Showing posts with label Solidarity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Solidarity. Show all posts

December 03, 2009

Boycott of Ahava Dead Sea products makes an impact

Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 2 December 2009

Bathrobe brigades in Amsterdam informing people about the dirty secrets of Ahava beauty products in front of a store that sells the product. (Cris Toala Olivares)

The international campaign to boycott Ahava beauty products has recently won the support of a Dutch parliamentarian and an Israeli peace group. During the past few months, activists in Canada, the UK, Ireland, Israel, the United States and the Netherlands have campaigned against the sale of Ahava products because of the company's complicity in the Israeli occupation.

The Stolen Beauty campaign has included protest actions by "bikini brigades" around the United States organized by the American peace group CODEPINK, and allied actions have taken place in London, Paris, Vienna, Montreal and Amsterdam. The Dutch "bathrobe brigades" that appeared in shopping centers in Amsterdam and Haarlem, not only caught the eye of the press, but also that of Dutch parliamentarian Harry van Bommel.

Ahava manufactures its cosmetics in a factory in the illegal Mitzpe Shalem settlement in the occupied West Bank. However, Ahava labels its skin care products imported into the EU as originating from "The Dead Sea, Israel." Van Bommel, concerned about this misleading labeling, asked Dutch minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen to investigate the origin of Ahava cosmetics, and Verhagen agreed.

The settlements Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia, located deep within the Israeli-occupied West Bank, own 44 percent of the shares of the company. Before the June 1967 war, Palestinians lived on some of the lands that are now part of the two settlements; there were Palestinian communities in Nabi Musa where Kalia is now located and in Arab al-Taamira next to Mitzpe Shalem.

According to the Israeli group Who Profits From the Occupation? (, the mud used in Ahava products is taken from a site on the shores of the Dead Sea inside the occupied territory, next to Kalia. Ahava uses Palestinian natural resources without the permission of or compensation to the Palestinians. Meanwhile, Israel denies Palestinians access to the shores of the Dead Sea and its resources, although one-third of the western shore of the Dead Sea lies in the occupied West Bank.

This week Palestinian tourism minister Khouloud Daibes voiced her disagreement with Ahava's practices in the West Bank. In protest of Israel's aspirations to nominate the Dead Sea for the Seven Natural Wonders of the World competition, Daibes wrote her Israeli counterpart a letter to express her objection to "promoting the Dead Sea in the competition, alongside products like Ahava, which are produced illegally in the Israeli settlement on occupied Palestinian lands."

Recently, the international campaign to boycott Ahava beauty products received support from the Israeli peace group Gush Shalom, which sent an open letter on 17 November to Ahava's management, urging the company to move its operations out of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Gush Shalom stated: "Your decision to locate in Occupied Territory and make use of natural resources which do not belong to Israel was a mistaken gamble which already harmed your interests and might harm them even much further. Sooner or later you will have to get out of this damaging and illegal location -- and the sooner, the better."

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, parliamentarian Van Bommel told The Electronic Intifada he welcomes the international Ahava campaign. "It might appear a minor issue, but it is important as an example of [Israel] economically hampering the realization of a Palestinian state." He added that he would welcome initiatives in other EU countries to raise the issue in their parliaments. "Subsequently, the pressure on Israel will increase and more importantly, we can engage the public in the debate."

Adri Nieuwhof is an independent consultant based in Switzerland.

November 30, 2009

Palestinians organize for the Gaza Freedom March

Rami Almeghari, The Electronic Intifada, 30 November 2009

Mustafa al-Kayali
"From the besieged Gaza Strip, we call upon all peace lovers around the globe to come here to participate in our Gaza Freedom March that is aimed at breaking a repressive Israeli blockade on Gaza's 1.5 million residents." So said Mustafa al-Kayali, coordinator of the steering committee for the Gaza Freedom March.

The march is scheduled to depart by 31 December from Izbet Abed Rabbo, an area devastated during last winter's Israeli assault, and head towards Erez, the crossing point to Israel at the northern end of the Gaza Strip.

"For the past several months, since the 22-day long Israeli war on Gaza came to an end on 18 January 2009, we in the steering committee that represents civil society organizations here in Gaza, have been planning to organize such a march in an attempt to end the crippling three-year-long Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave," al-Kayali explained.

What makes this planned demonstration different is the fact it will include about a thousand participants from all over the world including about 800 people from the United States itself. Many of the American participants include members of the American pro-peace group, Code Pink.

The march is timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the devastating Israeli attack that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza, the vast majority civilians. By heading towards Erez, organizers wish to highlight Israel's responsibility for the siege, a point emphasized in the UN-commissioned Goldstone report that found Israel responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. "Erez is the main gate from Gaza to the Israeli apartheid state," al-Kayali said, "so marching there is also a signal of rejection by internationals of the actions of the Israeli apartheid regime."

Several civil society organizations are supporting the Gaza Freedom March, including the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), the International Campaign for Breaking the Israeli Siege, the Palestinian Workers Syndicate, the Sharek Youth Forum and the Palestinian Network of Nongovernmental Organizations (PNGO).

Dima al-Meshal
Dima al-Meshal of the Sharek Youth Forum in Gaza has been helping to publicize the Gaza Freedom March among youth groups in Gaza.

A student of medicine, al-Meshal said that the march is a reflection of the Palestinian people's determination to get rid of the Israeli repression through peaceful means.

"We will highlight Gaza's condition as a whole," al-Meshal said. "We have a message that we are a people who are in need to live in dignity. This is the first time ever that the Palestinians come together in [such] large numbers along with internationals to say no to repression."

Young people in Gaza are first and foremost motivated for "better lives and better futures. We don't care about food or anything else. I want to live normally, as many others around the world."

In recent months, people in Gaza believe the international community began to direct its attention elsewhere, neglecting the siege of Gaza. Few international media outlets pay attention to the situation here.

Al-Kayali hopes the march will begin to change that: "We call on the internationals who come here not to consider their visits as tourism. Rather, they should convey a real message from the ground to their peoples, organizations or governments."

Since January 2009, several international campaigns have attempted to come to Gaza in solidarity. About four boats, sailed by the Free Gaza Movement, managed to sail to Gaza, yet last summer the Israeli occupation authorities intercepted a further attempt, blocking the boat's arrival into the besieged coastal enclave.

According to organizers of the Gaza Freedom March, international participants will enter through the Rafah crossing terminal on the Gaza-Egypt border line in the southern Gaza Strip.

"Most of local youth with whom I talked over the Gaza Freedom March expressed excitement and enthusiasm for participation," al-Kayali said. "They are keen to send a message to the outside world that the Palestinian people are there and that humans should be united for the sake of freedom."

All images by Rami Almeghari.

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

Anti-war protest shakes up holiday shopping

Seattle, Washington
November 28, 2009

A bizarre scene unfolded amid the festive holiday atmosphere at Westlake Center on Saturday, as men in U.S. military uniforms stormed through the crowd, tossing civilians to the sidewalk and handcuffing them.

It was all part of a "street theater" style anti-war protest staged by opponents of the proposed troop surge in Afghanistan.

The uniformed men and civilians were all acting out their parts, and no bystanders were actually hurt in the holiday crowd.

But many people were caught off-guard by the unorthodox scene only a few steps from Westlake Center, where lines of young kids waited their turn to ride the carousel and shoppers hurried by with their bags.

As the "soldiers" screamed profanities at the "civilians" on the ground, many frightened young children were asking their parents what was going on. Meanwhile, some adult shoppers walked by - seemingly oblivious to the freaky scene.

The protest's organizers, a group called "The World Can't Wait," say they're trying to show what a military occupation is like by re-enacting scenes of soldiers mistreating civilians.

"A troop surge means nothing but suffering, killing ... and it's not in the interest of people living in Afghanistan or the people living in this country," says Emma Kaplan, one of the organizers.

She claimed that President Obama is planning to announce a troop surge on Tuesday that will send 34,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan, and that it is up to the American public to stop it.

"People living in this country have a responsibility to stop the crimes of their government no matter who the president is," she said.

November 27, 2009

Internet Shut Down


To whom it may concern,

As a user of the Internet, I am very concerned about the very secretive proposed trade agreement, ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). This is an international treaty, the draft of which has been recently leaked, that proposes some radical and potentially disastrous changes to international copyright law, and the way Internet service providers do business.

  • Currently, Internet service providers are not held liable for the actions of their customers. ACTA will make ISPs responsible for enforcement of the new legal framework put forth. They will have to police copyright on user-contributed material. This could potentially put an end to sites that depend on such content (Youtube, Flickr, Blogger) due to the impossibility of monitoring the amount of data involved for infringing materials. The only practical option for the ISP would be to block access entirely.
  • ISPs will be asked to take a ‘three strikes’ approach, and will have to disconnect users that have been accused of copyright infringements three times, as will be required by law. The user will be disconnected without trial, an opportunity to defend themselves, or even any hard evidence.
  • The whole world must adopt US-style "notice-and-takedown" rules that require ISPs to remove any material that is claimed to be infringing, without evidence or trial. This has proved a disaster in the US and other countries, where it provides an easy method of censoring certain people and their websites – just by claiming a copyright violation.
  • Stronger laws about breaking DRM measures will be brought into effect, even if you have a legitimate reason to be doing so.

This treaty isn’t just about ‘preventing piracy and stopping hackers’. The large content distributors have become greedy, and wish to nullify the prominent role the Internet has on entertainment as a whole in the modern world. They can smell their precious money slipping through of their fingers and aren’t afraid to manipulate the democratic process to avoid that. Hopefully you can see how their greed will affect you, me, and anyone else that uses the internet. They know that if this treaty becomes common knowledge before being passed, there will be an outcry – that’s why it has been kept secret so long. The passing of this treaty will be disastrous to the Internet as it exists today. It would end the free reign we have had to speak our minds without fear of censorship. Do we really want to follow China’s example with Internet policies?

This entire debacle is just another demonstration of how little democracy exists in today’s corporate controlled world, so let’s try take a little bit of it back. Fight ACTA.

-A concerned citizen of the Internet.

Dear Friends,

I have just read and signed the online petition:

"Stop ACTA Now!"

hosted on the web by, the free online petition service, at:

I personally agree with what this petition says, and I think you might agree, too. If you can spare a moment, please take a look, and consider signing yourself.

Best wishes,

Your name here


U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab
Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA)
Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA)
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA)
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Time Warner
News Corp
Sony Corp of America
Walt Disney Co

November 26, 2009

Palestinian village of Lifta threatened with total destruction

November 26, 2009


Lifta, a most picturesque Palestinian village, lies on the slopes of West Jerusalem below the highway linking it to Tel-Aviv. It has been abandoned since the invading Hagana underground forces backed by the Stern Gang drove the last of its Palestinian inhabitants in 1948 during the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

It was the one single event which changed the nature of the place and the whole region. Although dozens of houses were destroyed, many of them still remain poised on the landscape.

Lifta is considered by many as a rare and fine example of Palestinian rural architecture with narrow streets aligned with the slopes of the mountains around it. Its cubist forms are a wonderful manifestation of the mastery of the Palestinian stone masons who were the indigenous owners and builders of these houses.

Today Lifta is more or less a ghost town suspended in space and remains deserted despite the fact that most of its original Palestinian inhabitants live in the surrounding communities. The Israeli authorities refuse to allow them to return.

Now the Jerusalem Municipality has produced plans to turn Lifta into a luxurious and exclusive Jewish development – reinventing its history in the process.

The Plan, numbered 6036, was designed by two architectural offices: G. Kartas – S. Grueg and S. Ahronson, as part of the “local space planning of Jerusalem”. The plan was submitted on June 28, 2004, and according to its title refers to “The Spring of National”. The plan, submitted to the Jerusalem Municipality Planning Committee in 2004, was approved by a regional committee.

In 2005, objections to the Plan were raised by several groups, including Bimkom (alternative center for Israeli planning) and the representatives of the regional committee of the organization and construction for the Al Quds-Jerusalem area.

Main Issues:

• The original Palestinian inhabitants of Lifta, their memories of the village, their exile and longing to return to Lifta are not mentioned, or even considered by the Municipality Master Plan.

• Lifta captures the moment of destruction of Palestinian life in 1948. Its 3,000 original inhabitants fled – mostly to East Jerusalem and to the Ramallah area. However, unlike many of the 530 Palestinian villages and towns conquered and bulldozed during the war of 1947/48, a few of Lifta’s houses remain almost intact, yet deserted and declared ‘officially’ resettled.

• These set of circumstances have placed Lifta in a unique position: its original inhabitants are still around, living in the OPT and the Chicago area with a desire that the injustices done in 1948 be acknowledged and repaired.

• In Israel, renovation projects are frequently used to build a national narrative, ignoring the deep contradictions between planning and human rights that inevitably arise out of such initiatives.

• With Lifta, we have a place where a new national transformation results in the erasure of another’ people’s memory as evidenced in the new Masterplan.

• Lifta is a tangible embodiment of the larger context of events in the region during 1947/48. Lifta can be a vital place for contemplating and understanding the concept of historical continuity.

• Lifta’s heritage is a story of a multicultural society, embracing a strong sense of an ethnically and religiously diverse community of Muslims, Jews and Christians which encapsulated a healthy civil equality amongst its inhabitants and the neighbouring communities. If Lifta were to be rejuvenated with due care to preserving its memory, it could offer a unique opportunity for the start of a new dialogue towards a conciliatory outcome.

Petition’s Aim:

This petition aims to save Lifta through the World Monuments Fund , amongst others, and to draw attention to this site which has been threatened by neglect, vandalism and forced occupation by extremist settlers.

Sign the petition

Please also visit the sponsor:


November 25, 2009

Veolia and Alstom continue to abet Israel's rights violations

Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 24 November 2009

Despite mounting pressure to withdraw from the light rail project in Jerusalem designed to serve the needs of Israel's illegal settlements, the French transportation giant Veolia is set to be highly involved in the project for the next five years. The company needs to support its new Israeli partner, the Dan Bus Company, which lacks the experience to operate the light rail.

As the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on 23 October, Dan has bought a 49 percent share in Veolia's contract with the City Pass Consortium to operate the light rail in Jerusalem, which connects the city to illegal Israeli settlements built on seized Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. After it runs the light rail for five years, Dan will buy out Veolia's 51 percent share in the 30-year contract, as well as Veolia's five percent share in the City Pass Consortium.

The City Pass Consortium consists of four Israeli companies and the French companies Connex, a subsidiary of Veolia Transport, and Alstom. Dan will need the full support of Veolia to successfully run the light rail for the next five years because of Dan's lack of experience in this area. As a major shareholder, Veolia will provide the crucial expertise to Dan and continue to be a key player in the light rail project.

Veolia has been pressured to end its involvement in the Jerusalem light rail project by several financial institutions concerned with socially responsible investing, because the rail will normalize the illegal annexation of Palestinian East Jerusalem, considered part of the West Bank under international law. Some European politicians have also criticized the company because the project infringes on Palestinian human rights. After four years of silence, Veolia recently attempted to pacify concerns and protests by expressing the company's commitment to operate the Jerusalem light rail on "a clear, non-discriminatory policy based on free access for all parts of the population." The company promised to reconsider its involvement in the light rail if application of the non-discrimination policy turns out to be impossible.

However, statements made by a City Pass spokesperson reveal that Veolia is aware that the light rail service will be discriminatory. In a 23 April 2009 interview with Belgian masters student Karolien van Dyck, City Pass spokesperson Ammon Elian explained how Palestinians and Jews are segregated in Jerusalem, and that the first planned rail line is designed to serve the needs of the secular Jewish population (with one stop in the Palestinian neighborhood of Shufat), and a second line is planned to serve the Orthodox Jewish population. "If Palestinians would want to make use of the light rail, both groups will not meet on the train, because of their different life patterns," Elian explained. The interview appeared in a Dutch-language report entitled "Public Transport and Political Control: an empirical study into the City Pass project on the West Bank" ("Openbaar vervoer en politieke controle: een empirische studie van het City Pass project op de Westelijke Jordaanoever"). Elian further justified the discriminatory service by claiming that since Palestinians are served by a network of buses, integration in the light rail would be redundant.

Considering its own past, it is hard to imagine that the Dan Bus Company management will take Veolia's non-discrimination policy seriously. On its English-language website, Dan states that "the Jewish battle of Jewish settlements for survival, from the pre-statehood 'Incidents' to the present day, has been an inseparable part of the Israeli experience. It is only natural that the Dan Cooperative has always been a central element in the struggle for the security of Israel, at all periods and in all circumstances." Not only serving Israel's civilian population, Israeli military forces use Dan's bus fleet "in times of peace as well as of war."

Meanwhile, legal action in France by the Association France Palestine Solidarity (AFPS) and the Palestine Liberation Organization against Alstom and Alstom Transport continues. The French companies have appealed a court decision to go ahead with the legal case. On 15 April 2009, the Nanterre tribunal ruled that the AFPS complaint aimed at ending Veolia, Alstom and Alstom Transport's participation in the light rail fell within its jurisdiction. Alstom and Alstom Transport appealed the judgment in a hearing at the Versailles Court of Appeals on 9 November. While Veolia did not appeal the ruling, a lawyer representing the company attended the hearing as an observer. The judgment is expected on 17 December 2009.

Full article

Palestinian trade unions unanimously support boycott movement

Press release, BDS National Committee, 25 November 2009

In reaction to reports alleging that a Palestinian trade union official has stated his reservations about the Palestinian civil society campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), the full spectrum of the Palestinian trade union movement has expressed solid support for the BDS National Committee (BNC) and for the global BDS campaign against Israel as an effective form of resisting its military occupation, war crimes and apartheid policies.

On 12 November, The Jewish Chronicle, a staunchly Zionist paper published in the United Kingdom, reported that the Secretary General of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), Shaher Sa'ad, had told a small delegation of British trade unionists that PGFTU "had so little interest in the subject [of boycotting Israel] it had never discussed boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS)." The head of the delegation, Steve Scott, who is the director of Trade Union Friends of Israel (TUFI), a well-oiled lobbying front for Israel in the trade union movement, is quoted in the same article as saying, "the only area where the PGFTU did have a boycott policy was with regard to produce from West Bank settlements. Even then, there was concern about whether that boycott could do more harm than good for the 30,000 Palestinians employed there."

On 14 November, Shaher Sa'ad categorically denied the above report in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV, reiterating his support for the boycott against Israel. The following day, in an official speech before thousands of Palestinian workers at a political rally in Nablus, he called again for "boycotting [all] Israeli goods" and "supporting local [Palestinian] products" as an effective "form of resistance against the Israeli occupation."

Whether Mr. Sa'ad made the statement attributed to him by the Zionist media outlets in the UK or not, the fact remains that PGFTU has officially endorsed the Palestinian civil society campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, since it was launched on 9 July 2005, and has been a member in the BDS National Committee (BNC), the coalition of Palestinian unions, political parties, NGOs and networks that leads the global BDS campaign, ever since its inception.

If The Jewish Chronicle's report is accurate, something that cannot be taken for granted, given the paper's notorious record, Mr. Sa'ad will have isolated himself completely from the absolute majority of the Palestinian trade union movement, including a solid majority within PGFTU itself. Since the above report, the BNC has officially asked PGFTU for clarifications and for a public, written position confirming its support for the boycott and calling on international trade unions to support BDS. Within hours of our letter, PGFTU-Gaza (which forms a sizable part of the whole Federation) issued an official statement confirming its support for BDS and condemning any alleged violation of it by Sa'ad. Six trade union factions within PGFTU immediately followed suit, endorsing the BNC position and confirming their unambiguous support for BDS. Union leaders affiliated to all political parties represented in the PGFTU have insisted on the need to combat any attempts to undermine the BDS movement.

Furthermore, the largest, most representative Palestinian trade union federation, the General Union of Palestinian Workers (one of the constituent mass organizations of the Palestine Liberation Organization), reiterated its steady support of BDS and denounced Sa'ad's reported statements as falling completely outside the Palestinian trade union consensus behind the boycott of Israel. The Palestinian Federation of Independent Trade Unions also issued a similar position. It is worth noting that all three federations are part of the BNC.

The Israel lobby groups in the UK and elsewhere have felt quite desperate lately in their abortive attempts to stop the spectacular growth of the BDS movement, particularly among major international trade unions. In South Africa, Great Britain, Ireland, Brazil, Canada and France trade union federations representing tens of millions of workers have endorsed -- partially or fully -- the BDS campaign against Israel. Many trade unions in Europe, Latin America and Canada have also announced their support for the Israel boycott, underlining the dramatic shift in international public opinion against Israel, especially in the aftermath of its war crimes against the Palestinian people in the occupied Gaza Strip, which were squarely condemned by the UN Fact Finding Mission led by South African Judge, Richard Goldstone.

The BNC, including all three federations representing the Palestinian trade union movement, warmly salute all international trade unions who have endorsed BDS, confirming that this is the most effective and needed form of solidarity with the Palestinian people and the strongest challenge to Israel's criminal impunity and exceptionalism. As in the struggle against South African apartheid, Israel's occupation, colonialism and apartheid will only come to an end when international civil society shoulders the moral responsibility by holding Israel to account before international law and universal principles of human rights, and by treating it as a pariah state, as apartheid South Africa was, deserving comprehensive and sustained BDS campaigns.

Any isolated and dissonant statements attributed to any Palestinian trade union official can never be regarded as remotely representing the Palestinian trade union movement, as it would be in direct conflict with the consensus in this movement behind BDS. We urge all international trade unions to heed the call of Palestinian civil society, including the trade union movement, by endorsing BDS. We further urge all trade unions and trade union federations to sever their links with the Histadrut, a Zionist organization that has always played a key role in perpetuating Israel's occupation, colonization and system of racial discrimination, and that has justified and applauded Israel's war crimes in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009.

The Histadrut and Israel apologists within the international trade union movement have continuously tried to use partial comments and innuendo by this or that Palestinian trade union official to create a deceptive impression of an imagined "split" in the Palestinian trade union movement on BDS. Today, we reconfirm to the TU movement worldwide that the Palestinian trade union movement stands united in support of BDS and calls on every TU to endorse BDS. This is our best hope to end Israel's grave violations of international law and to attain our inalienable, UN-sanctioned rights, especially our right to self determination.


"We will have to kill them all": Effie Eitam, thug messiah

Jim Holstun and Irene Morrison, The Electronic Intifada, 25 November 2009

Efraim Eitam
Colonel Efraim (Fein) Eitam was only following orders when he told his troops to beat Ayyad Aqel in 1988. They beat him to death.

Eitam, who since then has held several senior posts in the Israeli government, has recently toured the US as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "Special Emissary" to the "Caravan for Democracy" program of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). This is a marriage made in heaven. Since Israel was founded, the JNF has organized the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the settlement of Jews on their expropriated land; Eitam sees himself as the messianic soldier-prophet directing future expulsions of Palestinians from Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Hillel of Buffalo, New York, invited Eitam to speak at our campus, the University at Buffalo (UB), on the recommendation of UB Professor Ernest Sternberg, a board member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and a founder of its local campus chapter.

In February 1988, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin discreetly told the Israeli army to break the bones of Palestinians rising up during the first Palestinian intifada. According to the testimony of Israeli soldiers, Colonel Eitam relayed the message to his Givati Brigade, then occupying Gaza. On 7 February, he ordered four of them to break the bones of two brothers from al-Bureij refugee camp. They cuffed and blindfolded them, beat them for a while in their own home, then took them to a secluded olive grove, where they kicked and beat them for 20 minutes. Khalid Aqel survived; his 21-year-old brother Ayyad died. In 1990, an Israeli court martial convicted these soldiers of assault, reduced their ranks, gave suspended sentences to three, and sentenced the fourth to two months ("Soldier jailed for intifada killing will sue Rabin," Guardian, 2 November 1990).

Eitam's soldiers testified he had ordered and participated in the Givati beatings. He admitted driving around Gaza with four batons in his jeep, including a shatter-proof, non-regulation knout made of thick rope. The army judges found that Eitam's "violent behavior became the norm, and was taken as an example by those under his command" ("Soldier Sentenced for Palestinian Beatings," Associated Press, 31 October 1990; "Givati Commander Denies Telling Men to 'Break Bones'", The Jerusalem Post, 23 February 1990; "Givati 4 Are Convicted", The Jerusalem Post, 2 October 1990). Still, he received no judgment for almost two years. Then, on 13 July 1992, Rabin became prime minister, and three days later, Eitam got off with a reprimand and a recommendation against promotion. The Jerusalem Post quotes sources suggesting that his likely appeal to Israel's high court of any conviction might have implicated his higher-ups, including Rabin, in the beatings and murders ("Effi Fein Reprimanded to Prevent Him Appealing to Supreme Court", 19 July 1992).

Nevertheless, when Ehud Barak became Rabin's general staff chief, he promoted Eitam to brigadier general. In December 2000, after Rabin's death, Barak's successor Shaul Mofaz refused to promote Eitam to the general staff. Chafing at the slight, Eitam gave an incendiary anti-Oslo lecture at Bar-Ilan University. He called Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat "a miserable murderer," attacked the government for sharing control of Jerusalem, and proposed a new Nakba, or dispossession: the Israeli army "can tomorrow ... conquer Judea, Samaria [the West Bank], and the Gaza Strip and expel the population there overnight. It's not a problem to do this. We have a problem of having the will to do this. As a nation we are inhibited" ("Eitam quits IDF", The Jerusalem Post, 27 December 2000).

Shortly thereafter, Eitam resigned from the army, but his career flourished. Elected to the Knesset in February 2003, he helped form the National Religious Party and the Renewed Religious National Zionist Party. In 2002-04 he held several cabinet-level portfolios in the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, including minister of housing and construction, a post he used to accelerate settlement in the Golan Heights, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

In a long interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz, Eitam called Palestinian citizens of Israel a "ticking bomb" and a "cancer" ("Dear God, this is Effi", 20 March 2002). Nations other than Israel are a "world of robots without souls." In classic fascist fashion, he stated that in war the most "sublime things in man appear." He seems to believe that he is the Messiah, saying his mission is "to save the people of Israel and the State of Israel." Such a leader, Eitam said, "also leads the Jewish people. He stands in the place where not only Ben-Gurion stood, but where Moses, too, stood. Where King David stood. So how does one do that, yet remain modest? How does one not get lost between coalition agreements and political intrigues, and a process that involves the very order of nature and the order of the heavens and the earth?" ("Continuation of Dear God, this is Effi", Haaretz, 20 March 2002).

But this modest Messiah isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Unchastened by the killing of Aqel, Eitam has continued his racist and violent incitement. At a 2002 address in a Tel Aviv synagogue, Eitam called for the murder of then Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat, along with the rest of his colleagues: "If I [could] give the order now, he would be dead in 15 minutes, together with his whole gang." Of former Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade leader Marwan Barghouti, then being investigated by Israel in preparation for trial, Eitam suggested Israel should just "Take him out to an orchard and shoot him in the head" ("NRP leader Eitam: Arafat, Barghouti should be killed", The Jerusalem Post, 5 July 2002).

In typical colonial fashion he has called Palestinians "creatures who came out of the depths of darkness" who were "collectively guilty" and who could be indiscriminately killed not only if they had "blood on their hands" but because of "the evil in their heads." "We will have to kill them all," he said ("A Reporter at Large: Among the Settlers", The New Yorker, 31 May 2004).

Eitam has repeatedly called for the wholesale expulsion of Palestinians, seeing a 2002 Israeli assault on the West Bank as an opportunity to force them into Jordan, leaving "our Jewish conscience ... clean" ("Israeli nationalist hopes to persuade the country to expel Palestinians, Associated Press, 7 April 2002). In 2006, he stated: "We will have to expel the great majority of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]" ("Leftist MKs blast Eitam's statements on Arabs", Haaretz, 11 September 2006).

Addressing Arab Knesset members in 2008, he said, "the day will come when we will banish you from this house ... and from the national home. ... You ... should be expelled to Gaza, where your people, who are fighting us, dwell; that is where you belong" ("Security around MK Eitam boosted after anti-Arab speech", Ynet, 15 April 2008). During Israel's attacks on Gaza last winter, Eitam advocated mass transfer of Gaza civilians and turning the Strip into a "free hunting zone" ("Audio Exclusive: One Jerusalem Interview with Israeli General Effie Eitam (Res)", One Jerusalem, 7 January 2009).

The Israeli press has documented other staggering statements by Eitam: on the Israeli army's "very moral" but also fatal use of Jenin teenager Nidal Abu Muhsein as a human shield; his demand that Israel "declare war" on Palestinian citizens of Israel living in the Negev; and his calls for outlawing commemoration of the Nakba; executing Israeli politicians who favor returning occupied territories to Palestinians; and "decapitating" Hamas leaders.

Eitam's visit protested

When University at Buffalo community members asked Hillel to cancel Eitam's meeting because of his previous violence and hate speech and the damage his visit would do to local interfaith efforts, it refused. Hillel and other Eitam supporters responded that the scrupulously-documented charges made against him were a "medieval blood libel"; that Eitam never said or did these things; that he was misquoted (he seems to be misquoted a lot) or quoted out of context; that the leading Israeli newspapers reporting his words and deeds were part of a vast left-wing conspiracy; and that even if Eitam did say and do these things, he represents an important sector of Israeli opinion that should be heard.

On 2 November, Hillel held a noon meeting with Eitam for University at Buffalo students. Before the talk, one Eitam supporter talked with another about killing a protestor, while third called out to a student wearing a headscarf, "Why don't you go blow yourself up?" Eitam's speech consisted of a tirade about Iran, Hamas and Hizballah, and how efforts to make peace with them all failed, and "withdrawal" from Gaza was also a failure. Eitam compared Israel's actions to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, explaining that [US President] Truman had to "incinerate 200,000 people in a second" to protect American troops. When challenged repeatedly by one of us why he has made racist statements such as calling Palestinian citizens of Israel a "cancer," Eitam simply denied ever having said them and insisted his words had been taken "far out of context" ("Hillel Student to Arab Student: "Why don't you go blow yourself up?", The Buffalo Activist, 2 November 2009).

Eitam also spoke at a packed evening lecture. Hillel President Dan Lenard began by denouncing the "fascists" who had presented critical information about Eitam. Consistent with his earlier performance, Eitam's speech was a mish-mash of Arab-hating, Israel-boosting, and bare-faced lies. He insisted that Iran constitutes an unprecedented existential threat, and indeed, he has been calling for an attack on Iran since at least 2006 ("MK Eitam: Strike Iran now", Ynet, 18 May 2006). Astonishingly, he said Iran sponsored al-Qaeda's attacks. And again he compared the course taken by the US with Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the course the US and Israel should take with Iran.

But Eitam couldn't completely forget his favorite enemies. He claimed that Palestinians fled Palestine in 1947-48 on the broadcast orders of Arab leaders -- a claim long discredited. He said that a steady barrage of Hamas-fired Qassam rockets prompted the Gaza massacre, though Israeli sources, including Ehud Olmert's press spokesman, demonstrate that Hamas ceased all rocket fire between 19 June and 4 November 2008, when Israelis infiltrated Gaza and killed six Hamas activists. Palestinians on the West Bank, he says, are desperate for Israel to maintain the occupation and protect them from Hamas.

It was not a memorable performance. Eitam left the hall with a posse of three armed guards (or so a supporter reports) and a few diehard supporters. Outside the event, 40 students and community members protested Eitam's presence on campus; they had been alerted by UB Students for Justice in Palestine and the Palestine-Israel Committee of the Western New York Peace Center. A few Eitam supporters spat at protesters or yelled "terrorists!" but more passers-by joined in with the protest.

Eitam's policies may not ultimately be much different from those of, say, former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. But there is an air of desperation in organizing a US tour by such an unmanicured monster. On the other hand, the quickly-organized protest was one of the most spirited in recent UB memory. As the recent actions against former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in New Orleans, the University of Kentucky, the University of Arkansas, the University of Chicago and in San Francisco suggests, Israeli war criminals can no longer count on respectful US campus forums for state-funded propaganda tours. There's something in the air.

Jim Holstun teaches world literature at SUNY Buffalo and has published several articles for The Electronic Intifada. He can be reached at jamesholstun A T hotmail D O T com. Irene Morrison is Assistant to the Director of the Western New York Peace Center. She can be reached at Irene A T wnypeace D O T org. Both are members of the WNYPC Palestine-Israel Committee.

November 24, 2009

The Economic Crisis and What Must be Done

by Richard C. Cook
November 24, 2009

The United States does not control its own destiny. Rather it is controlled by an international financial elite, of which the American branch works out of big New York banks like J.P. Morgan Chase, Wall Street investment firms such as Goldman Sachs, and the Federal Reserve System. They in turn control the White House, Congress, the military, the mass media, the intelligence agencies, both political parties, the universities, etc. No one can rise to the top in any of these institutions without the elite’s stamp of approval.

This elite has been around since the nation began, becoming increasingly dominant as the 19thcentury progressed. A key date was passage of the National Banking Act of 1863, when the system was put into place whereby federal government debt was used to collateralize bank lending. Since then we’ve paid the freight through our taxes for bank control of the economy. The final nails in the coffin came with the passage of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.

In 1929 the bankers plunged the nation into the Great Depression by constricting the money supply. With Franklin D. Roosevelt as president, the nation struggled through the decade of the 1930s but did not pull out of the Depression until the industrial explosion during World War II.

After the war came the Golden Age of the U.S. economy, when the working man, protected by strong labor unions, became a true partner in the prosperity of the industrial age. That era lasted a full generation. The bankers were largely spectators as Americans led the world in exports, standard of living, science and space exploration, and every measure of health, longevity, and culture.

Roosevelt had kept the bankers subservient to the interests of the economy at large. The Federal Reserve was part of the New Deal team, and interest rates were held at historic lows despite a large federal deficit. One main impact was the huge increase in home ownership. After World War II, the G.I. Bill allowed home ownership to grow further and millions of veterans to attend college. The influx of educated graduates led to productivity growth and the emergence of new high-tech industries.

But the bankers were laying their plans. In the early 1950s they got the government to agree to allow the Federal Reserve to escape its subservience to the U.S. Treasury Department and set interest rates on its own. Rates rose throughout the 1950s and 1960s. By the time of the interest rate hikes of 1968, the economy was slowing down. Both federal budget and trade deficits were beginning to replace the post-war surpluses. High interest rates were the likely cause.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon removed the dollar’s gold peg, allowing the huge inflation resulting from oil price increases that the international bankers engineered through control of U.S. foreign policy when Henry Kissinger was national security adviser and secretary of state. Nixon’s opening to China resulted in early agreements, also overseen by banking interests, to begin to transfer U.S. industry to overseas producers like China which had cheap labor costs.

By the mid-1970s, the U.S. had been taken over by a behind the scenes coup-d’etat that included events in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a conspiracy that could only have been instigated by the highest levels of world financial control. In the election of 1976, David Rockefeller succeeded in placing fellow Trilateral Commission member Jimmy Carter in the White House, but Carter upset the banking community, thoroughly Zionist in orientation, by working toward peace in the Middle East and elsewhere.

I was working in the Carter White House in 1979-80. Unbeknownst to the president, Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, another Rockefeller protégé, suddenly raised interest rates to fight the inflation the bankers had caused by the OPEC oil price deals, and plunged the nation into recession. Carter was made to look weak and uninformed and was defeated in the election of 1980 by Republican candidate Ronald Reagan. It was through the “Reagan Revolution” that the regulatory controls over the banking industry were lifted, mainly in allowing the banks to use their fractional reserve privileges in making mortgage loans.

Volcker’s recession shattered American manufacturing and hastened the flight of jobs abroad. Under the “Reagan Doctrine,” the U.S. military embarked on an unprecedented mission of world conquest by attacking one small nation at a time, starting with Nicaragua. Global capitalism was also on the march, with the U.S. armed forces its own private police force. With the invasion of Iraq under George H.W. Bush in 1991, mainland Asia was revealed as the principle target.

The economy was floated by productivity gains through computer automation and a huge sell-off of assets through the merger-acquisition bubble of the late 1980s which ended in a recession. This resulted in the defeat of Bush by Bill Clinton in the election of 1992. Clinton was able to create another bubble through a strong dollar policy that attracted foreign capital.

The dot-com bubble that resulted lasted all the way through to the crash of December 2000. Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force led the way in the destruction of the sovereign state of Yugoslavia, whereby the international bankers took over the resource wealth of the entire Balkan region, and the U.S. military gained forward bases for further incursions into Asia.

Do we need to say that none of this was ever voted on by the American electorate? But they bought into it nevertheless, both with their silence and through participation in a generally favorable job market in the emerging service occupations, particularly finance.

By the time George W. Bush was inaugurated president in January 2001, the U.S. was facing a disaster. $4 trillion in wealth had vanished when the bubble collapsed. NAFTA caused even more American manufacturing jobs to disappear abroad. The Neocons who were moving into key jobs in the Pentagon knew they would soon have new wars to fight in the Middle East, with invasion plans for Afghanistan and Iraq ready to be pulled off the shelf.

But the U.S. had no economic engine available to generate the tax revenues Bush would need for the planned wars. At this moment Chairman Alan Greenspan of the Federal Reserve stepped in. Over a two year period from 2001-2003 the Fed lowered interest rates by over 500 basis points. Meanwhile, the federal government removed all regulatory controls on mortgage lending, and the housing bubble was on. $4 trillion in new home loans were pumped into the economy, much of it through subprime loans borrowers could not afford.

The Fed began to put on the brakes in 2003, but the mighty work of re-floating a moribund economy had been accomplished. By late 2006 another recession loomed, but it would take two more years before the crisis of October 2008 brought the entire system down.

The impact on the job market was immediate and profound. By the time Barack Obama was elected president in November 2008, the U.S. was mired in seemingly endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the worst recession since the Great Depression was picking up speed. In order to prevent total disaster, the Bush administration ended its eight years of catastrophic misrule with a flourish, by allocating over $700 billion in financial system bailouts to cover the bad loans the banks had been making since Greenspan gave the housing bubble the green light.

It is now November 2009. Since Barack Obama was inaugurated in January, unemployment has soared from 7.9 percent to 10.2 percent. A few hundred billion dollars were allocated for “stimulus” purposes, but most of that went to pay unemployment benefits and to keep state and local governments from laying off more employees.

A fraction has been distributed for highway improvements, but largely through the bank bailouts the federal deficit has been running at an annual rate of $1.5 trillion, by far the largest in history, with the national debt now topping $12 trillion. Ironically, those Americans who still have productive jobs continue to grow in efficiency, with productivity up over five percent in the last year.

So much federal money has been spent that the Obama administration has been struggling to make its health care proposals budget-neutral through a raft of new taxes, fees, and penalties, and by announcing in recent days that the government’ first priority must now shift to deficit reduction. The word “austerity” has been mentioned for the first time since the Carter administration. Yet Congress voted $655 billion in military expenditures to continue fighting in the Middle East. A U.S. military attack on Iran, possibly in conjunction with Israel, would surprise no one.

So where do we now stand?

At present, the Federal Reserve is trying to prevent a total economic collapse. Interest rates are near-zero, to the chagrin of foreign investors in U.S. Treasury securities, and close to half of new Treasury debt instruments have been bought by the Federal Reserve itself as a way of providing free money for federal government expenditures.

But the U.S. economy shows no signs of coming back, with no economic driver emerging that could bring it back. For all the talk about alternative energy, there has been no significant growth of any home-grown industry that could possibly make up so much lost ground in either the short or the long-term.

The industries in the U.S. that are holding up are the military, including arms exports, universities that are attracting large numbers of students from abroad, especially China, and health care, especially for the aging baby boomer population. But the war industry produces nothing with a long-term economic benefit, and health care exists mainly to treat sick people, not produce anything new.

None of this provides a foundation that can bring about a restoration of prosperity to 300 million people when the jobs of making articles of consumption are increasingly scarce. On top of everything else, since government inevitably looks to its own requirements first, the total tax burden continues to increase to the point where the average employee now pays close to 50 percent of his or her income on taxes of all types, including federal and state income taxes, real estate taxes, payroll taxes, excise taxes, government fees, etc. Plus the cost of utilities continues to rise steadily and threatens to skyrocket if cap-and-trade legislation is passed.

The Obama administration has no plans to deal with any of this. They have projected a budget for 15 years hence that shows the budget deficit decreasing and tax revenues going way up, but it is all lies. They have no roadmap for getting us there and no plans for following the roadmap if it portrayed a realistic goal. And yet the U.S. military is still trying to conquer Asia. It is madness.

And it is madness because the big decisions are not made by the U.S., by Congress, or by the Obama administration. The U.S. has, for half-a-century, been marching to the tune played by the international financial elite, and this fact did not change with the election of 2008. The financiers have put the people of this nation $57 trillion in debt, according to the latest reports, counting debt at the federal, state, business, and household levels. Interest alone on this debt is over $3 trillion of a GDP of $14 trillion. Failure of our political leadership to deal with this tragedy over the past three decades is nothing less than treason.

But then again, at some point the decision was made that the U.S. and its population would be discarded by history, the economic status of the nation reduced to a shadow of what it once was, but that its military machine would be used for the financial elite’s takeover of the world until it is replaced by that of some other nation. All indications are that the next country up to bat as military enforcer for the financiers is China.

There you have it. That, in my opinion, is the past, present, and future of this nation in a nutshell. Great evils have been done in the world in the last century, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Except…. and that’s what each person caught up in these travesties must decide. What are you going to do about it?

In mulling over this question, it would be wise to recognize that the dominance of the financial elite has largely been exercised through their control of the international monetary system based on bank lending and government debt. Therefore it’s through the monetary system that change can and must be made.

The progressives are wrong to think the government should go deeper in debt to create more jobs. This will just create an even deeper hole of debt future generations will have to crawl out of.

Rather the key is monetary reform, whether at the local or national levels. People have lost control of their ability to earn a living. But change could be accomplished through sovereign control by people and nations of the monetary means of exchange.

This control has been stolen. It is time to take it back. One way would be for the federal government to make a relief payment to each adult of $1,000 a month until the crisis lifted. This money could be earmarked for goods and services produced within the U.S. and used to capitalize a new series of community development banks. I have called this the “Cook Plan.”

The plan could be funded through direct payment from a Treasury relief account without new taxes or government borrowing. The payments would be balanced on the credit side by GDP growth or be used by individuals to pay off debt. It would be direct government spending as was done with Greenbacks before and after the Civil War without significant inflation.

Another method increasingly being used within the U.S. today is local and regional credit clearing exchanges and the use of local currencies or “scrip.” Use of such currencies could be enhanced by legislation at the state and federal levels allowing these currencies to be used for payment of taxes and government fees as well as payment of mortgages and other forms of bank debt. The credit clearing exchanges could be organized as private non-profit regional currency co-operatives similar to credit unions.

These would be immediate emergency measures. In the longer run, sovereign control of money and credit must be returned to the public commons and treated as public utilities. This does not mean exclusive government control to replace bank control. As stated previously, it would be done in partnership between government and private trade exchanges. Nor does it mean government takeover of business, industry, or the banking system, though all should be regulated for the common good and fairly taxed.

This program would lead to a new monetary paradigm where money and credit would be available by, as, when, and where needed, to facilitate trade between and among legitimate producers of goods and services. In this way trade and commerce will come to serve human freedom, not diminish it as is done with today’s dysfunctional partnership between big government trillions of dollars in debt and big finance with the entire world in hock.

Such a change would be a true populist revolution.

source: Global Research

Third Intifada will have a widespread popular base

By Jack Khoury,Haaretz Correspondent

Fatah had made a strategic decision to declare a third intifada against Israel, movement officials told Nazereth-based newspaper Hadith Anas, citing the failed peace talks as the reason for their resolution.

The newspaper report quoted Fatah Central Committee members as saying that the movement wished to implement a decision made during its sixth convention, which assembled last August in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

One of the movement's top officials interviewed by Hadith Anas said the third intifada will have a widespread popular base, adding, however, that unlike the previous popular struggle against Israel, which was sparked in September 2000, the movement will not endorse an armed struggle or the use of firearms.

"We want thousands of Palestinians to demonstrate daily near the settlements of the occupation, carrying out a human siege, and calling for the end of the occupation," one senior official said.

According to the report, Fatah chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to the resolution in principle, stipulating only that the struggle mustn't become a violent one.

Sources estimate that Abbas could prepare the conditions which would allow for such a move by stepping down as PA President as well as by declaring the dissolution of the PA by the end of the year.

Fatah officials had commented recently on the need to duplicate the weekly anti-separation fence rallies in the villages of Na'alin and Bil'in in locations across the West Bank, as well as turning some of those demonstrations against nearby settlements.

A senior member of an Arab-Israeli Knesset party, who maintains close ties with top Fatah and PA officials, said that anti-separation fence rallies could spark renewed popular resistance, if they continued to escalate as they did week ago near the Kalandia checkpoint.

The official said that PA sources have come to understand that unarmed popular resistance, centering on symbols of the West Bank occupation, could garner sympathy for the Palestinian cause in international circles as well as embarrassing the Israeli government.

"The first intifada gained significant diplomatic ground as far as the Palestinians are concerned since its symbol, a boy throwing rocks at a tank, made it impossible for Israel to claim it was defending itself against terror as it did in the second intifada, followings the city-center bombings," the official said.

source: From Occupied Palestine with Love

November 23, 2009

Iran, Brazil sign 8 deals

Press TV - November 24, 2009 00:21:04 GMT

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (R) and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L)

Iran and Brazil signed eight cooperation deals in Brasilia on Monday after talks between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

On the second leg of his five-nation tour of South America and Africa, Ahmadinejad arrived in Brazil on Monday with the goal of strengthening ties between the two countries.

The new deals will pave the way for Iran and Brazil to enhance their cooperation in the areas of commerce, energy, and agricultural research and to lift the visa regime between the two countries.

After Ahmadinejad's arrival, the Brazilian president expressed support for Iran's right to access peaceful nuclear energy and called for a “just solution” to be found in the dispute between Iran and the West over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

Lula stated that Brazil backed Iran's plans to make use of “peaceful nuclear energy, in full respect of international accords.”

He also advised Iran to “continue contacts with interested countries to find a just solution to the nuclear issue.”

Brazil has repeatedly voiced its support for Iran's nuclear program and has always opposed calls to impose sanctions on the country.

Ahmadinejad was in Gambia on Sunday.

After his one-day visit to Brazil, the Iranian president will travel to Venezuela, Bolivia, and Senegal.

November 22, 2009

What are western church leaders doing to protect the Holy Land?

People's Geography
22 November, 2009

Stuart Littlewood (pictured), in conversation with Angie Tibbs, has some interesting words to say about the profoundly tenacious and courageous clergy, both Christian and Muslim, in the face of the brutal israeli occupation of occupied Palestine, including Bethlehem and Nazareth. Stuart met with several priests and imams in the occupied West Bank and its worth highlighting his observations about the Latin Patriarchate Catholic Church and the apparent lack of action by the Vatican and other denominational leaders, all of whom the zionist entity discriminates against. You can read the interview in full here.

Angie: What towns and villages did you visit in occupied Palestine and what were your impressions?

Stuart: Much of the time was spent with Palestinian priests in their parishes. These are the Church’s front-line troops. They are abused and sometimes shot at by the Israelis, yet they remain focused and good-humoured.

[...] I was also shocked by the way the Israelis have systematically trashed the Holy Land and many of its antiquities. Once-beautiful landscapes, many with biblical connections, are now crowned with hideous hill-top settlements or military installations. Town and country planning principles are unheard-of. Israel’s vandalism, visible everywhere, has ruined a gentle Arab civilization and its heritage, and that’s something else they’ll never be forgiven for.

Angie: Are Western church leaders playing a sufficient role in protecting the Holy Land, its religious history, and its people?

Stuart: The Catholic Church, which has a significant presence in the Holy Land and runs a number of schools, appears to be fighting the battle alone. Anglican Church ministers I have spoken to are largely disinterested. Yes, their faith is focused on the Holy Land, they teach the Holy Land texts and they deliver sermons on the Holy Land, but what do they really care about it? One morning they’ll wake up and discover that the Holy Land – the central plank to their existence – has been stolen from under their noses.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem – the Catholic Church in the Holy Land – does its best, but I don’t think it gets the support it deserves from the Vatican. As for the rest, they could unite and surely do much more. While Israel was planning its blitzkrieg against Gaza’s Muslims and Christians – after blockading and starving them with the British government’s connivance – the Archbishop of Canterbury went swanning off with the Chief Rabbi on a visit to Auschwitz, preaching their joint solidarity against extreme hostility and genocide! The Archbishop talked about the collective corruption and moral sickness that made the Holocaust possible. But where was his concern for the shattered Christian remnants in Gaza? Or for the murdered, maimed and homeless Muslims who, many claim, are being subjected to a ’slow genocide’? Let’s remember that the Israelis’ killing spree left nearly 60,000 homeless and 400,000 without running water, and they still won’t allow cement and other reconstruction materials to be brought in.

Did the Pope visit Gaza to show solidarity with his frightened and impoverished flock there?

Pious wofflers in their palaces make me sick, when genuine men of God – those in the front line, the priests, the nuns and the imams – risk their lives as they work round the clock to bring comfort to the victims of political greed and aggression.

Angie: What were your contacts telling you about the conditions in Gaza?

Stuart: One message in particular still haunts me. Fr Manuel Mussallam, the elderly priest in Gaza, emailed to say: “If you wish to really understand what is taking place in the Gaza Strip, please open your Bible and read the Lamentations of Jeremiah. This is what we are living. People are crying, hungry, thirsty, desperate. They need food. Even if there is food for sale, people have no money to buy it. They have no income, no opportunities to bring food from outside and no opportunities to secure money inside Gaza. No work, no livelihood, no future… They have no hope and many very poor people are aimlessly wandering around trying to beg for something from others who also have nothing. It is heartbreaking to see.”

He ended: “I beg you, we do not need pity, we need only justice. If you don’t give justice, there will be no peace. Peace is the farthest thing away from the mind of anyone, Christian or Moslem, in Gaza at this time.”

Angie Tibbs is a writer/activist living in Canada. She can be reached at

Stuart Littlewood is a writer/photographer living in the UK. Check out his web pages at Words & Pixels and Radio Free Palestine.

People's Geography:

I would additionally direct interested observers to have a look at the The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism issued by the Eastern Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches In Jerusalem. As a person with a Levantine Christian heritage, I am proud of their courage and fortitude, as I am of such groups as the Christian Peacemaker Teams, the principled stand of the World Council of Churches, as well as various church groups in the US and Europe whom have voted to divest from and boycott Israel (US campaign, Palestinian campaign). And Jewish peace-groups too who work so actively to counter the zionist entity’s crimes committed in their name; a very impressive percentage — reportedly about a third — of the International Solidarity Movement or ISM’s active members are Jewish, for example.

Arab League demands international inspection of Israeli jails

22/11/2009 - 10:46 AM

CAIRO, (PIC)-- The general secretariat of the Arab League has called for opening the Israeli jails for international inspection and monitoring to put an end to the Israeli violations of Arab and Palestinian prisoners' rights.

The League, in a press release on Sunday for its assistance secretary general for Palestine and occupied Arab lands affairs Mohammed Subaih, asked the human rights groups to pressure Israel into opening its jails for inspection since it’s the only country in the world legalizing torture and administrative detention.

It called on the world community to force Israel into halting crimes against detainees and to end its violations of international doctrines in this regard.

Israel should be held fully responsible for the lives of Palestinian and Arab detainees in its jails, the League said, pointing out that around 200 detainees had died in Israeli jails as a result of torture while 1,000 others are held while suffering different chronic and serious diseases.

November 21, 2009

J Street seeks to undermine BDS

by Adam Horowitz on November 20, 2009

We’ve been following J Street’s attempts to counteract the growing BDS movement. First there was its aborted release of a public letter criticizing the Toronto Declaration. Then there was the workshop at its student conference called “Reckoning with the Radical Left on Campus: Alternatives to Boycotts and Divestments." The workshop didn’t go quite as planned either as many students who attended actually offered their support for divestment campaigns targeting the Israeli occupation. You would think these two initial missteps would lead J Street to reconsider which way the wind is blowing. Nope.

J Street is now working to undermine the National Campus Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Conference that will be held this weekend at Hampshire College. The conference is being called to build "a coordinated national BDS campaign," and J Street seems to feel threatened by this. Yesterday the organization sent the following email out to its student wing:

From: "Tal Schechter, J Street U"
Date: November 19, 2009 2:49:07 PM PST
Subject: Invest, Don’t Divest!

Invest, Don’t Divest!

This weekend, a bunch of students espousing that same, tired old narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a zero-sum game will converge on Hampshire College (my campus) — and I’m pretty concerned.

The upcoming conference promotes the misguided Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. This movement is spreading like wild fire on campuses across the country and we’re all going to get burned unless we speak out now.

We should be investing – not divesting – in our campus debate, in our communities and in the people who will bring about change in the region.

That’s why J Street U is launching an "Invest, Don’t Divest" campaign today to raise money for two organizations —, a Palestinian microfinance organization set up by students like us, and The Center for Jewish-Arab Economic Development, which promotes Jewish-Arab Economic Cooperation in Israel.

We’re setting a goal of recruiting 500 students like you by the end of the semester to pitch in $2 each (2 bucks for 2 states!) to support economic stability for all Israelis and Palestinians. Will you do your part right now and ask your friends to do the same?

Donating just $2 might not seem like much – but if hundreds, maybe thousands, of students like us make this "$2 for 2 states" statement together, we’ll really show the media and campuses around the country that there is a strong and growing alternative on campus to the tired debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And it’s exactly the right amount to ask for from cash-strapped students like us.

Let’s be honest: we have already divested from this issue too much.

When debate becomes too heated, we divest from each other and stop listening. When we feel at odds with our traditional institutions’ message, we divest from our communities and tune out. When the conflict seems too confusing, we divest from the issue entirely and leave the conversation to the extremists.

Divestment defies common sense: Not only are the Israeli and Palestinian economies deeply intertwined, but so too are the fates of both peoples and their prospects for real peace and security.

If it is peace through a two-state solution and security for both Israelis and Palestinians that we want, divestment won’t get us there.

To Jewish Israelis, divestment only reinforces the notion that they are constantly under attack, creating an environment in which it is harder to achieve peace, not easier. [1]

For Palestinians who already suffer from a weak economy, divestment only puts their society more at risk. [2]

Investing in economic stability and cooperation will help set the context for a sustainable peace, but it won’t lead to a two state solution in and of itself. That’s why we need to invest in a campus movement that advocates for peace and social justice in Israel, the future state of Palestine and across the Middle East.

Check out our website to find out the many ways you can invest in this issue on your campus.

* Table on campus and ask other students to donate 2$ for two states
* Write an op-ed to your campus paper about why we need to invest, not divest
* Organize a discussion with other groups on campus about why a broad debate is important
* Turn a push for divestment into a drive for socially responsible investment
* Enter our t-shirt design contest. If you win, we will order t-shirts with your design from Israeli and Palestinian companies for students to sell on their campuses.

Thank you for helping us build a movement that takes constructive steps towards a peaceful and sustainable two-state solution.

- Tal

Tal Schechter
J Street U National Board Member
Co-Founder of Students Promoting Israeli Culture and Information (SPICI) at Hampshire College
November 19, 2009



J Street U is the campus address for Middle East peace and security.

Lots to comment on here, but I’ll leave it at a few thoughts. This campaign is pretty indicative of the liberal Zionist take on BDS – it’s dismissive and condescending towards the strategy without making a real argument against it or offering a meaningful alternative. There is a debate to be had over whether BDS is an effective strategy towards peace, but simply labeling the movement "misguided" without saying why, or using cute puns on the word "divest" don’t really cut it. Some are trying to have this debate in a meaningful way. Hopefully J Street will follow that example and present its case in a more substantial way in the future.

It is also odd how much this campaign seems to mirror Benjamin Netanyahu’s "economic peace" proposal, which puts off forming a Palestinian state in favor of building the Palestinian economy. Divestment is about holding Israel accountable because no other body is willing to do so. Investing in Palestinian businesses is a nice idea, but does not do anything to shift the equation or provide the political pressure needed to create change. J Street seems to acknowledge this itself: "Investing in economic stability and cooperation will help set the context for a sustainable peace, but it won’t lead to a two state solution in and of itself. That’s why we need to invest in a campus movement." Frankly that gives this email the tone of an alarmist fundraising campaign for J Street–stoking the fear of marauding hordes of divesting students ("This movement is spreading like wild fire on campuses across the country and we’re all going to get burned unless we speak out now.")

J Street says it wants to promote an "alternative on campus to the tired debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Good luck to them. From where I’m sitting it seems like BDS is that alternative. But maybe holding a t-shirt contest will suffice.

November 20, 2009

Churches call for 'resistance' against Israel

Press TV - November 20, 2009 01:14:00 GMT

The logo of the World Council of Churches (WCC)

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has called for "resistance" against Israel's decision to expand its settlements in east Jerusalem Al-Quds.

WCC declared that the expansion of the Israeli settlements "may destroy any chance for peace", AFP reported.

Secretary General Reverend Samuel Kobia called on organizations related to the Council "to act with resolve, in concert ... to reverse this decision of the Israeli government and the settlement program it represents."

Israel on Wednesday announced that it will build 900 new homes in east Jerusalem Al-Quds, which it occupied in 1967.

Expressing "great disappointment", Kobia said the leading council of Christian and Orthodox churches "strongly condemns the decision ... to expand the illegal Gilo settlement as we believe that this decision will hinder attempts now in process to restart the peace negotiations."

"If settlements continue to expand and proliferate, they will further complicate negotiations and may destroy any chance for peace" Kobia said in a statement.

The WCC brings together 348 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican churches representing about 560 million Christians in 110 countries.

November 17, 2009

Jordan's king rejects pro-Israeli's anti-Iran plans

Press TV - November 17, 2009 15:20:44 GMT

Jordan's King Abdullah II has expressed his country's “rejection” of any anti-Iran measure, speaking to a visiting group of a major pro-Israeli lobby group in the US.

The rare pro-Iran expression by the King of Jordan, which has formal diplomatic relations with Israel, unlike Iran which considers the entity as illegitimate, came during a meeting Monday with a delegation representing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful pro-Israeli pressure group in the US that widely influences American foreign policy in the Middle East.

In the meeting, King Abdullah called for "dialogue" as the only channel for resolving the dispute over Iran's nuclear case.

His comment came after Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon rejected speculations that the warnings of any military attack on Iran are just a bluff, insisting that they are very real.

According to anti-lobbyist groups in the US such as 'Common Cause,' AIPAC gives money to over 90 percent of US Members of Congress and has virtual control over every congressional committee and subcommittee that is responsible for making foreign policy in the Middle East.

Although some members of AIPAC have been charged and convicted of spying for Israel, the lobby group continues to function and influence policy decisions in the US unhindered.

Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton again made the provocative statement last week that Washington will keep every option on the table when it comes to halting Iran's nuclear program, hoping that it would serve as a 'warning' to Tehran.

"We've always said that every option is on the table. Our goal is to prevent or dissuade Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons," Clinton claimed.

Iran has reiterated that its activities are conducted in line with its obligations to the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which it is a signatory, and that it only seeks the civilian applications of the technology.

Western nuclear powers, namely Britain, France, Germany and the United States continue to claim, under heavy pressure from Tel Aviv, that the Iranian government is after nuclear weaponry.

This is while Israel is widely known to possess over 200 nuclear warheads and refuses to sign any international atomic regulatory and non-proliferation treaty.