You are hereIsrael
President Obama will host meetings Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the White House announced Saturday.
The meetings come as hopes for renewed Israeli-Palestinian talks have dimmed despite diplomatic efforts of former Maine Sen. George Mitchell, the U.S. envoy for the Middle East, who capped off last week's visit to the region with a second round of talks with both sides.
The meetings, set for the sidelines of next week's U.N. General Assembly session in New York, are "another sign of the president's deep commitment to comprehensive peace that he wants to personally engage at this juncture," Mitchell said in the White House statement.
Obama will talk with each leader separately before all three meet together, the White House said. Read more.
Overriding Western objections, a 150-nation nuclear conference on Friday passed a resolution directly criticizing Israel and its atomic program for the first time in 18 years. Iran hailed the vote as a "glorious moment."
The result was a setback not only for Israel but also for the United States and other backers of the Jewish state, which had lobbied for 18 years of past practice — debate on the issue without a vote. It also reflected building tensions between Israel and its backers and Islamic nations, backed by developing countries.
Of delegations present at the International Atomic Energy Agency meeting Friday, 49 voted for the resolution. Forty-five were against and 16 abstained from endorsing or rejecting the document, which "expresses concern about the Israeli nuclear capabilities," and links it to "concern about the threat posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons for the security and stability of the Middle East."
In an attempt to sway the assembly before the vote, U.S. chief delegate Glyn Davies spoke out against an "attempt to use this resolution to criticize a single country."
"Such an approach is highly politicized and does not truly address the complexities at play regarding crucial nuclear-related issues in the Middle East," he said. Read more.
The report, released on Tuesday, says that if no appropriate independent inquiry gets under way in Israel within six months, the United Nations Security Council should refer the matter to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. It made a similar recommendation for Palestinian authorities, calling for an inquiry into evidence of war crimes committed by Palestinian armed groups firing rockets into Israel.
Israeli officials on Wednesday bluntly dismissed one of the main recommendations of the United Nations fact-finding mission’s report on the three-week war in Gaza last winter: a call for the Israeli government to begin an independent investigation of “serious violations” of international humanitarian and human rights law, including evidence of war crimes, during the military campaign.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that the internal military investigations into the Israeli Army’s conduct in Gaza already under way were “a thousand times more serious” than the investigation just completed by the United Nations mission led by Richard Goldstone, a respected South African judge.
Reflecting a broad consensus in Israel, the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, also harshly criticized the report, calling it “a mockery of history” for failing “to distinguish between the aggressor and a state exercising its right for self-defense.” Mr. Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, added that the report “legitimizes terrorist activity, the pursuit of murder and death.” Read more.
When seen from a distance, kites in Gaza may look quite ordinary. But while Gazan children, in many respects, are just children, their kites are hardly ordinary. Often adorned by the red, black, green and white of the Palestinian flag, Gazan children´s kites are expressions of defiance, hope and the longing for freedom.
This is hardly a cliché. People living under oppressive rules take every opportunity to express defiance, even through such symbolic ways.
Born and raised in Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip, I remember my first kite. It, like most kites, carried the colors of the flag. The kite was the work of my older brother, now a successful medic in the West Bank. He obliged before my incessant cries for a kite despite my father´s objections. But why should a father object to something so seemingly harmless? Simple.
A notorious Israeli military camp and detention center was stationed on the outskirts of our refugee camp, between Nuseirat and Buraij. The military camp served multiple purposes. It was to immediately dispatch troops into our refugee camp at the first sign of protest. Further, the men stationed there guarded a nearby Jewish settlement. Finally, it also served as a temporarily prison where Palestinian activists suffered torture before being hauled off to Gaza´s central prison, or worse, Al-Nakab.
The military camp however, hardly enjoyed a moment of peace. Students and other refugees from adjacent refugee camps would descend into the Israeli military grounds, almost daily with marches; carrying flags, throwing stones and demanding that the soldiers´ depart. Of course, the soldiers didn´t oblige, and my refugee camp paid a heavy price in blood with every confrontation. Read more.
Problems Defending Palestinians in Israeli Courts
By Stephen Lendman
Established in 1992, the Addameer (Arabic for conscience) Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association provides support for Palestinian prisoners and works to end torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions, other forms of abuse, and unjust and unequal treatment in Israel's criminal justice system that handles Jews one way and Palestinians another.
In January 2007, it published a report titled "Defending Palestinian Prisoners: A Report on the Status of Defense Lawyers in Israeli Courts" in which it explained obstacles lawyers face in representing Palestinians in military and civil courts. They're hampered by military orders, Israeli laws, and prison procedures that prevent them from adequately helping clients - from their time of arrest through detention, trial, imprisonment, appeal, and other constraints against justice.
Yet international law is clear and unequivocal. Article 2, section 3(b)(c) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states:
....persons "shall have (the) right (to effective remedy through a) competent judicial, administrative or legislative (authority), or by any other competent authority provided for the legal system of the State (to) ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce (judicial) remed(ies)."
Article 14, section 1 states:
"All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals (and) shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law." They shall "be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law."
They're also entitled to competent counsel, may meet with them in confidence, and censorship of their written and oral communications is prohibited.
By Linda Milazzo
I was out last evening. I tried to escape, just for a while, back to the days of (Taking) Woodstock when we who worked to end the Vietnam war did so as a united, free-spirited force. I readily admit that in today's times of racism disguised as patriotism, religious perversion, rampant ignorance, unhinged media menaces, and growing hostility amongst Americans, I yearn for that long ago era of 'peace and love.'
Enroute home after my wistful evening, I glanced at my phone and saw a Washington Post alert saying Obama's Green Jobs appointee, Van Jones, had resigned. I was shocked. I knew Jones was being assaulted by the right, but I didn't think he'd resign, and I didn't think the Obama administration would so readily sacrifice this brilliant advocate for the environment and the poor. After all, Jones is a person in the Obama administration who personifies the term "public servant." For progressives, Van Jones' appointment was, and is, Obama's tour de force gift to America of a high level appointee free of corporate entanglements who cannot and will not be bought. Jones is a man for the people in an administration where for the corporation is the norm.
Israeli plans to authorise the construction of hundreds of houses in the occupied West Bank sparked furious protests from American and Palestinian officials yesterday.
In a nod to US requests to suspend all building work at Jewish settlements, Binyamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister, is offering a freeze on construction at a later date — a peace gambit that did little to mollify those involved in the negotiations leading to a new Middle East peace process.
President Obama had hoped to start formal talks between Palestinians and Israel later this month.
“We regret the reports of Israel’s plans to approve additional settlement construction,” Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said. “As the President has said before, the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge it to stop.” Read more.
There is a firestorm ahead in the Middle East for which neither the US government nor the US public is prepared. The storm will go from Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan to Israel/Palestine, says Immanuel Wallerstein.
There is a firestorm ahead in the Middle East for which neither the US government nor the US public is prepared. They seem scarcely aware how close it is on the horizon or how ferocious it will be. The US government (and therefore almost inevitably the US public) is deluding itself massively about its capacity to handle the situation in terms of its stated objectives. The storm will go from Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan to Israel/Palestine, and in the classic expression "it will spread like wildfire."
Let us start with Iraq. The United States has signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq, which went into effect on July 1. It provided for turning over internal security to the Iraqi government and, in theory, essentially restricting US forces to their bases and to some limited role in training Iraqi troops. Some of the wording of this agreement is ambiguous. Deliberately so, since that was the only way both sides would sign it.
Even the first months of operation show how poorly this agreement is operating. The Iraqi forces have been interpreting it very strictly, formally forbidding both joint patrols and also any unilateral US military actions without prior detailed clearance with the government. It has gotten to the point that Iraqi forces are stopping US forces from passing checkpoints with supplies during daytime hours.
The US forces have been chafing. They have tried to interpret the clause guaranteeing them the right of self-defense far more loosely than the Iraqi forces want. They are pointing to the upturn in violence in Iraq and therefore implicitly to the incapacity of Iraqi forces to guarantee order.
The general commanding the US forces, Ray Odierno, is obviously extremely unhappy and is patently scheming to find excuses to reestablish a direct US role. Read more.
A UN Special Focus on Gaza Under Siege
By Stephen Lendman
In August 2009, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published a special report titled: "Locked In: The Humanitarian Impact of Two Years of Blockade on the Gaza Strip." It focuses on import and export restrictions, the travel ban on "livelihoods, food security, education, health, shelter, energy and water, and sanitation." It explains how violence and human rights abuses increase the suffering of 1.5 million people.
Following Hamas' January 2006 electoral victory, all outside aid was cut off. Sanctions and an economic embargo were imposed, and the democratically elected government was falsely accused of being a terrorist organization and isolated. Stepped up repression followed as well as IDF attacks, killings, targeted assassinations, property destruction, and more. Gazans have been imprisoned ever since. In silence, the world community sanctions Israeli crimes and shares guilt for their commission.
In June 2007, Israel placed the Territory under siege and imposed an unprecedented blockade on nearly all movement and supplies in and out of the Strip, "triggering a protracted human dignity crisis with negative humanitarian consequences." At its heart is the "degradation (of) living conditions," the erosion of livelihoods, the lack of vital services in the areas of health, water, sanitation and education, and the collapse of essential infrastructure in the wake of Operation Cast Lead.
Over the past several months, Israel allowed in only small amounts of vital goods and services, far below quantities essential enough to relieve a grave humanitarian crisis. Despite the urgings of the UN, ICRC, a few nations, and numerous human rights organizations, Israel continues its blockade that includes:
Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is No Role Model for Hawaii’s Women
By Ann Wright
A coalition of activists in Hawaii has asked Hawaii’s Governor Linda Lingle, currently the only Jewish governor of a U.S. state, to withdraw her invitation to former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to speak at Hawaii’s September 22, 2009 International Women’s Leadership Conference.
In its sixth year, the Leadership Conference brings to Hawaii “role models” for women of Hawaii. Because of her involvement in the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, the activists consider Livni as an inappropriate role model. The Governor has not responded to the coalition’s letter demanding that the invitation be rescinded. The letter was sent three weeks ago.
Israeli jets have bombed a building in the Gaza Strip which the military says hid a tunnel that Palestinian militants could use to infiltrate Israel.
No-one was hurt in the air strike, to the east of Gaza City.
Israel said the attack was retaliation for a rocket fired from Gaza into its territory on Saturday. The rocket caused no casualties or damage.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, described the target of the Israeli air strike as "open ground".
However, witnesses said it was a building with two rooms and a courtyard. Read more.
Download the attached file containing the latest articles, blogs, interview and talks from January, March, May and June 2009 CODEPINK Delegations to Gaza and the Occupied Territories of Palestine; the new entries to the list are from August 14 - 24, 2009. Click on the attachment title to download, then open for review.
Some 500 tons of donations of medical equipment which flooded the Strip after Israel’s military offensive ended on 18 January sits idle in warehouses. Few donors consulted the health ministry or aid agencies working in Gaza to find out what provisions were needed. According to the health ministry, 20 percent of the donated medications had expired. WHO said much of the equipment sent was old and unusable due to a lack of spare parts.
Arafat Hamdona, 20, has been confined to the cancer unit of As-Shifa, Gaza’s primary hospital, since he was diagnosed with maxillary skin tumours in June 2008. Red lesions protrude from his face, his features are distorted and his eyes swollen shut.
In April, Arafat was permitted to travel to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem where he received three series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. He was scheduled to return for further treatment, but has not been granted permission by the Israeli authorities to leave Gaza.
“He is only given pain killers,” said Arafat’s father, Faraj Hamdona, explaining that that is all As-Shifa has to offer.
According to a July 2009 report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Jerusalem, Gaza doctors and nurses do not have the medical equipment to respond to the health needs of the 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip.
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
Corporate Responsibility—Products for War and Occupation or Products for Peace
By Ann Wright, retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat
In America, we don’t have many companies that fund peace activities. Most American companies seem to be more interested in making money off war.
In contrast, I am on a three week speaking tour in Japan sponsored partially by Leila, a peace, social and environmentally-conscious women’s cosmetic company. Wishing to make a major contribution to women’s peace initiatives, in 2000, Leila established the Women’s Peace Fund to be used to invite women peace activists to the annual World Conference against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the yearly Japan Mothers’ Congress, where 10,000 women meet from all over Japan. Leila donates one yen (one cent) for each cosmetic product sold to the fund).
In 2008, the fund also sponsored international women activists to attend the Worldwide Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution-Renunciation of War, which was undermined by the Bush administration’s pressure (and continued by the Obama administration) for Japan’s participation in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in violation of Japan’s constitution. I was honored to be an international speaker at the 2008 conference on the importance of Article 9 to Japan and to the world. The New Japan Women’s Association (NJWA) or Shinfujin administers the funding provided by Leila and invites international guests to speak at these events. Over the past ten years, women from the Philippines, South Korea, Canada, China, Kazakhstan and the United States, as well as women representing international organizations have been invited to speak on issues of peace, anti-militarization of Asia and the Pacific and nuclear disarmament. From the United States, members of the 9-11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families Speak Out, United for Peace and Justice, the Women’s International League for Peace, CODEPINK: Women for Peace, Veterans for Peace and Abolition 2000 have spoken in Japan under the auspices of the Women’s Peace Fund.
Israel must investigate the "unlawful" killing of 11 civilians carrying white flags during its Gaza operation earlier in 2009, Human Rights Watch has said.
Five women and four children were among those killed in seven incidents detailed by the US-based rights group.
Researchers said the soldiers at best failed to protect civilians, and at worst deliberately shot at them.
Israel has launched investigations into five "white flag" incidents, but says Hamas exploited civilians with flags. Read more.
Global Depression and Regional Wars - Reviewing James Petras' New Book: Part I
By Stephen Lendman
James Petras is Binghamton University, New York Professor Emeritus of Sociology. Besides his long and distinguished academic career, he's a noted figure on the left, a well-respected Latin American expert, and a longtime chronicler of the region' popular struggles. He's also a prolific author of hundreds of articles and dozens of books, most recently his new one titled, "Global Depression and Regional Wars" addressing America, Latin America and the Middle East.
Part I - Global Depression
Variety's famous October 30, 1929 headline is again relevant: "Wall Street Lays an Egg," or as economist Rick Wolff puts it: "Capitalism hit the fan" following a familiar pattern of boom and bust cycles punctuated by bubbles that always burst. Petras explains it this way:
"All the idols of capitalism over the past three decades have crashed. The assumptions and presumptions, paradigms and prognosis of indefinite progress under liberal free market capitalism have been tested and have failed. We are living the end of an entire epoch (and bearing witness to) the collapse of the US and world financial system."
Grim prospects are ahead:
- a world depression with one-fourth of the labor force unemployed;
- global trade in free fall;
- a proliferation of bankruptcies with General Motors a metaphor for a decaying system;
- free-market capitalism in disrepute; and
- "planning, public ownership, nationalization(s and other) socialist alternatives have become almost respectable" because most sacred cow "truisms" and solutions have failed.
This week Representative Raul Grijalva and 15 other Democrats sent a letter to President Obama urging him to do more to reverse the coup in Honduras. Specifically, it urged him to speak up against human rights abuses under the coup regime: at least ten Hondurans have been killed since the coup (not 2, mainstream media.) The sixteen Democrats also urged Obama to cancel U.S. visas and freeze bank accounts of officials of the coup regime.
Religious Fundamentalism in Israel
By Stephen Lendman
Israel Shahak's (1933 - 2001) "Jewish History, Jewish Religion" argued that while Islamic fundamentalism is vilified in the West, comparable Jewish extremism is largely ignored. In the book's forward, Edward Said wrote:
"....Shahak's mode of telling the truth has always been rigorous and uncompromising. There is nothing seductive about it, no attempt made to put it 'nicely,' no effort expended on making the truth palatable....For Shahak killing is murder is killing is murder: his manner is to repeat. (He) shows that the obscure, narrowly chauvinist prescriptions against various undesirable Others are to be found in Judaism (as in other monotheistic religions) but he always goes on to show the continuity between those and the way Israel treats Palestinians, Christians and other non-Jews. A devastating portrait of prejudice, hypocrisy and religious intolerance emerges."
20,000 gather in Rabin Square over gay center shooting
By Noah Kosharek | Haaretz
Twenty thousand demonstrators or more gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square Saturday night in a rally to show solidarity with Israel's gay community, including the victims shot at a TA center for gay and lesbian youth a week ago, which left two dead and a dozen wounded.
President Shimon Peres addressed the crowd, saying the shots fired at the gay and lesbian community "hurt all of us - as people, as Jews, as Israelis." Peres, who spoke against a background of a rainbow flag, mentioned the two Israelis killed in the attack, Nir Katz, 26 and Liz Trobishi, 17, saying "the person who pointed a pistol barrel at Nir Katz and Liz Trobishi pointed it all of you, all of us, at me."
The president said: "The Creator of the world did not endow anyone with the power to murder his peer." Peres added that "every person must fight against murder." Read more.
by Linda Milazzo
On March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie, an American Evergreen College student and member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was run down by a Caterpillar D9R armored bulldozer. The American made bulldozer that crushed and killed Rachel Corrie was operated by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Rachel died while protesting the destruction of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip of Palestine.
Just twenty-three at the time of her death, Rachel was an avid diarist who vividly chronicled her peace and justice actions in Palestine up to the time she died. The play, My Name Is Rachel Corrie, sponsored by Winograd For Congress this Saturday, August 8th in Los Angeles, is a powerful rendering of Rachel's writings depicting the plight of Palestinians and Rachel's lifelong passion for peace.
By David Swanson
Drafted in preparation for panel discussion at Veterans for Peace national convention August 7, 2009, on topic of "Holding the Architects of Illegal Wars and War Crimes Accountable."
Seven years to the day after the Downing Street Minutes meeting at which top British officials famously discussed U.S. President George W. Bush's intent to launch a war against Iraq whether or not any means could be found to legalize it, on July 23rd, the United Nations hosted a discussion of ways in which wars of aggression are given pseudo-legal cover. Included were remarks by Jean Bricmont and Noam Chomsky. It is not hard to imagine how different such discussions would be were the architects of the Iraq War ever held accountable for it in any way.
In serious contention for Dumbest Washington Consensus for September is the idea of cutting off Iran's gas imports to pressure Iran to stop enriching uranium. A majority of Representatives and Senators have signed on to legislation that seeks to block Iran's gas imports, a top legislative priority for the so-called "Israel Lobby." But it's a stupid idea. Let us count the ways.
One: there is no indication that Russia and China will go along with it. Even Europe is split, Reuters reports. Turkey is also likely to be unenthusiastic - a country that has good relations with Iran, has a long border with Iran, and is currently on the UN Security Council. A U.S.-sponsored gas embargo on Iran isn't likely to have much impact if Russia, China, Turkey and half of Europe aren't cooperating - after all, it's not the U.S. that's exporting gas to Iran - unless it is imposed by force.
PALESTINE / ISRAEL
GAZA, JERUSALEM, WEST BANK EYE WITNESS REPORT
This Thursday, AUGUST 6, 2009 - 6:30PM
Reformed Church - Highland Park
19 South 2nd Ave, Highland Park, NJ 08904
- Norman Finkelstein, Member of Code Pink delegation to Gaza in June
- Jane Adas, Member of NY delegation to Gaza in May
- Helen Schiff, Member of Code Pink delegation to Gaza & Israel in March & June
- Manijeh Saba, Member of Code Pink's June delegation to Gaza via Israel
- Video and slide Show
Cosponsors: CODEPINK; Somerset voices for Peace and Justice; Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless war.
The Israeli government has said that its war on the Gaza Strip earlier this year, that left up to 1,417 Palestinians dead, was "necessary and proportionate".
The government also said on Thursday that it was investigating about 100 complaints of misconduct by its forces during the three week war that began on December 27.
"Israel had both a right and an obligation to take military action against Hamas in Gaza to stop Hamas's almost incessant rocket and mortar attacks," the report published by the foreign ministry said.
The 163-page document was published ahead of a UN war crimes investigation that is due to be published in August and in the wake of accusations from human rights groups that Israeli forces committed war crimes and violated international law during the war.
'Deliberate use of force'
Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reporting from Jerusalem, said many see the report as a pre-emptive strike to defend the much criticised war.
She said that the report follows testimonies from witnesses and human rights organisations about soldiers' conduct during the offensive.
"What we've seen in the past few months since the end of the war are various human rights reports from Amnesty International, the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, as well as testimonies coming out from army soldiers themselves," Tadros said.
"What really ties all of these reports together is the idea that there was no proportionality and a deliberate use of force against the civilian population in Gaza." Read more.
UN and International Agencies Fear Gaza Educational System Unprepared for new school year | Press Statement
Call for immediate opening of Gaza’s borders | 28 July 2009
Together with the communities we serve, the United Nations and non-governmental humanitarian organizations working in oPt collectively call for immediate steps to end the blockade, as is required by international humanitarian and human rights law. We call on the Government of Israel to urgently facilitate entry of construction materials and supplies for schools in the coming weeks, and to ensure that students, teachers and trainers can freely exit and enter Gaza to continue learning.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator, representing UN aid agencies in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), represented by at least 25 NGOs, today demand full and unfettered access into and out of Gaza in particular to restore the Gazan educational system.
During the 23 days of Israel’s operation “Cast Lead” in Gaza, 18 schools were completely destroyed and at least 280 were damaged. Today, one month before the start of the new school year, more than six months after the ceasefires, none of these schools have been properly rebuilt or rehabilitated due to lack of construction materials. Since the imposition of the blockade, students have faced chronic shortages of educational supplies including textbooks, paper and uniforms, though we acknowledge the recent moves to allow textbooks, uniforms, and stationary into Gaza. These are welcome first steps. However, the quantities, kinds and predictability of goods being permitted into Gaza are still far below what is required for normal life. Even prior to “Cast Lead” the education system was already under severe duress due to the two year blockade that has caused a crisis of “human dignity” in Gaza.
The right to learn and be educated is a fundamental child right that is uniquely central to every child’s ability to realize his or her potential - and by extension, that of their communities and countries.
Israel's Discriminatory Land Policies
By Stephen Lendman
Israel's late 1947 -1948 "War of Independence" took six months to create a new Jewish state, excluding Arabs to the greatest extent possible. To accomplish it, widespread war crimes and atrocities were committed as about 800,000 people were brutally uprooted, ethnically cleansed, or murdered in cold blood. In addition, 531 villages and 11 urban neighborhoods in Tel-Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and other cities were destroyed and erased except in the collective memories of their inhabitants and descendants who'll always consider them their rightful homes.