Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Portion of article below; whole article here: http://obamboozled.blogspot.com/2009/10/detroit-imam-assassinated-by-fbi-agents.html
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Pan-African News Wire
October 30, 2009 - Detroit
A well known African American Islamic leader in Detroit who headed the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque on the city’s west side, was shot to death by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on October 28 at a warehouse in Dearborn. Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, was killed during the course of a series of raids by both federal agents and local police departments resulting in the arrests of 11 people.
Corporate media reports on the killing of Imam Abdullah and the arrests of the others, has been framed as a “counter-terrorism’ operation. This is being done despite the fact that the raids were conducted based on criminal complaints that have no specific allegations of violations of federal law or acts of terrorism.
In a joint statement issued by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, it states that “The eleven defendants are members of a group that is alleged to have engaged in violent activity over a period of many years and known to be armed.”
However, many people who knew Imam Abdullah and the members of Masjid Al-Haqq say that the group worked to rid the severely oppressed community where the mosque existed of the social ills resulting from years of exploitation and neglect.
Even the mosque itself fell victim to the economic crisis that is worsening in Detroit. On January 20, Masjid Al-Haqq was evicted from the building where they had been housed for years as a result of tax foreclosure. The mosque relocated at a home on Clairmount which was also raided on October 28.
Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Michigan chapter, said of Imam Abdullah that “I know him as a respected imam in the Muslim community.”
Walid continued by saying that “We have no information about illegal activity going on at that mosque. Of Imam Abdullah, Walid said he “would give the shirt off his back to people. The congregation he led was poor. He fed very hungry people in the neighborhood who were Christian. He helped and assisted a lot of troubled youth. People would come up to him who were hungry and he would let them sleep in the mosque. He would let them in from the elements.” (Detroit News, October 29, p. 15)
The CAIR leader said that “They have no linkage to terrorism nationally or internationally. What in the world does Islam have to do with these charges? Why is religion being brought into play?”
Not only is the FBI and the corporate media utilizing the false construct of “Islamic extremism,” it is also attempting to draw a direct link between the revolutionary movements that emerged during the 1960s with the arrest of the Masjid Al-Haqq members and the death of Imam Abdullah.
Because of a close relationship between Imam Jamil Abdullah al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, and Imam Abdullah during previous years, the role of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Panther Party (BPP) have been evoked in news coverage of the FBI and police raids. Imam Al-Amin was a field organizer for SNCC and would later serve as national chairman of the civil rights and black power group in 1967-68.
Al-Amin, who is currently serving a life sentence in Georgia after being convicted in the death of a deputy sheriff and the wounding of another in Atlanta in 2000, also briefly held the position of Minister of Justice in the Black Panther Party during 1968. Imam Al-Amin served as SNCC chair during a period of extreme repression against the organization in 1967-68.
Al-Amin has always maintained his innocence in the deaths of the law-enforcement officers in Atlanta and has sought to win an appeal of his case for many years. Reports from the Georgia prison system where he is being held indicate that he has been harassed and placed in isolation on numerous occasions.
It was the organizing work of SNCC that was partly blamed by the FBI and the corporate media during 1967-68 for the urban rebellions that erupted in over two hundred cities. The Black Panther Party would suffer the brunt of the Counter Intelligence Program (Cointelpro) operations that were directed against the African American community.
Over two dozen members of the BPP were killed between 1968 and 1971 when former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had labeled the organization as the most dangerous threat to the national security of the United States. Hundreds of Panthers and other revolutionaries of the time were arrested and railroaded through the courts. Many others were driven into exile abroad and forced underground inside the United States.
According to the FBI complaint, which consist of 45 pages of highly spurious allegations, Abdullah “calls his followers to an offensive jihad” and that they should “have a weapon and should not be scared to use their weapon when needed.”
Nonetheless, David Nu’man, who lives in Detroit and considered Imam Abdullah a friend, stressed that he is very skeptical about the claims made against the Islamic leader and his followers. “It doesn’t seem to be of his character.” (Detroit News, October 29, p. 15)
Ron Scott, who was one of the founding members of the Detroit chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968, spoke to the Pan-African News Wire about the death of Imam Abdullah and the arrests of the Masjid Al-Haqq members.
Scott, who is now the spokesperson for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality and a media host on the locally broadcast “For My People” television show as well as the “Fighting for Justice” radio program aired every week, expressed disbelief at the allegations made against Abdullah and the others that were arrested.
“This reflects a standard of repression that we have not seen in a long time,” Scott told the Pan-African News Wire on October 29. “There should be an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Imam Abdullah.”
The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) discussed the killing of Imam Abdullah at their weekly meeting held on October 28 in Detroit. In a telephone call to the offices of the Council of American-Islamic Relations on October 29, a MECAWI representative expressed the organization’s condolences and solidarity with the Islamic community.
MECAWI offered its support to any protest efforts geared towards seeking justice in the death of Imam Abdullah and the arrests of the other Muslim members of Masjid Al-Haqq. Walid, the executive director who took MECAWI’s call, expressed his appreciation for the sympathy and concern conveyed by the anti-war organization.
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Aggressive orthodox Israeli settlers attacked the Salah family on their way to Friday prayers in a bid to take over their home in the East Jerusalem community of Beit Safafa.
The settlers, twelve according to Palestinian sources, six according to Israeli media, and three according to the Jerusalem police chief, pulled up in a car with an eviction order for Ali Ibrahim Salah and his children Ismail, Mohammad, Mahmoud, Ahmad, for their family homes. The buildings shelter 55 residents, 30 of which are under 12 years old. Salah said the settlers claimed they bought the homes from their Armenian owners.
The Palestinian News Network quoted Sheha Salah as saying that her husband had purchased the buildings from its owners in 1966, and had the documents to prove the validity of the sale.
Israeli high court issued an eviction order on the home in August, giving the family one month to vacate the premises.
An argument erupted as the settlers demanded the family get out of their home. One of the settlers, reportedly all in their 50s, was armed with a gun, and fired on the family members. Israeli sources differed saying between one and four were injured, most of them youth.
The following family members were admitted to the Al-Maqased hospital in East Jerusalem after the attack:
Daoud Salah, 18, sustained blows to the head and extensive bruising on his foot
Mohammad Salah, 48, sustained bruises to his lower back after being hit with an iron bar
Sheha Salah, 89, sustained bruises to his head and neck
Ismail Slah, 60, was shot with a live bullet in his hand
Ali Ibrahim Salah, 95, sustained moderate bruises to his body after being struck several times
Israeli news source Ynet said the middle-age extremists fled the scene after the shooting, and were later found and detained.
Spokesman of the Israeli police department in Jerusalem had a different version of the incident, saying "three Jewish people came to the home in Beit Safafa to deliver the eviction order to the family then fighting erupted. It seems one of the Jewish people opened fire with his personal weapon and injured one of the Arab residents in the hand...then the Jewish people fled the scene driving their car."
Following their release from the hospital, members of the Salah family were summoned to the police station for interrogation.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
University of California at IrvineThe UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and MoralityOctober 27, 2009A round table discussion of health care reform"Making Sense of the Health Care Debate"
Comments of Don McCanne, M.D. (from memory, edited and abridged):
I'll be brief because I want to make only one very simple point: An ethical health care system is designed to take care of patients. What could be more obvious? If the health care system is doing its job in taking care of patients then the health care system itself is being taken care of. Special interests legitimately involved in health care delivery will do just fine.
Although this principle seems very obvious, it hasn't been guiding the process in Washington, DC. Our politicians are designing a health care system that is taking care of the private insurance industry. Patient care is secondary, as it must conform to the private insurance model.
As Senator Joe Dunn just said, legislation is 10 percent principles and 90 percent politics. Congress is providing us with a political solution rather than a solution based on sound health policy science.
We were told that we would have health care reform that would cover everyone, and that costs would be controlled, making health care affordable for each of us. Yet when they insisted that reform be based on private insurance plans and that the budget be limited to $900 billion over the next ten years, they realized that at least 20 million people could not be insured under this proposal. Likely it will be many more, especially after four more years of health care inflation before the basics of this plan are even in place. And since there are no effective measures for controlling costs, health care will be even less affordable.
The limitations imposed have resulted in such bizarre policy proposals as granting waivers to individuals to exempt them from the fines that would be imposed for committing the criminal act of being uninsured.
A fundamental flaw of their proposal was to try to craft reform based on a package of benefits in a private insurance plan that has a premium assigned to it. That premium plus the out-of-pocket expenses must cover the average family health care costs of $16,771 (Milliman Medical Index). With a typical family income of perhaps $60,000, those costs now create a financial hardship for families, especially those at income levels where the subsidies phase out.
By designing reform that primarily benefits insurers, the most productive sector of our society - middle income Americans - is going to be the hardest hit by the adverse consequences of this legislation.
Since this is a forum on ethics, I have to conclude that our legislators, by failing to place the patient first, compromised ethics when they crafted this reform.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
My concern is that these drones, these predators, are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law. The onus is really on the government of the United States to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary executions, extrajudicial executions, are not in fact being carried out through the use of these weapons. The response of the US is simply untenable, and that is that the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly by definition have no role in relation to killings that take place in relations to an armed conflict. that would remove the great majority of issues that come before these bodies right now.Alston's report was presented as part of a larger demand that no state be free from accountability.
Alston previously raised the issue of US drone attacks in June. The US government responded that its position is that such attacks are carried out in a war zone where the UN has no role. The controversial attacks have killed about 600 people in northwestern Pakistan since August 2008, including around 400 militants. US Senator John Kerry said this week that the attacks would continue [RTTNews report], claiming that they have been successful in combatting al Qaeda and have resulted in minimal collateral damage. Also this week, a Pakistani court upheld the dismissal of a petition [The Nation report] against US drone attacks that sought to declare the US an enemy state.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister during the Gaza war, would probably face arrest on war crimes charges if he visited Britain, according to a UK lawyer who is working to expand the application of "universal jurisdiction" for offences involving serious human rights abuses committed anywhere in the world.lic relations means, and is working to prevent such efforts."
Neither Olmert nor Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister during the Cast Lead offensive, and a member of Israel's war cabinet, would enjoy immunity from prosecution for alleged breaches of the Geneva conventions, predicted Daniel Machover, who is involved in intensifying legal work after the controversial Goldstone report on the three-week conflict. Neither are ministers any longer.
Prosecutions of Israeli political and military figures remain likely despite the failure to obtain an arrest warrant for Ehud Barak, the defence minister, when he visited the UK earlier this month, he said. In the Barak case a magistrate accepted advice from the Foreign Office that the minister enjoyed state immunity and rejected an application made on behalf of several residents of the Gaza Strip.
"This needs to be tested at the right time and in the right place," Machover said. "One day one of these people will make a mistake and go to the wrong country and face a criminal process — and then it'll be a matter for the courts of that country to give them a fair trial: that's what the Palestinian victims want."
The death toll for the war was some 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. Israel insists it acted in legitimate self-defence in response to rocket attacks by Hamas.
Police sources denied a claim that police maintain a "watch list" of Israeli officers who would face arrest if they try to enter the country.
In 2005 General Doron Almog was tipped off that he was about to be arrested before leaving a plane at Heathrow airport. Last month a former chief of staff, General Moshe Ya'alon, cancelled a visit to Britain, apparently for fear of arrest. Ami Ayalon, former head of the Shin Bet security service, faced an arrest warrant in the Netherlands following a complaint by a Palestinian who said he had been tortured.
The development of universal jurisdiction has been boosted by the Goldstone report, which urged Israel to conduct an independent inquiry into alleged war crimes. Failing that, other governments were advised to try suspects using universal jurisdiction. Another option was for the UN security council to refer allegations to the international criminal court. Israel refused to co-operate with the report, which also accused Hamas of war crimes.
But the law is complex and developing unevenly. Lawyers in Germany were this week unable to obtain an arrest warrant for the current Israeli army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, because German law grants immunity to guests invited on state visits. Spain is considered legally "dangerous" by the Israelis.
Machover confirmed that he was working with other lawyers in the EU and elsewhere "in an increasingly organised fashion in different jurisdictions. It's not just about Palestine. It might be about Rwanda or Afghanistan," he said.
Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper reported today that officers of the Israel Defence Forces who took part in the Gaza operation have been asked to consult legal experts at the foreign ministry, where they are instructed how to behave abroad and in some cases advised not to visit certain countries.
The ministry said it was "aware of efforts undertaken by Palestinian groups and their supporters to harm IDF officers through legal and pub
Hey, Congress!!! I don’t want to “shop” for health insurance in any kind of “market”! I want to pay a tax to support a trust fund which pays for care when and if I need it, just like I pay my property tax to support the fire department. In the event of fire, they send a truck out. Just the truck and people with the training required to put out the fire. No more or no less than what I would need in that circumstance. No personal responsibility questionnaires to prove that I’ve taught my kids not to play with matches, that I have my wiring up to code, that I don’t store oily rags in the basement and am truly eligible for and deserving of assistance. And especially no tripling of my property tax just for using the service. There is not one single logical reason why a heart attack should not be dealt with (and paid for) like putting out a house fire. The cheapest and most efficient way to pay for health care is to pay for it like we pay for any other public good, like schools, roads, libraries, fire and police protection, or any other part of our society’s infrastructure.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Clayton has worked on Capitol Hill for five years. During her stint with Canwell, the senator's office has developed the reputation for quick response to breaking news developments.
"It's been a wonderful two years and I've met and worked with tremendous people, including Sen. Cantwell herself who is a tremendous advocate for the people of Washington state in D.C.," said Clayton.
Bursen & Marsteller has represented clients ranging from Blackwater USA, the controversial Iraq contractor, to the government of Colombia under President Alvaro Uribe. It worked for Union Carbide after the 1984 Bhopal disaster, a chemical leak in India that killed 2,000 people.
When magazines began publicizing British Columbia's vast clear cuts in the late 1980's and early 1990's, Burson & Marsteller set up a front group called the B.C. Forest Alliance designed to show public support for the province's timber industry.
The attempt to improve the industry's image was briefly sidetracked by B.C. Forest
Alliance president Jack Munro, blunt-spoken former leader of the International Woodworkers of America.
Munro told a New York Times reporter: "When they see a spotted owl, I tell my guys to shoot it."
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I just got home from 3-weeks in South Korea. It was quite a trip.Bruce K. Gagnon
During my last two days I was visiting Jeju Island (about 500 miles south of the Korean peninsula) which is recognized by UNESCO as being a place of world class environmental quality and one that hosts many endangered forms of corals and other sea life. To say it is a jewel would be an understatement.
Soon after arriving our delegation of five activists, which included some real notables in the South Korean movement for democracy and peace, we were brought to the offices of Jeju Solidarity for Participatory Self-Government & Environmental Preservation. There we were shown a most impressive 50-minute video about the struggle on the island to stop plans by the federal government to build a Navy base on the south side of the island. Jeju calls itself the "Island of Peace" and activists wonder how a Navy base, hosting Aegis destroyers outfitted with missile defense systems, could be considered a compatible use.
Three villages have been approached to host the base and the first two turned the government down. By the time the third village was asked the government had decided to offer bribes of $100,000 each to the respected sea diving women who are known for searching the bottom of the ocean for sea urchins which they then sell to make a living. The third village, Gangjung, is predominately opposed to the base but the bribes created enough of a division to cause the government to say they will build the base in this village.
Gangjung, like the rest of Jeju island, is most famous for growing tangerines in this tropical climate. Tourism is the second industry as people come from around the world to experience the wonders of the lush volcanic island. A long walking trail takes people across the island and recently the government has removed Gangjung from the walking trail maps so they can limit the numbers of people who would see the active signs of resistance amidst the splendid beauty of the rocky seaside where the proposed Navy base is to be built.
When I asked activists who the government said they needed the base to protect against the answer was followed by much laughter: pirates they told me. The truth is that the US will be jointly using the Navy base with the South Korean Navy as a port to deploy Aegis ships that will be used to help surround the coast of China and to give the US the capability to choke off China's ability to import 80% of its oil through the Malaka Straight that flows right off Jeju Island.
The villagers of Gangjung do not see the Navy base as offering them much. Their local economy is thriving from the tangerine groves that are everywhere in the town and from the abundant numbers of tourists who come there to experience the seaside. In fact the Navy base would take significant portions of their village land now used for farming and would destroy the environment. The rocky shoreline would be covered with cement and the proposed base pier would extend to the edge of where the fresh water Gangjung River flows into the sea.
Kang, Dong Kyun, the mayor of the village and a key protest leader, told me that 70% of the drinking water for the community comes from the river and would surely be negatively impacted by the Navy base. Take away our water, he said, and you destroy the town.
Throughout the village you see many tall bamboo poles with yellow flags on them that say, "We desperately oppose the Naval base." But no one in the government wants to listen to them. They have tried all the usual steps of meeting with government officials, organizing protests, and they recently tried to recall their provincial governor in a special election but did not turn out a high enough percentage of voters to make the vote official.
They've now set up a camp along the rocky coastline where some are now holding a round-the-clock vigil. More tents will be erected in the coming weeks as construction is set to begin at the end of this year. When I spoke to the village people in their community center last night there were key activists from other parts of South Korea who are trying to help.
I was deeply touched by the good people of Jeju. Mayor Kang told me, "This is the land of our ancestors that we must pass on to the future generations. This village must not be used as a 'strategic' base but must be preserved. The government is dividing people against each other which is the worst thing of all. The long lasting people will ultimately win."
I told the mayor and the village people that because the proposed base would have Aegis destroyers homeported there, with missile defense systems on-board, that the Global Network must do all it can to help them with their valiant effort. Just as we did what we could to support the people in the Czech Republic last year in their effort to resist US missile defense deployments, we must do the same for Jeju Island. That is what solidarity means.
Who will speak for the fish, the coral, the rocks, or the water I asked? We must all do it.
It has been a remarkable journey to South Korea and one that I am proud to have taken. I have met splendid people who are doing their best to resist the destruction of their democracy by corporate interests, the destruction of their farming lands, and the expansion of militarism. There are many fights going on in the world that we all have to be concerned about, more than we can all handle I know, but every now and then one comes along that represents all of these important struggles in one bundle. That is Jeju Island.
I hope that once we get the Jeju Island video, expected in a few weeks, that all of you will get a copy from us and show it in your community. I promise that everyone who watches it will be moved beyond tears about the beauty and the wonder of the island of peace. We must help bring the struggle on Jeju Island to the world.
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has openly voiced the Israeli government's plans to expel indigenous Palestinian Arabs from their occupied lands.
Netanyahu stressed that Palestinians should recognize Israel as a Jewish state in order to end their conflict.
"That's right," Netanyahu told The Washington Post when asked if such recognition was needed.
"Israel is not a bi-national state," AFP quoted Netanyahu as saying on Saturday. "It has non-Jews who live here with full, equal rights, but it has two things that assure its special character."
"It's the homeland of any Jew. And there is a very broad consensus in Israel that the Palestinian refugee problem should be resolved outside Israel's borders," he added.
Netanyahu said Palestinians will have to make a final peace deal with "the Jewish state of Israel."
"Jews come here and Palestinians will go there. So choose. That's the basis of a solution," Netanyahu concluded.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
From 2008, reposted now that it is out in English. The ending paragraphs are below.
Once again I may say it, we are not and never been against Jews (the people) nor we are against Judaism (the religion). Yet, we are against a collective philosophy with some clear global interests. Some would like to call it Zionism but I prefer not to. Zionism is a vague signifier that is far too narrow to capture the complexity of Jewish nationalism, its brutality, ideology and practice. Jewish nationalism is a spirit and spirit doesn’t have clear boundaries. In fact, none of us know exactly where Jewishness stops and where Zionism starts as much as we do not know where Israeli interests stop and where the Neocon’s interests start.
As far as the Palestinian cause is concerned, the message is rather devastating. Our Palestinian brothers and sisters are at the forefront of a struggle against a very devastating philosophy. Yet, it is clearly not just the Israelis whom they fight with rather a fierce pragmatic philosophy that initiates global conflicts on some gigantic scale. It is a tribal practice that seeks influence within corridors of power and super powers in particular. The American Jewish Committee is pushing for a war against Iran. Just to be on the safe side David Abrahams, a ‘Labour Friend of Israel’ donates money to the Labour Party by proxy. More or less at the same time two million Iraqis die in an illegal war designed by one called Wolfowitz. While all the above is taking place, millions of Palestinians are starved in concentration camps and Gaza is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. As it all happens, ‘anti-Zionist’ Jews and Jews in the left (Chomsky included) insist upon dismantling the eloquent criticism of AIPAC, Jewish lobbying and Jewish power posed by Mearsheimer and Walt (15)
Is it just Israel? Is it really Zionism? Or shall we admit that it is something far greater than we are entitled even to contemplate within the intellectual boundaries we imposed upon ourselves? As things stand, we lack the intellectual courage to confront the Jewish national project and its many messengers around the world. However, since it is all a matter of consciousness-shift, things are going to change soon. In fact, this very text is there to prove that they are changing already.
To stand by the Palestinians is to save the world, but in order to do so we have to be courageous enough to stand up and admit that it is not merely a political battle. It is not just Israel, its army or its leadership, it isn’t even Dershowitz, Foxman and their silencing leagues. It is actually a war against a cancerous spirit that hijacked the West and, at least momentarily, diverted it from its humanist inclination and Athenian aspirations. To fight a spirit is far more difficult than fighting people, just because one may have to first fight its traces within oneself. If we want to fight Jerusalem, we may have to first confront Jerusalem within. We may have to stand in front of the mirror, look around us. We may have to trace for empathy in ourselves in case there is anything left.
These people have nothing and many have no way to get out of the line of fire. Shame on America!
WASHINGTON – The US Congress stands to vote on a bipartisan bill calling on US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to categorically negate the UN's Goldstone Report on the Gaza war.
The Republican-Democrat motion is the brainchild of Congressmen Howard Berman (D) chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congresswoman Illeana Ross-Lehtinent was backed by Democrat Congressmen Gary Ackerman and his Republican college Dan Barton, who hold senior positions on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East.
The bill noted the Goldstone Report's one-sided call to probe alleged human rights violation by Israel, while completely ignoring "thousands of rocket attacks on Israel," by Hamas and other Gaza groups for the eight years prior to the Israeli offensive in Gaza.
The motion further quotes Richard Goldstone himself, using excerpts of an interview he gave the Jewish daily Forward, in which he admits that the report's findings are inadmissible in court.
The joint motion finds that the Goldstone Report negates Israel's right to self-defense and that by failing to determine that Hamas and other terror groups are also to blame for war crimes, it was de facto swayed by the Islamist group's misrepresentation of the facts.
The House is expected to vote in favor of the bill and rule the Goldstone Report as a "mirror of the UN's one-sided position against Israel," and as one used by Israel's enemies to excuse their operations.
Israel is under tremendous international pressure to further probe the events of Operation Cast Lead. Special US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell claims the Goldstone Report is one of the main reasons the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations have yet to resume.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this week instructed his government to draw up a proposal to amend the international laws of war after a damning UN report. Netanyahu, international news agencies reported Wednesday, is determined to prevent Israeli leaders from being prosecuted by international justice for committing war crimes -- which could amount to crimes against humanity -- against Palestinians under occupation. Netanyahu said the amendment that Israel is planning to launch in an intensive campaign should be secured in view of what he qualified as the need for the world to maintain its war on terror.
The new Israeli scheme comes against the backdrop of harsh international criticism against Israel for the atrocities it committed against Palestinians under occupation, including its war on Gaza early this year which were recorded in an international judiciary report. It also comes parallel to intensified inter-governmental and non-governmental Arab and international attempts to prosecute Israeli war criminals either before the International Criminal Court (ICC) or in national courts in countries whose judiciary system addresses war crimes as part of their adoption of the principle of universal jurisdiction.
The Richard Goldstone Report was passed last week by the UN Human Rights Council and was consequently forwarded to the UN secretary-general and the chair of the UN General Assembly. The General Assembly is tentatively scheduled, according to sources in New York, to address the report before Christmas. "Israel is leaving no stone unturned to prevent a session of the General Assembly on the Goldstone Report from being held," an Egyptian diplomatic source in New York said. However, he added, "At the end of the day the General Assembly will probably have to examine this report, if not before Christmas, then after the holidays".
Meanwhile, it is in the capacity of UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-Moon to directly refer the report to the UN Security Council, in view of the fact that the Human Rights Council endorsed the report with all its recommendations that includes a call on the UN Security Council to examine the report and to act to address the violations included in it.
The Human Rights Council will expect a report from Ban on relevant progress by March. Human rights diplomats argue that the maximum that should be expected is for the UN General Assembly to issue a resolution that calls for the observation of the rules of international law and international humanitarian law. A Palestinian diplomat told Al-Ahram Weekly that "anybody who thinks for one minute that the US would allow this report to go to the Security Council is dreaming, to say the least."
The US has openly worked to block the Human Rights Council's endorsement of the Goldstone Report, lobbying with Israel, say Egyptian and other Arab sources in New York. Some expect that it could eventually succeed in shelving it.
Notwithstanding, Hesham Youssef, chief of the Cabinet of the Arab League secretary-general, said this week that the Arab organisation is "pursuing its efforts to prosecute those who committed war crimes in Gaza". Youssef spoke to the Weekly days after his return from The Hague where he conducted intensive talks with ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. A party to the consultations in The Hague was Palestinian Minister of Justice Ali Al-Khashan, as was international law professor John Dugard, who headed an independent fact- finding committee on Gaza and issued "No safe place", a judiciary report on the violations of international law in the Israeli war on Gaza.
The Hague consultations had two objectives: to establish the right of the Palestinian Authority -- which does amount to a state -- to prosecute before the ICC, and to establish the legal foundation for the ICC to prosecute.
The Paris-based human rights activist Haytham Manna told the Weekly in a telephone interview that Moreno-Ocampo had been presented with ample material for him to proceed. "And we are not going to let go and we will not let the Goldstone and Dugard reports meet the same fate as the Tutu report", Manna said in reference to a report prepared by a fact-finding mission headed by Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu on the Israeli attack on Beit Hanoun in Gaza in 2006.
Both Manna and Djebril Fahl, a Palestinian lawyer and advisor to the PA, predicted in separate interviews with the Weekly that it would take Moreno- Ocampo a few months before he can reach a conclusion. Both excluded the possibility that the ICC prosecutor would come under pressure. "Things are proceeding", Manna said.
Manna also excluded the possibility that the PA, which had earlier this month aimed to postpone the Human Rights Council's examination of the Goldstone Report, would get cold feet. "We have passed the point where people could turn their back."
Speaking to the Weekly on the phone from Ramallah, Al-Khashan said, "the Palestinian Authority is firmly committed" to pursue this path. The Palestinian minister, however, excluded the possibility that the process would bring Israeli leaders to admit having committed war crimes against Palestinians. "This is a long shot," he said. "What we are surely doing, however, is to incriminate Israel morally."
Manna acknowledged the same difficulties but argued "at least it would be possible to get national courts to prosecute Israeli war criminals. We will do it."
Palestinian and Israeli rights group alike say that in its December-January onslaught on Gaza, Israel killed close to 1,500 Palestinians, one-third of them children.
For its part, Arab human rights activists say Israel is engaged in "a ruthless campaign to shut up all legal and human rights organisations" that criticise its atrocities against the Palestinian people. They report some Israeli success in the recent criticism launched against Human Rights Watch by no other than its former chairman Robert Brenstien[sp] who said that Human Rights Watch is helping "those who want to turn Israel into a pariah state".
The UNHRC decision [supporting the Goldstone report] put all principal parties of the peace process on the spot. For the US, it can block consideration of the report by the Security Council in more ways than one through the council's rules of procedure. It can lobby against including the Goldstone Report on the work programme of the Security Council. If it gets there, which would initially be a significant condemnation of Israel, the US would try to lobby the 15-member council to deny any draft resolution based on the report the nine votes, or two-thirds majority, it would need to pass. Should the two-third majority seem available to support a draft resolution, the US would then use its no vote -- its veto power -- to foil it. The three Western permanent members of the Security Council -- France, the UK and the US -- usually act in unison, like a pack of wolves. The US and the UK would join together in casting a veto while France would abstain, to maintain its credentials with the Arabs. The US and the UK would either cite the usual pretext that the draft resolution was "unbalanced", or use the argument that a peace process is in progress and that the adoption of the resolution would discourage Israeli cooperation and wreck that process. Israel will mobilise all its lobby troops in the US to pressure the Obama administration to thwart any draft resolution against its interests as previous US administrations have consistently done. The charges are quite serious and any endorsement by the UN Security Council would be a turning point for Israel in the eyes of the global community.
Depending on the strategy of the Obama administration with regards to the Middle East peace process, the situation could be used as a bargaining chip to pressure Israel. The US has failed its first test of wills with the Netanyahu government: it could not persuade Israel to freeze settlement construction and give the discredited Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, a face-saving mask to continue the meandering peace process. It has helped Israeli intransigence by twisting the arm of Abbas to participate in a tripartite meeting in New York with Obama and Netanyahu to give the impression that despite Israeli stalling and continued settlement building the peace process was still alive and well. Israel has so far dictated the conditions and the Obama administration is only wringing its hands in frustration. It can do more to show Israel that it is serious about resolving the Israeli-Palestinian problem before the end of the Obama first term in office. It can send a strong signal by allowing the scheduling for debate by the Security Council of the UNHRC's recommendations. It can go one step further by indicating to Israel that unless it makes some serious concessions regarding the peace process the US might find it difficult not to abstain when the draft resolution comes to a vote, thus allowing it possibly to pass. Whatever strategy the Obama administration develops it has always to keep a wary eye on Israeli reaction and the backlash of the American Israel lobby. However, Obama, like any other US president, wants to serve a second term and has to weigh carefully how much damage Israel and its lobby can cost him if he should try to apply pressure. Obama has little experience, and Israel is not a peace-loving country but one that wants to annex Arab land and force a political settlement based on its military superiority.
For those Arabs who are not collaborators with the Israeli agenda the situation offers an opportunity to show the world that since its creation Israel has been led by war criminals. Hamas and other Palestinian resistance movements can live with an accusation that they lobbed a few primitive and misdirected rockets into Israeli occupied territories. After all, they are classified as "terrorist" organisations, not a state with international ties, UN membership and legal obligations. Libya could be the linchpin. As president of the current session of the UN General Assembly and a non- permanent member of the Security Council it could seek the support of African, South American, sympathetic European countries, and China and Russia to table the UNHRC decision for consideration by the Security Council. Failing this, Arab countries, which are currently sitting on the fence, should call for a special session of the General Assembly to act on the decision.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
SEATTLE — A torrential Seattle winter rain failed to dampen the spirits of hundreds of people who gathered at the Bellevue Public Library Oct. 17 along with Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar and Congressman Jim McDermott to witness the unveiling of a life-size statue of Mahatma Gandhi.
The 1000-pound statue was a gift from the Indian government. As the signature prayer of “Raghupati Raghav” was recited, the statue was unveiled to reveal a Gandhi cast in bronze, a staff in his right hand and sandals on his feet.
Those closest to the statue surged forward to touch Gandhi’s feet or simply held their hands in prayer before him.
For Anjali Sachdev, the regional director of the National Federation of Indo-American Associations which was instrumental in making the event possible, the gift to Washington state was the realization of a dream she and others at the NFIA had been working on for the past year.
“When in Delhi, I followed up with the request to the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and since then despite hurdles, we finally got the gift here in Seattle,” she told India-West.
In her address to the gathering, the Indian ambassador elaborated on the reasons why Gandhi’s philosophy continues to have global relevance. “Using power of ideas and power of words to bring a colonized country to freedom by abjuring violence path was a revolutionary step,” she said.
Furthermore, Gandhi emphasized that the means are as important as the end, and the pursuit of end, no matter how noble, will distort the goal if the means are violent, Shankar pointed out.
Gandhi was also ahead of his time in being green. He insisted on drinking goat milk, farming and spinning his own cloth. “We must take from the earth only what’s necessary and give back to the earth,” Shankar said.
Film celebrity Girish Karnard in his speech spoke about the need for creating awareness of Gandhi’s philosophy globally, especially in those regions where violence is an accepted way of life.
NFIA president Chandu Patel expressed his gratitude to Ambassador Shankar and her team for making special efforts to visit Seattle for the landmark event. Echoing Gandhi’s philosophy of peace and non-violence, Patel spoke on the relevance of such ideals in this time.
Congressmen Jay Inslee and Jim McDermott also acknowledged and applauded NFIA’s effort in creating history by installing this monument of peace in Bellevue. The six-hour long event included cultural events of bhajans, dances and bhangra by young children.
FIA-Washington president Lavanya Reddy used the occasion to reach out to supporters and member associations, urging them to begin a tradition of feeding the homeless at least once a month in cities throughout Washington state, and to contribute toward establishing a scholarship for college students specializing in Gandhian studies.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
On Wednesday we, members of the Combatants for Peace movement – women of Mahsom Watch, members of the Forum of Bereaved Families for Peace and writer David Grossman – attended a hearing at the High Court of Justice on the matter of the closing, due to lack of evidence, of the investigatory file on the killing of ten-year-old Abir Aramin about three years ago.
The hearing, which had been scheduled for eleven o’clock, and then for nine o’clock, and then for ten o’clock, and then for one o’clock, began at two. Journalists ran to and fro in the corridor:
“Who died?” “A little girl?” “Really?” “Excuse me, sir, did your daughter die?” “Yes.” “Then you are Bassam Aramin?” “No, I am Rami Elhanan.” “Oh, sorry.” “So where’s that Aramin? And who are you?” “We are from Mahsom Watch.” “From what checkpoint?” “What are you doing here? And who are you?” “I am a friend.” “Of those Palestinians?” “Yes.” “How come? How can it be? Can I interview you? Did you too have a daughter who died? Really? When? How? What was her name? And after all that you are on their side?” [Smadar (14), the daughter of Nurit Peled Elhanan and Rami Elhanan, was killed in a suicide bombing on Ben Yehuda Str. on 4 September 1997]
But at the end of the day no Israeli reported on what happened.
Salwa and Bassam Aramin are not Jews and they are not Israelis. They live under a cruel occupation and they have experienced all it has to offer: exile, imprisonment and the killing of their small daughter Abir by a rubber bullet that was allegedly fired from the rifle of a Border Guard soldier who was sitting in an armored jeep and thrust the barrel of his rifle through the opening that was allegedly designed for that purpose and allegedly aimed and fired at the head of the girl who was standing beside her sister at a kiosk, allegedly buying candy during the break between the first class and the second.
The projectile was removed from under the girl’s body and transferred to the authorities. The eyewitnesses, as well as the Border Guard soldiers, testified that there was no alleged danger to their lives and that the shooting was done – if it was done – in contravention of instructions.
Two pathologists testified that it was probable that the fracture in Abir’s little skull could have been caused by a rubber bullet. The attending physician at the Hadassah Hospital said that it was not a live bullet. The video of the reconstruction of the incident was not given to the defense counsel or to the court, because the soldiers who allegedly carried out the shooting, that is, who thrust the barrel of the rifle through the opening that had been made especially for that purpose, aimed and fired at the head of the girl Abir, were featured in the recording.
The Counsel for the State, stammering, unprepared and unkempt, stood like a platoon commander in charge of new recruits with her back to the public and refuted the allegations: “So they found a projectile.” “So what?” “Who knows how long it had been lying there?” “So people gave testimony, so what?” “They (those Arabs) can say anything, does that make it testimony?” “So nobody was throwing stones at that spot, so what?” “On a nearby street stones were thrown.” “If you were in my place,” she laughingly says to Michael Sfard, Aramin's attorney, “you would have made morsels of them by now.”
Judge Beinish reminds Sfard – twice – that there have been such incidents in the past and that soldiers have rarely been put on trial or even indicted, so it would be best to just forget it. The State Counsel, with a laugh: I had the pleasure of attending such trials.
But Salwa and Bassam Aramin have no choice but to seek justice in an Israeli court. They demand that the truth come to light in a court of the occupiers – of the killers. “So that I can rest and so that Abir can rest,” Salwa says to the journalists. The perfect crime, Jean-François Lyotard once wrote, is not only the killing but also the suppression of the testimony and the silencing of the voices of the victims. And the greatest injustice is to compel the victims to seek justice in the court of their tormentors.
As Judge Beinish implied in her comments to Sfard, the blood of Palestinians is cheap in this country. No one has ever been punished for killing Palestinians – children, adults, newborns, old people. The Jewish murderers are all walking among us, free and happy.
Those who have murdered our Israeli children, the Palestinian suicide bombers, have at least said “let me die with the Philistines” (Judges 16:30) and spared us any questions about their presence in the world. The murderer of Abir Aramin no doubt spent that very evening in a bar (Shit! What a nasty day! A little girl walked right into my crosshairs!), and will continue to spend many more evenings in many more bars, while Abir’s parents seek justice from the occupier, from the oppressor.
My 17-year-old son Yigal sat in the courtroom all day with a shocked expression on his face. That night he took off for Auschwitz with his classmates.
For his sake I hoped, I prayed, I implored, I nearly shouted for the drowsy judges – Beinish, Arbel, Frocaccia – to find a spark of humanity, of motherly feelings, within themselves and to look into the eyes of Salwa, who never stopped crying, and at Bassam’s ashen face, and to say: the High Court of Justice sympathizes with you over the death of little Abir.
Please forward this invite/call to your list
Event information below
October 21, 2009 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1441 16th Avenue, Seattle, 98122
Moderated by radio personality Dave Ross, panel members will provide a look at the political situation within Iran today; an in-depth analysis of the options related to a nuclear-armed Iran; its strategic threat to the United States, Israel and the world; and an understanding of how we can respond.
Israel Consul General Akiva Tor
Jerusalem Post correspondent Yaakov Katz
AIPAC's deputy director of policy & government affairs Jeff Colman
"Do you think you have seen it all?" Click here http://www.voicesofpalestine.
The country is emerging as a regional power. Is the West ready for that?
It was pure drama: The leaders of the United States, Britain, and France stepped onto the stage at the Pittsburgh Group of 20 meeting last week to unveil Western intelligence that showed that Iran had a second nuclear fuel enrichment facility under construction, which Iran had declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency the preceding Monday.
The Western leaders gathered in Pittsburgh implied that their revelation was just as devastating for Iran as a credible player.
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates subsequently pronounced Iran to be “boxed in” and “in a very bad spot now.” But anyone who listened to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s interview with Time magazine’s correspondent on the day of the presentation, and to subsequent Iranian statements, can gather that Iran, at least, does not see itself as boxed in.
Far from it. Mr Ahmadinejad exuded confidence and non aggressively counseled President Obama not to go down this route.
It might seem counterintuitive to most Americans and Europeans, but Ahmadinejad’s advice might be worth pondering.
The Pittsburgh dramatics, in a sense, signal the culmination of three pivotal events that took place in the Middle East some 20 years ago. The first was the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1989, the second was the 1991 Gulf War, and the third was Yitzak Rabin’s victory in the 1992 Israeli elections.
The consequences from these momentous events are coming to a head for the US only now. Mr Obama’s course of action may determine whether this region is about to enter a new phase of bitter conflict or enter a new era of strategic change.
The first two events hobbled Iran’s traditional foes on its frontiers. Neither the imploded USSR nor Sunni Iraq, at war with a Western coalition led by the US, was in a position any longer to contain an emergent Iran. As a consequence, Iran’s place as a preeminent – if not the pre-eminent power – in the Middle East was guaranteed.
The arrival of a Labor government in Israel was pivotal to Iran becoming “the nuclear threat.” In a dramatic change of policy in 2002, Israel abandoned the Ben Gurion doctrine of allying Israel with the regional periphery (Turkey, Ethiopia, and Iran), an Israeli policy that persisted beyond the Iranian Revolution, and began to engage with its Arab “vicinity.”
To manage such a radical shift of talking peace to the former Arab “enemy,” a U-turn that bitterly split the Israeli electorate and alienated Israel’s supporters in the US, the Labor government in Israel began, from 1993 on, to identify Iran to its supporters in the US as the new existential “threat” – in place of the former threat of the “never-changing Arab inability to reconcile” with Israel. Subsequently the West would absorb the Iranian threat as its own, for very different reasons.
The significance of this for Obama is that he is not facing just the issue of Iran’s nuclear program. This program is rolled into a more substantive and sensitive issue that lies at the heart of the Iranian approach to negotiations.
Nuclear weapons issue apart – it’s a question of whether Israel and the US are able to come to terms with an Iran that is, and will be, a preeminent power in the region.
At present, these two issues have been conflated. Iran has signaled on various occasions that the nuclear issue could be resolved, but Iran first wants to know the answer to the wider issue: Can the US bring Israel to accept Iran as a principal regional power? Can the US itself accept such an outcome?
Saturday, October 17, 2009
For his continued wars against Pakistanis, Afghanis, and Iraqis, his support for the overthrow of democracy in Honduras, his abetting dictatorships across the Arab and Muslim worlds (which his government finances, arms, and trains in torture methods), his planning for a possible invasion of Iran, and his enthusiastic support for the racist Israeli settler colony (and its colonial wars and occupations against Palestinians), President Barak Obama received the Nobel "Peace" Prize. This comes as no surprise, as Obama joins a long list of recipients of this sham of a prize, who are distinguished for similar "peaceful" pursuits. These include terrorists like Menachem Begin, war criminals like Henry Kissinger, ethnic-cleansing colonial generals like Yitzhak Rabin, dictators like Anwar Sadat, corrupt politicians like Yasser Arafat, and imperial presidents like Jimmy Carter. Granting this overambitious power-hungry man the recognition of the Nobel committee is therefore most apt.
Obama's most recent pursuit of peace has been to force the corrupt Palestinian Authority to discard the United Nations-issued Goldstone Report which detailed the war crimes committed by Israel in its murderous war against Palestinian civilians in Gaza ten months ago. Indeed, the first Black American President has just enjoined the Palestinians and Arab and Muslim countries from the pulpit of the United Nations to recognize Israel's right to be a racist "Jewish State." One wonders what the American reaction would be if Palestinian and Arab leaders would call on Obama and on African Americans to recognize the right of the United States to be a white state.
This is the same Obama whose hubris was of such caliber that when he gave his infamous speech in Cairo several months ago he did not grieve the tens of thousands of Arab, including Egyptian, civilians killed by Israel's six decade-long wars and massacres against them; nor did he show solidarity with the millions of Arabs who were rendered refugees (including one million Egyptians during the War of Attrition) by Israel's barbaric bombings. Instead, Obama chose to give Arabs a lesson in European Jewish history and enjoined them to appreciate the holocaust committed by European Christians against European Jews and not the ongoing Nakba committed by European Jewish colonial settlers against Arabs. He has even forbidden Palestinians or other Arabs from ever attempting to destroy Israel's racist structures to end its racist rule. Indeed, Obama threatened Arabs that any attempt by them to destroy the racist basis of the Jewish state would be seen as tantamount to a holocaust. One wonders if he thinks ending segregation in the United States and Apartheid in South Africa were tantamount to the extermination of white people! This is also the same Obama who, in order to fend off the accusation of being Muslim, told us during his electoral campaign that not only was he a Christian, but that he prays to Jesus every night and that the blood of Jesus Christ will redeem him.
But general wisdom in the US has it that the election of Obama, even if it did not instantiate any change in US imperial policy abroad, has been the best thing that happened to most Americans, or at least to white liberal Americans and all African Americans, at the domestic level. This is a largely mistaken conclusion. Obama in my estimation is the worst thing that happened in recent years to African Americans, who continue to face institutional, structural, economic, cultural, social, and personal discrimination on a daily basis. The racism that informs US domestic policy and causes the poverty of African Americans is not unrelated to the racism that informs US imperial policies that impoverish Egyptians, Palestinians, Hondurans, Iraqis, and Afghanis.
Obama's election has been best for white liberal Americans whose conscience can be assuaged by pretending that they are not racist at all and that indeed America is no longer a racist place evidenced by the election of a black man to the presidency. The fact that today African Americans are less educated and poorer than they were in the 1960s is immaterial to this self-congratulatory logic. Neither is the fact that there are more African American men today (in relative and absolute numbers) in America's racist jails than there had been at the height of Apartheid in South Africa. As for Obama's ongoing policies on education and racialized crime, they of course continue the policies of his white predecessors in pushing for more corporatization of schools and jails and busting teachers unions in the interest of the white business class.
But Obama is the culmination of white liberal hopes entertained since the early seventies when the language of racism was transformed, as an effect of the cooptation of the Civil Rights movement, into a culturalist language. Black people were not inferior racially, white liberals averred, "their problem" was diagnosed as "cultural." The feeling was that if black Americans would simply speak and act like a fantasized white middle class and adopt its social and cultural values, they would cease to face discrimination and they would break the "cycle of poverty." Reform, it was decided, should aim to effect such transformation. The black middle class, formed in the late nineteenth century in the wake of the abolition of slavery, though a small minority among African Americans, was seen as a model to be emulated. Indeed white liberal remedies like Affirmative Action (the largest beneficiaries of which were and still are white women and not African Americans) when it benefited any blacks at all, it did so by benefiting the established small black middle class. It was conservative members of this class who, after reaping its benefits, would advocate against Affirmative Action. Thus, white women and middle class African Americans benefited from a program that improved little in the lives of most African Americans, while the latter would increasingly be blamed for benefiting from it at the expense of white men --a refrain used by most white conservatives and not a few white liberals!
As Derrick Bell has eloquently demonstrated, Affirmative Action is a cover for a system by which racism continues to be institutionalized and African Americans continue to be blamed for refusing to improve their lives despite alleged Herculean efforts on their behalf. Some of the culturalist arguments of white liberals centered on Affirmative Action's production of white-acting black folks who would join the ranks of "hard-working Americans," a racist code that refers to white people which Obama often invokes in his speeches. The fantasy of low-grade American television programs in the late 1970s and 1980s like "Different Strokes" and "Webster" was to demonstrate that if white families were afforded the opportunity to raise black kids, these kids would end up as model citizens; indeed, they could grow up to become presidents one day. It was culture, you see, not race!Obama was of course not only raised by his white Christian mother and her family (something he --and Joe Biden --never tired of reminding us during his electoral campaign to fend off his paternal Muslim contamination), but even his black father was African and not African American. Passing him off as an example of what happens when African Americans are raised the "right way" is the pride and joy of white liberals enamored of their own culturalist-cum-racist ideology and inebriated by virulent American nationalism. Obama's continuation of America's imperial wars and aggressions is proof that if you put an African American in office who is raised "the right way," he will perform his imperial duties as well as any white president. Obama's winning the Nobel Peace Prize was therefore a major gain for white liberal Americans who can bask in the sun of their achievement. For after all, producing a few African Americans in the form of Barak Obama can and will silence whoever can still muster the courage to criticize this thoroughly racist system dubbed "American democracy" which continues to victimize most African Americans and much of the
PART OF STORY BELOW:
"Saddam Hussein was tried for the deaths of 280 people in a village and he was hung for it. I think Tony Blair is responsible for a hell of a lot more than 280 people.
"If someone has done something wrong they should pay. If you do the crime you've got to do the time."
Mr Brierley and other relatives were responding to an appeal by inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot for the views of "those most affected by the conflict".
Another relative, Eddie Hancock, whose son Jamie died in Basra in 2006, said there was "a bitterness that borders on hatred" among relatives at Mr Blair's decision to take the UK to war in Iraq.
The families are angry with the former prime minister for using the threat of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction as a justification for Britain's support of the US-led invasion in 2003.
No evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was found.
Mr Hancock told Sir John he hoped his inquiry was "big enough to take down the protectionism surrounding Blair, brick-by-brick if necessary".
Speaking outside the hearing, he said: "I hope that Sir John will have the courage and fortitude and integrity to take no prisoners and I hope he will broaden his very narrow brief, and that will include naming names.
"If Tony Blair is found to be innocent he should be publicly exonerated. If he is found to be guilty and lied to the nation he should get it straight in the neck."
Friday, October 16, 2009
PART OF ARTICLE BELOW:
The United Nations Human Rights Council voted Thursday to endorse a report detailing evidence of war crimes committed by Israeli forces and Palestinian militants during the Gaza war, moving the inquiry a step closer to the Security Council and possible criminal investigations.
The resolution endorsing the report, which took place after two days of debate, passed by a vote of 25 to 6, with 11 nations abstaining. The resolution, virtually identical to a Palestinian proposal introduced earlier in the week, gained a slimmer margin in the 47-member council than its backers had hoped. Both the United States and Israel have warned that any progress on the report would undermine the prospects for peace talks with the Palestinians.
Most of the developing nations on council voted for the resolution, including the Islamic majority nations of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, as well as China, India, Russia and Brazil, whose proposal for a toned-down version of the resolution did not have a significant impact on the adopted text.
Six nations, including the Netherlands, Italy and the United States, voted against the resolution, while five others, including France and Britain, both of which objected to the resolution, were officially recorded as absent and not included in the vote totals at all, according to the secretariat of the council.
“The clock on the report starts now,” said Ibrahim Khraishi, the Palestinian Authority’s United Nations ambassador in Geneva, adding that he hoped the Security Council in New York would take up the report, The Associated Press reported.
The Goldstone report on last winter’s Gaza war — so named for its lead investigator, South African jurist Richard Goldstone — found evidence that both Israeli and Palestinian actions amounted to war crimes, but it was more harshly critical of Israel.
It recommends that the Human Rights Council endorse the report and call on the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, to ask the United Nations Security Council to take up the report’s findings as a threat to the maintenance of international peace and security.
Further, it recommends that Israel and Palestinian authorities be given six months to show that they are conducting credible investigations into the allegations of war crimes. The Security Council is asked to monitor progress during those six months, and refer the charges to the International Criminal Court in the Hague if these domestic investigations are judged as inadequate.The court’s lead prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, had no comment Friday on a possible war crimes probe into the Gaza conflict. The Palestinians have separately asked the court to take up the matter.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the world powers' constant focus on Iran's nuclear program is not fair.
"We don't want nuclear weapons in this region and this is what we have always called for. We have also voiced this to the Iranian officials and they stress that they don't have any intention of developing nuclear weapons," Erdogan told Al -Arabiya satellite channel.
"They [the Iranians] want to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes because they worry that the traditional energy resourses might not meet their needs in the future," Turkey's Yenisafak newspaper quoted Erdogan as saying on Wednesday.
"Besides, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has found no evidence indicating that Iran is developing nuclear weapons," he added.
"What upsets me is another thing: why those talking about nuclear weapons always pick on Iran? Why don't they discuss Israel? They only point the finger at Iran and North Korea," Turkey's Prime Minister said.
"We call on them to adopt a just behavior. We urge the UN Security Council and especially its five permanent members to take necessary precautions to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons."
Most experts estimate that Israel has at least between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads, largely based on information leaked to the Sunday Times newspaper in the 1980s by Mordechai Vanunu, a former worker at the country's Dimona nuclear reactor.
Israel, which has initiated several wars in the region in its 60-year history, maintains a policy of ambiguity over its military nuclear capabilities.
JM: Where were you when you heard the news?
MT: On the day Fuad was killed, I was trying to get permission to visit his brother in prison. Fuad's uncle called and told me that something had happened at to my son at the school, and that they were at the hospital and I should try to come as quickly as possible, but he told me that Fuad was fine. He didn't want me to face the pain alone.
When I got to the hospital, I could see that my son was in bad shape -- many tubes were stuck into his body and nose, but he was still alive.
But when I went to stroke Fuad's arms, I could feel him dying inside. I quickly recited a passage from the Quran, to ask God to take my son to heaven. The rest of the family arrived to see Fuad, but the doctors took him away to another room to perform surgery. Unfortunately, it was too late.
JM: Was anyone at the scene when he was injured?
MT: Fuad was standing on the road [of his school] with a group of friends, when the Israeli military jeep suddenly swerved left off the main road toward them. All of his friends jumped out of the way in shock, but Fuad stayed where he was -- he stuck his hands in the air and waved his arms for the jeep to stop.
It ran straight into him, reversed over his body, and then drove forward again crushing Fuad underneath for a third time. All the teachers and boys shouted for the soldiers to stop so they could help their injured friend, but the soldiers instead closed the school gate so that nobody could get to Fuad. The teachers asked the soldiers if they realized what they had just done, but they replied, "We haven't done anything wrong. This is normal."
JM: Why do you think Fuad was killed?
MT: Why? Because he is Palestinian. As the soldiers said, this is normal. The Israeli army doesn't care about the life of any Palestinian, so this can happen any time -- they can kill anyone they like. When they ran Fuad over, they didn't even look under the jeep to see what had happened, but were more interested in closing the school gate so that nobody could help him.
They then called three more jeeps for back-up, and when they drove away, the jeep rode over Fuad's body, still trapped underneath, for a fourth time! This shows their blatant disregard for the lives of Palestinian boys.
One of Fuad's brothers, also a student at the school, saw this and jumped over the school gate to help Fuad, so the soldiers started kicking him and beating him with their guns until he was bleeding from his wounds. They didn't care -- they had murdered one boy, and then they wanted to kill his brother as well.
Fuad was left alone for 40 minutes. He wasn't dead yet, but nobody was allowed forward to help. Afterwards, the soldiers told the teachers that the whole thing was an accident, but still didn't even have the decency to call an ambulance, even though they had one on call just two minutes away. Only once the soldiers thought Fuad was dead did they re-open the school gate and let the people inside go to help him.
Maybe if the soldiers had shot my son I would be able to come to terms with his death, but for it to have happened in such an undignified manner is very difficult for me to comprehend. The road he was standing on is only for the school, and is around 40 meters away from the main road, so when they swerved left so sharply, they did it because they wanted to kill someone. By the time they had run over his body so many times, Fuad's liver was lying on the pavement. My brother wrapped it in plastic so that I wouldn't have to see it.
During the second intifada, there was an accident here in Yabad where an Israeli jeep lost control and flipped over. My brother, Fuad's uncle, saw this happen and went to help them, calling an ambulance and even helping to retrieve their weapons. The soldiers had been involved in an accident, not fighting, and you help anyone in an accident. But when Fuad was lying on the ground, close to his death, and the soldiers claimed it was an accident, they had no interest in calling an ambulance. Furthermore, every Israeli military vehicle has someone who is trained in first aid, in case one of the soldiers is injured, but they refused to help Fuad. All the teachers had cars to drive Fuad to the hospital, but the soldiers prevented them from doing so.
Now, none of the students want to go back to school, because they are afraid that they will be the next victim of this occupation. All the fathers want to send their children to different schools.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
On 7 October 2009, Tony Blair gave a lecture at a New York university. In responding to an unexpectedly direct student question, he publicly joined, for the first time, the US and Israeli Zionist consensus rejecting the Goldstone report.
On 27 June 2007, Blair left his job as UK prime minister under the cloud of the war on Iraq that he had concocted with former US President George W. Bush. Just hours later, he assumed his new position as the Special Envoy to the Mideast Quartet (EU, Russia, UN, US). He had long been a Zionist and a member of Labor Friends of Israel, and he received heartfelt farewells-and-hellos from Ehud Olmert ("A true friend of the State of Israel") and Tzipi Livni ("a very-well appreciated figure in Israel"). Palestinians living under Israeli occupation did not find this a very a promising development.
Though Blair spends only a week a month in the Middle East, he has managed to keep busy. He maintains a grueling, globe-trotting schedule of lectures, for which he receives up to $500,000. On top of this, he has been at work on his memoirs, for which he received a $7.3 million advance. Consulting work brought him $3.2 million (including a bonus) from J. P. Morgan Chase and $800,000 from Zurich Financial Services. By October 2008, he had amassed at least $19 million, far outdistancing even the enterprising Bill Clinton. He is thought to be the highest paid public speaker in the world.
Blair's schedule has caused some concern in the Middle East. His office insists that his "current role in the Middle East takes up the largest proportion of his time," but in late 2008, a Western diplomat in Jerusalem wondered if "his overstretchedness has produced a tactical blunder," while a UN official in Jerusalem said, "There is a general sense that he is not around" ("Lectures see Tony Blair earnings jump over #12," The Times, 29 October 2008). In September 2008, a coalition of Mideast aid groups accused the Quartet of "losing its grip," adding that its "failings could have serious ramifications for implementing international law around the globe" ("Aid groups: Tony Blair faces imminent failure in Middle East," The Times, 25 September 2008).
On 27 December 2008, Israel launched the Gaza massacre, which it dubbed "Operation Cast Lead." Eight days later, when asked about Blair's reaction, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown explained, "Tony's on holiday at the moment." While Blair found time to attend a private opening of the new Armani store in Knightsbridge, he found none to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, thus recalling his silence during the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon ("As Gaza is torn apart by war, where is Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair? He's been on holiday," Daily Mail, 5 January 2009). In early January, Blair flew to Israel, but he did not condemn the Israeli assault. In February 2009, while Palestinians in Gaza were still digging themselves out and mourning their dead, he accepted a $1 million prize from Tel Aviv University as the "Laureate for the Present Time Dimension in the field of Leadership" (Press release, 2009 Dan David Prize, 17 February 2009).
On 1 March 2009, he finally made it to Gaza. He conceded "a huge amount of damage" and the deaths of "large numbers of civilians," but rejected as "not very sensible" any discussion of disproportionality in Israel's attacks ("Blair shocked at devastation on first Gaza visit as envoy," The Scotsman, 2 March 2009). Blair did not meet with Hamas leaders, and his visit to Gaza lasted only a few hours, for he had to make a pilgrimage to Sderot, the Gilad Shalit of western Negev settlements ("Middle East envoy Tony Blair in Gaza for first time," The Independent, 1 March 2009). In June, he visited Gaza a second time and, as proof of his deep humanitarian instincts, went so far as to say that the Palestinians were in a "tough situation" ("Former British PM Blair Visits Gaza Strip," Voice of America News, 15 June 2009).
On 15 September 2009, the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, chaired by Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa, issued its 575-page report entitled "Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories." For three weeks after the Goldstone report's publication, Blair said nothing about it in public. Then, on 7 October 2009, he spoke at SUNY Buffalo (UB), where I teach, to a huge audience in the university's Distinguished Speakers Series. I didn't hear the lecture, for I was outside in a free speech corral (the first one to have appeared on my campus) with a group protesting Blair's invitation and his enormous lecture fee of $150,000, as confirmed to me by his exclusive agent, the Washington Speakers Bureau.
Monday, October 12, 2009
A Bullet Journey??*******************
film by Osama Qashoo
This film is a personal story made in memory of my friend Haza' who was killed while we were together. I was filming when one single bullet hit his heart, terminating his life forever and changing the lives of all those who knew him.
I managed to capture some footage of his death and in this film I am trying to show the journey of a bullet and the effect it leaves behind. It is a film to humanize those who are being killed by bullets so they are not seen only as numbers.
On 11th October 2009, activists protested inside Sainsbury’s on Cromwell Street, West London to highlight the sale of Israeli and illegal Settlement produce by both Sainsbury’s and other major supermarket chains across the UK.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
FORMER prime minister Tony Blair was publicly snubbed by a bereaved father yesterday who accused him of having "blood on his hands" for sending troops to fight in Iraq.Mr Blair, who has repeatedly defended his decision to lead Britain into the conflict, was rebuked by Peter Brierley, whose son, Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley, 28, was killed in 2003.
The clash came at a reception for guests who had attended a commemoration service marking the end of Operation Telic – the Iraq campaign – and honouring the 179 British personnel who died during the six-year conflict.
Mr Brierley refused to shake Mr Blair's outstretched hand at the event staged at the Guildhall in London and told the politician: "I'm not shaking your hand, you've got blood on it."
The former prime minister was ushered away and afterwards Mr Brierley, from Batley, West Yorkshire, said: "I understand soldiers go to war and die but they have to go to war for a good reason and be properly equipped to fight. I believe Tony Blair is a war criminal. I can't bear to be in the same room as him. I can't believe he's been allowed to come to this reception.
"I believe he's got the blood of my son and all of the other men and women who died out there on his hands."
His son was a 28-year-old radio systems operator with 212 Signal Squadron when he was killed in a road traffic accident in March 2003 in Kuwait while serving in Operation Telic.
Mr Blair had joined the Queen, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Iraq veterans and bereaved families at the St Paul's Cathedral service.
During his address, the Archbishop of Canterbury criticised "policy makers" for failing to consider the cost of the Iraq war.
Dr Rowan Williams, who has previously described the decisions that led to the conflict as "flawed", praised the "patient and consistent" efforts of troops on the ground.
The senior cleric said: "Many people of my generation and younger grew up doubting whether we should ever see another straightforward international conflict, fought by a standing army with conventional weapons.
"We had begun to forget the realities of cost. And when such conflict appeared on the horizon, there were those among both policy makers and commentators who were able to talk about it without really measuring the price, the cost of justice."
The Archbishop alluded to the controversial nature of the conflict, which brought hundreds of thousands of people on to the streets in protest in the run up to the war.
He said: "In a world as complicated as ours has become, it would be a very rash person who would feel able to say without hesitation, this was absolutely the right or the wrong thing to do, the right or the wrong place to be."
But Dr Williams went on to praise the efforts of the forces on the ground, who he said were really the ones with the task of upholding Britain's "moral credibility".
The service was a solemn event where prayers were said for the fallen and a marble plaque from the Basra Memorial Wall – dedicated to the 179 British personnel who died – was blessed by the Archbishop as the monument is to be moved to the UK's National Memorial Arboretum.
Among the congregation were senior royals including the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Princess Royal.