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Palestinian Violence Overstated, Jewish Violence Understated: Time to Change the Story
By Ira Chernus
The Israel Project hired pollster Stanley Greenberg to test American opinion on the Middle East conflict -- and got a big surprise. In September 2008, 69% of Americans called themselves pro-Israel. Now, it's only 49%. In September, the same 69% wanted the U.S. to side with Israel; now, only 44%.
How to explain this dramatic shift? Greenberg himself suggested the answer years ago when he pointed out that, in politics, "a narrative is the key to everything." Last year the old narrative about the Middle East conflict was still dominant: Israel is an innocent victim, doing only what it must do to defend itself against the Palestinians. Today, that narrative is beginning to lose its grip on Americans.
Well, to be more precise, the first part of the old narrative is eroding. Nearly half the American public seems unsure that Israel is still the good guy in the Middle East showdown. But the popular image of the Palestinians as the violent bad guy is apparently as potent as ever. The number of Americans who say they support Palestine remains unchanged from last September, a mere 7%. And only 5% want the U.S. government to take such a position.
Two militants' leaders who defected from notorious Taliban chief in Pakistan have revealed that their comrade was pursuing a US-Israeli agenda across the country.
A prominent militant leader, Turkistan Bittani, who broke away from Baitullah Mehsud, called him "an American agent".
Mehsud, a warlord in his late 30s, has claimed responsibility for dozens of devastating string attacks on both civilians and security forces throughout the feared region.
Moreover, Baetani emphasized that Mehsud was being funded by US and Israeli intelligence services for brainwashing innocent youths.
The insurgents' chief has recruited several teenagers who have carried out dozens of suicide attacks on Pakistani mosques and educational institutes over some past months. Read more.
By Ann Wright
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was making a major foreign policy speech at Tel Aviv university on June 14, 2009, Israeli police outside the university attacked international protesters of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, illegal settlements and the apartheid wall.
Heavy handed police treatment of the CODEPINK: Women for Peace delegation began immediately after members of the group unfurled several pink banners that read “Free Gaza” and “End the Occupation.” CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin and New York activist Zool Zulkowitz were physically dragged across the street from their original protest site next to the entrance gate to Bar Ilan University where audience members and press entered the university complex to attend the speech.
Roughly half of Israelis support bombing Iran's nuclear facilities if international efforts fail to stop the Islamic republic from developing nuclear weapons, according to a Hebrew University poll released Sunday.
Some 52 percent of Israelis say the country should bomb Iran's nuclear reactor, while 35 percent are against, the poll found. The margin of error in the poll of Israelis is 4.5 percentage points.
Palestinians are somewhat more evenly divided, with 43 percent saying a nuclear Iran would be good for the Arab world and 33 percent saying it would be bad, according to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, which conducted the poll along with Hebrew University. The margin of error for the Palestinian sample is 3 percentage points. Read more.
Israeli War Crimes Against Children During Operation Cast Lead
By Stephen Lendman
Following Israel's Operation Cast Lead, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) documented the toll on Gaza's children and published it in May. It did so "in response to the unprecedented number of children who were killed (and injured) by (the Israeli Defense Forces) during the offensive on Gaza." According to international standards, the Convention on the Rights of the Child's (CRC) definition was used to apply to anyone under age 18.
Every so often someone comes along who is so brave and so inspiring that you just can't sit by and remain silent when you learn they need your help.
We're writing to you today about one of these rare people.
His name is Ezra Nawi.
You've probably never heard of him, but because you may know our names, now you will know his name.
Ezra Nawi is one of Israel's most courageous human rights activists and without your help, he will likely go to jail in less than 30 days.
His crime? He tried to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region. These homes and the families who live in them have been under Israeli occupation for 42 years. They still live without electricity, running water and other basic services. They are continuously harassed by Jewish settlers and the military.
Nawi's friends have launched a campaign to generate tens of thousands of letters to Israeli embassies all over the world before he is due to be sentenced in July. They've asked for your help.
Code Pinkers and other activists for peace in Gaza protests the AHAVA brand and at the Erez Crossing. See many more photos of protest actions and Israeli destruction of Palestine here.
The US envoy to the Middle East has reaffirmed Washington's "unshakable" support for Israel despite public differences over the continued building of Israeli settlements.
George Mitchell, who met Israeli leaders on Tuesday, sought to reassure them that "we are two allies, two friends, and our commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable".
"And I want you to know we come here to talk not as adversaries in disagreement but as friends in discussion," he told Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.
"We recognise that the issues are complex and many. But we hope that we're going to work our way through them to achieve the objective that we share with you, and that is peace security and prosperity throughout the region."Read more.
On Monday, June 8, 2009, exactly 42 years after the USS Liberty (GTR-5) was attacked, in international waters off the coast of Sinai by Israel, members of the USS Liberty Veterans Association were at the U.S. Navy Memorial, in downtown Washington, D.C. Their purpose was to present a model of the vessel to the institution for it to be maintained on permanent display. Accepting the USS Liberty model on behalf of the U.S. Navy Memorial was its CEO, Rear Admiral Edward K.
A deadly Israeli attack on a US ship -- an incident largely kept in the dark by Washington -- receives new attention with survivors reliving the painful memory.
USS Liberty survivors gathered in Washington on Monday to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the incident and expound on how they were sprayed with bullets by America's "closest ally and beneficiary".
On June 8, 1967, the unarmed spy ship USS Liberty was on duty in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula when it was bombarded by Israeli fighter jets and torpedo boats.
The two-hour-long attacks killed at least 34 sailors, wounded 173 others and nearly sunk the ship.
The attack on the Liberty came at a time when Israel had engaged in a brief but intense war with Egypt and its Arab allies, which coincided with the US war on Vietnam.
Although the ship was clearly marked as an American vessel, Israelis declared the attack on Liberty as a simple case of "friendly fire" and "mistaken identity". Read more.
Israel's Defense Minister says the flames of the next Israeli war would engulf a 'broader' region while admitting that Israelis must be ready to pay a higher price in terms of losses.
"The IDF's future operations will be broader and more demanding in terms of their scope and pace, with more risks than Operation Cast Lead ( in the Gaza Strip). We in the political echelon will act so that the ordeal won't come to pass but, still, you must win every trial," The Jerusalem Post quoted Ehud Barak as saying on Tuesday.
He made the remarks days after the Israeli military held its most extensive nationwide drill dubbed "Turning Point 3", preparing itself for a possible regional war by attacking Iran's nuclear facilities.
During the 5-day military drill, Israeli forces and civilians prepared themselves for a simultaneous war against Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran and practiced counterinsurgency tactics against Israeli Arabs. Read more.
Two Israeli officers have testified that troops in the West Bank beat, bound and blindfolded Palestinian civilians as young as 14. The damaging disclosures by two sergeants of the Kfir Brigade include descriptions of abuses they say they witnessed during a search-and-detain operation involving hundreds of troops in Hares village on 26 March. The testimonies have been seen by The Independent and are expected to add fuel to the controversy over recent remarks by Colonel Itai Virob, commander of Kfir Brigade, in which he said violence against detained Palestinians was justified in order to accomplish missions.
Both the soldiers, from the Harub battalion, highlighted the tight tying of the plastic hand restraints placed on detainees. "There are people who think you need to tighten the restraints all the way, until no drop of blood will pass from here to there," one soldier said. "It doesn't take much time until the hands turn blue. There were a lot of people that you know weren't feeling anything."
He said about 150 Palestinians, some as young as 14, were bound, blindfolded and detained at the village school during the operation, which lasted from 3am to 3pm. He was told it was aimed at preventing village youths throwing stones against nearby settler roads. It was clear many of the people detained had done nothing wrong, but they were held to gather intelligence, he said. Read more.
By CODEPINK/Linda Milazzo
The women inspired peace group, CODEPINK, in alliance with Israeli feminist group, Coalition of Women For Peace, will host continued human rights protests from June 8th through June 14th at Erez Crossing checkpoint at the Gaza Border in Israel.
EREZ, ISRAEL -- More than three dozen Americans and Israelis rallied today at the border checkpoint here into Gaza, hoping to be let through into the war-torn area with playground building materials, food and other products to delivered to the Gazan people, after Israel authorities barred them from entering.
Obama's Outreach to Muslims: Empty Rhetoric, Same Old Policies
By Stephen Lendman
As well as anyone, Edward Said understood the West's long-standing antipathy to Islam - reflected in Samuel Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations" article in the summer 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs and later a 1996 book.
He wrote that future conflicts won't be "primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural....the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future" - demagogically suggesting a benevolent, superior West confronting a belligerent, hostile, inferior Muslim world. In other words, good v. evil.
A poll conducted by an anti-Corruption organization has revealed that the majority of Israeli's believe their government is not seriously fighting against Corruption.
The annual Global Corruption Barometer report released by Transparency International shows that 86 percent of Israelis --the highest level in the world--say the government's efforts to fight Corruption are ineffective.
Only 13 percent of Israelis believed that the government is taking the necessary measures to fight Corruption, Haaretz reported.
In 2006, 66 percent of those questioned did not believe in their government's anti-Corruption efforts.
The global public opinion survey represents the views of citizens from 69 countries around the world, including 500 in Israel. Read more.
Israel could soon be charged with hundreds of war crimes as Palestinian lawyers file 936 lawsuits against the Israeli military five months after its three week war on Gaza.
Head of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) Iyad al-Alami, says the cases will soon be heard in Spain's National Court under universal jurisdiction, the pro-Israeli magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday.
The legal department of the PCHR in Gaza City is gathering evidence for the cases which include a wide range of instances of unarmed civilians - including children - being shot from close range or burned by white phosphorus shells, ambulances being attacked and civilian houses being deliberately destroyed. Read more.
President Barack Obama has decided to delay the transfer of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (al-Quds) amid a heightening row between the US and Israel.
Sources in the White House revealed on Friday that the US policy towards Israeli-Palestinians issue had not been changed and that the US embassy would remain in Tel Aviv for at least six more months.
The US Congress ratified the Jerusalem Embassy Act in October 1995, which states that Jerusalem be recognized as the capital of Israel. The act also states that the United States had to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem no later than 31 May 1999.
However, the decision has been delayed every six months due to the Palestinian-Israeli row over the city.
The status of Jerusalem has been among the thorny issues in the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, with the Israelis claiming the city as their "eternal, undivided capital" -- a position not recognized by the international community. Read more.
On June 6, 2009, a spirited solidarity rally in support of the people of Occupied Gaza was staged by human rights activists in front of the Israeli Embassy, in Washington, D.C. The protest action demanded: "End the Siege of Gaza!" June 6th marks the 42nd anniversary of the Israeli" seizure of Gaza." The demonstration was sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition, among other groups.
Click here for featured speakers and organizations.
President Barack Obama's much-anticipated Cairo speech reflected a significant shift away from the ideological framework of militarism and unilateralism that shaped the Bush administration's war-based policy towards the Arab and Muslim worlds. His "not Bush" focus was perhaps most sharply evident in his public denunciation of the Iraq War as a "war of choice." Obama's call for a "new beginning" based on "the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition" was followed by a move to shift the official U.S. discourse towards something closer to internationalism - particularly by pointing to parallels between historical (and some contemporary) grievances and treating them as equivalent. This included his reference to the U.S. "role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government" along with Iran's "role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians."
Certainly, the equivalences were limited. Equating Palestinians and Israelis as "two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history..." doesn't reflect the reality that Israel is an occupying power with specific obligations under the Geneva Convention, while Palestinians living under occupation are a protected population under international law. But in the context of decades of U.S. privileging of Israelis as the only ones who have suffered, equating the two was a major step forward.
As expected, Obama focused first on the historic contributions of Arabs and Muslims to global civilization and to U.S. culture and history. His articulation of U.S. policy - and particularly U.S. active obligations - on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were addressed only in broad strokes, although there was more detail regarding Iran.
The shift in discourse, away from justifying reckless imperial hubris, unilateralism and militarism and towards a more cooperative and potentially even internationalist approach was potent. The actual policy shifts were much smaller. It remains the work of mobilized people across the U.S. - starting with the millions who mobilized to build a movement capable of electing Barack Hussein Obama as President - to turn that new language into new policies - reversing the escalation and moving towards ending Obama's war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, ending the occupation of Iraq immediately rather than years from now, ending U.S. military aid to Israel and creating a policy based on an end to occupation and equality for all, launching new negotiations with Iran not based on military threats, implementing U.S. nuclear disarmament obligations, and more.
That's the next step.
By Gareth Porter, IPS
WASHINGTON, Jun 3 (IPS) - A report on Iran’s nuclear programme issued by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month generated news stories publicising an incendiary charge that U.S. intelligence is underestimating Iran’s progress in designing a "nuclear warhead" before the halt in nuclear weapons-related research in 2003.
That false and misleading charge from an intelligence official of a foreign country, who was not identified but was clearly Israeli, reinforces two of Israel’s key propaganda themes on Iran – that the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran is wrong, and that Tehran is poised to build nuclear weapons as soon as possible.
But it also provides new evidence that Israeli intelligence was the source of the collection of intelligence documents which have been used to accuse Iran of hiding nuclear weapons research.
By David Swanson
Illustrated by Michael Parenti
Kevin Ovenden contacted me. He works with British MP George Galloway -- yes, this hero. Ovenden is currently in the United States helping to put together a convoy of, hopefully, hundreds of vehicles and people to bring medical aid to the besieged people of Gaza.
Americans are invited to take part. The cost of a plane ticket, a hotel for two nights in Egypt, and other expenses is required. I told Ovenden I'd like to go if I can raise the money. If you'd like to read, hear, and see my reports from Gaza at http://AfterDowningStreet.org please go to that site and contribute. If $2,000 comes in, I'll go. If that total isn't reached, I'll use your contributions in our work for peace and justice.
But this is not just about me. I want YOU to contact Kevin and join the convoy yourself. Here's what Kevin says about the trip:
We will fly out from the US to Cairo on July 4 (message being that Palestinian independence is as worthy as US independence) where we will cohere the convoy, aid and vehicles and head off aiming to enter Gaza on July 12. We organized a similar operation from Britain in February - driving for 23 days with 107 vehicles, 255 people and approx $2 million worth of aid through France and Spain, and then across the Maghreb.
Support for the convoy is already taking off. Ron Kovic is the co-leader of the convoy alongside George. As in Britain, the climate post the December/January offensive against the people of Gaza has turned markedly. There is a renewed confidence around this issue - notwithstanding the shocking verdict and sentencing in the retrial of the Holy Land Foundation people.
We are taking strictly medical aid and have gone to great lengths to meet the stringent requirements of the US authorities on charitable contacts with organizations operating in Gaza. We want the convoy to show the world - particularly the Middle East - a different face of the US, that something other than the US Marine Corps can come from these shores.
We hope that it will play a part in continuing to shift US public opinion on the issues surrounding Israel/Palestine and the wider region. A changed public opinion is a precondition for a changed and more just foreign policy.
Navy Vet Honored, Foiled Israeli Attack
By Ray McGovern
What’s the difference between murder and massacre?
The answer is Terry Halbardier, whose bravery and ingenuity as a 23-year-old Navy seaman spelled the difference between the murder of 34 of the USS Liberty crew and the intended massacre of all 294.
The date was June 8, 1967; and for the families of the 34 murdered and for the Liberty’s survivors and their families, it is a “date which will live in infamy” — like the date of an earlier surprise attack on the U.S. Navy.
An 85-year-old former civilian employee of the U.S. Army was fined but avoided prison time on Friday after earlier pleading guilty to giving classified documents to Israel in the 1980s in a case the sentencing judge said was "shrouded in mystery."
Court documents showed that Ben-Ami Kadish, who was fined $50,000 but spared prison time, reported to the same handler as Jonathan Pollard, an American who spied for Israel in the 1980s and triggered a scandal that rocked U.S.-Israeli relations.
"Why it took the government 23 years to charge Mr. Kadish is shrouded in mystery," U.S. District Judge William Pauley said during the sentencing hearing in Manhattan federal court. "It is clear the (U.S.) government could have charged Mr. Kadish with far more serious crimes."
Kadish pleaded guilty in December to acting as an unregistered agent of Israel. He was arrested in April 2008 on four counts of conspiracy and espionage. The spying charge, dropped under a plea deal, had carried a possible death sentence.
"I am sorry I made a mistake," a frail-looking Kadish said during the sentencing hearing. "I thought I was helping the state of Israel without harming the United States."
The judge said he gave a lenient sentence due to Kadish's age and infirmity, but said Kadish had committed "a grave offense" and had "abused the trust" of the United States. Read more.
Amnesty: Israel repeatedly breached rules of war in Gaza
By Yossi Melman | Haaretz
Amnesty International has accused Israel of repeatedly violating the rules of armed conflict during its recent offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
"Israeli forces repeatedly breached the laws of war, including by carrying out direct attacks on civilians and civilian buildings and attacks targeting Palestinian militants that caused a disproportionate toll among civilians," the human rights watchdog said in its annual report.
The report states that 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the offensive - including 300 children - and that 5,000 people were wounded. The Israel Defense Forces, however, says 1,166 Palestinians were killed, the vast majority of whom were Hamas militants.
The report mentions Israel's stated goal in the 3-week campaign: The desire to stem rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian militants on southern Israel. The report goes on to note that three Israeli civilians were killed during the operation, which was in December 2008 and January 2009, in addition to the seven Israeli civilians who were killed by Qassam rockets and other Palestinian attacks launched from Gaza in 2008.
According to the report, the hostilities erupted after suffering the consequences of an Israel-led blockade on the Gaza Strip for a year-and-a-half.
"The blockade throttled almost all economic life and led growing numbers of Palestinians to become dependent on international food aid; even terminally ill patients were prevented from leaving to obtain medical care that could not be provided by Gaza's resource- and medicine-starved hospitals," Amnesty said. Read more.
By Helena Cobban
If Israel launches a military attack (= act of war) against Iran, what would the main goal of this attack be?
There is good reason to believe that the goal would be not the direct physical destruction/incapacitation of Iran's nuclear programs but rather, to trigger an all-out US-Iran war in the course of which, Israel's planners hope, the US would do the dirty work in Iran that it is unable to do itself.
Human Rights Situation in Occupied Palestine
By Stephen Lendman
On March 15, 2006, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly 170 to 4 (with only the US, Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau against) "to establish the Human Rights Council (HRC), based in Geneva, in replacement of the Commission on Human Rights, as a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly....responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner."
HRC "is an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 states responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe."
Three Palestinians have been rescued after spending five days under the rubble of a tunnel in Rafah which was targeted by Israeli aircraft.
The tunnel which links the Gaza Strip to Egypt was hit by Israeli warplanes on Tuesday, and the three had to struggle to survive until Saturday when they were saved by Egyptian rescue workers.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade for almost two years, use the tunnels -- also known as Gaza feeding tubes -- to import food, medical and vital supplies into the enclave.
In addition to the blockade, Israel launched a three-week war against the Gaza population in late 2008 and early 2009, killing 1,330 Palestinians and inflicting at least USD 1.6b in damages to the infrastructure and facilities along with residential buildings.