Aletho News


US Congress for Black Ops against Iran

By Ismail Salami | Palestine Chronicle | October 28, 2011

Tehran – The US secret agenda for tightening its vice-like grip on the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken on an apparently new form after the anti-Iran alleged assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, raised many eyebrows among experts and analysts around the world.

With a strong penchant for pushing for tougher action on Iran, the Obama administration has already imposed a series of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. However, a Republican-controlled congressional committee has recently heard testimony demanding an extensive range of covert operations against the country.

The operations, which range from cyber attacks to political assassinations, are speculated to be conducted under the feeble excuse that Iran was the alleged architect of an assassination plot against the Saudi envoy to the United States. By political assassination, the US congressmen unconsciously mean the liquidation of the Iranian nuclear scientists, an act they actually started long ago.

Retired Army Gen. John Keane told a hearing of two key subcommittees of the House Committee on Homeland Security on Wednesday, “We’ve got to put our hand around their throat now. Why don’t we kill them? We kill other people who kill others.”

Also, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) poured some pearls of wisdom over others and called for “sober, reasoned discussion.”

“Iran’s leaders must be held accountable for their action,” she said, “but we cannot take any reckless actions which may lead to opening another front in the ‘War on Terror,’ which the American people do not want and cannot afford.”

Naturally, the US government, in essence, cannot afford to wage another war at least in view of the economic woes it has wrought upon the American citizens, regardless of other influencing factors.

The stone that started rolling fell into the hands of New York Congressman Peter King who made an extremely bizarre comment. He suggested that the US should kick out Iranian officials at the UN in New York and in Washington and accused them of being spies, ignorant of the fact that the UN is considered an independent international body and that the US has no authority to ‘kick out’ diplomats accredited there en masse.

Overwhelmed with a sense of false eagerness, he renewed the anti-Iran alleged assassination ploy and said excitedly, “So you have the assassination of a foreign ambassador, you have the willingness to kill hundreds of Americans — this is an act of war,” King said, “I don’t think we can just do business as usual or even carry out sanctions as usual.”

The volley of vitriolic words against Iran which issued from Mr. King reeks of blind enmity long egged on by other hawks in Washington.

In point of fact, the anti-Iran moves practically started in 2007 when US Congress agreed to George W. Bush, the then US president, to fund a major increase in covert operations against Iran. According to the intelligence officials who spoke to the Blotter on, the CIA was then given a presidential approval to commence its covert ‘black’ operations inside Iran. To that effect, over four hundred million dollars were allocated in a Presidential Finding signed by George W. Bush. The ultimate goal of the finding was to cripple Iran’s religious government and the operations involved throwing support behind minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchis and other opposition groups as well as amassing intelligence about Iran’s nuclear sites.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, the intelligence officials confirmed that Bush had signed a “nonlethal presidential finding”, giving the CIA carte blanche to engage in any sabotaging activities including a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international financial transactions in order to destabilize and eventually achieve regime change in Iran.

“I can’t confirm or deny whether such a program exists or whether the president signed it, but it would be consistent with an overall American approach trying to find ways to put pressure on the regime,” said Bruce Riedel, a retired CIA senior official, an expert on Iran and the Middle East ( May 22, 2007).

In June 2007, The New Yorker magazine also ran a similar story by Seymour Hersh, confirming that the finding had been signed by Bush and intended to destabilize the Islamic government.

“The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” the article cited a person familiar with its contents as saying, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.”

From an intelligence point of view, the fact that the US government is resorting to covert black operations against Iran rules out the possibility of a military strike against the country.

According to reports, US ambassadors in Islamabad have repeatedly asked for opening a consulate in the province of Baluchistan, a suspicious demand from the US. In 2011, the call was renewed by US ambassador Cameron Munter to Islamabad. Persistence in this demand is to be taken seriously. Baluchistan is strategically important as it is a harbor for the anti-Iran terrorist group, Jundullah, in the first place and a separatist Pakistani province in the second place.

In fact, Washington greatly favors the establishment of a ‘Greater Baluchistan’ which would integrate the Baluch areas of Pakistan with those of Iran. Military expert Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters suggests that Pakistan should be broken up, leading to the formation of a separate country: ‘Greater Baluchistan’ or ‘Free Baluchistan’ (June 2006, The Armed Forces Journal). As a result, this would incorporate the Baluch provinces of Pakistan and Iran into a single political entity which can be tailored to suit the interests of Washington.

So it seems that the US harbors two main ulterior motives if this demand is answered. First, it can fulfill its dream of establishing the Greater Baluchistan, consolidate firm presence in this separatist part of Pakistan and secondly, it will be in a position to avail itself of this influence to carry out its sabotaging activities within Iran.

Earlier in 2007, the Blotter on revealed the role of the US government in backing the terrorist Iranian group, which is responsible for a number of gruesome assassinations of the Iranian civilians on the Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The terrorist group spares no efforts in sowing the seed of terror in the southern Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan and their lust for murder and cruelty knows no remission. The victims the group has so far claimed include many women and children who have become the direct target of their killing. In July 2010, the group mounted a pair of suicide attacks on a major Shi’ite mosque in the city of Zahedan, the capital of Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan Province, killing dozens of worshippers and wounding over 100 people.

Although US officials deny any ‘direct funding’ of the terrorist group, they acknowledge that they are in contact with the leader of the group on a regular basis. A similar terroristic attack was launched by the same group on a mosque in Zahedan in May 2009, which led to the martyrdom of many worshippers.

Sadly enough, Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) implicitly supports the group and reportedly shelters some of its high-profile members in coordination with the CIA.

Isn’t it paradoxical that Jundullah, a terrorist group and an offshoot of al-Qaeda, is directly funded by the US government which keeps bandying about its so-called ‘war on terror’ in the world?

This is enough to cause the US to hang its head low in shame and humility.

– Dr. Ismail Salami is an Iranian author and political analyst. A prolific writer, he has written numerous books and articles on the Middle East.

October 28, 2011 Posted by | War Crimes | 6 Comments

‘NYT”s Gordon (who gave us Saddam’s ‘mushroom cloud’) relies on Israeli expert to interpret Saddam

By Philip Weiss on October 28, 2011

Call me conspiratorial, but here’s a story about the Israeli presence in our discourse that makes me want to take a bath. Wednesday’s New York Times ran a story about a collection of Saddam Hussein’s confidential documents that show him to have a conspiratorial turn of mind regarding Israel’s machinations in the Middle East.

But deep in that very story, the reporter, Michael Gordon, says that he relied on an Israeli expert who has access to the archive.

And–surprise—the article is highly favorable to Israel. It paints Saddam Hussein as an anti-semite who routinely misread other leaders and mistakenly saw an American-Israeli conspiracy in several actions of western governments in the 1980s and 90s, and particularly during the Iran-Iraq war.

I know: those Arab conspiracy theorists! But why is the New York Times turning to an Israeli expert? And doing so with so little transparency.

Near the top, the article says that the “voluminous” archive, seized by the Americans when they invaded Iraq in 2003, landed at the National Defense University, that some “outside researchers” examined a “small portion” of the documents, and that 20 documents were made public Tuesday in conjunction with a conference of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

It is not till the tenth paragraph that reporter Michael Gordon states his reliance on an Israeli expert to interpret the documents. Gordon writes that Saddam grievously miscalculated Iranian intentions in 1980, “according to Amatzia Baram, an Israeli expert on Iraq who has studied the documents.” (The article later identifies Hal Brands, an assistant professor at Duke, as another expert who has seen them.)

Here are those 20 documents that the Wilson Center released, on line. I’m guessing it’s a few hundred pages. A lot for a busy reporter to go through.

It is not clear from the article how much of the archive Gordon has gone through himself. It’s not clear how many nuggets Baram found for him. Call me conspiratorial, but I’d like to know.

Just who sent Michael Gordon to Saddam Hussein’s description of New York as a “Jewish city” that brainwashes UN officials? Who sent him to Saddam’s boast from 1982, during the Iran-Iraq war, “Once Iraq emerges victorious, there will not be any Israel… Technically, they are right in all of their attempts to harm Iraq”?

Who is Amatzia Baram? He gave a couple of interviews in the AIPAC newsletter Near East Report in 2002, making the case for ousting Saddam. Look at The Israel Lobby by Walt and Mearsheimer (pp. 259-260); Baram recanted in 2007, saying “If I knew then what I know today, I would not have recommend going to war, because Saddam was far less dangerous than I thought.”

And who is Michael Gordon? A guy with a famous episode of piping bad information about Saddam. In 2002 he paved the way to the Iraq war with an article saying that Saddam was getting nukes– the famous “aluminum tubes… mushroom cloud” piece in 2002, based on brilliant inside sources that proved to be hogwash.

Read Michael Massing’s devastating piece on Gordon’s reporting in the New York Review of Books.

Administration “hard-liners,” Gordon and [Judith] Miller added, worried that “the first sign of a ‘smoking gun’… may be a mushroom cloud.” The piece concluded with a section on Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons, relying heavily on the information supplied by Ahmed al-Shemri. “All of Iraq is one large storage facility,” he was quoted as saying…

Gordon and Miller argue that the information about the aluminum tubes was not a leak. “The administration wasn’t really ready to make its case publicly at the time,” Gordon told me. “Somebody mentioned to me this tubes thing. It took a lot to check it out.” Perhaps so, but administration officials were clearly delighted with the story.

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Comments Off on ‘NYT”s Gordon (who gave us Saddam’s ‘mushroom cloud’) relies on Israeli expert to interpret Saddam

Understanding Tunisia’s Elections Results

By ESAM AL-AMIN | CounterPunch | October 28, 2011

In early 1994 a small Islamic think tank affiliated with the University of South Florida (USF) planned an academic forum to host Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the main opposition party in Tunisia, Ennahdha. The objective of this annual event was to give Western academics and intellectuals a rare opportunity to engage an Islamically-oriented intellectual or political leader at a time when the political discourse was dominated by Samuel Huntington’s much hyped clash of civilizations thesis.Shortly after the public announcement of the event, pro-Israeli groups and advocates led by Martin Kramer, Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson, the head of the local B’nai B’rith, and a small-time journalist for the local rightwing newspaper began a coordinated campaign to discredit the event and scare the university.

According to Arthur Lowrie, a former State Department official who was an adjunct professor at USF at the time, AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups exerted enormous pressure on the State Department to rescind its visa to Ghannouchi two weeks after it was issued in London. Consequently the university had to cancel the event, despite the strong protests by more than two-dozen scholars and academics. As a result, a valuable encounter between western intellectuals and opinion makers on the one hand, and a major figure in the Islamic world on the other, was obstructed because of a foreign agenda of a small but powerful interest group. This episode foreshadowed the anti-intellectual movement in subsequent years that sought to limit the ability of Islamic groups and figures to contribute to the national dialogue, especially after 9/11.

Since that day in 1994, Ghannouchi has never been issued a visa to enter the United States, although he had been to the country several times in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At the time, he was living in the United Kingdom after being granted political asylum and cleared by the British authorities of any links to violence. He had also won a defamation lawsuit in the U.K. against detractors and regime loyalists who accused him of fomenting violence and strife inside Tunisia.

Seventeen years later, Ghannouchi’s Islamically-oriented Ennahdha movement has won the elections in Tunisia with a commanding 42 percent of the vote. In effect, it received three times as many seats as the next highest party. These elections were largely praised by all relevant parties and international observers as democratic, free, fair, and transparent.

But these free and fair elections could not have taken place without the popular revolution that erupted last December17 in Sidi Bouzid following decades of  repression and rampant corruption. It quickly spread throughout the country, ultimately culminating on January 14 when the long-time dictator Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali and his family fled to Saudi Arabia.

Since Tunisia’s independence from France in 1956, the country has been ruled by a one-party system that imposed its autocratic version of strict secularism. But when Ben Ali took power in a bloodless coup in 1987, he treated the country to a brief period of political openness until the security apparatus cracked down on all political opposition, particularly Ennahdha and other pro-democracy and human rights groups.

So who were the major contenders in these elections? What was the main platform of each party? How did each one fair in the end? What do the results mean for Tunisia? And what happens next?

On October 23rd, Tunisians went to the polls for the first time since their revolution to elect a Constituent National Assembly (CNA) consisting of 217 seats, including 18 representing more than one million expatriates living abroad, out of 11 million Tunisians. The main role of the CNA is to write a new constitution for Tunisia that embodies the democratic aspirations of the popular revolution.

There were about 91 party lists as well as independents distributed over 27 geographical districts around the country and 6 districts abroad, mainly in Europe. According to the Tunisian Independent Elections Commission, the voter turnout exceeded all estimates, as nearly ninety percent of all registered voters participated, with some waiting as long as four hours to cast their votes. Amidst the dozens of lists, there were actually four major contenders. But a win of nine percent of the votes by a newly formed party with questionable leadership, was a major surprise to all political observers in Tunisia. Here is a list of the elections’ major winners and losers.

1) Ennahdha Party was the successor to the Tunisian Islamic Trend Movement that was once affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1960s and has been led by Ghannouchi, 70, since the mid 1970s. In 1989 it changed its name to Ennahdha or Renaissance Party and declared its commitment to democracy and pluralism. The movement considers itself a moderate Islamic party concerned with the preservation of Tunisia’s identity as an Arab and Islamic nation. For much of the past decade it has called for a political model similar to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Recep Tayeb Erdogan in Turkey. More recently, it has advocated the accommodation of liberal and secular-humanist values with Islamic principles, especially in social and economic spheres. It also favors a parliamentary system of government.

After almost gaining a fifth of the vote in the 1989 elections, Ben Ali banned the movement and cracked down on its institutions, imprisoning around thirty thousand of its members over the span of two decades. As the main opposition group in the past three decades, Ennahdha was well organized and known throughout the country. Its leaders were respected and admired not only in urban centers but also in rural areas. Consequently, in this election it won overwhelmingly in all districts but one, gaining 90 seats, including half the seats abroad.

2) Congress for the Republic (CFR). Established in 2001 it has been led by Moncef Marzouki, 66, a charismatic physician and human rights advocate. The CFR is considered a leftist party that emphasizes Arab nationalism and identity as well as mainly secular values. Moreover, it calls for public accommodation of moderate Islamic principles and groups. It also advocates for a presidential system with strong parliamentary powers. Marzouki is well known for his fierce advocacy of human rights, democracy and transparency. CFR came in second in voting, receiving 30 seats across the country.

3) Block (Takattol) for Labor and Liberties. Established in 1994 by progressive and leftist activists and professionals, Takattol rejected dictatorship and advocated for socialist and nationalist policies. Its leader is Mustafa Bin Jaafar, 71, who was named Health Minister in the cabinet appointed shortly after the revolution. Although very secular in its policies, it recognizes the importance of Islam in society and has a moderate and accommodationist view on the inclusion of political Islam in public life. It gained 21 seats in the elections.

4) The Progressive Democratic Party (PDP). Established in 1998, PDP was considered the main opposition party challenging the corrupt ruling party during the reign of Ben Ali. It advocated strict secular principles and was regarded as the main ideological nemesis of Ennahdha. Its historical leader was Ahmad Nejib Chabbi, 67, a well known attorney, and leftist politician. Since 2006 it has been led by Maya Jribi, 51, a biologist, human rights activist, and a feminist with enormous political skills. During the campaign PDP leaders challenged Ennahdha and pledged to come first. However, it was crushed in the elections receiving only 17 seats. After the elections it conceded defeat and congratulated Ennahdha, but vowed not to join any governing coalition and to remain in the opposition.

5) Popular List (Al-Aridha Chabiyya). The elections result of this list was a complete surprise to all observers. This list, which has only existed for few months, was led by Al-Hashmi Al-Hamdi, the owner of a TV satellite channel based in London and a former Ennahdha member who broke with the group in the mid 1990s. Since then he has openly attacked Ennahdha and worked closely with Ben Ali’s regime. His group gained 19 seats in the elections.

Many political observers charge that this party was financed and supported by the remnants of the old regime and Ben Ali’s banned Constitutional Party. After announcing the results, the Elections Commission invalidated the seats of the Popular List in six districts charging the party with elections violations, including bribery.

The remaining seats were distributed over twenty other parties including tribal, liberal, communist, and other far-left parties. But most significantly the main loser was the coalition of eleven rigidly anti-Islamic secular parties and former communists under the name the Democratic Modernist Pole (DMP). Throughout the country DMP could not garner more than five seats.

The huge win by Ennahdha, followed by CFR represents a total break from the parties and political movements of the corrupt and repressive era of Ben Ali. The collective will of the Tunisian people as embodied by the results of this election was to empower the main groups that associated strongly with moderate Islamic principles and Arab-Islamic identity.

By choosing moderate political groups that were not corrupt or part of the old archaic political structure, the Tunisian people  sent an unambiguous  message that they want moderate Islamists and secularists to work together in establishing democratic governance and building a just socio-economic system, while preserving hard-won freedoms and liberties, as well as respecting human rights and the Arab-Islamic identity of Tunisia.

Upon winning the elections in convincing fashion, Ennahdha gave assurances that it will not impose Islamic social and moral edicts on society, but rather intends to preserve the legal rights given to women with regards to personal status law. It also announced that it would not ban alcohol or bathing suits as its opponents had charged. The day after announcing the elections results Ghannouchi himself met with the leaders of Tunisia’s stock market to assure them of his party’s strong support for vigorous economic growth, especially in the tourism sector. His party’s platform calls for a robust annual economic growth of eight percent.

Ennahdha announced that its Secretary General Hamadi Jebali, 62, a former journalist and engineer by training, would be its candidate for prime minister. He pledged to form a national unity government within a month that will include as many of the elected parties as possible. At minimum, the three major winners with a commanding majority of 141 seats have pledged to work together for the future of Tunisia. Furthermore, in a spirit of reconciliation Jebali announced that Ennahdha’s candidate for interim president would be either Marzouki of CFR or Bin Jaafar of Takattol.

But the major challenges facing the next government are three-fold. Not only should Ennahdha be able to form a unity government, but an effective government that will be able to deliver to the common man and woman in the street physical and economic security as well public services at a moment of tremendous political turmoil and social change. Luckily for the new government the economic challenge was softened this week when Qatar – as a state that has been at the forefront of supporting the Arab Spring – has pledged an immediate economic assistance package of $500 million.

Simultaneously, the elected Assembly must write the new constitution for Tunisia’s second republic within one year. Although the will of the Tunisian people was determined in this election by favoring a moderate Islamic movement and other moderate secular parties, how this might translate into a constitution that will yield a national consensus is a major undertaking and cannot be underestimated.

But perhaps the major immediate challenge facing the new government will be the reaction of the foreign powers, especially in the West, that for decades have been warning against the days where “Islamists” will be empowered.

The memory of the siege and boycott of Hamas following its victory in the Palestinian elections in 2006 is still very vivid. So far, the U.S. administration and its European allies have had a wait and see attitude, despite the noise coming from neo-conservative, Zionist, and right-wing circles. In a span of two weeks, Israeli leaders Bibi Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres, and Tzipi Livni were warning the West against the upcoming “radical Islamic groups” taking charge throughout the Middle East and threatening Israel and Western interests.

The same old Islamophobic voices, that raised false alarms echoing Israeli hyped fears over twenty years ago and poisoned the atmosphere between the West and moderate Islamic groups, are back at it again. The real question now is: Have Western political leaders learned anything during this time or are we about to initiate a predictable sequel to the clash of civilizations?

Esam Al-Amin can be reached at

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Aletho News | 1 Comment

Occupy movement Tunes

A Song for the Occupy movement: “At Last”

By LincolnBergman on October 12, 2011

New Lyrics by Lincoln Bergman. Vocals by Anna Bergman.


Dan Bull – Wall Street Spirit

Uploaded by douglby on October 5, 2011



originally uploaded by Starvexer

Creative commons Non-Commercial, Attribution, No Derivative Works license. Please message filmmaker for translations, which are very welcome : )
If mirroring, please do not change video in any way for its whole duration. Please credit the original filmmaker, musicians and music labels as some people have posted it claiming they made the video, which breaches the ethics of a creative commons.
This said, please share with everyone, including your leaders. Mirroring is encouraged, but pls don’t change video in any way. This video is meant to be a warning to our leaders.
Stunning music by: Hauschka, song “Stumm (Kein Wort)”
Music Label: Karaoke Kalk label based in Berlin

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Video | Comments Off on Occupy movement Tunes

Occupy Wall Street, Palestine solidarity movements smeared as “anti-Semitic”

Maureen Clare Murphy – The Electronic Intifada – 10/28/2011

In a news segment broadcast Wednesday night by ABC 7 News in Chicago, reporter Chuck Goudie claims that there is “a vein of anti-Semitism flowing through the movement that has Jewish leaders concerned.”

I and other activists have responded to this vile smear attack on the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, and the Palestine solidarity movement more generally. 

In his report, Goudie purports to expose the “ugly underbelly of Occupy Wall Street” and cherry-picks unrepresentative, isolated cases of anti-Semitic speech to make it seem that anti-Jewish sentiment is a pervasive problem in the OWS movement.

Goudie also attempts to prove his point by saying that Hatem Abudayyeh, a Palestinian-American community leader in Chicago, gave a speech at an Occupy Chicago rally in which Goudie claims Abudayyeh “spoke about destroying Israel.”

The short broadcast includes a seconds-long clip from a YouTube video of Abudayyeh’s speech — which was actually given at a rally held on the anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan, not at an OWS rally. Abudayyeh states in the clip “they [the Palestinians] will win their freedom and independence from Israel and from the United States” — a far cry from calling for the destruction of Israel, as Goudie states in his ad hominem attack.

Palestine solidarity conflated with anti-Semitism

Goudie also dangerously conflates Palestine solidarity with anti-Semitism by reporting that demonstrators brought a large Palestinian flag to a protest outside of Chicago City Hall on Wednesday. According to Goudie’s warped logic, a Palestinian flag is somehow a symbol of anti-Semitism because Rahm Emanuel is Chicago’s first Jewish mayor.

In a text report on ABC 7’s website accompanying the video of Wednesday night’s broadcast, Goudie writes, “The I-Team asked a spokesperson for the Occupy Chicago group why they displayed a Palestinian flag outside Mayor Emanuel’s office and why a Palestinian activist would speak about Israel at one of their events. They did not provide a response.”

To Goudie, it can be inferred, any Palestinian symbol of national liberation is inherently anti-Semitic and any Palestinian speaking about Israel an automatic offense.

Goudie also neglects to mention that he only asked Occupy Chicago for a comment less than two hours before his report was broadcast. He does not mention whether he made any attempt to interview Palestine solidarity groups or community organizations in Chicago.

Goudie finds “vein of anti-Semitism” where Jewish organizations don’t

Goudie claims that anti-Semitism in the OWS movement has “Jewish leaders concerned,” but the single representative of a Jewish organization interviewed by Goudie didn’t seem as concerned by the “vein of anti-Semitism” that is keeping Goudie up at night.

“There have been some isolated incidents throughout the country that have clearly alarmed us,” the Anti-Defamation League’s Chicago director Lonnie Nasatir tells Goudie in a tone best described as less than urgent.

No other Jewish community or organizational representatives are interviewed in the story; Goudie only references a Republication National Committee internal memo and Committee for Israel video which attempt to smear the OWS movement as anti-Semitic.

Indeed, major American Jewish organizations and Israel lobby groups are so far not terribly concerned by the OWS movement.

For example, in a press release for the American Jewish Committee entitled “Is ‘Occupy Wall Street’ anti-Semitic?” the group’s “specialist on anti-Semitism and extremism” Kenneth Stern addresses concerns that some anti-Semitic slogans have been spotted on OWS protesters’ posters.

Though he treats the presence of so-called “anti-Israel groups” who talk about “the issue of US aid to Israel” and advocate for boycott, divestment and sanctions as a potential problem, Stern takes to task fear-mongering reporting such as Goudie’s:

some recent complaints from partisan quarters and in the media alleging widespread anti-Semitism are unfair. They attempt to paint the episodic incident as routine and ignore both the repudiation in instances of anti-Semitism, as well as the hospitable environment for Jews. Yom Kippur and Sukkot were both celebrated at OWS.

Stern adds:

Still, one anti-Semitic sign is too many. We live in a world where an image or moment can be captured by a cell phone camera and put on the Internet within minutes. A picture may be the equivalent of a thousand words, but it should not be taken as reflecting the ideas of thousands of participants.

It seems that the “vein of anti-Semitism spreading to Chicago” is only in Goudie’s wild imagination.

Series of attacks on Abudayyeh

This is not Chuck Goudie’s first scare-mongering report on Hatem Abudayyeh — he has produced three such segments in approximately one year focusing on the Palestinian community organizer in Chicago.

Shortly after the FBI raided Abudayyeh’s home in September 2010 as part of a coordinated raid in multiple cities targeting anti-war and Palestine and Colombia solidarity activists, Goudie attempted to make shadowy connections between the raids and city grants received by the community organization Abudayyeh directs.

And in December 2010, Goudie and ABC 7 produced a similarly shallow report, repeating the non-story that Abudayyeh’s Arab American Action Network has received city funding, and “revealing” that White House visitor records show that Abudayyeh attended an event there described as “a large Arab briefing.”

In the same report, Goudie makes several lazy errors that are indicative of the quality of his work.

Abudayyeh is repeatedly described as a “Muslim community leader,” which while certainly not offensive, is not an accurate characterization of Abudayyeh’s work, which is community- rather than faith-based. Goudie also claims that individuals subpoenaed as part of the same federal grand jury investigation targeting Abudayyeh include a pair of women who traveled to the “West Bank of Israel” over the summer and their grand jury subpoenas compel them to testify on 5 January 2011 when in fact the grand jury summons was for 25 January 2011.

(Full disclosure: I am one of the now 24 activists whose homes have been raided and/or who have been served grand jury subpoenas — for more information, see I also have organized with Abudayyeh in Chicago for several years, and yes that’s me sitting next to him at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee panel in the ABC 7 December 2010 report. I have also interviewed Abudayyeh twice for EI — after his family’s bank accounts were inexplicably closed by TCF Bank and for this special report I co-authored with my colleague Nora Barrows-Friedman on the criminalization of the Palestinian national movement in the United States.)

Avoiding talking about the real issues

As a statement put out by me and several others yesterday makes clear:

By smearing the OWS movement and Palestinian community and solidarity activists, Goudie blatantly avoids discussing the real issues that are bringing tens of thousands of Americans to the streets in cities and towns across the country.

True journalism is about holding those in power accountable, not drawing grotesque charicactures of those speaking truth to power, as Goudie did in his report.

The following call to action was released on 27 October 2011: Full call to action at source
maureen's picture
Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and an activist based in Chicago.

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 1 Comment

Occupy Together, a message from Yemen

Fellow Freedom Fighters,

As Dark forces try to push for WW3 and as we sit on the brink of the engineered clash of civilization, your movement is a bright light in the darkness. We in Yemen see hope of a better future as you join us in rejecting violence to seek a better world based on compassion and decency. We salute you!

I am writing you because we want to tell you about a young teenager named AbdRahman who ran away from home to see his father whom was reported killed by a drone, only to be blown away by another drone. This beautiful 16 year old will never smile again, nor will his cousin killed with him… The boys crime apparently was being Anwar Awlaki’s son…

And the same media that vilifies you and us, tells us how great this is and how cost effective this is. Is it really? Imagine if the money for this drone was used to build a school, imagine if the money was used to keep a family from being kicked out of their home, imagine if this money was used provide clean running water to a village?

How is the use of Drones acceptable? Scores of innocent men, women and children have been killed by Drones in Yemen. And in the US, what has become of your economy and quality of life? When will these drones be deployed to your cities?

We are planning a vigil in remembrance of these beautiful kids killed in the prime of their youth. Will you join us?

Can we share banners and march together and show we are one even though Oceans separate us?

If so, please lets coordinate. No message could be stronger to the agents of doom than this solidarity between the protestors in Yemen and the protestors in the US to say we are one and we will not be used as fodder for the 1%’s machinations against humanity.

With respect!

Tarek Alaini

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | Comments Off on Occupy Together, a message from Yemen

Italian pensioners protest in Rome

Press TV – October 28, 2011

Italian pensioners have taken to the streets of Rome to protest against their government’s harsh austerity measures, Press TV reports.

Thousands of pensioners gathered in a central square in Rome to voice their opposition to the government’s recent changes to the country’s pension plan.

The protests are a response to the recent decision by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his coalition partners, the Northern League, to increase Italy’s retirement age to 67 by 2025.

Italian workers are accusing the government of implementing reform measures too late and following instructions dictated by other European nations.

Italian opposition parties believe Rome should tax properties and residents with assets, rather than increasing the country’s retirement age and cutting public expenditure.

Rome has been pressured to implement economic reforms and budget cuts to reassure investors worried about the country’s huge debt ratio that is second only to Greece.

There is growing fear among EU leaders that Italy could be sucked into a crisis that has already claimed Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Rome is facing a nearly two-trillion-euro debt that is 120 percent of its Gross Domestic Product.

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Italian pensioners protest in Rome

The Olive and the F-16: Autumn in Gaza

27 October 2011 | Notes from Behind the Blockade

Today completes another week of olive picking in Gaza. Another week of pausing, breaths held, as Israeli tanks the color of sand moved nearby along the buffer zone, another week of children frightened at the sound of roaring F-16s, another week below the watchful eye of the drone.

Together with the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative, International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteers picked olives with families near the buffer zone in the village of Burej and in two different locations in Beit Hanoun this week.

“We’re here to harvest olives and be with the land because this is our land and we don’t want to abandon it,” said 27-year-old Randa Hilou a local student to came to pick in solidarity with the farmers in Beit Hanoun.

On Wednesday, dozens of local children joined in the picking. I asked the children why they had come. “I’m here to pick olives,” declared 9-year-old Mahmoud, taking a break from dumping olives into a blue plastic crate. “We love olives,” added other children, who gathered around.

At one point in the day, the sound of Israeli F-16s could be heard overhead. “I went picking with my mother and father,” added Bursa, also 9-years-old. “I am not afraid.”

Later in the week, ISM volunteers picked closer the Erez crossing in an area that used to be full of olive, orange and grapefruit groves.

“Before, people came from all over Gaza to pick fruit in this area,” explained Saber Zaaneen, the 33-year-old coordinator of the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative explained to me on Thursday as we sat on a plastic tarp picking plucking purple olives off of supple branches. “Why did Israel destroy the groves?” he asked. “To destroy the economy of Gaza. Why the resistance? Because of the occupation.”

I had asked Saber on earlier occasion why the olive trees in Gaza were so skinny. In the West Bank, they’re very big, I explained. He informed me that these trees were new, and that Israel had bulldozed the beautiful old olive trees of Gaza in 2001 and 2002. “Israel does not have a culture of peace,” explained Saber. “They have all of this advanced technology, why do they kill children like this?”

Nine year old Yara, who wants to be a doctor when she grows up expressed a similar sentiment on Wednesday, “They [the Israelis] are always occupying us. They threaten children.”

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on The Olive and the F-16: Autumn in Gaza

Ashraf Abu Rahmah in the midst of circus military court

By Maria Stephanya | International Solidarity Movement | October 28, 2011

West Bank – The proof is all there: photos, videos, witnesses. All of them showed that Ashraf Abu Rahmah, one of the main activists of popular non violent struggle in the village of Bil’in, Palestine, walked peacefully on the road which goes from Bil’in’s recent liberated land to the center of the village, when an Israeli jeep passed besides him. Then it stopped. The soldiers stepped down, took the flag Ashraf carried and arrested him, forcing him to enter in the back of the vehicle under arrest, on October 23rd.

Rani Burnet, who saw everything in his wheelchair – part of his body was paralyzed because of live ammunition shot by an Israeli soldier, 11 years ago – complained.

In spite of lack of evidence to support charges brought against Abu Rahmah, in spite of the witnesses and the video which prove otherwise, Captain Tzvi Frenkel, a military judge at the Ofer Military Court, ordered the indefinite extension of his arrest, until the end of legal procedures against him.

In July 7th, 2008, Ashraf was blindfolded and bound in Ni’lin when the soldiers shot his foot. The video, seen by millions of people around the world, caused international protests. In April 17th, 2009, his brother Bassem was shot dead while trying to alert the soldiers for not harming livestock which was passing on the road beyond the wall. A high-velocity tear gas projectile, aimed at him from a distance of 40 meter hit him in the chest, killing him. In January 1st, 2011, their sister Jawaher also passed away because of the effects of the massive amount of toxic tear gas she had inhaled during a peaceful demonstration of December 31, 2011.

Maria Stephanya is an activist with International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Ashraf Abu Rahmah in the midst of circus military court

An “Open Door” tour for Israeli apartheid

By Hannah Mermelstein – The Electronic Intifada – 28 October 2011

“We certainly see ourselves as ambassadors of Israel in the world, cultural ambassadors, hasbara ambassadors, also in regards to the political conflict.” – Idan Raichel, 2008 (“An interview with Idan Raichel,” translated from Hebrew in online magazine To Australia).

On Tuesday, 18 October, I and eight other Adalah-NY members stood in front of the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan, holding signs, singing songs, and handing flyers to passersby and concert-goers. The concert: Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter India.Arie, and “Israel’s most popular dread-locked musician” (according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Idan Raichel.

Despite one India.Arie fan’s claim that “I’m sure she doesn’t even know who the other performer is tonight; that’s how concerts get planned,” the show was actually part of a larger tour the two musicians have planned together to promote their joint album “Open Door.”

“Does ‘Open Door’ include Palestinians?” asked one of our signs, while another demanded, “Don’t entertain apartheid.”

“Idan Raichel can’t support apartheid,” countered one concert-goer. “He sleeps with a black woman!”

While this claim is as laughable as it is offensive, the more prevalent objection to cultural boycott actions is the idea that culture and politics are somehow separate. But as long as the Israeli government uses art and culture to cover up Israeli war crimes, culture and politics are clearly intertwined.

As is evident in Idan Raichel’s quotation above, the musician is willingly part of the Brand Israel campaign, which aims to bring arts to the world in order to, in the words of an Israeli foreign ministry official, “show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war” (“After Gaza, Israel grapples with crisis of isolation,” The New York Times, 18 March 2009).

The moral case for cultural boycotts

Adalah-NY stated in a recent press release that beyond Raichel’s collusion with the Israeli government’s cynical use of art, he has served in and performed for the Israeli army and actively expressed support for the Israel military during its brutal attacks on Gaza in the winter of 2008-09 and criticized Israelis who refused to serve in the army.

Raichel’s performance in 2007 in the Israeli settlement Nokdim led to a call for boycott by the Israeli organization Gush Shalom for collaborating with settlements that prevent any possibility of peace (“New Yorkers protest India.Arie concert with Israeli superstar Idan Raichel,” 18 October 2011).

In 2004, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) called on global civil society to boycott Israeli cultural institutions, products, and events that normalize Israel’s multi-layered system of oppression against Palestinian people. Many international artists have heeded the call and have refused to perform in Israel, including Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, Devendra Banhart and The Pixies.

Cultural boycott actions can be fairly simple, and provide an opportunity for people to work together nationally. Our friends in Seattle alerted us and their friends in Olympia to Raichel’s tour and sent us the flyer they would be using on the tour’s opening night. We revised the flyer for a New York audience and sent it to our friends in Burlington and Boston. With minimal effort, we had coordinated a five-city protest action.

The moral case for cultural boycott should be clear, yet there are still some who question it on tactical grounds. Why focus on cultural boycott, they ask, when it is arguably the hardest case to make to a non-politically minded public? Over and over again, I have found cultural boycott actions to yield some of the richest dialogue I have seen about Palestine.

Holding peace-loving, liberal-seeming artists and audiences accountable

People who attend cultural events, particularly peace-loving liberal-seeming concerts such as India.Arie and Idan Raichel, are often quite receptive to arguments about social justice. They do not want to be accused of supporting racism, and they do not want to cross a picket line.

On 18 October, some people merely read our signs and moved on. Some questioned the connection between Raichel and the government. Some thanked us for being there. Some sneered and tore our flyers in half. One person took extra flyers to pass out inside. One debated whether to give up her $200 ticket, and then decided instead to yell “Free Palestine” during the show.

People engage in different ways, but they engage. They are pushed beyond their comfort zones. They begin to question, or, in the case of committed Zionists, they are at least reminded that they cannot get away with using culture to whitewash apartheid.

Shifting the discourse

Perhaps the most important gain of the cultural boycott in the United States so far has been the way in which it has shifted the discourse about Palestine. One of our first cultural boycott actions in New York was a small protest of the Batsheva Dance Company, who we discovered with very little notice was to perform at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in March 2009.

The show happened to coincide with Israeli Apartheid Week, the annual week of actions around the world to bring attention to Israeli apartheid policy and to support the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, so we brought people together to sing, chant and distribute flyers.

Our press release garnered media attention, and a number of articles were written which questioned the tactic of cultural boycott. In so doing, however, these articles took for granted the idea that Israel can be called an apartheid state that should be protested against, and even at times boycotted. It was simply the cultural boycott that was being questioned. We had successfully shifted the discourse and opened an important conversation within the mainstream media.

Israel is desperate to salvage its global image and promote itself as a liberal democracy, but it is not working. As Idan Raichel and India.Arie continue their “Open Door” tour, people with conscience the world over are heeding the Palestinian civil society call for BDS. Cultural boycott actions highlight cultural workers’ complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and human rights, thereby opening the door to justice a little wider each day.

Hannah Mermelstein is a Palestine solidarity activist working with Adalah-NY and a school librarian based in Brooklyn, NY.

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment