinian womens group marched through Awarta in protest at the barbaric treatment of the community at the hands of the Israeli army over the last month. In a show of solidarity it finished outside the homes of other members of the Awwad family, which were ransacked and destroyed by soldiers in a raid last Monday night.

Since the brutal murder of five family members in Itamar settlement at the beginning of March the villagers of Awarta have been subjected to near continuous incursions by the Israeli army. Men and women, some in their 80s, and children, some as young and 14, have been arrested. Whilst many have been released after a few days, others, mainly men, remain in detention. On these early morning raids, the army fire sound grenades through windows prior to forcing their way into homes and brutalizing the occupants – regardless of age.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Teenage girl released from prison: Awarta

Iceland’s Message to Portugal

Organizing against the debt

By NICK DEARDEN | CounterPunch | April 15, 2011

This week has witnessed two very different reactions to European debt. At one end of Europe, Iceland’s voters decided once again not to accept the payment terms of their ‘creditors’, the British and Dutch governments, following the collapse of Icelandic banks in 2008. At the other, Portugal is being pushed down the path of shock therapy by the European Union, with the people of that country cut out of a process which will change their lives dramatically.

Neither Iceland nor Portugal will have it easy in the years ahead. But there is a world of difference between the refusal of the people of Iceland “to pay for failed banks” in the words of their President, and the pain being imposed on Portugal from the outside. The European Central Bank’s head Jean-Claude Trichet has made it perfectly clear that the negotiations on Portugal’s future are “certainly not for public” debate.

Iceland’s people have not made a knee-jerk reaction. They are well aware that refusal to pay is the less easy short-term route to take. An impending court case by the UK and the Netherlands, the negative reaction of credit markets and the threatened block to their EU membership will all take a toll.

But for the people of Iceland the orthodoxy as to how countries are supposed to deal with debt is not simply economically flawed, it is deeply unjust, unfairly distributing power and wealth within and between societies. Twenty eight-year-old voter Thorgerdun Ásgeirsdóttir said “I know this will probably hurt us internationally, but it is worth taking a stance.”

If the people of a country which truly bought into free market ideology, deregulated capital markets and cheap lending can refuse to pay for the crimes of the banks, then those that did less well from the decades of financial boom can be expected to feel even more impassioned.

In Greece such anger is starting to turn into a constructive challenge to the power of finance. A debt audit commission has been called for by hundreds of academics, politicians and activists. Such a commission would throw open Greece’s debts for public examination – directly confronting the way that the IMF and European Union work behind closed doors to force their often disastrous medicine on member countries.

As Greek activists have said, “the people who are called upon to bear the costs of EU programmes have a democratic right to receive full information on public debt. An Audit Commission can begin to redress this deficiency.”

Their resolve is currently being bolstered by a website phenomena – a short viral film called debtocracy (government by debt) – sweeping Greece’s online population and convincing them they have been taken for a ride. Early next month activists from across Europe and the developing world will gather in Athens to put together a programme which will challenge the IMF’s policies in Greece.

Portugal’s deal is just beginning to be hammered out. As in Greece and Ireland, a ‘bail-out’ package will primarily benefit Western European banks, with €216 billion of outstanding loans to Portugal, while ordinary people endure a programme of deep spending cuts, reduced workers’ rights and widespread privatisation. The head of Portugal’s Banco Carregosa told the FT: “It’s not an exaggeration to call it shock therapy.”

The comparisons with developing world countries are obvious and the mistakes there are already being repeated. Time and again banks were bailed out and the poorest people in the world were pushed even deeper into poverty. Today countries from Sierra Leone to Jamaica are racking up ever more debts, once again, to weather the banker’s storm.

This is why a line must be drawn in Europe. Pouring more debt on top of Portugal’s woes will do nothing to resuscitate the economy. Portugal’s debt is totally unsustainable – largely the result of reckless private lending over the last decade. Those responsible are being bailed out, those that aren’t are suffering the pain. This is what Iceland has refused to do.

The people of Iceland have stood up for their sovereignty. Their future looks considerably brighter than those of Ireland or Portugal. The people of Greece are just beginning their struggle. The outcomes will have a monumental impact on the fight against poverty and inequality across the world.

~

Nick Dearden is director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Economics | 3 Comments

NBC News’ Chief Foreign Correspondent: Arab uprisings worrisome because ‘Arab street is ferociously anti-Israel’

By Alex Kane | April 15, 2011

The U.S. establishment, including the corporate media, have been worried about the people’s uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa because, in part, of what it might mean for Israel, as Phil Weiss pointed out last January.  Brian Williams interviewed Richard Engel, NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent, last night to talk about the Arab revolts, and it’s one more example of the Israeli filter that the establishment views the Middle East through.  (Hat tip to As’ad AbuKhalil at his indispensable Angry Arab blog.)

Williams asked:  “Where does this all end?”  Engel’s response speaks volumes:

This whole movement in the Middle East–I’m worried about it, because while people in the region deserve more rights, and they want more rights, and they’re embracing more of the will of the Arab street, well, the will of the Arab street is also ferociously anti-Israel, against Israel.  And there’s many people who believe that if you empower the Arab street, and the Arab street wants to see a war or more justice for the Palestinians, that down the road, three to five years, this could lead to a major war with Israel.  It could also force a negotiated settlement.  But I think over time, this thing ends in Jerusalem

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | 1 Comment

Israel considers 1,000 citizenship applications from US Christians seeking permission to settle in the West Bank

MEMO | April 15, 2011

The Israeli media has revealed that 1000 Christian Americans have submitted applications for Israeli citizenship and permission to settle in the occupied West Bank. In return, they have said that they will convert to Judaism and serve in Israel’s occupation army.

According to a report in the Hebrew newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, a group made up of hundreds of US citizens presented their request to the Israeli MP Lian Shem Tov.

During her meeting with the group’s representative, Baruch Abramovich, who is active in Judaizing Christians and taking them to Occupied Palestine, the MP pledged to assist the Americans and support their application to the Israeli government.

According to Abramovich, this group has “no political ambitions, but wants to be part of Israel”. He added that, “bringing these Americans would contribute to the development of the West Bank as part and parcel of the State of Israel, and to the development of the economy and even the Israeli army.”

The newspaper reported that Shem Tov has presented the American project to the so-called Shomron Regional Council and exerted efforts to push the idea. She has also organized a meeting between the Council and the group’s representatives to discuss the request in detail.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | 1 Comment

ISM confirms the death of Vittorio Arrigoni

International Solidarity Movement | April 15, 20121


The International Solidarity Movement is shocked and deeply saddened by the killing of our friend and colleague Vittorio Arrigoni. Vik was an inspiring activist and generous soul. Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Video | Comments Off on ISM confirms the death of Vittorio Arrigoni

NATO Irradiates Libya

By THOMAS MOUNTAIN | CounterPunch | April 15, 2011

NATO aircraft are routinely equipped with anti-armor missiles fitted with depleted uranium war heads. It has been widely reported that NATO has fired hundreds of anti-armor missiles in many parts of Libya, including in the immediate environs of the Libyan capital Tripoli. This means that thousands of kilos of depleted uranium have been used in Libya in the past weeks.

Depleted uranium, or D.U., ignites when it strikes armored vehicles. Ignition causes D.U. to break down to a microscopic powder, measured in microns or millionths of an inch. Upon impact D.U. creates a fireball in many cases that rises hundreds of feet into the atmosphere where the wind helps spread it over large areas.

D.U. is a very dangerous, long term poison. It is radioactive and when ingested internally causes a host of problems to its victim. It is nonspecific and generational in impact, meaning that it does not distinguish between friend or foe and the damage it does goes on for generations into the future.

Large quantities of D.U. were used during the attack on Iraq in 1991 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The damage done by D.U. to the Iraqi population is well documented and continuing.

The use of D.U. constitutes a war crime and crime against humanity, just as poison gas and dumdum bullets were designated in their time. The Libyan people are the latest victims of this western inflicted plague.

Irradiate the Libyan people to save the Libyan people? How else could you describe the NATO attack on Libya?

~

Thomas C. Mountain can be reached at: thomascmountain at yahoo dot com

April 15, 2011 Posted by | War Crimes | Comments Off on NATO Irradiates Libya

Gaza War and Goldstone’s Moral Collapse

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | April 14, 2011

Shocking is not a sufficient term to describe Justice Richard Goldstone’s decision to recant parts of the 2009 report on alleged war crimes in Gaza.

The document, known as the Goldstone Report, was compiled after a thorough investigation led by the South African judge and three other well-regarded investigators. They documented 36 incidents that occurred during the Israeli Operation Cast Lead, an unprecedentedly violent attack against small, impoverished and besieged Gaza. It resulted in the death of over 1,400 Palestinians, and the wounding of over 5,500.

Goldstone is both Jewish and Zionist. His love for Israel has been widely and affectionately conveyed. In this particular case, he seemed completely torn between his ideological and tribal position and his commitment to justice and truth, as enshrined in the mandate of the UN Human Rights Council.

After 18 months of what seemed a wholly personal introspection, accompanied by an endless campaign of pressure and intimidation by Zionist and pro-Israel Jewish groups from all over the world, the man finally surrendered.

“If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document,” he wrote in the Washington Post on April 1. But what did Goldstone learn anew since he issued his 575-page report in September 2009?

The supposed basis of Goldstone’s rethink is a follow-up report issued by a UN committee chaired by retired New York Judge Mary McGowan Davis. Her report was not a reinvestigation of Israel’s —  and Hamas’ — alleged war crimes in Gaza, but a follow up on the Goldstone Commission’s findings, which urged the referral of the matter to the International Criminal Court. McGowan Davis made this distinction clear in a recent interview with the Israeli Jerusalem Post. According to the post, she said, “Our work was completely separate from (Goldstone’s) work.” She further stated, “Our mandate was to take his report as given and start from there.”

So how did a probe that used Goldstone’s findings as a starting point go on to inspire such a major refutation from one of the authors of the original report?

McGowan Davis’ report merely acknowledged that Israel has carried out an investigation into a possible “operational misconduct” in what is largely known outside Israel as the Gaza massacre. The UN follow-up report recognized the alleged 400 investigations, but didn’t bear out their validity. These secret inquiries actually led to little in terms of disciplinary action.

More, the UN team of experts claimed there was “no indication that Israel has opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead.”

In fact, Israel is known for investigating itself, and also for almost always finding everyone but its own leadership at fault. Israeli investigations are an obvious mockery of justice. Most of their findings, like those that followed another investigation of the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006, merely chastised the failure to win the war and to explain Israeli action to the world. They said little about looking into the death and wounding of innocent civilians. Is this what Goldstone meant when he used the words, “if I had known then what I know now”? And could this added knowledge about Israel’s secret —  and largely farcical — investigations be enough to draw such extreme conclusions such as “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy”?

This was the trust of the Israeli argument, which attempted to reduce a persistent policy predicated on collective punishment —  one that used controversial and outright illegal weapons against civilians —  to the injudiciousness of individual soldiers. Goldstone’s calculated retraction is an adoption of “the Israeli position that any misdeeds during the Gaza assault were caused by individual deviants, not by policies or rules of engagement ordered by military leaders,” according to George Bisharat, professor at the Hastings College of the Law (as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, April 7). Bisharat added, “Yet the original report never accused Israel of widespread deliberate attacks on civilians, and thus Goldstone retracted a claim that had never been made. Most of its essential findings remain unchallenged.”

John Dugard, professor of law at the University of Pretoria and former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory agrees. “Richard Goldstone is a former judge and he knows full well that a fact-finding report by four persons, of whom he was only one, like the judgment of a court of law, cannot be changed by the subsequent reflections of a single member of the committee.”

Dugard, well known for his principled stances in the past, is also known for his moral consistency. “It is sad that this champion of accountability and international criminal justice should abandon the cause in such an ill-considered but nevertheless extremely harmful op-ed,” he wrote in the New Statesman on April 6.

Unsurprisingly, Israeli leaders are gloating. “Everything we said was proved true,” declared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to Goldstone’s moral collapse. The New York Times reported on April 5 that Goldstone agreed to visit Israel in July during a telephone call with Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai. “I will be happy to come,” Yishai quoted Goldstone as saying. “I always have love for the State of Israel.”

The fact is, Goldstone’s repudiations of some of his commission’s findings clearly have no legal validity. They are personally, and in fact selfishly motivated, and they prove that political and ideological affiliations are of greater weight for Goldstone than human suffering and international law and justice. There is no doubt, however, that Goldstone’s rethink will represent the backbone of Israel’s rationale in its future attacks on Gaza. Goldstone, once regarded as an “evil, evil man” by a prominent Israel apologist in the US, will become the selling point of Israel’s future war crimes.

If the killing of over 1,400 Palestinians is not a “matter of policy”, and Hamas’ killing of four Israelis is “intentional” —  as claimed by Goldstone —  then the sky is the limit for Israel’s war machine.

Indeed, “shocking” is not the right term. “Disgraceful” may be more fitting.

~

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London), available on Amazon.com.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | War Crimes | Comments Off on Gaza War and Goldstone’s Moral Collapse

US Senate urges UN to revoke Gaza War report

Press TV – April 15, 2011

The US Senate has urged the UN to revoke a report on the Gaza War, which accuses Israel of committing war crimes during the 22-day offensive against the Gaza Strip.

The US senators have drawn up a resolution calling on UN Human Rights Council members “to rescind the report and reconsider further Council actions with respect to the report’s findings.”

The resolution also urged UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to help “reform” the Human Rights Council “so that it no longer unfairly, disproportionately, and falsely criticizes Israel on a regular basis,” AFP reported

It also called on the UN chief to “do all in his power to redress the damage to Israel’s reputation” caused by the report.

The resolution comes after head of the UN inquiry over the Gaza offensive Richard Goldstone said earlier this month that he was wrong to conclude Israel targeted civilians.

In April 2009, Goldstone investigated reports of the international human rights and humanitarian law violations during the December 2008-January 2009 assault, which left more than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly women and children, dead.

The report said that the Israeli operations “were carefully planned in all their phases as a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.”

However, under intensive pressure from the Israelis, Goldstone on April 3 announced that he was wrong to say Israel had deliberately targeted civilians.

Goldstone later announced that he has no reason to believe any part of the report needs to be reconsidered at the moment.

On Thursday, three of the authors of the report, which was condemned by the US House of Representatives in a November 2009 vote, rejected calls to retract it.

The report could pave the way for dragging Israel before the Hague tribunal for war crimes.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | War Crimes | 2 Comments

Goldstone’s Retraction Rejected

Al-Manar | April 15, 2011

The three co-authors of the United Nations report on the 2008-2009 Gaza war rejected on Thursday an op-ed by the fourth member and chairman Richard Goldstone in which he retracted key conclusions of the report – in particular claiming that Israel had not intentionally targeted civilians during the war.

In an article in the British daily The Guardian, the three members – the Pakistani human rights lawyer Hina Jilani; Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics; and former Irish peace-keeper Desmond Travers maintained that the conclusions of the report remain valid despite Goldstone’s shift and subsequent calls to retract the report in the UN.

“There is no justification for any demand or expectation for reconsideration of the report as nothing of substance has appeared that would in any way change the context, findings or conclusions of that report with respect to any of the parties to the Gaza conflict,” they wrote.

Earlier this month, Goldstone published an op-ed in the Washington Post in which he backtracked on claims he had made in the UN report, accusing Israel of targeting civilians during its war on the Gaza Strip two years ago.

The three international law experts did not mention Goldstone by name, but slammed a number of the points he made in his op-ed in the Washington Post, writing that “aspersions cast on the findings of the report cannot be left unchallenged” and said they have “misrepresented facts in an attempt to delegitimize the findings” of the Goldstone Report and “to cast doubts on its credibility.”

Moreover, they said that any kind of retraction of the report is an insult to the victims of the Gaza war. “We consider that calls to reconsider or even retract the report, as well as attempts at misrepresenting its nature and purpose, disregard the right of victims, Palestinian and Israeli, to truth and justice.”

In his Washington Post op-ed earlier this month, Goldstone said that if Israel had cooperated with his probe then the conclusions on the report would have been different.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | War Crimes | Comments Off on Goldstone’s Retraction Rejected