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“Gaza is a graveyard,” sing joyful Israeli youths #GazaUnderAttack

In her latest post, my colleague Rania Khalek makes reference to “a new racist chant mocking the more than two hundred children slaughtered by Israel’s merciless bombing campaign in Gaza: ‘Tomorrow there’s no school in Gaza, they don’t have any children left.’”

This video shows an Israeli mob actually singing in celebration of children’s deaths in the style of a soccer fans’ song: “In Gaza there’s no studying, No children are left there, Olé, olé, olé-olé-olé.”

The mob also incites directly against Ahmed Tibi and Haneen Zoabi, two prominent Palestinian citizens of Israel who are members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

The video of the 26 July event in Tel Aviv was published by Israeli journalist Haim Har-Zahav.

The words of the repulsive song have been translated for The Electronic Intifada by Dena Shunra:

Tibi – Ahmed Tibi
I wanted you to know
The next kid to be hurt will be your kid
I hate Tibi
I hate Tibi the terrorist.
Tibi – is dead!
Tibi – is dead!
Tibi – is dead!

Tibi is a terrorist.
Tibi is a terrorist.
Tibi is a terrorist.

They’ll take their papers away.
They’ll take their papers away.
They’ll take their papers away.
Olé, olé, olé-olé-olé
In Gaza there’s no studying
No children are left there,
Olé, olé, olé-olé-olé,

[Three lines, not entirely clear]

Who is getting nervous, I hear?
Zoabi, this here is the Land of Israel
This here is the Land of Israel, Zoabi
This here is the Land of the Jews
I hate you, I do, Zoabi
I hate all the Arabs.
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard

English subtitles

Tali Shapiro has posted a version of the same video with English subtitles

 Read mor ehere- http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/gaza-graveyard-sing-joyful-israeli-youths

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India votes in support of UNHRC resolution on Gaza! #FreeGaza

India along with BRICS countries on Wednesday voted in support of a UN Human Rights Council resolution to launch a probe into Israel’s offensive on Gaza.

India joined Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa to vote for a Palestinian-drafted resolution on “Ensuring Respect for international law in The Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jersusalem”.

In the 47-member council, 29 countries voted in support of the resolution while 17 nations abstained.

The U.S. was the only nation to vote against the resolution. European countries abstained.

The voting came as bloodbath in the Gaza Strip continued unabated today with Israel and Hamas refusing to back down in the 16-day conflict that has killed over 680 Palestinians and 31 Israelis.

Earlier, India asked Israel and Palestine to demonstrate political will to agree to a ceasefire and return to the negotiating table.

“We remain hopeful that a sustainable ceasefire will be reached between the two sides, linked to the resumption of the peace process, for a comprehensive resolution of the Palestinian issue,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Mukerji said at the U.N. Security Council open debate on ‘The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question’.

He said India is “deeply concerned” at the steep escalation in the conflict between Israel and Palestine that has resulted in a large number of civilian casualties and heavy damage to property.

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Sharing pictures of corpses on #socialmedia isn’t the way to bring a ceasefire #Gazaunderattack

I don’t need you to tweet any more images of dead children – spreading them only devalues the currency of shared humanity
Israeli soldiers on a hill overlooking the Israeli-Gaza border
‘The awful reality is that all wars look much the same. We need not just to see but to imagine.’ Photograph: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

How many pictures of dead children do you need to see before you understand that killing children is wrong? I ask because social media is awash with the blood of innocents. Twitter is full of photos of the murdered children of Gaza. Sometimes carried by screaming fathers, sometimes by blood-soaked women. Some bodies are torn to pieces. One no longer has a head.

Such images of war, of obscenity, of the “reality” of what sophisticated weapons do are everywhere. There is no more privacy. At one time the media would have thought carefully about which images could be made public. Lines are drawn and then crossed but all notions about respect for the dead have been ripped apart by the advent of social media.

Perhaps they already were. We saw a dead Gaddafi on the front pages as some sort of “proof”. We see shrouds and horrors all the time and television news warns us in the aftermath of every bomb that we may be disturbed.

But now on Twitter especially there are endless pictures of dead toddlers. These are tweeted and retweeted to convey horror at what is going on in Gaza. This is obscene. Yet the moveable feast of semi-aroused outrage that is Twitter alights on one injustice after another. A while ago my feed was full of butchered elephants bleeding where their tusks had been removed. Before that were lions accompanied by the grinning idiots who had killed them. None of these images persuaded me to think any differently than I already did. This stuff is disgusting. Of course.

Those who want to say something about the atrocities in the Middle Eastmay indeed be genuinely distraught, they may feel that the need to pass on this visual information places them on some unquestionable moral high ground.

They may feel that pictures of the broken bodies of infants trump all talk of the immensely long, complicated nature of this conflict, that it can all be simplified down to this. Maybe that’s true except still each side continues to blame the other. Binyamin Netanyahu speaks of Hamas actively wanting “the telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause”. We gasp in horror. At all of it. Pictures of Israelis watching the destruction of Gaza as if it were a firework party do the rounds. Again with no context. This was Sderot where children don’t play outside but in shelters. Alongside these pictures social media commenters use Hamas and Palestinian as if they meant the same. So eager are they to be on the right side that they tweet a picture of dead children who turn out to be Syrian.

Does this competitive outrage matter? After all, 270 children were killed in Syria last month. But that is not trending.

Seasoned journalists were quite rightly disgusted that the bodies of thosewho died on MH17 were lying naked where it crashed. They were given no dignity. Where is our basic decency? We are told that to understand war we need to see the slaughter of civilians. The awful reality is that all wars look much the same. We need not just to see but to imagine. Those who cannot imagine the suffering of others are those who continue to justify it.

I don’t need to see any more images of dead children to want a ceasefire, a political settlement. I don’t need you to tweet them to show me you care. A small corpse is not a symbol for public consumption. It is for some parent somewhere the loss of a precious person. To make these images common devalues the currency of shared humanity. We do not respect those living in awful conflict by disrespecting their dead. Stop.

Read more here- http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/21/sharing-pictures-corpses-social-media-ceasefire

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Analysis: What next for Gaza? #GazaUnderAttack

Published today (updated) 16/07/2014 18:17
A Palestinian man collects belongings as he inspects a house after
it was destroyed by an Israeli air strike early on July 16, 2014, in
Gaza City.(AFP/Mohamed Abed)

The author is Gaza Director of Operations for UNRWA.

As I sit here in my office cum bedroom in Gaza City, listening to the airstrikes and rocket fire, there is talk of how to bring the violence to an end. This is to be eminently desired, particularly for the civilian population in Gaza who have suffered the brunt of this escalation.

But when I think of the 17,000 displaced people sheltered in our schools, some of whom I spoke with yesterday, I wonder what they would think of this. Because they have seen it all before, for most this was their third displacement since 2009; many having returned to the exact same classroom.

If this prospective cease-fire ends the same way as those before it, would they think this is anything other than a brief respite from violence?

For Gaza, a return to ‘calm’ is a return to the eighth year of blockade. It is a return to over 50 percent of the population either unemployed or unpaid. It is a return to confinement to Gaza and no external access to markets, employment, or education — in short, no access to the outside world.

For example, if one of the grandmothers I spoke to yesterday should wish to go to Birzeit University in the West Bank to study, she cannot.

The Israeli government need not demonstrate this grandmother poses any specific threat to security as they have approved a blanket ban on Gazans studying in the West Bank based on an undefined security threat. The vast majority of the population are prevented from leaving this 365 square kilometer sliver of land.

If one of the tomato farmers I met yesterday can find a buyer for his product in Paris, Peoria or Prague under certain conditions he can box up his tomatoes, ship them through the one open commercial crossing and on to Ashdod port or Ben Gurion airport — two of the most sensitive security sites in Israel.

Unfortunately there is no market for Gazan tomatoes in Paris, Peoria or Prague. There is a market for Gazan tomatoes in Israel and the West Bank, but this farmer is not allowed to sell his tomatoes there because of that same undefined security threat.

The elderly I met yesterday wonder how they will access health care after this cease-fire. Other than the services provided by us at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and some private and NGO facilities, the government health care system is collapsing. Infrastructure has been damaged and the people wonder who will take responsibility to fix it.

If the Palestinian Authority is not permitted or is unable to do that is the international community expected to? Or will Israel, the occupying power, assume that responsibility?

The mothers I met yesterday wonder where their children will go to school in six short weeks if not in one of UNRWA’s 245 schools. Who will repair the government schools, deliver the textbooks, pay the teachers? If government schools do not open will UNRWA be expected to fill that void?

We lack the physical capacity, human and financial resources to accept tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of additional students in our schools.

UNRWA and the UN family, including WFP, UNICEF, OCHA and UNDP, remain engaged in meeting the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza. Amongst the areas in which UNRWA has scaled up its work in recent years is construction, where we have a very large portfolio.

This is predominantly schools for our education program, in which we taught over 230,000 children last year, and houses for those whose homes were destroyed in previous conflicts or demolished by Israel.

If we want to build something we have to submit a detailed project proposal to Israel with the design, location and a complete bill of quantities. The Israelis then review the proposal, a process that is supposed to take not more than two months but on average takes nearly 20 months.

We received no project approvals between March 2013 and May 2014, during the last ‘calm,’ despite having nearly USD 100 million worth of projects awaiting approval. Will this ‘calm’ be any better?

More importantly, the people here wonder who will govern Gaza? No one has an answer to that question. I think the people of Gaza would say that if this is the form of ‘calm’ people have in mind, while preferable to the current violence, it cannot last. It will not last.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect Ma’an News Agency’s editorial policy.

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Chomsky – One State/Two State Debate is Irrelevant as Israel and the US Consolidate Greater Israel


whatcomesnexthorizontal

Source: Mondoweiss

On July 13, former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin issued a dire warning to the government of Israel: either it will reach some kind of two-state settlement or there will be a “shift to a nearly inevitable outcome of the one remaining reality — a state `from the sea to the river’.” The near inevitable outcome, “one state for two nations,” will pose “an immediate existential threat of the erasure of the identity of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” soon with a Palestinian-Arab majority.

On similar grounds, in the latest issue of Britain’s leading journal of international affairs, two prominent Middle East specialists, Clive Jones and Beverly Milton-Edwards, write that “if Israel wishes to be both Jewish and democratic,” it must embrace “the two-state solution.”

It is easy to cite many other examples, but unnecessary, because it is assumed almost universally that there are two options for cis-Jordan: either two states – Palestinian and Jewish-democratic — or one state “from the sea to the river.” Israeli commentators express concern about the “demographic problem”: too many Palestinians in a Jewish state. Many Palestinians and their advocates support the “one state solution,” anticipating a civil rights, anti-Apartheid struggle that will lead to secular democracy. Other analysts also consistently pose the options in similar terms.

The analysis is almost universal, but crucially flawed. There is a third option, namely, the option that Israel is pursuing with constant US support. And this third option is the only realistic alternative to the two-state settlement that is backed by an overwhelming international consensus.

It makes sense, in my opinion, to contemplate a future binational secular democracy in the former Palestine, from the sea to the river. For what it’s worth, that is what I have advocated for 70 years. But I stress: advocated. Advocacy, as distinct from mere proposal, requires sketching a path from here to there. The forms of true advocacy have changed with shifting circumstances. Since the mid-1970s, when Palestinian national rights became a salient issue, the only form of advocacy has been in stages, the first being the two-state settlement. No other path has been suggested that has even a remote chance of success. Proposing a binational (“one state”) settlement without moving on to advocacy in effect provides support for the third option, the realistic one.

The third option, taking shape before our eyes, is not obscure. Israel is systematically extending plans that were sketched and initiated shortly after the 1967 war, and institutionalized more fully with the access to power of Menahem Begin’s Likud a decade later.

The first step is to create what Yonatan Mendel calls “a disturbing new city” called “Jerusalem” but extending far beyond historic Jerusalem, incorporating dozens of Palestinian villages and surrounding lands, and furthermore, designated as a Jewish City and the capital of Israel. All of this is in direct violation of explicit Security Council orders. A corridor to the East of this new Greater Jerusalem incorporates the town of Ma’aleh Adumim, established in the 1970s but built primarily after the 1993 Oslo Accords, with lands reaching virtually to Jericho, thus effectively bisecting the West Bank. Corridors to the north incorporating the settler towns of Ariel and Kedumim further divide what is to remain under some degree of Palestinian control.

Meanwhile Israel is incorporating the territory on the Israeli side of the illegal “separation wall,” in reality an annexation wall, taking arable land and water resources and many villages, strangling the town of Qalqilya, and separating Palestinian villagers from their fields. In what Israel calls “the seam” between the wall and the border, close to 10 percent of the West Bank, anyone is permitted to enter, except Palestinians. Those who live in the region have to go through a highly intricate bureaucratic procedure to gain temporary entry. Exit, for example for medical care, is hampered in the same way. The result, predictably, has been severe disruption of Palestinian lives, and according to UN reports, a decrease of more than 80% in number of farmers who routinely cultivate their lands and a decline of 60% in yield of olive trees, among other harmful effects. The pretext for the wall was security, but that means security for illegal Jewish settlers; about 85 per cent of the wall runs through the occupied West Bank.

Israel is also taking over the Jordan Valley, thus fully imprisoning the cantons that remain. Huge infrastructure projects link settlers to Israel’s urban centers, ensuring that they will see no Palestinians. Following a traditional neocolonial model, a modern center remains for Palestinian elites, in Ramallah, while the remainder mostly languishes.

To complete the separation of Greater Jerusalem from remaining Palestinian cantons, Israel would have to take over the E1 region. So far that has been barred by Washington, and Israel has been compelled to resort to subterfuges, like building a police station. Obama is the first US president to have imposed no limits on Israeli actions. It remains to be seen whether he will permit Israel to take over E1, perhaps with expressions of discontent and a wink of the eye to make it clear that they are not seriously intended.

There are regular expulsions of Palestinians. In the Jordan Valley alone the Palestinian population has been reduced from 300,000 in 1967 to 60,000 today, and similar processes are underway elsewhere. Following the “dunam after dunam” policies that go back a century, each action is limited in scope so as not to arouse too much international attention, but with a cumulative effect and intent that are quite clear.

Furthermore, ever since the Oslo Accord declared that Gaza and the West Bank are an indivisible territorial unity, the US-Israel duo have been committed to separating the two regions. One significant effect is to ensure that any limited Palestinian entity will have no access to the outside world.

In the areas that Israel is taking over, the Palestinian population is small and scattered, and is being reduced further by regular expulsions. The result will be a Greater Israel with a substantial Jewish majority. Under the third option, there will be no “demographic problem” and no civil rights or anti-Apartheid struggle, nothing more than what already exists within Israel’s recognized borders, where the mantra “Jewish and democratic” is regularly intoned for the benefit of those who choose to believe, oblivious to the inherent contradiction, which is far more than merely symbolic.

Except in stages, the one-state option is an illusion. It has no international support, and there is no reason why Israel and its US sponsor would accept it, since they have a far preferable option, the one they are now implementing; with impunity, thanks to US power.

The US and Israel call for negotiations without preconditions. Commentary there and elsewhere in the West typically claims that the Palestinians are imposing such preconditions, hampering the “peace process.” In reality, the US-Israel insist upon crucial preconditions. The first is that negotiations must be mediated by the United States, which is not a neutral party but rather a participant in the conflict. It is as if one were to propose that Sunni-Shiite conflicts in Iraq be mediated by Iran. Authentic negotiations would be in the hands of some neutral state with a degree of international respect. The second precondition is that illegal settlement expansion must be allowed to continue, as it has done without a break during the 20 years of the Oslo Accord; predictably, given the terms of the Accord.

In the early years of the occupation the US joined the world in regarding the settlements as illegal, as confirmed by the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice. Since Reagan, their status has been downgraded to “a barrier to peace.” Obama weakened the designation further, to “not helpful to peace,” with gentle admonitions that are easily dismissed. Obama’s extreme rejectionism did arouse some attention in February 2011, when he vetoed a Security Council resolution supporting official US policy, ending of settlement expansion.

As long as these preconditions remain in force, diplomacy is likely to remain at a standstill. With brief and rare exceptions, that has been true since January 1976, when the US vetoed a Security Council resolution, brought by Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, calling for a two-state settlement on the internationally recognized border, the Green Line, with guarantees for the security of all states within secure and recognized borders. That is essentially the international consensus that is by now universal, with the two usual exceptions – not just on Middle East issues, incidentally. The consensus has been modified to include “minor and mutual adjustments” on the Green Line, to borrow official US wording before it had broken with the rest of the world.

The same is true of the negotiations that may take place soon in Washington. Given the preconditions, they are unlikely to achieve anything more than to serve as a framework in which Israel can carry forward its project of taking over whatever it finds valuable in the West Bank and Syrian Golan Heights, annexed in violation of Security Council orders, while maintaining the siege of Gaza. And doing so throughout with the critical economic, military, diplomatic and ideological support of the state running the negotiations. One can of course hope for better, but it is hard to be optimistic.

Europe could play a role in advancing the hopes for a peaceful diplomatic settlement, if it were willing to pursue an independent path. The recent EU decision to exclude West Bank settlements from any future deals with Israel might be a step in this direction. US policies are also not graven in stone, though they have deep strategic, economic, and cultural roots. In the absence of such changes, there is every reason to expect that the picture from the river to the sea will conform to the third option. Palestinian rights and aspirations will be shelved, temporarily at least.

If the Israel-Palestine conflict is not resolved, a regional peace settlement is highly unlikely. That failure has far broader implications – in particular, for what US media call “the gravest threat to world peace,” echoing the pronouncements of President Obama and most of the political class: namely, Iran’s nuclear programs. The implications become clear when we consider the most obvious ways to deal with the alleged threat, and their fate. It is useful, first, to consider a few preliminary questions: Who regards the threat as of such cosmic significance? And what is the perceived threat?

Answers are straightforward. The threat is overwhelmingly a western obsession: the US and its allies. The non-aligned countries, most of the world, have vigorously supported Iran’s right, as a signer of the Non-proliferation Treaty, to enrich Uranium. In the Arab world, Iran is generally disliked, but not perceived as a threat; rather, it is the US and Israel that the population regards as a threat, by very large margins, as consistently shown by polls.

In western discourse, it is commonly claimed that the Arabs support the US position regarding Iran, but the reference is to the dictators, not the general population, who are considered an irrelevant annoyance under prevailing democratic doctrine. Also standard is reference to “the standoff between the international community and Iran,” to quote from the current scholarly literature. Here the phrase “international community” refers to the US and whoever happens to go along with it; in this case, a small minority of the international community, but many more if political stands are weighted by power.

What then is the perceived threat? An authoritative answer is given by US intelligence and the Pentagon in their regular reviews of global security. They conclude that Iran is not a military threat. It has low military expenditures even by the standards of the region, and limited capacity to deploy force. Its strategic doctrine is defensive, designed to resist attack. The intelligence community reports no evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, but if it is, they conclude, that would be part of Iran’s deterrence strategy.

It is hard to think of a country in the world that needs a deterrent more than Iran. It has been tormented by the West without respite ever since its parliamentary regime was overthrown by a US-British military coup in 1953, first under the harsh and brutal regime of the Shah, then under murderous attack by Saddam Hussein, with western support. It was largely US intervention that induced Iran to capitulate; and shortly after, President George Bush I invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to the US for training in advanced weapons production, an extraordinary threat to Iran. Iraq soon became an enemy, but meanwhile Iran was subjected to harsh sanctions, intensifying under US initiative to the present. It constantly subjected to the threat of military attack by the US and Israel – in violation of the UN Charter, if anyone cares.

It is, however, understandable that the US-Israel would regard an Iranian deterrent as an intolerable threat. It would limit their ability to control the region, by violence if they choose, as they often have. That is the essence of the perceived Iranian threat.

That the clerical regime is a threat to its own people is hardly in doubt, though regrettably it is hardly alone in that regard. But it goes well beyond naiveté to believe that its internal repression is much of a concern to the great powers.

Whatever one thinks of the threat, are there ways to mitigate it? Quite a few, in fact. One of the most reasonable would be to move towards establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the region, as strongly advocated by the Non-aligned movement and particularly by the Arab states, and indeed most of the world. The US and its allies voice formal support, but have hardly been cooperative. That is once again clear right now. Under NPT authority, an international conference was to have been held in Finland last December to advance such plans. Israel refused to attend, but to the surprise of many, in early November Iran announced that it would take part, without conditions. The US then announced that the conference was cancelled, repeating Israel’s objections: that a conference is premature before regional security is established. The Arab states, Russia, and the European Parliament called for immediate renewal of the initiative, but of course little is possible without the US.

Details are murky. Little documentary evidence is available, and all of this has passed without inquiry. In particular, the US press has not inquired, or in fact even published a single word on the most reasonable and practical efforts to address what it reports as “the gravest threat to world peace.”

It is quite clear, however, that Arab states and others call for moves to eliminate weapons of mass destruction immediately, as a step towards regional security; while the US and Israel, in contrast, reverse the order, and demand regional security – meaning security for Israel — as a prerequisite to eliminating such weapons. In the not-very-remote background is the understanding that Israel has an advanced nuclear weapons system, alone in the region; and is alone in refusing to join the NPT, along with India and Pakistan, both of whom also benefit from US support for their nuclear arsenals.

The connection of Israel-Palestine conflict to the alleged Iranian threat is therefore clear. As long as the US and Israel persist in their rejectionist stance, blocking the international consensus on a two-state settlement, there will be no regional security arrangements, hence no moves towards a establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone and mitigating, perhaps ending, what the US and Israel claim to be the gravest threat to peace, at least to do so in the most obvious and far-reaching way.

It should be noted that along with Britain, the US has a special responsibility to devote its efforts to establishing a Middle East NWFZ. When attempting to provide a thin legal cover for their invasion of Iraq, the two aggressors appealed to UNSCR 687 of 1991, claiming that Saddam violated the demand to end his nuclear weapons programs. The Resolution also has another paragraph, calling for “steps towards the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction…”, obligating the US and UK even more than others to undertake this initiative seriously.

These comments naturally only scratch the surface, and leave out many urgent topics, among them the horrifying descent of Syria into suicide and ominous developments in Egypt, which are sure to have a regional impact. And indeed a lot more. This is how some of the core issues appear, to me at least.

An Arabic version of this article is to be published in November, 2013 in the Dirasat Yearbook, published in Nazareth.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor Emeritus at the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. He is the author of numerous best-selling political works, including recently Hopes and Prospects and Making the Future. 

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Israel Gives Palestinian 10 Year Prison Sentence for Selling Pretzels #WTFnews

PALESTINE / ISRAEL, 30 September 2013

by Apartheid Exists – TRANSCEND Media Service

“What is a bagel seller doing in prison in the first place, let alone with a harsher sentence than a drug trafficker?”
Haaretz

preztel

28 Sep 2013 – This is the kind of stuff that is devastating to the average Palestinian.  Most Americans don’t really understand just how oppressive the Israeli government is. They require a permit to do anything – have a job, build a home, get water etc but when you file the appropriate paperwork …. it doesn’t get approved (if you’re Palestinian).  Palestinians live under absolute tyranny even when they’re Israeli citizens.  Their government takes a hostile approach to them and does everything possible to ensure they remain in poverty strictly because they’re not Jewish.

The plan is simple.  Cut off Palestinians’ ability to take care of their families, make them lose their homes and force them into concentration campsrefugee camps.  Refugees don’t have legal rights.  It sucks to be them.

It’s wrong and Americans fund this oppression.

That’s because the Israeli government is engaging in a campaign of ethnic cleansing and this is just one more example out of a plethora of examples.  And it’s so bad that even the U.S. State Department has characterized the Israeli government as being guilty of “institutional and societal discrimination” of citizens who they characterize as Arab (I call them Israeli citizens of Palestinian descent).  You can read that report HERE.

Haaretz has the story on how Israel gave Zaki Sabah 10 years in prison for selling pretzels in July 2013 HERE:

The sentence was imposed two weeks ago by Local Affairs Court Judge Tamar Nimrodi. Her decision was a technical one, arrived at by aggregating 254 files opened against Sabah for peddling without a license. The thousands of tickets he received since 2005 had ballooned to fines totaling NIS 731,910.21. Because the nonpayment of any fine has a prescribed option of a few days in prison, the number of days that had accumulated totaled 3,554. Most of the hearings in his case were held in absentia, and since he had not reached a payment arrangement with the municipality, the judge consolidated the cases and approved the cumulative imprisonment orders. Shortly after the ruling, Sabah was imprisoned.

Following his attorney Amir Schneidscher’s request to the court, the municipality agreed to release Sabah if he paid 10 percent of the debt, around NIS 80,000. Jerusalem Magistrate’ Court Judge Tamar Bar-Asher-Zaban then ruled he could be released for only NIS 8,000, but Sabah said he could not come up with that amount, either, and remained behind bars.

Go to Original – apartheidexists.com

 

 

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Syria: Accidental Diplomacy in the Devils’ Playground #mustread

Posted: 09/16/2013 5:46 pm

Iara Lee

Activist and filmmaker, huffingtonpost

It’s unfortunate that diplomacy has now become an accident of U.S. foreign policy. After John Kerry’s slip-of-the-tongue in London last week, warmongers in and outside the beltway are sulking at the idea that a peaceful solution might prevent them from going to war in another Middle Eastern country.

Washington politicians’ chagrin at the prospect of a peaceful resolution makes one thing very clear: they do not care about chemical weapons, they do not care about dead children, and they do not care about Syrians, period. If they did, they might have themselves put forth the fairly unimaginative proposal that Syria give up its stockpile of chemical weapons. They might have not helped to nurture the Islamist insurgency that has hijacked what was once a national struggle for democratic reforms. And they might have put their weight behind a peace plan before the death toll topped 100,000, with a third of the country now refugees from their own land.

Let’s also not forget that the U.S. has always had a love/hate relationship with chemical weapons, looking the other way when its former client, Saddam Hussein, gassed tens of thousands during the Iraq-Iran war (including 10,000 innocent Iraqi Kurds in Halabja); White House officials similarly ignored the use of white-phosphorous, an incendiary chemical weapon, by Israel in Gaza in 2008; and then of course there is their own use of depleted uranium during the Iraq invasion.

So what is motivating this policy of “If you don’t stop gassing civilians, we will bomb your civilians”? We keep hearing on cable news that if the U.S. doesn’t attack Syria, the Iranians may continue to work on their dramatically overhyped nuclear weapons program. But this is a rhetorical feint, meant to obscure a much more grim reality: that Syria is only an appetizer for a much more destructive campaign against Iran, initiated by Israel and destined to be executed by their praetorian American backers.

After all, most of the jihadist forces fighting the Syrian government are not better than the current, odious regime of Bashar Al-Assad, and the U.S. and Israel know it. And so what they strive for is not the downfall of Assad, but a state of perpetual chaos in Syria. This is perhaps why Alon Pinkas, former Israeli consul general in New York, was quoted by the New York Times as saying: “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.”

Humanitarian motives indeed. But threat to whom? Prior to the uprising, the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel, were rather quiet for some time. So perhaps the better question is, threat to what? Some may argue that what is “threatened” by a stable Syria is the plan to attack and destabilize the Assad regime’s Shia patrons in Iran, a nation which lives in the crosshairs of the United States and Israel, and whose leaders use the threat of foreign attack as justification for a militarist fundamentalism of their own.

Much like Obama, Vladimir Putin is not concerned with the loss of Syrian lives. His interests lie in the billions in arms agreements that his government has with Assad. The Gulf monarchies — Saudi Arabia and Qatar — along with Israel and the United States, are interested in alienating Iran. Each of these players continues to make a terrible situation worse by throwing more bombs and guns into the mix, splashing fuel onto a fire with one hand while shaking their sanctimonious fists with the other.

And so the geo-political power games continue, with indisputably bad people on every side surrounding average, innocent Syrians who live under constant threat of death from all parties involved. Back in 2012 I made a film to highlight the plight of Syrian refugees caught in the middle of what one little girl I spoke to referred to as a “soccer match,” with Syria as the ball. The title of that film, The Suffering Grasses, was taken from the following proverb: “When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.” With over 100,000 dead and counting, and the entrance of the biggest elephant of all into the fray, this phrase couldn’t be more apt.

Given that ethical concerns are a low priority for the U.S., one would hope that rational self-interest might play some role in their decision-making when it comes to Syria. But the primary financial beneficiary of a U.S. strike on Syria (aside from the jihadists fighting Assad and the hemorrhage-happy Israelis next door) will be Russia. As oil prices invariably rise with a U.S. strike, Russia — the world’s largest exporter, along with Saudi Arabia — will be the first to profit from skyrocketing oil prices.

Then of course there are the direct costs of war. A single Tomahawk missile costs roughly $1.4 million. Experts have predicted that, putting together the costs of munitions, refueling, and keeping naval vessels within striking distance, even a “limited” cruise missile strike would end up costing U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Given the slow recovery from the 2008 financial meltdown, and another one likely on the horizon, one would think that American leaders would think twice about spending taxpayer money to assist an opposition that includes al Qaeda in its ranks.

The American people, scarred by lies and fatigued from wars that have profited them nothing, came out in massive opposition to Obama’s “punitive” bombing of Syria. It seems they are coming around to the idea that there is no such thing as a humanitarian bombing, and that such conditions for war bring only more war. They are beginning to recognize that, like the slaughtered innocents of Syria, they too are grass suffering under the weight of elephants.

In the end, accidental diplomacy is better than no diplomacy at all. So we must continue to put pressure on our elected officials to move in this direction and to use negotiations over chemical weapons as an opportunity to bring all the major stakeholders — the Assad regime, the opposition, the United States, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Iran — into further diplomacy that could end the civil war in Syria. Such intervention does not involve more weapons or bombings, but rather brings a framework for ending the violence and moving towards the peaceful democracy that the Syrian people rightly deserve.

To watch the trailer for The Suffering Grasses: When Elephants Fight, It Is the Grass That Suffers, click here.

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One Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every 3 days for the past 13 years

Tuesday, 04 June 2013

 

Almost half of the Palestinian population is under 18Almost half of the Palestinian population is under 18

Official statistics from the Ministry of Information in Ramallah have revealed that 1,518 Palestinian children were killed by Israel‘s occupation forces from the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000 up to April 2013. That’s the equivalent of one Palestinian child killed by Israel every 3 days for almost 13 years. The ministry added that the number of children injured by the Israelis since the start of the Second Intifada against Israel’s occupation has now reached 6,000. 

“The International Day for the Protection of Children is on June 1,” said a spokesman, “but Palestinian children are still subject to attacks by the Israelis and Jewish settlers on an almost daily basis.”

Noting that 2012 saw an unprecedented rise in the number of children arrested by Israeli forces, the report pointed out that 9,000 Palestinians under 18 years old have been arrested since the end of September 2000. Almost half of the Palestinian population is under 18. Almost two hundred and fifty Palestinian minors are being held in prison by Israel; 47 of them are children under 16 years of age.

– See more at: http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/6185-one-palestinian-child-has-been-killed-by-israel-every-3-days-for-the-past-13-years#sthash.oGoflKBq.weo6oVjV.dpuf

 

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Rich- Poor Gap Widens In Rich Countries, Finds OECD

Developed and developing countries

 

 

 

By Countercurrents.org

 

16 May, 2013
Countercurrents.org

 

The gap between rich and poor widened more in the three years to 2010 than in the previous 12 years, said OECD, the group of industrialized nations.

 

According to an OECD report released on May 15, 2013, the richest 10% of society in the 33 OECD countries received 9.5 times that of the poorest in terms of income, up from nine times in 2007.

 

New OECD data showed:

 

The gap is largest in Chile, Mexico, Turkey, the US and Israel, and lowest in Iceland, Slovenia, Norway and Denmark. [1]

 

OECD found:

 

Poorer households tended to lose more or gain less than richer households between 2007 and 2010. The top 10 percent of the population did better than the poorest 10 percent in 21 of the 33 countries where data were available.

Using pre-crisis income levels as a benchmark, the number of people living in poverty rose during the crisis in most countries.

 

Taxes and benefits helped mitigate the overall increases, but the impact varied. Between 2007 and 2010, average relative income poverty in OECD countries rose from 13 to 14% among children and from 12 to 14% among youth, but fell from 15 to 12% among the elderly. Until 2010, in many countries, pensioners were largely protected while working households took the hit.

Children and the young are among the worst sufferers. The OECD report found:

 

Child poverty has risen in 16 OECD countries since 2007, with increases exceeding 2 points in Turkey, Spain, Belgium, Slovenia and Hungary. This confirms a previously identified trend of young people and children replacing the elderly as the group most at risk of income poverty across the OECD.

The analysis warns that further social spending cuts in OECD countries risk causing greater inequality and poverty in the years ahead.

 

Israel, according to the OECD data, presented a frustrating picture. Citing the report Lior Dattel and Nadan Feldman said [2]:

 

Israel is the most impoverished of the 34 economically developed countries, with a poverty rate of 20.9%.

 

A Paris datelined Reuters report [3] also cited the “growing divide between rich and poor” mentioned in the OECD report.

 

The Reuters report quoted OECD, the Paris-based think-tank,

 

“As the economic and especially the jobs crisis persists and fiscal consolidation takes hold, there is a growing risk that the most vulnerable in society will be hit harder as the cost of the crisis increases.”

 

“These worrying findings underline the need to protect the most vulnerable in society, especially as governments pursue the necessary task of bringing public spending under control,” OECD head Angel Gurria said in a statement.

 

Gurria added that governments should not neglect fairness when they craft their policies, especially when they reform their tax systems.

 

The Reuters report added:

 

With many developed countries facing the pinch of austerity, economic inequality has become a hot topic especially after an ECB study last month found that households in many peripheral eurozone countries are on average wealthier than those in the bloc’s core due to higher levels of home ownership.

 

Long a staunch advocate of free-market reforms shunned by some left-wingers, the OECD has become an increasingly vocal supporter of the welfare state for its capacity to soften the blow of hard economic times.

 

The study said the pain of the crisis was unevenly spread. Poorer households either lost more income from the recession or benefited less from recovery. Children and young people suffered more than the elderly, whose incomes were relatively immune.

 

While reporting the OECD report a BBC-news made the following observation:

The Paris-based group is generally in favor of free-market policies, but has recently become more vocal in support of more generous social provision to soften the impact of the economic downturn of the past few years.

 

Many countries, particularly within the eurozone, have been cutting back hard on welfare spending in an attempt to reduce debt and balance government books as tax revenues fall because of weak growth. In some cases, this is a condition of international support from the likes of the International Monetary Fund.

 

Source:

 

[1] May 15, 2013, “Growing risk of inequality and poverty as crisis hits the poor hardest”
http://www.oecd.org/els/soc/growing-risk-of-inequality-and-poverty-as-crisis-hits-the-poor-hardest-says-oecd.htm

 

[2] Haaretz, “Israel has highest poverty rate in the developed world, OECD report shows”,
May 16, 2013, http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israel-is-the-poorest-country-in-developed-world-oecd-report-shows.premium-1.524096

 

[3] “Rich nations’ wealth gap widens as welfare cut –OECD”,
http://www.trust.org/item/20130514220100-fspwz

 

 

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Crocodile tears on the West Bank #Palestine

GITHA HARIHARAN, The Hindu

Expressions of solidarity for the Palestinian people have little meaning unless they become a powerful collective voice that can build pressure on Israel

The day U.S. President Barack Obama came to Ramallah, I was supposed to go to Haifa. The plan was to see one bit of ’48 — the Palestine that Israel took over during the Nakba, the catastrophe of 1948. But the roads closed in Ramallah and Jerusalem; the checkpoints were on high alert; my visit to Haifa was cancelled.

I walked around Ramallah, uphill, downhill. The police whizzed past in trucks and vans; several protests were to be held. I saw one of these. Many of the banners bore a prominent key: the key to return, the right of the Palestinian people to return home.

As the day wore on, Obama and Palestinian President Abbas stood stiffly next to each other on television screens. Unlike the official images of the day before in Israel, the Ramallah meeting showed the leaders cold and unsmiling. What they said officially, said little about the misery and hope of real people. Perhaps, leaders get used to talking about the people they speak for in people-less terms. But the Palestinians were not missing. Despite the official cacophony of speeches, the barricaded and gun-toting security, I had no trouble seeing the people who become phantoms in official meetings. I had already seen them in stubborn flesh and blood in the days leading up to Obama’s visit. I had been to Jerusalem, Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron, and several villages on the road between Ramallah and Nablus, and the road between Bethlehem and Hebron. I had seen what people wrote and drew on the illegal wall Israel has built through their land and lives. I had heard what those I met had to say.

Apartheid wall

Obama, like all tourists and pilgrims, went to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, a church beautiful because it is simple. But the beauty that spoke to me was elsewhere — in, for instance, the brave hope of the key of return I saw everywhere in the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem. (The giant key above the rough arch at the camp entrance says on it: Not for sale.)

But before that hope in the future can be stoked, the unfolding present intrudes. One of the inescapable images of the present, in Bethlehem and elsewhere, is the wall Israel has been building despite its being declared illegal by the International Court of Justice. This Separation Barrier, which Palestinians call the Apartheid Wall, snakes its way across, between and around hills, farms, groves, villages, roads and houses throughout the West Bank, separating people from their neighbours, their schools, their hospitals, their shops, their land, their trees, their crop, their wells and springs. The wall is made of concrete. In places it is supplemented by, or growing into a wall from, electrified fencing, deep trenches, roads for patrol vehicles, electronic ground and fence sensors, thermal imaging and video cameras, unmanned aerial vehicles, sniper towers and razor wire. The wall does not run along the Green Line; it runs through the West Bank, on occupied Palestinian land. The plan is for the wall to be as long as 650 km.

In Bethlehem, the wall blocks the old entrance to the city from Jerusalem. A house I visited used to be across Rachel’s Tomb, a shrine visited by different communities. The house is now walled in on three sides. The house is called Sumud House; sumud means steadfastness.

If a third Intifada is brewing, the wall is one of the faces of the enemy. The wall across the Aida Refugee Camp, which was set up in 1950, has rows of Intifada martyrs painted on it.

Part of the wall is burnt; a watchtower with sniper-windows stands charred, testimony to the anger of people in the camp. The graffiti on this part of the wall sends sharp and eloquent messages, and not just to the Israelis: “No one can talk about the camp better than the people of the camp,” says one. An activist spoke to me ruefully about the numerous delegations that visit the wall, spray-paint words and images of solidarity on it. “We tell them to speak to people first,” he said. But many come with their readymade messages; like other genuine causes, this last bastion of colonialism can also be turned into a solidarity cottage industry.

Najwan Darwish, a poet I was on a literary panel with in Ramallah, read a poem about the bleak situation in Palestine today: “I tried once to sit in one of the vacant seats / but the word reserved was lurking there like a hyena. / I did not sit. / No one did. / The seats of hope are always reserved.” Darwish added, “I hate the word suffering. Suffering makes me think of victims.”

He was also wary of the word solidarity: too many people use solidarity merely as a means of self-expression. But solidarity is important, of course; we have the South African model in relatively recent memory. We also have the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to build international pressure on Israel.

This is the way I unravelled this call to revisit solidarity. Having seen and heard what I did in Palestine, it would be impossible to shy away from solidarity. But my own little solidarity means nothing by itself; it can only mean something if it grows into an Indian solidarity. And Indian solidarity can only mean pressuring our government to end the deepening “strategic” relationship between India and Israel — an alliance that means the purchase of arms from Israel, joint investment and industry ventures, collaborative research and educational programmes, and cultural exchange. Israel the occupier spends a great deal on building Brand Israel that can be sold in countries like ours. Our solidarity with Occupied Palestine is only worthwhile if we make sure India does not contribute to subsidising the Israeli colonial war machine.

(Githa Hariharan is a writer.)

 

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