Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year?

Still "liberating" Ba`qubah. (AP)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Israel assassinates eight Palestinians

GAZA CITY - Seven Palestinian fighters, one of them a senior commander, were killed and 16 other people wounded in the Gaza Strip on Thursday in four Israeli raids on the Hamas-run territory, medics and witnesses said.

In the first Gaza raid three men -- two of them from the Islamic Jihad group and a third from the armed wing of Hamas -- were killed around the southern town of Khan Yunis. Six people were also wounded.

The Israeli army said that infantry units backed by air power carried out a "routine operation" targeting gunmen who were firing rockets and mortars into Israel.

"Units that entered several kilometres (miles) into the Gaza Strip were fired at by an anti-tank shell. They responded and hit three armed men," said a spokesman.

Shortly afterwards, two Islamic Jihad fighters were killed and two wounded in an air raid in the central Gaza Strip, medics said.

"The military carried out an air raid in the central Gaza Strip against a vehicle loaded with weapons," an Israeli spokesman said.

"The vehicle was hit."

A third Israeli raid, which witnesses said was carried out by either helicopters or drones, killed an Islamic Jihad fighter and wounded two more south of Gaza City, medical sources said.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hobaan Rogam

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

And so this is Christmas....

A Palestinian protester dressed as Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, tries to block an Israeli soldier from arresting another demonstrator at a protest against Israel's separation barrier in the village of Umm Salamona, near the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem, Friday. Israel says the barrier is necessary for security, while Palestinians call it a land grab. The man was not injured in the incident. Getty Images (December 21, 2007)

A man sits in a wheelchair next to his demolished house, in Beijing, Friday. With soaring housing prices, some urban residents say they are being evicted to make way for new development without being paid enough compensation to buy new homes. Getty Images (December 21, 2007)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bethlehem Checkpoint 4 a.m.

Palestinian Refugees from Iraq Stranded in Desert Camp

CAIRO, Egypt —Hundreds of Palestinian refugees who've been forced out of their homes in Iraq are stranded in a remote stretch of the Syrian desert, where they're living in tents that offer little shelter against blinding sandstorms and the biting cold of winter nights, according to humanitarian aid workers and refugees.

Syrian authorities have barred the Palestinians from leaving the Tanaf refugee camp near the border with Iraq. Journalists aren't allowed to visit.

But United Nations officials and camp residents reached by phone described deteriorating health conditions, with an increase in illnesses related to contaminated water and skin afflictions caused by unhygienic conditions. Many children have lice, the Palestinians said, and the elderly suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure. They survive solely through handouts from the U.N. and Arab humanitarian groups.

"We die a thousand times a day," said Wafaa Mazhar, 37, a mother of five who said that her 16-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia six months ago at Tanaf. "We Palestinians are leading miserable lives. We're helpless, and no one feels our pain."

The fate of the 500 or so Palestinians at the Tanaf camp has been largely overlooked as governments and humanitarian groups focus on the 2.5 million Iraqi refugees who've flocked to urban hubs in Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Across from Tanaf, on the Iraqi side of the border, 1,900 Palestinians from Baghdad live in the squalid Walid camp, aid workers said.

The refugees' future is complicated by their status during the regime of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Many have known no home outside Baghdad — they're the offspring of parents who settled in Iraq in 1948 after being driven from Haifa as when Israel became an independent nation. In Iraq, Saddam promised them free housing and education in a bid to promote himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause. The refugees said that the dictator's promises rarely materialized and that they were never granted Iraqi citizenship.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Barbed Wire: Another Layer of Border Genocide

Just another reminder that our old neighbor, Boeing, is making money off of our own
separation wall. From the Censored website, here:

THE GATE, TOHONO O'ODHAM NATION (Arizona) -- Another layer of genocide, a barbed wire fence just added at the border wall under construction by Boeing and the National Guard, on the Tohono O'odham Nation. The barbed wire will be detrimental to endangered species, including the Sonoran pronghorn and jaguar. Homeland Security has voided all federal laws, including federal laws that protect endangered species, and dug up the graves of the O'odham ancestors, to build the border wall on Tohono O'odham land. While traditional ceremonial O'odham oppose the wall, the Tohono O'odham Nation elected government is working with Homeland Security and supports the border wall. The border wall will be a physical barrier for the O'odham's annual ceremonial route.
Although the Tohono O'odham Nation refers to this as a "vehicle barrier" instead of a "border wall," traditional O'odham say it has the same effect, since it is a barrier to the annual ceremonial route and has already resulted in the digging up of O'odham ancestors' remains. Photo Brenda Norrell

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Red Cross: Israel Worsening Palestinian Humanitarian Crisis

"Israeli restrictions have caused a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the West Bank that is growing worse, leaving hospitals unable to treat the sick and keeping farmers off their land, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

"In a statement issued on Thursday, the humanitarian agency called on Israel to "lift the retaliatory measures which are paralyzing life in Gaza" and urged Palestinian factions to stop targeting civilian areas and putting lives at risk.

"'The measures imposed by Israel come at an enormous humanitarian cost, leaving the people living under occupation with just enough to survive, but not enough to live a normal and dignified life," said Beatrice Megevand Roggo, the ICRC's head of operations for the Middle East and North Africa. The Palestinian population has "effectively become a hostage to the conflict," she said.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Woody Allen on the Writers Strike

Omar Barghouti: No State Has the Right to Exist as a Racist State

Silvia Cattori: What did you think of the Annapolis conference that was held in the U.S. in November 2007?

Omar Barghouti: By insisting that Palestinian "negotiators" must recognize Israel as a "Jewish State," Israel has really kicked the sleeping lion in the ribs, to borrow the metaphor used by Uri Avnery — whom I completely disagree with, otherwise. Barak’s "unwise" and stubborn insistence during Camp David II in 2000 that Arafat must drop the right of return for Palestinian refugees led to a real awakening of the refugee community, leading to massive mobilization and concerted pressure on Arafat not to budge. Indeed, he was killed without surrendering that right.

This time around, there were two lions that Israel kicked in the rib when it demanded Palestinian official acceptance of its right to exist as a Jewish state: the same huge lion representing refugees and a smaller, usually far-milder lion, representing the Palestinian community inside Israel, almost 1.5 million indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel who have hitherto been completely marginalized and disenfranchised in all "negotiations" concerning ending this colonial conflict.

Luckily, Olmert and the current political elite in Israel proved, in preparing for Annapolis, to be as obtuse as their predecessors. This is the price Israel must pay, apparently, for being the world leader in recycling leaders! Each Israeli leader who rises to power (with the exception of those who die or are assassinated by Israeli right-wing settlers) is soon discredited and embroiled in scandals of all sorts: sexual, financial, war crimes, etc. They then slide down into oblivion, only to be reincarnated and reinvented a few years later as embodying a new "hope" for a nation gone astray — and they miraculously get re-elected by respectable margins! Israelis do not only suffer from selective amnesia; they are truly bankrupt at the leadership level. Not just Palestinians are, it seems.

Another important point about Annapolis is that Mahmoud Abbas has no mandate to give up anything significant. He is no Arafat. He lacks the historical record of struggle against Israel. His popularity, while higher than Olmert’s pathetic 3%, is still quite dismal. He has a severe deficiency in vision, in my opinion. Hamas controls Gaza; and this weakens him further. In short, he is not a leader who can do "business" and deliver the "goods" dictated by Israel and the US. He will talk and smile a lot; travel even more; try to appear courageous; but it will all falter, I think. With Arafat’s departure, Israel lost its final opportunity to push for a two-state solution — an unjust and immoral solution, at any rate. No regret.

The one-state alternative, the moral alternative, is no longer seen as a utopian idea; it is increasingly being researched and presented as a serious possibility looming in the air above all those "negotiators." Just look at Olmert’s recent warning in Ha’aretz that, if the Annapolis process fails, Israel will head in the apartheid direction (as if it hasn’t already!). Annapolis cannot but fail. It does not deal with the root causes of the conflict, and does not promise justice or equality.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Why the Council on Foreign Relations Hates Putin

Mike Whitney on why we get treated to such a jaundiced view of Putin from the mainstream media. Portion below; whole thing here:

"On Sunday, Putin's party, United Russia, stormed to victory in the country's parliamentary elections with 63 per cent of the vote. It was a romp. United Russia now controls 306 of the 450 seats in the Duma, an overwhelming majority. The balloting was a referendum on Putin's leadership and it passed in a landslide. Now it's certain, that even if Putin steps down as president next year as expected, he will be the dominant player in Russian politics for the foreseeable future.

"Vladamir Putin is arguably the most popular leader in Russian history, although you'd never know it by reading the western media. According to a recent survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal, Putin's personal approval rating in November 2007 was 85 per cent, making him the most popular head of state in the world today. Putin's popularity derives from many factors. He is personally clever and charismatic. He is fiercely nationalistic and has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of ordinary Russians and restore the country to its former greatness. He has raised over 20 million Russians out of grinding poverty, improved education, health care and the pension system, (partially) nationalized critical industries, lowered unemployment, increased manufacturing and exports, invigorated Russian markets, strengthened the ruble, raised the overall standard of living, reduced government corruption, jailed or exiled the venal oligarchs, and amassed capital reserves of $450 billion.

"Russia is no longer up for grabs like it was after the fall of the Soviet Union. Putin put an end to all of that. He reasserted control over the country's vast resources and he's using them to improve the lives of his own people. This is a real departure from the 1990s, when the drunken Yeltsin steered Russia into economic disaster by following Washington's neoliberal edicts and by selling Russia's Crown Jewels to the vulturous oligarchs. Putin put Russia's house back in order; stabilized the ruble, strengthened economic/military alliances in the region, and removed the corporate gangsters who had stolen Russia's national assets for pennies on the dollar. The oligarchs are now all either in jail or have fled the country. Russia is no longer for sale.

"Russia is, once again, a major world power and a vital source of hydrocarbons. It's star is steadily rising just as America's has begun to wane. This may explain why Putin is loathed by the West. Freud might call it petroleum envy, but it's deeper than that. Putin has charted a course for social change that conflicts with basic tenets of neoliberalism, which are the principles which govern US foreign policy. He is not a member of the corporate-banking brotherhood which believes the wealth of the world should be divided among themselves regardless of the suffering or destruction it may cause. Putin's primary focus is Russia; Russia's welfare, Russia's sovereignty and Russia's place in the world. He is not a globalist.

Castles in the Air

Mustafa al-Barghouti, secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, analyzes Annapolis. Below is the conclusion of his article, linked here:

"Israel succeeded putting a stop to even the efforts of the US to kick-start negotiations in Washington in order to give the impression of a third party's sponsorship. Olmert insisted that negotiations had to take place solely between the two parties, in Israel or the occupied territories and nowhere else. His purpose was to offset the possibility of outside interference, even by the staunchly pro-Israel United States. He got his way.

"After all that, we have little cause to wonder at the smug jubilation of the Israeli delegation, or at the bitterness that must have overcome some Arab delegates whose speeches and pictures were not even transmitted by most of the media, or at the depression that might have gripped some members of the international community, if they still have the ability to feel anything, after having been so rudely and offhandedly excluded and snubbed.

"Our sole hope is that it will not be long until Palestinian officials of all stripes will wake up to the fact that the Israeli vision accomplished its headway through the breach in Palestinian ranks and the Palestinians' lack of a strategic vision and unified national leadership.

"Israel has gained the time it wanted and that it hopes to turn to its best advantage. However, it has not won the contest. The outcome of that will be determined by events on the ground. It will be determined by the unfolding progress of the peaceful Palestinian grassroots struggle, backed by the mounting international movement of solidarity with their cause, which are exposing the true nature of the Israeli regime and of those who cooperate with it.

"This is something that has Olmert worried, because the name of Israel has begun to become synonymous with apartheid. It is a worry he will not be able to allay by gaining control over the so-called peace process and turning into something that has no bearing on the actual struggle on the ground, which cannot be halted by administrative decrees.

Gaza Calling

Friday, December 07, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

From Lynne Stewart: A Call for Support for the San Francisco 8

From a Gray Panther's Report on the Developments (here):

"To capsulize the case “the state has accused 8 men, all with Black Panther, or other activist ties in the past, almost 40 years after the event. For all of them except Herman and Jalil, they have lived public lives for nearly all of that time. The crucial point, I believe, is that the state's proof consists of confessions made under torture which were disallowed as coerced and unreliable in legal proceedings in the 1970s. Now, with repression ever looming, they are resurrecting this case to feed the salacious police state, the racism that is flourishing unabated AND, most importantly, to legitimize torture on the home front. I am assuming your support of the San Francisco 8 and I am asking you to go one step further. We all know how to demonstrate and leaflet and hold events. This is a call from me to all of you, who are able, to act above and beyond by committing your Property and to stand as surety for this bail or to help with the expenses to secure property commitments from others.

"It is a tremendous advantage to be free on bail during trial. It enables one to live in a positive, healthy manner and to ORGANIZE. It communicates to the jury and the public that they have nothing to fear and should do absolute justice.

"I have spoken with members of the Defense Committee and I can assure you that there is virtually no risk involved. (Indeed, even the Judge so stated when he set the amounts). All of the 6 men have deep family and community roots. Your property will be pledged without any cost to you and minimal hassle. While smaller properties can be used and put together as a package, the Committee's best hope is for California progressives who invested wisely (!) back in the day to come forward. I can tell you that my husband, Ralph Poynter, has offered the equity ($100,000) in the country house and property he owns in upstate NY. As for me, as Judge Koeltl said at sentencing, I am "destitute"�­but only financially. I still have the energy and the will to try to organize, and yes, guilt trip everyone into taking a deep breath and doing something concrete, to demonstrate commitment.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Palestinian And Zionist Land Ownership Per District as of 1945

"As of 1947, Jews in Palestine owned UNDER 7% of the Palestine's lands, and after the 1948 war 80% of the Palestinian people were DISPOSSESSED of their homes, farms, and businesses. Scroll below for the source and tabular break down of land ownership."

From Palestinian Pundit

Christmas in Fallujah--Cass Dillon and Billy Joel

IOF Killed 32 Palestinians (including 2 children) in November

Text from this site:

GAZA, (PIC)-- The IOF troops killed last November 32 Palestinians including two children during air raids, incursions or assassinations, thus increasing the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of this year to 348 victims.

According to a statistical report issued by the Quds Press, the number of Palestinians killed during Israeli military escalations against the Gaza Strip has risen to 30 victims; whereas two were killed in the West Bank.

Another statistical report prepared by the international solidarity foundation for human rights said that the IOF troops escalated their kidnapping campaign against Palestinians last November, where they abducted more than 600 Palestinian citizens, including a number of MPs and members of municipal councils.

The Israeli kidnapping campaigns included more than 38 children and six women, in addition to more than 200 Palestinian workers at the pretext of entering the Palestinian lands occupied in 1948 without permits.

The foundation called on the IOA to be serious in dealing with the issue of Palestinian prisoners and to release immediately thousands of prisoners rather than releasing dozens in an attempt to embellish its image before the world.

It also called on the IOA to stop immediately its policy of daily arrests against the Palestinian people and to release hundreds of patients, women and children imprisoned in its jails.

The foundation called on the international community and organizations concerned with human rights and prisoners to shoulder their responsibilities in this regard and to pressure Israel to respect the conventions and treaties on the protection of civilians under occupation.

The Perfect Christmas Gift

Text from above site:

A nativity set with a difference - this year the wise men won't get to the stable.

The Campaigners Christmas gift:- poignant, ironic and made in Bethlehem.

Available in two sizes

£12.00- smaller version (featured)- 15 cm (long)x 9 cm(wide) x 9 cm(high). (There is an additional charge of £2.50 for postage and packing)

£50.00 - larger version - perfect for a church - complete with a detachable separation barrier that can be replaced by a more traditional stable. (There is an additional charge of £7.00 for postage and packing)

Order now before stocks disappear. Call 0207 588 2661 or e mail Sarah at the Amos office.