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Fadi Abu Zeitoun, killed as settlers attacked farmers

By Rana H. – International Solidarity Movement – April 9, 2012

Israeli settlers attacked and chased a group of Palestinian farmers last Thursday, causing a tractor to flip over during the chase, causing the death of the Palestinian driver.

On Thursday, April 5th, armed settlers from the illegal Israeli colony of Itamar attacked a group of Palestinians en-masse. In haste and in fear for his life, twenty-eight year old Fadi Abu Zeitoun’s tractor tipped and crushed him as he fled from the pursuing settlers.

The villagers who own olive groves near Itamar rarely get “permission” from the Israeli District Coordination Office to access their own land. During the harvest season, they are permitted a few days, but in the spring when the land needs to be tended they have more difficulty acquiring permission. During this spring harvest, the villages of Hawarta, Yanoun, Aqraba, and Beita were told they had only four hours to access their land. The area to be tended is approximately 1000 dunums so the villagers collected forty tractors to work as much land as possible in the shortest possible time. Israeli activists from the movement Peace Now, and a group of international activists were present in solidarity. Prime Minister Salam Fayad joined them to make a statement re-affirming their right to utilize the stolen land that they were standing upon.

During the Prime-minister’s visit, Israeli authorities were positioned nearby and prevented the settlers from passing. However, shortly after Fayad left the area, Israeli soldiers permitted a mob of settlers to converge upon the Palestinian farmers tending to their land. They began by throwing stones, causing the group to separate and begin descending the hill. The settlers then proceeded to fire M-16 assault rifles in the direction of the unarmed farmers before releasing dogs. In the ensuing chaos, and as Fadi desperately attempted to escape, his tractor flipped over and fell on him, mortally wounding the young man.

Palestinians witnessing the incident ran back towards the scene to offer assistance. The settlers promptly dispersed as they rushed him down the hill to the road, unfortunately he was already dead.

Fadi is of the village of Beita . With a population of only 12,000, this death resonates among all the residents. As Fadi’s father-in-law, Isam Bani Shams says, “This is not our first martyr nor our last, we have been in this situation for sixty-four years. Our village has lost some seventy martyrs.”

On the same date, twenty-four years ago, two men from the village of Beita were also murdered by settlers from Itamar.

In the gathering following the funeral, Fadi’s father, Sleman Abu Zeitoun, sat with his head down. Beside him sat three other men who have had a son murdered by Israeli soldiers or settlers.

Fadi was newly married to nineteen year-old Fida’ Bani Shams who is left widowed and six months pregnant. Her brother was killed at the age of sixteen by Israeli soldiers during the second intifada, and as her father says, “She has lost a brother and a husband so what can I say of her emotions? She is in grief. She is exhausted.” Fida’ sat slouched in a corner of the room, her eyes closed and blankets covering her feet.

Fadi’s sister has had a nervous breakdown since the death of her brother. She does not recognize her husband or her daughters. Their mother, Mona Fihmeh says, “in terms of how I feel, I have patience, but my back has been broken from the burden.” Mona spent last night praying over her feverish body, and today she sent her daughter to the hospital. Her husband was on the way back from a funeral in Jordan when the accident occurred. He returned to Beita to find that his son had been killed.

Throughout the funeral, political talk arose about the various results of Israeli occupation and apartheid on Palestine. At first, the unemployment rate among Palestinians does not seem relevant to the death of Fadi Abu Zeitoun, but one soon realizes that Israel’s apartheid policies are to blame for both the impunity with which settlers are treated, and the numerous other negative consequences on livelihood.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory reported that over 90% of complaints regarding settler violence filed by Palestinians to the Israeli police in recent years have been closed without indictment. OCHA’s report on settler violence notes that “the root cause of the settler violence phenomenon is Israel’s decades-long policy of illegally facilitating the settling of its citizens inside occupied Palestinian territory. This activity has resulted in the progressive takeover of Palestinian land, resources and transportation routes and has created two separate systems of rights and privileges, favouring Israeli citizens at the expense of the over 2.5 million Palestinian residents of the West Bank. Recent official efforts to retroactively legalize settler takeover of privately-owned Palestinian land actively promotes a culture of impunity that contributes to continued violence.”

Rana H. is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement.

April 9, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Campaigning for Democrats Cripples Unions

By SHAMUS COOKE | CounterPunch | April 9, 2012

As labor leaders across the U.S. shift resources away from defending workers and into Obama’s re-election campaign, millions of organized and non-organized workers remain unemployed and hopeless. Contrary to the “optimistic” government jobs numbers, the jobs crisis grinds onward. Some labor leaders will argue that getting Obama elected is the first step towards addressing the jobs crisis, but they know better.

The recent so-called JOBS Act that passed with strong Democrat and Republican support will create zero jobs — the law’s intent is to lower regulations for banks and corporations, in an attempt to boost their profits. The JOBS wording was used for popularity’s sake, requiring heavy doses of deceit.

A similar-minded jobs project was put forth by Obama earlier in the year, when he appointed “experts” to his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. But the Council was front loaded with CEO’s and bankers, with only two labor reps, who allowed themselves to be used to obscure the real intent of the project. Richard Trumka, President of the labor federation AFL-CIO, was one of the token labor leaders on the council, who only later partially redeemed himself by denouncing the Council’s job-creating recommendations (predictably, one of the key “job creating” ideas was to lower corporate tax rates).

Millions of union and non-union workers have seen their lives worsen under Obama while he promotes the above stunts that are intended to serve the wealthy and fool everybody else.

These millions of workers will now be subjugated to pro-Obama door knockers and phone callers from labor unions who will ignore the above facts while trying to put a pro-worker face on the pro-corporate president. Workers will not be so easily fooled, their paychecks — or lack thereof — speak stronger truths than can any pro-Obama campaigner.

The key irony is that the more forward-looking labor unions have already realized that they need the support of non-unionized workers if their movement is to survive. To this extent both union federations — AFL-CIO and Change to Win — have put tremendous resources towards community outreach and organizing. But such efforts can be wasted when unions pursue policies that working people not only disagree with, but denounce.

Non-unionized workers will only actively support labor unions when they are inspired to do so; if the non-union community trusts labor to fight for their interests, they will fight alongside unions in the streets. However, when unions have to skew the facts to encourage votes for Obama, they lose crucial trust with the broader community.

Trust was also lost when working people witnessed many unions publicly supporting Obama’s health care plan, which forces millions of non-union workers to buy shoddy corporate health insurance they cannot afford. Labor’s kid glove handling of Obama’s anti-public education policy is also high on the list of examples where unions weakened their community status by attaching themselves to the Democrats’ pro-corporate polices.

Shockingly, the largest teachers’ union, National Education Association, has endorsed Obama’s campaign even though the NEA President, Dennis Van Roekel, summarized teachers’ experience with the Obama Administration by saying, “Today our members face the most anti-educator, anti-union, anti-student environment I have ever experienced” — an environment directly encouraged by Obama’s deceitfully named “Race to the Top” education program.

Obama has yet to promise unions or working people anything in the upcoming election. Whoever wins the Presidency will immediately continue serving the corporations with varying degrees of public enthusiasm — the only real difference between the two parties.

Labor leaders are not stupid. They recognize these facts, but have absolutely no idea what to do about it. So they do what they’ve done for decades; align themselves with the Democrats in the hopes that they will be rewarded for their servitude. But the crumbs of gratitude stopped trickling down years ago, and what little remains on the workers plate is now being targeted by both Democratic and Republican politicians who insist on ever more concessions.

The Democrats’ policies signify a clean break from labor unions, an alliance that was always at the indirect expense of the rest of the working class. As long as unions were treated fairly, many labor leaders turned a blind eye to policies that affected non-union workers, creating a suicidal distance between the organized and non-organized.

Now it’s labor unions that are on the menu; Democratic governors on a state by state basis have wrenched major concessions from public sector unions, substantially weakening them and reducing their numbers. This, combined with mass unemployment and Race to the Top, amounts to a concerted anti-union agenda.

Labor leaders solution to this crisis is to raise money and volunteers…to elect Democrats.

Labor’s real power will thus remain unused. The inherent power of unions lies in their numbers, organization, and ability to collectively assert themselves in the workplace and streets. This is how labor became strong; the mass strikes and street demonstrations that built the labor movement created an organizational power that neither Democrats nor Republicans dared touch. President Eisenhower and Nixon, for example, refused to confront unions for fear of the repercussions.  Unions were not given this power by compassionate Democrats in past generations; power was forcibly taken from the Democrats.

This truth is kept concealed from the current generation of union members, many of whom are miseducated into believing that their power is limited to electing Democrats. No other belief is as dangerous for the labor movement, which would immediately benefit from de-funding the Democrats and using the money to educate and organize their members to fight in the workplaces and streets for the many pro-worker demands, like a massive federal jobs program, that will otherwise remain “off the table” in Congress.

Shamus Cooke is a social worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org)

April 9, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK: Lib Dems hollow promise on snooping

Press TV – April 9, 2012

In yet another of British Liberal Democrats’ face-saving comments on the government’s proposed snooping laws, the party’s president has pledged to “kill” the bill.

Tim Farron said the Lib Dems “are prepared to kill” the controversial plans but watered down his tough rhetoric saying that will happen if the proposed changes, by their senior coalition partners in the Conservative party, become a “threat to a free and liberal society.”

“But we are prepared to kill them [the plans], be absolutely clear about that, if it comes down to it,” Farron told BBC.

“If we think this is a threat to a free and liberal society then there would be no question of unpicking them or compromising, this just simply must not happen.”

The new legislation proposed by the Home Office will give security services unrestricted access on demand to all web usage, emails, chat logs and telephone calls of any individual.

Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said earlier this month that the government is only to publish the plans “in draft” to ensure the changes face a lengthy delay that would open space for further debate on the details of the legislation.

His stance was crucial to save the face of the party, which opposed similar legislation tabled by the former Labour administration when Lib Dems were in the opposition.

It even triggered civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch to welcome a “draft bill” as a “significant climbdown” on the matter.

However, Home Secretary Theresa May undermined Clegg’s comments saying, “I would expect us to be able to do this in a Bill in the next session [of parliament],” that is by the next month.

In the context of May’s remarks, Farron’s talk of Lib Dems killing the bill seems another hollow promise to both please Lib Dem supporters and leave space for the government to push ahead with its snooping wishes.

After all, Farron did make it clear that he sees the “need” to give security services wider control power over the digital world.

“I am prepared to recognise that there is obviously a need in modern society with new technology to have a look at what needs to be given to the security services, but only if it is absolutely clear there is no universal access,” he said.

Farron further cemented the point that Lib Dems’ opposition to the bill will not be unconditional saying they will oppose it only “if we think this is a threat to a free and liberal society.”

He did not explain what exactly constitutes a “free and liberal society.”

He also did not clarify whether Lib Dems will define such a society with the same commitment to liberal principles that they exercised when going back on their election pledge to keep university tuition fees unchanged.

April 9, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment