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License Plate Tracking Spreads beyond Criminal Suspects

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | May 08, 2012

From Tennessee to the District of Columbia, police are using mobile and stationary surveillance cameras to collect and store license plates of residents who have committed no crime—so that they can be found if they ever do.

In Tennessee, police utilize cameras mounted atop patrol cars that can capture thousands of license numbers each day. The information is then loaded into an ever-expanding database, which can help officers locate a vehicle in the event its owner is suspected of criminal behavior. The program is now expanding to include stationary cameras mounted next to busy roads.

“I’m sure that there’s going to be people out there that say this is an invasion of privacy,” Detective James Kemp of Gallatin County told The Tennessean. But “the possibilities are endless there for solving crimes. It’s just a multitude of information out there—to not tap into it to better protect your citizens, that’s ludicrous.”

In Washington D.C., local police make use of 250 cameras set up around the city that can capture license plates. Last year they claimed that the cameras led to an average of one arrest a day. DC reportedly has the highest concentration of cameras per square mile in the United States for spotting criminals on the move or just ordinary citizens going about their lives.

Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union’s technology and liberty program, expressed concern over D.C.’s “large database of innocent people’s comings and goings.” He told The Washington Post: “The government has no business collecting that kind of information on people without a warrant.”

Others predict that the technology will be declared constitutional because license plates are displayed in public, so there is no invasion of privacy.

To Learn More:

May 8, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Video | , , , , | 4 Comments

Time for the Palestinian Oslo Team to Leave!

By Hasan Afif El-Hasan | Palestine Chronicle | May 7, 2012

The current leaders of the West Bank Palestinians are physically, politically and financially taken hostages by the Oslo agreements that they negotiated, signed and promoted. Oslo City was the venue of the secret Israeli-Palestinian ‘peace agreement.’ Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat signed the agreement’s ‘Declaration of Principles’ on the lawns of the White House, hosted by US President Clinton on Sep 13, 1993. Arafat who sold Oslo to his people as ‘the peace of the brave’ was jailed in his Ramallah headquarters and he allegedly was executed by his Israeli Oslo partners after fulfilling his role in recognizing the State of Israel.

The Palestinian Oslo negotiators promised their people that Oslo was a plan to create an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza while some senior PLO members rejected the agreements and many Palestinian intellectuals and foreign observers concluded that Oslo would lead the Palestinians to nowhere. Edward Said, Palestine’s most prominent intellectual, criticized the agreement because it had not addressed the refugees and Jerusalem questions. Edward Said was ridiculed by members of the Oslo team and his books were banned in the West Bank and Gaza by orders from Arafat as a retaliation measure.

It was a common knowledge that Israel had absolutely no intention of conceding Jerusalem or the Palestinian refugee right of return, but the two issues were shelved by Oslo agreements until the so-called “final status talks” which was nothing but a fig leaf to surrender to Israel the most important issues. The UN Resolution 194 of December 11, 1948 affirmed the right of Palestinian refugees who had fled or had been expelled during the war to return to their homes. Resolution 194, a direct application of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was adopted by the United Nations unanimously in 1948. After signing Oslo agreements, the US Administration under President Clinton that was the main sponsor of Oslo argued at the UN, that past UN resolutions on Palestine were “obsolete and anachronistic” after the signing of Oslo.

The American journalist Tomas Friedman who is known for his pro-Israel writings described Arafat’s letter to Rabin recognizing Israel as a humiliation for Arafat and the PLO and an Israeli decisive victory over the Palestinian national movement. He wrote that the letter was “not a statement of recognition. It is a letter of surrender, a type-written white flag in which the PLO chairman renounced every political position on Israel he has held since the PLO’s foundation in 1964.” Arafat’s letter to Rabin promised to assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance with Oslo agreements; prevent violations and discipline violators; and declared inoperative all the articles in the Palestinian Covenant which denied Israel’s right to exist.

The Israeli journalist Danny Rubenstein predicted at the time of Oslo signing and the establishment of the Palestine Authority (PA) that the “autonomy” which the Israelis accepted for the Palestinians was the autonomy “of a POW camp, where the prisoners are autonomous to cook their meals without interference and to organize cultural events.”

On August 8, 1995, the Financial Times was dismayed that the unfair pattern of water seizure by Israel had not been changed years after Oslo agreements: “Nothing symbolizes the inequality of water consumption more than the fresh green lawns, irrigated flower beds, blooming gardens and swimming pools of Jewish settlements in the West Bank”, while nearby Palestinian villages were denied the right to drill wells.

After giving Oslo team the benefit of the doubt, the Palestinian leader, Haidar Abdel-Shafi concluded that Oslo agreements and the PA would fail the Palestinian national cause. For those who do not know, Haidar Abdel-Shafi was the head of the Palestinian negotiating team in Washington that was boycotted by Israel for insisting on having a commitment by Israel to withdraw from East Jerusalem and dismantling the settlements as part of any acceptable interim agreements. Israel chose to negotiate with Oslo team which agreed to Israel’s demand to leave Jerusalem, the refugees and the settlements issues until the “final status talk” of the negotiations.

The Oslo agreements partitioned the occupied lands into zones where the Palestinian Authority is allowed to have different administrative and security powers. Besides the towns and malls and highways built on Palestinian lands in the West Bank and Jerusalem for Jews only, there are many other visible failures of Oslo agreements. Oslo gave Israel the power to divide the Palestinians into groups with different gradation of legal statuses and different security regimes depending on where they live. There are the Israeli Palestinians, Jerusalem Palestinians, Palestinians who reside between the apartheid wall and the green line, Palestinians in zone A or B or C, Gaza Strip Palestinians, the 1948 refugees, the 1967 refugees and the Palestinians who came with Arafat from Tunisia.

The Oslo team in the West Bank still believes the Palestinian issue is a border dispute between two states, but the facts on the ground suggest the Palestinians’ struggle today is existential. The Israelis including the left have adopted the theology of the rabbis that calls for Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians to be based on “Jewish history”, Jewish ethnicity and Jewish religion. The Israelis perceive the settlements, especially in Jerusalem, as an integral part of their national heritage closely tied to the Jews “glorious past.” Some Israelis liken the Palestinians to the biblical Philistines or Amalek, a nation that, in the Torah, “God Commands” the Israelites to “expunge!!” Rabbi Dov Lior, the chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba settlement wrote in 2009: “We must cleanse the country of Arabs and resettle them where they came from, if necessary by paying.” Due to the military training indoctrination and religious beliefs, the attitude of the Israeli young generation toward the Palestinians is more radical than their parents.

The news from Israel suggests the right-wing government is popular and if a new parliamentary election takes place today, Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party will be a winner. As long as the majority of the Israeli people support the ethno-security regime and do not pay the cost of occupation, the status quo in the occupied lands will continue. Due to its success in ruling the West Bank Palestinian population through the proxy of the Palestinian Authority that is financed by the donor countries and the siege of Gaza, Israel does not feel a need for making any concession to the Palestinians as long as the Oslo team controls the Palestinian population. The Israelis believe they can manage the conflict until the Palestinians are ready to settle the conflict on Israel’s own terms.

The Israeli architect of Oslo, Yossi Beilin, wrote a letter dated April 4, 2012 to his Palestinian Oslo partner, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), the president of the Palestinian Authority. The letter stated that the Oslo agreements were based on “the Beilin-Abu Mazen talks” and described the agreements as “a process that promised to lead to a partition of the land in a few years [not the withdrawal from the occupied lands] ……and a fitting symbolic and economic resolution to the problem of the Palestinian refugees [not according to the UN resolution 194].” Beilin reminded Abbas that the PA was an interim phase of the agreement and “One simply cannot continue with an interim agreement for more than 20 years.” Beilin’s letter suggests that if the PA is not dissolved after two decades of signing the Oslo agreements the territory administered by the PA will become the de facto Palestinian state.

The Oslo team has failed to deliver on its promises to establish an independent Palestinian state. Under Oslo team leadership, the vast majority of the Palestinians in the occupied lands are poor, living on donors’ handouts, fearing the confiscation of their land, subjected to ethnic cleansing, family separation and home demolition. They experience daily humiliation creeping for hours along the pocked, blockaded roads assigned to them by the Israelis. The Palestinians are living under military rule in disconnected enclaves, surrounded by sprawling massive Jewish settlements, Jewish only roads, and the separation wall; or they are living in the besieged Gaza and millions are left homeless without citizenship in refugee camps.

Due to their failed policies, the Oslo team has disqualified themselves politically and legally from leading their people. Time has come to declare the Oslo “peace process” over and allow a new leadership that thinks differently to step in. The new team should reject imposing Jewish hegemonic conceptions on the millions of Palestinians as individuals or groups. They should demand equality within the framework of one state over all historical Palestine.

Hasan Afif El-Hasan is a political analyst. His latest book, Is The Two-State Solution Already Dead? (Algora Publishing, New York), now available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

May 8, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Popular Committee Offices Raided by Israeli Military Forces, Ramallah

PNN | May 8, 2012

At 1.30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, 8th May, ten armored jeeps of the Israeli Occupation Forces surrounded and raided the offices of Stop the Wall in Ramallah. Israeli military stole 2 laptops, 3 hard drives and 10 memory cards containing files and photos as well as archive material relating to the work that the organisation does in opposition to Israel’s apartheid wall and the attack on Palestinian human rights that the wall and the settlements represent. This is yet another attack upon Palestinian civil society and their struggle against the physical and psychological oppression, land confiscation and ethnic cleansing policies of Israel.

Stop the Wall is one of the most vibrant organizations of human rights defenders in Palestine, and has been promoting, for almost ten years, civil resistance and advocacy campaigns against the Wall and in defense of Palestinian rights to self determination. Human Rights Defenders are internationally recognized as an essential element in political processes and their repression further underlines Israeli unwillingness to achieve a just peace.

Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, comments:

“It is not surprising that the Israeli authorities have chosen this moment to escalate their repression against the Stop the Wall grassroots network of civil resistance against the Wall and the settlements, choosing to act on the same day that the Israeli High Court rejected the appeals of Palestinian hunger strikers Bilal Diab and Tha”ir Halahleh, imprisoned without charge and without trial, effectively condemning them to death.

The courageous steadfastness of the more than 2000 hunger strikers in Israeli jails is underlining once more the power of civil resistance as part of the Palestinian struggle. Almost daily people are out in the streets to protest in solidarity with the Palestinian political prisoners, and the discontent with the fruitless and completely stalled diplomatic processes is growing stronger. At the same time, the Israeli authorities announced in 2011 to UN agencies that throughout 2012 year they will systematically displace the Palestinian population in area C. While the displacement drive is underway in the Jordan Valley, home demolitions are rising and the settlement construction is accelerated, the people across the West Bank are always more constraint behind the cantons of the wall.

This raid on the Stop the Wall offices is a clear message that the Israeli authorities are fearing widespread nonviolent action will challenge their policies effectively. Israel is preparing for confrontation and more repression, clearly showing that it is not ready to relinquish any of the international sanctioned rights the Palestinian people are struggling for.”

This is not the first time Stop the Wall has been the target of Israeli repression. In September 2009 Stop the Wall youth coordinator was arrested and the Stop the Wall coordinator, Jamal Juma’, was arrested a few months later, in December 2009. The Israeli authorities were not able to formulate any accusations against either of them and after a sustained international campaign, that saw the active involvement of the diplomatic missions in Palestine and European foreign ministries as well as countless human rights organizations around the world, both had to be freed in January 2010. This attack was followed only a few months later by an extensive office raid by the Israeli military on February 8 2010 and mass arrests of grassroots human rights defenders in the villages most actively protesting against the Wall.

For photos see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stopthewall/sets/72157629631856082/

Background:

Stop the Wall is one of the most vibrant organizations of human rights defenders in Palestine, and has been promoting, for almost ten years, civil resistance and advocacy campaigns against the Wall and in defense of Palestinian rights to self determination. Human Rights Defenders are internationally recognized as an essential element in political processes and their repression further underlines Israeli unwillingness to achieve a just peace.

This raid on the Stop the Wall offices is a clear message that the Israeli authorities are fearing widespread nonviolent action will challenge their policies effectively.

The courageous steadfastness of the more than 2000 hunger strikers in Israeli jails is underlining once more the power of civil resistance as part of the Palestinian struggle. Almost daily people are out in the streets to protest in solidarity with the Palestinian political prisoners, and the discontent with the fruitless and completely stalled diplomatic processes is growing stronger. At the same time, the Israeli authorities announced in 2011 to UN agencies that throughout 2012 year they will systematically displace the Palestinian population in area C. While the displacement drive is underway in the Jordan Valley, home demolitions are rising and the settlement construction is accelerated, the people across the West Bank are always more constraint behind the cantons of the wall. Israel is preparing for confrontation and more repression, clearly showing that it is not ready to relinquish any of the international sanctioned rights the Palestinian people are struggling for.

This is not the first time Stop the Wall has been the target of Israeli repression. In September 2009 Stop the Wall youth coordinator was arrested and the Stop the Wall coordinator, Jamal Juma’, was arrested a few months later, in December 2009. The Israeli authorities were not able to formulate any accusations against either of them and after a sustained international campaign, that saw the active involvement of the diplomatic missions in Palestine and European foreign ministries as well as countless human rights organizations around the world, both had to be freed in January 2010. This attack was followed only a few months later by an extensive office raid by the Israeli military on February 8 2010 and mass arrests of grassroots human rights defenders in the villages most actively protesting against the Wall.

May 8, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

European Politics on Palestine

By Dan Freeman-Maloy | Palestine Chronicle | May 7, 2012

David Cronin is one of the leading public critics of European policies on Palestine. He has written for a variety of publications across Europe, has served as European correspondent for the Sunday Tribune (Dublin) and as Brussels correspondent for the Inter Press Service news agency, and is the author of Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occupation (Pluto Press, 2011). His book is described by Ken Loach as “essential reading for all who care about justice and the rule of law.”

Dan Freeman-Maloy: In your book, you describe the determination of Israeli planners to develop closer ties with the European Union. Has Israel’s traditional policy of trying to limit European diplomatic involvement in the Middle East changed?

David Cronin: Yes and no.

In recent years, there has been quite a bit of strategic thinking undertaken by the Israeli foreign ministry. This was particularly the case when Tzipi Livni was in charge of that ministry.

One of the conclusions of that thinking was that Israel should not rely entirely on the US to defend its indefensible actions. There was a realisation that while the US remains the only superpower at the moment, other powers are emerging. The decision to “reach out” more to the EU was taken in that context. Israel is similarly seeking to engage more with China, India and Brazil, particularly with regard to sales of weaponry and surveillance technology.

There is a perception in some circles that European diplomats are hostile to Israel. In the first few months of this year, a series of leaked reports from EU representatives in East Jerusalem and Ramallah expressed frustration with the expansion of Israeli settlements. Yet it’s significant that these reports were drawn up by people who witness the results of Israel’s activities “on the ground”. The EU also has representatives in Tel Aviv and Brussels, who see things very differently and have been beavering away to increase cooperation between Israel and the Union.

We occasionally see newspaper articles in which Israeli ministers accuse the EU of meddling in Israel’s affairs or suggesting that the EU is biased towards the Palestinians. Yet if you dig even a tiny bit beneath the surface, you will see that this apparent tension is at odds with the real picture. The real picture is one where the EU has become so close to Israel that, I would argue, it has become complicit in Israel’s crimes against humanity.

DF: Not long after Operation Cast Lead, then NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer made a cordial visit to Israel (where his hosts drew a parallel between Israeli operations in Gaza and NATO operations in Afghanistan). You report that NATO-Israel relations may be set to deepen.

DC: We should never forget that in 2010, Israel killed eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American in international waters, while these activists were taking part in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. I’m not an expert on these matters but my understanding is that this attack was tantamount to an act of war against Turkey, a member of NATO.

I think it’s fair to say that if Iran had done something comparable, NATO would have reacted forcefully. Yet Israel has a so-called “individual cooperation programme” with NATO since 2006, under which both sides share sensitive information; the scope of the programme was extended in 2008. Israel’s relationship with NATO has remained strong despite how the alliance condemned the flotilla attack. Shortly before Gabi Ashkenazi stepped down as head of the Israeli military last year, he was treated to a farewell dinner by senior NATO officers in Brussels. He also was called in to give NATO advice on how to fight the war in Afghanistan.

And Israel is taking part in a NATO operation in the Mediterranean called Active Endeavour. Originally, this was supposed to be an “anti-terrorism” initiative in response to the 11 September 2001 atrocities. But it has subsequently been broadened to cover immigration. What this means is that Israel is helping Western governments, especially Greece, to prevent vulnerable people fleeing poverty and persecution from reaching Europe’s shores. It’s quite disgusting.

DF: Turning back to the EU specifically, where does the recent Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) agreement fit in the broader struggle around Europe’s preferential trade ties with Israel?

DC: ACAA sounds dull and technical. But it is deeply political.

This is an agreement reached between the EU and Israel, whereby quality checks carried out by the Israeli authorities on manufactured goods would have the same status as similar checks carried out by authorities within the EU. At the moment, it’s limited to pharmaceutical products but it could easily be extended to other goods.

This agreement is a top priority for the Israelis because once it enters into force, Israel would take an important step towards being integrated into the EU’s single market.

To their credit, some members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have been asking difficult questions about ACAA for a few years. And this has meant that the Parliament has not yet approved the agreement. It’s not clear when the Parliament will make a final decision about the matter. There was a discussion at the Parliament’s foreign affairs committee in the past couple of weeks, where it was decided to delay holding a vote on the dossier until legal assurances are provided on the question of whether or not the agreement would apply to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

It’s significant that the Israelis have hired a top public relations firm, Kreab Gavin Anderson, to help with their efforts to break the deadlock on ACAA. Kreab’s Brussels office is headed by a guy who used to be the chief adviser to MEPs with the Swedish Conservative Party. It cannot be a coincidence that one of the MEPs most vocal in supporting ACAA, Christoffer Fjellner, belongs to that party. He is arguing that if the agreement is not approved, Europeans will have less access to medicines. This is scaremongering, in my view, and is hypocritical because Fjellner is very supportive of the big players in the global pharmaceutical industry, who are actively seeking to use intellectual property issues to prevent the poor in Africa, Asia and Latin America from having access to affordable medicines.

DF: Even people writing for quasi-official EU publications have felt compelled to question ‘the sincerity of repeated declarations encouraging Palestinian unity’ from official spokespeople. How have EU donor and diplomatic policies contributed to fragmenting Palestinian politics?

DC: Those declarations have zero credibility.

The EU always claims that it wishes to promote democracy around the world. In 2006, an election took place in Palestine. The EU’s own observation team found the election to be free and fair and something of a model for the Arab world. And then the EU decided to ignore that election because in its eyes the “wrong” party – namely Hamas – won.

I’m personally not a fan of either Hamas nor Fatah but if Hamas won a democratic mandate, that should be respected.

It’s a classical colonial attitude for an imperial power to show preference for one side in an occupied territory over another. Divide and rule. That’s exactly what’s been happening in recent years. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, and Salam Fayyad, the so-called prime minister, lack any democratic mandate. Yet they are treated as real darlings by the EU and US. Why? Because rather than resisting the occupation, they accommodate it.

In particular, they are also happy to pursue the kind of neo-liberal economic policies that are treated as sacrosanct in Brussels and Washington. Salam Fayyad used to work for the International Monetary Fund and has clearly been inculcated with its ideology.

DF: Can you describe the EUPOL COPPS programme and its relationship to the US training of PA forces in the West Bank?

DC: This is another “divide and rule” case.

The EU’s police mission for Palestine (COPPS) was originally supposed to apply to both the West Bank and Gaza. But in practice it only applies to the West Bank because the Union refuses to deal with the Hamas administration in Gaza.

What has happened is that the EU is in charge of training civil police and the US has been charged of training more militarised police units in areas under control of the Palestinian Authority. We are told that this is helping the Palestinian Authority get ready to assume the responsibilities of statehood. This is nonsense. One of the key aims of the these training missions is to boost cooperation between the PA police and Israeli forces. So the EU is really helping Palestinians to police their own occupation.

Worse again, it has been documented that police loyal to Fatah have used brutal methods – including torture – against their political rivals. Even though these police are trained by the EU, the Union says nothing about these human rights abuses. This silence is shameful.

DF: Germany is reportedly in the process of selling Israel a sixth partially subsidized ‘Dolphin’ submarine. What’s the significance of these sales?

DC: I’d put these sales in the context of wider military cooperation between the EU and Israel.

As well as helping to arm Israel, Europe is helping Israel to sell its weaponry abroad. The British Army has been using Israeli unmanned warplanes, or drones as they are generally called, in Afghanistan, for example. The ethical question of using weapons that have been “battle-tested” in an obscene manner isn’t even broached in “polite society”. Drones were used extensively to kill and maim innocent civilians during Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2008 and 2009.

What’s also significant is that Israeli arms companies are receiving scientific research grants from the Union. These include Elbit and Israel Aerospace Industries, the two suppliers of drones used in Cast Lead. At the moment, Israel is taking part in 800 EU-financed research projects, which have a total value of 4 billion euros. This means that my tax is helping to subsidise Israel’s war industry.

DF: Historically, France has been seen as the European power most likely to challenge the US monopoly on diplomatic initiative in the Middle East. Is this reputation still deserved?

DC: Definitely not.

Jacques Chirac demonstrated occasionally that he could be independent of the US when he was president. But Nicolas Sarkozy has been much more of an “Atlanticist” – for example, he decided that France should participate more fully in NATO than it has for a number of decades.

I’m answering this question a few days before the second round of voting in France’s presidential election. If Francois Hollande wins, then I don’t predict any major changes in terms of France’s policy on Israel-Palestine. I hope, however, that I am proved wrong.

Hollande has been quite happy to pander to the Zionist lobby in France. Both he and Sarkozy turned up at the annual dinner of CRIF, the biggest pro-Israel lobby group in Paris, earlier this year. It was clear that Hollande wasn’t there to denounce Israel’s crimes.

DF: The Greek government brazenly cooperated with Israel in blocking the ‘Freedom Flotilla II’ from challenging the Gaza blockade last summer. You’ve suggested that specific US-Israeli pressure (‘possibly even financial blackmail’) was at work, but that the incident was also a ‘logical consequence of a process that was already underway’.

DC: Yeah. This is quite closely connected to the question you asked about NATO. Greece and Israel have been working together in NATO operations a lot recently.

George Papandreou, the former Greek prime minister, was quite happy to court Israel. When it became clear that relations between Israel and Turkey had soured, Papandreou sniffed an opportunity for Greece to replace Turkey as Israel’s key ally in the Mediterranean.

Even though Greece has been going through an economic nightmare, the Athens authorities have decided to take part in a series of military operations with Israel over the past few years. Let’s not forget that Greece has been spending more on the military as a proportion of national income than most countries in Europe. You can see why the Israeli arms industry would be interested in cultivating stronger links with Greece because, even though Greece is in the doldrums financially, it’s still spending much more than it should be on weapons, while cutting back drastically on essential services like healthcare.

DF: One of your recent articles notes that many of the British officers deployed in post-WWI Palestine were veterans of the Black and Tans, the colonial force infamous for its brutality in Ireland. How has the Irish anti-colonial experience affected Irish politics on the Palestine question?

DC: Among the Irish public, there is a huge amount of sympathy for the Palestinians. The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign has been described by some Zionist watchdogs as the best organised Palestine solidarity group in the world. That’s very interesting because the IPSC relies almost entirely on volunteers.

The Dublin government is a different story. In the current Irish government, there are at least three strong supporters of Israel. These include the ministers for defence and education.

Last year, a number of Irish activists were abducted by Israel as they tried to sail to Gaza. The response of the Dublin government was extremely weak. The Irish foreign minister, Eamon Gilmore, even attended a ceremony film festival sponsored by the Israeli government soon after that incident. He appears to regard avoiding or minimising tension with Israel as a priority.

Furthermore, it should be borne in mind that it’s Ireland’s representative at the European Commission, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, who is administering the research grants to Israeli arms companies I mentioned earlier. She won’t even acknowledge that giving money to firms profiting from human rights abuses is problematic.

DF: In 2010, the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights issued a report criticizing EU maintenance of ‘anti-terrorist’ blacklists that effectively function ‘as ideological and political tools for undermining the right to popular resistance and self-determination.’ How do these lists constrain European politics on Palestine, and are there active campaigns to get them overturned?

DC: This is an important issue.

Israel has lobbied successfully over the past decade to have both the political and military wings of Hamas placed on the EU’s “anti-terrorist” blacklist. EU officials and governments have, as a result, been able to say “we don’t talk to terrorists”, even when the “terrorists” have a democratic mandate. I note, however, that there have been press reports lately indicating that Hamas has had some contacts with European governments. So perhaps this is changing a little bit. But in general, there is an enormous double standard, when the EU is happy to embrace Israel, a state that uses violence and intimidation against civilians on a daily basis, yet brands those who resist Israeli oppression as “terrorists”.

DF: Finally, in recent years the gap between European government support for Israel and public opinion has sometimes been so wide that the EU leadership has issued official apologies to Israel for polling results. What opportunities does this gap provide for strategic Palestine solidarity?

DC: The European public is way more critical of Israel than our governments are. This offers real hope.

The Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel was only launched in 2005. And it has made enormous progress. Veolia, the major French corporation, has ignominiously lost a number of major contracts around the world, for example. Why? Because of public outrage at how Veolia is involved in constructing a tramway that would effectively be reserved for Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem. This illustrates how supporting Israeli apartheid can prove bad for business if ordinary people monitor what corporations get up to and protest.

The BDS campaign is often compared to the one undertaken against South Africa. As it happens, the call for boycott was originally made by South African political activists in the 1950s. But it wasn’t until the 1980s that it had a major impact internationally. So the Palestinian BDS campaign has achieved in seven years what it took the South African campaign three decades to achieve.

The challenge now is to maintain the momentum – and intensify the pressure on Israel and its “corporate sponsors”.

May 8, 2012 Posted by | Book Review, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

9/11 changed everything… for Henry Kissinger and friends

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | May 8, 2012

As his official biographer Niall Ferguson writes in Newsweek of the infamous diplomat’s recent triumphant return to his alma mater:

Then something remarkable happened. Spontaneously, the audience gave Kissinger an ovation—a standing ovation in many cases. The remarkable thing is that most of those clapping were undergraduates.

Welcome to the new generation gap. In the question-and-answer session, the handful of nasty questions came from aging baby boomers. The attitude of the students was diametrically opposite. Many had stood in line for an hour to get in. At the end, they thronged the stage to take photographs with Kissinger and ask for his autograph.

A cynic might put this down to youthful innocence. “To them, Vietnam is just history,” I heard a  faculty member mutter, “like the Civil War.” Yes and no. The 1970s are indeed  history if you were born in 1992. But the generation that came of age after 9/11 has a fundamentally different attitude to war than the ponytailed protester.

The Obama presidency has shown that liberals, too, must sometimes use force to uphold the nation’s security: surging in Afghanistan, helping overthrow a bad regime in Libya, killing foes (among them a U.S. citizen) with drones and hit squads.

Who knows? Maybe one day a successor to Hitchens will denounce the “war crimes” of Obama. But if so, his readers will be in their 60s or older. A younger and wiser generation has welcomed Kissinger back to Harvard.

The September 11 attacks proved an ill wind too for AIG, which saw a $40 billion surge in its market capitalization post-9/11. As Jeff Gates observes in Guilt By Association, “AIG had been sufficiently prescient to invest 93% of its $700 billion-plus portfolio in bonds, compared with with the portfolios of it three primary competitors which were invested 55-60% in bonds.” Henry Kissinger was then chair of AIG’s International Advisory Board.

May 8, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Huge Weapons Cache Aboard Italian Ship in North Lebanon

Al-Manar | May 8, 2012

Lebanese army intelligence seized a large quantity of weapons hidden inside cars aboard an Italian ship on Monday night at the port of Tripoli, in the north of Lebanon, Lebanese security sources told Al-Manar TV.

The security sources revealed the involvement of Lebanese parties in the smuggling of weapons seized in the port of Tripoli.

As Safir daily said the ship docked in the port of Tripoli coming from the Egyptian port of Alexandria en route from Germany, adding that the army moved the car to al-Qubbeh base and launched a probe. “The two Rapid cars were imported by the agent A. M,” it said.

The daily reported that one of the cars contained 15 boxes of ammunition each containing 1,000 bullets used for different kinds of machineguns. It added that the ammunition was for 9 mm and 12.7 mm machine guns and Kalashnikovs bullets.

This comes just days after Lebanese Army Marines confiscated the Lutfallah II arms shipment off the Lebanese port of Batoun while it was carrying 300,000 pounds of weapons within three containers. Reports said the cargo ship, which was flying the flag of Sierra-Leone, had left Libya and was bound for Syria.

Lebanese judicial authorities were continuing their investigations with the detainees to uncover the direction of the ship, and the party behind the load of weapons that were on board. An official arrest warrant was issued against one of the suspects.

May 8, 2012 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment