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U.S. Anti-Iran Lobby Group Accused of Mossad Ties

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | July 31, 2014

The NY Times reports a blockbuster story about the anti-Iran lobby group, United Against a Nuclear Iran. It’s an especially perfidious group supporting regime change, though it couches its approach in terms of opposing Iran’ nuclear program. Curiously, this is precisely the same way Israel’s far-right government disguises its own support for the violent overthrow of the Iranian government. Knowing that such a plan is not supported by the west including the Obama administration, they believe that they can paint Iran as enough of a threat to the world through it’s alleged plans to create nuclear weapons, that this will get them half-way to regime change.

rami ungar

Rami Ungar, Israeli “fixer” working either for Mossad or UANI to make problems of sanctions-busting companies “go away”

UANI specializes in “outing” companies which allegedly violate UN sanctions against Iran. The Times article revealed that the companies are usually approached by an Israeli “fixer” with close ties to the Mossad. He’s Rami Ungar, owner of an Israeli company, Ray Shipping, who’s worth $500-million.

Ungar gives them an opportunity to renounce their supposed trade with Iran.  Sometimes they’re extorted for a donation to UANI as well. Though the article doesn’t mention it, I’m certain that the Mossad intermediary probes for companies that will serve Israel’s interests in its fight against Iran.  Companies doing business with Iran who are willing to become Mossad assets are worth their weight in gold, since the Iranians trust them and Israel can use such trust to sabotage whatever aspect of the Iranian military or commercial interests the sanctions-buster participates in.

What brought much of this to light is a lawsuit brought by one of the ship owners who was targeted by UANI.  Instead of rolling over and playing dead, Victor Restis decided to sue UANI to find out what was going on inside the bowels of this organization. Restis, who denies all charges against him made by UANI, decided to take the battle to UANI. He’s demanding to see internal documents that would show who conveyed information to the group about him, what the information said, and how it was collected. His suit also implies that the Mossad directly funds UANI, another explosive charge.

What’s especially odd about the case is that the U.S. Justice Department has threatened to intervene in the case on behalf of UANI. Clearly, the real reason they’re willing to take such an unusual step is that they’re trying to protect the Mossad. It would not only embarrass our Israeli ally[sic], it might expose the covert methods and work product of Israeli intelligence. It might allow Iran to find out what Mossad knows about it and how.

This is so unseemly because the Obama administration is protecting a foreign spy agency which aggressively steals U.S. secrets when possible. We are also protecting the Mossad as it attempts to manipulate U.S. public opinion in a witch hunt against Iran, which is a country with whom we’re trying to negotiate a rapprochement. Here is how the U.S. explained its “interest” in the case:

Government lawyers said they had a “good faith basis to believe that certain information” would jeopardize law enforcement investigations, reveal investigative techniques or identify confidential sources if released.

If we take this literally, it means the U.S. government has been in cahoots with the Mossad in this campaign against Iranian commerce. Even if it means something less than that, it certainly means that we’re protecting the Mossad as one of our “confidential sources.” The other possible interpretation is that the U.S. is investigating UANI or the Mossad for their collusion together, though the article doesn’t point in that direction at all.

UANI, though it claims to be a bi-partisan group above the political fray, is heavily laden with neocon, Bush-era personnel and board members. It’s full of U.S. intelligence officials and diplomats known as especially friendly to Israel, including Dennis Ross. Meir Dagan is also listed as an advisor. UANI appears little more than an extension of Israeli intelligence based in the U.S.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FBI forensic lab misconduct could affect 2,600 convictions, 45 death row cases

RT | July 30, 2014

Nearly every criminal case the FBI and US Justice Department has reviewed during a major investigation that began in 2012 regarding an FBI lab unit has involved flawed forensic testimony, The Washington Post reported.

The review – originally spurred by a Post report in 2012 over flawed forensic testimony by Federal Bureau of Investigation lab technicians that may have led to convictions of hundreds of innocent people – was cut short last August when its findings “troubled the bureau,” according to the Post. The review was ordered by the Justice Department (DOJ) to resume this month, government officials said.

Most of the defendants in cases that involved possibly-botched testimony over microscopic hair matches were never told that their case was part of the review, which includes 2,600 convictions and 45 death-row cases from the 1980s and 1990s. In these cases, the FBI’s hair and fiber unit claimed it found a match to crime-scene samples prior to the age of DNA testing of hair.

The FBI reviewed around 160 cases before halting the investigation 11 months ago, officials said. The probe resumed once the DOJ inspector general lambasted the FBI for the delay in this investigation and another involving the same forensic unit.

A DOJ spokesman said that by last August, reviews were completed and notifications offered for defendants in 23 cases, including 14 death-row cases, that FBI examiners “exceeded the limits of science” when linking hair to crime-scene evidence.

Yet the FBI restarted the review given concerns that forensic errors applied to the “vast majority” of cases. This restart caused major delays in the investigation, leading to objections by the DOJ in January. The FBI and DOJ standoff was finally resolved this month.

“I don’t know whether history is repeating itself, but clearly the [latest] report doesn’t give anyone a sense of confidence that the work of the examiners whose conduct was first publicly questioned in 1997 was reviewed as diligently and promptly as it needed to be,” said Michael R. Bromwich, DOJ inspector general from 1994 to 1999.

“Now we are left 18 years [later] with a very unhappy, unsatisfying and disquieting situation, which is far harder to remedy than if the problems had been addressed promptly,” he added.

The reviews resumed this month under original terms based on an order by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, officials said.

The delay came, in part, “from a vigorous debate that occurred within the FBI and DOJ about the appropriate scientific standards we should apply when reviewing FBI lab examiner testimony — many years after the fact,” the FBI said. “Working closely with DOJ, we have resolved those issues and are moving forward with the transcript review for the remaining cases.”

Emily Pierce, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said: “The Department of Justice never signed off on the FBI’s decision to change the way they reviewed the hair analysis. We are pleased that the review has resumed and that notification letters will be going out in the next few weeks.”

Since 2012, the review has addressed only about 10 percent of the 2,600 convictions under suspicion, and maybe two-thirds of questioned death-row sentences.

The DOJ will notify defendants about misconduct in two more death-row cases and in 134 non-capital cases over the next month. The department will also complete evaluations of 98 other cases by early October, including 14 more death-row cases.

In question is a 10-member FBI unit that testified in cases across the nation that involved murder, rape, and various other violent felonies.

Though the FBI has said since the 1970s that hair evidence cannot be used as positive identification, agents still often testified to the near-certainty of matches, according to the Post. Ultimately, there is no accepted research regarding how often hair from different people can appear as the same. Today, the FBI uses visual hair comparison protocols to rule out a potential suspect as a source of hair found at a crime scene before using more accurate DNA testing.

The review highlights a hesitance among courts and law enforcement to address systemic faults of forensic testimony and methods from bygone eras.

“I see this as a tip-of-the-iceberg problem,” said Erin Murphy, an expert on modern scientific evidence who teaches at New York University.

“It’s not as though this is one bad apple or even that this is one bad-apple discipline,” she said. “There is a long list of disciplines that have exhibited problems, where if you opened up cases you’d see the same kinds of overstated claims and unfounded statements.”

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unknown child #6: Horrible tales from my day at the Red Crescent Clinic

By Dr. Mona El-Farra | MECA | July 30, 2014

Gaza City – I’m still alive. I don’t know what this means, but I can say that most of the time I can still walk and do some work with people who need help. It all depends on my luck. And here, for people living in Gaza, luck means how close to you the bombs fall from Israel’s tanks, planes, or warships. Some hours it’s raining bombs. Americans say “It’s raining cats and dogs”. In the new Gaza idiom, we say “It’s raining bombs and shells.”

Today I started my day in the Red Crescent Society’s medical center. The electricity has stopped, but the X-ray still functions, so we received many patients. Let me share with you some of what I saw.

First is the story of an unnamed child we called “Number 6”. He was around three years and had identifying stickers on his arms saying “Unknown” and “Number 6”. I was shocked and immediately asked the nurses and ambulance drivers what his name was. I was told no one knew his name. They found him in a mass of destroyed houses and he was the only survivor of his family. He had a head injury and wounds on other parts of his body. Immediately I asked “Doesn’t anyone remember where the house was?”  They said in the area where they found him, all the buildings were destroyed and mixed up with each other and sometimes the children are thrown from one area to another. So they didn’t know where he had lived.

And then I realized he’s Number 6, and that means there were five other unknown children before him and many more children after him. I stopped asking questions because I needed to do my work.

Second is the story of Reem Ahmad, six years old. Reem arrived in the X-ray unit also. She has a name and she used to have a family. She is the only survivor of her family. She lost her parents and brothers and sisters. She is injured in the head.

Third is the story of a fifty-two year old woman who arrived at our clinic with her son. He is a nurse and he was panicked. She had gone outside to her garden to take care of her plants.  Some shrapnel hit her head and her son was crying like crazy and he said in very few words “We are a simple family staying in our home. This shrapnel flew all around the garden and hit my mom. I want my mom to live.” This woman is named Buthaina el-Izraia.

Fourth is the story of my colleague Afaf Jabar, a nurse on our team. Afaf lost her daughter Leena, who was also a nurse, her two grandchildren and her daughter’s husband when one bomb fell on their house in Bureij refugee camp.

We have gone through a lot in Gaza. But this is a new war. Israel is committing new massacres every day and sometimes more than one massacre in a day. In the Red Crescent clinic we receive at least 200 patients a day. And we are not an emergency clinic. A lot of disease is coming up in Gaza because of destruction of the water systems, the electrical system and ongoing stress and fear from over three weeks of bombings. People are experiencing different illnesses: gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea, breathing and skin problems, and most of them are the most vulnerable of all, children. We have a real crisis now.  We managed to get some medicine before from MECA, but right now we facing a lack of medicine. I want people to know this and contribute and support us and help us get the proper medicines and supplies so we can treat these people who are suffering.

This is what I can tell you about today and with luck, I will report more information to you tomorrow.

Dr. Mona El-Farra, Director of Gaza Projects, is a physician by training and a human rights and women’s rights activist by practice in the occupied Gaza Strip. She was born in Khan Younis, Gaza and has dedicated herself to developing community based programs that aim to improve health quality and link health services with cultural and recreation services all over the Gaza Strip. Dr. El-Farra is also the Health Chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip and a member of the Union of Health Work Committees. Dr. El-Farra has a son and two daughters.

Send Emergency Aid to Gaza NOW

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

The myth of the ‘Arabs versus Jews’ narrative

By Roqayah Chamseddine | Al-Akhbar | July 31, 2014

The transformation of Zionism as a political ideology to Zionism as a religious ideology begins, in part, with Theodor Herzl’s “infatuation with British imperialism,” as noted by literary scholar and cultural historian Eitan Bar-Yosef in his book A Villa In The Jungle: Herzl, Zionist Culture, And The Great African Adventure. “Herzl’s phrase – a ‘miniature England in reverse’ – preserves the imperfect colonial mimicry that stood at the heart of Herzl’s Zionist project, and which was exposed so explicitly…in his decision to align himself with the British Empire.” Herzl would form the Zionist Organization (now The World Zionist Congress) in 1897 and promote the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, while continuing to identify with British colonialism and those who facilitated colonialism – the colonialists themselves. While Herzl, in his book The Jewish State, published in 1895, argued that the ‘Jewish question’ was not social or religious but political, the historical account of the rise of religious Zionism shows that it began to take hold not long before the passing of Herzl in 1904.

In 1902 the Mizrachi organization was founded by Yitzchak Yaacov Reines, an Orthodox Rabbi; the formation of this movement would mark the systematized appearance of religious Zionism. The Mizrachi organization would go on to found a number of religious settlements in Palestine, under the Mizrachi Labor party, using Zionism’s primary call for the occupation of territory to then colonize said territory with a strategic religious backdrop. This would later lead to nationalist and religious claims to Palestinian territory unifying and changing Israeli politics in the process. In Indivisible Territory and the Politics of Legitimacy Stacie E. Goddard expounds on this merger, noting that “under [Menachem] Begin, religious Zionism became the dominant language of territorial claims, so much so that the aims of Gush Emunim and Likud are often now considered inseparable.” “[The] Likud’s dependence gave the Religious Zionists unparalleled access to the Israeli government.”

The framing of the colonization of Palestine as being a religious conflict is a tremendous distortion – it is a myth which has advanced the occupation under the guise of “dialogue” and by way of the so-called “peace process” which asks of indigenous Palestinians to settle the “conflict” by relinquishing their autonomy, their right to self-determination and their homeland.

The tired binary of “Jew vs. Arab” takes the place of instructive awareness and constructive inquiry based on a historical context that precedes even the establishment of the State of Israel, working instead to attenuate the influence of history concerning the occupation of Palestine by manipulating the discourse. Not only does such a categorization dilute the tremendous impact that colonialism continues to have upon the people of Palestine, it does so for the sake of fruitless back and forth counseling sessions where the colonized are likened to the colonizers and are asked to solve an occupation spanning decades with interpersonal exchanges. Social get-togethers, regardless of how well-intentioned they may be, will not resolve the occupation, nor are such exchanges capable of addressing its root causes. Only resistance can straightforwardly confront the structural and systematic violence against the indigenous peoples of Palestine.

A social media campaign using the hashtag #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies is one such manipulation, where photographs of Jewish and Arab couples sharing intimate moments and Jewish and Arab children holding hands are shared with comforting messages of peace. These images, though heartwarming, work to exploit emotions and steer the focus away from the occupation, its continuing and extensive consequences and the victims of Zionism, which include Palestine’s Jewish populace whose histories these campaigns unequivocally ignore.

In The Palestine-Israel Conflict: A Basic Introduction independent scholar Gregory Harms notes that before 1880 there was already a Jewish population in Palestine “some of who had been there as long as any of the native Arabs,” and that of this Jewish populace were the Sephardim. From the essay Colonialism and Imperialism: Zionism by Israeli anthropologist and activist Smadar Lavie, found in volume 6 of the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures, published in 2007 by the University of California’s department of Anthropology:

The Sephardim were descendants of the Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492, and arrived in Palestine from then on, through the Mediterranean countries… Before 1948, about 450,000 Jews from Yiddish-speaking countries, mainly in Central and Eastern Europe, immigrated to Palestine. Most of them were Zionists, and many arrived as refugees who had survived the Holocaust. The rest, about 150,000 Jews, consisted of the few families who had always lived in Palestine, and the majority of the immigrants who arrived in Palestine during the Yishuv era from the Balkans or from Muslim countries. About 40,000 of them immigrated to Palestine from Yemen.

Presenting the colonization of Palestine as being a religious rivalry, or nothing more than a primordial spat ‘between cousins,’ wipes away the existence of these multidimensional histories as well as their relevant influence on elements of Palestinian society, including the cultural and intellectual dimensions, which coloured life for all those in Palestine. In Sephardim in Israel: Zionism From The Standpoint of Its Jewish Victims Ella Shohat, a self-identified Arab-Jew and Professor of Cultural Studies at New York University, argues that the consequences of Zionism not only extend to the Palestinians but to the Sephardim, who she refers to as Oriental Jews, whose voices have been silenced by Zionism. In the 1988 edition of the academic journal Social Text, published by Duke University Press, Shohat describes that even at the earliest stages of the Arab protest of Zionism there were clear distinctions made by Arabs between Zionists and Jews. An example of this Shohat provides was from the manifesto of the first Palestinian convention of February 1919 and “a Nazareth area petition” distributed during massive protests in 1920 which went on to denounce the Balfour Declaration, stating in part that “the Jews are people of our country who lived with us before the occupation, they are our brothers, people of our country and all the Jews of the world are our brothers.”

Shohat notes that not only did Zionism aim to uproot Arab-Jewish communities in Palestine but that the Sephardim were made to choose between what she called an “anti-Zionist “Arabness” and a pro-Zionist “Jewishness”, and so “for the first time in Sephardi history”, she writes, “Arabness and Jewishness were posed as antonym”:

An essential feature of colonialism is the distortion and even the denial of the history of the colonized… The Zionist master-narrative has little place for either Palestinians or Sephardim, but while Palestinians possess a clear counter narrative, the Sephardi story is a fractured one embedded in the history of both groups. Distinguishing the “evil” East (the Mosel Arab) from the “good” East (the Jewish Arab), Israel has taken upon itself to cleanse the Sephardim of their Arabness and redeem them from their “primal sin” of belonging to the Orient. Israeli historiography absorbs the Jews of Asia and Africa into the monolithic official memory European Jews… From the perspective of official Zionism, Jews from Arab and Moslem countries appear on the world stage only when they are seen on the map of the Hebrew state, just as the modern history of Palestine is seen as beginning with the Zionist renewal of the Biblical mandate.

Shohat writes that while Israel was expelling the indigenous Palestinians from their homeland the Sephardim were made to undergo “a complimentary trauma, a kind of image in negative, as it were, of the Palestinian experience” where their cultural heritage was erased and they were made to feel ashamed of their Arab identities – from their music, to their Arab countries of origin and even their dark skin tones. “Oriental Jews had to be taught to see the Arabs, and themselves, as Other.”

The struggle in Palestine has long been framed as though it is rooted in a religious discord, or long-held enmity between two peoples, and not only does this erase interconnected histories but it does so at the expense of justice for all victims of Zionism. This justice, and what Shohat describes as being “linked analogies between oppressions,” is what continues to plague Israel – and so, she writes, “the Zionist establishment in Israel has done everything in its power: the fomenting of war and the cult of “national security,” the simplistic portrayal of Palestinian resistance as “terrorism;”…the promotion, through the educational system and the media, of “Arab-hatred”…” so as to prevent its victims from perceiving these parallels.

Roqayah Chamseddine is a Sydney based Lebanese-American journalist and commentator. She tweets @roqchams and writes ‘Letters From the Underground.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Israel has turned a progressive community into warmongers

By Yves Engler | July 31, 2014

From a left-wing community once at the forefront of struggles against racism, unconditional support for Israel has turned a significant proportion of Toronto Jews into promoters of hatred against “Arabs” and into allies of right wing, bigoted, homophobic Christian Bible literalists.

During 15 years of activism in Montréal, Ottawa and Vancouver I haven’t seen anything equivalent to the racist, militarist pro-Israel movement experienced recently in Toronto. And sadly the quasi-fascistic organization driving the charge seems increasingly enmeshed within a community that once led the fight against racism and fascism in the city.

On Saturday at Queen’s Park (the grounds of the Ontario legislature) I was shoved, spat on, had my bike damaged and lock stolen by members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a hate group that is banned in the U.S. and Israel. My offence was to chant “kill more Palestinian children” as hundreds of JDL and B’nai B’rith supporters rallied to applaud the onslaught on Gaza in a counter demonstration to those opposed to Israel’s massacres.

The following day, also at Queen’s Park, a JDL member knocked a pro-Palestinian counter demonstrator to the ground and kicked him in the face. Half an hour after this happened, a JDL member walked some 50 metres around a barricade to where I was standing alone chanting at the pro-war rally and spat on me three times. Both incidents were caught on tape by major media outlets.

New to pro-Palestinian activism in Toronto, I was unaware of just how aggressive and organized the JDL had become. It’s reached the point where some Palestinian solidarity groups avoid publicizing pickets out of fear they might disrupt them.

In the US the JDL has been outlawed since 2001. Its members have been convicted in a series of acts of terror, including the killing of the regional director of the American Arab Anti-discrimination Committee and a plot to assassinate a Congressman. A member of the JDL’s sister organization in Israel killed 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers in the Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre twenty years ago. In 2011 the RCMP launched an investigation against a number of JDL members who were thought to be plotting to bomb Palestine House in Mississauga.

Despite the group’s links to terrorism, the JDL appears to find support from much of the organized Jewish community and even in Ottawa. In a significant boost to the group, Stephen Harper included a member in his official delegation on a recent trip to Israel; recent Canadian Jewish News coverage of the group has been sympathetic; rabbis attended the JDL/B’nai B’rith sponsored counter-demonstration Saturday, On Sunday the group provided “security” for the Canadians for Israel rally. Rather than being an isolated fringe group the Jewish mainstream tries to ostracize, the JDL seems to be gaining influence.

The growth of Canada’s JDL parallels the increasingly extreme violence of the Israeli government and the resulting worldwide outrage over that country’s aggressive expansionism.

The mainstream Jewish community is marching in lockstep with the Israeli state and Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have not only accepted it, they have promoted it. Over the past three weeks Israel has killed over 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza, displaced more than a tenth of the population and destroyed most of the area’s electricity and water supply. Yet, the Israeli government still receives unequivocal support from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, B’nai B’rith and other leading Canadian Jewish organizations. As part of its support for the recent killings in Gaza the United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Toronto, the community’s main philanthropic arm, has added $2.25 million to its annual aid to Israel.

While the JDL would likely back the complete incineration of Gaza, one wonders just how far the more mainstream groups are willing to go in cheering on Israel’s current onslaught, its third large-scale assault on Gaza in five years. Will the Jewish establishment withdraw support if 2,000 Palestinians are killed? Or is the break-point 5,000? Or maybe B’nai B’rith and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs would back the Israeli military all the way to 50,000 dead?

While one might want to believe that the warmongering promoted by dominant Jewish organizations is not widely shared by the community they claim to represent, I’ve seen too many sizable pro-war rallies and witnessed too many outbursts of anti-Arab racism over the past three weeks in Toronto to be hopeful in this regard. Wide swaths of Toronto’s Jewish community seem to be mimicking the Israeli public’s racist militarism. (Google stories about Israelis chanting “death to the Arabs”, celebrating military blasts on Gaza from hilltops nearby or beating peace activists.) On Bloor Street two weeks ago a middle-aged man walking with his partner crumpled a leaflet I handed him, pointed at two older Arab looking men who responded, and yelled “barbarians”.

In a similarly bizarre racist outburst, a man who was biking past the demonstration stopped to engage and soon after he was pointing at a young Arab looking child close by and telling me that I was indoctrinating him to kill. And then on Sunday an older woman interrupted a phone conversation I was having about Israel’s destruction of Gaza and yelled she hoped Israel kills “10,000 more”.

The idea that Toronto’s Jewish community in 2014 would be front-and-centre in backing racist militarism is profoundly depressing and quite the historic reversal. Seven decades ago righteous Jewish youth fought back against fascist thugs terrorizing non-Anglo-Saxons in the 1933 Christie Pits Riot. Two decades after that the Canadian Jewish Congress helped win the famous Noble v. Alley Supreme Court case, which prompted Ontario to pass a law voiding racist land covenants, a major victory in the battle for racial equality.

But, while six decades ago Jewish organizations fought racist land restrictions, today there is no other community that so strongly and openly backs racist supremacy in land use. Six months ago some 4,500 people packed the Toronto Convention Centre to honour Stephen Harper at a Jewish National Fund fundraiser. Owner of 13% of Israel’s land, the Jewish National Fund excludes Palestinian citizens of Israel and other non-Jews from its properties.

In 2014 “respectable” members of the pro-Zionist Jewish community fund-raise for an organization with racist land covenants, work together with Christian fundamentalists and defend Israel’s slaughter of civilians in Gaza, while the harder edge youth attend JDL demonstrations or enlist as “lone soldiers” with a murderous foreign army.

Shame.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | Leave a comment

Jon Snow’s strange interview with Hamas

By Jonathon Cook | The Blog from Nazareth | July 31, 2014

Two observations about Jon Snow’s interview last night with Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan, for which Snow has received a lot of criticism from those supportive of the Palestinian case.

First, we should notice how Snow chooses to frame the interview. This is his first question: “Israel has demonstrated that it is prepared to go on killing Gaza’s woman and children, civilians generally. Why are you encouraging them by continuing to fire your ineffective rockets?”

That is quite some opener. In using the phrase “prepared to go on”, Snow implies that Israel’s killing of civilians is to a degree deliberate. In fact, that becomes the essential frame of the whole interview – and is the source of his irritating, even puerile line of questioning. Why antagonise Israel, when it’s clear it’s going to vent its fury on women and children? Why not hand over your weapons and let Israel blow up your tunnels? Why not abandon resistance?

Snow’s framing does a great disservice to Hamas but it damages Israel even more. Hamas are stupid, according to this approach, but Israel is actually malevolent. We should not discount the significance of the assumption about Israel Snow is making on behalf of his viewers. This may be some sort of tiny victory for the Palestinians in the media war.

Second, Snow keeps telling Hamdan: “There’s no time to go into the history”. In other words, we must ignore the context. But this is precisely the criticism of media coverage of Israel-Palestine made by academics like Greg Philo. Their surveys show the media fail to provide the historical context of the conflict, and this failure puts the Palestinians at an immediate disadvantage, because their case is essentially historical – a demand for redress for the injustices of 1948 and 1967. After all, Hamas represents an enormous group of refugees from those wars, forced out of their homes in Israel and now imprisoned in Gaza. Without that context, we cannot understand what drives Hamas or Gaza’s will to resist.

The Israelis, on the other hand, would much rather we ignored the history, or only concentrated on marginal aspects of it, because the injustice – the dispossession of Palestinians – is precisely historical. So, in refusing to consider history, Snow is taking a side – Israel’s.

http://www.channel4.com/news/hamas-israel-started-this-conflict-in-1948-video

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Seven journalists killed during Israeli assault on Gaza

MEMO | July 31, 2014

Since the beginning of the Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip, Israel has killed seven Palestinian journalists and media workers.

According to Pls48.net news website, Palestinian medical sources announced on Wednesday afternoon the death of photojournalist Rami Rayan, who was killed while working in the Souq Al-Bastat, east of Gaza City, when Israeli forces committed a massacre against civilians. Earlier in the day, journalist Ahed Zaqqout, who worked in sports journalism for several agencies, was announced dead.

Israel’s assault on Gaza also led to the killing of photojournalist Khaled Hamad, as well as journalists Najla Mahmoud Haj, Abdul Rahman Ziad Abu Hin, Ezzat Duheir and Bahauddin Ghareeb.

20140730_Shujaya-Market-bombed-By-Israeli-strike-press-killedThe Palestinian Journalist Bloc issued a statement condemning Israel’s premeditated targeting of journalists and media workers, saying the Israeli army had crossed all red lines by targeting reporters and shattering international laws and norms.

The bloc demanded that the international community and the United Nations uphold their responsibilities regarding the Israeli targeting of journalists and media workers and depart from their shameful silence.

The bloc also criticised local, Arab and international press agencies, particularly the Arab Journalists Union and Reporters Without Borders, as well as all the institutions that deal with journalists and media workers’ rights, for their current silence towards the killing of Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip.

The statement stressed that Israel’s crimes against the media workers reflect its daily crimes against the Palestinian people, and demanded for the international community to curb the Israeli aggression and to stop supplying it with arms that are used to kill civilians.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

UN Rights Chief: Israeli Attacks in Gaza “Deliberate Defiance” of International Law

Al-Manar | July 31, 2014

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay lashed out at the Zionist entity on Thursday, over its attacks in Gaza, saying that such attacks are considered as Israel’s “deliberate defiance” of international law.

Pillay slammed the country’s attacks on homes, schools, hospitals and United Nations facilities which are sheltering 250,000 civilians in Gaza.

“There appears to be deliberate defiance of obligations that international law imposes on Israel,” the South African told reporters.

Pillay said that repeated calls to respect the laws of war had gone unheeded during the latest crisis and previous spikes in the Israeli offensive.

“The same pattern of attacks is occurring now on homes, schools, hospitals, UN premises. None of this appears to me to be accidental,” she said.

She spoke a day after Israeli shells slammed into a UN school in Jabalia refugee camp which was sheltering some 3,300 homeless Gazans, killing at least 16 people.

Pillay said that under international law, civilian facilities should not be attacked, noting that due warning must be given before an attack, in order to allow civilians to be evacuated.

“It is completely unconscionable that the proportionality and precaution that international law requires is being ignored,” said Pillay.

She also criticized Israel’s strikes on Gaza’s power plant, as well as water and sewerage systems.

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council voted to open an inquiry into the Gaza offensive, despite fierce opposition from the Zionist entity and its international sponsor, the United States.

“We cannot allow impunity. We cannot allow this lack of accountability to go on,” Pillay said on Thursday, calling into question domestic investigations by Israel into abuses.

“I join the world in condemning the aggression that is taking place in Gaza, and particularly the killing of civilians. This is wrong and it will always be wrong,” she added.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

US Resupplies Israel with More Munitions to Commit Massacres in Gaza

Gaza_strike

Al-Manar | July 31, 2014

Once again, the United States proves that it is a partner in the crimes committed against humanity by the Israeli occupation forces in Gaza.

A US defense official said on Thursday that Washington has allowed the Zionist entity to tap a local US arms stockpile in the past week to resupply it with grenades and mortar rounds.

The munitions were located inside the Zionist entity as part of a program managed by the US military and called War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel (WRSA-I), which stores munitions locally for US use that Israel can also access in emergency situations.

However, Tel Aviv did not cite an emergency when it made its latest request about 10 days ago, the defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The United States allowed Israel to access the strategic stockpile anyway to resupply itself with 40mm grenades and 120mm mortar rounds to deplete older stocks that would eventually need to be refreshed.

“They didn’t ask for it from there but we gave it to them so we could rotate our stocks,” the official said.

Additional Israeli requests for U.S.-manufactured ammunition were also being processed in the United States, the official said, without offering further details on quantities or costs of ammunition already supplied or requested.

The Israeli embassy in Washington declined comment about the resupply request, including whether it asked for the ammunition because of its offensive in Gaza.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

US-Russia Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty lapsing: Cui bono?

RT | July 30, 2014

The US has accused Moscow of violating a 1987 INF Treaty banning short and medium range ballistic and cruise missiles. Experts speculate whether Washington is nudging Moscow to pull out of a treaty to create a new ‘nuke bogey’ and offer aegis to the EU.

Washington says Russia has tested a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile thus breaching the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the US and the Soviet Union nearly 30 years ago, banning all ground-based nuclear-capable missiles with range from 500 to 5,500 kilometers, the New York Times cited.

READ MORE: US claims on nuclear missiles treaty unfounded, Russia has questions too

Though no Western media outlet has mentioned the name of the missile, there are probably only two candidates for the role of the “peace breaker.”

The first is Russia’s RS-26 Rubezh (Frontier) ICBN “ABM-killer” complex. According to a top military official, it was tested several times at distances ranging from 2,000 km to 5,700 km, RBC Daily reports.

However, Rubezh is technically out of suspicion, according to member of the Academy of Sciences, Aleksey Arbatov, as under the treaty the ballistic missile’s range is estimated as the maximum range it was tested at.

The second candidate for the role is the R-500, a cruise missile which can be used with ground-based 9K720 Iskander launcher. Its range is a delicate issue, said Arbatov as cited by RBC Daily. Though it has an officially announced range below 500 kilometers, its exact characteristics remain top-secret and could be argued.

According to military experts, the R-500 is a modification of the old Soviet 3M10 Granat with an estimated range of 2,600 km that was initially designed for submarine launch. All land-based Granat missiles were destroyed under the INP Treaty. However, the treaty did not apply to naval missiles.

Earlier the US already complained about suspected Russian treaty violations, presumably about the R-500 and its land-based tests that reportedly had to be conducted due to lack of funding. Moscow’s explanations did not satisfy Washington, noted Arbatov adding that such decisions and arguments are usually discussed during the meeting of working groups – while now the issue has reached the presidential level.

At the same time Russian Air Force possesses a unique X-101 cruise missile – that could be adopted for surface launch – with some reports indicating its maximum range to be over 5,500 kilometers, in which case this missile would not fall under conditions of the INF Treaty either.

Timing is everything?

The situation in the world has greatly changed over the years and today Moscow and Washington remain the world’s only capitals that imposed restrictions on themselves in this regard. In the meantime Russia has several nuclear states in proximity to its borders that already have such medium-range missiles (China, India, Pakistan and probably Iran and North Korea) that can potentially strike Russian territory, whereas the US has no such neighbors.

The New York Times broke to the world on Monday that President Barack Obama sent a letter to Vladimir Putin, in which Russia is accused of testing a surface-to-surface cruise missile with an excessive range.

The first tests of those missiles were conducted back in 2008, the report suggests, and it took the Obama administration 3 years to conclude that they were a compliance concern. But the question of possible treaty violation was raised by the State Department’s arms control officials only in 2013.

When reports of Russia’s ground-based tests re-emerged in January 2014, the US administration wasn’t ready to comment on the issue or draw any conclusions and media attention to the issue at that particular time.

The US is obviously trying to force Russia out of the INF Treaty to have a pretext for further augmentation of its military presence in Europe, expert of the Institute of International Security Problems, Valery Fenenko shared with RIA news agency.

“A lukewarm conflict between Russia and the US has been drawing on since 2007. In my opinion, Americans are pushing Russia to step out of the treaty,” Fenenko opined.

He believes that the accusations of the INF Treaty violation is a part of American strategy of spreading anti-ballistic missile defense shield in Europe.

“Some American and Russian analysts expected Russia to respond to the imposed sanctions with threatening rhetoric towards the EU, and an obvious and harsh step of quitting the INF Treaty but that never happened,” explained Fenenko, adding that now Washington wants to fulfill the aim in a different manner.

“If Russia re-deploys medium and short range missiles that would be a direct threat to EU member states, both Eastern and Western European countries,” the expert concluded.

Fenenko specifically stressed that both Russia and the US never stopped development of such missiles because the INF Treaty does not prohibit this.

“Americans are in a much easier situation in this regard. They have allies France and the UK that haven’t signed the INF Treaty. These countries have cruise missile projects of their own that could be easily be transformed into surface-to-surface missiles,” Fenenko said.

Russia could try to impose a moratorium on the Treaty until France and UK sign the document, “but there is no chance they would sign, so that would be the end of the treaty,” Fenenko concluded.

Washington uses the alleged INF Treaty violation to boost global tensions in the background of the Ukrainian crisis and sanctions imposed on Russia, Andrey Koshkin told RT, military political analyst at Plekhanov Academy in Moscow.

“This is interconnected with the crisis situation being created by the Americans themselves,” estimated Koshkin, adding that Washington is launching a political assault on Moscow from every direction “to hype up the tensions.”

“They try to blame Russia every morning, every evening, every night – this is a salvo of accusations. They try to get western public accustomed to blaming Russia,” Willy Wimmer, the former State Secretary of the German Ministry of Defense, told RT.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

“Justice” for a billionaire, none for the state he ripped off

Systemic Disorder | July 30, 2014

There has been much cheering across the corporate media about the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ordering the Russian government to pay more than US$51 billion as compensation for confiscating the assets of Yukos, yet silence concerning the original theft of the company by Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The basis of the decision by the arbitration court was that the assets of Yukos, seized for alleged non-payment of taxes, were sold for US$9 billion, well below the estimated value of the company. Conveniently left out of this picture is that Mr. Khodorkovsky purchased the assets for $159 million seven years earlier in a rigged process that he controlled. He did so as one of seven oligarchs who bought deeply unpopular former President Boris Yeltsin a second term and were handed control of the country’s vast natural resources as a reward.

This is a story that can not be separated from the fall of the Soviet Union and the looting of its assets, with a handful of newly minted oligarchs, mostly former black marketeers who became bankers, coming to control post-Soviet Russia’s economy. Estimates of the size of the assets that came to be owned by the seven biggest oligarchs (Mr. Khodorkovsky was one of them) in the late 1990s range up to one-half of the Russian economy. This at the same time that the Russian economy shrank by 45 percent and an estimated 74 million Russians lived in poverty according to the World Bank; two million had been in poverty in 1989.

An important factor in the failure of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika was that working people saw the reforms as coming at their expense. A 1987 reform loosened job protections in exchange for enterprise councils that were to have given workers a voice in management, but the councils were largely ineffective or co-opted by managements. The law had also been intended to eliminate labor shortages. It didn’t, and a 1990 reform was stealthily passed to reduce employment and eliminate the ability of working people to defend themselves. Enterprises would now have private owners with the right to impose management and ownership shares could be sold.

Exhaustion from years of struggle also were a factor in the lack of organized resistance to the elements of capitalism that were introduced in the last years of perestroika and to the shock therapy that was imposed on Russia at the start of 1992, days after the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union and the assumption of uncontested power by President Yeltsin. Shock therapy wiped out Russians’ savings through hyperinflation and state enterprises were sold at fire-sale prices, or sometimes simply taken.

Connections allowed him to set up businesses

Mr. Khodorkovsky used his connections as an official within the Communist Youth League to found a company that imported and resold computers and other goods at huge profits and engaged in currency speculation. The proceeds were used to buy companies on the cheap and found a bank. His bank, Menatep, earned large fees by providing credit when it was in scarce supply during the post-Soviet collapse.

When President Yeltsin was up for re-election in 1996, he faced a daunting challenge as his popularity rating was well below 10 percent — tens of millions of Russians had been plunged into poverty and the economy had contracted for several years in succession. The president admitted in his memoirs that he was about to cancel the election. But he was presented with a plan by the seven oligarchs, the scheme that became known as “loans for shares.”

These seven oligarchs offered Yeltsin a bargain: In lieu of paying taxes, they would make loans to the government so it could meet its expenses, such as actually paying its employees. In return, the government would give the oligarchs collateral in the form of shares of the big natural-resources enterprises that were soon to be privatized. (Other state enterprises had been quickly privatized upon the implementation of shock therapy.)

If the loans were repaid, the bankers would give the shares back. If not, the oligarchs would hold auctions to sell the collateral. The government had no ability to pay back these loans, but Yeltsin issued a decree sealing the deal in August 1995.

The oligarchs used their own banks to conduct the subsequent auctions, and, through a mix of rigged terms and conveniently closed airports, won them all at prices that were small fractions of the enterprises’ reasonable market value. These enterprises represented Russia’s enormous reserves of oil, nickel, aluminum and gold, and a minority share in the dominant gas company, Gazprom.

These seven oligarchs all became billionaires through the “loans for shares” scam. The oligarchs, who owned almost the entire Russia mass media, spent 33 times the legal limit on the election and provided 800 times more television coverage of Yeltsin than was provided to his opponents.

Mr. Khodorkovsky’s bank, Menatep, was put in charge of the auction of Yukos. It avoided competitive bidding, enabling his holding company to buy it for $159 million, only $9 million above the starting price. As long as Boris Yeltsin was president, the oligarchs could steal all they wanted. Nor did Western authorities complain about this; President Yeltsin’s bombardment and illegal disbanding of the Russian Parliament in 1993, resulting in more than 500 deaths, was celebrated as a democratic triumph. Indeed, the World Bank’s chief economist for Russia declared, “I’ve never had so much fun in my life.”

Corporate lawyers as arbitrators

The Permanent Court of Arbitration that handed down the $51 billion judgment is one of the international tribunals that hear investor-state disputes behind closed doors. As is customary with these bodies, the arbitrators are corporate lawyers appointed by governments.

In the Yukos case, each side could choose one of the three panelists who hear the case. The deciding panelist was Yves Fortier, a former chair of one of Canada’s biggest corporate law firms and of Alcan Inc., a mining company since bought by Rio Tinto, and a director of several other companies.

I see no sense in denying that politics were behind Mr. Khodorkovsky’s prison sentence and his loss of Yukos. But there can be no dispute that politics and shady dealing earned him his fortune in the first place. The gangster capitalism in which he excelled in the 1990s, cheered on by the West, was without mercy. Are there going to be outpourings of sympathy for the tens of millions of Russians immiserated so that the country’s Khodorkovskys could become billionaires? I think we already know the answer.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , | Leave a comment

The Slow-Motion Collapse of the Ukrainian State and the Rada’s Capitulation

By Andrew KORYBKO | Oriental Review | July 30, 2014

Acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk recently announced his resignation from the government amidst parliamentary infighting in the Rada, supposedly over none of the factions wanting to take the fall for the upcoming suicidal IMF stipulations. (His desire to leave off the hook ahead of the coming economic and social collapse of Ukraine has apparently come into collision with the interests of Western power groups seeking to establish control over the Ukrainian gas trasportation system first – OR ). The withdraw of the nationalist party Svoboda and Klitschko’s (German) project Udar continues the chain reaction of institutional collapse that began in late-November with the EuroMaidan Color Revolution. If a new Rada isn’t formed within 30 days, elections will have to take place. It has already been forecasted that this is nothing more than a ploy to solidify Poroshenko’s power base (Udar is a close ally) and expand the reach of the Svoboda nationalists. These risky and Machiavellian calculations will likely have far-reaching implications, continuing to push Ukraine ever further towards full-scale collapse and spreading the black hole of chaos that has begun to emerge in the country.

Nearing the Precipice

In the run-up to the most recent stage of institutional collapse, Kiev had found itself in a conundrum. After revving up the population for so-called Western integration and signing the EU Association Agreement and receiving IMF loans, the Rada realized that none of its members wanted to be responsible for implementing the brutal economic ‘tweaks’ that both of them necessitate. This is the immediate cause of the current Rada crisis – everyone wanted to ‘join the West’, but no one wanted to take electoral responsibility for what that truly means.

Concurrent to this, Ukraine also banned one of its consistently largest political parties, the Communist Party, which polled 15% at the last legitimate election in 2012. For a country trying to ingratiate itself with ‘Western values’, it is contradictory that it would carry out such a policy, however, it cannot be said to be unexpected. After all, there had been loud calls for lustration ever since the February coup against legitimate president Yanukovich. This policy of political (and therefore, social) exclusion has been aided by the nationalist and fascist forces that have swept to power and influence in Ukraine in recent months.

All of this is to say nothing of the enormous humanitarian catastrophe ongoing in the Donbass region, where the UN officially estimates that at least 1,000 people have been killed and over 3,500 injured since the start of punitive operations against Federalist supporters in mid-April. 500,000 refugees have fled to Russia since then, with over 34,000 of them currently being housed by the state.

The Real Reason for the Void

The aforementioned explanations for the current governing void all owe their genesis to events that started earlier than the coup itself. First and foremost, Ukraine has been a geopolitical chess piece for the US since its independence in 1991. Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote about its role as a pivot of America’s Eurasian influence in his 1997 work “The Grand Chessboard”, quipping that “Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire”. This strategic advice was certainly heeded at the State Department, since Victoria Nuland admitted that the US had spent $5 billion for “democracy promotion” in Ukraine since 1991. This investment wasn’t for “democracy” but rather for regime change by mobocracy, as can be seen by the Maidan mobs that ravaged Kiev before the coup. The drawn-out urban warfare of EuroMaidan, coupled with an intense Western propaganda campaign of state demonization, inevitably led to the shredding of the state’s structure right after the coup. This is something which did not even happen after the 2004 Orange Revolution, when the governing apparatus still relatively functioned in comparison to today.

Had it not been for the US’ geostrategic goals in enacting regime change in Ukraine and attacking Russia via proxy, there would be no crisis in the country. Refugees would not be streaming eastwards and Ukraine would not be split along civilizational fault lines. The growing black hole of chaos is completely attributable to the efforts of the US to follow through on its threats to disrupt Russia’s Eurasian Union integration goals, of which Ukraine was a possible candidate for membership prior to the destabilization’s commencement.

Ukraine Before the Storm

Events have been so dramatic and have moved so fast since November that it may be easy to forget what the country was like one year ago. In summer 2013, the government was corrupt but workable, with no large-scale violence and relative macro stability. All political parties were welcome in the inclusive government and the country had profitable dealings with the US, EU, and Russia. Importantly, energy supplies were secured and no downstream partners were in danger of a winter shortage.

Flash forward to the present day. The ‘government’ is dysfunctional and cripplingly corrupt, resembling Italy during the Cold War (one could even provocatively say today). Wide-scale violence has already claimed over 1,000 lives and destroyed the infrastructure in of one of Ukraine’s most formerly prosperous regions, destabilizing the entire Donbass. Lustration has made the Rada an exclusive club of those in alliance with the oligarchs, and extreme fringe movements hold disproportionate influence over the country. Although nominally moving towards Europe economically, Ukraine is now shackled in debt and is on the cusp of losing all bilateral trade with Russia, on which its economy is dependent. Failed political maneuvering by Kiev forced Russia to shut off the gas tap, raising fears of a cold winter and almost certainly guaranteeing another future crisis at the end of the year.

Over the Edge and Into the Unknown

In hindsight, the EuroMaidan coup may very well be seen as the fatal outside blow that wrecked Ukrainian statehood once and for all. The country is experiencing a painful and extended collapse before the eyes of the world, with the current political void being but the latest iteration of its downward spiral. Ukraine has gone over the edge and into unknown territory, with the only blueprint being the Yugoslavian scenario. The black hole of chaos inside of Ukraine is only growing, with the country now certainly exhibiting the symptoms of failed state status. There was an outside-engineered coup in a geopolitically convenient area, a proxy government, a merry-go-round parliament, a civil war that could possibly involve an intervention by its neighbor (Russia), and rabid nationalists scheming for power.

Being a country of 45 million and located smack dab in the middle of Eastern Europe, Ukraine may be ‘too big to fail’ for its foreign backers. In the past, it could never sustain itself on its own, being previously dependent on Russia since independence. Now that Russia has been violently pushed away, Ukraine is making itself a burden on the West and the EU, neither of which now wants to properly deal with it. The Western integration of Ukraine was a slogan used by both Ukrainian and Western politicians alike, none of whom wanted to take on the responsibilities associated with it, thereby putting the country in an untenable position and leading to the destitution of its masses.

Any entity demonstrating Ukraine’s failed-state characteristics should be something that other states’ militaries steer clear away from at all costs, but the US and NATO have unreasonably been moving even closer to this sick man since its symptoms began to show. The absorption of Ukraine into Shadow NATO under these circumstances is tantamount to directly involving the alliance in Ukraine’s hurricane-like spiral of chaos. Granting the country major non-NATO ally status is dangerous and irresponsible, especially when occurring during a government collapse and the increasingly dictatorial tendencies of its leader. The situation in Afghanistan, the most recent major non-NATO ally, has at least been semi-stable and predictable due to the forcible NATO occupation there (set to expire at the end of the year, however), but such a situation does not (yet) exist in Ukraine. It may be, however, that the West finds its Ukrainian operation ‘too big to fail’, and as the country experiences slow-motion economic, military, and political collapse, it may desperately think that NATO integration can plug these processes and reverse the inevitable.

Andrew Korybko is the American political correspondent of Voice of Russia who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment