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The United States is boycotting a U.N. conference on racism next week over a document that "singles out" Israel in its criticism and conflicts with the nation's "commitment to unfettered free speech," the U.S. State Department said Saturday.
The Obama administration made the decision not to attend the Durban Review Conference in Geneva "with regret," a State Department statement said.
Two months ago, the administration had warned that it would boycott the conference if changes were not made to the document to be adopted by the conference. In recent weeks, discussions over the document have fueled several revisions, but the changes to the language didn't meet U.S. expectations, the statement said.
The following the complete text of Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee's letter to the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, over Israel's latest threats to attack Iran. From Press TV
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
In a direct challenge to President Barack Obama's commitment to rejuvenate moribund Mideast peace talks, Israel on Thursday dismissed American-led efforts to establish a Palestinian state and laid out new conditions for renewed negotiations.
Leaders of Israel's hawkish new government told former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, the special U.S. envoy, that they aren't going to rush into peace talks with their Palestinian neighbors.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would require Palestinians to accept Israel as a Jewish state in any future negotiations - a demand that Palestinians have up to now rejected, Israeli government officials said.
I keep braying that Gaza is a watershed moment in American political life and American Jewish life.
The billboard is one of ten being put up in New Mexico by an Albuquerque-based grassroots org (the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel).
The group looks to be multicultural, and led by two Jews, Lori Rudolph and Rich Forer. Forer says that he is a former member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who has been shaken from ideological slumbers in the last couple of years by the Israeli New Historians.
He has learned that Jewish schoolchildren are "grossly misinformed" about the conflict and are taught to demonize Palestinians. Gaza was a "monstrous act of inhumanity," he continues, and Israel must act sincerely to restore the dignity to both peoples.
Monstrous act of inhumanity, that is the takeaway phrase. I believe anyone can be a member of AIPAC; but Forer's epiphany is evidently sincere, and symptomatic of a change in the American Jewish relationship to Israel that AIPAC will have to reckon with.
Investigating Israeli War Crimes in Gaza
by Stephen Lendman
Independent investigations and convincing testimonies, on both sides, provide compelling evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza. It's time to hold the guilty accountable.
In February, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights showed conclusively how Israel violated core international law principles by indiscriminately attacking civilians in spite of IDF claims such instances were justified.
Amnesty International accused Israel of war crimes and called on the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has a long record of acting as an imperial agent even while at times fulfilling its mandate "to protect the human rights of people around the world....stand with (them) and uphold political freedom (by) bring(ing) offenders to justice."
By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE, UPI
Gulf Cooperation Council members -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman -- are getting ready for what many now assume will be retaliation from Iran following Israeli bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities later this year.
Up and down the Persian Gulf, Patriot missile batteries have been quietly deployed around key oil installations. The Patriot system is designed to detect, target and then hit incoming missiles that may be no more than 10 to 20 feet long and flying at three to five times the speed of sound. Iran has hundreds of missiles and rockets.
Sometimes, reading about the Middle East, or at least about Israel, Iran, and nuclear weapons, feels like your most basic broken-record phenomenon. As New York Times op-ed columnist Roger Cohen reminded readers recently, there's nothing new about Israeli predictions that Iranian "madmen" -- or rather, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of a rather extreme new government, put it recently, "a messianic apocalyptic cult" -- would soon have nuclear weapons in their hands. The charges and predictions of the imminent arrival of the Iranian bomb go back well into the 1990s and yet, despite Iran's growing nuclear enrichment program, we still don't know what the true predilections of its leaders are on the basic issue of weaponization. (They might, for instance, be planning to opt for the Japan "solution," not weaponizing, but simply being capable of doing so relatively quickly.)
The other part of that broken-record phenomenon concerns Israel's nuclear arsenal, which I wrote about at TomDispatch back in 2003, since which time remarkably little has changed. One of the genuinely strange aspects of just about anything you can read here in the U.S. on nuclear weapons and the Middle East is this: all fear and much print (and TV time) is focused on whether the Iranians may someday, in the near or far future, get a nuclear weapon; that is, we're focused on a weapon that doesn't yet exist and, for all we know, may never exist.
A week before Israel launched an aerial bombing campaign on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the U.S. military shipped 989 20-foot containers of munitions, each weighing 14,000 tonnes, to Israel.
In the dying days of the Bush administration, and a week before Israel launched an aerial bombing campaign, followed by a land invasion of the Gaza Strip, the U.S. military shipped 989 containers of munitions to Israel.
Each container was 20-feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tonnes. The shipment reportedly reached Israel last month at Ashod, 40 kiometres north of Gaza. The huge arsenal of munitions will replenish those expended in the Gaza War.
According to Amnesty International in the UK, the shipment included white phosphorous.
By Dave Lindorff
When I was a 17-year-old kid in my senior year of high school, I didn’t think much about Vietnam. It was 1967, the war was raging, but I didn’t personally know anyone who was over there, Tet hadn’t happened yet. If anything, the excitement of jungle warfare attracted my interest more than anything (I had a .22 cal rifle, and liked to go off in the woods and shoot at things, often, I’ll admit, imagining it was an armed enemy.)
But then I had to do a major project in my humanities program and I chose the Vietnam War. As I started researching this paper, which was supposed to be a multi-media presentation, I ran across a series of photos of civilian victims of American napalm bombing. These victims, often, were women and children—even babies.
By Gareth Porter and Jim Lobe, IPS
WASHINGTON, Apr 8 (IPS) - A recent statement by the chief of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. David Petraeus, that Israel may decide to attack Iranian nuclear sites has been followed by indications of a debate within the Barack Obama administration on whether Israel's repeated threats to carry out such a strike should be used to gain leverage in future negotiations with Tehran.
In the latest twist, Vice President Joseph Biden, who has been put in charge of the administration’s non-proliferation agenda, appeared to reject the idea. "I don't believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu would [launch a strike]," he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Tuesday. "I think he would be ill-advised to do that."
Philip Rizk, 27, a freelance journalist and blogger who has been reporting from Gaza since 2005, was taken by Egyptian security forces after a pro-Palestinian rally in Cairo on February 6.
He was released a few days later without being charged.
While in Gaza, he filmed The Palestinian Life, a documentary highlighting non-violent means of resistance against the Israeli occupation.
The film is premiering at the London International Documentary Festival on April 4. Here are excerpts from an interview Rizk gave to Al Jazeera shortly before the film’s debut.
Calling for a Boycott of Israel for its Treatment of Palestinians is not Anti-Semitic
Montclair, NJ, April 8, 2009 -- More than 370 Jewish peace activists from around the world signed a statement defending German politician Hermann Dierkes against charges of anti-Semitism.
Dierkes, a left-wing politician with a distinguished record of fighting for social justice, called for a boycott of Israeli goods as a means of putting pressure on the Israeli government to end its oppression of Palestinians. For this he has been subjected to vicious denunciations for anti-Semitism.
The signers of the statement -- from Israel, Germany, the United States, and several other countries -- expressed their objection to those "who use charges of anti-Semitism to attempt to squelch legitimate dissent."
Obama team readying for confrontation with Netanyahu
By Aluf Benn | Haaretz
In an unprecedented move, the Obama administration is readying for a possible confrontation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by briefing Democratic congressmen on the peace process and the positions of the new government in Israel regarding a two-state solution.
The Obama administration is expecting a clash with Netanyahu over his refusal to support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Israel on Trial
By GEORGE BISHARAT, NY Times
CHILLING testimony by Israeli soldiers substantiates charges that Israel’s Gaza Strip assault entailed grave violations of international law. The emergence of a predominantly right-wing, nationalist government in Israel suggests that there may be more violations to come. Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians also constituted war crimes, but do not excuse Israel’s transgressions. While Israel disputes some of the soldiers’ accounts, the evidence suggests that Israel committed the following six offenses:
• Violating its duty to protect the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Despite Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza, the territory remains occupied. Israel unleashed military firepower against a people it is legally bound to protect.
The top U.N. aid official in the Gaza Strip urged Israel on Friday to ease restrictions on the flow of goods into the conflict-torn territory, saying they were "devastating" for the people.
"It's wholly and totally inadequate," John Ging, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, said about the amount of goods Israel permits into the territory, where some 1.5 million Palestinians live.
"It's having a very devastating impact on the physical circumstances and also the mindset of people on the ground," he said.
Israel says it has opened Gaza's border to larger amounts of food and medicine since its December-January offensive against Hamas militants who control the Palestinian enclave and were firing rockets against Israeli towns.
GENEVA (AFP) — Former international prosecutor Richard Goldstone will lead a human rights probe into violence during Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip three months ago, the United Nations said Friday.
"It is in the interest of all Palestinians and Israelis that the allegations of war crimes and serious human rights violations related to the recent conflict on all sides be investigated," Goldstone said in a statement.
The 47-member UN Human Rights Council voted by a large majority on January 12 to set up the probe into "grave" human rights violations by Israeli forces against the Palestinians.
"I am confident that the mission will be in a position to assess in an independent and impartial manner all human rights and humanitarian law violations committed in the context of the conflict which took place between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009," said Council president Martin Uhomoibhi.
Israel's Illegal Annexation of East Jerusalem
by Stephen Lendman
So says a confidential EU report revealed on March 7 by The London Guardian's Rory McCarthy. It accuses Israel "of using settlement expansion, house demolitions, discriminatory housing policies and the West Bank (Separation) barrier as a way of 'actively pursuing the illegal annexation' of East Jerusalem." More still, including restrictive permits, "closure of Palestinian institutions," and various other ways to "increase Jewish presence in" the city, "impede Palestinian urban development, and separate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank" incrementally to annex it.
It says plans are now accelerated and have undermined the Palestinian Authority's (PA) credibility as well as weakened support for peace. It calls "Israel's actions in and around Jerusalem....one of the most acute challenges to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making (yet) have limited security justifications." In addition, they're illegal.
The message from Israel's new prime minister is stark: if the Obama administration doesn't prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, Israel may be forced to attack.
An Atlantic exclusive: http://www.theatlantic.com
Pro-Zionism: Defending the Indefensible
by Stephen Lendman
This article responds to a March 15 Los Angeles Times Judea Pearl one headlined: "Is anti-Zionism hate?" Pearl teaches computer science at UCLA, is the father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation. It was "formed....to continue Danny's mission and to address the root causes of this tragedy in the spirit" of the man it represents, including "uncompromised objectivity and integrity....and respect for people of all cultures...."
Some of its honorary board member belie this purpose:
- former president Bill Clinton, an unindicted war criminal and backer of neoliberal plunder;
- Elie Wiesel, a shameless self-promoter, "Holocaust" exploiter, and apologist for the most outrageous Israeli crimes;
- Jordan's Queen Noor, wife of King Abdullah II, who, like his father Hussein, rules with dictatorial police state powers; and
Courage of Conscience Speaking Tour Combatants for Peace: Israel and Palestine
WHEN: Friday March 27th 7:30-9:30 PM
WHERE: St. Columbia's Episcopal Church 4201 Albemarle St. NW DC 20016 - One block from the Tenleytown Metro.
Former Soldier, Former Fighter - Yaniv Reshef and Bassam Aramin.
Israeli Yaniv Rashef, whose home is range of Gaza missiles, was a soldier in a sabotage unit of the Israeli Army - and chose to fight no more.
Palestinian Bassam Aramin served seven years in jail for planning an attack against Israeli soldier - and chose no more violence. Just two years ago, Bassam lost his daughter to an Israeli soldier's rubber-coated bullet. Their movement, Combatants for Peace, numbers over 600 former Israeli soldiers and former Palestinian fighters, working together without revenge to build justice, peace, and a playground in memory of Abir Aramin.
Incriminating Evidence of Israeli War Crimes in Gaza
by Stephen Lendman
Throughout its history, Israel has willfully and repeatedly committed crimes of war and against humanity, always with impunity. Yet under customary legal standards and norms (including Geneva, Hague, the UN Charter, S.C. and G.A. resolutions), it's lawless, a serial abuser, a threat to the region and humanity, mostly as an oppressive occupier. Attacking Gaza is the latest episode in its six-decade reign of terror satisfying the definition of genocide against defenseless Palestinian civilians. This article covers more evidence from some disturbing but unsurprising newly published information.
Terror in the Holy Land
Message of Peace from Gaza
Grassroots in Gaza
Murder on the beach
UN relief Center in Gaza
Viva Palestina leaves Gaza
Jabylia destroyed by American Bombs
Rachel Corrie's Father in Gaza
America Funded Murder on the Beach in Gaza
Traditional Dancing in Palestine
Zionist Gunboat Threatens Gazan Fishermen
IDF Soldiers Ordered to Shoot at Gaza Rescuers, Note Says
by Amira Hass | Haaretz
"Rules of Engagement: Open fire also upon rescue," was handwritten in Hebrew on a sheet of paper found in one of the Palestinian homes the Israel Defense Forces took over during Operation Cast Lead. A reservist officer who did not take part in the Gaza offensive believes that the note is part of orders a low-level commander wrote before giving his soldiers their daily briefing.
One of the main themes in news reports during the Gaza operation, and which appears in many testimonies, is that IDF soldiers shot at Palestinian and Red Cross rescuers, making it impossible to evacuate the wounded and dead. As a result, an unknown number of Palestinians bled to death as others cowered in their homes for days without medical treatment, waiting to be rescued.
The bodies of the dead lay outside the homes or on roadsides for days, sometimes as long as two weeks. Haaretz has reported a number of such cases, some of them as they happened. The document found in the house provides written proof that IDF commanders ordered their troops to shoot at rescuers.
The sheet of paper entitled "Situational Assessment" was found by a field researcher of The Palestinian Center for Human Rights in the home of Sami Dardone's family in Jabal al-Rayes, east of Jabalya. The extended Dardone family lives in about 40 homes in this neighborhood, built on a hilltop. Some of the homes were taken over by the army to house troops during the offensive and to serve as sniping positions, or for shooting in general.
Col. Wright: "Incredible Crime Committed on Gaza"
Col. Ann Wright, US Army, Ret., and a former high ranking U.S. Diplomat, just returned from Israeli Occupied Gaza. She said:
Rabbis affiliated with the Israeli army urged troops heading into Gaza to reclaim what they said was God-given land and "get rid of the gentiles" — effectively turning the 22-day Israeli intervention into a religious war, according to the testimony of a soldier who fought in Gaza.
Literature passed out to soldiers by the army's rabbinate "had a clear message — we are the people of Israel, we came by a miracle to the land of Israel, God returned us to the land, now we need to struggle to get rid of the gentiles that are interfering with our conquest of the land," the soldier told a forum of Gaza veterans in mid-February, just weeks after the conflict ended.
The Israeli army has been forced to open an investigation into the conduct of its troops in Gaza after damning testimony from its own front line soldiers revealed the killing of civilians and rules of engagement so lax that one combatant said that they amounted on occasion to “cold-blooded murder”.
The revelations, compiled by the head of an Israel military academy who declared that he was “shocked” at the findings, come as international rights groups are calling for independent inquiries into the conduct of both sides in the three-week Israeli offensive against Palestinian Islamists.