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Several residents living east of Khan Younis in Gaza were seen leaving their homes Saturday, witnesses said, following clashes a day earlier that left two Israeli soldiers and three Palestinians dead.
Meanwhile, four Israeli tanks and a bulldozer rolled in to Gaza, east of Khan Younis, early Saturday, witnesses told CNN. The military vehicles left soon after they arrived, the witnesses added.
The IDF said that "after yesterday's events, IDF continued to operate in the area and removed infrastructure used by the terrorists to carry out the attack yesterday."
The Israeli military would not confirm the report that tanks had entered and then withdrew from Gaza.
Later, Israel Defense Forces helicopters and drones were seen and heard around 7:10 p.m. (12:10 p.m. ET) Saturday above northern Gaza, Khan Younis, and off the Gazan coast, the witnesses said. The IDF would not comment when asked if the Israel's air force was carrying out an operation in the area. Read more.
By Stephanie Westbrook
The theme of this year's annual policy conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was 'Israel: Tell the Story.' And it was quite a story that AIPAC wanted to tell.
The conference aimed at imparting to the over 7000 attendees 'an intimate understanding of the many ways that Israel is making the world a better place,' with a focus on peacemaking and innovation. According to the AIPAC web site, conference goers will also 'meet Israelis who rush to the scene of natural disasters in far away lands because they believe that to save one life is to save the whole world.' No mention was made of the 1400 people killed during the Israeli assault on Gaza.
Against a backdrop of creative blends of US and Israeli flags and icons, the three-day conference in Washington DC included plenary speeches by former Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom, according to journalist MJ Rosenberg, delegates were warned in advance not to boo or hiss. Workshops varied from self-serving questions such as 'Are Settlements An Obstacle to Peace?' and 'Is Israel Treated Unfairly in the Press?' to 'The Gaza Dilemma' and 'Inside Iran.'
Large numbers of young people attended the conference. With more than 900 university students from 370 campuses as well as 397 high school students, many benefiting from scholarships, students made up nearly 17% of the total number of participants.
Standing outside the conference it was clear that AIPAC is reaching out well beyond the Jewish community for support.
The constant flow of buses, with taxpayer-funded police escort, dropped off conference attendees including many African-American delegations. In fact, workshop sessions centered on the emerging alliance with the African American community and how this alliance can be 'ignited around the pro-Israel cause.'
The United States has asked Israel to check the possibility of pumping oil from Iraq to the oil refineries in Haifa. The request came in a telegram last week from a senior Pentagon official to a top Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem.
The Prime Minister's Office, which views the pipeline to Haifa as a "bonus" the U.S. could give to Israel in return for its unequivocal support for the American-led campaign in Iraq, had asked the Americans for the official telegram.
The new pipeline would take oil from the Kirkuk area, where some 40 percent of Iraqi oil is produced, and transport it via Mosul, and then across Jordan to Israel. The U.S. telegram included a request for a cost estimate for repairing the Mosul-Haifa pipeline that was in use prior to 1948. During the War of Independence, the Iraqis stopped the flow of oil to Haifa and the pipeline fell into disrepair over the years.
The National Infrastructure Ministry has recently conducted research indicating that construction of a 42-inch diameter pipeline between Kirkuk and Haifa would cost about $400,000 per kilometer. The old Mosul-Haifa pipeline was only 8 inches in diameter.
National Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritzky said yesterday that the port of Haifa is an attractive destination for Iraqi oil and that he plans to discuss this matter with the U.S. secretary of energy during his planned visit to Washington next month. Paritzky added that the plan depends on Jordan's consent and that Jordan would receive a transit fee for allowing the oil to piped through its territory. The minister noted, however, that "due to pan-Arab concerns, it will be hard for the Jordanians to agree to the flow of Iraqi oil via Jordan and Israel." Read more.
Britons Queued At Ben Gurion Airport As Israeli Officials Cloned Passports
Soca report into forgeries used in Dubai killing says personal data was stolen in border checks
By Sandra Laville, Julian Borger and Richard Norton-Taylor | Guardian.co.UK | Submitted by MichaelMunk.com | www.MichaelMunk.com
Passing through Israel's Ben Gurion airport, a few miles east of Tel Aviv, is a unique experience no first-time visitor is likely to forget.
It represents the pinnacle of modern aviation security. Baggage is passed through giant, state-of-the-art machines, and travellers – both arriving and leaving – are frequently subjected to lengthy, personal and repetitive questioning by officials, on their ethnic background and that of any local acquaintances they may have made.
It is not at all uncommon for the mostly youthful immigration officers to wander off, passports and tickets in hand, ostensibly to consult with their seniors. Surrendering documents at check-in or at immigration has hitherto been considered a necessary evil for all those travelling in and out of Ben Gurion.
But the evidence that the Israeli state has been taking the information gleaned from these inspections to create cloned identities for its spies introduces a new level of risk to the experience. Read more.
A recent Rasmussen Poll found that 49% of Americans believe Israel should be "required" to stop building settlements, with only 22% disagreeing.  A recent YouGovPolimetrix poll found that 52% of Americans support, while only 31% oppose, the Obama administration's demand that Israel stop all settlement-building.  By a 71-29 margin, American Jews support the US "exerting pressure" on both sides; 55% say the US was right to strongly criticize Israeli settlement expansion in East Jerusalem. 
But AIPAC issued a statement voicing "serious concern" with the administration's statements in opposition to Israeli settlement expansion, and Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League said he was "shocked and stunned" by the Obama Administration's "gross overreaction" to Israeli settlement expansion.  The top priorities for AIPAC lobbyists in Washington this week include getting Congress to pressure the Obama Administration to avoid airing disagreements with Israel publicly and getting Congress to pass $3 billion in U.S. aid to Israel without conditions, Time Magazine reports. 
With AIPAC "storming" Congress this week, it's urgent for the pro-peace majority of Americans to speak up. Will you write to your representatives in Congress now? We've provided a sample letter to make it convenient.
From Tom of TomDispatch today: Why even the angriest of words from the Obama administration will have no effect on Israeli settlement building without the threat of actual consequences -- Tony Karon, "Israel Won't Change Unless the Status Quo Has a Downside, Obama's Peace Effort Is Doomed Because Israel Loses Nothing If It Fails."
From the first insult to Vice President Biden a week ago -- the announcement of a new building project in occupied East Jerusalem -- the recent Israeli/U.S. imbroglio has been dramatic indeed, filled with angry words, frank thoughts, and statements by Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus that surprised many. As Tony Karon, TomDispatch regular and senior editor at TIME.com, who also runs the Rootless Cosmopolitan website, puts it: "Last week's showdown between Washington and the Netanyahu government may be counted as one of those feuds in which truths are uttered in the heat of the moment that call into question the fundamental terms of the relationship. Such truths are never easily swept under the rug once the dispute is settled."
In his latest TomDispatch post, Karon offers a big-picture view of what's likely to happen as the Obama administration and Prime Minister Netanyahu's government duke it out over a recumbent "peace process" and explains why all the words in Washington won't matter, if the administration doesn't decide to produce a "tough-love solution" to Israeli intransigence. "In public," he writes, "Biden offered familiar pablum... 'From my experience, the one precondition for progress [in the Middle East] is that the rest of the world knows this -- there is no space between the US and Israel when it comes to security, none. That's the only time that progress has been made.' In fact, the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict suggests that the reverse is true."
In this piece, Karon brilliantly explains just why "the reverse is true" and concludes: "Hence, the necessity of correcting Vice President Biden: progress in the Middle East will not come until the U.S. changes Israel's cost-benefit analysis for maintaining the status quo. The only Israeli leader capable of accepting the parameters of a two-state peace with the Palestinians, which are already widely known, is one who can convincingly demonstrate to his electorate that the alternatives are worse. Right now, without real pressure, without real cost, with nothing but words, there is simply no downside to the status quo for Israel. Until there is, things are unlikely to change, no matter the peril to U.S. troops throughout the Middle East." Read more.
Ban Ki-moon did his usual whistle stop tour of Gaza and flexed his muscles by referring to the Israeli blockade of Gaza as “unacceptable suffering of human beings” "not sustainable" and "counter-productive." Ban visited the occupied territories where he called on the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to engage in direct talks, and reiterated the Quartet's calls to reach a settlement within two years. "We are committed to work together with the Palestinian people and help your cause to complete negotiations on a settlement of all core issues within 24 months,"
Ban ki-moon had previously attended a meeting with the US, Russia and EU in Moscow and issued a joint statement condemning the 1,600 housing development approved by the Israeli Government in East Jerusalem…..one might ask the question of the above “So what”?........you all have been pussyfooting around for decades on this issue……you know what they say “Action speaks louder than words”
In my opinion it is time for the UN to impose sanctions on Israel to bring them to their knees. The following would be a good starter:
1. Stop all aspects of aid. This must include Financial & Military.
2. Embargo on all trade with Israel. Read more.
On March 22, 2010, a protest demonstration against AIPAC was held outside the Convention Center, where it was meeting in Washington, D.C. The mega-Israel Lobby convenes annually in this city. One of those speaking out at the anti-AIPAC rally was Orthodox Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss. He is associated with "Orthodox Jews United Against Zionism,” and he is a member of "Neturei Karta International."
Rabbi Weiss was sharply critical in his remarks of AIPAC, Zionist Israel and the ideology of Zionism. Watch as Zionists confront Rabbi Weiss.
Watch more videos from the event below the fold; click "Read more" below.
There are "compelling reasons" to believe the Israeli government was responsible for forging British passports used in a plot to kill a Hamas leader in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Tuesday.
"Such misuse of British passports is intolerable," Miliband said, adding that the fact that Israel was an ally of the United Kingdom "only adds insult to injury."
The passports were "copied from genuine British passports" in a "highly sophisticated operation," indicating a government was behind it, Miliband told the House of Commons. Read more.
Clinton holds line on Israeli settlements in addressing AIPAC
By Bridget Johnson | The Hill
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton continued the administration's denouncement of construction in East Jerusalem while likening the peace process to Jews following Moses out of Egypt in addressing the AIPAC conference on Monday.
Clinton was the White House's representative to American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference. Vice President Joe Biden was sent last year, receiving a warm reception from the crowd, but Clinton's address came after a serious diplomatic clash between Israel and the U.S. after new settlement construction was approved during Biden's visit to the region.
The secretary of state said that the move "exposes daylight between Israel and the United States that others in the region hope to exploit.
"We objected to this announcement beecause we are committed to Israel and its security," she said. "...Because we do not want to see the progress that has been made in any way in danger." Read more.
Under U.S. law, military sales to Israel cannot be used for offensive purposes, only for “legitimate self-defense.” Nonetheless, there have been numerous violations of the Arms Export Control Act by Israel. Even the indifferent State Department has found, from time to time, that munitions such as cluster bombs were “likely violations.”...
This week, Prime Minister Netanyahu visits President Barack Obama after the recent Israeli announcement of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem made while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting that country.
On July 10, 1996, at a Joint Session of the United States Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a standing ovation for these words: “With America’s help, Israel has grown to be a powerful, modern state. …But I believe there can be no greater tribute to America’s long-standing economic aid to Israel than for us to be able to say: we are going to achieve economic independence. We are going to do it. In the next four years, we will begin the long-term process of gradually reducing the level of your generous economic assistance to Israel.”
Since 1996, the American taxpayers are still sending Israel $3 billion a year and providing assorted loan guarantees, waivers, rich technology transfers and other indirect assistance. Before George W. Bush left office a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Israel stipulated an assistance package of $30 billion over the next ten years to be transferred in a lump sum at the beginning of every fiscal year. Israel’s wars and colonies still receive U.S. taxpayer monies.
What happened to Mr. Netanyahu’s solemn pledge to the Congress? The short answer is that Congress never called in the pledge.
In the intervening years, Israel has become an economic, technological and military juggernaut. Its GDP is larger than Egypt’s even though Israel’s population is less than one tenth that of the Arab world’s most populous nation. The second largest number of listings on America’s NASDAQ Exchange after U.S. companies are from Israel, exceeding listings of Japan, Korea, China and India combined. Its venture capital investments exceed those in the U.S., Europe and China on a per capita basis.
Israel is arguably the fifth most powerful military force in the world, and Israel’s claims on the U.S.’s latest weapon systems and research/development breakthroughs are unsurpassed. This combination has helped to make Israel a major arms exporter. Read more.
CodePink apparently put out a fake AIPAC news release in favor of a settlement freeze -- apparently CNN, NPR, Al Jazeera and Jake Tapper got taken in. READ IT HERE. (Why does Jake Tapper ALWAYS fall for things?)
A December 2009 Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network "Monitoring Report on Freedom of Association in the Euro-Mediterranean Region" assessed it in EU and Middle East countries, including Israel and Occupied Palestine, the topic of this article.
Freedom of Association in Israel
Instead of improving in 2009, it deteriorated even though Israel's Supreme Court recognizes it as a fundamental human right. However, three statutory law types restrict it, the first includes the 1980 Law of Associations that regulates the formation and operation of NGOs, corporations, and cooperative associations, and the 1999 Companies Law.
by Linda Milazzo
(This article is based on one that will appear in the upcoming May/June 2010 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs: http://www.wrmea.com)
Sunday, March 14, 2010, ushered in two welcome events to Southern California: the inauguration of the headquarters of the bustling Winograd For Congress primary campaign, and an extra hour of daylight to help Marcy Winograd’s swarm of supporters evict Jane Harman, the wealthiest Democrat in Congress, from her eight-term seat in the House.
Photo by Linda Milazzo
In the wake of Vice President Joe Biden’s ill-fated trip to Israel last week, many people would agree with the Israeli ambassador Michael Oren’s remark that ‘Israel’s ties with the United States are in their worst crisis since 1975… a crisis of historic proportions.’ Like all crises, this one will eventually go away. However, this bitter fight has disturbing implications for Israelis and their American supporters.
First, the events of the past week make it clear in ways that we have not seen in the past that Israel is a strategic liability for the United States, not the strategic asset that the Israel lobby has long claimed it was. Specifically, the Obama administration has unambiguously declared that Israel’s expansionist policies in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, are doing serious damage to US interests in the region. Indeed, Biden reportedly told the Israeli prime minister, Binyahim Netanyahu, in private:
This is starting to get dangerous for us. What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us, and it endangers regional peace.
If that message begins to resonate with the American public, unconditional support for the Jewish state is likely to evaporate. Read more.
Notes From DC
By Missy Comley Beattie
Spirits were soaring on Monday morning, despite the cold rain that fell as a large tent for CAMP OUT NOW, the prelude to Peace of the Action, was erected on the grounds of the Washington Monument. People are here from California, Louisiana, New York and many other places, plus more are arriving daily. The elderly, middle aged, and young are represented, all sharing common goals of bringing our troops home, no more contractors, ending US Empire, closing foreign military bases, fully funding the VA system, saying no to robotic warfare, closing torture and detention facilities as well as paying reparations to those who live in war-torn regions.
Additionally, we hope to bring awareness to Americans about the cost of US Empire. The wars devastate those who live in the lands we invade and they impact us morally and financially here at home.
On Monday evening, renowned peace and social justice leader Cindy Sheehan took the microphone on a stage under the tent and introduced Kevin Zeese, co-founder of Voters for Peace. Zeese spoke about the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and the grotesquely obese US military budget. The statistics he presented were staggering.
Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces across east Jerusalem on Tuesday in the worst rioting in years, as a senior Hamas leader called for a new "intifada" or uprising.
As the unrest rocked Jerusalem, US Middle East envoy George Mitchell delayed a visit to the region amid the worst diplomatic spat in decades between Israel and key ally the United States, which was struggling to revive peace talks.
Police fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at Palestinian protesters who hurled stones and set up barricades of dumpsters and burning tyres in several neighbourhoods.
Twenty-one injured Palestinians were hospitalised and dozens more were treated on the spot, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said. Read more.
The US has affirmed its "unshakeable" and "unbreakable" bond with Israel amid the allies' most public spat in years over Israel's announcement that it would build 1,600 new settler homes.
"We have an absolute commitment to Israel's security. We have a close, unshakeable bond between the United States and Israel," Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said in Washington on Tuesday.
Her comments appeared to be much softer in tone following days of tough rhetoric after Israel announced last week that it would approve construction of a Jewish housing project in East Jerusalem, infuriating the Palestinians and jeopardising newly agreed indirect talks.
Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, echoed Clinton's conciliatory tone, saying "mature bilateral relationships can have disagreements and this is one of those disagreements - it does not break the unbreakable bond we have" with Israel. Read more.
"Jeopardizing U.S. Standing" – the Petraeus Controversy
By Michael Collins | Election Fraud News
How about a new doctrine to improve U.S. standing everywhere? The United States will engage all foreign governments constructively to assure benefits to our citizens and the citizens of the foreign country. The U.S. will not initiate invasions or efforts to destabilize foreign countries. The U.S. military will protect the citizens of this country but never use its military force to further the financial or other special interests of any individual or group.
Leaks from a recent top level briefing by General David Petraeus are causing quite a controversy. The general pointed out that, "Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region." Mark Perry reported this on March 13 in Foreign Policy. Perry said, "No previous CENTCOM commander had ever expressed himself on what is essentially a political issue... "
When I read a statement like that, it's like hearing the opening music for The Twilight Zone. What on earth is Perry talking about? Every CENTCOM commander, from General Tommy Franks, through Petraeus, has endorsed the continuation of the Iraq war and occupation. That's as essentially political as you can get.
There was no basis for invading Iraq: no weapons of mass destruction and no terrorist threat. Even the flawed October 2, 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) admitted that the primary threat of an Iraqi terrorist attack on the United States would come if, "an attack that threatened the survival of the regime were imminent or unavoidable, or possibly for revenge."
The 1,000 Day Siege of Gaza
By Ann Wright
This week marked 1,000 days of an Israeli and international siege on Gaza—1,000 days of an open air prison where “inmates”, the civilian Palestinian population of 1.5 million, cannot leave or enter at will -by land, sea or air, the tiny area known as the Gaza Strip.
60 years after the World War II Nazi military siege of Leningrad that lasted for 900 days and caused the greatest destruction and largest loss of life ever known in a modern city, the Israeli military has imprisoned Gaza for 1,000 days. The blockade has caused incredible physical and emotional suffering those crowded into an incredibly small space-25 miles long and 5 miles wide—one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
The siege means that the Israeli government controls the entry of food, medicines, and gasoline and construction materials for the Palestinians. The purpose of the blockade is to force by blatantly violating international law, a change in the government represented by Hamas, the political organization the people elected. The siege began in June, 2007, following Hamas' takeover of governmental functions in Gaza.
Hamas is named by the Israeli and American governments a “terrorist” organization because its militant wing and other militant groups in Gaza, have fired homemade unguided rockets at border villages of Israel which have killed 30 Israelis over the years.
Compounding the siege, a year ago, in a disproportionate use of force that violated international law, the Israeli military, the largest and most powerful in the region, attacked the people of Gaza with U.S. provided F-16 jet fighters, Apache attack helicopters, rocket firing unmanned drones, white phosphorus and dense inert metal explosive bombs. The attack killed 1,440 persons, wounded 5,000, left 50,000 homeless and destroyed schools, hospitals, and civil infrastructure including the water facility and the sewage plant for the entire area.
As one could predict, the siege and the attack have caused the people of Gaza to suffer from long term low levels of nutrition and lack of appropriate medical treatment and care. Most children and many adults have the symptoms of post traumatic stress from the indiscriminate violence waged on them by the Israeli military.
Journalist Henry Siegman titled his August 2007 London Review of Books article, "The Great Middle East Peace Process Scam," calling it likely "the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic history."
This writer omits most likely calling it the no-peace peace process, stillborn from inception, while Haaretz writer Gideon Levy, on March 7, 2010, wrote "There has never been an Israeli peace camp," saying "let's call the child by its real name: The Israeli peace camp is still an unborn baby," the mother yet to become pregnant given decades of Israeli-Washington obstructionism.
In September 2009, former IDF chief of staff and current Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs, Moshe Ya'alon, said Jews have an "unassailable right (to) settle anywhere, particularly here, (in) the land of the Bible," and earlier called the peace process a useful fiction "to sear deep into the consciousness of Palestinians that they are a defeated people."
In 1968, former IDF chief of staff and then defense minister, Moshe Dayan, called the West Bank occupation "permanent," and a decade later reiterated his commitment to the status quo, the same position held by all Israeli officials to the present.
Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir (1983 - 1984 and 1986 - 1992) once said he wanted to drag out peace talks for a decade while vastly expanding settlements.
For Jews, Jerusalem is its historic capital. Muslims also claim it for the third holiest site in Islam, containing the 35 acre Noble Sanctuary (al-Haram al-Sharif), including the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.
The 1947 UN Partition Plan designated Jerusalem an international city under a UN Trusteeship Council. After Israel's 1947-48 War of Independence, it was divided between Israel and Jordan, and during Israel's 1967 Six-Day War, East Jerusalem was captured and occupied, its current status today.
In March 2009, a confidential EU report (now public) accused Israel of using settlement expansions, house demolitions, discriminatory housing policies, restrictive permits, closing Palestinian institutions, the West Bank Separation Wall, and various other ways to "actively pursu(e) the illegal annexation" of East Jerusalem and "increase Jewish presence" in the city.
In a December 2009 report, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel affirmed the EU report's concerns. Titled "Dispossession and Eviction in Jerusalem," it provides historical context, a legal overview, and case study examples in Sheikh Jarrah, an East Jerusalem neighborhood between the Old City and Mount Scopus.
The community "has become the site of a protracted legal battle whose implications range from the evictions of more than 25 families to the visibility of a future Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and the" ultimate status of Jerusalem.
Four families have already been evicted from homes they've lived in for over 50 years. The others are awaiting court appearances and rulings to decide their fate, nearly certain given Israel's history of judicial unfairness toward Arabs, including its own citizens having no rights in a nation affording them solely to Jews.
Currently, around 500,000 Jews reside illegally in over 120 West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements as well as dozens of outposts. Their numbers grow daily despite occasional pledges to curtail or slow them, the latest last November when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a 10 month freeze, calling it a move to "help launch meaningful negotiations to reach a historic peace agreement that would finally end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians."
Never mind Israel's history of past peace process futility because all previous efforts were more pretense than real, or as some Palestinians say - How can they negotiate in good faith without a willing partner? They've never had one and don't in Netanyahu, an extremist hard-right zealot.
The same holds for a settlement freeze, just rhetoric with no substance, especially given Israel's plan to make all Jerusalem a Jewish city, according to Netanyahu. During a May 22, 2009 Jerusalem Day ceremony (commemorating the city's 1967 reunification), he declared:
"United Jerusalem is Israel's capital. Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided."
For East Jerusalem Palestinians, it means removing them one settlement expansion and home demolition at a time.
So much for the peace process and freeze, evidenced by a February 26 Haaretz report saying Israel "plans to build another 600 homes in East Jerusalem" on Occupied Palestinian land.
Taboo Thwarts Candor on Israel/Iran
By Ray McGovern
Participants at an otherwise informative discussion on “Iran at a Crossroads” at the Senate on Wednesday seemed at pains to barricade the doors against the proverbial elephant being admitted into the room — in this case, Israel.
This, despite the fact that the agenda virtually dictated that the elephant be allowed in. The cavernous hearing room also could have accommodated it — however awkward and untidy the atmosphere might have become.
Otherwise, as was entirely predictable, the discussion would be lacking a crucial element. Which is exactly what happened. Which is exactly what always happens.
The tongue-tied impediment displayed by some of the presenters can be chalked up mostly to the all-too-familiar timidity on Capitol Hill to countenance candid discussion of any issue on which Israel can be revealed to be a fly in the ointment.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, obtained use of the hearing room for the organizers of the discussion, the thoroughly professional National Iranian American Council headed by Professor Trita Parsi. This is to Levin’s credit, in my view.
At the same time, Sen. Levin holds the all-time-high record for PAC contributions from groups affiliated with the self-described “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby” — the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). I’m guessing that Levin’s office may have asked that some caution be exercised, so that it would be difficult for Fox News to misrepresent the proceedings as “Israel bashing.”
Setting the Stage
Parents demand answers from Israel in bulldozer death
By Paula Hancocks | CNN
A 23-year-old American activist stands in front of an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza. The bulldozer drives over her, crushing her to death. These are the facts.
Rachel Corrie, along with colleagues from the International Solidarity Movement, was trying to prevent Israel from bulldozing homes in Rafah, close to the Egyptian border. Her activism cost her her life in March 2003.
A colleague said at the time, "Many times the bulldozer came up to us and buried us with dirt, but they always stopped."
Corrie's parents want to know the truth about their daughter's death, whether the killing was intentional and who is accountable. Read more.
An unusual trial begins in Israel this week, and people around the world will be watching closely. It involves the tragic death of a 23-year-old American student named Rachel Corrie. On March 16, 2003, she was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer.
Corrie was volunteering with the group International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which formed after Israel and the United States rejected a proposal by then-United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson to place international human rights monitors in the occupied territories. The ISM defines itself as “a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles.” Israel was building a large steel wall to separate Rafah from Egypt, and was bulldozing homes and gardens to create a “buffer zone.” Corrie and seven other ISM activists responded to a call on that March day to protect the home of the Nasrallah family, which was being threatened with demolition by two of the armored Israeli military bulldozers made by the U.S. company Caterpillar.
Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, related what happened: “The bulldozer proceeded toward Rachel. ... She was in her orange jacket. When it kept coming, she rose on the mound, and the eyewitnesses testified that her head rose above the top of the blade of the bulldozer, so she could clearly be seen, but the bulldozer continued and proceeded over her, and so that it was covering her body. It stopped and then reversed, according to the eyewitness testimonies, without lifting its blade, so backed over her once again.
“Her friends were screaming at the bulldozer drivers through this to stop. They rushed to her, and she said to them, ‘I think my back is broken.’ And those were her final words.” Read more.
Targeting Israeli Apartheid
By Stephen Lendman
Reports like the Cape Town, South Africa-based Human Sciences Research Council's (HSRC) May 2009 one titled, "Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid" highlight what many others understand, including former UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, John Dugard, stating in January 2007:
"Israel is clearly in military occupation of the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories). At the same time, elements of the occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, which are contrary to international law."
Article 7(1)(j) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court calls apartheid a crime, stating:
"For the purpose of this Statute, (a) 'crime against humanity' means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:
The crime of apartheid" includes murder, extermination, enslavement, torture, arbitrary arrest, illegal imprisonment, denial of the right to life and liberty, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and other abusive acts imposed by one group on another.
In 2008, writing for the Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid, Karine MacAllister said in her article titled, "Applicability of the Crime of Apartheid to Israel" that exclusivism is key to understanding the essence of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. It:
"involves or necessitates the denial of the other; of their presence, rights and existence on the land and reconstruction of the past, namely that the land was empty before the advent of Zionist settlement, hence the movement's slogan describing 'a land without people for a people without land.' "
As implemented, Zionism's essence is "a sophisticated legal, social, economic and political regime of racial discrimination that has led to colonialism and apartheid as well as the dispossession and displacement of the Palestinian people." Colonialism flourishes by separating indigenous people from their land and heritage.
By Ray McGovern
Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came home with sweaty palms from his mid-February visit to Israel. He has been worrying aloud that Israel will mousetrap the U.S. into war with Iran.
This is of particular concern because Mullen has had considerable experience in putting the brakes on such Israeli plans in the past. This time, he appears convinced that the Israeli leaders did not take his warnings seriously—notwithstanding the unusually strong language he put into play.
Upon arrival in Jerusalem on February 14, Mullen wasted no time in making clear why he had come. He insisted publicly that an attack on Iran would be “a big, big, big problem for all of us, and I worry a great deal about the unintended consequences.”