Aletho News


Evangelical Investment in Israel

By Serge Halimi | CounterPunch | April 6, 2016

US-Israeli relations are a recurring issue in the Republican primaries, even in southern states where there are very few Jewish voters. For many years, the following ritual only affected Democratic primaries, especially in New York (notably in 1980, 1984, 1988). One candidate, or even several, would call for the US embassy in Israel to be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, tantamount to recognising Israel’s sovereignty over the whole of the city. Then, when the New York primary was over, both Democratic and Republican presidents would leave the embassy where it was, until the next candidate repeated the performance four years later.

Now it’s the Republicans’ turn. A few days before the Iowa vote, Ted Cruz announced that, as president, he would relocate the embassy “on day one”. Why, when Iowa is 0.2% Jewish? The evangelical church is powerful — as it is in all the southern states.

Visiting the First Baptist Church in Opelika, Alabama, the importance of Israel, Jerusalem and Palestine is impossible to miss. Not that anyone there follows developments in the region closely. Neither recent history nor politics dictates judgments and votes, but faith. Sara-Jane Tatum, for one, takes part in a Bible discussion group, which has 40 members, two of whom are black. She belongs to the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), an organisation whose mission is to “stand with Israel in the belief that Jerusalem is the eternal capital.” Tatum is just back from a “teaching tour” in Israel, recommended by her pastor. Her itinerary included a visit to the Knesset, a meeting with two members of Likud (prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s party), and a dinner for several hundred pro-Israel Christians at Jerusalem’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. “The American ambassador spoke, as did an Arab Christian standing with Israel.” Tatum also visited the Holocaust museum. But Jericho and Bethlehem, despite their importance to Christianity, were not on the tour, nor anywhere else under Palestinian Authority control.

Tatum’s organisation raises funds “for Jewish people to leave France, Ukraine, and go to Israel. […] I have heard that French Jews were persecuted.” Her study of the Bible has “taught [her] the importance of Israel to [her] faith and what will happen in the future.” Basing her views on scripture, especially the Old Testament, she believes that all of Palestine should be returned to Israel; therefore, she supports (and would expand on) Netanyahu’s settlement policy. “One day, we don’t know when, God will protect Israel. God has decided that Jerusalem will be the centre of the world […]. God made a covenant with the Jewish people. This covenant cannot be replaced, cannot be altered, cannot be changed. Because of their disobedience to the Lord, he exiled [the Jews] but the land is theirs.”

While waiting for Armageddon and the Messiah’s return, what fate does she envisage for the Palestinians, a minority of whom are Christian, if they don’t want to live in a Jewish state? “Other Arab countries should accept Palestinians into their countries. In 1967 God protected Israel. Israel won.” Issue settled. “Israel does everything to provide jobs to Palestinians, to make them live in peace. They are treated well. They want more. If they are not happy, they can go elsewhere.”

Deborah Jones, who leads the Bible study group, has been to Israel twice, last time eight years ago. She also thinks “the Israelis are trying so hard to help the Palestinians, but their hatred of the Jews is so strong that they resist their help.” She views Palestinian Christians’ demands for sovereignty as almost heretical: “They harbour this hate for Israel so much that they don’t really accept Christ as their lord. God made a covenant with the Jewish people. God will never allow Israel to be divided again.”

Both agree peace is desirable, but, says Jones, “the Palestinians don’t want peace, they want the land.” Tatum adds: “And they want the Jews dead.”

Serge Halimi is president of Le Monde diplomatique

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Calls mount for immediate release of Nigerian cleric

Press TV – April 6, 2016

A Nigerian human rights lawyer has called for the immediate and unconditional release of senior Shia cleric and leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky.

In a Tuesday letter to the director general of the Department of State Services (DSS), Femi Falana said that Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat should be freed from “illegal detention” within 24 hours.

Zakzaky and his wife have been in detention since December last year.

The clergyman is said to have been charged with “criminal conspiracy and inciting public disturbances.”

Falana said “even though our clients have not been told that they breached any law, they have been denied access to their lawyers, personal physicians, and family members for over three months.”

“Our clients were only permitted to meet with us last Friday after several requests made by us had been turned down without any legal basis,” he added.

Falana further noted that Zakzaky had lost his left eye due to the brutal attacks during his arrest, and that the doctors “are currently battling to save the right” eye.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission also called for the immediate and unconditional release of Zakzaky.

The London-based NGO slammed the persecution of Sheikh Zakzaky and his Islamic Movement in Nigeria as an affront to all civilized and democratic values.

It also urged the Nigerian government to bring to justice all those responsible for the unprovoked attacks on Zakzaky and his supporters.

On December 12, 2015, Nigerian soldiers attacked Shia Muslims attending a ceremony at a religious center in the city of Zaria, accusing them of blocking the convoy of the army’s chief of staff and attempting to assassinate him.

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Egyptian satellite provider Nilesat stops services to Lebanese Al-Manar

Press TV – April 6, 2016

b75d1b83-b43f-4ffe-b16a-3f71a77621bdEgyptian satellite provider Nilesat has stopped airing Lebanese news channel Al-Manar following similar moves targeting Lebanon by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Taking the measure on Tuesday, Nilesat alleged that Al-Manar had “violated the contract by broadcasting shows that provoke sectarian strife and sedition.”

The company is also to stop its operations in Lebanon as of Wednesday when its contract expires.

Saudi-based satellite provider Arabsat had stopped broadcasting Al-Manar in December 2015, a month after it took Al Mayadeen TV, another Lebanon-based channel, off air.

Late last week, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV shut its offices in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, and dismissed the local staff over “security reasons.”

Saudi Arabia has been adopting a raft of measures against Lebanon in reaction to the latter country’s refusal to side with Riyadh against Iran.

It has been targeting Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, which has been fighting Saudi-backed extremism inside both Lebanon and Syria.

Earlier in the year, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil refused to back a motion crafted by Saudi Arabia against the Islamic Republic, prompting Riyadh to retract a $4-billion aid pledge to Lebanon and demand an apology, which Lebanon refused to give.

The motion had sought to condemn Tehran over January attacks on vacant Saudi diplomatic premises. The attacks occurred during otherwise peaceful protests against Saudi Arabia’s execution earlier of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Saudi Arabia has also ordered its citizens not to travel to Lebanon and imposed sanctions on four Lebanese firms and three individuals it accuses of having links to Hezbollah.

There are also reports that Saudi Arabia may expel the Lebanese nationals working on its territory.

Some local media reports in Lebanon have, meanwhile, said the Saudis may be applying pressure to secure the release of a member of the royal family held in Lebanon since last October on drug charges.

Abdul-Mohsen al-Waleed Al Saud was detained in Beirut after authorities seized two tons of amphetamine Captagon pills before they were loaded onto his private plane.

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

UNRWA Condemns Today’s Large Scale Home Demolitions in the West Bank

IMEMC News & Agencies – April 6, 2016

Statement by UNRWA West Bank Director, Lance Bartholomuesz

Jerusalem 6 April 2016

unrwa2016-cgUNRWA condemns today’s large scale home demolitions by the Israeli Authorities in the Bedouin refugee community of Um al Khayr in the South Hebron Hills. As a result, 31 Palestine refugees, including 16 children, were made homeless.

This community has endured several rounds of demolitions and often faced harassment from the nearby illegal settlement of Karmel.

“I am appalled. Looking in the eyes of a young Bedouin boy in a red shirt standing amongst the crumpled ruins of his demolished home, how can anyone justify this? ” stated Lance Bartholomeusz, Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank.

Already this year, over 700 Palestinians have been displaced by Israeli demolitions in the West Bank.

This figure is approaching the total number of displaced for all of 2015.

UNRWA is gravely concerned about demolitions in violation of international law. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention destruction of private property is prohibited. As Occupying Power, Israel is obliged to administer the occupied territory for the welfare of the protected Palestinian population.

As the UN has said repeatedly, these demolitions must stop.

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

University rooms destroyed in early morning raid by Israeli forces

International Solidarity Movement | March 5, 2016

East Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine – In the early hours of Tuesday, 5th April, around 3am, an armed group of Israeli soldiers stormed the campus of Al Quds university in the area of Abu Dis, part of East Jerusalem. The soldiers terrorised security guards on duty and forcefully entered four rooms belonging to student political parties and confiscated equipment while completely destroying the rest of the rooms.

Destroyed items from the Tuesday morning raid gathered outside the rooms

Destroyed items from the Tuesday morning raid gathered outside the rooms

During the early hours of the morning the only people present at the university campus were the campus security, they were rounded up and locked together in a room, they were given no reason from the soldiers as to why they were being locked in a room nor as to why the soldiers were entering the campus grounds. The soldiers proceeded to forcefully enter four rooms belonging to various political parties run by students of the university, cutting the locks and smashing their way in, completely destroying the doors. This is the fourth time in 2016 alone that soldiers have entered the campus, destroying and confiscating material while giving no reason for their actions.

One of the computers destroyed in the raid

One of the computers amongst other items destroyed in the raid

The rooms entered belong to varying student bodies who’s students work within the university and the local community. Among the varied groups they advocate student rights, create activities within the campus and surrounding neighbourhoods, hold discussions on the state of the middle east, volunteer within the community, offer services for students, hold workshops and meetings about young prisoners and host an array of solidarity activities for the Palestinian community.

Students cleaning up debris from Tuesday's raid

Students cleaning up debris from Tuesday’s raid

During the raid the army took personal computers, laptops and cameras belonging to the Islamic party. Around one hundred and seventy flags were confiscated from the union party room and all of their stationary equipment for creative activities. Whatever was not taken was destroyed during the raid by the occupying forces.

The activities room for the ladies Islamic movement which works mainly with disadvantaged youths and students had the majority of their belongings destroyed, posters ripped from walls and electronic equipment confiscated.

The area of Abu Dis were the university is located was around thirty thousand hectares prior to 2002 and is now around four thousand hectares with 75% of the area now falling under area C and 25% under area B. This malicious land grab by the Israeli government has left students facing huge difficulties with their education. Many students within the faculty of medicine can’t reach Jerusalem where the main hospital for training is located and have been forced to go elsewhere for their practical while the media faculty faces new difficulties also. Since the beginning of what most would call the third intifada, checkpoints leading into the city of Ramallah, where the media students must go to complete their practical work have become extremely tightened and students are often denied access to the area or face long waits to enter.

The annexation wall surrounding the university

The annexation wall surrounding the university

On the 2nd November, 2015, Israeli forces entered the campus around 4pm and began firing on students using tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets and even using live ammunition. Over two hundred students were injured and required medical care while two students were seriously injured, with access to Jerusalem hospital unavailable the students were forced to travel over an hour to the city of Ramallah for treatment.

One of the destroyed rooms

One of the destroyed rooms

With the student elections to take place on April 19th, this attack falls into Israel’s wider policy of targeting political activity within student campuses and bodies as a means of repressing resistance to the occupation.

Four students of the university have been killed by Israeli forces since November, 2015.

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Austrian President wants EU to examine ending anti-Russia sanctions

RT | April 6, 2016

The Austrian President Heinz Fischer says the EU has to find a way to lift sanctions against Russia.

“I always say that sanctions are disadvantageous for both sides,” Fischer said at Wednesday’s meeting with Russia’s State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin. “It is important to find a way to lift them in the near future.”

He also said Austria is actively participating in EU’s discussions on the issue.

“Our position is that it’s necessary to consider all the opportunities to develop cooperation between Russia and the EU,” he added.

A few days ago Austrian business leader Christoph Leitl criticized anti-Russian sanctions, saying they had proved unsuccessful. Leitl said Russia with its raw materials and Europe with its expertise would complement each other perfectly.

At the moment, there’s no unity among the European Union for automatically prolonging the economic sanctions against Russia which are due to expire on July 31.

The Italian and Hungarian foreign ministers said last month that things can’t be taken for granted at this stage; the question of sanctions should be decided at the highest level and cannot be automatic. Meanwhile, the Baltic republics and Poland are demanding sanctions should continue as a response to what they describe as expansionist Russia.

EU sanctions against Russia were introduced in March 2014 after Crimea voted to separate from Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

READ MORE: Italy and Hungary against automatic renewal of anti-Russian sanctions

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Pro-Israel lobby tells Prince Charles not to visit Iran

RT | April 6, 2016

Israel lobby group We Believe in Israel (WBII) is calling on Prince Charles to reconsider an upcoming visit to Iran, which it accuses of anti-Semitism.

The grassroots pro-Israel group started an online petition in response to reports the Prince of Wales is planning to visit Iran in autumn. The trip would be the first official visit of a UK royal to the Islamic Republic in over 40 years.

The Foreign Office and Clarence House are discussing a tour with Tehran, the Sunday Times reported last month.

The visit follows an international deal struck in 2015 after years of talks, which saw Western sanctions against Iran lifted in exchange for it abandoning its nuclear ambitions.

Prince Charles’ visit would mark a significant thaw in relations, and could lead to new trade ties.

WBII however has unequivocally called on the Foreign Office and Clarence House to abandon the plans.

“We do not consider it appropriate for a member of the Royal Family to visit Iran and give credibility to the Iranian regime,” the WBII petition reads.

WBII Director Luke Akehurst said he is “disturbed” by the prospect of a royal visit to Iran, noting the regime’s alleged ties to terror groups, its senior figures’ denial of the Holocaust and calls for the destruction of Israel.

“We find the proposed visit particularly strange as there has never been an official Royal visit to Israel, the only democracy in the region,” said Akehurst, the Jewish Chronicle reports.

In 2004, Prince Charles made an unofficial visit to the city of Bam in southeastern Iran in his capacity as president of the British Red Cross after an earthquake killed 40,000 people in the region.

Queen Elizabeth II paid the last official royal visit to Iran in 1974, five years before the Islamic Revolution deposed Shah Reza Pahlavi and installed a theocratic government.

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Iran airlines have no need for Saudi airspace: Official

Press TV – April 6, 2016

An official in Iran’s government has downplayed a Saudi ban to keep Iranian airliners off Saudi Arabia’s skies, saying the country’s air carriers have no need for the KSA airspace.

Ebrahim Moradi, head of air traffic control of Iran Airports and Air Navigation Company (IAANC), told the official IRNA news agency on Tuesday that following the recent cut in bilateral diplomatic ties, no Iranian airline company has scheduled flights to Saudi cities.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran on January 3 following demonstrations held in front of the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the northeastern city of Mashhad by angry protesters censuring the Al Saud regime for the execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Riyadh a day earlier.

Moradi pointed to the recent Saudi ban on Iran’s Mahan Air company, saying Riyadh’s decision will not impact the Iranian airline as the company currently operates no flights to African nations via the Persian Gulf Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said Monday that Mahan Air was banned due to violations of local safety rules.

The GACA said in a statement that several violations related to airline safety had been committed by Mahan Air, “prompting the suspension of licenses granted to the company.”

“This decision comes in the context of the GACA (regarding) the safety of passengers and to preserve their lives,” Reuters reported.

Trade between Iran and Saudi Arabia has mostly been small and each year only Iranian pilgrims travel to the kingdom for the hajj pilgrimage.

Several countries, including Pakistan, Russia and China, have so far voiced readiness to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia to ease up their tensions.

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

UNSC resolution does not ban Su-30 fighter jet sales to Iran: Russia

Press TV – April 6, 2016

Russia has rejected a US claim that the sales of Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets to Iran were prohibited under a United Nation Security Council resolution.

On Tuesday, the US Department of State Undersecretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon said Washington would use its veto power in the Security Council to block the possible sales of the fighter jets to Iran.

“The sale of Su-30 fighter aircraft is prohibited under UNSCR 2231 without the approval of the UN Security Council and we would block the approval of any sale of fighter aircraft under the restrictions,” Shannon said, referring to the UN resolution.

Head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s department for non-proliferation and arms control, Mikhail Ulyanov, dismissed the claim.

“Such deliveries are not prohibited, they are allowed, and this follows from the text of the resolution,” the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

Resolution 2231, adopted by the Security Council on July 20, 2015, endorsed a nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group, comprising Russia, China, France, Britain, the US and Germany.

Shannon claimed that under the resolution, such weapon deliveries “require the submission of relevant notification to the Security Council and this notification’s endorsement by the Security Council.”

Ulyanov said Moscow has not forwarded such a notification to the Security Council so far.

Political analysts say Resolution 2231 does not prohibit Iran from buying fighter jets, and its language is not legally binding and cannot be enforced with punitive measures.

Su-30 is a multirole advanced fighter aircraft for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.

Iran and the P5+1 finalized the nuclear agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna, Austria, in July last year. They started to implement the JCPOA on January 16, 2016.

On Tuesday, a senior Russian diplomat also said Moscow would begin the first shipment of its S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran in the coming days.

“I don’t know if this will happen today, but they (S-300 missiles) will be loaded (for shipment to Iran),” Interfax quoted Zamir Kabulov, a department chief at the Foreign Ministry, as saying.

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Turkish President Calls to Strip ‘Terrorism Supporters’ of Citizenship

Sputnik — 05.04.2016

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called for a debate on whether those who Ankara deems “terrorist supporters” should be stripped of Turkish citizenship, local media reported.

“We should consider all measures against supporters of terrorism, including stripping them of their citizenship,” Erdogan said, as quoted by the Daily Sabah newspaper.

The Turkish government has stepped up anti-terror efforts in the wake of suicide bombings that rocked its capital Ankara earlier this year. The attacks were claimed by pro-Kurdish militants in response to Turkey’s shelling of Kurdish positions in Syria.

Erdogan also brought up the issue of removing parliamentary immunity of members of the pro-Kurdish and pro-minority Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which he said “should be taken care of immediately,” according to the outlet.

Ankara previously controversially labelled government critics as supporters of terrorism. In January, several academics were held for allegedly engaging in terrorism propaganda after they condemned the ongoing operation in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast that has killed over a hundred civilians since August.

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment