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The Negev’s Hot Wind Blowing

By Jonathan Cook | MERIP | October 25, 2011

Over the past 15 months the dusty plains of the northern Negev desert in Israel have been witness to a ritual of destruction, part of a police operation known as Hot Wind. On 29 occasions since June 2010, hundreds of Israeli paramilitary officers have made the pilgrimage over a dirt track near the city of Beersheva to the zinc sheds and hemp tents of al-‘Araqib. Within hours of their arrival, the 45 ramshackle structures — home to some 300 Bedouin villagers — are pulled down and al-‘Araqib is wiped off the map once again. All that remains to mark the area’s inhabitation by generations of the al-Turi tribe are the stone graves in the cemetery.

The al-Turis are determined to stay on their ancestral lands to maintain their traditional pastoral way of life; Israel wants the land for a forestation program, to beautify the Negev and attract more Jews to settle there.

The struggle over al-‘Araqib has played out many times before in other Negev locations since Israel’s founding in 1948. Then, and in the early years of state building, all but 11,000 of the Negev’s population of 90,000 Bedouin were expelled to Egypt, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank. Today, with the highest birth rate of any ethnic group in Israel, the Bedouin number about 190,000, nearly a third of the Negev’s population. Half of them continue to live in rural communities, all of which Israel has refused to accord normal legal standing.

But in September the Israeli government announced a plan to complete the unfinished business of 1948. Over the coming months and years, Israel intends to implement a scheme to evict some 40,000 Bedouin from their homes in the Negev in a program of forced urbanization. It will be an act of wholesale removal unseen in this desert region for more than a generation.

“Integration”

The exact number of Bedouin to be affected is unclear, as Israel has made little effort to assess the true population of the “unrecognized villages,” as the rural dwelling places are known. Officials estimate, however, that 40 percent of the villagers will be relocated to a handful of overcrowded and under-resourced government-built townships for the Bedouin, languishing at the very bottom of Israel’s social and economic tables.

Thabet Abu Ras, a professor of geography at Ben Gurion University in the Negev, calls the plan a “declaration of war” on the Bedouin way of life. He is supported in this view by the Steering Committee of the Negev Arabs, a coalition of community groups, NGOs and political parties in southern Israel, which has accused the government of formulating a policy of “ethnic cleansing.” Meanwhile, Talib al-Sana, a Bedouin member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, warns of a “Bedouin intifada.”

In a last-ditch effort to stop the scheme, a four-person team including Abu Ras headed to the United States in October to lobby American Jewish leaders and publicize the Bedouin’s case in the media. Their hope, probably forlorn, is that the Israeli government can be embarrassed into reversing its policy if the American Jewish community brings enough pressure to bear. Abu Ras told the Jerusalem Post newspaper: “Being a minority in the US has made this community very sensitive, and the Jewish community is very involved in politics. If they care about Israel, they should stand for democratic Israel more than anything else.”

The evacuation plan is the personal project of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has rapidly intensified official efforts to impose a solution to a decades-long legal struggle between the state and the Bedouin over the title deeds to nearly 800,000 dunams — or 200,000 acres — of the Negev. A statement from Netanyahu’s office, published on September 11, the day the cabinet endorsed the plan, said it would “bring about a better integration of Bedouin in Israeli society.”

Few Bedouin share the official optimism. On October 6, thousands converged on the Negev’s main city of Beersheva in the largest protest ever held in the city. A huge banner, in three languages, expressed their verdict: “Israel has stolen the lands of its Arab citizens of the Negev.”

The Prawer Plan

The Prawer plan, named for Ehud Prawer, the head of planning policy in Netanyahu’s office, is intended as the coup de grace of the Israeli government’s efforts to strip the Bedouin of most of their ancestral lands. Abu Ras notes that the Bedouin’s outstanding claim on hundreds of thousands of dunams in the Negev is one of the major territorial issues left unresolved since Israel’s founders sought to implement the Zionist goal of concentrating Palestinian Arabs in the smallest possible area while allowing Jews to take control of the maximum amount of land.

This policy has applied equally to the 1.3 million Palestinian citizens of Israel as it has to Palestinians under occupation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. According to estimates by groups like Adalah, an Arab legal center in Israel, since Israel’s founding the Palestinian minority has lost at least three quarters of its lands in areas outside the Negev, under the pretext of land nationalization programs. Much of this land transfer was achieved by means of legislation such as the notorious Absentee Property Law of 1950, which passed on to the state all lands belonging to refugees from the 1948 war, including those internally displaced in Israel, and the Land Acquisition Law of 1953.

The cleared lands were then repopulated exclusively with Jews, often only a few dozen people controlling vast swathes of territory. Israel originally termed this policy “Judaization,” targeting in particular the two areas where Israel’s Palestinian citizens, then as now a fifth of the population, were seen as a potential strategic threat: the Galilee and the Negev. In both regions there was a fear, which has barely diminished over subsequent decades, that a rapidly growing and spreading non-Jewish population could forge alliances with neighboring Arab states and attempt to secede. Control of the Negev, which is filled with military sites, including a nuclear reactor at Dimona, and which constitutes 55 percent of Israel’s land mass, is regarded as especially important.

In recent years, the terminology of ethnic domination has been modified to reflect the need for greater opacity. Moving the Bedouin off their historic lands and bringing in Jews in their place is today more commonly described as “developing” the Negev or encouraging a “stronger population.”

Underscoring the real motivations behind the Prawer plan, however, Netanyahu’s office announced at the same time a separate scheme to create ten rural Jewish satellite communities around the Negev town of Arad. These settlements will house 1,500 military families as Israel relocates yet another army base from central Israel to the south. The Arad scheme was drawn up over the objections of both environmental groups concerned about delicate desert ecosystems and the Bedouin.

The prime minister’s office issued a statement describing the Arad project, without a trace of irony, as central to a “Zionist vision for making the Negev flourish, and in line with the government’s policies of development, progress, attracting the population to the periphery and increasing the availability of housing.” At least two unrecognized Bedouin villages, al-Tir and neighboring Umm al-Hiran, are due to be emptied of their combined 1,000 residents to make way for the new Jewish communities.

Enclosure

For the Bedouin, the prospect of such displacement is a painful echo of their experiences in Israel’s early years.

Shortly before Israel’s creation, the Bedouin tribes held claim to about 2 million dunams — 500,000 acres, or about a sixth of the total territory of the Negev — on which their herds had grazed for generations. But more than 85 percent of the Bedouin were expelled either during the 1948 war or in subsequent years by the Negev’s military government. The state quickly appropriated these lands.

In the early 1950s, 11 of the 19 tribes that remained were forcibly relocated to a small “security zone” in the northern corner of the Negev, near Beersheva, known as the Siyag, or “enclosure.” A few of the other eight tribes, already based inside the Siyag, were required to move to other sites in the enclosed zone. In many cases, the tribes were told by the army that they would soon be allowed to return to their original lands. This promise that was never kept.

Having severed the Bedouin’s physical connection to their ancestral lands, the Israeli authorities began a campaign of harassment to destroy their pastoral way of life. During the period of the military government, which lasted until 1966, the tribes’ movements were severely restricted, their herds were confiscated and their crops uprooted or burned. As the Bedouin slowly emerged from two decades of punitive military rule, many agreed to relocate to state-planned townships. Seven were established for this purpose from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, and half of the Negev Bedouin settled there, chiefly, though not exclusively, those lacking significant land holdings.

The rest of the Bedouin remained defiantly in their 45 villages, even though the state refused to recognize them. Over subsequent decades the state intensified its policy of harassment, denying water, electricity and all other public services to the unrecognized villages, and declaring the domiciles therein illegal and subject to demolition.

The inhabitants of the unrecognized villages, in particular, have continued to stake their claim to ownership either of their ancestral lands or of the areas they were given in lieu of them by the state. In some cases, Bedouin who relocated to a township later returned to their former villages, as they realized that the state had reneged on its side of the bargain by failing to develop the townships, offer agricultural opportunities to the inhabitants or expand the communities to deal with natural growth.

Struggles for Ownership

The unrecognized villages have been fighting a battle against the authorities on two related fronts. First, they have been demanding that their 45 villages be recognized by the state as agricultural communities and given access to public services. With this aim in mind, in 1997 they created an unofficial regional council — modeled on those with jurisdiction over Jewish communities — to draw up a master plan for each village, a precondition for legal building within the municipal boundaries.

And second, they have waged a struggle through the courts for recognition of ownership of their lands, making some 3,200 claims on nearly 800,000 dunams, or 6 percent of the Negev. Some Bedouin are believed not to have submitted claims for fear of opening themselves up to legal moves by the state to dispossess them.

Each of these parallel struggles has met with limited success.

Of the 45 villages, ten were given partial recognition in 2003 and incorporated into a regional council, known as Abu Basma, overseen by Jewish officials. Special legislation was passed in 2009 to ensure that this council holds no elections for the foreseeable future. Abu Basma, with some 35,000 residents and controlling just 58 dunams, has the highest population density and smallest territorial jurisdiction of all the regional councils in the Negev. It is also the only one of 47 regional councils in Israel that lacks territorial continuity. By contrast, the ten other regional councils in Israel’s south — home to 45,000 Jews — have jurisdiction over an expanse of rural land, some 11 million dunams.

Abu Ras has observed of Abu Basma that its “jurisdiction is restricted to the built-up area of each village and does not include the lands between the villages or the surrounding land. Despite the Bedouin way of life, Abu Basma has not been allocated any agricultural areas.”

To resolve the question of the Bedouin’s land claims, the state began a registration program for the Negev in the early 1970s. The state sought to prejudge the outcome in 1976 by appointing a committee headed by Plia Albek, a senior legal adviser to the Justice Ministry. (A year later Albek would become the key official to provide legal cover for the new Likud government’s decision to declare much of the West Bank “state land.”) In the Negev, she determined that the territory was mawat (dead), or unsuitable for cultivation, a legal classification used by the Ottomans. Overnight this decision turned the Bedouin into “squatters” and “trespassers,” terms used by officials to this day. The committee, however, did approve partial compensation of 20 percent of the land for anyone with a claim to more than 400 dunams.

Despite its current claim that the Bedouin have no legal title to the areas in which they reside, Israel did in fact acknowledge in its early years their ownership of large tracts of the Negev. Officials appear to have accepted that the Bedouin’s failure to register their lands with the Ottoman rulers derived from a fear that, among other things, they might be conscripted into the Ottoman army as a consequence. And while the British mandatory authorities who followed did not carry out land classification in the Negev, they determined that the land “belongs to the Bedouin tribes because of their residence on the land from time immemorial.” Many of the Bedouin have documentation to prove that their families were paying taxes on their land for many years prior to Israel’s creation.

Confirming Israel’s earlier position toward Bedouin land claims, the Adalah legal center recently discovered in Israel’s military archives a “top secret” document from 1952. In it the Negev’s military governor, Michael Hanegbi, observed that the tribes’ transfer to the Siyag “was mainly achieved by persuasion and economic pressure, since we had no legal basis” for relocating the Bedouin.

The same year a government-appointed committee recommended recognition of the Bedouin’s legal claims. The panel members included high-level officials such as Yosef Weitz, the head of the Jewish National Fund, and Yehoshua Palmon, a senior adviser to Israel’s founding premier, David Ben Gurion. The committee suggested that the Knesset pass a law to nationalize the land and compensate the Bedouin financially or with alternative territory.

Another official document — this one from 1966, and written by Sasson Ben-Zvi, then the Negev’s military governor — referred both to the government’s recognition of Bedouin land ownership and to the purchase by the Jewish National Fund of areas of the Negev from the Bedouin before Israel’s establishment.

But following Albek’s reclassification of the Negev as mawat, and therefore as state land, officials have claimed in court cases that the Bedouin are not landowners, conceding as a “good will gesture” only that the Bedouin have a status as “guardians.” So far, of the 800,000 dunams under legal contestation, the state has reached an arrangement with 380 Bedouin claimants over 205,000 dunams. Much of that land is located within the master plan of the Abu Basma villages. The rest of the 2,750 claims have yet to be settled.

Taking a Harder Line

The pressure to deal with the Bedouin’s claims intensified following a Supreme Court hearing in 2000 in which the Israeli planning authorities promised to find new ways to incorporate the inhabitants of the unrecognized villages into the regional plan for the Beersheva district. They also agreed to come up with alternatives to settling the villagers in the seven townships, including by creating rural communities.

It was against this backdrop that the centrist government of Ehud Olmert set up a committee in 2007 under a retired Supreme Court justice, Eliezer Goldberg, to “recommend to the government a policy for regulating Bedouin settlement in the Negev.” The eight-person committee included two Bedouin representatives, though no one from the unrecognized villages. In December 2008 it issued its report to the Housing Ministry.

In many respects, Goldberg broke with previous state policy. He acknowledged that the Bedouin had endured an “intolerable situation,” that they were neither trespassers nor squatters, and that they had “general historic ties” to the land. He suggested that the Bedouin’s forced relocation to the Siyag in the 1950s qualified them as internal refugees. He recommended that the 45 villages be granted recognition wherever possible, and that most buildings designated as illegal be reclassified as “gray,” allowing for their later legalization. Unlike Albek, Goldberg set no minimum land holding for Bedouin owners to receive compensation from the government and he allowed for land as well as financial compensation. He also recommended establishing a new planning body to regulate Bedouin settlement in the Negev.

The report received a lukewarm reception from Bedouin groups, including the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages. They were impressed by the conciliatory tone, but wary of the dangers posed by various omissions and vague formulations that could be exploited by less sympathetic officials. The biggest concerns were that Goldberg failed explicitly to recognize the Bedouin’s historical right to the land and that he proposed legalizing the unrecognized villages subject to several conditions that did not apply to Jewish communities. These included having “a minimum mass of residents,” proving “municipal fitness” and ensuring that the village “accorded with a master plan.” Given that traditional planning policy in the Negev had not only overlooked the unrecognized villages but also pursued of a policy of severely restricting Bedouin development, this last condition was regarded as particularly onerous.

For many months Goldberg’s recommendations languished in the government’s bottom drawer.

After Netanyahu took office in 2009, however, he set up a new committee under Ehud Prawer to “implement” the report. The committee included no Bedouin members at all, and talked to no Bedouin representatives during its deliberations. Prawer was already known for his hardline views on the Bedouin. In 2006, as deputy head of the National Security Council, he had declared at the Herzliya conference, an annual security convention attended by Israel’s political, military and diplomatic elites, that the removal of settlers from Gaza the previous year provided a model for handling the Bedouin in the Negev.

In the end, the Prawer committee’s recommendations, leaked in early 2011, bore little resemblance to the Goldberg report.

Prawer’s proposals were roundly condemned by human rights organizations in Israel, including the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Bimkom, a planning rights group. These activists, along with the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages, had earlier sponsored their own panel of experts to draft an alternative plan, which Prawer ignored. Oren Yiftachel, a geography professor at Ben Gurion University in the Negev and a member of the human rights-oriented committee, said its proposal was “better, cheaper and much more humane for both Jews and Arabs of the Negev.”

It proposed that the Bedouin villages be recognized and treated as a “distinct type of settlement” in the planning system, much like a moshav, kibbutz or Arab village in the Galilee, and that the inhabitants be allowed to continue an agricultural way of life. It noted that, contrary to official claims that the Bedouin villages were too “scattered” or small to be accommodated in the regional plan, there were more than 100 Jewish rural communities in the Beersheva area, with an average population of just 300 residents. The average unrecognized village had a population, even according to the minimal official figures, of 1,740 residents. There was also a precedent for recognition of previously unregistered communities: In 2010, the government retroactively legalized some 60 Jewish farms established illegally across the Negev by individual ranchers.

The Prawer report was considered a major step backwards for the Bedouin. It made no mention of the Bedouin’s historical connection to their lands, and did not name a single unrecognized village or suggest any be recognized. It also discriminated between those Bedouin who had been forced off their land by the state into the Siyag and those still on their ancestral lands. The latter were entitled to land compensation, though at a rate reduced to half of their holdings, whereas the former were entitled only to monetary compensation and an option to buy a plot in one of the government townships. Abu Ras, who also heads Adalah’s Negev project, estimated that under the Prawer plan the Bedouin would receive between 180,000 and 200,000 dunams of their outstanding claim of 600,000 dunams.

Draconian Revision

The Prawer report was put aside in June 2011 under pressure from the far-right coalition faction of Yisrael Beiteinu, led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Netanyahu agreed instead that it would be “revised” by the unlikely figure of Yaakov Amidror, the head of the National Security Council. Amidror, an icon of the national-religious community and a settler, is best known for his hardline positions against Palestinian statehood and his belief that Israel should reoccupy Gaza.

Bedouin leaders were appalled that a man responsible for the handling of Israel’s gravest security threats should be put in charge of deciding their fate. Netanyahu’s militarized approach to the Negev Bedouin was confirmed a short time later by news that he had apppointed Moshe Yaalon, a former chief of staff and the current minister of strategic affairs, to enforce the revised Prawer plan. Rawia Abu Rabia, a Bedouin lawyer with ACRI, spoke for many in noting that the government “sees us as enemies.”

The new version of Prawer is even more draconian than the original. It reduces the amount of Bedouin land to be recognized to 100,000 dunams, a sixth of the outstanding claims. The rest of the land is to be confiscated. Monetary compensation will range from 20 to 50 percent of the land’s value. Recognition of the existing villages is considered a last resort. Unlicensed new construction will be dealt with severely, while owners of existing illegal buildings will have a deadline for obtaining permits, after which demolition will be strictly enforced and its costs charged to the homeowner. A special court for dealing with Bedouin objections to land confiscation will be staffed with government appointees.

Harshest of all, the amended plan requires the forced removal of tens of thousands of Bedouin from their lands, destroying what is left of their traditional pastoral way of life. The villagers would be relocated either to one of the communities in Abu Basma or to one of the original seven townships. The government has set aside up to $2 billion to destroy the villages and relocate the inhabitants, including $320 million for economic development. The Negev’s Bedouin, however, have reasons to be skeptical about whether the latter money will materialize. An earlier Israeli government, that of Ariel Sharon, promised in 2003 to spend $200 million on building housing and improving infrastructure for the Bedouin. A year later, according to classified US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks, Israeli officials privately conceded that they did not have “even a quarter of the money needed for completion of the projects.”

Sense of Urgency

For those Bedouin who may doubt the government’s determination to carry out its plan, officials have been making an example of two unrecognized villages, one them al-‘Araqib. The other is the joint village of al-Tir and Umm al-Hiran, northeast of the township of Hura. Its 1,000 inhabitants have received notification of the wholesale destruction of the village to make way for a new Jewish community, Hiran. The courts have accepted the state’s argument that the inhabitants have no attachment to the land, even though they were eventually moved there after eviction from their ancestral lands in Khirbat Zubala in 1948, which subsequently became a kibbutz called Shuval.

Bedouin leaders are now considering ways to halt the plan in its tracks. As well as their American tour, they are preparing to take their fight to the United Nations and other international bodies, according to Talib al-Sana. They hope for a sympathetic hearing at the UN after publication of a report in August by James Anaya, the special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. Anaya rejected Israel’s contention that the Negev Bedouin are not the region’s “indigenous people.” It is precisely such mounting international pressure that is creating a sense of urgency among Israeli officials to close the Bedouin file for good.

But the Netanyahu government’s position, like its forebears’, also derives in large part from a long-standing Zionist concern that an unrestrained Bedouin population might eventually forge dangerous alliances with enemy groups. Those fears, rarely articulated directly, explain the decision to entrust the Prawer plan to such safe pairs of military hands as Amidror’s and Yaalon’s.

Hints about the nature of such security concerns, however, do occasionally shine through. In 2004, for example, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli authorities were seeking to remove Bedouin families from an area around the Nevatim airbase in the Negev to “reduce any missile threat” to military aircraft taking off or landing. Intelligence sources quoted by the paper suggested that the villagers could receive anti-aircraft missiles smuggled from Gaza to shoot down the planes “since the smugglers were Bedouin from the Sinai with close links with their Negev tribesmen.”

Likewise, the amended Prawer plan stresses that the Bedouin must be prohibited from establishing any communities west of Road 40, the main highway through the Negev — a restriction that keeps them well away from the Gaza Strip. Containment of the Bedouin in the Siyag was always motivated in significant part by a fear that a dispersed Bedouin population might link up and make common cause with Palestinians in either Gaza or the West Bank. The Negev provides a bridge between the two.

It is unlikely to be coincidental that, as the Netanyahu government pressed ahead with the Prawer plan, the military authorities in the West Bank unveiled an almost identical scheme for restricting the settlement of the Bedouin there. The goal, as Amira Hass reported in Ha’aretz in September, is for the Civil Administration to uproot all the Bedouin from Area C — the 60 percent of the West Bank that, by the terms of the 1993 Oslo accords, remains under full Israeli control and that Israel hopes to annex in any future peace deal with the Palestinians. Most of the 27,000 Bedouin in the West Bank are the descendants of those expelled from the Negev in 1948. They will be moved well away from areas that are contiguous with Israel.

One Negev Bedouin leader, Amal al-Sana al-Hajouj, observed: “If we accept what they are offering, we will see a violent, overcrowded, poverty-ridden area. We want to restart the negotiating process so we, the Bedouin, can start to contribute to the area and not just be people living in poverty.” All indications are, however, that the Netanyahu government, like its predecessors, is incapable of seeing the Bedouin citizens of Israel through any prism other than that of security.

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

Israeli intelligence kidnaps 7 family members of detained Jerusalemite MP

Palestine Information Center – 25/10/2011

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM– Israeli occupation forces and intelligence agents broke into the home of detained Jerusalemite MP Ahmed Attoun in Sur Baher village and took away seven of his relatives including two brothers.

The father of the MP told the Quds media center that a large number of Israeli policemen and border police accompanied intelligence agents and took away two of his other sons in the raid that took place before dawn Tuesday, adding that the police stormed the nearby homes of his brothers as well.

He said that the police forces detained five of Attoun’s cousins, adding that an intelligence officer told him that they had a list of names of his family to be arrested but did not give reasons for the arrest.

The father charged that the Israeli occupation authority wanted to spoil the family’s joy on the release of one of Attoun’s brothers in the recent prisoners’ exchange deal.

Israeli forces kidnapped MP Attoun from his sit-in tent pitched inside the premises of the Red Cross in Jerusalem last month. The lawmaker refused an Israeli court offer to release him in return for leaving the holy city.

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | 2 Comments

Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin promotes call for Palestinian genocide

By Max Blumenthal |  Al-Akhbar | October 25, 2011

In a blog post cheering the release of the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, neoconservative activist Rachel Decter Abrams descended into a twisted call for genocide, calling for Israel to throw released Palestinian prisoners whom she described as “child sacrificing savages” and “unmanned animals” — along with “their offspring” — “into the sea, to float there, food for sharks.”

Abrams is the half-sister of Commentary editor John Podhoretz, the wife of Iran-Contra felon and former Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams, and the daughter of Midge Decter and step daughter of neocon founding father Norman Podhoretz. She is also a board member of the right-wing Emergency Committee for Israel, which recently produced baseless ads claiming the Occupy Wall Street movement is anti-Semitic.

The Washington Post’s neoconservative “Right Turn” blogger Jennifer Rubin is one of Abrams’ closest allies in the media. As soon as Abrams tweeted out a link to her exterminationist blog post, Rubin — whose Twitter account is “JRubinBlogger” — retweeted it to her followers, clearly approving of its content. Indeed, Rubin is not known for using Twitter to simply curate news and opinions.

Here is a screenshot of Rubin’s retweet of Abrams’ call for mass murder:

In July 2010, the veteran CNN correspondent Octavia Nasr was fired for writing on Twitter that she was “sad” to hear of the death of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a figure instrumental in the foundation of Hezbollah whom she said she “respect[ed] a lot.” Despite apologizing and explaining that she merely admired Fadlallah’s strong stance against honor killings and support for women’s rights, CNN heeded calls from pro-Israel groups for her termination.

An Ottawa-based diplomat from the Palestinian Authority, Linda Sobeh Ali, was reassigned by the Canadian government last week after she retweeted a link to a Youtube video that included a call for a war “against the soul of Zionism.” Pro-Israel groups in Canada were responsible for bringing the retweet to the government’s attention, and for pressuring it to act.

In the case of Nasr, CNN took full responsibility for what she wrote and promoted on her personal Twitter account. The news organization saw her tweet as a reflection on its reputation and credibility, and took action. The Washington Post has done nothing, however, about Rubin’s approving promotion of her friend’s call for genocide.

Does the Washington Post have a policy on the promotion of mass murder by its staffers? It is up to Post Ombudsman Patrick Pexton to explain if Rubin’s act was permissible according to his paper’s ethical guidelines, and if so, why.

Pexton can be reached at 202.334.7582 or ombudsman@washpost.com

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | 3 Comments

Israeli Supreme Court Rebuffs Interior Minister, Says Palestinian Councilors Can Live in Jerusalem

PNN – 24.10.11

On Monday, the Israeli Supreme Court gave Israeli Minister of Internal Affairs Eli Yishai 90 days to give “convincing justification” of his cancellation of Palestinian Legislative Council members’ residency rights in Jerusalem. Each of the four councilor’s rights were revoked over the last year for “lack of loyalty to Israel,” but the Supreme Court said Israeli law does not authorize a minister to make that decision.

A statement from the PLC members—Mohammed Abu Tir, Ahmed Attoun, Mohammed Totah, and Khaled Abu Arafeh—said that the Supreme Court decision recognized all Jerusalemites’ rights to live in the city.

The statement also said the councilors considered the Supreme Court decision “a step in the right direction” and assured that their right to live in Jerusalem their city could not be touched. They added that the decision was late in coming but that it was a small correction for a long list of crimes against the council members.

Before the Supreme Court ruling, the accusation of disloyalty as a means of exiling Jerusalemites from the city was seen as an unprecedented step. Quoted in July 2010 in the Guardian, the director of the human rights group Adalah Hassan Jabarin explained, “For the first time Israel is using a claim of disloyalty to revoke residency.The consequences for Palestinians in East Jerusalem are dangerous. This case could open a new window to revoking residency on purely political grounds.”

Of the four council members, Mohammed Totah and Khaled Abu Arafeh are demonstrating in a tent set up outside the Jerusalem headquarters of the International Red Cross. Ahmed Attoun and Mohammed Abu Tir, who represents Hamas, have both been arrested and exiled from the city and are currently living in the West Bank.

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | Comments Off on Israeli Supreme Court Rebuffs Interior Minister, Says Palestinian Councilors Can Live in Jerusalem

New Israel Fund Honors ‘New Generation’ of Israeli Social Justice Activists, No Arabs Need Apply

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | October 25, 2011

The New Israel Fund will hold its annual young leaders fundraising event in New York on November 2nd.  Here is how the website describes the goal of the event and NIF in general:

A new generation of voices is speaking up for social justice and equality in Israel! Celebrate these pioneering activists…fighting for a better Israel.

The New Generations Benefit is the premiere annual event for progressive supporters of Israel in their 20s and 30s, raising funds for the New Israel Fund’s work to strengthen Israel’s democracy and promote justice and equality for all members of Israeli society.

Well, at least they paid lip service to all Israeli citizens in that italicized phrase, because they sure didn’t pay lip service or any attention to over 20% of the Israeli population when they determined their honorees.  They will be Zvi Benninga–Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, Idit Menashe–SHATIL, Gil Gan-Mor–Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Inna Zysskind and Pavel Kogan–Fiskha Club and Havaya-Life Cycle Ceremonies Religious Pluralism and Marriage Equality, and Noa Sattath–Religious Action Center.

Who’s missing from this list? Israeli Palestinians, that’s who. None will be recognized. Now, does this mean that no Israeli Palestinians are working for social justice in Israel? To read this list it would. But of course that’s a lie.

While NIF does offer funding to a number of Israeli Palestinian NGOs working for social justice and human rights, over the past year it has allowed itself to be buffeted by smears raised by NGO Monitor, that its grantees were anti-Semitic or anti-Israel.  All the charges were fabrications and outright lies.  But that hasn’t stopped NIF from running for the hills.  It reworked its grantee guidelines in order to exclude Israeli Palestinian NGOs who “rejected Jewish sovereignty” (whatever that means).  Presumably they weren’t sufficiently in tune with Bibi Netanyahu’s version of Israel as a Jewish state.  Presumably, if you were anti-Zionist or supported anything other than a two-state solution, you stood to get your funding cut.

This is the same organization which has severed ties to a number of its Israeli fellows for stepping out of line, one of whom was Shamai Leibowitz, who made the mistake of speaking at a BDS rally in Cambridge.  Even though he didn’t identify himself in any way with NIF, he was thrown out of the program.  Similar treatment has been afforded others as well.

By the way, I’m not in any way demeaning the stellar social justice work performed by the Israeli NGOs honored at this event.  I’m criticizing NIF.  If you attend this event, be sure to ask NIF where the Israeli Palestinians are.

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | 1 Comment

Lynching Black Africans in Libya

By THOMAS C. MOUNTAIN | CounterPunch | October 25, 2011

Bodies of black men hanging from highways. Bound and tortured bodies of Africans dumped along the roadsides. Am I talking about Libya or Louisiana?

And all under the approving eye of the first Black President of the USA.

The lynching of Africans in Libya has been so bad that African leaders across the continent have been forced to raise their voices in protest. When the President of Nigeria, the USA’s unofficial enforcer in West Africa leads an African wide outcry against the lynching of his citizens in Libya one would assume that it was heard in the Obama White House.

With the murder or expulsion of most of Libya’s African migrant population well on its way came the massacre and ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of Black Libyans.

And all the while Barack Obama and his band of criminal cohorts in the western capitals and television news channels strung together words like “pro-democracy”, “freedom fighters” and “liberation” to describe the orgy of looting and lynching being carried out.

When Black Libyans took up arms to defend their families and homes from the Libyan lynch mobs they found themselves the beneficiaries of “pro-democracy” high explosives, delivered from on high by a freedom loving NATO air force.

Bombed from on high, lynched on the ground, the only choice is flee for your lives and that is what hundreds of thousands of Black Libyan have been forced to do.

And all under the approving eye of the first Black President in the White House.

Should we be surprised at such serpentine behavior by the first Black President? Isn’t this the guy who raised over $500 million to help him buy the White House, with $300 million of that from Wall Street?

Isn’t this the guy who surrounded himself before his election with the very worst criminals from the Clinton White house such as Anthony Lake, Susan Rice, Gayle Smith and Eric Holder?

But isn’t Barack Obama supposed to know what it’s like to be a black man in America? Didn’t he used to attend a militant black church where the minister preached the Lord’s damnation upon the racist and genocidal rulers of the USA?

The brutal truth is that, like the shepherd’s dog taken as a pup from its mother to suckle at the tit of a sheep, Barack Hussein Obama spent those most critical teenage years being the only black kid in a school of thousands (Note; this writer attended the same school as Barack Obama, Punahou, some half a dozen years before him).

Punahou is one of the most elite schools in the USA, founded in Hawaii by Yankee missionaries who so famously brought the bible and took the Hawaiians land.

Today Punahou’s alumni include names that adorn the headquarters of multinational corporations like Dole Foods.

Barack Obama discovered what the white man wanted to hear from a black boy at an early age and apparently never forgot it.

From Punahou eventually to Harvard, Obama learned what the elite needed to hear if you wanted to get ahead even if it meant black is white, up is down and wrong is right.

So today we have the spectacle of a son of an African, the first Black President in the White house, broadcasting his approval for all the world to see that Libya or Louisiana, if lynching Africans is what it takes, God Bless the USA…and no where else.

Thomas C. Mountain is the only independent western journalist in the Horn of Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. He can be contacted at thomascmountain at yahoo dot com.

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | 1 Comment

Cambridge students vote to break contract with Veolia

By Ben White – The Electronic Intifada – 10/25/2011

From the Cambridge Bin Veolia campaign:

58% of students vote to break contract with company implicated in Israeli human rights abuses

Students at Cambridge have voted to call on the University to cut ties with a company implicated in Israeli human rights abuses.

The vote calls on CUSU (Cambridge University Students Union) to campaign to have the University cut ties with Veolia, a company involved in infrastructure projects in Israeli settlements, and employed by the University on a waste disposal contract. The referendum, which closed yesterday, passed with a majority of 58% to 41%: there were 898 votes yes, 637 votes no, and 21 ballots spoilt. While a strong majority was in support, the referendum was inquorate: 7.2% of the student body voted, short of the 10% required.

Students involved in the campaign pledged to continue the campaign to ensure that Veolia’s contract, which expires in September 2012, is not renewed.

As previously reported on the blog, student campaigners had been boosted in the lead up to the referendum with letters of support from Palestinian trade unionists and students, as well as a list of Cambridge academics.

While voter participation was too low to make the motion automatically become CUSU policy, the students behind the push to cut the University’s ties with Veolia are encouraged:

Daniel Benjamin, a student involved in the campaign, said: “With this vote, Cambridge students make a strong statement against Veolia’s criminal actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We won’t stop fighting until Veolia is off campus, but this vote itself is a fantastic show of support in the broader campaign for Palestinian human rights through boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israeli companies and institutions.”

Owen Holland, a student involved in the campaign, said: “The impressive turnout shows significant student support for the campaign. We are concerned with a number of irregularities in the vote, such as lies in the ‘no’ flysheet that went uncorrected, a lack of ballot boxes in colleges, and a number of students who found themselves unable to vote online. Though the referendum did not meet the threshold to become CUSU policy, we will be campaigning to have CUSU adopt it anyway and push the University to drop its contract with Veolia.

The “lies” of the ‘No’ campaign, referred to by Owen Holland, can be read here (and they are rebutted here). The ‘No’ flysheet prepared by members of the Cambridge University Jewish Society described “the wider BDS movement” as “antisemitic”, even if the motion in question “is not explicitly” so. Despite such smear tactics, the majority of Cambridge students who voted backed the call for the University to cancel its contract with Veolia, and the campaign continues.

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Cambridge students vote to break contract with Veolia

U.S. Special Operations In Mexico

Moon of Alabama | October 25, 2011

Three puzzle pieces about operations against Mexican drug cartels let me assume that U.S. Special Forces are involved in recent mass killings of alleged Zeta Cartel members in Mexico.

From a piece which ran on October 20 in the LA Times: Mystery group targets Veracruz drug cartel

VERACRUZ, Mexico — Callers to the radio program were voicing support for the Matazetas, the Zeta killers.Better they fight among themselves. Let them kill each other. Anything to rid us of thugs who long ago took control of our city and are slaughtering our people.

Yet, it also comes with a disturbing question: Just who is behind the killings of Zetas? Another drug gang? Agents acting on behalf of the government or military? An ad hoc group whose presence is tolerated by authorities as well as the public?

On Sept. 20, nearly three dozen half-naked bodies were dumped in broad daylight on a busy highway underpass in a well-to-do tourist area of Veracruz, the state capital. Fourteen more turned up days later — during a convention of the nation’s top state and federal prosecutors. Then, on Oct. 6, barely 48 hours after announcing a major security offensive, military and police found 36 bodies, and 10 more turned up the next day.

In videotaped presentations, a group of masked men with military bearing have claimed responsibility for the spate of killings, portraying it as a cleansing operation. Many bodies had a “Z” for Zeta written on the back with ink marker, a witness said.

The mystery group announced it was in Veracruz as “the armed branch of the people, and for the people.”

My first thought after reading the above was “That’s JSOC”.

The U.S. Joint Special Operation Command and its Special Mission Units does dirty work against terrorists, often in cooperation with the CIA. It sometimes uses local forces which it trains, supplies with information and leads into combat. It is also quite good at Information Operations, i.e. issuing propaganda in support of its operations. Those callers to the radio program supporting these mass killings may be something other than random radio listening Mexican civilians.

Are such U.S. units involved in extralegal killing of assumed drug gangsters in Mexico?

The Zeta Cartel was founded by 30 former Mexican Army Special Forces. Anyone who wants to fight them needs some superb military capabilities. The success of the Matazetas, the Zeta killers, points to high qualified military trained personal with additionally very good access to information about the gangs.

Today’s NYT adds to the picture on the intelligence side:

As the United States has opened new law enforcement and intelligence outposts across Mexico in recent years, Washington’s networks of informants have grown there as well, current and former officials said. They have helped Mexican authorities capture or kill about two dozen high-ranking and midlevel drug traffickers, and sometimes have given American counternarcotics agents access to the top leaders of the cartels they are trying to dismantle.Typically, the officials said, Mexico is kept in the dark about the United States’ contacts with its most secret informants — including Mexican law enforcement officers, elected officials and cartel operatives — partly because of concerns about corruption among the Mexican police, and partly because of laws prohibiting American security forces from operating on Mexican soil.

[T]he United States, hoping to shore up Mexico’s stability and prevent its violence from spilling across the border, has expanded its role in ways unthinkable five years ago, including flying drones in Mexican skies.

U.S. drones over Mexico do not only allow for visual surveillance, which is often useless, but also for the more effective SIGINT, signal intelligence, side of the drone capability. IMSI catcher on board of the drones allow the operators to know the location of each mobile phone in the surveillance area and to listen to what is said through them. If one has the number of a mobile phone of a suspect the drone can find out where the person who carries it is and which other phone carriers that person is meeting. This method of finding assumed suspects and their networks has been used in Iraq and is widely used by JSOC in Afghanistan, often with deadly consequences for innocent civilians.

A third piece for the puzzle comes from a blog post Col. Pat Lang wrote in December 2009: JSOC and the Mexican drug lords

I suggest that [JSOC] should be unleashed on the Mexican drug cartels. Kill or capture. Kill or capture. Those should be the instructions. The legal niceties could be “cleaned up” through arrest or execution warrants. On the other hand, maybe that is not necessary if recent history is a guide.

As one can tell from the dates of the comments to the piece, Pat Lang reissued that post three days ago on the front page of his blog. It is now back in the archives. But why did he republish it?

In recent days there were reports about mysterious mass killing of Zetas by high qualified military personal, acknowledgment of high-tech U.S. intelligence operations against the drug cartels in Mexico and a former Defense Intelligence Agency head relaunched a two year old blog post that demanded JSOC “kill or capture” operations against drug cartels.

Looks like a duck, walks like a duck, …

Unlike the Taliban the Zetas do have the capability to hit inside the United States. If JSOC is really operating those death squadrons in Mexico we can soon expect some violent retributions on the northern side of the border.

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Aletho News | 1 Comment

Israeli authorities prevent father from traveling to meet his exiled son

By Mais Azza | IMEMC & Agencies | October 25, 2011

The Israeli authorities have prevented Awad Yonis al-Rugoob, 60, from traveling to the Gaza strip to meet his son, who was released in the first phase of the prisoner-swap deal and exiled to Gaza.

Al-Rugoob said that heads of the Israeli Intelligence Agency held him for several hours before telling him to go home.

He asserted that there is no explicit reason for this, and that he had also been prevented from visiting his son in the Israeli jail for ten years.

He added that Israel keeps placing obstacles in the way, deliberately preventing the ex-detainees families from experiencing happiness.

He issued an appeal for human rights organizations to intervene and allow him to travel to the Gaza Strip and see his son, who he hasn’t seen for ten years.

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | 1 Comment