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John Kerry: Scriptures command America to respond to global warming

“Our faiths are inextricably linked on any number of things that we must confront and deal with in policy concepts today. Our faiths are inextricably linked on the environment. For many of us, respect for God’s creation also translates into a duty to protect and sustain his first creation, Earth, the planet,”

“Confronting climate change is, in the long run, one of the greatest challenges that we face, and you can see this duty or responsibility laid out in Scriptures clearly, beginning in Genesis. And Muslim-majority countries are among the most vulnerable. Our response to this challenge ought to be rooted in a sense of stewardship of Earth, and for me and for many of us here today, that responsibility comes from God.”

September 5, 2014 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | | 4 Comments

Kiev, E. Ukraine militia agree on ceasefire starting 1500 GMT Friday

RT | September 5, 2014

Kiev officials and representatives of the two self-proclaimed republics in southeastern Ukraine have agreed to a ceasefire, as the contact group met behind closed doors in Belarus.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has confirmed the ceasefire agreement on his Twitter account.

The truce agreement comes into force starting 6 pm local time (15:00 GMT).

The president has ordered to cease fire starting at the time stated in the protocol.

“I give the order to the chief of the General staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to cease fire, starting from 18.00 [local time] on September 5,” Poroshenko’s statement says.

Poroshenko then called on both the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and the OSCE to provide international monitoring of compliance with the bilateral ceasefire.

“We must do everything possible and impossible to stop bloodshed and put an end to people’s suffering,” the president said in a statement posted on his official website.

Poroshenko expressed hope that both sides would comply with the ceasefire agreement.

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic earlier confirmed the ceasefire agreement on its official Twitter account.

Both Donetsk and Lugansk have said they are ready to lay down arms starting from 15:00GMT.

Representatives of the rebel forces have said they will obey the ceasefire if Kiev follows suit.

“Most of the points of the protocol correspond with our demands,” Lugansk’s leader Igor Plotnitsky said.

“However, the ceasefire does not mean a shift from our course of breaking away from Ukraine. This is a compulsory measure,” he said.

With military action continuing throughout southeastern Ukraine, the region is risking facing an imminent humanitarian catastrophe. Water and electricity supplies have been disrupted, leaving dozens of people without basic essentials. In Lugansk only one hospital appeared to be operational, the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission reported earlier this week.

Since the conflict significantly deteriorated in mid-April, 2,593 people have died in fighting in the east of the country, the UN reported last week. More than 6,033 have been wounded in the turmoil.

A woman cleans debris from her house damaged by what locals say, was recent shelling by Ukrainian forces in Donetsk August 23, 2014. (Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)

The number of internally displaced Ukrainians has reached 260,000, with another 814,000 finding refuge in Russia, the UN said.

The OSCE’s Heidi Tagliavini has welcomed the agreement saying “it is good news.”

She has revealed that the protocol consists of 12 points, and “the ceasefire is the chief one.”

The participants in the talks will prepare another document – a memorandum on settling the situation in Ukraine, a Donetsk representative said.

The two sides accompanied by representatives of Russia and the OSCE were meeting in the Belorussian capital, Minsk, in an attempt to end the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine.

In their recent phone call on September 3, the presidents of Russia and Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko, showed a willingness to find an agreement to resolve the months-long conflict in the southeastern Ukraine.

Following the conversation with his counterpart, President Putin laid out a seven-point plan that could help find a solution.

READ MORE: Putin lays out 7-step plan to stop hostilities in E. Ukraine

September 5, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | | 1 Comment

Argentina passes law to reclaim default debt from New York

RT | September 5, 2014

Argentina’s Senate has passed a law that will let the country continue paying off its default debt by transferring international bond payments from New York to local banks, which would let other investors buy Argentine debt.

The scheme, to get around a US judge’s order to immediately pay back $1.6 billion to “vulture” hedge funds in Manhattan, is the initiative of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. The bill passed by a vote 39 to 27.

The initiative proposes to begin challenging payments through third parties, and allowing them to trade their bonds for new debt issued under Argentine law. Argentina’s state Banco de la Nacion could become the trustee for payments, replacing the Bank of New York Mellon. Another proposal is to make Paris a main destination for debt payments.

The US district court that ruled on Argentina’s debt maintains this is illegal.

Next week the law will be discussed in Argentina’s lower house Chamber of Deputies.

It is a brazen move against the ‘vulture’ funds that sent the country into default in July after demanding the immediate payment of $1.6 billion ($1.3 billion plus interest) in restructured debt, instead of the planned $539 million to bondholders. The ruling banned Argentina from making interest payment on restructured debt before settling with the New York hedge funds. The hedge funds had rejected Argentina’s requests to restructure the debt in 2005 and 2010.

“Sometimes there are court decisions that cannot be followed,” Miguel Angel Pichetto, head of the government’s Victory Front coalition in the Senate, said on Thursday.

Argentina has said it will take the US to the International Court of Justice for judicial malpractice.

“To pay the vulture funds would be very dangerous,” Pichetto said.

September 5, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

EU admits Putin’s comment on ‘storming Kiev’ taken out of context

RT | September 5, 2014

The EU has admitted that Vladimir Putin’s words about “taking Kiev in two weeks” had been “made public out of context,” said a spokeswoman for the European Commission President in a written response to The Wall Street Journal.

José Manuel Barroso’s spokesperson Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen said on Thursday the EU is going to address the issue “through diplomatic channels, not in the press.”

“I can only add that the president of the Commission informed his colleagues in the European Council in a restricted session of the conversations he had with President Putin. Unfortunately part of his intervention was made public out of context,” Ahrenkilde-Hansen wrote to the WSJ.

Last week Barroso gave a briefing on his phone conversation with President Vladimir Putin, describing the conversation as “very frank.” During the talk, the EU functionary alleged the Russian president had said that if necessary military occupation of the Ukrainian capital would take just a matter of weeks.

Italia’s La Repubblica was among the very first to overblow the scandal, saying that José Manuel Barroso had told European leaders who attended Saturday’s EU summit in Brussels that replying to Barroso’s accusations about regular Russian troop operating in Ukraine, President Putin had said that “If I wanted to, I could take Kiev in two weeks.”

An EU official has confirmed to the WSJ that Putin’s note about Russian forces being able to take Kiev within two weeks did take place during last week’s telephone call, but the context of the comment was not clear.

The unexpected divulgement by the top EU official immediately sparked a political scandal involving Russia’s high ranking officials and diplomats, who accused Barroso of both intentionally wrenching Russian leader’s remarks out of context as well as breaching diplomatic protocol.

According to Russia’s permanent representative to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, Putin’s words were “clearly taken out of context.”

On Tuesday, September 2, Moscow threatened to reveal the full recording of the controversial phone call “to remove all misunderstandings” if European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso doesn’t object in the next two days, Chizhov said.

Russia’s presidential aide Yury Ushakov lashed at the EU Commission president’s behavior, stressing it is “incorrect and goes beyond the bounds of diplomatic practices.”

“If that was really done, it is not worthy of a serious political figure,” Ushakov added.

As the EU official acknowledged on Thursday, September 4, President Putin possibly made the comment to strengthen Russia’s position of not and never being involved militarily in Ukrainian crisis.

READ MORE:

Moscow ready to expose ‘Kiev in two weeks’ spin with Barroso call transcript

‘Did he mean Alaska?’ Obama wrongly blames Russia for ‘trying to reclaim lands lost in 19th century’

September 5, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

European businesses call for no more sanctions

RT | September 4, 2014

The Association of European Businesses has urged the governments of the European Union and Russia to protect foreign investors from any “further retaliatory measures.”

The Moscow-based lobby group represents the interests of more than 600 European businesses in Russia, and has written a letter to all 28 heads of state and governments of the EU, as well to the Russian and Ukrainian leadership stressing that among its members “are global companies with businesses in sectors which would be directly affected by these measures.”

The group has requested a meeting with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Kiev next week.

“The introduction of such measures could lead to a serious decline in production and jobs, affecting not only manufacturers, but also suppliers and retailers working in these sectors,” the letter, published Thursday, reads.

The lobby group says it’s politically neutral, but is interested in keeping business between the two functional.

“All this would harm not only the business of the companies concerned, but also fiscal revenues through the loss of tax and duty payments,” the letter said.

Sanctions are putting a brake on business activity in Europe which is plugged into the Russian economy. Trade between Russia and the EU is $440 billion and thousands of companies do regular day-to-day business in Russia.

The EU has imposed three rounds of sanctions against Russian individuals and business, most recently expanding the blacklist to include sanctions against key industries- energy, banking, and weapons.

Russia retaliated with an embargo on agriculture products from the EU, which could cost $6.6 billion per year in lost exports.

EU ministers will meet on Friday to discuss new sanctions against Russia for its perceived role in the Ukraine conflict.

September 5, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Memory hole for Netanyahu’s supreme crime

By Jonathon Cook | The Blog From Nazareth | September 5, 2014

240814_slides1-c0c4caedadNow even the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police, admits in court documents that the group behind the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli youths in the West Bank in June was a rogue cell, comprising only four individuals. Further, the man named as the mastermind behind the plot was “lukewarm” about it.

Hussam Qawasmeh was apparently originally lukewarm about the plan proposed to him by a relative, Marwan Qawasmeh, who with Amer Abu Aisheh has been named as having carried out the kidnapping and murder and is still wanted by Israel.

So who’s going to remind us that Netanyahu’s invasion of the West Bank, his rounding up of hundreds of Hamas activists, and the ensuing confrontation with Hamas in Gaza that led to Israel’s use of massive military force, killing more than 2,100 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians, were all based on a lie: that he had cast-iron evidence that Hamas was responsible for the murders?

A crime of aggression against Gaza is a crime against humanity – in fact, the supreme crime, as determined by the Nuremberg tribunals. But this crime against humanity is going straight down the memory hole because Israel, rather than an official enemy, was responsible.

September 5, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Iran nuclear talks are dead

By Cyrus Safdari | Iran Affairs | September 5, 2014

UPDATE: Bloomberg has an interesting article about two former British officials who say that excess demands on Iran are putting the nuclear talks at risk. This of course was the same as in the  past when excess demands were deliberately made in order to kill off any chance of a peaceful resolution — the Obama administration even went as far as to pull the rug out from under its own allies Turkey and Brazil after they had had gotten a Yes from Iran, causing the miffed Turks/Brazilians to expose a letter Obama had written endorsing the same terms of the deal just weeks earlier. No further proof is necessary to show that the US was never really honest about these talks and had no intention of allowing them to work out.

In reviewing the history of the nuclear talks thus far, with the many extensions past arbitrarily-set deadlines, I can’t help but think that any actual negotiations still going on are really about jostling for the advantageous moral high ground from which to take pot-shots at the other once the talks are finally declared dead.

I’m reminded of the many zombie movies that were quite popular a couple of years ago in which the hero delivers the final blows to the walking dead, and usually in spectacular and cathartic fashion. I wonder if the talks now aren’t really simply about which side will be left to deliver the coup de grace to a diplomatic process that is by now effectively dead, if not still-born — knowing that the side that does so will not be treated as a hero as in the zombie movies but will instead stand accused of  “backing away” from a peaceful resolution or “breaking” the negotiations, never mind that the entire idea of the talks was – to put it politely – very optimistic (if not a set-up) from the start since it was always quite apparent that the key issue — relief from sanctions — was never really on the table due to domestic political restraints on the US side. In all these talks about how many centrifuges Iran will be “allowed” to keep (by what legal authority are any limits imposed anyway? An ad hoc rewriting of the NPT for Iran?) it is simply taken for granted that in exchange the sanctions could be removed should a deal be reached — however, realistically, this was never going to happen because the President is simply not in a position to undo sanctions imposed by Congress, and there’s no hope in hell of Congress voting away sanctions thanks to the influence-peddling of the pro-Israeli lobby there.

The striking similarity to the previous Paris Agreement negotiations cannot be ignored. The EU side (apparently unbeknownst to the negotiators themselves, according to Peter Oborne’s book) had already agreed with the US to not respect Iran’s right to enrichment, regardless of what they had been telling the Iranian side, and instead the negotiators, hamstrung by the US refusal to recognize Iran’s right to enrichment, were reduced to simply trying to drag out the Iranian enrichment suspension as long as possible, and then to ultimately blame the Iranians for “breaking” the agreement when inevitably and quite predictably, the Iranians put an end to the charade and restarted enrichment. It was always just a political ploy, and a deliberately deceitful one at that. Of course, the media and our creators of “conventional wisdom” have since tried to rewrite history by shoving the “empty box in pretty wrapping” analogy of the EU offer to Iran down the memory hole, in favor of a manufactured narrative according to which the restarting of enrichment is attributed to the election of Ahmadinejad  — though in fact the suspension of enrichment was ended before Ahmadinejad took office — and I similarly expect that should the Iranian side declare the current talks dead and restart what it had suspended, we’ll be presented with a similar manufactured narratives.

But the real-life impact will be significant and severe. For one thing the Rohani government will stand accused of once again having set back Iran’s nuclear program by self-imposing limits prior reaching a deal, and with nothing to show for it at the end of the day. I don’t follow domestic Iranian politics closely but I assume that these consequences will reverberate throughout the entire Reformist faction. The lessons to the Iranian side for this affair will not be soon forgotten. There’s still a fundamental political reality that cannot be overcome by bargaining over technical issues such as the number of centrifuges, etc. and until that political issue — the fundamental recognition by the US of Iran — is resolved, there will be no workable deal. If and when there are other talks, I’m pretty sure that the Iranian side will not start out making compromises in the hopes that a display of good faith will necessarily beget good faith.

And to think, all of this could have been avoided years ago, for example had the US not prevented Iran from simply buying the fuel for the TRR as usual, under international safeguards, not waved away the many compromise offers since then, nor used the “Iranian nuclear threat” as a pretext for imposing regime change in Iran as it had with “Iraqi WMDs.” The actual result of those policies, it should be noted, was to bring Iran closer to “weapons capability.”

Of course a number of complicit and bought-off analysts will claim that a deal could have been worked out had the Iranians just agreed to yet more reductions in their centrifuges, but that’s nonsense. Iran has every legal right under the NPT to have as many centrifuges it desires, and this is not only NOT a violation of the NPT, the demands that Iran give up enrichment are themselves a violation of the NPT. The “Iranian nuclear threat” is and always has been only pretext, just as “WMDs in Iraq” was just a pretext. No amount of Iranian nuclear compromises will resolve this dispute as long as Israel has the influence it has over US foreign policy. Even Henry Kissenger had to assure the Shah a number of years ago that the influence of the Lobby could be controlled — and even he was wrong.

September 5, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

On Israel’s Insanity Defense and the World’s Shared Delusion

By Samah Jabr | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs | September 2014

Once the surveillance cameras of Palestinian shopkeepers in East Jerusalem’s Shuafat neighborhood revealed the images of the Israeli abductors of Muhammed Abu Khdeir, the fabricated Israeli propaganda that the 16-year-old Palestinian boy had been gay and the victim of an honor killing perpetrated by his own people became completely unsustainable. Soon after, hoping to contain the resulting clashes that erupted in Shuafat and extended to many nearby neighborhoods, Israeli police announced that they had captured six suspects involved in the crime.

Just days later, however, it was announced that three of them already had been freed. The others were described as two minors and a mentally unstable adult with a dominating personality who is on psychiatric medication, according to Yediot Ahronot.

That has a familiar ring to it! In 1969 Dennis Michael Rohan, an evangelical Protestant from Australia, set fire to the al-Aqsa mosque in order to hasten the second coming of the Messiah and create an opportunity to rebuild the Jewish Temple. Rohan was later declared mentally ill and exonerated for his actions.

In 2007 Julian Soufir confessed to having murdered Palestinian taxi driver Taysir Karaki, saying he did not feel guilty because he considered Arabs the equivalent of cattle and he was simply slaughtering one. Soufir had entered the victim’s taxi in Jerusalem and asked to be driven to Tel Aviv. He then persuaded Karaki to come to his brother’s apartment with an offer of coffee and the use of the bathroom, and attacked the Palestinian with a knife he had obtained ahead of time. At his 2008 trial, the court accepted the testimonies of two defense witnesses who claimed that Soufir was not fully “conscious” at the time of the murder—despite the fact that he had explained his motive for murdering Karaki—and Soufir was acquitted.

A few years ago, I testified as an expert witness at the Jerusalem district court regarding the case of one of my psychiatric patients who, while suffering an acute psychotic episode, stabbed an Israeli soldier. My patient was 30 years old; after sustaining severe injuries during his arrest, which required 12 surgeries and left him handicapped, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison! The insanity defense certainly did not do my patient much good.

It is one of many pretexts used to avoid the prosecution, imprisonment or punishment of Jewish Israelis who murder Palestinians—but not the other way around. When a Palestinian minor attacks an Israeli, the youngster appears in court with bruises and fractures. Nor are charges dropped because he is a minor. We shall see what happens to the minors who tortured Abu Khdeir and burned him alive.

Settlers’ Law

For many years—in Hebron, especially—radical Jewish settlers have been attacking Palestinians under the very noses of Israeli soldiers, who only intervene to defend the settlers from Palestinians responding to their attacks. In 1994 American-born Dr. Baruch Goldstein massacred 30 Palestinians praying at Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque, which he entered under the eyes of Israeli soldiers who—instead of acting to stop the massacre—fired live ammunition into the fleeing crowd, killing even more Palestinians!

In 2008 Ze’ev Braude, a settler from nearby Kiryat Arba, was caught on camera as he shot at close range two Palestinians from the Matariya family during the evacuation of a Palestinian house in Hebron. The film was provided to Israeli police as evidence, but the indictment against Braude was dropped. In his ruling, Judge Elyakim Rubinstein held that “in this instance, the right of the accused to a fair trial outweighed the harm to national security!”

These and similar actions are the consequences of ideologies held by Gush Emunim and other radical movements that encourage the building of settlements in the belief that the coming of the Messiah can be hastened through Jewish settlement of occupied Palestinian land that God promised the Jews. Rather than working to eradicate these beliefs, the Israeli government instead has endorsed them through such vehicles as the Sebastia agreement, which encourages Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Israeli intelligence, so effective in hunting down every Palestinian boy who so much as throws a stone, remains inept at imposing limits on the actions of Jewish Israelis—from the fanning of anti-Arab sentiment and racist slogans by the Beitar football team, to attacks on Arab employees of Israeli restaurants, to settler “Price Tag” vandalism and assaults, with graffiti boasting “Price tag blood vengeance.” The official Israeli response to these and other outrages is one of indulgence, and actions to counteract them are minimal. But these groups are inspired by the undercurrent of hatred and dehumanization of Palestinians—a sentiment expressed by Israeli politicians, rabbis and the arbiters of public opinion. Israel’s consistent unwillingness to bring settlers to justice for their violent actions against Palestinians only encourages and incites further settler violence.

Impunity for Israeli Soldiers

In 1984, during what became known as the Bus 300 affair, Shin Bet officers first allowed Israeli Jews to beat up two Palestinians who had hijacked a bus, then executed the two men on the spot—after the hostages had been freed and the hijackers captured and handcuffed. The Shin Bet initially claimed that the hijackers had died when the hostages were being rescued. But these lies were exposed when photos were released showing the hijackers alive after their capture. Nevertheless, Shin Bet head Avraham Shalom and all the officers involved received a presidential pardon for unspecified crimes—before any charges were even brought against them.

In 2004, Iman al-Hams, a 13-year-old Gaza student, lay injured on the ground after having been shot by Israeli soldiers when she entered a “closed military zone” on her way to school. Captain “R,” a Givati Brigade soldier, approached her and shot her at point-blank range. (See Jan./Feb. 2005 Washington Report, p. 9.) According to transcripts of radio exchanges between the soldiers during the incident, Captain “R” said he did this “to confirm the kill.” In court he later claimed that he believed the young girl posed a serious threat and that he had opened fire, not directly aiming at Iman, as a deterrent. Haaretz later reported that Israel would award Captain “R” 80,000 NIS in compensation, after he was acquitted of a charge related to the shooting.

In 2005, Israeli soldier Eden Natan-Zada opened fire on Palestinian citizens of Israel at the border of Shafa Amre, killing 4 and wounding 21. When he paused to reload his rifle, those who survived the massacre overpowered and killed him. The state of Israel, however, chose to indict 12 of the town’s residents! Many were charged with attempted murder for “taking the law into their own hands.”

Last year, Arafat Jaradat, a young student from Hebron, died five days after being detained for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli forces during a protest. An autopsy revealed three broken ribs, severe contusions on his legs and forehead, and blood in his mouth and nose. A Turkish forensic specialist found the injuries consistent with torture. The Israeli medical examiner described the same wounds on Jaradat’s body but was unable to determine a cause of death. The Israeli Foreign Ministry released a statement claiming that Jaradat died of a heart ailment—even though none of the medical specialists, including the Israeli medical examiner, had noted any evidence of a heart condition!

Just a few months ago, on March 10, Israeli troops at Allenby Bridge killed unarmed Palestinian-Jordanian Judge Raed Zeiter, 38, who was on his way to the West Bank to collect rent money to pay for the treatment of his ill son. The Israelis alleged that he tried to snatch a weapon from a soldier, but eyewitnesses told a different story: When the judge lit a cigarette while waiting to be searched; a soldier pushed him, yelling that he couldn’t smoke; Judge Zeiter pushed back, shouting, “Don’t insult me!” The soldier then shot the judge, who was left bleeding for half an hour at the feet of a crowd of Palestinians who waited in line, paralyzed by fear. Judge Zeiter finally died of his wounds. Israeli officials claim surveillance cameras were not functioning on that particular day, and the investigation is now closed, leaving the Israeli officials’ version unchallenged.

Palestinians who kill or even attempt to kill Israelis invariably receive heavy sentences. By contrast, Israelis who kill Palestinians get away with their crimes or receive very minimal sentences, suspended sentences, or fines—if they are not given medals and awards! We have seen soldiers who film themselves while they abuse Palestinians. Many of my own patients who have been tortured under interrogation describe appalling events that took place within four closed walls. Who pays for that? Who is held accountable? Israel makes it impossible to document or track these cases, destroying the evidence and hiding the truth.

The Israeli army, Israeli institutions and individual Israelis violate Palestinians’ human rights with complete impunity. International laws have been created to provide an effective remedy to victims of human rights abuses, but Israeli laws are carefully designed and amended to make Jewish Israelis immune from them. For example, Law 5712 of 1952 was amended to make it impossible for a Palestinian who has sustained damages at the hands of a state agent in any area of the West Bank or Gaza Strip to claim compensation. While “national security” is invoked to drop all charges against Israeli Jews, “secret evidence” is used to prosecute and detain Palestinians through administrative detention without disclosing the charges against them, thus depriving them of the right to due process.

Julian Soufir did not consider himself a murderer because he believed Arabs were like cattle and he was just slaughtering one; Captain “R” felt threatened by an injured 13-year-old schoolgirl and shot her at point-blank range. Not only does the Israeli government and public opinion share these delusions, but the international community supports Israel’s paranoia by endorsing its “right to defend itself.”

After “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008-09 and “Operation Pillar of Defense” in 2012, in July Israel launched “Operation Protective Edge.” We have witnessed three wars in less than six years, all on the pretext of weakening resistance groups. The failure of the international community to set limits and hold Israel accountable for its actions and the inertia of the official Palestinian leadership in going to the International Court of Justice will only invite young people like the friends of Muhammed Abu Khdeir to overcome their fear and act on behalf of the victims of Israel’s insane policies. ❑


Samah Jabr is a Jerusalemite psychiatrist and psychotherapist who cares about the wellbeing of her community—beyond issues of mental health.

September 5, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Victory’ in Gaza is illusory

By Ibrahim Hewitt | MEMO | September 4, 2014

How much longer is the farce of the Palestinian Authority going to continue? I ask because it has been obvious over the past few months that the PA, under President Mahmoud Abbas, is there more for Israel’s benefit than that of the people it is meant to serve, the Palestinians. In such circumstances, any claim of “victory” by the resistance groups in Gaza is illusory.

So-called “security cooperation” with the Israeli occupation forces makes the PA’s own 70,000-strong security agencies collaborators in the eyes of many Palestinians. Has anyone ever seen any PA security forces coming to the aid of Palestinian protesters against Israel’s Apartheid Wall at the weekly demonstrations across the occupied West Bank? Such protests usually start peacefully but end in violence as those taking part are attacked by Israeli soldiers and illegal settlers. Do Palestinian security officers rush to their defence? Well, do they? Of course not, for that is not their role; they exist to police the Palestinians on Israel’s behalf and stifle any form of resistance not tackled by the absurdly-named Israel Defence Forces. Hence, mass round-ups of non-Fatah activists and the suppression of anti-Israel demonstrations during the latest of the Zionist state’s attacks on the civilians of the Gaza Strip.

The EU is the “biggest multilateral donor of assistance to the Palestinians”, and in 2011 this aid amounted to €453 million. Ostensibly there to “build up the institutions of a future democratic, independent and viable Palestinian State living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security”, the bulk of the aid is spent on security and salaries for PA officials and employees. It has been said that one of the reasons for Mahmoud Abbas’ reluctance to sign up to the International Criminal Court to pursue alleged Israeli war criminals through legal means is that the funding which pays his and his cronies’ salaries and pensions will be cut-off if he takes such a step. In other words, he has sold out, placing his personal wellbeing over and above justice for his people.

The “international community”, meanwhile, goes through with the charade that the two-state solution is still viable and, through the “Middle East Quartet”, seeks to impose its own conditions on the Palestinians to get them to acquiesce and offer yet more concessions “for peace”. Israel is spared such pressure and gets away, literally, with murder as it continues to steal ever more Palestinian land while paying lip-service to a moribund peace process.

This is why I am concerned but not surprised to learn that PA negotiator Saeb Erekat has met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington to discuss ways to reopen negotiations with the Israelis. It is as if the recent slaughter of Palestinian civilians in Gaza hasn’t happened; that Israel’s intense military bombardment and destruction of the infrastructure was just a blip on the screen; that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Equally shocking is that the pre-Operation Protective Edge status quo is likely to be the “norm” that prevails, because that is what Israel and the Zionist Lobby in capitals around the world want. Israel will proceed with its expansion unhindered, with more and bigger settlements, arrest campaigns, torture (by Israeli and Palestinian security forces alike), checkpoints and all of the other paraphernalia of its brutal military occupation. The Palestinians will continue to be besieged, brutalised and killed by trigger-happy Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Despite all of this, Mahmoud Abbas and his team of negotiators will be pushed into giving Israel concessions that will not be reciprocated, with little thought, one is led to believe, for the fact that illegal settlements, land grabs and ethnic cleansing should never be subject to “negotiation” in the first place. It is a question that has been asked before but is worth repeating until someone involved in the whole sordid process can provide a legitimate answer: since when have criminals been able to “negotiate” their way out of paying for their crimes?

Euphoria in Palestinian circles, especially in Gaza, over the “victory” against the IDF is, I believe, not only premature but also misleading. How many more “victories” will be celebrated before the world wakes up to the reality that the two-state solution is long dead and buried and efforts to find a “solution” serve only Israeli interests; that we have all been duped by a slick Israeli PR machine aided and abetted by a compliant media and politicians in the West (which now includes a number of Arab capitals in thrall to Zionism) into believing that Israel is the victim in all of this and entitled to “self-defence”? Such a conclusion rides roughshod over international law and natural justice, but it is accepted by Washington, London, Berlin and the other capitals which support Israel right or wrong.

Only when its Western supporters stand up to Israel’s illegitimacy and illegal activity is there ever any likelihood that peace and genuine justice may prevail. Until and unless that happens (and I am not holding my breath), the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip will be squeezed between the rock of Israeli oppression and the hard place of the Palestinian Authority. They are now two sides of the same coin, but neither carries any currency for the people of Palestine.

September 5, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Gaza reconstruction to cost $7.8 billion

Al-Akhbar | September 4, 2014

003Rebuilding Gaza will cost $7.8 billion, the Palestinian Authority said on Thursday, in the most comprehensive assessment yet of damage from the seven-week Israeli assault during which whole neighborhoods and vital infrastructure were flattened.

The cost of rebuilding 17,000 Gazan homes razed by Israeli bombings would be $2.5 billion, the Authority said, and the energy sector needed $250 million after the Strip’s only power plant was destroyed by two Israeli missiles.

“The attack on Gaza this time had no precedent, Gaza has been hit with a catastrophe and it needs immediate help because many things can’t wait long,” Mohammed Shtayyeh, a Palestinian economist and a senior member of the West Bank’s dominant Fatah party, told reporters in Ramallah.

Rebuilding Gaza would depend heavily on foreign aid and requires an end to Palestinian rivalry and Israel opening its border crossings, said Shtayyeh, who heads the Palestinian Economic Council for Research and Development (PECDAR) which ran the survey.

But none of the factors mentioned by Shtayyeh appeared forthcoming. A donor conference in Cairo has yet to be formally scheduled, Palestinian institutions remain divided between Gaza and the West Bank and Israel has yet to fundamentally ease the movement of people and goods at its Gaza border.

The PA’s assessment also found that the Strip’s education sector would need around $143 million to get back on its feet. About half a million children have been unable to return to their schools due to damage or because the buildings are being used to house refugees.

Over 106,000 of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents have been displaced to UN shelters and host families, the UN says.

The remaining billions of dollars in the PECDAR assessment, which was compiled by 13 experts resident in Gaza and their research teams, were allocated to the financial, health, agriculture, and transportation sectors, all of which suffered widespread damage during the war.

The assessment also earmarked $670 million for an airport and sea port, which Shtayyeh said was a Palestinian right, but Israel has so far rejected.

The Israeli assault on Gaza killed over 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, along with 64 Israeli soldiers and five civilians.

In the week since an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire took hold on August 26, little progress has been made in getting the rebuilding underway or settling the bitter political rifts around Gaza.

An international donor conference jointly chaired by Egypt and Norway has yet to be formally scheduled, and Israel has not fundamentally changed its curbs on the movement of people and goods, especially crucial building materials, on Gaza’s border.

The cash-strapped Palestinian Authority barely has enough money to pay its own employees in the West Bank and has no immediate plans to pay employees in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, despite a unity pact signed between Fatah and Hamas in April.

“The Authority needs to be able to work as an authority to become completely responsible for all aspects of life in Gaza,” Shtayyeh told reporters.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

September 5, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment