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Mexican Journalist Kidnapped in Veracruz State

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teleSUR | January 3, 2015

Mexican photojournalist and social activist, Moises Sanchez Cerezo, was reportedly kidnapped by an armed group at his home in the community of Medellin de Bravo in the turbulent state of Veracruz on Friday.

According to local media reports, Cerezo was taken at gunpoint along with his computer, camera and cell phone. Neighbor testimony outlined that the incident took place at 7:30 in the evening. They affirmed that three cars arrived with several armed men who entered the home of Cerezo then drove off with him in their custody.

Although the neighbors notified police, law enforcement showed up hours later.

Cerezo contributes to the local weekly La Union as well as participated in neighborhood security and watch groups to try to confront the widespread insecurity resulting from the presence of organized crime and corrupt local police officials.

Media rights watchdog groups have raised alarm over the number of journalists and media workers killed or targeted during the current administration of Enrique Peña Nieto. According to the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), 13 journalists have been killed in Mexico in the past two years.

Mexico remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism. Nearly 100 media workers have lost their lives or gone missing since the year 2000, and most of these cases are still unsolved, insufficiently probed, and few perpetrators arrested or convicted, according to the PEN American Center.

The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that since 1992, 73 percent of journalists killings in Mexico involved criminal groups with 8 percent involving the military.

January 3, 2015 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Rapprochement Between the United States and Cuba and Sanctions Against Venezuela

By WILLIAM CAMACARO and FREDERICK B. MILLS | CounterPunch | January 2, 2015

In a historic address on December 17, 2014 on “Cuba policy changes” President Barack Obama declared, “our shift in policy towards Cuba comes at a moment of renewed leadership in the Americas.” This “renewed leadership,” in our view, seeks to gradually undermine socialism in Cuba, check waning U.S. influence in the region, and inhibit a growing continental Bolivarian movement towards Latin American liberation, integration, and sovereignty. To be sure, normalization of relations with Cuba and the release of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero were long overdue, and the reunification of Alan Gross with his family was an important and welcome gesture. The rapprochement between the United States and Cuba and the simultaneous imposition of a new round of sanctions by the U.S. against Venezuela, however, do not signal a change in overall U.S. strategy but only a change in tactics. As President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro remarked in a letter to President Raul Castro “there is still a long road to travel in order to arrive at the point that Washington recognizes we are no longer its back yard…” (December 20, 2014).

From Embargo to Deployment of U.S. Soft Power in Cuba

The Obama gambit arguably seeks to move Cuba as far as possible towards market oriented economic reforms, help build the political community of dissidents on the island, and improve U.S. standing in the region, and indeed in the world. In a Miami Herald op-ed piece (December 22, 2014), John Kerry (Secretary of State), Penny Pritzker (Secretary of Commerce) and Jacob J. Lew (Treasury Secretary) wrote that normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba will “increase the ability of Americans to provide business training and other support for Cuba’s nascent private sector” and that this will “put American businesses on a more equal footing.” Presumably the op-ed is referring to “equal footing” with other nations that have been doing business for years with Cuba despite the embargo. The essay also indicates that the U.S. will continue its “strong support for improved human-rights conditions and democratic reforms in Cuba” by “empowering civil society and supporting the freedom of individuals to exercise their freedoms of speech and assembly.” Such a version of “empowering civil society” is probably consistent with decades of U.S. clandestine attempts to subvert the Cuban government, documented by Jon Elliston in Psy War on Cuba: The declassified history of U.S. anti-Castro propaganda (Ocean Press: 1999). It is also in line with more recent efforts, through USAID funded social media (phony Cuban Twitter) and a four year project to promote “Cuban rap music” both of which ended in 2012, designed to build dissident movements inside Cuba. In December 2014, Matt Herrick, spokesman for USAID, defended the latter unsuccessful covert program saying, “It seemed like a good idea to support civil society” and that “it’s not something we are embarrassed about in any way.” Moreover, a fact sheet on normalization published by the U.S. Department of State mentions that funding for “democracy programming” will continue and that “our efforts are aimed at promoting the independence of the Cuban people so they do not need to rely on the Cuban state” (December 17, 2014). The Cuban government, though, has a different take on the meaning of “independence of the Cuban people.” They emphasize “sovereign equality,” “national independence,” and “self determination.” In an address on normalization, Raul Castro insisted on maintaining Cuban sovereignty and stated “we have embarked on the task of updating our economic model in order to build a prosperous and sustainable Socialism” (December 17, 2014). Obviously the ideological differences between Washington and Havana will shape the course of economic and political engagement between these two nations in the months and years ahead.

Rapprochement Between the U.S. and U.S. Isolation in Latin America

Through normalization of relations with Cuba, the U.S. also seeks to end its increasing isolation in the region. Secretary of State John Kerry, in his Announcement of Cuba Policy Changes, remarked that “not only has this policy [embargo] failed to advance America’s goals, it has actually isolated the United States instead of isolating Cuba” (December 17, 2014). In October 2014, the United Nations General Assembly voted against the U.S. Cuba embargo for the 23rd year in a row, with only the U.S. and Israel voting in favor. The inclusion of Cuba in the political and, to a certain degree, economic life of Latin America, has also been part of a larger expression of Latin American solidarity that clearly repudiates regional subordination to Washington. Since the sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena (April 2012), the U.S. has been on very clear notice by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) that there will be no seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama in April without Cuba, a condition to which Washington has ceded.

The flip side of Washington’s growing “isolation” has been the critically important regional diversification of diplomatic and commercial relations between Latin America and the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and the construction of alternative development banks and currency reserves to gradually replace the historically onerous terms of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The financial powerhouse of the BRICS nations is China. Over the past year, China has sent high level delegations to visit CELAC nations and in some cases these meetings have resulted in significant commercial agreements. As a follow up, there will be a CELAC–China forum in Beijing in January 2015 whose main objective, reports Prensa Latina, “is exchange and dialogue in politics, trade, economy and culture.” These ties with BRICS and other nations are consistent with the Chavista goal that the Patria Grande ought to contribute to building a multi-polar world and resist subordination to any power block on the planet. By bringing a halt to its growing isolation, Washington would be in a better position to increase its participation in regional commerce. The terms of economic engagement with most of Latin America, however, will no longer be determined by a Washington consensus, but by a North—South consensus. The Obama gambit, though, appears to be trading one source of alienation (embargo against Cuba) for another (sanctions against Venezuela).

Obama’s Gambit: Pushing Back the Bolivarian Cause at its Front Line–Venezuela

The Obama administration’s move to normalize relations with Cuba, while a welcome change of course, can be seen as a modification in tactics to advance the neoliberal agenda as far as possible in Havana while ending a policy that only serves to further erode U.S. influence in the region. Such diplomacy is in line with what appears to be a major U.S. policy objective of ultimately rolling back the ‘pink tide’, that is, the establishment, by democratic procedures, of left and center left regimes in two thirds of Latin American nations. It is this tide that has achieved some measure of progress in liberating much of Latin America from the structural inequality, social antagonism, and subordination to transnational corporate interests intrinsic to neoliberal politics and economics. And it is the continental Bolivarian emphasis on independence, integration, and sovereignty that has fortified the social movements behind this tide.

The Obama gambit, from a hemispheric point of view, constitutes a tactical shift away from the failed U.S. attempt to isolate and bring the Cuban revolution to its knees through coercion, to an intensification of its fifteen year effort to isolate and promote regime change in Venezuela. The reason for this tactical shift is that Venezuela, as the front line in the struggle for the Bolivarian cause of an increasingly integrated and sovereign Latin America, has become the biggest obstacle to the restoration of U.S. hegemony and the rehabilitation of the neoliberal regime in the Americas.

If this interpretation of U.S. hemispheric policy is near the mark, Obama’s grand executive gesture towards Cuba is immediately related to the context of Washington’s unrelenting antagonism towards Chavismo and, in particular, to the latest imposition of sanctions against Caracas. The reason for this is quite transparent. It has been Venezuela, more than Cuba, during the past fifteen years, that has played the leading role in the change of the balance of forces in the region on the side of sovereignty for the peoples of the Americas, especially through its leadership role in ALBA, CELAC, UNASUR and MERCOSUR, associations that do not include the U.S. and Canada. Argentine sociologist Atilio Boron, in an interview with Katu Arkonada of Rebelión (June 24, 2014), points out, “It is no accident… that Venezuela in particular is in the cross hairs of the empire, and for this reason we must be clear that the battle of Venezuela is our Stalingrad. If Venezuela succumbs before the brutal counter offensive of the United States…the rest of the processes of change underway on the continent, whether very radical or very moderate, will end with the same fate.” The latest U.S. sanctions against Venezuela can be viewed as one component of this counter offensive. It is to a closer look at the sanctions bill, signed into law by the president on December 18, 2014, that we now turn.

The “Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014” (S 2142) not only targets Venezuelan officials whom U.S. authorities accuse of being linked to human rights abuses by freezing their assets and revoking their travel visas (Sec. 5 (b) (1) (A) (B)), it also promises to step up U.S. political intervention in Venezuela by continuing “to support the development of democratic political processes and independent civil society in Venezuela” (section 4 (4)) and by reviewing the effectiveness of “broadcasting, information distribution, and circumvention technology distribution in Venezuela” (section 6). One of the instruments of this support for “democratic political processes” has been the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Sociologist Kim Scipes argues that, “the NED and its institutes are not active in Venezuela to help promote democracy, as they claim, but in fact, to act against popular democracy in an effort to restore the rule of the elite, top-down democracy” (February 28 – March 2, 2014). Independent journalist Garry Leech, in his article entitled “Agents of Destabilization: Washington Seeks Regime Change in Venezuela,” (March 4, 2014) examines Wikileaks cables that indicate similar efforts have been carried out in Venezuela by USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) during the past decade. Hannah Dreier (July 18, 2014), reported that “the State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy, a government-funded nonprofit organization, together budgeted about $7.6 million to support Venezuelan groups last year alone, according to public documents reviewed by AP.” The sanctions bill (S 2142), then, in light of these precedents, contains provisions that suggest an imminent escalation in the use of soft power to support the political opposition to Chavismo in Venezuela, though such funding has been banned by Caracas.

The current U.S. sanctions against Caracas are consistent with fifteen years of U.S. antagonism against the Bolivarian revolution. The measures send a clear signal of increased support for a Venezuelan political opposition that has suffered division and discord in the aftermath of their failed “salida ya” (exit now) strategy of the first quarter of 2014. The sanctions also undermine any near term movement towards normalization of relations between the U.S. and Venezuela. It is no surprise that provisions of the law that targets Venezuelan officials accused of human rights violations have gotten some limited traction inside this South American nation, with the executive secretary of the Venezuelan opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), Jesús Torrealba, openly supporting this measure. This is probably not going to get the MUD a lot of votes. According to a Hinterlaces poll taken in May, a majority of Venezuelans are opposed to U.S. sanctions. There has also been a swift repudiation of sanctions by the Maduro administration and the popular sectors. On December 15, 2014, in one of the largest and most enthusiastic gatherings of Chavistas in the streets of Caracas since the death of Hugo Chavez, marchers celebrated the fifteenth year anniversary of the passage by referendum of a new constitution (December 15, 1999) and vigorously protested against U.S. intervention in their country. Even dissident Chavistas appear to be toning down their rhetoric and circling the wagons in the face of Washington’s bid to assert “renewed leadership” in the region.

There is no doubt that the Maduro administration is under tremendous pressure, from left Chavistas as well as from the right wing opposition, to reform and improve public security and deal effectively with an economic crisis that is being exacerbated by falling petroleum prices. What the government of Venezuela calls an “economic war” against the country has domestic and well as international dimensions. Although there is no smoking gun at this time that exposes a conspiracy, some analysts interpret the recent fall in oil prices as part of a campaign to put severe economic pressure on Iran, Russia and Venezuela, countries whose fiscal soundness relies a great deal on petroleum revenues. For example, Venezuelan independent journalist, Jesus Silva R., in his essay entitled “The Government of Saudi Arabia is the Worst Commercial Enemy of Venezuela,” argues that the Saudis and Washington are complicit in the “economic strangulation, planned from the outside, against Venezuela” (December 22, 2014). Whatever the cause of falling petroleum prices and despite the domestic challenges facing Caracas, it will most probably be the Venezuelan electorate that decides, through upcoming legislative elections, whether to give Chavismo a vote of confidence, not outside intervention or a fresh round of guarimbas and terrorist attacks perpetrated by the ultra right. For the large majority of Venezuelans reject violence and favor constitutional means of resolving political contests.

U.S. Sanctions Against Venezuela Evoke Latin American Solidarity with Caracas

The good will generated by rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba has already been tempered by the almost simultaneous new round of sanctions imposed by Washington against Venezuela. It is important to recall, perhaps with some irony, that it was precisely the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s establishment of fraternal ties with a formerly isolated Cuba that drew, in particular, the ire of Washington and the virulent antagonism of the right wing Venezuelan opposition. Now it is Latin American and to a significant extent, international solidarity with Venezuela that may prove to be a thorn in Washington’s side. On December 12, 2014, ALBA issued a strong statement against the Senate passage of the sanctions bill, expressing its “most energetic rejection of these interventionist actions [sanctions] against the people and government of the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela.” The statement also warned “that the legislation constitutes an incitement towards the destabilization of…Venezuela and opens the doors to anticonstitutional actions against the legal government and legitimately elected President Nicolas Maduro Moros.” The communiqué also expressed solidarity with Venezuela adding that the countries of ALBA “desire to emphasize that they will not permit the use of old practices already applied to countries in the region, directed at bringing about political regime change, as has occurred in other regions of the world.” MERCOSUR issued a statement on December 17, 2014 that “the application of unilateral sanctions… violate the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of States and does not contribute to the stability, social peace and democracy in Venezuela.” On December 22, the G77 plus China countries expressed solidarity and support for the government of Venezuela in the face of “violations of international law that in no way contributes to the spirit of political and economic dialogue between the two countries.” On December 23, the Movement of Non-Aligned Nations stated that it “categorically rejects the decision of the United States Government to impose unilateral coercive measures against the Republic of Venezuela…with the purpose of weakening its sovereignty, political independence and its right to the self determination, in clear violation of International Law.” It is also important to recall that on October 16, 2014 the UN General Assembly elected Venezuela (by a vote of 181 out of 193 members) to a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council with unanimous regional support, even crossing ideological lines. This UN vote came as a grave disappointment to opponents of the Bolivarian revolution and reinforced Venezuelan standing in CELAC. In yet another diplomatic victory, as of September 2015, Venezuela will assume the presidency of the Movement of Non-Aligned Nations for a three year term. Clearly, it is Washington, not Venezuela that has already become an outlier as the Obama administration launches its “renewed leadership in the Americas.” If these immediate expressions of solidarity with the first post-Chavez Bolivarian government in Venezuela are an indicator of a persistent and growing trend, then by the time of the upcoming seventh Summit of the Americas, April 10 – 11, 2015 in Panama, President Obama can expect approbation for Washington’s opening to Havana, but he will also face a united front against U.S. intervention in Venezuela and anywhere else in the region.

Note: Translations by the authors from Spanish to English of government documents are unofficial. Where citations are not present in the text, hyperlinks provide the source.

William Camacaro MFA. is a Senior Analyst at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and a member of the Bolivarian Circle of New York “Alberto Lovera.”

Frederick B. Mills, Ph.D. is Professor of Philosophy at Bowie State University and Senior Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

January 3, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy New Year Palestine: But Don’t Expect any Change in the Status Quo

By William Hanna | Dissident Voice | January 2, 2015

A stinging defeat for Abbas, but no great victory for Israel … Netanyahu persuaded Nigeria to abstain as UN Security Council rejected Palestinian statehood, but could only muster US and Australian opposition, and the French let Israel down.

Times of Israel

Had the UN Security Council voted for Palestinian statehood it would still have made no difference because the resolution would have been vetoed by Israel’s superpower lapdog — that principled and supreme upholder of democracy and international law — the United States of America. But even before this latest amoral rejection, the Palestinian people had already been forewarned that the New Year of 2015 would herald no change in their misfortunes.

UNSCvote_DVThey would continue to be faceless, voiceless, and unrecognised by a Zionist blackmailed, bribed, bullied, and sadly spineless international community; continue to be stateless prisoner refugees on their own land and in adjoining Arab states; continue to be subject to air, sea, and land blockades that prevent free trade — the import of essential foods, medical supplies, and rebuilding materials — and freedom of their own movement; continue to exist under the constant threat of another barbaric military assault in keeping with Zionism’s rationale that Palestinian existence denies and challenges Israel’s insatiable territorial claims which can only be satisfied by annihilating the Palestinian people; continue to be subject to arbitrary arrest, beatings, torture, and indefinite imprisonment without charges or due process — for up to ten or more years in some cases without knowledge of when or if they will ever be released — under Israel’s Administrative Detention Orders; continue seeing their children being systematically detained by the military and police who subject them to violent physical and verbal abuse, humiliation, painful restraints, hooding of the head and face in a sack, threats with death, physical violence, and sexual assault against themselves or members of their family, and denial of access to food, water, and toilet facilities; continue to be subject to attacks against themselves and their property — including the burning of their olive groves which are the only means of livelihood for many — by deranged savages from illegal Israeli settlements; continue to have their property demolished, their resources including water stolen, and their land expropriated by “God’s chosen people” from the “only democracy in the Middle east”; and finally, they would continue to be aghast at how the world could stand idly by and do nothing while Israel barbarically violated every article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which incidentally both warmongering criminal states of the U.S. and Israel had ratified.

So despite recent encouraging recognitions of a “Palestinian state” by some European parliaments, forewarnings that the status quo for the Palestinian people would remain unchanged came from various sources including the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron. Cameron, who during a visit to Israel in march 2014 had taken obsequious Knesset-grovelling to new heights by confirming that very determined and insidious “friends of Israel” lobby groups corrupt and exert influence over the Western leaders irrespective of what the the people themselves may want as was the case in the lead-up to the Iraq War:

I will always stand up for the right of Israel to defend its citizens, a right enshrined in international law, in natural justice and fundamental morality [which is not applicable to the Palestinian people because their lobby is nowhere near as powerful as yours], and in decades of common endeavour between Israel and her [bought and paid for political] allies. When I was in opposition, I spoke out when – because of the law on universal jurisdiction – senior Israelis could not safely come to my country without fear of ideologically motivated court cases and legal stunts; when I became Prime Minister, I legislated to change it. My country is open to you and you are welcome [as are your shiny shekels] to visit any time.

Despite Israel’s flagrant crimes against humanity during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge and following Israel’s Jewish nation-state bill which affirmed “the personal rights of all [Israel’s] citizens according to law,” but reserved communal rights for Jews only — which meant that while individual Arabs would be equal in the eyes of the law, their communal rights would not be recognised — the following exchange took place in parliament between an unabashed Cameron and the high-principled Jewish Sir Gerald Kaufman:

Sir Gerald Kaufman: “Will the Prime Minister condemn the new Israeli Government Bill that removes what are defined as national rights from all Israeli citizens who are not Jews, makes Hebrew the only national language and has been denounced by the Israeli Attorney-General as causing a ‘deterioration of the democratic characteristic of the state’? Will he make it clear that the statutory, repressive removal of citizenship rights on the basis of religion will turn Israel into an apartheid state?”

Prime Minister David Cameron: “One of the reasons I am such a strong supporter of Israel is that it is a country that has given rights and democracy to its people, and it is very important that that continues. When we look across the region and at the indexes of freedom, we see that Israel is one of the few countries that tick the boxes for freedom, and it is very important that it continues to do so.”

Furthermore, as a consequence of last year’s increased public sympathy for the Palestinian people, Israel has ramped-up its propaganda through Zionism’s reliable army of selfish, self-serving, sleazy, sewer-scavenging, slime ball supporters — time to abandon political correctness and unjustified respect — whose leading light is Tony Blair the war criminal “Middle East Peace Envoy.” Such lowlife paid for recruits contaminate not only politics, but also the mainstream media that plants the seeds of support for Israel by expurgating the news we hear, read, and watch. While speaking at a conference in Jerusalem last month, Danny Cohen the director of the Israeli-biased BBC Television said: “I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as in the last 12 months,” and that rising anti-Semitism has made him question the long-term future for Jews in the UK.

It would be an insult to morons to refer to Mr. Cohen as such, but it has obviously escaped his Zionist mentality that what he refers to as anti-Semitism in Britain, may in fact be the British people’s exasperation with continually seeing images of Israel’s barbarity against a defenceless people who only want to be left alone to enjoy their inalienable human rights in an unoccupied Palestinian state. How can Mr. Cohen and others of his heartless ilk be made to understand that the general public’s revulsion and condemnation resulting from seeing [WARNING: images very graphic!] images of Palestinian children burnt to a crisp with limbs blown off, is not in any way anti-Semitic but simply empathy for fellow human beings whose savage persecution has been ongoing for more than 60 years.

Unmitigated Zionist arrogance — with its inherent Ariel Sharon belief that “Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial” — presumes to tell the rest of us “unchosen” goyim what we can and cannot do; presumes to condemn the European parliaments that finally took a moral stand and voted to recognise a Palestinian state; presumes —after the Palestinians signed up to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) — to issue the threat that Israel would take “steps in response and defend Israel’s soldiers”; presumes that it has a right to special trade agreements and dispensations whose conditions it routinely violates; presumes that it can take what it wants without giving anything in return; and presumes in accordance with its self nomination as “God’s chosen people” that it has a supremacist entitlement to treat all non-Jews as contemptible individuals to be used and exploited.

Further proof of an unchanged Palestinian status quo in 2015 came after the first step was taken to join the ICC with the U.S. state department — an Israeli mouthpiece — releasing a statement condemning what it called “an escalatory step” on the part of the Palestinians and that negotiations between the two sides were the only “realistic path towards peace … today’s action is entirely counter-productive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state.”

It is hard to comprehend how after decades of “peace talks” anyone can still believe that peace is achievable through negotiations. The Israeli position of insisting that only through negotiations can an agreement be reached is a ploy that always includes the deliberate Israeli intent to sabotage such negotiations so as to prolong the status quo and thereby enable Israel to continue with its illegal settlement building and gradual expropriation of more Palestinian land by means of ethnic cleansing. Israel does not want peace. Peace would mean an end to Israel’s gratuitous persecution of the Palestinian people and the larcenous plunder of Palestinian land and resources.

Even before the UN Security Council vote Israel considered the resolution to be a diplomatic declaration of war with Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz calling for drastic measures if the Palestinians indeed do make the move. “A vote at the UN is expected on the aggressive, hostile and one-sided resolution regarding a Palestinian state. We must not let it pass quietly,” Steinitz declared. “In my opinion, if such a resolution is accepted by the UNSC we will have to seriously consider the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority … in my opinion, if such a resolution is accepted by the UNSC we will have to seriously consider the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority.”

It is time for decent people everywhere to face two inescapable realities: the first is to recognise and accept what Israel is — a Zionist Apartheid warmongering state bent on driving out the indigenous Palestinian people so as to grab their land irrespective of cost or consequences, and the second is that Western political leaders cannot be relied upon on to unconditionally insist on justice for the Palestinian people including Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 borders thereby allowing for a Palestinian state.

So what can decent people do? They can resort to the only peaceful and proven alternative which successfully ended Apartheid in South Africa and simply involved an all out boycott. The current global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) has to be supported and expanded to such an extent that Israelis will have no option other than to accept that even as a God chosen people they still have the responsibility of respecting international law and the rest of humanity.

William Hanna is a freelance writer with a recently published book the Hiramic Brotherhood of the Third Temple. He can be reached at: w194hanna@gmail.com.

January 3, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 2 Comments

Israeli forces shoot 3 Palestinian shepherds near Nablus

Ma’an – 03/01/2015

90059_345x230NABLUS – Three Palestinian shepherds were injured on Saturday after Israeli forces and private security guards at a Jewish settlement opened fire on a crowd near Nablus.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that several Israeli settlers attacked a group of shepherds in the area of Khirbet Yanun near the village of Aqraba and opened live fire at them after the group entered the area.

Israeli soldiers later entered the area and opened fire as well, hitting three men.

The injured were identified as Falah Youssef Bani Jaber, hit in the hand, Ahmad Bani Jaber, also hit in the hand, and Judeh Bani Jaber, who was hit with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his stomach.

An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma’an that the Palestinian shepherds gathered near the Gidonim outpost of the Itamar settlement north of Aqraba, claiming that their herds had been stolen.

Israeli residents of the settlement then called army forces, she said, and the local security guards and the army forces “fired in the air to disperse the riot.”

She said that the herds were subsequently found and that they had not been “stolen,” as the Palestinians had claimed. However, she refused to comment on whether the herds had been found inside the settlement or not.

She added that the military was looking into reports that Palestinians had been injured in the incident.

The villages south of Nablus are frequent sites of settler violence and Palestinian clashes with Israeli forces as they are located beside the notoriously violent Israeli settlements of Yitzhar, Bracha, and Itamar.

Settlers frequently attack a number of local villages and prevent farmers from reaching their lands, according to UNOCHA, in addition to attacks on local olive trees themselves.

Settler violence against Palestinians and their property in the occupied West Bank is systematic and ignored by Israeli authorities, who rarely intervene in the violent attacks or prosecute the perpetrators.

In 2014, there were at least 329 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

January 3, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Abuse, neglect killed more than 100 Egyptian detainees in 2014: Report

Mada Masr | January 2, 2015

More than 100 people died while detained in Egyptian prisons in 2014, according to a year-end report produced by Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence.

The report included a timeline of documented cases of torture in prisons, which showed that torture occurred almost daily in the past year. The timeline was accompanied by prisoners’ testimonials, which revealed the inhumane conditions for detainees.

In the report’s introduction, Al-Nadeem claimed that the cases detailed therein represented only a fraction of the violations committed against many more unknown detainees. Torture is a crime, the center declared, whether it’s practiced against a political detainee, a murderer or a terrorist.

Most deaths that occurred in police stations or prisons were caused by torture, untreated health conditions or the brutal conditions in which the detainees were held, according to the report.

Al-Nadeem lambasted the government for shirking its legal responsibility to safeguard the health and lives of anyone detained in Egyptian facilities.

“You are responsible for all of them — whether they died from electric shocks or brutal beatings; or died from hunger as a result of a hunger strike that you ignored; or died of suffocation because of overcrowding; or of diseases that you delayed treatment for, or because you refused to transfer them to hospitals,” the report said.

“In all cases, their deaths are premeditated murder in your prisons,” the center concluded, “and you will be held accountable for it sooner or later.”

January 3, 2015 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | | Leave a comment