Aletho News


Kifl Hares: Closure of village and settler harassment

International Solidarity Movement | January 12, 2014

Kifl Hares, Occupied Palestine – On Friday, 10th January 2014, at approximately 4 o’clock in the morning a group of twenty settlers from nearby illegal settlements entered the Palestinian village of Kifl Hares. Some of them arrived in cars, others on foot. The settlers made noise and broke windows of parked cars. Palestinians on their way to the mosque for the first prayers were harassed and settlers in cars tried to run them over. Children were frightened and the villagers were afraid to leave their homes.

DSC_0451-1-400x264Previously, on Tuesday 7th January, the Israeli army closed the gate at the main entrance to the village, which leads to the main road. When villagers asked the reason for this, the soldiers stationed in a watchtower nearby answered that the gate would be closed indefinitely for security reasons.

On Thursday, 9th January, an emergency occurred, when an ambulance attempted to take an elderly lady living near the entrance to a hospital in Nablus. The residents requested that the Israeli soldiers open the gate for just five minutes so that the ambulance could reach the main road. The Israeli forces refused and the paramedic had to carry the lady by hand on a stretcher from her house to the other side of the gate. This delayed her arrival at hospital.

The gate has been opened only once in the past few days. This happened on Friday, when the settlers entered the village, implying that the Israeli forces knew of the settler attack.

Illegal settlers and Jewish tourists have entered Kifl Hares on many occasions. The village is located in the northern West Bank in the Salfit district and close to Ariel, the largest of the illegal settlements. The pretext for the incursions into Kifl Hares is a pilgrimage to three disputed tombs. The centuries-old tombs belonging to the village are also important for Muslims. Large numbers of settlers arrive on visits organized by the DCO and with Israeli army protection. Settlers and Jewish tourists from all over the world arrive by bus, frequently during the night. During the incursions, Israeli forces declare the village a closed military zone and Palestinians are required to stay in their homes until the settlers have left. This event occurs around twenty times a year. Nevertheless settlers also come weekly without army protection to pray in the tombs and often to harass or attack villagers. Several years ago Palestinian youth would resist these incursions by throwing stones at the illegal settlers and Israeli forces. This resistance was invariably responded to with night raids and arrests that resulted in imprisonment for up to five years. Since then villagers have been afraid to resist these settler attacks.

January 12, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Kifl Hares: Closure of village and settler harassment

Modern Language Association hits back at Israel over Palestine entry denials

Press TV – January 12, 2014

The Modern Language Association (MLA) has approved a resolution that condemns the Israeli regime for denying scholars entry to Palestine.

MLA’s delegate committee passed the resolution on Saturday in reaction to travel and admission restrictions imposed on scholars and academic institutions by the Tel Aviv regime.

The resolution also calls on the US Department of State to “contest Israel’s denials of entry to the West Bank by US academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.”

The advocators of the resolution criticize the Israeli regime for rights abuses.

The MLA argued that such acts pose a serious threat to academic freedom, urging Tel Aviv to stop the trend.

The resolution will be further reviewed by the MLA executive committee next month.

The MLA resolution came after the American Studies Association voted to support a boycott of Israeli universities.

Three Academic associations have so far supported the boycott, which calls on American schools and academic groups to ban collaboration with Israeli institutions, but individual Israeli scholars who do not represent Tel Aviv would still be able to attend academic events in the United States.

January 12, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Comments Off on Modern Language Association hits back at Israel over Palestine entry denials

Sharon may be dead, but his apartheid legacy taints us all

By Sabrien Amrov | MEMO | January 11, 2014

The shadow of the ex-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has died aged 85, has always had a peculiar place in my life. He was in part the trigger of my interest in the Palestine-Israel conflict.

I recall sitting in the living room in Montreal on an autumnal September day watching the news with my family as the camera zoomed-in on an elderly, black-suited man with sunglasses. Striding across the courtyard of Al-Aqsa Mosque, he was shepherding a large group of armed men.

“What is he doing,” I asked my dad. “Who is he?”

“That’s Sharon,” he replied. “Apparently, he wants to take a walk on Temple Mount.” He said the last bit begrudgingly.

“But why all those soldiers?” I enquired, through a confused 11-year-old’s eyes.

“Because that is Sharon, and he wants a war,” replied my father in a tone that suggested that the questions should stop there.

I found out later that reports had confirmed that the 11th prime minister of Israel was, in fact, accompanied by more than 1,000 Israeli troops and paramilitary police for a promenade on what Jews calls the Temple Mount and which Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa, home to Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock Mosque.

What began as an altercation between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in Al-Aqsa’s grounds escalated quickly into the Second Intifada (uprising) that saw, a couple of days later, the murder of 12-year-old Mohamad Al-Durah as his father tried to shelter him from the Israeli soldiers determined to kill the boy. Al-Durah, who died in the arms of his father, became the emblem of the Second Intifada. From 2000 to 2005, it was a bloody debut to the new millennium in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The death toll was estimated at 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis; all the while, Sharon insisted that all he had wanted was a peaceful stroll on the Temple Mount.

That was my introduction to Sharon; surely, though, there was more to this man.

When politicians die oceans of words usually pour out in memoriam, describing the person as a saint or a sinner. When Nelson Mandela died in December 2013, few dared to utter anything negative about him; a notable exception was Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. On the other hand, when Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic died in his prison cell in The Hague, not many people shed a tear or had much nice to say about him. There are those who died in such confusing and ambiguous circumstances that no one wants to be the first to comment before the autopsy tests are over (and even then there was doubt), as was the case with the late President Yasser Arafat. Sharon is an interesting case because, due to a number of false alarms, commentators were debating how best to remember him once he’d gone.

However, such binaries are counterproductive. For one thing, they tend to depoliticise and de-contextualise the legacy of these public figures: “Mandela was a nice person”; “Saddam was a bad person”; “Arafat betrayed Palestine”. Generic lines such as these fail to provide substantive information to help us understand how and why these personalities mattered and what should be retained from their trajectory to move forward into progressive politics. Second, there is no need to dive into binaries when history provides us with a bookshelf on the life of the late Prime Minister of Israel.

The general and the statesman

Before entering politics, Sharon was regarded as a high-calibre military man. He built a reputation as one of the most experienced and shrewd generals Israel had known. He went by the nicknames “King of Israel” and “Lion of God” (which is in fact, the literal translation of his name). Some of his accomplishments include his role as the mastermind behind numerous operations in which many Palestinian civilians were killed. For example, during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the massacre in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps showcased how sharp and effective Sharon had become in the execution of Palestinians.

There is still no accurate figure for the number of people killed in the massacre. The official Israeli investigation under the Kahan Commission concluded that between 700 and 800 people were murdered. Journalist Robert Fisk, who was one of the first people on the scene after the massacre, concluded that 1,700 people lost their lives. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Red Crescent estimate was more than 2,000. The research of Amnon Kapeliouk, an Israeli journalist and author of “Sabra and Shatila: Inquiry into a Massacre”, puts the figure between 3,000 and 3,500 dead.

Twenty years later, in April 2002, Sharon also ordered the killings in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. According to the Badil Resource Centre: “…by the time the military assault ended on 11 April it was estimated that more than 50 Palestinians had been killed. Around 10 per cent of the camp, including hundreds of refugee shelters, had been completely levelled.”

No media were allowed inside during the Israeli attack. It was only after 2 weeks that local and international human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, were allowed inside Jenin. They soon uncovered evidence of serious breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law, including war crimes. With international pressure, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1405, 19 April 2002, calling for an international investigation into the invasion.

In fact, that same year, Ariel Sharon was facing possible war crime prosecutions in Belgium for both Sabra and Shatila and the Jenin massacres under the country’s 1993 law that gives the courts ”universal jurisdiction” to charge individuals over crimes against humanity or war crimes committed anywhere.

Sharon’s track record as a military man who gets the job done pre-dates the state of Israel. Aged 14, he was a member of the Haganah, the Jewish militia which became the “Israel Defence Forces”. At 20, he headed an infantry company in the Alexandroni Brigade during the 1948 War, where Israeli forces drove an estimated 700,000 Palestinians from their land, in what would today be called an act of ethnic cleansing. In August 1953, as commander of the 101 Unit, Sharon led an attack on Al-Bureig refugee camp south of Gaza, killing over 50 people. He repeated the same exercise in several other villages including the infamous Qibya village massacre. In his book “The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World since 1948”, Israeli historian Avi Shlaim described the massacre thus: “Sharon’s order was to penetrate Qibya, blow up houses and inflict heavy casualties on its inhabitants. His success in carrying out the order surpassed all expectations. The full and macabre story of what happened at Qibya was revealed only during the morning after the attack. The village had been reduced to rubble: forty-five houses had been blown up, and sixty-nine civilians, two thirds of them women and children, had been killed.”

Later on, in 1972, under the Galilee Protocols, Ariel Sharon “drove off some ten thousand farmers and Bedouins, bulldozed or dynamited their houses, pulled down their tents, destroyed their crops and filled in their wells” to prepare the ground for the establishment of six kibbutzim, 9 villages and the city of Yamit.

As a commander, Sharon knew how to suck the life out of a village effectively. In most operations, he would not only call the shots, but would also join his troops and participate fully.

As for his political career, in mainstream international relations Sharon is often thanked for pushing forward the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli settlers from Gaza in 2004-2005, which was seen as a great sacrifice and difficult decision for the prime minister to make such “a sign of good will for peace”. Ironically, since the withdrawal, the residents of Gaza have been paying the price under the Israeli-imposed siege of the Strip that has reached an all-time low this year. In fact, Sharon’s coma has been concurrent with the threat of the Palestinians in Gaza. He may have been in a vegetative state, but the people in Gaza must continue to resist the illegal blockade.

Another noteworthy contribution of Sharon the politician is the approval and management of the Apartheid Wall. Started in 2001 it now runs across the West Bank like a snake, separating towns and houses and neighbours from each other, providing resources on one side and collective punishment on the other.

Finally, Sharon has an interesting record of voting against or abstaining from diplomatic initiatives for peace in the region, leaving little leverage to suggest that Sharon was a man of peace. In 1979, in the Begin government, he voted against a peace treaty with Egypt and in 1994 he abstained from the vote for a peace agreement with Jordan. He also voted against a withdrawal of Israeli troops from Southern Lebanon in 1985. During the Madrid peace conference in 1991, he opposed the participation of Israel on the basis that it was not worth the trouble. He did the same with the Oslo agreement in 1993, voting against it in the Knesset.

The individual and the system

Now that he is gone, there is not much left to say about Ariel Sharon. To be fair, he has been gone for quite some time in all but name, but the effect of his deeds carry on. More importantly, we must realise that Sharon is only one face – albeit all-encompassing of the same persistent calamity: Israeli apartheid and colonisation. Perhaps for many Israelis, Sharon served his nation in good and bad times: he wore the suits and ties as well as the military uniforms; he shook hands with politicians and aimed artillery at civilians; and he did this in the name and for the sake of a Zionist state that believes it can strip another people of their rights and integrity for the sake of its own existence. As his track record demonstrates, leaders like Sharon reinforce injustice and oppression for the sake of statehood. They do not undertake these actions alone; they are part of an apparatus that imposes the normalisation of power dynamics based on militarisation, colonisation and apartheid, and expect the world to either follow suit or keep quiet about it.

Thirteen years on, as I see the man that provoked followers at Al-Aqsa Mosque and ignited the Second Intifada pass away after being incapacitated for almost a decade, I can only say the following: Sharon is dead but Israeli apartheid isn’t. That ought to be the focus of discussion about his life and contributions towards “peace”. That ought to be the concern of people interested in ending the conflict on realistic and just terms.

Sabrien Amrov is a Research Assistant, Levant Politics, Foreign Policy Division Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) in Ankara, Turkey

January 12, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | Comments Off on Sharon may be dead, but his apartheid legacy taints us all

Greenwald Responds to Critics, Rejects Conspiracism

By Kevin Ryan | Dig Within | January 12, 2014

The story of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has dominated the mainstream news for the last seven months. During that time, questions about Snowden and his disclosures have framed the national discussion about domestic surveillance. Those disclosures have not resulted in any changes to U.S. domestic surveillance practices to date. Instead, the U.S. Justice Department has re-certified the programs in question as Americans discuss media talking points like—Is Snowden a traitor or a hero? A growing number of people are looking behind that media-generated framework, however, and are beginning to wonder if the right questions are even being asked.

What we know about Edward Snowden is that he was a Special Forces recruit in the U.S. Army, an NSA employee, an NSA contractor for at least two different companies, and a CIA employee under cover. All of this occurred in a span of only a few years and he was able to command six-figure salaries despite having no education beyond a high school equivalency certification. Of the many positions he held in a period of approximately six years, the most long-lived appears to have been his work with the CIA where this 20-something spy was, in his own words, a “senior advisor.”

When asked about his background and motivations, Snowden said, “I’m just another guy.” He went on to say that his leaking of NSA secrets was what we needed to know, implying that it was all we needed to know, about NSA spying. “This is the truth… This is what’s happening,” he said. The remainder of the story has been presented in stories like those by The New York Times, which paint Snowden in an increasingly favorable light. The Times, which was called a mouthpiece for the Obama Administration by Glenn Greenwald, the reporter chosen by Snowden to reveal his story, has come out calling for clemency for Snowden.

However, the questions about the evolving Snowden story have grown rapidly and continue to present challenges to citizens who are alert to the prevalence of corporate media propaganda. How many stolen documents are there and who has access to them? Why have only a tiny fraction of the documents been released seven months after they were first disclosed by Snowden? Why has Glenn Greenwald made a deal with the owner of Paypal Corporation—the company whose former executives now produce the technologies used for domestic spying?

Emotions and Responses

The biggest hurdle to understanding the Snowden story has been the emotional reaction to asking questions about it. Those who have dared to question the story have been met with ridicule and misplaced condemnation.

Author Naomi Wolf asked some straightforward questions about Snowden’s slick introduction in comparison to other whistleblower stories. Her questions elicited derision from pundits, some even suggesting that if Wolf didn’t buy into Snowden then she must be an NSA operative.

Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds’ questions were met with ad hominem attacks from Greenwald. Writing that Edmonds was “too stupid and/or crazy to know,“ Greenwald summarily excused the founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition from further dialogue on the issue.

My recent article resulted in mild hysteria from a few who believe that no aspect of the Snowden story should ever be questioned, regardless of how that story evolves in the mainstream media. One such reaction resulted in a hit piece based on the false premise that I was calling Snowden a liar. The author called for a public apology until he realized that it was his own error that required an apology (cue crickets).

Thankfully, Greenwald has offered a few answers at his blog. Unfortunately, the emotional nature of those responses raises more questions. What’s more, the growing rancor and distrust regarding this story is resulting in citizens losing sight of the actual NSA crimes being committed and our decreasing ability to stop or prosecute them.

Greenwald’s answers appeared at his blog in two installments, one in December and another in January. In those posts he goes on at length about the fact that reporters work for money. Although Edmonds has made the point that whistleblowing should not be a profit-making venture for anyone, in general no one denies that reporters work for money. And if Greenwald gets fabulously rich from all of it, that doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that Greenwald still hasn’t answered some of the more important questions. For example, has he made any kind of deal with government or corporate representatives with regard to this story or the release of material from Snowden? What are his views on the coincidence that several of Pierre Omidyar’s former Paypal colleagues are strong supporters of NSA spying and are the people developing the technologies for that spying?

Another unanswered question is a simple one. How many documents are there? Estimates have ranged from thousands to nearly two million. Only Greenwald and Laura Poitras have the entire cache, according to Greenwald. But portions of the stolen documents have been distributed to many mainstream news organizations and “tens of thousands of these documents are in the possession of The New York Times, The Guardian, ProPublica, and The Washington Post.” A subset of more than 50,000 of them, focused specifically on the GCHQ (the British version of the NSA), were shared by The Guardian with The Times and ProPublica. Therefore we’re talking about a very large, but still very uncertain, number of documents. Since Greenwald has reported that Snowden “read and very carefully processed every document that he gave us,” curious citizens might wonder how that was possible.

That being said, Greenwald has offered answers to a few of the questions and we can discuss them.

Why are the documents being released so slowly?  Greenwald provided the following answers in his blog posts.

  1. Releasing the documents all at once would “violently breach … our agreement with our source.”
  2. “Large media institutions, even the ones with the best journalistic intentions, have all sorts of constraints – financial, legal, cultural – that produce fear and timidity, and that has sometimes slowed down or diluted our ability to publish the way we wanted to.”
  3. There exist “very real legal risks for everyone involved in this process, beginning with Snowden, who already faces 30 years in prison and is currently protected only by 9 more months of temporary asylum in Russia. Everyone involved in the publication of these materials has already undertaken substantial legal risk.”
  4. “These documents are complex. Sometimes they take a good deal of reporting to fill in some of the gaps.”
  5. The documents might contain the names of people who are surfing for pornography or are suspected of being terrorists, or they might contain “raw chats” or other specific internet activity, and these things might threaten the reputations or lives of those people. The documents might also help teach (less ethical?) states how to spy on their own citizens.

The first of these answers is the strongest. The public does not have access to the agreement and the implication is that future whistleblowers might be dissuaded from coming forward if they thought that they could not trust the people to whom they reveal information.

The second answer points more to the problem than the answer. Large media institutions are often vehicles for propaganda (remember the aluminum tubes) and that is why these kinds of questions arise in the first place.

The third answer is understandable but weak. Nobody should expect whistleblowing to be safe.

The last two answers are not believable considering what we know about answers Greenwald has given to other questions, and the distribution of the documents. For example, Greenwald knows enough about all the documents that he can definitely say that Paypal and its past and present executives are not implicated. And someone knew enough about the documents that they could be distributed to different major media corporations, presumably without carelessness, so these documents are not total unknowns. Can Greenwald tell us how the documents were categorized or sorted before distribution to the media outlets and how that was done to avoid the risks he emphasizes on his blog now?

Ultimately, the answer to why the documents have not been released boils down to that it is part of the agreement with Edward Snowden. Will Greenwald release his agreement with Snowden to verify that? Does the agreement apply to all the media outlets to which documents have been distributed? Who decided that these establishment mouthpiece media outlets were suddenly so honorable and would not report the information haphazardly or for the benefit of the powers that control them?

Conspiracy Theories

Greenwald’s December response indicated that he felt the questions about why the documents were not being released right away were good questions. He wrote, “I respect that critique” and even stated that he would ask the same questions. As an attorney, Greenwald might have wondered if withholding documents about ongoing crimes is a crime in itself.

Now, however, Greenwald labels those who question why the documents are being held back as “conspiracy theorists.” In Greenwald’s response, he rants about “people who cook up conspiracy theories” and how  “deranged those theories are.” These comments reflect the position of Greenwald’s new media partner Jeremy Scahill with regard to questions about the official account for the 9/11 attacks. Scahill has publicly said that he believes questions about 9/11 are “insulting to the people who died on 9/11.” Scahill claims to be educated on such questions but apparently still doesn’t know that it was the 9/11 victims’ families who initiated such questioning and who continue to lead the search for answers.

The irony is that Greenwald was, just prior to becoming the mouthpiece of our New York Times-supported whistleblower hero, a major conspiracy theorist with regard to terrorism. In fact, Greenwald has espoused some of the most interesting conspiracy theories regarding U.S. government involvement in the manufacture of false terrorism.

In a series of articles at Salon, Greenwald went into great detail on the FBI’s ongoing efforts to manufacture terrorism. In one case, he wrote that the FBI “created a plot [and] it then persuaded/manipulated/entrapped [a hapless loner] to join, essentially turning him into a Terrorist; and then patted itself on the back once it arrested him for having thwarted a ‘Terrorist plot’ which, from start to finish, was entirely the FBI’s own concoction.”

If that’s not a conspiracy theory, I don’t know what is.

Greenwald went on to write that, “Time and again, the FBI concocts a Terrorist attack, infiltrates Muslim communities in order to find recruits, persuades them to perpetrate the attack, supplies them with the money, weapons and know-how they need to carry it out—only to heroically jump in at the last moment, arrest the would-be perpetrators whom the FBI converted, and save a grateful nation from the plot manufactured by the FBI.”

According to Greenwald this vast FBI plot is intended “to justify this Endless War on civil liberties (and Terror).” At the time, in 2010 and 2011, Greenwald was astounded by the lack of skepticism about the completely uncritical reporting on terrorist stories that were used to justify the War on Terror. Today he is astounded by the growing skepticism about the completely uncritical reporting on the Snowden story. Apparently the difference, and his newfound reliance on the Conspiracy Theorists™ slur, has to do with him being a central character in this story.

Overall, the government’s handling of questions about domestic surveillance has been very similar to its handling of questions about 9/11. It’s all about The Terrorists and things that would never be allowed in other circumstances, like lying to Congress and withholding documents, are perfectly OK. The Anglo-American establishment media control the flow of information and questions are not allowed. Those daring to question are met with ridicule. Heroes and demons are offered up to focus the story on personalities instead of facts. What’s different here?

January 12, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | Comments Off on Greenwald Responds to Critics, Rejects Conspiracism

US tested biological weapons in Japan’s Okinawa in the 60s – report

RT | January 12, 2014

The American army conducted experiments with biological weapons aimed at destroying rice crops on the Japanese island of Okinawa in the 60s, Kyodo news agency reports. The alleged target of the tests was the China and Southeast Asia region.

Citing classified US documents, Japanese news agency Kyodo said the US military carried out experiments on their sovereign territory between 1961 and 1962. At this time Japan’s southern island of Okinawa was still under post-WWII, US jurisdiction. The US did similar tests in Taiwan and the American mainland, notes Kyodo.

The American army experimented with rice blast fungus – a plant pathogen – which infects rice crops with disastrous effects. The pathogen latches onto the rice plant as a spore and produces lesions and spots all over the rice plant and then reproduces.

A single lesion can generate a thousand spores in one night alone, while an entire cycle – lasting about a week – can have a devastating effect on rice crops.

Kyodo reports that tests were conducted over a dozen times, and mentions test sites, Nago and Shuri, in Okinawa. The US army reported some success in their experiments and the gathering of “useful data”.

“Field tests for stem rust of wheat and rice blast disease were begun at several sites in the (US) Midwest and south and in Okinawa with partial success in the accumulation of useful data,” wrote Kyodo, citing its documents.

The US government discarded all its biological weapons in 1969 and discontinued testing, after a leak of chemical weapons made 20 American soldiers stationed on the island sick. Moreover, residents had to be evacuated from the surrounding area and were reported to still be suffering the effects of the toxins two years after the leak.

In response to public outrage, the US government was forced to launch Operation Red Hat – a mission to remove all the biological weapons stored on Okinawa.

Six years later in 1975, Washington signed the international convention against production and possession of biological weapons.

Okinawa came back under Japanese jurisdiction in 1972, but the US still keeps a military presence of around 50,000 troops on the island.

Their presence is a constant source of tension with local populations due to crimes committed by servicemen, disruptions caused by military flights and land use by the US military.

January 12, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on US tested biological weapons in Japan’s Okinawa in the 60s – report

South African organisations call for Israel to be excluded from diamond processing

MEMO | June 5, 2013

Human rights groups, trade unions and several other major civil society organisations have called for the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to exclude Israel. The international diamond regulatory body is meeting in South Africa and is chaired currently by Pretoria’s former ambassador to Washington, Mr Welile Nhlapo.

Organisations including South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM); the country’s largest trade union federation, COSATU; the SACP; YCL; South African Students Congress (SASCO); Congress of South African Students (COSAS), the Coalition for a Free Palestine and BDS South Africa are behind the call.

A statement issued at a press conference held at COSATU’s Head Office in Johannesburg pointed out that the KPCS presents an opportunity for South African officials to show “moral vision and political leadership” by excluding Israel. “The billions of dollars’ worth of diamonds exported via Israel are,” said the coalition, “a major source of revenue for the Israeli military, which stands accused of war crimes.” Such a move would have local benefits too, it added, by “bringing home” many lucrative diamond processing jobs to South Africa. Income from diamond processing carried out in Israel also, alleges the coalition, helps to develop military hardware such as pilotless drones.

Speaking to Business Day newspaper, Southern Africa Resource Watch director Claude Kabemba commented that most diamond-linked conflicts had been resolved, and the Kimberley Process now had to expand its mandate and monitor the entire diamond chain: “The Kimberley Process has played an important role over the past decade in resolving conflicts linked to the diamond trade but there is no doubt that it has to be reformed… [by] expanding the definition of conflict to include human rights abuses linked to diamond extraction perpetrated by governments and companies; and expanding downstream monitoring so that the process covers not just the rough diamond trade but also the international movement and polishing of diamonds.”

The statement from South Africa’s civil society groups called on the Kimberley Process to:

  • Exclude Israel from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) due to Israel’s human rights abuses against the indigenous Palestinians;
  • Expand the Kimberley Process to include cut and polished diamonds in addition to rough diamonds; and
  • End all exports of rough diamonds to Israel immediately.

A member of South Africa’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign said that a boycott of Israeli “blood diamonds”, and specifically the banning of diamond-polishing in the country, is a win-win solution for all. “Consumers will have a clear conscience that their diamonds are not funding, assisting or in any way involved with the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine,” insisted Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, “and more jobs will be created locally for our people by bringing this diamond processing back home instead of it being done in Israel.” While opponents of the Israel boycott often try to claim that the boycott will harm South Africans, added Ndlozi, this is a case where it only benefits them.

The Kimberley Process was launched 10 years ago to address the trade in conflict diamonds and to ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements seeking to undermine legitimate governments. It has 54 participants, representing 90 countries, and its members account for about 99.8 per cent of the global production of rough diamonds. The KPCS is coming under increasing pressure to exclude Israel due to the Israeli government’s involvement in human rights abuses against the Palestinians.

January 12, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Comments Off on South African organisations call for Israel to be excluded from diamond processing

French fox in African hen house


Press TV – January 11, 2014

The French finally got what they wanted in the restive Central African Republic – regime change.

Interim President Michel Djotodia and his Prime Minister Nicolas Tiengaye have resigned and the former French colony is now set to form a new government under the watchful eye of Paris.

Western media portray French conduct in the Central African Republic (CAR) as a benevolent force. “We are there to save lives,” said French President Francois Hollande recently.

This is like lauding a fox in a hen house. The reality is that violence and suffering have largely stemmed as a direct result of illegal French interference in that African country.

What’s more, we also can say that the violence has been deliberately provoked by the French as a cover for their real objective – regime change.

Djotodia was forced to step down after he was politically ambushed by other Francophile African leaders at a special conference convened at the end of the week in neighboring Chad.

Before the summit, French diplomats had been briefing the media and other African states that Djotodia “had to go”. The French tried to cover their tracks by saying “we are not here to give our thumbs up or down” but that is exactly what they were doing – giving the thumbs down.

French President Francois Hollande and his Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius have been carping about the CAR leader for weeks and undermining his authority. Obviously, the French wanted rid of Djotodia and his administration – and now they have gotten their illicit way. Lest we forget such interference in the sovereign affairs of another state is illegal.

Notably, just before the conference opened on Thursday in Chad, Djotodia rejected rumors of his impending resignation. In less than 24 hours, he then quit, evidently under duress.

Within minutes of Djotodia’s sacking on Friday, and even before he had returned from Chad, French military tanks had surrounded the presidential palace in the CAR capital Bangui. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also issued a call for Djotodia to be “replaced as soon as possible”.

Chadian President Idriss Déby had been one of the most vocal African leaders calling for Djotodia to quit. Déby, who is described as “a strong French ally” (in other words, “puppet”), was doing France’s bidding and giving an African voice to a directive from Paris, a directive which amounts to a coup d’état.

The Western media narrative, led by France, is that Djotodia “had not done enough to curb the violence” gripping the CAR. More than 1,000 people have been killed in recent weeks in sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christians. Roughly a quarter of the country’s five million population have been displaced in the fighting.

Djotodia came to power last year after Muslim rebels known as Seleka deposed the Christian president Francois Bozizé in March. Bozizé was notorious for corruption and had come to power through a French-backed military coup 11 years ago.

With major French commercial interests in the resource-rich country, in particular uranium mining, it seems that France was vexed about the new transitional government led by Michel Djotodia – the first Muslim leader of the mainly Christian country.
Djotodia’s interim administration was legally constituted last April and it was overseeing a transition with elections scheduled at the end of this year.

However, that did not seem good enough to allay the French, who wanted to exert tighter control over the political process within the CAR in order to secure favorable conditions for its commercial interests.

This is the real basis for the French military invasion, not the humanitarian pretext that the Hollande government has been trumpeting.

Last month, chaos and violence in the African country surged after France sent in its troops – allegedly to provide “humanitarian protection” in a situation where there had been no serious violence, apart from French government scaremongering of “imminent genocide”.

French military were dispatched to the CAR on December 2, three days before a French-drafted resolution was passed at the United Nations Security Council authorizing the intervention.

More French troops arrived on December 5, 2013, and only since then have the sectarian clashes in Bangui city and across the country escalated.

The conclusion is inescapable. The humanitarian crisis in the CAR was precipitated by French involvement, not prevented. A major factor for the violence is that the French military moved to unilaterally disarm the Seleka rebels while ignoring Christian vigilante groups known as Anti-Balaka.

The latter were, in effect, given a free hand to maraud Muslim communities and businesses with deadly consequences.

It is therefore obtuse and mendacious for the French government and its African clients to blame Michel Djotodia for not controlling security in his country.

The real culprit for the bloodshed and pandemonium that jolted the CAR is French interference in that country– interference that was illegal and was cynically disguised as “humanitarian.”

There are deep fears that violence against Muslim communities will increase further now that Michel Djotodia has been forced from office.

The Christian Anti-Balaka militias will feel emboldened by the French political interference. Many believe that the Anti-Balaka is being orchestrated by the former French puppet Bozizé from his exile in France.

Tragically, this is just the latest episode of misery for the Central African Republic caused by French neo-imperialist predation.

Since gaining so-called independence from France in 1960, the French have launched more covert coups and countercoups in that country than in any other former African colony.

The CAR remains politically and economically underdeveloped – despite its teeming natural wealth – precisely because of systematic French predatory exploitation.

Poverty in the Central African Republic, as in many other African countries, is a direct result of French policy, primarily due to the “franc afrique” monetary system set up at the time of independence.

This systematic poverty enables France to exploit raw materials and the people mercilessly. And when the racket comes a bit unstuck, the French send in their troops to “restore order”.

What the international community, such as the Non-Aligned Movement of over 100 nations, should be doing is to call for the prosecution of France, not applauding this fox in a hen house.

January 12, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , | 1 Comment

Ways to watch Press TV

Press TV – January 12, 2014

Following a move by the European satellite provider Eutelsat SA to take Press TV off the air in a flagrant violation of freedom of speech, Press TV viewers can continue to watch the news channel via the following satellites or by visiting the following websites:

You can watch Press TV by visiting the following websites:

Press TV watch live services (Worldwide)

OHTV Box (internet Set-top box) (Worldwide)

Livestation (internet platform. Supports PC MAC, Linux and all tablet PCs and smartphones)

Windows Mobile app

Press TV Mobile Page

Press TV YouTube

You could also view our broadcast in Europe through the following satellites:

Optus D2 (152E)

ST 2 (88E)

Paksat 1R (38E)
Badr 5 (26E)
Badr 5 (26E)
Badr 4 (26E)
Nilesat 201 A (7W)
Arabsat 5C (20E)
Arabsat 5C (20E) (HD)

Express AM44 (11W)
Thaicom 5 (78.5 E)

Related Interviews:

January 12, 2014 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Comments Off on Ways to watch Press TV