November 08, 2009

Channel 4 defends Israel lobby probe

They wield great influence in support of Israel

By Simon Rocker - The Jewish Community - November 5, 2009

Presenting: Peter Oborne.

Presenting: Peter Oborne

Channel 4’s flagship investigations programme, Dispatches, is to probe what it calls “one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain” — the pro-Israel lobby.

The political columnist Peter Oborne is to front an hour-long broadcast, Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby, due to be broadcast on Monday week.

The hard-hitting documentary strand has been responsible for such programmes as Undercover Mosque two years ago, which included covert filming of Islamist extremists preaching in British mosques.

According to Channel 4’s official pre-publicity, “despite wielding great influence among the highest realms of British politics and media, little is known about the individuals and groups” who work “in support of the interests of the state of Israel”.

It says that Mr Oborne “sets out to establish who they are, how they are funded, how they work and what influence they have, from the key groups to the wealthy individuals who help bankroll the lobbying.

“He investigates how accountable, transparent and open to scrutiny the lobby is, particularly in regard to its funding and financial support of MPs.”

The pro-Israel lobby, it adds, “aims to shape the debate about Britain’s relationship with Israel and future foreign policies relating to it. Oborne examines how the lobby operates from within Parliament and the tactics it employs behind the scenes when engaging with print and broadcast media.”

According to a spokesman for the channel, Dispatches wanted “to look at one of the most powerful, but also least transparent lobbying groups in the UK”.

He explained it was “an entirely legitimate area for journalistic investigation, not least in the run-up to an election, where a lobby working in support of the interests of a foreign power could wield great influence in shaping future British policy”. He rejected any suggestion that it had been designed to balance such controversial programmes as Undercover Mosque.

The programme had been commissioned by the commissioning editor for Dispatches, Kevin Sutcliffe, in discussions with production company Hardcash.

Hardcash managing director David Henshaw said the programme was a “conventional political investigation” and “not a conspiracy-theory film”.

It was “not the synagogue equivalent of Undercover Mosque”, he said.

Mofaz blames Netanyahu, offers new illusive peace plan

Press TV - November 8, 2009 18:50:19 GMT

A prominent Israeli lawmaker describes Benjamin Netanyahu as a prime minister without an effective plan on the 'peace process.'

Shaul Mofaz, deputy opposition leader in the Israeli Knesset and a former 'military commander, presented another controversial 'peace plan' on Sunday after consulting with President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

"The government and the prime minister have no plan,” Mofaz told a Tel Aviv press conference. “We have been waiting, but there is no path and there won't be. In six months, the prime minister has done nothing to change things. A prime minister without a diplomatic horizon harms the ability of Israel to achieve security and stability. As a former chief of general staff and defense minister, I can tell you that this is dangerous."

"Israel is seen as an insubordinate element, opposing a solution to the Palestinian conflict,” said the Kadima Member of the Knesset, quoted by the Jerusalem Post. “The time has come to make decisions. As a candidate to lead the country, I felt I had to present a plan. A leader cannot sit quietly while the prime minister is not presenting a vision for the future.”

His plan claims immediate "conditional negotiations" with the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and the formation of a 'demilitarized Palestinian state' with temporary borders on 60 percent of the West Bank and Gaza that, according to the illusive plan, would recognize Israel within a year.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, however, ruled out any prospective negotiations with the Israelis. “Hamas will not negotiate with Israel,” he said. “We do not believe in engaging with the occupation, or in talks that would beautify its face in the eyes of the world.”

Under what Mofaz portrays as some sort of an innovative plan, there would be no need for a halt in Israel's settlement activity in the remaining 40 percent of the occupied West Bank and "no settlement will be evacuated". This part of his plan is in sharp contrast with Palestinians' demand for a complete freeze in the expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands before resuming peace talks.

According to his plan, key issues like the fate of Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem, and borders would be decided 'later.'

US reaction to Gaza report disappoints author

Press TV - November 8, 2009 16:22:33 GMT

Richard Goldstone, head of Fact Finding Mission on Gaza

The head of a UN investigation that has charged Israel with war crimes in Gaza says the 'lukewarm' US reaction to his findings is disappointing.

Although both sides in the December-January war were blamed in the report by Richard Goldstone, the UN findings put Israel on the spot for actions that claimed the lives of at least 1,387 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, according to UN figures.

"The reactions in the international community were very mixed, but the lukewarm from the United States disappointed me," Goldstone told das Parlament, a weekly political newspaper published by Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag.

"The fact that the reactions from Israel were so violent really surprised me at times," he added, according to Reuters. "I had hoped that our call to take legal steps and pursue people at a national level would fall on more open ears."

On Friday, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that calls on Israel and the Palestinians to investigate the alleged war crimes.

Norway drops war crimes case against Israel

November 8, 2009

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Norwegian prosecutors have dropped a case alleging war crimes by 10 Israeli leaders during last winter’s Gaza military campaign.

Chief prosecutor Siri Frigaard said Friday she is dismissing the complaint, lodged on April 22 by a group of lawyers under Norway's universal jurisdiction law, because "there is no good reason" for Norwegian authorities to investigate further and Norway should be judicious in deciding when to investigate alleged war crimes by individuals with no connection to the country.

The 2008 jurisdiction law allows foreigners to face charges in Norway for war crimes committed anywhere in the world.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and opposition leader Tzipi Livni were among the Israelis named.

The decision comes a day after the United Nations General Assembly, with Norway abstaining from the vote, endorsed the Goldstone Report. The report alleges war crimes by Israel and Hamas during the Gaza war and recommends independent investigations into the charges.

Video - Israel: 60 years of Ethnic Cleansing and Mass Murder

November 8, 2009 - M. Ballan

Zionist massacres, 1948-2009. This is what Israel thinks of peace...

Video: Israeli separation barrier cuts family from village

November 8, 2009 - Al-Jazeera

Hani Amer, a Palestinian resident of the West Bank village of Mas'ha, must pass through padlocks, fences and two gates to get from his home on one side to any other part of town.

Israel's separation barrier has cut off Amer's home from those of his neighbours and the view of his village has been replaced by the wall.

Israel says it built the wall to protect its citizens from Palestinian attacks, but Amer, who lives on the same side as Israeli settlers in the West Bank, says it is his family that needs protection.

Nicole Johnston reports.

New ‘smart’ electrical meters raise fresh privacy issues for consumers

November 7, 2009, 1:54pm

MADRID, Nov. 7 (AFP) – The new ''smart meters'' utilities are installing in homes around the world to reduce energy use raise fresh privacy issues because of the wealth of information about consumer habits they reveal, experts said Friday.

The devices send data on household energy consumption directly to utilities on a regular basis, allowing the firms to manage demand more efficiently and advise households when it is cheaper to turn on appliances.

But privacy experts gathered in Madrid for a three-day conference which wraps up Friday warned that the meters can also reveal intimate details about customers' habits such as when they eat, what time they go to sleep or how much television they watch.

With cars expected to be fuelled increasingly by electricity in the coming years, the new meters could soon be used to gather information on consumer behaviour beyond the home, they added.

''The collection and storage and retention of the data makes it vulnerable to security breaches as well as to government access,'' Christopher Wolf, the co-chairman and founder of the Washington-based Future of Privacy Forum, told AFP.

''It is really an issue of how much information about us can be collected by a third party, how much do they really need, how long do they need to keep it, what should the rules be on retention and when should destruction of it occur.''

More than eight million ''smart meters'' have already been installed in the United States and the number is projected by the government to rise to 52 million by 2012.

Last month US President Barack Obama announced 3.4 billion dollars (2.3 billion euros) in grants to modernise the country's electricity grid, part of which will pay for about 18 million ''smart meters.''

The European Parliament passed an energy package in April which proposed that 80 percent of electricity consumers have ''smart meters'' by 2020.

In Italy 85 percent of homes already have smart meters installed, the highest penetration rate in Europe, according to the Future of Privacy Forum. France is second with a 25 percent penetration rate.

''This is certainly the next stage, the new frontier, in the potential for privacy invasion,'' Elias Quinn, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Energy and Environmental Security at the University of Colorado, told AFP.

''The potential is great for privacy invasion depending on who can have access to this information. We are kind of walking into 'smart meter' development blindly. There is no general informed consent.''

Israeli forces shell northern Gaza

08/11/2009 16:09

Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli shells landed in an open area in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, causing panic but no injuries, witnesses said.

Residents of the area said three shells landed in the Abu Safieyah area east of the city of Jabaliya. The residents added that the shelling was apparently unprovoked.

One Palestinian living in the area told Ma’an, "The shelling caused fear among the residents who live in these agricultural areas that their houses could be hit by these shells."

An Israeli military spokesperson confirmed that Israeli soldiers fired mortars at what they believed to be the source of rockets fired into Israeli territory. The military said they were still investigating whether rockets were indeed fired across the border.

IOF troops open fire at farmers in northern Gaza
07/11/2009 - 03:47 PM

GAZA, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened heavy machine gun fire at Palestinian farmers while tending to their lands north of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, local sources reported.

A source in the area told Quds Press that the IOF soldiers fired an artillery shell then opened machineguns at the farmers east of Jabaliya in northern Gaza Strip.

Farmers were forced to abandon their lands due to the heavy gunfire that was coupled with intensified flights for IOF warplanes.

A number of Palestinian citizens were wounded on Friday night when the IOF troops fired a projectile at them east of Gaza city.

Iran 'proposes' two-staged uranium exchange

Press TV - November 8, 2009 13:59:45 GMT

Diplomats close to nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West say the country seeks a two-staged, simultaneous exchange of enriched uranium with potential suppliers.

Iran is in need of 116 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent to supply a medical research reactor in Tehran that produces isotopes for cancer treatment.

According to the diplomats, Iran has proposed that it twice exchange 400 kg of low-enriched uranium (LEU) with some 60 kg of 20-percent nuclear fuel.

In UN-monitored negotiations with France, Russia and the US, held in Vienna in mid-October, a draft deal wanted Iran to send its LEU abroad for further enrichment.

Tehran agreed to send much of its uranium supply in one go.

Germans press for removal of US nuclear weapons in Europe

By Julian Borger
November 6, 2009

Pressure is growing within Nato for the removal of the remaining US nuclear weapons on European soil, and for a new doctrine for the alliance that would depend less on nuclear deterrence.

The initiative is being driven by the new German government coalition, which has called for the removal of American nuclear weapons on its territory as part of a Nato strategic rethink.

The German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, the driving force behind the new policy, raised the issue during talks in Washington today with the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

Earlier this week, Westerwelle assured the Nato secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, that Germany would consult its allies on the removal of the estimated 20 nuclear weapons left on its soil.

The Germans have backing from the Belgians and Dutch. The new Norwegian government also called for a debate within Nato, as it revises its basic doctrine, known as the strategic concept, due to be completed in the first half of next year.

Des Browne, a former British defence minister now chairing a cross-party parliamentary group on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, argued: "These moves bring out into the open a topic which for too long has been discussed by diplomats and technocrats only. [It] makes possible a genuine debate between allies about the role of nuclear weapons in Nato strategy, as set out in the strategic concept which guides alliance generals."

The current Nato concept, written in 1999, says: "Nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to Nato provide an essential political and military link between the European and the North American members of the alliance. The alliance will therefore maintain adequate nuclear forces in Europe."

It is that clause that is now under scrutiny, in a push to downgrade the role of nuclear weapons in global security. In France two former prime ministers, Alain Juppe and Michel Rocard, as well as a retired general, signed a joint letter to Le Monde newspaper calling for "the structured elimination of nuclear weapons" and arguing that France should be prepared to negotiate on its own independent deterrent.

The letter was a challenge to President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has resisted the [rhetorical] calls for eventual nuclear abolition led by Barack Obama and Gordon Brown.

There are an estimated 200 US weapons – mostly tactical – left in Europe, deployed in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

Full article