November 04, 2009

Feminism’s Freedom Fighter?

On Feminism, Atheism and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

By Sikivu Hutchinson - BAR - November 4, 2009

In mainstream media, public conversation about the intersection between atheism and what I will loosely term third world feminism is as rare as Halley’s Comet. In the corporate media universe, the groundbreaking work of feminists of African descent like bell hooks, Angela Davis and Patricia Hill Collins remains largely unknown, relegated to academe. Feminism, when invoked at all in mainstream media, is framed as the province of white women, a vestige of a less “enlightened” phase of American civil society.

The phenomenon of world renowned atheist feminist author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, however, would seem to defy this pattern. In a recent Los Angeles Times interview entitled “Feminism’s Freedom Fighter,” the Somalian-born Ali proclaimed women’s rights the human rights issue of the 21st century. An outspoken critic of Islam, Ali is a controversial and uncompromising figure with a compelling personal story of triumph over adversity. A victim of clitoral mutilation in her youth, she has dedicated her life to challenging institutional sexism and patriarchy in Muslim societies. Her activism against gender-based terrorism and repression of Muslim women has been influential in the West, generating international accolades as well as death threats from Muslim extremists. Rising to prominence in the post 9/11 anti-Muslim hysteria of the Bush era, Ali has elicited controversy for her perceived Muslim-bashing, garnering a plum position at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute and morphing into a champion of Israel.

Much of Ali’s feminist ideology is based on the contrast between the violent repression of women under Islam and the liberal humanist traditions that supposedly shape women’s rights in the West. In her writings and public discourse she is fond of making sweeping pronouncements deriding the cultures of Muslim societies, valorizing the West in ways that downplay its cultural hierarchies. In a 2007 interview with Reason Magazine she waxed, “Western civilization is a celebration of life…everybody’s life, even the life of your enemy.” Of course, in many Muslim societies feminism is still a dangerously radical concept. For many Muslim feminists, the very notion of women’s personal freedom is a space of epic struggle. Yet Ali’s totalizing assessments set up a false dichotomy between the West and Muslim societies. By portraying feminism as a battle that the West has already won, she absolves bourgeois democracies like the United States of their schizoid relationship to women rights and human rights, a relationship in which rape and domestic violence are part of the national “democratic” currency. And by ignoring the historical context of the “third world within the first world,” she ignores the very real socioeconomic differences that exist between American women of color and white women.

For Ali, white supremacy is no longer a credible threat or motivation for feminist struggle. In the Times interview she rightly criticized men of color for their perpetuation of sexist beliefs and practices, calling for heightened focus on the “internal” politics and tyrannies of misogyny in “third world” communities. Addressing the subject of President Obama’s recent trip to Cairo she stated, “It would have been fantastic if…Obama had said, we have taught the white man that bigotry is bad and he has given it up, at least most of it. Now bigotry is committed in the name of the black man, the brown man, the yellow man.” Ali’s apparent unwillingness to engage the connection between white supremacy, imperialism and sexism is a critical blind spot. Her failure to acknowledge the persistence of institutionalized segregation and its relationship to the disenfranchisement of women of color is problematic. These biases, and her paternalistic stance on Islam, explain why she has been such a darling of the European American conservative elite.

Certainly when one assesses women’s socialization into and investment in organized religion there are many commonalities between Muslim and Christian systems of patriarchy. Granted Western women are not subject to some of the more overtly terroristic and repressive social prohibitions that Muslim women are. Clitoridectomies and honor killings are not part of Western cultural practices (nor, as many critics of Ali have pointed out, do they occur in all Muslim societies, and in fact derive from tribal not Islamic law). And granted men of color are responsible for the very intimate interpersonal violations of the lives and bodies of women of color. However, legacies of colonialism and racist beliefs about the sexuality of women of color continue to limit equitable access to health care and social welfare in the U.S. Women of color in Western societies are still subjugated by the dictates of Judeo Christian culture masquerading as secularized society. Puritanical prohibitions on women’s sexuality and mobility inform institutionalized sexual and domestic violence against women. Rising rates of sexually transmitted disease and (in many highly religious white fundamentalist Christian and Latino Catholic communities) compulsory pregnancy due to failed abstinence-only sex education policies continue to imperil life conditions for women. Staggeringly high HIV/AIDS contraction rates, infant mortality rates and intimate partner homicide rates among African American women bespeak unequal access to health and social services in communities of color. Epidemic rates of sexual assault among Native American women reflect not only patriarchal control but the invisibility of Native communities vis-à-vis federal health public policy.

Thus Ali’s contention that the West has “adjusted” its cultural and institutional structures to redress the hierarchies of Judeo Christian ideology is short sighted. Indeed, one need look no further than the wide cultural berth given to the Religious Right to see that it is one of the most powerful contemporary threats to civil rights and civil liberty in American history. The white Christian fundamentalist movement’s assault upon human rights, women’s rights and reproductive justice have the potential to reverse gains women have made in the U.S. over the past few decades. In the aftermath of decades of abortion clinic vandalism, bombings and murders of practitioners there is still no international outcry over the insurgent white Christian fundamentalist terrorist movement in the U.S.

From an atheist feminist of color perspective it is problematic to espouse reductive critiques of non-Western religions through the lens of a Western or American exceptionalism; particularly when these paradigms are based on the othering of people of color. The West has xenophobically demonized Muslim societies for their backwardness while “whitewashing” its own anti-democratic traditions and human rights transgressions. Ali’s perspectives unfortunately reinforce this propaganda.

As an atheist woman of African descent Ali’s life narrative and struggle for gender justice is a powerful example for women under the yoke of traditional Islam. Yet her analysis of the path to liberation has been severely clouded by superstar patronage from the very forces that would undermine the human rights mission of feminism.

Sikivu Hutchinson is the editor of and a commentator for KPFK 90.7 FM.

Jewish settlers break into, occupy home of 83-year-old Palestinian woman

03/11/2009 - 02:21 PM

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Tens of armed Jewish settlers on Tuesday stormed and occupied the home of 83-year-old Rifka Al-Kurd in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in the heart of occupied Jerusalem.

The PIC reporter said that about 60 settlers broke into the house under the threat of guns and with Israeli police protection and settled in it despite an Israeli court order banning them access into this part of the house.

Kurd's family is one of 28 Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah suburb threatened with displacement after Jewish fanatic groups claimed that their homes were built on lands owned by these groups.

The report said that Kurd's home was repeatedly stormed by those groups but this time they came to stay.

The Israeli occupation authority controlled municipality of Jerusalem ordered closure of this particular section of the house at the pretext that it was built without permit.

Tension is running high in the neighborhood after the settlers refused to evacuate the house while Israeli police were barring its owners from reaching it.

Italy's Secret Ships of Poison

Berlusconi, the Mafia and the Radioactive Wrecks

By MICHAEL LEONARDI - November 4, 2009

The colors of the Mediterranean are strong at this time of year on the border of Calabria and Basilicata. The sun shines brightly and low in the sky. The mountains and the sea are beautiful here and rich in traditions of organic agriculture, music and art that date back to the findings of paleolithic man and the Magna Grecia civilization before the Roman Empire. But all is not well. The Mediterranean Sea, calm at times and agitated at others, holds the wrecks of “secret ships,” as it whispers and roars the hidden history of its revolutionary past. These ships are known here as the Navi Dei Veleni (ships of poison), and their contents are kept secret from the population and the world by the Italian Mafia/State. This Berlusconi led Mafia/State with its unconstitutional decrees that violate Article 32 (see note) of the Italian constitution along with others, puts the health of the population at risk through a legacy of toxic and radioactive dumping now coming to light across the sea and landscape. People are worried: about the economy, the flu, the poor conditions of the hospitals, schools constructed with contaminated building materials that poison the young, and a sea full of ships whose cargos lie unknown and uninvestigated on the sea floor.

In the city of Amantea, Calabria, on October 24, there was a mass International demonstration. Simultaneous actions were held in solidarity in France and Spain as well. Over 400 organizations, local and from all across the Italian peninsula joined together to call for an end to the intentional poisoning of our lands and waters by a criminal/political caste submersed in scandals of sex, prostitution, and corruption, both on the left and the right. The October 24th demonstration in Amantea was called by the local organizing committee which takes its name in memory of the former commander of the Italian Navy, Natale De Grazia, who died in 1995 under very mysterious circumstances at the age of 39. Commander De Grazia was at the forefront of the investigation into the trafficking of radioactive and toxic wastes and was the key point person in the investigation of the lost Ships of Poison. The 24th of October rally brought over 30,000 citizens together with buses from all across the region and as far away as Rome. On a day in Amantea where the sea roared loudly, the people voiced their anger in unison at a State that represents the interests of business and criminals before the health of its citizens and the environment.

Much contamination has poisoned the land and water throughout Calabria and Basilicata, with illegal dumpsites and government documentation of elevated levels of cancer-causing substances in the environment. These substances were mixed with building materials in the city of Crotone and toxic materials were discovered on the site of an abandoned textile factory on the shores of the sea in Praia a Mare. There is a profound lack here of effective water treatment facilities along the Calabria’s Tyrrhenian coast, and especially in the summer during high tourist season, tons of raw sewage are dumped directly into the sea. There are thought to be ships with radioactive and toxic waste sunk off the coasts of Cetraro and Maratea, a wild coastline still teaming with sea life that stretches from Calabria to Baslilicata in the north. The ship off Cetraro is though to be the Cunsky and that off of Maratea the Yvonne A. There are many others.The Italian public prosecutor says there are 40 Ships of Poison, Loyds of London says 24 ships, while Bruno Branciforte, the former head of Italian intelligence SISMI (now AISE) on the 25th of September confirmed 55 ships.

In the week following the passionate cry from Amantea, the Italian national government went to work on an investigation of a shipwreck off the coast of Cetraro. This investigation was a follow-up to one already initiated by the region of Calabria. The region’s investigation discovered and filmed a shipwreck that included what seemed to be iron drums on the sea floor. The ship was covered in fishing nets and was in the same area where analyses of fish done by the local health authority ASL (Aziende Sanitarie Locali) showed high levels of arsenic, chrome and other heavy metals. This Regional investigation was initiated in part due to the testimony of Mafia Pentito (turncoat) Francesco Fonti, and in part because fisherman had actually fished out waste drums from the sea’s depths.

The national government’s investigation was led by the National Public Prosecutor’s Anti-Mafia division and the Environmental Minister, Stefania Prestigiacomo. A research ship called the Mare Oceano was hired. The Mare Oceano is the property of a company called Geolab from Naples that is controlled by the Italian Petroleum and Mining Industry Association. Geolab is being paid 43,000 euros a day for the work of Mare Oceano by the Italian Mafia/State as this is being written. The national government’s research has been conducted with no transparency. Local and regional officials, including Calabria’s Assessor of the Environment Silvio Greco – a marine biologist - , were excluded from this investigation as were representatives of national environmental organizations Legambiente and the World Wildlife Federation.

Some of the now “state secret” findings of this investigation called “Operation Cetraro” were reported in the Italian daily La Repubblica on October 29. The Environmental Minister, Prestigiacomo, and Piero Grasso, public prosecutor and head of Italy’s Anti-Mafia division, reported their findings to the media. Equipped with photographs and a short video, they revealed: that the ship under investigation was a passenger ship called the Catania that was sunk in 1917 by a German submarine, that there was no radioactive or toxic cargo, that the mafia pentito (turncoat) Francesco Fonti who said he sank a ship off of Cetraro’s coast was an unreliable source, that the regional government had caused undue alarm in the population and that all is well beneath the waters of Cetraro. They said that the “case is closed.” This same Piero Grasso admitted for the first time this October that the Italian State has negotiated and made agreements with the Mafia to save the lives of government and judicial figures, generating a wave of condemnations and criticism of a State and Mafia working together hand in hand. The revelations of “Operation Cetraro” are not sitting well with the local population here as many discrepancies have arisen and many questions remain as to where this Mafia/State’s real intentions lie.

Italy’s Environmental Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo has a questionable past. She comes from the town of Siracusa in Sicily and was part owner of a company there called Sarplast s.p.a.. This company went into bankruptcy in 1997 as a result of diseases and injuries among its workforce from exposure to toxic chemicals and hazardous working conditions. An investigation by police into the practices of the company documented violations of worker safety regulations. Three of the workers had children with birth defects. During the investigation of this company’s bankruptcy, fraudulent activities were discovered that included the embezzlement of billions of the old Italian monetary unit, the lire. The bankruptcy investigation into this company was halted by the Public Prosecutor of Siracusa because of a law called the maxi amendment, that was made by the Berlusconi government in 2003 and which suspended punishments for these types of corporate legal infractions. Now Prestigiacomo is responsible for protecting Italy’s lands and seas.

After a couple days of media reports that all was well with the sea in Cetraro, this story still hadn’t convinced local, regional and national environmental activists and organizations, the local and regional authorities, Calabria’s Environmental Assessor Silvio Greco, or the leadership of the opposition parties in Italy. Also at the level of the European Parliament, concerns are being raised by the European Green Parties, the European Commission on the Environment and others about the Italian government’s handling of this situation. Government insiders in Rome tell me that the government is playing politics with the health of the people and environment and has only worked to obstruct the truth on the story of these ships. The spokesperson for the Environmental Minister became very defensive and incredulous when I posed the possibility of State and Mafia collusion, but could give me no clear responses to any of my questions. He ducked around the question of whether or not the minister believed that any of these ships really exists, by repeating that they didn’t find any waste on the ship they investigated. Calabria’s Environmental Assessor Silvio Greco is hoping that this story gets out across the world and that the Italian state is followed closely in this investigation by the international community.

On Saturday, October 31, a press conference was held in Cetraro by representatives of the coalition that organized the October 24 demonstration in Amantea. They outlined their concerns about the discrepancies and doubts left by the Italian Mafia/State’s “Operation Cetraro” investigation. There concerns included: notable differences in the videos of the ships from the region and the state, different coordinates for where the research was conducted, and a complete absence of transparency on the part of the national authorities. One notable difference in the State’s video is that the fishing nets are no longer visible and nor are the iron drums. They voiced perplexity as to why the Ministry of the Environment would want to throw water on this and other burning environmental emergencies across the region instead of working on solutions to the grave health risks that face the population here in Calabria. The participants in this press conference included environmental expert Francesco Cirillo who has followed these issues for over a decade, Mauro de Marco of the organization Zero Rifiuti (i.e., Zero Garbage), and Gianfranco Posa representing the Natale de Grazia committee among others.

The health risks here are caused by serious and documented ecological emergencies. In the city of Crotone a school, roads and other buildings were built using materials mixed with toxic wastes. Analyses administered by the local health authorities revealed high levels of cancer causing heavy metals in blood samples taken from children that attend the school, now known as the “School of Poisons” in Crotone. In Praia a Mare near the border of Basilicata and Maratea, an abandoned textile factory sits on lands contaminated by toxic dumping, also on sea coast. In Aiello Calabro near Amantea and along the river Oliva, radiation levels 6 times higher than normal have been measured and a population plagued with cancerous tumors seeks the truth about the cargo of the Jolly Rosso. The Jolly Rosso beached on the shore of Amantea in 1990 after a failed attempt to sink it at sea and then disappeared after two days. Numerous other stories were documented, as well as the analysis of the fish off the coast of Cetraro. The analysis of the fish off Cetraro was done by the regional health authorities ASL and showed levels of heavy metals like arsenic, cobalt and chrome at higher than levels considered safe by Italian standards. In April of 2007, based on the findings of these analyses, the regional health authorities and the head of the Port of Cetraro banned fishing in certain areas. Then in August of 2008 this ban was mysteriously lifted despite the fact that no other analyses of the fish were taken. At the October 31 press conference the participants asked that the entire population of Calabria be given a health screenings to determine the risk factors posed by the environment.

On the first of November, the first major reports of problems with the Italian government’s “Operation Cetraro” began to surface in the regional media. Domenico Micelli reported in the daily newspaper Calabria Ora that there are at least three ships sunk off the coast of Cetraro and the coordinates of the ship investigated by the region did not match those of the ship investigated by the state. On the November 2, the World Wildlife Federation of Italy asked for the case of the ship off Cetraro to be re-opened by Minister Prestigiacomo and Piero Grasso. WWF also pointed out discrepancies in the videos made by the region and the state. They asked for an explanation as to why the coordinates of the area investigated by the Region and the State are over 6 kilometers apart. They call on the government to carry out their investigation with transparency and involvement of independent researchers from national environmental organizations and regional and local governments.

On November 3, this sequence of discrepancies was reported in the national press. The Italian daily La Repubblica reports that a secret document has come to light from 2006 that confirms at least 3 different shipwrecks off the coast of Cetraro, thus bringing into question the State’s quick investigation and closing of the case. There are also serious questions being posed by Environmental Assessor Silvio Greco about the research methods employed by the Mare Oceano, he points out that the research vessel does not have the correct equipment to measure certain types of radionucliedes. There are also discrepancies about the timing of Prestigiacomo’s revelations to the media. She said that the ship was not the presumed Cunsky even before the robot was sent down to shoot the images of the Catania, giving the Mafia/State’s version a prefabricated veneer.

Italy is facing difficult times. The economy shows no signs of rebound and the stagnancy of wages keeps the majority of people struggling to make ends meet. The mass media are dominated by scandalous reports on prostitutes and transsexuals. Berlusconi faces the imminent risk of prison for corruption and fraud and says that even if he is found guilty by the “communist” judges he will not leave his post. On the October 22, after being arrested for having 20 grams of marijuana, a young man named Stefano Cucchi was beaten to death at the hands of state authorities in the Regina Coeli prison in Rome sending shockwaves throughout the peninsula. Social and ecological justice are hard to find in Italy, and while much of the population seems content with their football games and material distractions, a growing and very well informed mass movement is afoot. Here in Calabria the voices are clamoring for the truth about what dangerous secrets the Mafia/State is hiding beneath the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The restless citizenry here is also proposing their own investigation into this matter and is coming up with all types of creative solutions to the problems facing this area. There is a strong streak of resistance in the people here as they refuse to allow a corrupt political class to play games with the health of the people and the future of our beautiful mountains and sea.

Note: Article 32 [Health]

(1) The republic protects individual health as a basic right and in the public interest; it provides free medical care to the poor.

(2) Nobody may be forcefully submitted to medical treatment except as regulated by law. That law may in no case violate the limits imposed by the respect for the human being.

Michael Leonardi currently lives in Calabria. He teaches English at the University of Calabria in Cosenza and at the Vocational Highschool in Maratea for training hotel and restaurant workers. He can be reached at


ADL demands that Goldstone repudiate his own report

ADL director to Goldstone: As a good Jew, repudiate report

November 4, 2009

Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman of ADL called on Goldstone to repudiate his report: "I have had great respect for you over the years. Your work at the head of the South Africa Reconciliation Commission and in helping to find a just solution to the Bosnian conflict deserves the highest commendation.

"Moreover, I know you to be a proud Jew who serves on the Board of Trustees of Hebrew University and who has a daughter living in Israel."

"With this background, I wondered in the first place how you could take on the chairmanship of the investigation of the war in Gaza mandated by the UN Human Rights Council," he said. "After all, the Human Rights Council has repeatedly demonstrated its bias against Israel and in its stated mission for the investigation began with assumptions presuming Israeli guilt."

Hamas denies Israeli allegation about having ballistic missile

03/11/2009 - 07:58 PM

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Movement of Hamas categorically denied an Israeli allegation that it conducted successful experiments on a missile with a range of 60 km that may reach Tel Al-Rabi (Tel Aviv).

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said this allegation is a proactive step taken by Israel to influence the world opinion prior to the discussion of the Goldstone report in the UN general assembly.

Spokesman Barhoum added that the adoption of the Goldstone report prompted Israel to fabricate such lies to incite the world and public opinion against Hamas.

He also warned that this fabrication could be an attempt by Israel to justify intended crimes against Gaza people.

For his part, Abu Obeida, the spokesman for Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, refused to comment on Israeli intelligence reports that the Brigades tested a ballistic missile that could reach Tel Aviv but said that Israel has many malicious goals behind spreading fabricated news.

Head of the Israeli military intelligence Amos Yadlin told Tuesday the Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee that Hamas fired successfully a 60-km missile that could hit Tel Aviv.

Israeli military attacks and takes over Iranian ship

November 04, 2009 09:35 - by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News

An Iranian ship was attacked in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea by the Israeli navy early on Wednesday morning, while apparently on its way to Lebanon.

According to Israeli media sources, no Cabinet meeting was held in advance of the decision to attack the ship, and a small number of Cabinet officials may have given the go-ahead for the attack.

Israeli officials told the Associated Press that the ship contained weapons including anti-tank missiles, but no official information has been released on the contents of the ship or the reason for its illegal seizure by the Israeli military. Col. Avital Leibovich with the Israeli military confirmed to reporters that the ship had been seized, but gave no details.

The Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, "This is another success in the endless struggle against attempts to smuggle weapons and military equipment whose goal is to strengthen terrorist elements who threaten the security of Israel."

Since the ship was in international waters when it was seized, the takeover could be considered as an act of war, but Israeli officials say that the Iranian ship was disguised as a humanitarian aid ship flying the flag of Antigua. For that reason, analysts say that a response by the Iranian government seems unlikely.

Did you hate right-wing Aznar’s support for Israel ? Wait to see socialist Zapatero’s


1. The 1st anniversary of the Israeli war against Gaza

Almost one year ago, Israel started yet another "war until the end" against the Palestinians, as it was presented by its minister of defence, Ehud Barak, at the end of December 2008. Although the wild bombing over Gaza ended in mid January 2009, the war is not over. It has several fronts and not all combatants shoot from a tank rolling through the Strip. Thousands of kilometres away, some people close ranks with Israel , some with the Palestinians.

The recently published Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, widely known by the name of its leader, Richard Goldstone, devotes almost six hundred pages to the crimes committed by Israel during the war. It also deals with human rights in Palestine .

The table of contents shows the enormity of the crimes committed by Israel and explains worldwide popular demand about taking those responsible to a criminal court: indiscriminate attacks, deliberate attacks against the civilian population, use of certain weapons, destruction of industrial infrastructure, food production, water installations, use of civilians as human shields, use of excessive or lethal force, Palestinians prisoners in Israel jails (1)

2. The other soldiers in the war against the Palestinians: the friends of Israel

It is no secret that Israel has realised that the usually sleepy world public opinion has woke up alarmed by the barbarism that took place in Gaza against a largely unarmed and exhausted population after months of a merciless blockade.

Accordingly, the Israeli government quickly launched a large damage control operation to restore the –once again- tarnished image of its army, in order to try and justify the savage deeds by its soldiers, who followed the orders of their military commanders, who in turn followed the orders of the two highest civilian commanders, the ministry of defence and the prime minister.

In mid October, the Spanish prime minister, Rodríguez Zapatero paid a visit to his Israeli counterpart, Netanyahu, and had the chance to meet with the president, Shimon Peres. On October 15, the Spanish paper of record El País wrote: "Peres thanked [Zapatero] for the legal reform launched by his government in order to prevent the National Court to deal with crimes allegedly committed by the Israeli Army. These words contradict the Spanish government version, which states that the reform of the criminal law dealing with universal jurisdiction simply aimed to increase its effectiveness" (2).

However, gratitude does not come easy from Israel . It is a standard procedure amongst its leaders and ambassadors to regularly demand proof of loyalty from the leaders of "friendly" countries. The same prime minister who is welcome these days in Israel , was reprimanded some days earlier by the Zionist ambassador in Madrid : " Israel will convey to Zapatero its discomfort for the increase of anti-Semitism in Spain ".

Zapatero’s government was also reprimanded some months before for the same sin and, "according to the [Israeli] ambassador’s opinion, the government has taken important steps to combat it, such as the establishment of the Casa Sefarad (Sefarad House), but still a bigger effort is required." (3)

In this amazing occasion, July 20, 2006, "during a breakfast organised by the Foro Nueva Economía (New Economy Forum), with Moratinos as the guest speaker, [the Jewish entrepeneur] Hatchwell expressed 'the indignation’ felt by Spanish Jews because of some statements made by Zapatero on the eve of the breakfast. ´These are anti-Israeli and anti-Semite statements and we can not accept them’".

Questioned about this by the Spanish press, the Israeli ambassador reminded the Spanish government that "the relationship [between Spain and Israel ], although we are celebrating its twentieth anniversary, it is not at its best. There is a very strong criticism, very unjust against Israel , this is contrary to the European Union consensus". (4)

Israel knows how to make a friendly president even friendlier. At a time when even some Jewish people criticise Israel for its war against Gaza, and millions of people from all walks of life ask for international action to end the siege of Gaza, the incoming president of the European Union, Zapatero, will welcome Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak in Madrid on November 4th.

Now that Barak can visit Spain without fear of being prosecuted for his role in the Gaza war, he will take advantage of the law amendment to sign a new and upgraded military cooperation agreement with Zapatero. Spain will somehow become a partner in the next Israeli aggression against Palestinians.

What about president Abu Mazen? He has made clear that Spain is a friend of the Palestinians. No problem. Zapatero will soon send him some money and security personnel to train Palestinian policemen, and later on some trucks with band aids, crutches, tents and canned food just in case.

3. Popular reaction against the pro-Zionist role of the Spanish government: BDS

Despite the efforts made by the Israeli embassy in Madrid through its propaganda agents, in order to try and change Spaniards’ opinion about the Palestinian conflict, which is contrary to its government position, people resist –as it happens all over the world.

With that aim, Israeli agents attend political, social and cultural acts, participate in TV shows, lectures and conferences, write in newspapers and establish educational, social and economic links with Spanish civil servants, journalists and businessmen.

Casa Sefarad-Israel is the flagship. The house is "a public institution established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Madrid Autonomous Government and Madrid Townhall." (5)

In other words, several Spanish authorities collect citizens’ money via taxes and the Israeli government takes some it to try and convince these that in Israel "coexists dozens of nationalities, languages, religions and races", according to the house information. (6)

Not everything is lost. With this enormous Hasbara effort, Israel is also clearly saying that it has not only failed in its military campaign against Gaza, but that it has also failed to convince people that it was a defensive war and that Israel is acting in favour of international law, peace with its neighbours, and the human rights of people living in Palestine.

The answer of the Spaniards who question Israeli actions, indeed its place in the international community, is increasingly to join the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign –BDS- and make it grow in Spain . This is the best way to show both support for the Palestinian cause and contempt for its oppressors.



zar/proceso/paz/presidencia/UE/elpepuesp/20091015elpepunac_3 ...

88482/israel-trasladara-a-zapatero-su-malestar-por-el-aument ...

le/comunidad/judia/tache/antisemita/Zapatero/elpepiesp/20060 ...

noles-mostraran-la-realidad-de-Israel-en-una-docu-serie-grab ...

(6) Idem


November 03, 2009

Population Growth and Hunger: Is there a relationship?

November 3, 2009

Are there too many people?

There is "a staggering fertility decline.

"In the 1970s only 24 countries had fertility rates of 2.1 or less, all of them rich.

"Now there are over 70 such countries, and in every continent, including Africa." (Fertility: Go forth and multiply a lot less)

People are starving?

"Experts estimate that corruption in India indirectly kills more than 8,000 people a day by diverting money from food programs into the pockets of crooked officials." (India's New Anti-Corruption Laws May Not Work )

We still have the feudal system.

Bangladeshis making cheap clothes for supermarkets are paid as little as 3p an hour.


The book World Hunger: Twelve Myths (12 Myths About Hunger.) tells us the following:

1. The world produces enough food.

But low incomes prevent many people from getting enough to eat.

The elite (A) prevent the poor from owning land (B) pay starvation wages.

2. Climate is a factor.

In America many homeless people die from the cold every winter.

Rich people in Kenya will not starve. Kenya exports food.

3. Birth rates are falling rapidly worldwide.

In countries like Nigeria, Brazil and Bolivia, lots of food is grown but many people are too poor to buy a decent meal.

The Netherlands has little land per person but manages to feed its people and export food.

Countries like Cuba and Sri lanka have managed to greatly reduce population growth rates.

They have done this by improving the lives of the poor, especially poor women.

4. Efforts to feed the hungry are not causing the environmental crisis.

Large corporations are mainly responsible for deforestation.

Most pesticides are applied to export crops.

Cuba overcame a food crisis through self-reliance and sustainable, virtually pesticide-free agriculture.

5. We must fight the prospect of a ‘New Green Revolution' based on biotechnology, which threatens to further accentuate inequality.

6. Large landowners often leave much land idle.

A World Bank study of northeast Brazil estimates that redistributing farmland into smaller holdings would raise output an astonishing 80 percent.

7. The market only works efficiently when everyone has a decent income.

8. As a result of 'Free Trade', Brazil exports soybean ­to feed Japanese and European livestock.

Export crop production squeezes out basic food production.

Since NAFTA there has been a net loss of jobs in the USDA and Mexico.

9. Poor people, such as the Zapatistas in Chiapas, seek change.

We should remove the obstacles often created by large corporations, U.S. government, World Bank and IMF policies.

10. Most U.S. aid works directly against the hungry.

US aid is used to keep repressive governments in power.

11. Low wages ­in the Third World may mean cheaper bananas, shirts, computers and fast food for Americans and Europeans.

But the system leads to greater poverty for the majority.

Corporations seek cheaper and cheaper labour.

12. ­The 'right to unlimited accumulation of wealth' ­is in conflict with 'ending hunger'.


Arundhati Roy on resistance, democracy and India

Indian author Arundhati Roy interviewed on the Riz Khan program discussing politics in contemporary India, from the Maoists to Kashmir.

Part One (12.07)

Part Two (10.39)
Hat tip - Pulse Media

Kuwait supports Iran's nuclear program

Press TV - November 3, 2009 22:40:24 GMT

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah says Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and Tehran has the right to continue its nuclear program.

"All countries have the right to use peaceful nuclear technology, and we believe that Iran's activities are in the area of peaceful nuclear energy, and we support such a program," IRNA quoted al-Sabah as saying in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Kuwait on Tuesday.

During the meeting, Mottaki and al-Sabah discussed the latest bilateral and regional issues.

The Kuwaiti emir also stated that Iran's security enhances the security of the Middle East region.

"We regard Iran's security as our own security," al-Sabah added.