Sunday, August 30, 2009

Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu visit Israel's Annexation wall in Bil’in -- from Lorca Newsletter

On 27 August former US president Jimmy Carter, Mrs. Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa visited the site of the Apartheid Wall on the land of the village of Bil’in. The Carters and Archbishop Tutu came to Bil’in together with their colleagues from The 'Elders' delegation, former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Norwegian prime minister Gro Brundtland, former Irish president and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Indian human rights activist Ela Bhatt, and renowned businessmen Richard Branson and Jeff Skoll.

Pointing to the land on the other side of the Wall where the Occupation settlement of Modi’in Illit is being built, Carter said: “This is not Israel; this is Palestine and settlements must be removed from Palestinian land so that justice will be restored in the area.” Desmond Tutu encouraged the Palestinian activists: “Just as a simple man named Gandhi led the successful non-violent struggle in India and simple people such as Rosa Parks . . . led the struggle for civil rights in the United States, simple people here in Bil’in are leading a non-violent struggle that will bring them their freedom. The South Africa experience proves that injustice can be dismantled.”

The 'Elders' placed symbolic stones on the monument commemorating Bassem Abu Rahme, a non-violent activist who was shot dead on 17 April while attempting to speak to Israeli soldiers during a non-violent demonstration. (See video at http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/6185)

The Bil’in popular committee and their friends, including Luisa Morgantini, the former vice president of the European Parliament, and Israeli activists welcomed the delegation and invited them to participate in Bil’in’s annual conference for non-violent popular resistance. The delegation met Raja Abu Rahme, the daughter of Adib Abu Rahme, a leading peace activist from Bil’in. Adib was taken prisoner on 10 July during a non-violent demonstration and is being held in Ofer military prison (see: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/07/7652). Raja told them about her father’s arrest and about the night raid arrests that the Israeli military began in Bil’in on 23 June.

For almost five years the residents of Bil’in have been struggling against the annexation of more then 50% of their farmland. The village has become an international symbol of the Palestinian popular struggle against Israel's apartheid Wall. In a celebrated decision, the Israeli Supreme court ruled on 4 September 2007 the present route of the wall in Bil’in illegal. The ruling has not been implemented.

Operation Cast Lead Like "Burning Up Ants" with a Magnifying Glass -- by Frida Berrigan

Part of story below; whole thing here: http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=35264
“You feel like a child playing around with a magnifying glass, burning up ants.” That is how one Israeli soldier described Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defense Force’s (IDF) invasion of the Gaza Strip, which began in December 2008.

His is one of 54 testimonies collected by the Israeli organization Breaking the Silence in a 110-page report that paints a disturbing picture of urban warfare in one of the world’s most densely populated areas, where more than 1.5 million people occupy a narrow strip of land between Israel and the sea.

Another soldier, after recounting an incident in which his unit used civilians as human shields, described Gaza as a “moral twilight zone.”

It is an apt term for Gaza’s wholesale destruction: homes demolished by Caterpillar D9 bulldozers (manufactured in the United States and armored by Israeli Military Industries) and set afire by white phosphorus canisters (made by Pine Bluff Arsenal, a U.S. Army installation in Pine Bluff, Ark.). Save the Children, a U.K.-based NGO, estimated that more than 500,000 people were displaced during the war, and, a month after the ceasefire, 100,000 remained homeless. The Palestinian Economic Development Council puts a $1.9-billion price tag on rebuilding from the 22-day war. It noted that even under ideal circumstances the work could take five years.

The term also applies to the civilians killed: children cut down while playing, women and men killed as they tried to carry on their normal lives. Civilians were targeted by Cobra helicopters armed with high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) missiles (both made by Lockheed Martin), blasted by Strike missiles shot from Hermes drones (designed and manufactured in Israel) and caught in the crossfire as groups of soldiers advanced on firing militants. Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, says that of the 1,434 Palestinians killed in Gaza, 960 were civilians, including 121 women and 288 children.


Arms and dollars for the ‘moral twilight zone’

Israel—the largest recipient of U.S. military aid—has one of the most sophisticated and extensive military arsenals in the region. U.S.-origin weapons predominate and are an emblem of Washington’s close relationship with Tel Aviv. During George W. Bush’s presidency, Israel received more than $22 billion in military assistance from the United States. The bulk of this was in Foreign Military Financing (FMF), which are U.S. grants for weapons purchases. Now, FMF is on the rise. President Obama is following through on his predecessor’s promise to increase security assistance to $30 billion over the next 10 years.

In a review of the Gaza war published in February 2009, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service listed U.S. weapons platforms used in Operation Cast Lead, including “F-15 and F-16 aircraft [and] Apache helicopters.” Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) list of the U.S. systems deployed by Israel is far more extensive, including Cobra helicopters and American-made High-Explosive, Dual-Purpose rockets and HEAT missiles.

In addition to these systems, human rights groups found evidence of Israel’s use of a wide array of controversial, experimental weapons systems.


White phosphorus

“Why fire phosphorus?” “Because it’s fun. Cool.“—Israeli soldier, to Breaking the Silence.

White phosphorus is designed to obscure the battlefield, increasing freedom of movement for the user. It can also be used as a weapon. The U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine notes that white phosphorous is “spontaneously flammable” and an “extremely toxic inorganic substance.” In Gaza, it was used to devastating effect used to burn down buildings. As one Israeli soldier told Breaking the Silence, “phosphorus was used as an igniter, simply to make it all go up in flames.”

One woman interviewed by HRW described what happened after she was hit by burning white phosphorus: “It burnt a hole and melted everything,” she said, pointing to her bandaged arm. The phosphorus ignites and burns on contact with oxygen, and continues burning until nothing is left or the oxygen supply is cut. According to medical personnel, the wounds sometimes began to burn again as they cleaned them.

In late January 2009, an Amnesty International investigation “found white phosphorus still smoldering in residential areas throughout Gaza days after the ceasefire came into effect on 18 January.” In the bombed courtyard of the Gaza headquarters of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, researchers found fragments of white phosphorus artillery shells and note that the “attack had caused a large fire, which destroyed tens of tons of humanitarian aid, including medicines, food and other non-food items.”


Deadly drones

Unlike much of Israeli military hardware, the Hermes and Heron drones are manufactured domestically, and both were used in Operation Cast Lead. In a joint assessment of Israeli drone attacks, B’Tselem, the Palestine Centre for Human Rights and Al Meza Centre for Human Rights found that Israel carried out 42 drone attacks in which 87 civilians were killed during the war.

Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst with HRW, describes how precise and discriminate the drones can be: “Drone operators can clearly see their targets on the ground and also divert their missiles after launch.” In a study of six specific IDF drone attacks during Operation Cast Lead, HRW found that 29 civilians were killed, including 8 children. According to their study, 5 of the 6 attacks were carried out in broad daylight, all of them in civilian areas far from the fighting and in “unlikely sites for launching rockets into Israel.” Given the drones’ high degree of precision, HRW asserts that “these attacks violated international humanitarian law.”


New weapons testing

Human rights investigators, journalists and humanitarian workers were all barred from Gaza during the fighting, fueling confusion and speculation about what kinds of weapons systems were being used.

Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor who worked in a Gaza hospital during the war, told “Democracy Now!” that “we have seen a substantial number of amputations where the amputees do not have shrapnel injuries. On the contrary, they have torn apart their legs, often one or two or even three limbs.” These injuries—new, terrible and seemingly shrapnel-free—have led to the hypothesis that Israel has been using what are known as Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME), a type of weapon that is still in testing phase in the United States.

“It is highly likely that Israel has developed its own version of DIME,” writes journalist David Hambling on the national security blog Danger Room. The “Iron Fist” interceptor, unveiled by the Israeli military in 2006, works in a way that is consistent with DIME technology. As Hambling writes in the online magazine Defense Update, the Iron Fist “uses only the blast effect to defeat the threat, crushing the soft components of a shaped charge or deflecting and destabilizing the missile or kinetic rod in their flight.”

Amnesty International researcher Donatella Rovera surveyed the damage wrought by these weapons and concluded, “The kinds of weapons used and the manner in which they were used indicates prima facie evidence of war crimes.”

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Michael Jackson -- They Don't Really Care About Us -- Palestine



from Mumia Abu Jamal's Essay on Michael Jackson here -- many more versions: http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=57441&s2=30

Russell Means Statement on Leonard Peltier Parole Denial

Leonard Peltier given Death Sentence by the American Government and its People

Everything about Leonard Peltier's case stinks of complete racism. No one including his lawyers argue this in court. Even Amnesty International is racist in not labeling him as a political prisoner.

Leonard Peltier personifies the endemic hatred the United States and its People exhibit on a daily basis against American Indian people on reservations and in society as a whole. There are two examples; the Bower case a white man, and a Croatian, Zvonko Buzic who was convicted of murdering 2 police agents, who escaped and was an exemplary prisoner identical to Leonard Peltier. He was released last summer 2008 after serving his mandatory sentence.

In all fairness, using the above as an example Leonard Peltier should have been released last February. This is further proof Leonard Peltier is a political prisoner. If all of the sell out tribal government puppets of the United States had any self dignity and self pride they would continually be up in arms over this blatant exhibition of hatred for the American Indian.

Russell Means, Chief Facilitator
Republic of Lakotah Provisional Government

http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/RUSSELL_MEANS_Statement_On_Parole_Denial.htm

Non-violent Action in Gaza -- Sameh Habeeb & Ayman Quader

Part of article below; whole thing at link:

http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=57419&s2=29

August 28 , 2009

If you are a young Gazan, how do you react to siege, blockade and war? It's time to hear about the struggle to be constructive in the midst of so much hatred and destruction, and to ask how long it can survive.

The Gaza Strip has lost 1,400 lives and a further 5,000, mostly civilians, have been maimed and wounded in the latest attack waged by the Israeli government. This came on top of an illegal, yet relentless siege that has dragged on and on for over two years, preventing 1.5 million Gazans from having access to the basic necessities of life, and to the wider world. You might well ask how young people respond to this blockade. Some of course resort to violence. But others have chosen a different tack.

The right to resist derives from the basic values of justice and freedom. It is not confined to the use of force. Millions of people in this world believe in solving conflicts through peaceful means, without shedding blood and causing more hatred. One day this noble struggle could even replace the violence used by humanity against their fellow human beings. Rockets, guns, tanks - as decisive as they are today - have little to say to the wider cultural struggle for a civilised existence.

The first 'Intifada' uprising was a Palestinian show-case for a unique kind of resistance in which heavily armed Israeli soldiers were confronted by children with stones. That intifada mutated through several phases before it helped us to secure the Oslo agreement in 1993. More and more Palestinians nowadays are revisiting a non-violent resistance that has emerged from their history if only because it has been so dogged by violent conflict and by war.

In the West Bank, the International Solidarity Movement inspired a non-violent movement of resistance in which locals only became involved when Israel started to build the annexation wall. The people of the Gaza Strip started their movement with a different sort of retaliation, this time against the blanket of silence which was the first stage of Israel's siege. Our response was 'voices instead of bullets'. In the Gaza Strip, by mid-2007 we were engaged in numerous actions which drew international activist attention in our direction for the first time.

Sameh Habeeb, who was coordinator for the Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS) when Israel closed down all the border points, cut the electricity dead and with-held all fuel supply, remembers that moment as a turning-point:

"At first, there was just a stunned reaction of helplessness. We all rushed around wringing our hands about what could be done. We were entering an extremely challenging phase in which the question was: how to involve a wider public in our activities? Gazans are notorious for their loyalties and their endless capacity for confrontation. We thought we were in for a very difficult time indeed. But it turned out to be easy.

We realized that it was precisely at that moment, so in need of a clear way forward, that we must bring people onto the streets. We issued a call throughout Gaza to everyone who would listen. It took almost 5 days before any media outlets paid any attention to what we were saying. Then it started. Even the Israeli media were calling us to ask what was going to happen next. The Israeli government called on thousands of reserve soldiers who were promptly deployed along the borders with Gaza. We had promised some kind of action on a specific day - and as the day loomed, the Israeli media carried reports speculating on what might occur. Some predicted that tens of thousands of us would break through the borders with Israel."

The action day arrived and began early with massive media coverage from our side: 'Human chain to challenge the siege.' Literally tens of thousands of people of all ages did indeed respond: schoolchildren, university students, labourers, women and children and many ordinary people hurried to the Salah El Din. The chain stretched from Rafah to Beit Hanoun and was around 36 kilometers long. The people went to the borders without guns in the manner of Ghandi to make a united protest. However, accorind to Al Jazeera, clashes erupted between youths and the soldiers who fired at them.

Since that memorable day, Jamal El Khoudary, chair of PCAS has launched numerous symbolic activities to end the siege. "Our approach to struggle has many means at its disposal. This is why Palestinian factions, political parties and individuals across the board participate in our actions. Through non-violent actions, we have been able to move the mainstream. However, you have to face the fact that you are always, at any minute, liable to be fired on." This is the price we have to pay to call attention to what is happening to us.

Palestinian MPs and Cabinet Members STILL in Israeli Jails Years After Illegal Abduction

from Palestine Think Tank: http://palestinethinktank.com/2009/08/28/palestinian-mps-and-cabinet-members-still-in-israeli-jails-after-illegal-abduction/
Israel has many thousands of Palestinian political prisoners locked up in their jails. Men, women, even children are deprived of their freedom and forced to live in a cage precisely because of their love of justice and freedom. Among these prisoners are 21 Palestinian Members of Parliament (Palestinian Legislative Council) and 8 Cabinet Ministers. Shocking but true, these people are still locked away in prison cells three years after their night-time abduction as if they were criminals! In what country would this be condoned or permitted? The international community exhibits a deafening silence, but let's not forget these men and women who lost their liberty because their people voted them into office against the desires of Israel. We have to keep these prisoners in the public eye, let them know they are not abandoned and that their freedom will come. Let's sign the endorsement letter of the campaign and especially, add their plight to our campaigning work so that the world is aware that Israel abducts Parliament members of another government, jails them and keeps the world silent about it.

From the International Campaign for Releasing Abducted Members of Parliament (Free PLC) site:

Three years have passed since PLC members were abducted by Israeli occupation forces before the eyes and the hearing of the world in a dangerous precedent as a political crime and in atrocious violation of the principles of international law and Geneva Fourth Convention, besides trespassing the rules of democracy and principles of respecting the people's wills.

Israeli occupation insists on violating the dignity of democracy and even trying it through its persistence in abducting the MPs and prosecuting them and going too far in extending their unlawful imprisonment after its end with the aim of keeping them behind the prison bars during all the parliamentary term.

Out of our care for peace among people, our respect for their will to choose their representatives and for consolidating the rules of the free democratic and parliament action, our decisive rejection of the abducting and trying of MPs which has been a trial of democracy and abducing of its consequences, our awareness of the fact that the place of those abducted MPs in not jail but their parliamentary seats for which the Palestinian people have chosen them through the ballot boxes, we have decided to conduct the International campaign for freeing the abducted MPs in continuation of efforts exerted in defense of this cause and to unite the abilities of the parliamentarians and freemen of the world so as to ensure the dawn of freedom for the abducted MPs.

In this campaign we are keen on sending the following telegrams:

First: our decisive rejection of the Israeli piracy and harsh intervention in the internal Palestinian affairs and the incessant attempts to change the Palestinian political map through the abducting of MPs and blowing up the democratic choice.

Second: the necessity of the World Community's movement to protect human values and democratic morals and confront Israeli violation of International conventions and agreements.

Third: inviting all parliamentarians and free personalities of the world to join the international campaign for freeing the abducted MPs and bear their responsibility in defending democracy and to form a world public opinion pressing for releasing the PLC members and incriminating this serious Israeli policy.

Document of liberty

The International campaign for freeing kidnapped members of parliament

"A political crime and Fettered Democracy"

Out of our desire to see peace prevailing all over the world, our keenness to have mutual respect among all the peoples of the Earth and our observance of the results of the democratic process and the peaceful exchange of authority, we declare our rejection of kidnapping of the elected Palestinian members of parliament which has been a dangerous precedent and an atrocious violation of international laws and conventions.

We warn that this silence towards such crime means directing a deathblow to democracy, social peace and world peace, it means a threat to stability in the world and empowering the law of the jungle which trespasses civilized development and modern human regulations.

We hereby call on the world community the human rights organizations and all those who are able to practice pressure an the Israeli occupation to act seriously and effectively for the prompt release of the symbols of Palestinian legitimacy, the members of parliament.

And jointly let us act for the freeing of Palestinian members of parliament kidnapped in the prison of Israeli occupation.

http://www.freeplc.org/ (in English and Arabic)
http://www.freeplc.org/en/home.php?page=c2hvd1RocmVhZA==&id=NA==&type=Zml4ZWQ=

SIGN THE SUPPORT DOCUMENT: http://www.freeplc.org/en/home.php?page=Z3Vlc3RCb29r

See also: for background http://www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=10670&CategoryId=2

Bil'in invaded 29/08/2009 by Haitham al Katib


Around 3:30 am, the Israeli occupation forces invaded Bil'in once again arresting 2 Palestinians.

Two houses were raided simultaneously by at least 40 soldiers. In the first house, Ashraf Mohammad Jamal Tofik Al-Khatib (age 29) was arrested. In the second house, they arrested Hamru Hisham Bornat (age 33).

Friday, August 28, 2009

US Copter Opens Fire on Afghan Medical Clinic -- Antiwar.com

http://news.antiwar.com/2009/08/27/us-copter-opens-fire-on-afghan-medical-clinic/


US and Afghan forces, backed by a US Apache helicopter attacked a medical clinic in the Paktika Province of Afghanistan yesterday after receiving reports that a wounded Taliban commander had “sought treatment” at the facility.

The attack sparked a gunbattle which according to provincial officials left at least 12 militants and two policemen killed. The US denied that anyone had died in the attack but claimed to have injured their target, though since he was already injured in the first place it’s probably hard to be sure about that.

The US defended the attack on the clinic, insisting that it had ensured the building was cleared of civilians before the helicopter began firing and that since the clinic was occupied by Taliban it lost “its protected status” as a civilian location.

The Pakitika Province borders Pakistan’s Waziristan Agencies, and is no stranger to major clashes. Attacking a medical clinic, however, particularly when health care is in such short supply in rural Afghanistan, is likely to fuel resentment among locals. Likewise, the attack on a relatively minor Taliban commander when he was already injured and seeking medical treatment is probably going to raise further suspicions as the Afghan government continues to talk about reconciliation.

Save Gaza Vigil -- Westlake Park -- Noon -2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29th

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10737.shtml


What: Save Gaza Vigil

When: Saturday August 29, noon-2pm

Where: Westlake Park on 4th & Pine


VoicesOfPalestine.org
http://www.voicesofpalestine.org
"Do you think you have seen it all?" Click here http://www.voicesofpalestine.org/showme.asp?dif=2&alb=aqsaint&title=Al-Aqsa+Intifadah&start_at=407

Monday, August 24, 2009

Obama Giving Birth to HUGE Insurance Company Profits; Not Healthcare









Portion of Chris Hedges article below; whole thing here:
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090823_this_isnt_reform_its_robbery/

Percentage change since 2002 in average premiums paid to large US health-insurance companies: +87%

Percentage change in the profits of the top ten insurance companies: +428%

Chances that an American bankrupted by medical bills has health insurance: 7 in 10

—Harper’s Index, September 2009

Capitalists, as my friend Father Michael Doyle says, should never be allowed near a health care system. They hold sick children hostage as they force parents to bankrupt themselves in the desperate scramble to pay for medical care. The sick do not have a choice. Medical care is not a consumable good. We can choose to buy a used car or a new car, shop at a boutique or a thrift store, but there is no choice between illness and health. And any debate about health care must acknowledge that the for-profit health care industry is the problem and must be destroyed. This is an industry that hires doctors and analysts to deny care to patients in order to increase profits. It is an industry that causes half of all bankruptcies. And the 20,000 Americans who died last year because they did not receive adequate care condemn these corporations as complicit in murder.

The current health care debate in Congress has nothing to do with death panels or public options or socialized medicine. The real debate, the only one that counts, is how much money our blood-sucking insurance, pharmaceutical and for-profit health services are going to be able to siphon off from new health care legislation. The proposed plans rattling around Congress all ensure that the profits for these corporations will increase and the misery for ordinary Americans will be compounded. The corporate state, enabled by both Democrats and Republicans, is yet again cannibalizing the Treasury. It is yet again pushing Americans, especially the poor and the working class, into levels of despair and rage that will continue to fuel the violent, proto-fascist movements leaping up around the edges of American society. And the traditional watchdogs—those in public office, the press and citizens groups—are as useless as the perfumed fops of another era who busied their days with court intrigue at Versailles. Canada never looked so good.

The Democrats are collaborating with lobbyists for the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry and for-profit health care providers to craft the current health care reform legislation. “Corporate and industry players are inside the tent this time,” says David Merritt, project director at Newt Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation, “so there is a vacuum on the outside.” And these lobbyists have already killed a viable public option and made sure nothing in the bills will impede their growing profits and capacity for abuse.

“It will basically be a government law that says you have to buy their defective product,” says Dr. David Himmelstein, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a founder of Physicians for a National Health Plan. “Next the government will tell us a Pinto in every garage, a lead-coated toy to every child and melamine-laced puppy chow for every dog.”

“Health insurance is not a race to the top; it is a race to the bottom,” he told me from Cambridge, Mass. “The way you make money is by abusing people. And if a public-option plan is not ready and willing to abuse patients it is stuck with the expensive patients. The premiums will go up until it is noncompetitive. The conditions that have now been set for the plans include a hobbled public option. Under the best-case scenario there will be tens of millions [who] will remain uninsured at the outset, and the number will climb as more and more people are priced out of the insurance market.”

The inclusion of these corporations in the crafting of health care legislation has not stopped figures like Rick Scott, the former head of the Columbia/HCA health care company, from attempting to sabotage any plan. Scott’s company was forced to pay a $1.7 billion fraud settlement—the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history—for stealing hundreds of millions from taxpayers by overbilling for medical care. Scott, who made his money primarily from Medicare, is now saturating the airwaves in a reputed $20 million ad campaign that is stoking the anger and fear of many Americans. His ads are coordinated by CRC Public Relations, the group that masterminded the “Swift boat” attacks against 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

“They are using our money to campaign against us,” Dr. Himmelstein told me. “The money for these commercials came from health care interests that collect fees from American patients. We experienced this before in Massachusetts. We ran a ballot initiative for universal health care in 2000 and the insurance industry spent $5 million on it, including the insurance company I am insured by. They used my premiums to smear an idea that 70 percent in Massachusetts, according to polls, favored before this smear campaign. Universal health care was narrowly defeated.”

The bills now in Congress will, at best, impose on the country the failed model in Massachusetts. That model will demand that Americans buy health insurance from private insurers. There will be some subsidies for the very poor but not for anyone above a modest income. Insurers will be allowed to continue to jack up premiums, including for the elderly. The bankruptcies due to medical bills and swelling premiums will mount along with rising deductibles and co-payments. Health care will be beyond the reach of many families. In Massachusetts one in six people who have mandated insurance still say they cannot afford care, and 30,000 people were evicted from the state program this month because of budget cuts. Expect the same debacle nationwide.

“For someone my age who is making $40,000 a year you are required to lay out $5,000 for an insurance premium for coverage that covers nothing until you have spent $2,000 out of pocket,” Himmelstein said. “You are $7,000 out of pocket before you have any coverage at all. For most people that means you are already bankrupt before you have insurance. If anything, that has made them worse off. Instead of having that $5,000 to cover some of their medical expenses they have laid it out in premiums.”

The U.S. spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care—$7,129 per capita—although 45.7 million Americans remain without health coverage and millions more are inadequately covered. There are 14,000 Americans a day now losing their health coverage. A report in the journal Health Affairs estimates that, if the system is left unchanged, one of every five dollars spent by Americans in 2017 will go to health coverage. Private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume one-third, 31 percent, of every health care dollar. Streamlining payment through a single nonprofit payer would save more than $400 billion per year, enough, Physicians for a National Health Plan points out, to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans. But the proposed America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (H.R. 3200 in the House) will, rather than cut costs, add an estimated $239 billion over 10 years to the federal deficit. This is very good for the corporations. It is very bad for us.


Maher Zain - Palestine Will Be Free فلسطين سوف تحرر

Israelis Restrict Palestinian Water Supply -- The Real News Network Reports



World bank report: Israelis have access to four times as much water as Palestinians due to restrictions

Palestine: Stolen Homeland -- 8/22/09 at Westlake Park









Palestine: Stolen Homeland
Display and Vigil at Westlake




Palestine Solidarity Activist from Japan Delighted to Come Across Stolen Homeland Display -- Hello, Kumiko!


Many educational discussions took place during our display from noon to 4 p.m. on Aug. 22nd


Cardboard Theater Puppet Troupe Had Two Super Showings of
Their Entertaining and Informative Play About Palestine "State of Emergency or No Problem"







Saturday, August 22, 2009

"The First Israeli Jew in Fatah’s Parliament" -- Jonathan Cook

http://www.jkcook.net/Articles3/0415.htm#Top

If a single person deserves the title of serial thorn in the side of the Israeli state, Uri Davis, a professor of critical Israel studies at al Quds University on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, might be the one to claim it.

The crowning moment for Dr Davis arrived last weekend when he became the first Israeli Jew to be elected to one of Fatah’s governing bodies, the Revolutionary Council.

It is a public relations breakthrough for Fatah – which held its sixth congress last week, this time under occupation in the West Bank city of Bethlehem – in which Dr Davis clearly takes some pride.

His presence on the 120-member council, sometimes referred to as the Palestinian parliament, is unlikely to make a significant difference to Fatah’s policies, which will continue to be largely dictated by Mahmoud Abbas, the president, and his inner circle. But it does have huge symbolic significance.

His polling in the 31st place for one of 80 seats contested by more than 600 Fatah members, he said in an interview, challenged Israel’s suggestion that the Palestinian people and its leaders regard the Jews as their enemies.

Or as one local Palestinian pundit noted of the vote’s message: "It is not Judaism that Palestinians are fighting, it is Zionism."

It also finally puts Dr Davis in a position from which he hopes to shake up the complacency that has bedeviled the Fatah leadership and the PLO in their neglect of supporters outside the Palestinian fold.

"In my view [Fatah] is conducting a struggle with one hand tied behind its back," he said, sipping Arabic coffee in the garden of St George’s cathedral in East Jerusalem.

"The PLO represents a democratic alternative for all, including the current colonizer people, the current perpetrator of war crimes and crimes against humanity," he said in reference to Israel and its Jewish population. "In the 25 years since my joining the Fatah and PLO, this message has been marginalized. The mainstream went another direction, the Oslo accords direction."

He is loath to discuss the current tensions between Fatah and Hamas, claiming it is "not my area of competence." However, he denounces Hamas for fanning the threat of civil war.

His chief task, he said, will be to push Fatah to become a broad-based resistance movement modeling itself on the African National Congress, which brought down apartheid in South Africa.

The reference to South Africa is not unexpected. Dr Davis started describing Israel as an apartheid state in the early 1980s, long before it had become fashionable even on the far left.

His most recent book is Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within, published in 2003, in which he argues that discrimination against Palestinians is embedded in Israeli law and sets out what he regards as the four classes of citizenship established by Israel’s parliament.

The country’s six million Jews, he said, occupied the most privileged place in this hierarchy, followed by the country’s 1m-strong Palestinian minority with its second-class citizenship. Lagging behind both are a quarter of a million refugees living inside Israel, who are stripped of their right to inherit property, and in final place come a further 5m refugees who had their and their descendants’ citizenship nullified after the 1948 war.

Over the years, Dr Davis has experienced life in each of these categories.

He was raised an Ashkenazi Jew in Jerusalem and schooled in Kfar Shemaryahu, a wealthy suburb of Tel Aviv. He then spent a decade in exile from Israel starting in 1984, after his recruitment to Fatah by one of the founders of the PLO, Khalil al Wazir, known as Abu Jihad.

He ran the party’s London bureau until the mid-1990s, when he was allowed to return under the Oslo accords. He surprised friends by choosing to move to Sakhnin, a Palestinian community in northern Israel, from which he led a campaign against laws and practices that force Jewish and Palestinian citizens to live almost entirely apart.

He is more circumspect about discussing his current circumstances. His marriage to a Palestinian woman from Ramallah a year ago, his fourth, violated yet another Israeli taboo.

Before the ceremony he converted to Islam, though he continues to describe himself as a "Palestinian Hebrew of Jewish origin."

While he admits to no longer living in Israel, he is wary of saying more, possibly for good reason: it is against Israeli law for an Israeli citizen to be living in an area under the Palestinian Authority control. Equally, his wife, Miyassar, has been denied a permit to live in Israel, as is the case for almost all Palestinians in the occupied territories. A perfect illustration of the apartheid nature of the Israeli state, he said.

The plight of the Palestinians under occupation has come into much sharper focus since his marriage.

Last month, he had to watch the indignities heaped on his wife after her brother, suffering from cancer, was transferred to a hospital in East Jerusalem, which is illegally annexed to Israel. She was denied a visitor’s permit and could only hear about her brother’s slow demise from Dr Davis and friends.

"This situation is not unique to my family, of course. It is part of the cruelty perpetrated by the occupation authorities against the mass of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza."

Dr Davis has yet to find out how Israel will respond to his regular attendance at Revolutionary Council meetings in Ramallah.

He said his election had been greeted with an outpouring of support both internationally and from the broader Jewish community that has surprised him. The main hostility has come during interviews with the Israeli media, which have taken offence at "my language referring to Israel as an apartheid state, to Zionism as a settler colonial project, to the criminality of the Israeli leadership."

His unpopularity among the majority of Israeli Jews is likely to grow as he uses his new platform at the Revolutionary Council to push for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

The ultimate goal, he said, was the enforcement of United Nations resolutions that would in practice bring about a one-state solution.

Dr Davis concluded the interview with a story about the defining moment in his disillusionment with Israel and Zionism. He was doing alternative civilian service in the early 1960s guarding the perimeter fence of a kibbutz, one of Israel’s collective agricultural communities, on the edge of Gaza. As a pacifist at that time, he refused to carry a gun.

After one of many shouting matches, an exasperated kibbutz member led him into a eucalyptus grove inside the fence and pointed to piles of stones. "Those aren’t stones, they’re the ruins of a village called Dimra. Our kibbutz is cultivating the lands of Dimra," he told the teenage Davis. "The families are refugees on the other side of this fence [in Gaza]. Now do you understand why all the Arabs must hate Jews and want to throw us into the sea?"

Dr Davis says he understood better the look he was shot by the man when he replied that the kibbutz members should invite the refugees back to share the agricultural land.

That way, the young Davis suggeste

d, the kibbutz could "turn an enemy into a friend."

Palestine: Stolen Homeland -- Display/Vigil Today at Westlake 12-4 pm

PALESTINE: STOLEN HOMELAND

An outdoor installation/display will cover Westlake Plaza, visually suggesting both a refugee camp of tents and a cemetery for the 500 Palestinian villages destroyed 1947-49. All the village names will be on the markers, along with references to other key events such as the massacres at Tantura and Deir Yassin, the recent assault on Gaza, and the ongoing settlement movement and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian territory.

Some of the tents will also remember other refugee populations: refugees from Iraq, homeless people in Seattle, Native Americans who have been displaced inside the US. This August is also the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and the Nakba display will remember the evacuees from New Orleans, many of whom are dispersed around the country still waiting to return home.

This Saturday will also have some onsite performances, including STATE OF EMERGENCY OR NO PROBLEM, a puppet show about Occupations overseas and (if we're not careful) at home. The forty-minute puppet show will perform at 12:30 and 3:00 pm

SATURDAY AUGUST 22
12-4 pm
Westlake Plaza, 4th & Pine

STATE OF EMERGENCY or NO PROBLEM at 12:30 and 3:00 pm





###


Amin Odeh
VoicesofPalestine.org
"Stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone"

Friday, August 21, 2009

Leonard Peltier Denied Parole

"When you begin a great work you can't expect to finish it all at
once; therefore, you and your brothers [and sisters] press on and
let nothing discourage you until you have entirely finished what
you have begun."--Teedyuschung, Delaware

News from North Dakota, today, is that Leonard Peltier's parole has
been denied. He won't receive another full parole hearing until
2024, at the age of 79 years.

As sad as we all are, we are steadfast, undefeated. We will not
go away. We will not be quiet.

Take a moment to reflect. Just a moment. But then put your
disappointment behind you. Gather your strength. There's much
work to be done.

* Action Item 1: Contact the Attorney General *

On June 23, 1995, Amnesty International submitted a letter of concern
about the Peltier case to the then U.S. Attorney General. There
was no response. Write to Eric Holder, Attorney General. Ask him
to conduct an executive review of the case and to finally right
the wrongs of the past. Tell him it's never too late to find the
truth. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Eric A. Holder, Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Or call the Office of the Attorney General at 202-353-1555.

And while you're at it, ask Mr. Holder why more than 140,000
documents from a 30+-year-old case are still being withheld by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation. Tell him America has a right to
know what occurred over 30 years ago and demand the release of all
documents related to the Peltier case.

* Action Item 2: Contact Members of Congress *

Use all the resources at your disposal to contact your Members of
Congress and continue urging them to support freedom for Leonard
Peltier. That support should be formally expressed in correspondence
to President Obama.

Also demand a full congressional investigation into the Reign of
Terror on the Pine Ridge Reservation during the '70s. It's long
past time for the truth to be told. See:

<http://www.FreePeltierNow.org/call.htm>
<http://www.FreePeltierNow.org/write.htm>

Do you use Twitter? Try using this service to quickly and easily
reach your Members of Congress: <http://tcxs.net/>.

You also can sign the petition:

<http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Pine_Ridge/>.

Congress will not be in session for most of August. This is a good
time to meet with your Members of Congress in their home offices.
Make the appointment now. You can find locations, telephone numbers,
etc., via our congressional directory:

<http://www.FreePeltierNow.org/congressmaster.htm>.

* Action Item 3: Call the White House *

Call the White House comment line to express your outrage at the
outcome of the parole hearing. Demand that President Obama free
Peltier now. Call:

(202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1112.

You also can send an e-mail to the White House. Go to
<http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/>.

If you prefer, mail or fax a letter:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Fax - (202) 456-2461

Better yet... Do all three.

-----



Time to set him free... Because it is the RIGHT thing to do.

Friends of Peltier
http://www.FreePeltierNow.org
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

In Aftermath of Bil'in Childrens' March, Organizer Kidnapped






Israeli soldiers detain Abu Rahmeh -
Photo courtesy of Friends of Freedom and Justice Bil`in

http://atheonews.blogspot.com/2009/08/israeli-forces-invade-bilin-detain.html
20/08/2009

Ramallah – Ma’an – The Israeli forces raided the village of Bil’in and seized Vice President of the Village Council and member of the Popular Committee against the Wall, 48-year-old Muhammad Ibrahim Abu Rahmeh on Thursday morning.


An infantry division stormed the man’s house only hours after a children’s demonstration walked toward soldiers guarding the separation barrier which weekly protests target, and chanted to soldiers, “We want to sleep," "Stop the night raids."

Abu Rahmeh’s home was invaded shortly before 2am, ending with his arrest. His son 14-year-old son Nashmi Mohammed Ibrahim Abu Rahmeh was arrested on 15 August.

According to reports from the popular committee, about 25 soldiers with painted faces entered the village, and threw sound bombs at international activists who have remained in the village to witness the night raids. Internationals attempted to intervene and demand Abu Rahmeh’s release, but were physically assaulted as they approached. Reports said soldiers knocked one woman to the ground and pulled the hair of another.

A Palestinian cameraman’s equipment was destroyed, as he attempted to document the scene. Forces withdrew through empty fields with Abu Rahme, to jeeps waiting near the barrier.

European Children Showing Solidarity with the Children of Palestine



On a roll with the brilliant kids of Palestine and Europe (see Bil'in kids in post below this one)!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Children's Demo Bilin 19.08.09 by Haitham al Katib



Many of the children are yelling "We want to sleep" because the IDF has been raiding houses of activists and taking away adults and children.

They just arrested a 15 year old for being there.

Voice from Gaza

http:click here to read rest of story:

//peaceforgaza.blogspot.com/2009/08/i-live-in-tent-with-no-privacy.html

I live in a tent, with no privacy


And every time, she tries to understand what happened to her, she asks herself : what was my fault?, what’s going to happen to me in my tent?

Ilham, 30 years old, a mother of 6 , she lives in Al-atatra district , in the northern part of the Gaza strip. The Israeli war had a huge impact on her, it actually destroyed her house, her parent’s house and killed her brother.

Ilham and her family spent 25 days in one of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s schools (UNRWA), to take shelter from phosphorous missiles of death that was chasing all the population of the strip. She was saying: "Israeli armed forces bombarded our house with many missiles, destroyed its walls, set fire in its rooms, and spread darkness all around us (she meant the missiles fumes), to a point that we couldn’t breathe anymore… and after hours, during which we were facing death, the ambulance transported us to the hospital.

We moved to ASMA’A GAZA AL JADIDA school, looking for some security, since

We were fifty persons from different families, sleeping in the same room : men, women and children, I haven’t felt safe at all. I couldn’t close my eyes during the war and during all the period that we spent in the school, not mentioning the horrific sounds of the missiles and the rockets surrounding us from everywhere.

I’ve worn the niqab for several years, but when I found myself in the school with fifty other persons, most of them were men, in a room that didn’t exceed sixteen meters of surface, it forced me to abandon it. I lost my freedom during the war and even after it.

Jewish Mom Realizes Zionist Upbringing Wrong



Thanks, Mai!

"Where to Begin Rebutting the Afghan Blather?" -- Christopher Dowd

End of article below; whole thing here: http://original.antiwar.com/christopher-dowd/2009/08/18/where-to-begin-rebutting/

But you know what? No one cares. Our Beltway elite barely even try to justify these elective wars with coherent rationales anymore. In fact, Obama could have gotten up on that stage yesterday and justified the Afghan war as the latest front in the war on drugs (which is now a sub-justification) and no one would have cared. Not one major politician would say boo about it. They don’t care enough anymore about our opinion on these wars to treat our intelligence with respect. They know that these wars are going to go on no matter what Americans think and no matter which vetted mannequin of the two-party fraud occupies the White House. No matter what imbecilic justifications they advance for these wars, the wars will continue until the last nickel can be made from them.

I’ve seen some commentary lately about how the Afghan war is not winnable. These columns miss the point. D.C. doesn’t care about "winning." It has no definition of winning quite on purpose. The war in Afghanistan is a war for war’s sake.

What the Imperial City on the Potomac wants is a long, low-burning conflict with tolerably low casualties and extremely high overhead. It will end only when Americans are pushed to the precipice of real economic hardship and their two-party system is in genuine jeopardy. Only then will the Empire declare victory and come home. And after a decade of holding a huge pity party for ourselves, in which we file into movie theaters to watch film after film showing how Americans were actually the victims of the weakling nations we destroyed on the other side of the globe, D.C. will plot the next round of wars against the next batch of "madmen" ruling over distant, impoverished countries that are absolutely no threat to us at all. My guess is that it will be the "Bantu threat" in 25 years. And, yeah, we will fall for even that.

from Linda: Which is why it is GREAT that Cindy Sheehan is going to Martha's Vinyard to confront Obama on his vacation. Go to http://www.cindysheehanssoapbox.com/ to find out and help Cindy's quest.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Seattle Boycott of Idan Raichel Project -- Ambassador for Israel




A description of the first night (we were there for the Tuesday show also -- pics are from Tuesday) from one of the organizers/participants:
The Idan Raichel Project protest last night turned out to be interesting in a somewhat unexpected ways. I will try and summarize that evening briefly.
First, even though our local (Seattle) Palestine activism listserv is infiltrated, with some recipients on it who clearly have signed on just to find out what we’re up to, and bring on the haters to our events, this time, there were no counter-protesters.
The concert was scheduled to start at 7 p.m., this is in a venue (the Triple Door) which is not a concert hall, but a cozy restaurant with a stage, so we knew people would be trickling in early, to have a table/booth and drinks/appetizers before the performance. We were there at 5:45 p.m, handing out two different types of handbill, one specifically about the IRP (whitewashing Israeli war crimes), another about the situation in Gaza. There were quite a few of us, and I’d say we gave out the literature to most of the audience :-)
Shortly after we had gotten there, none other than Idan himself (with his bodyguard) came out to talk to us, because someone had told him there were protesters outside the venue. I immediately recognized him when I saw a small-ish young man with brown-not-black dreadlocks coming out and looking around, and I went straight to him and asked “Are you Idan,” he said “Yes, I was told there were protesters outside, so I would like to talk to you about what I do, who I am….”
We shook hands, I told him I appreciated his coming out to talk to us, and explained that we were protesting him as part of the boycott of Israeli “cultural ambassadors” who whitewash Israeli war crimes.
He responded with “Let me tell you about the Idan Raichel Project. We are a very large group, reaching about 85 musicians at times, some are Arab, others are ultra-right wing Zionists, and we are not political, we are strictly about Israeli culture, I want to present my culture, Israeli culture, and I steer away from politics.”
I told him that, from my readings about him, he wants to project Israeli culture as a culture of tolerance and multiculturalism, and he nodded eagerly, saying he felt that his contribution was to push his society further into “tolerance and multiculturalism,” hence his inclusion of Arabs in the band. He loves introducing Israelis, who otherwise homogenize all Arabs as “Hamas,” to such wonders as Mahmoud Darwish, Fairuz, and Umm Kulthum.
We talked for quite a while, and all he kept repeating was that he is not political, strictly cultural, and I tried hard to make him grasp that the two are inseparable, and that, besides, he is fully political in many ways that we have researched. I told him that we have read his support for the Gaza assault, and he denied that. Here’s the quote, in a March 2009 article in the Forward: “While Raichel’s music bears explicit and implicit messages of love, Raichel is perhaps a bit more realpolitik than his dreadlocks suggest. He defends Israel’s recent Gazan incursion: “Israel had to protect cities in southern Israel from being bombed — and they’d been bombed not for eight hours, and not eight days, and not eight months, but eight years. For eight years, Hamas was bombing five cities in Israel. I think that the Palestinian people are victims of the Hamas organization.”
I told him about the damning Gush Shalom press release about him, and he said he doesn’t care what Gush Shalom says. I told him he should care.
At some point, we talked about settlements, and he says he only plays in settlements that, by International Law, would eventually be part of Israel. I told him every single settlement is illegal, according to International Law, and he acted like he didn’t know that. Then we somehow got onto the two-state (dis)solution, and I said something about “what, the 17% of historic Palestine that would make up the Palestinian state?” and he said he doesn’t know what percent of historic Palestine remains, to the Palestinians. I told him he should know that.
Basically, it was all denial of statements he has made (such as the one in Forward), claims of ignorance, and claims of being all about culture, not politics. Eventually, he needed to go in to his show, and offered me a free ticket, and I said no, I have not been convinced that he is not whitewashing Israeli crimes, and that I/we will continue to protest and boycott his shows until he denounces Israel’s crimes. He insisted that he refuses to make any political statement, and I quoted him Arhundati Roy: “The trouble is, once you see it, it can’t be unseen. And once you see it, saying nothing, doing nothing becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no neutrality. Either way, you are accountable.”
So…. he gave me his email address, after making me promise I would not share/publicize it, and said he would be happy to continue the conversation. I most certainly will contact him.
I do have to say, to his credit, that he is NOT arrogant at all, and that he actually asked his bodyguard to basically shut up, when his bodyguard aggressively (tone and posture) yelled at me “You support the Khamas suicide bombers.” But he is most certainly an intellectual lightweight.
He’s playing tonight also, and we will be there, to convey the message that he has not convinced us he is all culture, no politics.
Quote above from Body on the Line here: http://bodyontheline.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/los-ziongeles/

Friday, August 14, 2009

Alex Cockburn Outs Himself as a Misogynist

Mr. Cockburn: Don't like abortions? Don't have one -- or even better, stop having sex altogether. Better safe than sorry. Although probably at your age, it's not too much of a worry.


http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn08142009.html

But what is a conservative meant to think? [I guess you know now that you've become one -- LJ] Since the major preoccupation of liberals for 30 years has been the right to kill embryos, why should they not be suspect in their intentions toward those gasping in the thin air of senility? There is a strong eugenic thread to American progressivism, most horribly expressed in its very successful campaign across much of the twentieth century to sterilize “imbeciles.” Abortion is now widening in its function as a eugenic device. Women in their 40s take fertility drugs, then abort the inconvenient twins, triplets or quadruplets when they show up on the scan.

In 1972, a year before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion on demand nationwide [abortion is not available on demand -- this is an outright lie (for one thing, many women cannot afford one because of all the waiting periods, etc. placed on them) -- LJ], virtually all children with trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, were born. Less than a decade later, with the widespread availability of pre-natal genetic testing, as many as 90 percent of women whose babies were pre-natally diagnosed with the genetic condition chose to abort the child.

One survey of 499 primary care physicians treating women carrying these babies, however, indicated that only 4 percent actively encourage women to bring Down syndrome babies to term. A story on the CNS News Service last year quoted Dr. Will Johnston, president of Canadian Physicians for Life [Good Alex, resort to right wing zealot doctors to make your anti-woman case -- LJ], reacted to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) pre-natal testing endorsement as another step toward eugenics.“The progress of eugenic abortion into the heart of our society is a classic example of “mission creep,’ ” Johnson said. “In the 1960s, we were told that legal abortion would be a rare tragic act in cases of exceptional hardship. In the ’70s abortion began to be both decried and accepted as birth control. In the ’80s respected geneticists pointed out that it was cheaper to hunt for and abort Down’s babies than to raise them. By the ’90s that observation had been widely put into action. Now we are refining and extending our eugenic vision, with new tests and abortion as our central tools.”

Afghanistan Passes 'Barbaric' Law Diminishing Women's Rights

Angry Arab blames Bush and Feminist Majority (long story), but what about Obama -- isn't Karzai his man too?
Found on Angry Arab Newservice

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/aug/14/afghanistan-womens-rights-rape

Afghanistan has quietly passed a law permitting Shia men to deny their wives food and sustenance if they refuse to obey their husbands' sexual demands, despite international outrage over an earlier version of the legislation which President Hamid Karzai had promised to review.

The new final draft of the legislation also grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers, and requires women to get permission from their husbands to work.

"It also effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying 'blood money' to a girl who was injured when he raped her," the US charity Human Rights Watch said.

In early April, Barack Obama and Gordon Brown joined an international chorus of condemnation when the Guardian revealed that the earlier version of the law legalised rape within marriage, according to the UN.

Although Karzai appeared to back down, activists say the revised version of the law still contains repressive measures and contradicts the Afghan constitution and international treaties signed by the country.

Islamic law experts and human rights activists say that although the language of the original law has been changed, many of the provisions that alarmed women's rights groups remain, including this one: "Tamkeen is the readiness of the wife to submit to her husband's reasonable sexual enjoyment, and her prohibition from going out of the house, except in extreme circumstances, without her husband's permission. If any of the above provisions are not followed by the wife she is considered disobedient."

The law has been backed by the hardline Shia cleric Ayatollah Mohseni, who is thought to have influence over the voting intentions of some of the country's Shias, which make up around 20% of the population. Karzai has assiduously courted such minority leaders in the run up to next Thursday's election, which is likely to be a close run thing, according to a poll released yesterday.

Human Rights Watch, which has obtained a copy of the final law, called on all candidates to pledge to repeal the law, which it says contradicts Afghanistan's own constitution.

The group said that Karzai had "made an unthinkable deal to sell Afghan women out in the support of fundamentalists in the August 20 election".

Brad Adams, the organisation's Asia director, said: "The rights of Afghan women are being ripped up by powerful men who are using women as pawns in manoeuvres to gain power.

"From A Zionist Upbringing to Weekly anti-Wall Protests" -- Tali Shapiro

Part of article below; whole thing:
http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=56924&s2=14
Our Cause

I’m a closet freedom fighter. For three months now, I’ve joined the weekly demonstrations in the village of Bil’in. My father doesn’t know. For many Israelis the West Bank is "enemy territory". Personally, I was just desperate to meet Palestinians. In the flesh, with my own eyes. Once would never be enough. Once would give a shallow impression. So every week, for the past three months, I’ve been discovering these people. Palestinians aren’t the devil, they aren’t saints, either. They are, however, human… I’m sure daddy would be shocked.

Here’s a story of another daddy. After the protest, we usually sit with our friend (I’ll keep his name to myself, if you don’t mind), who is usually up-beat and up for conversation. He was like this when I met him 3 months ago, he was like this a day after the IDF kidnapped his son in the middle of the night, and he was like this a week after the kidnapping. He was like this today, as well, but at some point, his son’s arrest was brought up. He started telling us how they carried his son out of the house, how he could hear him screaming as the soldiers beat him. Then this 50 year old man started to cry.

That’s just one story. My friend would tell you hundreds more, if you just sat on his porch for tea.

A typical Israeli would wish me hung in the square for cavorting with the "other side". We have only one thing in common; I also see sides: Human beings and the human beings who are programmed to kill them. Today, more than ever, it’s clear to me that I don’t protest in solidarity with "their cause". This is my cause- our cause.


Through the Prism of Freedom

In my writing, I continue a constant process of learning. Each article requires research on issues and details I have yet to explore. Be it history, current events, politics, or culture, it all seems to tie in. It was through the issue of Palestine that I would find my own politics and beliefs make sense, or that I’m political at all! I would find that there are others that think as I do, and that unlike any other type of politics, these politics discriminate against no one. The world has opened up to me, and I’m no longer afraid. I can only describe it as enlightenment.

Throughout the last nine months I’ve been reassessing my experiences and education through a new prism. I call it the prism of freedom, because once you look at Israel from the outside, you realize that everything you were taught – Zionism, "love of the land" (in the "revived" Zionist Hebrew, the words "land", "country" and "state" are completely interchangeable), "serving your country", "loyalty", "patriotism" - is all a nationalist lie that serves to make you into a killing machine. These lies have been practiced before, throughout history and geography, and they embody the banality of evil. When you can see the lies, you are free.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Honduras: "Relying on Obama is Not An Option" -- A Message for All of Us

Part of article below; whole article (found on Palestinian Pundit) here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/12/honduras-coup-democracy-barack-obama

Whatever prior traffic there may have been between the Honduran plotters and US officialdom, it's clear that the Obama administration could pull the plug on the coup regime tomorrow by suspending military aid and imposing sanctions. But so far, despite public condemnations, the president has yet to withdraw the US ambassador, let alone block the coup leaders' visas or freeze their accounts, as Zelaya has requested.

Meanwhile, an even more ambivalent line is being followed by Hillary Clinton. Instead of calling for the restoration of the elected president, the secretary of state – one of whose longstanding associates, Lanny Davis, is now working as a lobbyist for the coup leaders – promoted a compromising mediation and condemned Zelaya as "reckless" for trying to return to Honduras across the Nicaraguan border. A clue as to why that might be was given by the state department's Phillip Crowley, who explained that the coup should be a "lesson" to Zelaya for regarding revolutionary Venezuela as a model for the region.

Obama this week attacked critics who say the US "hasn't intervened enough in Honduras" as hypocrites because they were the same people who call for the "Yankees to get out of Latin America". But of course the unanimous call from across the continent isn't for more intervention in Honduras – but for the US government to end effective support for the coup-makers and respond to the request of the country's elected leader to halt military and economic aid.

The reality is that Honduras is a weak vessel on the progressive wave that has swept Latin America over the past decade, challenging US domination and the Washington consensus, breaking the grip of entrenched elites and attacking social and racial inequality. While the imperial giant has been tied down with the war on terror, the continent has used that window of opportunity to assert its collective independence in an emerging multipolar world.

It's scarcely surprising that the process is regarded as threatening by US interests, or that the US government has used the pretext of the lengthy "counter-insurgency" war in Colombia to convince the rightwing government of Alvaro Uribe to allow US armed forces to use seven military bases in the country – which goes well beyond anything the Bush administration attempted and is already heightening tensions with Ecuador and Venezuela.

That's why the overthrow of democratic government in Honduras has a significance that goes far beyond its own borders. If the takeover is allowed to stand, not only will it embolden coup-minded military officers in neighbouring countries such as Guatemala, act as a warning to weaker progressive governments and strengthen oligarchies across the continent. It would also send an unmistakable signal that the radical social and political process that has been unleashed in Latin America – the most hopeful development in global politics in the past two decades – can be halted and reversed. Relying on Obama clearly isn't an option: only Latin Americans can defend their own democracy.

Report: Israeli Troops Fired on Gazans Waving White Flags

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/story/73598.html

JERUSALEM — Israeli soldiers battling Hamas militants last winter in Gaza opened fire on at least seven groups of Palestinian civilians who were carrying white flags, killing 11 people, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Thursday.

During the three-week conflict, the U.S.-based human rights group says, Israeli soldiers in separate parts of Gaza killed five women, four children and two men as they used white flags to try to escape the battle zone.

The report raises new questions about the actions of Israeli soldiers during the military offensive. A United Nations investigation into possible war crimes continues. McClatchy documented in January one of the instances that Thursday's report outlines.

"The Israeli military needs to investigate," said Fred Abrahams, a Human Rights Watch investigator who conducted research in Gaza on some of the cases. "We want the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) to get to the bottom of it."

The Israeli military did not address the specific cases, but stated that carrying a white flag does not always shield someone from attack.

"Merely displaying a white flag does not automatically grant immunity, and in cases of suspicion that a person holding a white flag is endangering security forces, they are authorized to take necessary precautionary steps and, in accordance with rules of engagement, to verify and neutralize the threat," the Israeli military said in its statement.

After the report was released, the Israeli military released new edited video from an overhead intelligence camera that it said shows a Palestinian militant planting an IED during the Gaza offensive and then trying to evade capture by trying to blend in with a group of Palestinians waving a white flag to surrender to Israeli forces.

In this case, the Israeli forces captured the militant without opening fire.

"Sadly," the Israeli military said, "Hamas terror operatives ruthlessly pervert the intent of the IDF's obligations to prevent harm to civilians by exploiting those with white flags as cover for belligerent action and to protect themselves from return fire. Any person who displays a white flag in this way acts illegally, does not enjoy protection from retaliatory action, and endangers nearby civilian populations."

Human Rights Watch said it uncovered no evidence in these seven cases that the civilians holding white flags were being used by Gaza militants as human shields.

In its report, Human Rights Watch concludes that the research "strongly indicates that, at the least, Israeli soldiers failed to take all feasible precautions to distinguish between civilians and combatants before opening fire, as required by the laws of war."

"At worst," the group says, "the soldiers deliberately shot at persons known to be civilians."

Faced with prolonged criticism and scrutiny, the Israeli government recently revealed that it's looking into scores of allegations against soldiers, including five incidents in which Israeli fighters are accused of shooting Palestinian civilians carrying white flags.

Of the seven cases Human Rights Watch documented, Abrahams said, Israeli soldiers didn't intentionally kill civilians in five, each involving Palestinian civilians shot while walking down desolate roads that Israeli forces controlled. Rather, he said, the incidents appeared to be the tragic result of Israeli military directives to soldiers that they take few risks combined with poor coordination between Israeli units when civilians had a green light to flee.

Two others, however, may have been intentional, Human Rights Watch found.

In one, Palestinian witnesses said that an Israeli sniper shot and killed a 40-year-old woman carrying a white flag when she emerged from her house as an Israeli bulldozer was demolishing it in an attempt to tell the Israeli forces that there were dozens of civilians inside the home.

In the other, Human Rights Watch concluded that evidence backs Palestinian claims that an Israeli soldier opened fire on a woman, her mother-in-law and three girls as they stood on the steps of their home waving a white flag.

Two of the girls, aged 2 and 7, were killed. The third girl, 4, and the older woman were wounded. The 4-year-old was one of the few who managed to escape Gaza for special medical care in Europe.

The incident took place Jan. 7 in the Ezbt Abed Rabbo neighborhood after Israeli forces drove out the few Hamas fighters who were trying to make a stand. Khaled Abed Rabbo, whose wife, daughters and mother were involved, spoke with McClatchy a few days after the shooting.

Human Rights Watch said that evidence at the scene, medical records and other testimony buttressed the family's story. Investigators said they'd uncovered no evidence that the Palestinian civilians were trying to shield militants from Israeli attacks.

The report reveals some discrepancies in the stories that the survivors told. In January, Abed Rabbo's mother, Souad, told McClatchy that she'd pushed her son back into the house as the soldier opened fire. Khaled Abed Rabbo told Human Rights Watch investigators that he was in the house when the shooting started, however.

Abrahams attributed the inconsistency to the intense trauma the family went through during the fighting.

"Imagine if your two girls got shot and killed," he said. "It's not surprising that discrepancies come up in traumatic and chaotic situations, and they must be probed. But the fundamental narrative remains clear."

Abrahams expressed doubt that the Israeli military would or could conduct a thorough investigation and noted that Israeli investigators had yet to contact Khaled Abed Rabbo about his case.

According to Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups, the Israeli military killed about 1,400 Palestinians during the conflict. Most of them, according to research by the various groups, were women, children and men who weren't directly involved in the fighting.

The Israeli military contends that it killed 1,100 Palestinians, the majority of whom were "terror operatives."

Ten Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians were killed during the 22-day conflict.