Aletho News


Israel ‘opens dams’ flooding Gaza Strip near Deir al Balah


Ma’an – 13/12/2013

BETHLEHEM – The Gaza Government’s Disaster Response Committee announced late Friday that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just east of the Gaza Strip, flooding numerous residential areas in nearby villages within the coastal territory.

Committee chairman Yasser Shanti said in a press conference that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just to the east of the border with the Gaza Strip earlier in the day.

He warned that residential areas within the Gaza Valley would be flooding within the coming hours.

He said that the move by Israeli authorities would flood areas in Moghraqa and other parts of Deir el-Balah in central Gaza, and he called upon residents of areas near the Gaza Valley to evacuate their homes in preparation for the anticipated flooding.

The Gaza Strip is currently under a state of emergency due to severe weather conditions caused by a historic storm front moving south across the Levant.

Fuel shortages have caused daily life in the Gaza Strip to grind slowly to a halt since early November, as power plants and water pumps are forced to shut down, cutting off access to basic necessities for Gaza residents.

Lack of diesel fuel is a result of the tightening of a seven-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2006.

See also:

Israelis open Wadi Salaqa dams, dozens of homes flooded

Palestine Information Center – 16/12/2013

GAZA — Israeli occupation forces opened on Sunday Wadi Sofa dam east of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, flooding dozens of Palestinian homes, local sources said.

The IOF opened its dams towards Palestinian houses without any prior warning for the second time since the stormy weather hit the region recently.

Rescue teams have evacuated trapped people from their flooded houses and transferred them to safe places and shelter centers.

Several Israeli earth dams have been established to the east of Gaza Strip, in order to benefit from rainwater and prevent its access to Gaza; however in such cases the Israeli occupation opens its dams toward the Strip to prevent swamping its agriculture lands.

Many residential areas and agricultural lands in Gaza were flooded when the Israeli authorities opened up the dams, which aggravated the population’s suffering. … Full article


Did Israel Deliberately Flood Gaza?

By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | December 17, 2013

It has been reported in the past several days, by Ma’an News and on several websites including this one, that Israel may have opened one or more dams resulting in the severe flooding we have seen in Gaza and further exacerbated conditions already made dire by the onslaught of winter storm Alexa. This at any rate is the charge that has been made by the Gaza government’s Disaster Response Committee and its chairman, Yasser Shanti.

So far I myself have heard no official response from Israel either confirming or denying. However, the following is reported by the Middle East Monitor:

According to Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, the rainfall led to a lot of excess water which couldn’t drain away, so “the Israeli authorities resorted to discharging the excess water into the Gaza Strip.”

I could not find this reported on Ynet’s English website, but it’s possible it was reported in the Hebrew edition. So was a dam released? All we have to go on is the statement by Shanti, accompanied, of course, by the shocking images we have seen of inundated streets, flooded homes, and people paddling in boats. But I did come across this video and thought I would share it. If it turns out that a dam or floodgate of some sort was deliberately released, it apparently would not be without precedent. The following was reported by Press TV in January of 2010—and take special note of what the reporter says regarding the flooding and its coinciding with the one-year anniversary of the close of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.

If Israel did this in 2010, does it beggar belief they would have done the same thing again this past week? If they did, the question then becomes did they do it out of a) a need to divert flooding from their own communities in Israel, or b) pure malice?

The question of whether a dam was opened or floodwater in some way diverted is addressed in a report on the Gaza flooding published at The Ecologist, an environmental website:

Amid the chaos it is impossible to verify the accusations. The heavy rain has also affected bordering areas of Israel and whether or not dams have been deliberately opened, drainage systems in Sderot and other cities were certainly overwhelmed by the volume of water.

What is certain is that low-lying Gaza, on the coastal plain, lacking functioning drainage and sewage systems, would in any case suffer most severely from the rainfall. Moreover Israel already stands accused of deliberately running down basic sanitation services in Gaza in order to make life unlivable for its residents.

And as Gaza resident Fidaa Abuassi points out: “Unlike their neighbors in Sderot Gaza’s refugees have nowhere to flee when heavy rains flood their 25-mile occupied territory, blockaded by land, air, and sea.”

Even as the floodwaters recede, there may be worse to come. The report warns of what most likely is an “impending health catastrophe” in the making, with a flare up of respiratory and skin diseases brought on by constant exposure to sewage water and lack of medical supplies.

Update #2

No Dams in the Negev? Anatomy of a Hasbara Swarm

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel joins EU’s atomic research centre

MEMO | December 13, 2013

cern-logoIsrael has officially become a full member of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, which owns the world’s largest particle physics laboratory on the French-Swiss border. The organisation’s 20 European member states voted unanimously on Thursday in favour of the decision to accept Israel as a full member of CERN following a two-year probationary period.

Israel is the first non-EU member to join the organisation. The European decision will benefit Israel on both a scientific and economic level, as it allows Israel’s science and technology industry to be eligible to apply for grants and to bid in CERN tenders.

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin has welcomed the European decision, saying it shows that one can engage in scientific projects with the EU without involving political considerations.

An official ceremony to celebrate Israel’s membership is scheduled to take place within a few weeks in Geneva.


See also: After Assassinating Iranian Scientists, Israel is Admitted to CERN

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Comments Off on Israel joins EU’s atomic research centre

Tuqu’ – a village under siege

Letters from an Occupied People | December 12, 2013

A loud buzz of chainsaws greets our arrival following a call from Tuqu’ – a Palestinian village of about 12,000 people, south of Bethlehem in the West Bank. We find Israeli soldiers overseeing the destruction of row after row of mature olive trees.

The Palestinian farmers remonstrate with the army. They have land ownership documents dating back generations from the Jordanian, British and Ottoman administrations, but their arguments are ignored by the soldiers holding them back at the gunpoint. I notice a woman pleading with soldiers who order her away, but she will not let up.


November 25, 2013 Israeli Border Guard weeping as Palestinian trees destroyed_A.Morgan

An Israeli Border Guard, a young woman who speaks Arabic, is called to deal with her. I watch as the young soldier stands listening and silently drops her head, turning her face to wipe away tears.

Finally, the buzzing stops, but it is a temporary reprieve. The Israelis have declared this ‘state land’ and the farmers are given four days to cut down hundreds more trees themselves, or the world’s fourth largest army will return to defend Israel from the olive trees.

‘How can we do this?’ asks one farmer ‘It will be like killing our mothers!’

Israeli military harassment of children in Area C

About three quarters of Tuqu’s land is in Area C*, under full Israeli military control, although this was supposed to transfer to the Palestinian Authority within 5 years of the Oslo Agreement. Tuqu’ has already lost hundreds of hectares to the illegal Israeli settlements of Teqoa, Noqedim and Ma’ale Amos that surround it to the north, south and east.

Our team comes regularly to Tuqu’. It is one of four Bethlehem villages where we accompany children to school as part of a UNICEF ‘Access to Education’ programme. Every day, children of six to 18 must run the gauntlet of armed Israeli soldiers and we have been present when the army has tear-gassed the schools. The soldiers obstruct the school entrances with jeeps, and patrol the footpaths with guns, forcing the frightened children to walk across rough fields or along the busy road.

‘It is emotional harassment’ says the mayor.

Recently we met a 16 year old boy who showed us the X- ray of a bullet still lodged in his back since a recent military incursion into Tuqu’. The mayor also tells us that over 20 children have been arrested in the last three months.

Two weeks before the trees were cut down, Tuqu’s mayor had called us because Israeli settlers, accompanied by soldiers, had begun putting up Israeli flags and tents on Tuqu’ land each afternoon.

One of the Israeli settlers I spoke to – a woman with an American accent – justified what she was doing, saying,

‘It is no different than what the Americans did to the Native Americans’.

Following this we saw the army erecting a series of concrete pillars along the roadside, with two red signs warning Israelis that this was a dangerous Palestinian village.

Soon after that, settlers erected a large marquee and put up provocative posters with a picture of a car being fire-bombed. The Palestinian landowner protested, but the military commander told him the settlers would take the land for two days for a party. There was nothing the farmer could do to stop this, but the village held a peaceful protest, whilst a large Israeli military force guarded the settlers.


November 20, 2013 Nadia Matar, Women in Green at Tuqu’_A.Morgan

The people of Tuqu’ know that this is how it starts; a few tents, some flags, then some caravans – an illegal settlement outpost is born. With Israeli state protection and financial inducements it will soon grow to thousands of settlers. More land theft, house demolitions, movement restrictions and violence against local Palestinians will follow.

Two days after the party, the settlers are back. They include a vigilante group called Women in Green** led by a Belgian-born woman called Nadia Matar. We ask what she thinks about the 16 year old Tuqu’ boy who was shot it the back whilst going to visit his grandfather.

‘ He was probably throwing stones.’ She replies ‘Kids who throw stones should be shot in the head ’.

During a visit to Tuqu’ a week after the tree cutting, we see scores of settlers coming towards the village, many bringing young children. A large number of Israeli soldiers position themselves across the road and fields, aiming their rifles and teargas cannons at Palestinian children coming out with their unarmed parents for another peaceful protest.

The settlers hold a ceremony and light candles. It is Hanukkah, and they tell us they are renaming this area with a new Hebrew name.

Under international law it is illegal for Israel, as an occupying force, to transfer its own population into the occupied Palestinian territories. Despite this, Israel’s massive settlement programme has continued unabated for decades, with thousands more homes being planned during the current Peace talks. With many settlements to the east of Bethlehem and other Palestinian centres, the Israeli strategy seems clear: to expand the eastern settlements westward to join up with Jerusalem, bisecting the West Bank and corralling the Palestinian population into a series of isolated cantons. EAPPI is keeping international agencies informed about these developments in Tuqu’ and a legal challenge is underway, supported by UNOCHA and the Norwegian Refugee Council.

* The Oslo Accords led to the West Bank being divided into Areas A (under Palestinian control), Area B (Palestinian civil government and Israeli military security) and Area C (Completely under Israeli military law). Areas B and C were supposed to be transferred to Area A – full Palestinian control, within 5 years. Instead, 20 years on, Israel has consolidated it’s control over Area C, illegally building hundreds of thousands of settler homes. Area C represents over 60% of the West Bank. It is the only contiguous area and therefore control over Area C is essential for communications. It also includes most of the West Bank’s fertile land and water. Israel prohibits Palestinian construction in Area C. Israeli control over, and settlement building in Area C is a major obstacle to a peaceful solution to the conflict.

** Women in Green is a right wing group that opposes the creation of a Palestinian state and supports Israeli settlement of the West Bank, which it proposes Israel should annex. WiG also opposed Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon. Nadia Matar, the Belgian-born leader of WiG claims that the ‘Arabs’ in the ‘Holy Land’ are descended from relatively recent immigrants, and should be ‘transferred’ to neighbouring Arab countries.

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Video | , , , , , | Comments Off on Tuqu’ – a village under siege

Saudi Arabia Buys 15,000 U.S. Anti-Tank Missiles for a War It Will Never Fight

Al-Manar | December 13, 2013

No one is expecting a tank invasion of Saudi Arabia anytime soon, but the kingdom just put in a huge order for U.S.-made anti-tank missiles that has Saudi-watchers scratching their heads and wondering whether the deal is related to Riyadh’s support for the Syrian rebels, Foreign Policy reported.

The proposed weapons deal, which the Pentagon notified Congress of in early December, would provide Riyadh with more than 15,000 Raytheon anti-tank missiles at a cost of over $1 billion. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Military Balance report, Saudi Arabia’s total stockpile this year amounted to slightly more than 4,000 anti-tank missiles. In the past decade, the Pentagon has notified Congress of only one other sale of anti-tank missiles to Saudi Arabia — a 2009 deal that shipped roughly 5,000 missiles to the kingdom.

“It’s a very large number of missiles, including the most advanced version of the TOWs [tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missiles],” said Jeffrey White, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former intelligence analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency. “The problem is: What’s the threat?”

That’s a tough question to answer. A military engagement with Iran, the most immediate potential threat faced by Riyadh, would be largely a naval and air engagement over the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia has fought a series of deadly skirmishes with insurgents in northern Yemen over the years, but those groups have no more than a handful of military vehicles. And Iraq, which posed a real threat during Saddam Hussein’s day, is far too consumed by its internal demons and the fallout from the war in Syria to ponder such foreign adventurism.

But one Saudi ally could desperately use anti-tank weapons — the Syrian rebels. In the past, Riyadh has been happy to oblige: It previously purchased anti-tank weapons from Croatia and funneled them to anti-Assad fighters, and it is now training and arming Syrian rebels in Jordan. Charles Lister, a London-based terrorism and insurgency analyst, said that rebels have also received as many as 100 Chinese HJ-8 anti-tank missiles from across the border with Jordan — and indeed, many videos show Syrian rebels using this weapon against Bashar al-Assad’s tanks.

While most of the rebels’ anti-tank weapons were seized from Assad’s armories, Lister also believes that several dozen 9M113 Konkurs missiles, an old Soviet weapon, were provided to Islamist rebels in northern Syria this summer. And when these missiles have found their way to the battlefield, they’ve helped the rebels break through the belts of armor Assad uses to protect strategic areas: “Neutralizing these external defenses has proven key to opening the gates for ground assaults,” Lister said.

The Saudis can’t send U.S. anti-tank missiles directly to the rebels — Washington has strict laws against that. Recipients of U.S. arms are not allowed to transfer weapons to a third party without the explicit approval of the U.S. government, which in the case of Saudi Arabia has not been granted. Given Washington’s heightened concern over radical Islamist forces seizing control over the conflict — which resulted in the suspension of nonlethal aid to Syrian rebels on Dec. 12 — that approval will almost certainly never be given. If Riyadh went ahead and transferred the weapons anyway, it “would be a serious breach of U.S. law,” said Aram Nerguizian, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, that would “all but certainly lead to a suspension of existing arms sales agreements.” So far, only one American anti-tank missile has been identified in Syria — an older model that Lister speculates may have been sold to Shah-era Iran, transferred to the Assad regime, and then captured by the rebels.

But while the latest American anti-tank weapons might not be showing up in Aleppo anytime soon, that doesn’t mean the deal is totally disconnected from Saudi efforts to arm the Syrian rebels. What may be happening, analysts say, is that the Saudis are sending their stockpiles of anti-tank weapons bought from elsewhere to Syria and are purchasing U.S. missiles to replenish their own stockpiles. “I would speculate that with an order of this size, the Saudis were flushing their current stocks in the direction of the opposition and replacing them with new munitions,” said Charles Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Regardless of how this purchase of anti-tank missiles relates to Syria, it’s undoubtedly part of a larger Saudi arms buildup that has been going on for nearly a decade. From 2004 to 2011, according to a 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service, Riyadh signed $75.7 billion worth of arms transfer agreements — by far the most of any developing nation. The United States was the major benefactor of this Saudi largesse, as the deals bumped up U.S. arms sales to a record $66 billion in 2011 alone.

How the Saudis plan to use many of these weapons is a mystery. And it’s not just the anti-tank missiles whose purpose remains unclear. Riyadh recently bought advanced fighter jets from the United States for a whopping $30 billion — but the Saudis’ lack of pilots and ability to maintain them means that it’s an open question how long they can keep them airborne, said William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.

But purchasing the weapons, rather than any intent to use them, may be the point for the Saudis. At a time when they are at odds with Washington over the Obama administration’s diplomacy with Iran and nonintervention in Syria, the kingdom’s deep pockets can at least make sure their ties to the Pentagon remain as strong as ever.

“There was a [Washington] lobbyist who used to say, ‘When you buy U.S. weapons, you’re not just buying the weapon — you’re buying a relationship with the United States,'” said Hartung. “I think that’s kind of the concept.”

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , | Comments Off on Saudi Arabia Buys 15,000 U.S. Anti-Tank Missiles for a War It Will Never Fight

U.S. to Destroy a Half-Billion Dollars’ Worth of Unused Aircraft in Afghanistan

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | December 13, 2013

The U.S. military has decided to scrap nearly half a billion dollars worth of aircraft purchased for Afghanistan’s air force because the planes couldn’t handle the climate, among other problems.

A total of 16 cargo planes, the G222 manufactured by Italy’s Finmeccanica, now sit at Kabul International Airport. They were flown only 200 of the 4,500 hours scheduled for flight training by Afghan pilots before the U.S. decided to shut them down.

The Obama administration spent $486 million to purchase the aircraft, which were supposed to comprise 15% of the Afghan Air Force.

“We need answers to this huge waste of U.S. taxpayer money,” John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction who is investigating the matter, said in an email to Bloomberg. “Who made the decision to purchase these planes, and why? We need to get to the bottom of this, and that’s why we’re opening this inquiry.”

A January 31 Pentagon Inspector General report, marked “For Official Use Only,” criticized NATO and U.S. training commands for “hav[ing] not effectively managed the program.”

Lieutenant General Charles Davis, the U.S. Air Force’s top military acquisition official, told Bloomberg: “Just about everything you can think of was wrong for it other than the airplane was built for the size of cargo and mission they needed.”

“Other than that, it didn’t really meet any of the requirements,” he added.

A key problem was that the planes couldn’t handle the heat and dust of Afghanistan’s environment, which caused numerous maintenance troubles and prevented them from flying.

Davis said the Air Force tried to sell the aircraft to another country, but couldn’t locate any buyers. So now they will be dismantled for parts.

The U.S. decided to replace the G222s with American-made C-130H transports for the Afghan Air Force to use. But the replacements won’t be available until 2016.

To Learn More:

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , | Comments Off on U.S. to Destroy a Half-Billion Dollars’ Worth of Unused Aircraft in Afghanistan

American ‘business’ tourist to Iran was CIA agent

Robert Levinson who went missing in southern Iran in 2007 was working for the CIA
Press T V – December 13, 2013

A recent investigation has found that an American who went missing in southern Iran in 2007 was working for the Central Intelligence Agency in the US.

Retired FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared on March 9, 2007, during a visit to Iran’s Kish Island in the Persian Gulf.

The US State Department insisted that Levinson was a private citizen who had traveled to Kish on private business.

Nevertheless, more than six years after Levinson’s disappearance, the Associated Press has revealed that he was recruited by the CIA to run unauthorized spying operations.

According to the AP, the CIA paid $2.5 million to Levinson’s family in a bid to pre-empt a revealing lawsuit.

Even after they learned about Levinson’s CIA ties, officials at the White House, the FBI, and the State Department did not change the official story, insisting that he was “a private citizen involved in private business.”

The AP first found about Levinson’s involvement with the CIA’s spying operations in 2010; however, they withheld the story several times at the behest of the US government.

The AP’s revelation is based on documents obtained or reviewed by the New York-based news agency and interviews with a number of current and former officials from the US and other countries, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The CIA is generally made up of two groups: operatives, who gather intelligence and hire spies, and analysts, who receive strands of intelligence and decode them.

Although Levinson was recruited by a team of CIA analysts and his contract with the CIA, worth about $85,000, required him to write reports for the agency based on his travel and expertise, he started to gather intelligence from the onset instead of writing reports.

In order to keep Levinson’s operations secret, the CIA had instructed him not to mail any packages to the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, or email documents to US government addresses.

Instead, he had to send the intelligence he had gathered to the private home of a CIA analyst named Anne Jablonski in Virginia and contact Jablonski’s personal email account if he needed any instructions.

Levinson’s whereabouts and captors are not known; however, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in 2011 that Washington believed he was “being held somewhere in southwest Asia.”

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | 3 Comments

Israeli Foreign Ministry accuses the Netherlands of encouraging the world to punish Israel

MEMO | December 12, 2013

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has summoned the Dutch Ambassador in Tel Aviv over the Dutch water supplier Vitens’ decision to end its partnership with the Israeli water company Merokot because of its operations in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Vitens, a state-owned company, announced on Tuesday that it had decided to end its partnership with the Israeli company because it is operating in the occupied Palestinian territories in a clear violation of international law. The company released an official statement saying: “Vitens attaches great importance to integrity and adhering to (inter)national laws and regulations.” It continued: “Following consultation with stakeholders, the company came to the realization that it is extremely difficult to continue joint work on projects, as they cannot be separated from the political environment.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has accused the Dutch government of encouraging the world to punish Israel and everything that is related to the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Foreign Ministry summoned Dutch Ambassador Casper Veldkamp “to protest what it said were ‘ambiguous’ statements by the Dutch Foreign Ministry creating a pro-boycott atmosphere of Israel in the Netherlands, on Wednesday.”

Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio that Vitens broke with Merokot due to pressure from Dutch Parliamentarians and Amnesty International. He responded by stating: “I say to the Europeans, you cannot cry and whine all the time that you are not part of the diplomatic process, and that the US leads it alone, when you take one sided, unbalanced and sometimes even hostile polices,” he said. “You want to be part of the process? Those who want to be part of the process have to come with a balanced policy toward the conflict, and only then come and demand to be part of the process.”

The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had visited Tel Aviv earlier this week to strengthen trade relations between the two countries, when the ceremonial visit turned into a crisis of confidence after a new Dutch security scanner donated for use at the Gaza border was refused by Israel. Rutte reportedly responded by saying “I do not understand the Israeli position,” and cancelled his visit to the Karem Salem crossing where the Dutch scanner was due to be installed. Rutte also cancelled his visit to Hebron when the Israeli security agency Shabak insisted on accompanying him. The prime minister had asked for Palestinian security services to accompany him, but Israel refused his request.

The Netherlands was one of the first European countries to demand labelling settlement products. Now, it is among the first to make the move to boycott them.

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel shuns the ‘wrong kind’ of blood

By Jonathon Cook | December 12, 2013

There’s a common mistaken assumption that Israelis’ hostility towards Palestinians and Arabs is based on a justified / deluded (take your choice) sense of the danger they pose. Israelis’ insecurity, it is often believed, derives from centuries of persecution of Jews around the world.

In reality, this is only a part of the story. There is also a deeply entrenched sense of separateness that comes both from the religion (the “chosen people” of Judaism) and from the lifestyle Jewish communities adopted in the face of persecution (e.g. the pales of settlement).

Reinvented by Zionism, the need for separation embodied by the Jewish state profoundly bolstered and exaggerated the kind of lingering legacy of “white racism” we find in western societies – the “model” for Ashkenazi Jews.

This was illustrated in a recent Haaretz feature about how the interior ministry grossly abuses non-Jewish spouses of Israelis when they try to naturalise.

It is also a prominent feature of Israel’s treatment of asylum seekers and foreign workers. Israel is barely better than a police state for these unfortunates.

But it also extends to Israeli Jews whom the wider society refuses to accept as “proper” Jews.

It is only with this background that one can make sense of the extraordinary story of a member of the Israeli parliament, Pnina Tamano-Shata, being treated as though she were a cross between a leper and the “kitchen help” at a recent blood donor drive run by the ambulance service at the parliament building.

Tamano-Shata’s problem is that she is black – an Ethiopian Jew. When she went to donate blood this week, alongside other MPs, she was rejected. The medics told her she had “the special kind of Jewish-Ethiopian blood”. When she insisted on speaking to the supervisor, she was told she could donate but the blood would not be used. The supervisor apparently added: “Sweetheart, don’t be insulted, you’re right but these are the Health Ministry’s directives.”

The directive tars a whole community with the idea that Ethiopian Jews are carriers of HIV.

Paradoxically, this long-standing practice of refusing blood blanket-fashion from Ethiopian Jews was what brought Tamano-Shata to public attention after she led a public campaign against it.

There has been lots of hand-wringing from government officials since the story went public. Health Minister Yael German said feebly in response, as though the government was powerless: “I find it absurd that in Israel of 2013, people of Ethiopian descent that came to Israel over 25 years ago can still not donate blood.”

But Ethiopians face myriad forms of discrimination. Not long ago, for example, it what Ethiopian women had been given long-term contraceptive injections, despite the known dangers, to try to stop them having more Ethiopian babies.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, it was left to a Palestinian MP in Israel, Ahmed Tibi, to make best sense of the events: “This is a disgraceful, racist decision. The Israeli society and its systems continue to be infected by the deadly virus of racism, aimed at times against Ethiopians and many other times against Arabs. Racism is racism is racism. I feel solidarity with MK Tamano-Shata.”




December 13, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Comments Off on Israel shuns the ‘wrong kind’ of blood

On Hersh, Higgins, Whitaker and Ghouta

Interventions Watch | December 12, 2013

A few brief thoughts on Seymour Hersh’s article on the chemical weapons attack in Syria in August: Elliot Higgins’ response to it; and Brian Whitaker’s take on things.

Here are the bits from Whitaker’s article that I thought were worth commenting on:

‘On one side of the chemical weapons debate is Seymour Hersh, the veteran investigative journalist, who suggested in an article for the London Review of Books that rebel fighters, rather than the Syrian regime, were to blame for the Damascus attacks’.

That isn’t really the point Hersh was making though, is it? The gist of the story was that the case against the Assad regime wasn’t as strong as the Obama regime made out, and that the Obama regime knew this.

As Hersh told Democracy Now – ‘I certainly don’t know who did what, but there’s no question my government does not’, and that Obama ‘was willing to go to war, wanted to throw missiles at Syria, without really having a case and knowing he didn’t have much of a case‘.

Hersh and his sources saw that as a major scandal: a President deciding to start a war, with all that entails, based on a case that was less than watertight.

They also refused to even entertain the possibility, at least in public, that a rebel faction may have been responsible, despite knowing that at least one rebel faction had ‘mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity’.

‘Given that Hersh has spent decades working for mainstream media, that Media Lens disapproves of anonymous sources’.

An apparent ‘Gotcha!’ moment, no? But maybe there’s a difference between people leaking and briefing anonymously to promote Establishment narratives and aims, and people leaking and briefing anonymously to challenge them. Hersh has, throughout his career, promoted the latter with a very good hit rate. Simply put, anonymous leaks designed to whistleblow are not the same as anonymous leaks designed to mislead and confuse.

‘Some of his other exposes have misfired, though’

Some examples might be nice.

‘he has often been criticised for his use of shadowy sources. In the words of one Pentagon spokesman, he has “a solid and well-earned reputation for making dramatic assertions based on thinly sourced, unverifiable anonymous sources”‘.

Hersh has spent decades shining lights into places ‘Pentagon spokesmen’ types don’t want him to look. So it’s not surprising that they’d try and discredit his work. Would Whitaker, for example, quote an Iranian military spokesman to try and rubbish the work of an Iranian dissident journalist? I doubt it. And the fact he does it here perhaps says much about his unexamined assumptions and biases.

‘Higgins, meanwhile, is the antithesis of a “corporate” journalist’.

At this point in his career, it’s not like Higgins is some obscure, insurgent outsider. He has had his work published in The New York Times and Foreign Policy, has had a lengthy profile written about him in The New Yorker, has worked with Human Rights Watch, and has been interviewed more than once on T.V. News. Does this make him wrong? Of course not. But the line between him and ‘old media’ isn’t quite as defined as Whitaker would like to make out.

It is perhaps instructive that in this case, Hersh struggled to get anyone to publish his chemical weapons piece, while Higgins had no problem in getting Foreign Policy, an Establishment journal if ever there was one, to publish his rebuttal pretty much straight away.

‘Hersh’s source on the supposed sarin-manufacturing capabilities is an unnamed “senior intelligence consultant”:

‘Already by late May, the senior intelligence consultant told me, the CIA had briefed the Obama administration on al-Nusra and its work with sarin, and had sent alarming reports that another Sunni fundamentalist group active in Syria, al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), also understood the science of producing sarin’

. . . Interestingly, though, EAWorldView has an idea who this consultant might be. It notes that Michael Maloof, who formerly worked in the US Defense Department, has made very similar claims in an article for the right-wing World Net Daily, and also on the Russian propaganda channel, RT’.

Pure speculation, of course. Even if the source is Maloof, it doesn’t automatically follow that Maloof is wrong.

Nor is Maloof, or any other source Hersh might have, the only person to have suggested a rebel faction may have access to chemical weapons.

In May 2013 for example, Carla Del Ponte, one of the overseers of the UN commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss T.V. that ‘there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas’ by rebel factions, and that she was ‘a little bit stupefied by the first indications we got . . . they were about the use of nerve gas by the opposition’.

Predictably, her comments quickly disappeared down the Memory Hole, even though she is a very credible and well respected source, and likely wasn’t just making it all up.

She was, incidentally, also smeared and/or discredited by those who simply don’t want to see any kind of challenge to the Establishment narrative on Syria, much like is happening to Hersh now.

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Comments Off on On Hersh, Higgins, Whitaker and Ghouta

US: Anti-Iran ‘non-nuclear’ sanctions are OK

US State Department official Wendy Sherman at the Senate Banking Committee on Dec. 12, 2013
Press TV – December 13, 2013

The administration of President Barack Obama has told lawmakers in US Congress that they could pass new sanctions against Iran as far as they are not “nuclear-related.”

During a public testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, State Department official Wendy Sherman, who led the US delegation in nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva, indicated that US lawmakers had the green light from the Obama administration to pass new anti-Iran sanctions as long as the sanctions are not “nuclear-related.”

“Given that there are different kinds of sanctions and the agreement focuses on nuclear-related sanctions,” Sen. Mike Crapo, the top Republican on the Committee, asked Sherman, “assuming we can specify exactly what that is and distinguish between the different sanctions, does that mean that Congress would be free to pass other sanctions measures while we are” negotiating over a final deal over Iran’s nuclear energy program?

“We have said to Iran that we will continue to enforce all of our existing sanctions, and we have said that this agreement pertains only to new nuclear-related sanctions,” Sherman answered.

In a phone interview with Press TV on Thursday, US Congress policy advisor Frederick Peterson said that the problem with some hawkish US lawmakers who are pushing for a new anti-Iran sanctions bill is exacerbated by the way the Obama administration is “misrepresenting” the interim deal between Iran and the P5+1 to the American people and Congress.

Meanwhile, the US Departments of Treasury and State announced new sanctions against a number of companies and individuals for “providing support for” Iran’s nuclear energy program.

Treasury Department official David Cohen, who also testified before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, said the new sanctions were “a stark reminder to businesses, banks, and brokers everywhere that we will continue relentlessly to enforce our sanctions.”

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi has hit out at Washington, saying that the new restrictions are in full contradiction with the recent nuclear deal between Tehran and the P5+1. Araqchi also said that Tehran is now assessing the current situation.

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Comments Off on US: Anti-Iran ‘non-nuclear’ sanctions are OK

Iran slams new US sanctions on firms, individuals

Press TV – December 13, 2013

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi slams the new US sanctions targeting Iran, saying the bans run counter to the spirit of the recent nuclear deal reached between Tehran and six major world powers.

“This [US] move is against the spirit of the Geneva deal,” Araqchi said on Friday.

“We are assessing the current situation,” the senior member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team added.

On Thursday, the administration of US President Barack Obama issued new sanctions against more than a dozen companies and individuals for “providing support for” Iran’s nuclear energy program.

The US Treasury Department said it was freezing assets and banning transactions of entities that attempt to evade the sanctions against Iran.

The sanctions came despite the nuclear deal inked between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Russia, China, France, Britain and the US – plus Germany in the Swiss city of Geneva on November 24 in a bid to set the stage for the full resolution of the West’s decade-old dispute with Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program.

Under the Geneva deal, the six countries have undertaken to lift some of the existing sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for Iran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities during six months. It was also agreed that no more sanctions would be imposed on Iran in the same time frame.

Iran and the six powers ended four days of intense expert-level negotiations in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had earlier warned that the Geneva nuclear deal will be “dead” if the US imposes further sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

“The entire deal is dead. We do not like to negotiate under duress. And if Congress adopts sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States,” Zarif said in an exclusive interview with Time magazine in Tehran on Saturday.

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Video, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment