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Britain admits atrocities in Kenya

Press TV – July 18, 2012

Britain has admitted that Kenyan prisoners were tortured and sexually abused under the UK rule in Kenya, local media reported.

For the first time ever, British ministers were forced to issue a public confession admitting that atrocities were carried out ‘at the hands of the colonial administration’.

The admission came via a Whitehall lawyer addressing three elderly Kenyans who had gone to the High Court in London to demand damages and an apology.

Now in their 80s, one of them told the court how he had been brutally castrated in a British detention camp during the Mau Mau rebellion – Britain’s bloodiest colonial war.

If the trio win their case, it would open the door to up to 20,000 Kenyan survivors of the Mau Mau purge to sue Britain for millions of pounds, using no-win, no-fee lawyers.

The Foreign Office is contesting the case because it officially denies liability and maintains the Kenyans have left it too late to make claims.

Yesterday, each of the three claimants walked slowly to the witness stand to deliver their graphic testimony.

But before Guy Mansfield, the Foreign Office’s QC, cross-examined them, he said: “I wish to make it clear that the British government does not dispute that each of you suffered torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of the colonial administration.”

The Mau Mau uprising began in 1952 to end British colonial rule. Britain initially dismissed reports of unrest, but later declared a state of emergency – introducing the death penalty for Mau Mau members. The violence ended in 1956, but the state of emergency was only revoked in 1960.

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Nasrallah: US manipulated Syria grievances

Al Akhbar | July 18, 2012

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Wednesday accused the US and Israel of using legitimate grievances in Syria as an excuse to destroy the country and the resistance to Israel’s control over the Middle East.

Speaking after the death of three senior Syrian politicians in a bomb attack on Wednesday morning, Nasrallah hailed the men and warned that Syria risked destruction if it slid further into civil war.

“(The West and Israel) took advantage of the legitimate demands of the Syrian people…they put Syria into a war, they forbade negotiations,” he said.

“What is required (by the US) in Syria is to divide it, to destroy it, to rip it apart just like Iraq,” he said, referring to the chaos left behind after 10 years of US occupation in Iraq.

Nasrallah said that Israel had been concerned by Syria’s increased military capabilities and had sought to sow discontent in the country.

“They looked at Syria and saw over the past years… first of all a new military strategy began in Syria,” he said, adding that before the uprising the country was “a real military power that (was) capable of presenting a real military threat to Israel.”

Speaking on the sixth anniversary of the 2006 war with Israel, in which the Jewish state suffered defeat at the hands of Hezbollah, Nasrallah said Hezbollah’s victory had increased concern about Syrian strength.

“There is only one army left that is not connected with the Americans. Its the Syrian army. Since the July (2006) war they have been working on destroying this army,” he said.

Nasrallah also confirmed that the “most important” weapons used against Israel in the war were supplied by Syria.

“Syria is a real supporter of the resistance… on the military level as well,” he said. “The most important missiles that landed in occupied Palestine were manufactured or made in Syria.”

Call for calm

Referring to Lebanon Nasrallah called for calm in the country which has seen an upturn in violence in recent months, much of it related to the Syrian crisis.

“I call for calm and patience. You have heard a lot of curses and you will hear a lot of curses in the future,” he said.

“This doesn’t concern only the Sunnis and the Shia… amongst all sects there are some who are trying to rip apart our community.”

The Shia leader also urged all sects in the country to move away from provocative language, calling for a new document dealing with sectarianism.

Under the new rules, he said, “if a Shia person, whether he be a politician or a religious person, if he says anything offensive then we, the Shia, will stand against him. Same goes for the Sunnis, the Druze and the Christians.”

“Can we go ahead and adopt such a document in Lebanon?”

He also backed the current government to continue despite ongoing tensions between rival factions, saying such debate was healthy.

“In the government we have disagreements… but there are positives as it shows it is a coalition government, not a government of Hezbollah,” he said.

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shin Bet Goes on Palestinian Arrest Spree

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | July 18, 2012

The Shin Bet appears to have gone on a tear in arresting Israeli Palestinians over the past few weeks.  There are now at least four who’ve been arrested, the last three under gag.  I reported on the first arrest, of Dr. Eyad Jawhari of Majdal Shams earlier this month.  He is still imprisoned at Kishon prison after being moved from there to Shikma and back again.  Though he was arrested at the end of June, the security services have refused to allow him to consult either with his attorney or to speak with his family.  He has been incommunicado for three weeks, standard operating procedure for the Israeli secret police.  Though there was an initial gag concerning his arrest, shortly after I broke the story the Shin Bet partially removed the gag.  Now they may report the detainee’s name, though there is no official word on the charges against him.

In the short space of the past few days, three more Israeli Palestinians have been secretly detained.  They are:

Abdul Basset Zo’abi of northern Israel (no further information known as of this time)

Salman Hassan Safadi: his arrest reported by the Golani Arabic language news service, Baladee, which notes that the Shin Bet “turned his house upside down” and confiscated mobile phones & computers.  Like Jawhari, I’ve confirmed he is a resident of Majdal Shams, though neither Jawhari’s lawyer or family know if there is any connection between the two arrests.

Musa Khatib, a resident of the divided (Lebanese-Israeli) village of Ghajar, whose residents are largely Alawite, the same Muslim sect as Syria’s ruler, Bashar al-Assad.  He is currently in Shikma Prison, outside Ashkelon.

Though I do not know the charges against these individuals, the fact that they were arrested by the Shin Bet under gag indicates a strong likelihood they were arrested on security charges.  This, of course doesn’t mean they endangered the security of Israel.  Far more likely they were engaged in political or nationalist activism, which is viewed as subversion by Israeli authorities.

Compare this treatment to that accorded to Jack Teitel, a Jewish settler terrorist who bombed other Israeli Jews, Christians and Palestinians, killing a number and severely wounding others.  He even murdered two Israeli policemen.  Only recently, years after his killing spree began, did the court accept a plea bargain by which Teitel admitted killing two Palestinians, though the court still has not formally convicted him or even found him criminally liable.  There appears to have been some struggle about whether to declare him insane and so be rid of a criminal trial (a tactic often used by the authorities to avoid sending Jewish terrorists to prison).  At any rate, he’s still officially in possession of his faculties, and free.

Another example of this sort of laxity concerns Dor Oved, who repeatedly vandalized the offices of Peace Now, the home of Hagit Ofran and cars of her neighbors, and other public property.  He e-mailed death threats and scrawled them in graffiti messages on the walls of building housing Peace Now and at Ofran’s home.  After a new round of this nonsense, the police have finally arrested him and charged him with some of these acts.  But he was first arrested last November and sent home to his parents, where he promptly reoffended by sending out the e mail death threats.

The worst thing about this story is that Oved’s name is under gag not because of any serious security danger, but because both his parents work for the security apparatus, he for the Shin Bet and she for the police.  When a photographer took the father’s picture at the court house, he assaulted the photographer warning that she should know who he was.  Despite the incorrigible nature of this Arab and Jew hater, his identity and that of his parents are still forbidden for Israelis to know (unless they read this blog).

So there you have it: four Israeli Palestinians about whom we know almost nothing, including what they’re charged with.  They have had no contact with lawyers or family and their names are under gag so that no one can rally to their support.  As opposed to Dor Oved, coddled by the State, afforded the finest lawyers, sent home by the court to his parents, where he promptly continued his campaign of hate.  His identity is protected in order by an arbitrary use of power on the part of the security police.  This is “democracy,” Israel-style.

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Comments Off on Shin Bet Goes on Palestinian Arrest Spree

Australian Government Moves to Expand Surveillance Powers

By Rebecca Bowe | EFF | July 17, 2012

Australia is the latest democratic nation to introduce new national security measures that would vastly expand governmental surveillance powers, following an alarming legislative pattern that’s also unfolded in the United Kingdom and Canada in recent months.

Just as EFF sounded the alarm about the UK’s attempt to move forward with a mass surveillance bill and kept the pressure on before Canada’s online surveillance bill was temporarily shelved in the face of an outcry from privacy advocates, we’re ready to join Australians in pushing back against this latest bid for greater online spying powers Down Under.

Last week, Australian Attorney General Nicola Roxon submitted to Parliament a package of proposals intended to advance a National Security Inquiry in an effort to expand governmental surveillance powers. In a 60-page discussion paper, Roxon calls for making it easier for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to spy on Twitter and Facebook users, which would likely be achieved by compelling companies to create backdoors to enable surveillance. The proposals also revive a controversial data retention regime. And an especially problematic proposal would go so far as to establish a new crime: failure to assist law enforcement in the decryption of communications.

The bulleted list of proposed reforms, which Roxon submitted to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security committee, reflects a wish list of Australia’s intelligence agencies. The discussion paper proposes to revise four laws relating to the surveillance activities of Australia’s six intelligence bodies, at great cost to Australians’ civil liberties. The proposed changes are divided into three categories: those that the government “wishes to progress,” those it’s considering, and those it’s seeking advice on.

On a broad level, the discussion paper makes it clear that intelligence agencies are seeking nothing less than a radical overhaul of Australia’s wiretapping laws.[1] “The magnitude of change to the telecommunications environment suggests that further piecemeal amendments to the existing Act will not be sufficient,” the paper states, in reference to the Telecommunications Interception and Access (TIA) Act of 1979. “Rather, holistic reform that reassesses the current assumptions is needed in order to establish a new foundation for the interception regime that reflects contemporary practice.”

If approved, the revisions would amount to what the Sydney Morning Herald characterized as “the most significant expansion of the Australian intelligence community’s powers since … reforms following the terrorist attacks of 2001.” A readers’ poll that accompanied the article showed that 96 percent of respondents were opposed to any plan that would force telcos to store telephone and Internet data.

“These proposals are one of the biggest threats to the privacy of all Australians for many years,” said Nigel Waters, of the Australian Privacy Foundation and Privacy International. “Governments seem to have an insatiable appetite for more and more information about us all that is none of their business, and when history shows that they can’t make effective use of the intelligence they already collect.”

Concerned citizens have only until August 6 to weigh in on Roxon’s initial package of reforms. To have your say, go here.

The Return of Mandatory Data Retention

The proposed “OzLog” mandatory data retention policy, which Parliament rebuffed in May, sought to require Australian Internet service providers to store information about each and every individual’s web usage history for two years. EFF has been mounting resistance to mandatory data retention policies since before the European Union’s 2006 adoption of the highly controversial Data Retention Directive, and we continue to sound the alarm when similar proposals arise.

The attorney general’s paper references a “tailored” data retention scheme, which would nevertheless require providers to store data for a full two years.[2] As a point of comparison, the European Union Data Retention Directive — which has not been universally adopted and Courts in in Germany and the Czech Republic have declared unconstitutional — requires data storage lasting just six months, with the possibility of an increase to two years in certain cases.

Data retention was included under the category of proposals the attorney general is “seeking advice” on, suggesting that it might not be politically tenable to charge ahead with the controversial measure with the same zeal as before. It was the inclusion of this agenda item that drew the strongest initial responses to the proposal.

“This inquiry will likely be used to again expand the powers of spy agencies when Australians are already under a phenomenal amount of government surveillance,” said Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, Australian Greens communications spokesperson. “This extreme proposal is based on the notion that all our personal data should be stored by service providers so that every move we make can be surveilled or recalled for later data mining. It comes from a mindset that imagines all Australians as potential criminal suspects, or mindless consumer drones whose every transaction should be recorded and mapped.”

Sounding a similar note, Rodney Serkowski of the Australian Pirate Party also seized on data retention as one of the most odious proposals. “It is not possible for the government to adequately ensure that the vast databases of highly personal data would not be at risk or subject to abuse of third parties,” he wrote in an email. “Indiscriminate data retention, as opposed to judicially sanctioned, targeted surveillance of a specific person for specific reason, is incompatible with human rights, and should never be considered legal or legitimate.”

New Rules for ISPs and Telecoms

The proposal would broaden online surveillance powers for Australia’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies by compelling Internet companies to make it easier for authorities to conduct digital eavesdropping efforts.[3] “The exclusion of providers such as social networking providers and cloud computing providers creates potential vulnerabilities in the interception regime that are capable of being manipulated by criminals,” the discussion paper states. “Consideration should be given to extending the interception regime to such providers to remove uncertainty.”

Yet another proposal would sacrifice the privacy of law-abiding citizens for the sake of zeroing in on criminal suspects. It calls for allowing intelligence officials to tamper with a computer belonging to an uninvolved third party who is not under investigation in order to access a targeted computer.[4]

To justify the dramatic expansion of surveillance powers, the discussion paper attempts to portray the intelligence agencies as helpless, claiming that a revolution in communications technology has rendered existing wiretapping laws outmoded and inadequate.[5] “Substantial and rapid changes in communications technology and the business environment are rapidly eroding agencies’ ability to intercept,” the paper states. “Adapting the regime governing the lawful access to communications is a fundamental first step in arresting the serious decline in agencies’ capabilities.”

No New Surveillance Powers Needed

A radical expansion of police surveillance powers is not the answer. This proposal poses a serious threat to online privacy and it’s important to keep the pressure on, just as Canadian privacy advocates pushed back against a similar bill. The revisions floated in Australia’s National Security Inquiry should be met with stiff resistance from Internet users everywhere.

“These proposed changes, if implemented in their entirety, would appear to amount to a massive expansion of surveillance activity across the entire community, accompanied by a corresponding reduction in accountability for that surveillance activity, and are therefore a potentially significant threat to the civil liberties and privacy of all Australians,” Jon Lawrence of Electronic Frontiers Australia wrote in a recent blog post.

Bill Rowlings, CEO of Civil Liberties Australia, said the Australian Government seems to have found the straw that might break the back of the growing trend towards excessive surveillance in Australia. “People – your average Joe – are at last waking up that free speech and privacy matter, and are worth fighting for,” Rowlings said. “The ‘Arab Spring’ in the West might well be fought over such freedoms, rather than freedom of association, as in the Middle East.”

Stay tuned as EFF continues monitoring this proposal.

[1] “Equipping Government Against Emerging and Evolving Threats: A Discussion Paper to Accompany Consideration by the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security of a package of National Security Ideas Comprising Proposals for Telecommunications Interception Reform, Telecommunications Sector Security Reform and Australian Intelligence Community Legislation Reform,” Australian Government Attorney General’s Department, pp. 17

[2] ibid., pp. 10

[3] ibid., pp. 27

[4] ibid., pp. 11

[5] ibid., pp. 23

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Comments Off on Australian Government Moves to Expand Surveillance Powers

Obama’s Media Takeover Powers: The Infrastructure of a Police State

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | July 18, 2012

Earlier this month, on a Friday evening after most of the White House press corps had gone home, President Obama gave himself the power to take over, or shut down, all of the nation’s communications systems – including the Internet. The executive order is supposedly designed to preserve “survivable, resilient, enduring” and effective communications so that the government can speak to the people in the event of some emergency. But what he has authorized is the imposition of total silence except for the sound of his own voice.

Clearly, in a legitimate emergency, the government needs ways to communicate – but that does not require a monopoly. So, why is Obama giving himself – and any president that follows him into the Oval Office – a total communications on-and-off switch?

The administration claims it is authorized to bring all communications under its control by the 1934 Communications Act, which allows the takeover of broadcast stations and other wireless media if there exists a state of war, or the threat of war. Back then, of course, the public was fairly sure that they knew what “war” was: Congresses declared it. The “threat” of war was pretty self-evident, too: it was when other nations were threatening to attack the United States, or vice-versa.

However, we are now in what both Presidents Bush and Obama have made clear is a perpetual war, a war that is not defined by any legal norms or foundational statutes, a war against whoever the president decides is the enemy – which can include American citizens. Both of these War Presidents have told us in multitudinous ways that we are on a war footing – and have not been off it since 9/11, and will not be on any other kind of footing until some future president gives the “all clear” sign.

Obama’s executive order has nothing to do with getting out an effective distress call to the nation during a crisis. The “emergency” he has in mind is a State of Emergency – martial law. He is methodically preparing the infrastructure for a police state. Obama already has in place his preventive detention legislation, which he signed into law in the news-less hours of last New Year’s Eve. It empowers the president to lock up whomever he chooses, without charges or trial, and to keep them for as long as the executive sees fit. Based on the near-limitless powers Obama already claims to possess, he can also kill such enemies of the state if that is in the interests of national security in this time of war. There is nothing that he recognizes as law that says he can’t take such drastic executive action against thousands, or tens of thousands of Americans in one sweep.

And now, with his new executive order, if the president finds it convenient, he can take over the national communications network – down to the last, feeble Internet voice – to explain why it was necessary for all those people to disappear.

Or maybe he’ll say nothing at all. And nobody else will dare to say anything, either.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on Obama’s Media Takeover Powers: The Infrastructure of a Police State

Obama’s Justice Department Rushes to the Rescue of LIBOR Criminals

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | July 18, 2012

The Obama Justice Department is in theater mode, again, pretending to threaten the bankster class with criminal penalties – prison time! – for their manipulation of the global economy’s benchmark interest rates. The Justice Department claims to be building criminal and civil cases in the LIBOR scandal, which in sheer scope is the biggest fraud by international capital in history. But that’s all a front, a farce. Barack Obama has spent his entire presidency protecting Wall Street, starting with his rescue of George Bush’s bank bailout bill after it’s initial defeat in Congress, in the last days of Obama’s candidacy. He packed his administration with banksters, passed his own bailout and, in collaboration with the Federal Reserve, channeled at least $16 trillion dollars into the accounts of U.S. and even European banks – by far the greatest transfer of capital in the history of the world. Obama has reminded the banksters that it was he who saved them from the “pitchforks” of an outraged public. He pushed through Congress so-called financial reform legislation that left derivatives – the deadly instruments of mass financial destruction that were at the heart of the meltdown – untouched.

Wall Street may or may not remain loyal to Obama, but Obama has been loyal to Wall Street, the guys who gave him the campaign cash to become a viable candidate. His Attorney General, Eric Holder, a corporate lawyer to the core, is busily staging a pre-emptive LIBOR prosecution of bankers in order to shield them from legal action by a host of other government agencies and, ultimately, from the global universe of parties that have been harmed by the bankster’s schemes– a list that stretches to infinity. Holder’s job is to monopolize the LIBOR case, to the extent legally and humanly possible, grabbing jurisdiction and consolidating the cases against the banks with the aim of reaching a settlement that does not further destabilize the financial system.

Holder and his boss already pulled that trick earlier this year with settlement of the bank “robo-signing” scandal – a scheme that would have ranked as the “crime of the century” until LIBOR came along. A small group of state attorney generals were holding up an administration-brokered settlement that effectively gave the banksters immunity from prosecution, in return for a measly $25 billion payout. Obama used every power of his office to pressure the state law officers into line. The last one capitulated with a promise from Obama that a “special unit of prosecutors” would expand the investigation into abusive mortgages practices. You haven’t heard a peep about it, since.

Now Obama and Holder are playing the same diversionary game, making tough noises about criminal investigations of the LIBOR conspirators. But the Justice Department has already given immunity to Barclay’s Bank, of Britain, and to the Swiss banking giant UBS. More immunities will follow. The reason Eric Holder is staging criminal investigations is because that’s the only way he can protect the bankers, through immunities and by gradually narrowing the scope of the case. In the end, there will be settlements all around, and the banksters will move on to even more fantastic heights of criminality – thanks to the loyal, protective hands of President Obama.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sanctions on Iran force French auto job losses

Iran market cannot easily be replaced for Peugeot: French union member
Press TV – July 18, 2012

A French auto workers’ union member says the country’s largest automaker Peugeot cannot find a replacement for the Iranian market after the company was forced to slash 8,000 jobs over Iran sanctions, Press TV reports.

“We have no sales not for economic reasons but for political reasons. The Iranian market is one that cannot easily be replaced for Peugeot. It’s an unacceptable decision for us,” Jean-Pierre Mercier from a closed Peugeot plant told Press TV.

Peugeot’s announcement on Thursday that PSA Peugeot Citroen would axe 8,000 jobs and shut the first car factory in 20 years has caused a political firestorm.

“If the state can prevent Peugeot from selling cars to Iran, why cannot they prevent these firings? Unfortunately, the unions insufficiently mobilized to tip the scale and stopped the embargo,” Mercier said.

Iran is Peugeot’s largest foreign customer, with half a million in auto sales translating into some several billion Euros each year. However, citing new banking sanctions, Peugeot ended cooperation in February.

Peugeot’s auto sales this year are down nearly a quarter of a million units, almost exactly the amount that Iran would have normally purchased.

According to reports, giving up the Iranian market might have been the price of Peugeot’s recent alliance with Detroit’s General Motors, owned by the US government, which has imposed sanctions on Iran for decades.

This is while Renault, another major French automaker, saw their Iranian sales double last year to 100,000 vehicles and they expect this number to rise.

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Jerusalem: illegal settlers plan to drown out Muslim call to prayer with loud rock music

Islamophobia Watch | July 16, 2012

After the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem has decided to play very loud music, in defiance of the volume and disturbance of the sound of the muezzin at the mosque in nearby Al-Issawiya, two additional Jewish neighborhoods, Pisgat Ze’ev and Har Choma, have announced that they, too, will take up a similar approach. French Hill also decided to go with hard rock, and not Mediterranean tunes, as had originally been planned, because, as they put it, hard rock is more likely to deliver the message.

According to Yediot Jerusalem, the French Hill neighborhood has recently approached an amplification company with an order for four huge speakers to be directed at Al-Isawiya. As soon as the village muezzin will start his exceedingly loud prayer, it will be responded to with ear shattering Rock n’ Roll, letting local Arabs understand how disturbing the loud prayers have been to their Jewish neighbors.

Har Choma and Pisgat Ze’ev residents are waiting to see the results from the French Hill “pilot.” If the protest via rock blasts succeeds, the other two neighborhoods, situated on the border of the Jerusalem municipality, will follow suit.

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Islamophobia | , , , , , | Comments Off on Jerusalem: illegal settlers plan to drown out Muslim call to prayer with loud rock music

Palestinian cemetery destroyed for new TAU dorms, shopping center

By Patrick O. Strickland | Bikyamasr.com | July 16, 2012

TEL AVIV: On Monday, student activists examined the remains of a Palestinian cemetery that had been uprooted and mostly destroyed to make space for a shopping center and new student dorms for Tel Aviv University (TAU).

A large part of TAU is built on land that used to be a Palestinian village, al-Sheikh Muwanniz, before the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. According Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi, the village’s 1948 population exceeded 2,000.

Despite an nonaggression agreement between the villagers and Haganah, the Jewish militia that later became the foundation for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Irgun, another Jewish militia, enacted a campaign of abductions that led to the disappearance of five village leaders in the tense months leading up to the war. Several nearby villages were razed, and eventually the majority of al-Sheikh Muwanniz fled. Most became refugees in the West Bank villages of Tulkarem and Qalqiya.

The construction of the dorms and shopping center began over eight months ago. The crew has blocked off two graves with plastic netting, one of which holds the remains of the village mukhtar, or leader. Cigarette butts have been tossed in the graves.

The activists took photos of the two semi-preserved graves and the bones which were uprooted. Several other bones, including a shattered fragment of a skull, were scattered across the construction site.

“There were definitely more than two graves here,” said Jabr, one of the students, as he carefully sifted through mounds of dirt and uncovered more bone shards, photographing each of them.

As the students left, two women were denied entrance to the site. “Both of our grandparents are buried here,” one said. “Our families are from al-Sheikh Muwanniz.”

They said they had not been notified that their relatives’ graves were being dug up, and that they only found out through Facebook two days ago, after the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage posted a notification.

“Well, they are building the new Museum of Tolerance on top of a Palestinian Muslim graveyard in Jerusalem,” Gaby, another TAU student, told Bikyamasr.com.

Activists told Bikyamasr.com that the destruction of al-Sheikh Muwanniz’s cemetery is consistent with the longstanding tradition of erasing Palestinian history. Tel Aviv University is often identified as a leftist bastion within Israeli society; the destruction of al-Sheikh Muwanniz’s cemetery, the activists charge, demonstrates that even mainstream Israeli liberalism depends on the suppression of the Palestinian historical narrative.

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Comments Off on Palestinian cemetery destroyed for new TAU dorms, shopping center

What Really Lies behind Israel’s ‘No Occupation’ Report

By Jonathan Cook | Middle East Online | July 18, 2012

The recently published report by an Israeli judge concluding that Israel is not in fact occupying the Palestinian territories – despite a well-established international consensus to the contrary – has provoked mostly incredulity or mirth in Israel and abroad.

Leftwing websites in Israel used comically captioned photographs to highlight Justice Edmond Levy’s preposterous finding. One shows an Israeli soldier pressing the barrel of a rifle to the forehead of a Palestinian pinned to the ground, saying: “You see – I told you there’s no occupation.”

Even Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, seemed a little discomfited by the coverage last week. He was handed the report more than a fortnight earlier but was apparently reluctant to make it public.

Downplaying the Levy report’s significance may prove unwise, however. If Netanyahu is embarrassed, it is only because of the timing of the report’s publication rather than its substance.

It was, after all, the Israeli prime minister himself who established the committee earlier this year to assess the legality of the Jewish settlers’ “outposts”, ostensibly unauthorised by the government, that have spread like wild seeds across the West Bank.

He hand-picked its three members, all diehard supporters of the settlements, and received the verdict he expected – that the settlements are legal. Certainly, Levy’s opinion should have come as no surprise. In 2005 he was the only Supreme Court judge to oppose the government’s decision to withdraw the settlers from Gaza.

Legal commentators too have been dismissive of the report. They have concentrated more on Levy’s dubious reasoning than on the report’s political significance.

They have noted that Theodor Meron, the foreign ministry’s legal adviser in 1967, expressly warned the government in the wake of the Six-Day War that settling civilians in the newly seized territory was a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Experts have also pointed to the difficulties Israel will face if it adopts Levy’s position.

Under international law, Israel’s rule in the West Bank and Gaza is considered “belligerent occupation” and, therefore, its actions must be justified by military necessity only. If there is no occupation, Israel has no military grounds to hold on to the territories. In that case, it must either return the land to the Palestinians, and move out the settlers, or defy international law by annexing the territories, as it did earlier with East Jerusalem, and establish a state of Greater Israel.

Annexation, however, poses its own dangers. Israel must either offer the Palestinians citizenship and wait for a non-Jewish majority to emerge in Greater Israel; or deny them citizenship and face pariah status as an apartheid state.

Just such concerns were raised on Sunday by 40 Jewish leaders in the United States, who called on Netanyahu to reject Levy’s “legal maneuverings” that, they said, threatened Israel’s “future as a Jewish and democratic state”.

But from Israel’s point of view, there may, in fact, be a way out of this conundrum.

In a 2003 interview, one of the other Levy committee members, Alan Baker, a settler who advised the foreign ministry for many years, explained Israel’s heterodox interpretation of the Oslo accords, signed a decade earlier.

The agreements were not, as most assumed, the basis for the creation of a Palestinian state in the territories, but a route to establish the legitimacy of the settlements. “We are no longer an occupying power, but we are instead present in the territories with their [the Palestinians’] consent and subject to the outcome of negotiations.”

On this view, the Oslo accords redesignated the 62 per cent of the West Bank assigned to Israel’s control – so-called Area C – from “occupied” to “disputed” territory. That explains why every Israeli administration since the mid-1990s has indulged in an orgy of settlement-building there.

According to Jeff Halper, head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, the Levy report is preparing the legal ground for Israel’s annexation of Area C. His disquiet is shared by others.

Recent European Union reports have used unprecedented language to criticise Israel for the “forced transfer” – diplomat-speak for ethnic cleansing – of Palestinians out of Area C into the West Bank’s cities, which fall under Palestinian control.

The EU notes that the numbers of Palestinians in Area C has shrunk dramatically under Israeli rule to fewer than 150,000, or no more than 6 per cent of the Palestinian population of the West Bank. Settlers now outnumber Palestinians more than two-to-one in Area C.

Israel could annex nearly two-thirds of the West Bank and still safely confer citizenship on Palestinians there. Adding 150,000 to the existing 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, a fifth of the population, would not erode the Jewish majority’s dominance.

If Netanyahu is hesitant, it is only because the time is not yet ripe for implementation. But over the weekend, there were indications of Israel’s next moves to strengthen its hold on Area C.

It was reported that Israel’s immigration police, which have been traditionally restricted to operating inside Israel, have been authorised to enter the West Bank and expel foreign activists. The new powers were on show the same day as foreigners, including a New York Times reporter, were arrested at one of the regular protests against the separation wall being built on Palestinian land. Such demonstrations are the chief expression of resistance to Israel’s takeover of Palestinian territory in Area C.

And on Sunday it emerged that Israel had begun a campaign against OCHA, the UN agency that focuses on humanitarian harm done to Palestinians from Israeli military and settlement activity, most of it in Area C. Israel has demanded details of where OCHA’s staff work and what projects it is planning, and is threatening to withdraw staff visas, apparently in the hope of limiting its activities in Area C.

There is a problem, nonetheless. If Israel takes Area C, it needs someone else responsible for the other 38 per cent of the West Bank – little more than 8 per cent of historic Palestine – to “fill the vacuum”, as Israeli commentators phrased it last week.

The obvious candidate is the Palestinian Authority, the Ramallah government-in-waiting led by Mahmoud Abbas. Its police forces already act as a security contractor for Israel, keeping in check Palestinians in the parts of the West Bank outside Area C. Also, as a recipient of endless international aid, the PA usefully removes the financial burden of the occupation from Israel.

But the PA’s weakness is evident on all fronts: it has lost credibility with ordinary Palestinians, it is impotent in international forums, and it is mired in financial crisis. In the long term, it looks doomed.

For the time being, though, Israel seems keen to keep the PA in place. Last month, for example, it was revealed that Israel had tried – even if unsuccessfully – to bail out the PA by requesting a $100 million loan from the International Monetary Fund on the PA’s behalf.

If the PA refuses to, or cannot, take on these remaining fragments of the West Bank, Israel may simply opt to turn back the clock and once again cultivate weak and isolated local leaders for each Palestinian city.

The question is whether the international community can first be made to swallow Levy’s absurd conclusion.

~

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website is http://www.jkcook.net.

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on What Really Lies behind Israel’s ‘No Occupation’ Report