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Total number of comments: 121 (since 2011-10-27 19:23:40)

Am passionate about the Palestinians seeing a fare end to their dilema

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  • 'NYT' op-ed calls on Jews to abandon liberal Zionism and push for equal rights
    • From an encouraging Ynet op-ed:
      Hamas is not a terror organization. It's easier for us to call it that because the classification dwarfs it and aggrandizes us, and allows us to treat it as a pest that must be eliminated, rather than a political player that must be taken into account when examining the balance of power and fear in our neighborhood.
      It was easier for us to think this is a summer camp for martyrs, with a few hot-tempered Imams and some monstrous engineer, and that if we could only get rid of them, things would be better. We were wrong. We were also wrong in Lebanon when we failed to properly identify the cumulative power of the Palestinian organizations. This mistake marked the beginning of our sinking into the Lebanese quicksand. Are we going to be stupid enough to have to repeat this mistake?
      The governments of Israel throughout the years, our senior analysts, the best of our generals and whoever else, all flooded the public discourse with talk of a "terror organization" to the point that we became too blind to see.

      Firstly, we did not realize what we were doing when we encouraged the separation between the West Bank and Gaza Strip in order to weaken the PLO, and got a far worse foe. Secondly, we did not realize that the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, to the point of hearing maniacal laughter emanating from the rubble of Gaza at the sight of rockets rolling down the road in Tel Aviv.
      Thirdly, we failed in understanding Hamas' own reality - because you don't have to understand a terror organization, just eradicate it - and so we failed to understand the deep despair that is the very basis of Islamic fundamentalism, or the ideology that sanctifies a bloody dream over human life, the willingness to suffer lengthy periods of shortage and a hard siege for faith, and the choice of the promised future in paradise over the future you could build with your own two hands in this world.
      Years of a lack of understanding cannot be covered by any Iron Dome, and all the accurate military intelligence is worth nothing unless it comes with the understanding of what our target is. And this target can't be to eradicate, crush or eliminate. On the other hand, it also can't be to negotiate, because we allegedly don't negotiate with terrorists. Then again, it also can't be to rely on a mix of tangled international interventions that are as fragile as a spider's web.
      During this pointless round of fighting, this government must realize it was wrong, learn from its mistakes and urgently change its tune before all of its symbols of sovereignty are damaged in this struggle and before it becomes clear that it has failed in its primary and most important mission: to guarantee that we can maintain normal everyday life here. Sort of........
      link to ynetnews.com

  • Democratic Party leader echoes Netanyahu's new theme: Hamas equals ISIS
    • @Kay24.......Lost the PR War, I wish, but sadly untrue.

      By using his oldest trick again, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the International Commission of Inquiry on the occupation's war crimes in Gaza by using the narrative of the victim to justify and explain the most recent bout of Israeli aggression and hostility. During the final moments of his meeting in Tel Aviv with the Andrew Cuomo, the governor of the state of New York, Netanyahu criticised the Human Rights Council's decision to form a committee to look into the crimes against humanity that have been committed in the Gaza Strip. In response to the HRC's decision, Netanyahu said, "The Council's [decision] grants legitimacy to terrorist organisations such as Hamas and ISIS rather than doing what is right by examining Hamas' attacks on Israeli citizens and its exploitation of Palestinians as human shields..."
      link to middleeastmonitor.com

    • Egypt's Al-Mesryoon newspaper reported on Wednesday quoting a statement by Hamas's senior leader Al-Zahar that was broadcast by Al-Aqsa, a television channel close to Hamas, as saying: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making a connection between Hamas and the Islamic State is a deception, which aims to incite the world against Hamas....He further stated, "Hamas is a national resistance movement and its aim is to liberate Palestine."
      link to middleeastmonitor.com

  • Israeli ship heads out of Oakland - again - after five days of extraordinary protest
    • In the aftermath of the "Missilegate" fiasco, the Wall Street Journal has mentioned that "US leaders believe that Israel's actions throughout the military operation in Gaza, especially the actions of Netanyahu and the Minister of Defense, were very reckless" and that Israeli leaders cannot be trusted. What this means is that many believe that Netanyahu was pulling strings and using his leverage in the White House and the American Congress to manipulate the US government, John Kerry and the US ambassador in Israel.
      But best of all:
      Even the US Postal Service (USPS) has taken a number of undeclared punitive actions against Israel as the Hebrew Reuters' page reported that the USPS allegedly refuses to send packages and letters to Israel because of the nature of the current security situation post-Gaza offensive. According to the websites, the USPS has received many complaints all across America for refusing to send letters and parcels to Israel.......
      link to middleeastmonitor.com

  • 'Lesson: The Jews will defend themselves even if it means killing children'
    • Should we be surprised at Israel's disproportionate use of force and the erasure of entire neighborhoods in Gaza....????
      In a 2008 interview with GOC Northern Command Gadi Eisenkot, and articles written by two senior reserve officers have indicated that the IDF will continue to give first priority to firepower, even if the targets it chooses are different than those chosen in previous conflicts. Eisenkot presented his "Dahiyah Doctrine," under which the IDF would expand its destructive power beyond what it demonstrated two years ago against the Beirut suburb of Dahiyah, considered a Hezbollah stronghold.
      "We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. From our perspective, these are military bases," he said. "This isn't a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorized."
      Colonel (Res.) Gabriel Siboni recently authored a report through Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies backed Eisenkot's statements at the time.
      The answer to rocket and missile threats from Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, he believes, is "a disproportionate strike at the heart of the enemy's weak spot, in which efforts to hurt launch capability are secondary. As soon as the conflict breaks out, the IDF will have to operate in a rapid, determined, powerful and disproportionate way against the enemy's actions."
      link to haaretz.com

    • Israel is slowly pushing the boundaries of existing law in an explicit attempt to reshape it. This is an affront to the international humanitarian legal order, which is intended to protect civilians in times of war by minimizing their suffering. Israel's attempts have proven successful in the realm of public relations, as evidenced by President Obama's uncritical support of Israel's recent onslaughts of Gaza as an exercise in the right of self-defense. Since international law lacks a hierarchal enforcement authority, its meaning and scope is highly contingent on the prerogative of states, especially the most powerful ones. The implications of this shift are therefore palpable and dangerous.

      To justify its use of force in the OPT as consistent with the right of self-defense, Israel has cited UN Security Council Resolution 1368 (2001)and UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001). These two resolutions were passed in direct response to the Al-Qaeda attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001. They affirm that those terrorist acts amount to threats to international peace and security and therefore trigger Article 51 of the UN Charter permitting the use of force in self-defense. Israel has therefore deliberately characterized all acts of Palestinian violence - including those directed exclusively at legitimate military targets - as terrorist acts. Secondly it frames those acts as amounting to armed attacks that trigger the right of self-defense under Article 51 irrespective of the West Bank and Gaza's status as Occupied Territory.

      The Israeli Government stated its position clearly in the 2006 HCJ case challenging the legality of the policy of targeted killing (Public Committee against Torture in Israel et al v. Government of Israel). The State argued that, notwithstanding existing legal debate, "there can be no doubt that the assault of terrorism against Israel fits the definition of an armed attack," effectively permitting Israel to use military force against those entities.Therefore, Israeli officials claim that the laws of war can apply to "both occupied territory and to territory which is not occupied, as long as armed conflict is taking place on it" and that the permissible use of force is not limited to law enforcement operations. The HCJ has affirmed this argument in at least three of its decisions:Public Committee Against Torture in Israel et al v. Government of Israel, Hamdan v. Southern Military Commander, and Physicians for Human Rights v. The IDF Commander in Gaza. These rulings sanction the government's position that it is engaged in an international armed conflict and, therefore, that its use of force is not restricted by the laws of occupation. The Israeli judiciary effectively authorizes the State to use police force to control the lives of Palestinians (e.g., through ongoing arrests, prosecutions, checkpoints) and military force to pummel their resistance to occupation.

      link to sott.net

  • Weapons fired in Ferguson come from companies supplying Israel, Bahrain and Egypt
    • Proven Effective: Crowd Control Weapons in the Occupied Palestinian TerritoriesThe report focuses on three types of weapons as case studies: tear gas canisters, produced and marketed by Combined Systems (CSI) and M.R. Hunter; "the Scream", manufactured by Electro-Optics Research & Development (EORD) and Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD); and "the Skunk", manufactured by Odortec, with the supporting companies: MAN Group and Beit Alpha Technologies (B.A.T). The report highlights the harmful consequences of these weapons, including their potentially lethal effects. The occupied Palestinian territories are being used as a lab for testing new weapons for civil oppression on humans, in order to label them as “proven effective” for marketing abroad.
      link to whoprofits.org

    • The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is at the heart of American-Israeli law enforcement collaboration. JINSA is a Jerusalem and Washington DC-based think tank known for stridently neoconservative policy positions on Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and its brinkmanship with Iran. The group’s board of directors boasts a Who’s Who of neocon ideologues. Two former JINSA advisors who have also consulted for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, went on to serve in the Department of Defense under President George W. Bush, playing influential roles in the push to invade and occupy Iraq. Through its Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP), JINSA claims to have arranged Israeli-led training sessions for over 9000 American law enforcement officials at the federal, state and municipal level. “The Israelis changed the way we do business regarding homeland security in New Jersey,” Richard Fuentes, the NJ State Police Superintendent, said after attending a 2004 JINSA-sponsored Israel trip and a subsequent JINSA conference alongside 435 other law enforcement officers.
      link to english.al-akhbar.com

    • The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed. The phenomenon has been documented in bits and pieces, through occasional news reports that typically highlight Israel’s national security prowess without examining the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses. But it has never been the subject of a national discussion. And collaboration between American and Israeli cops is just the tip of the iceberg.
      link to english.al-akhbar.com

  • With ceasefire set to expire, Palestinians aim to lift the siege while Israel wants to turn 'Gaza into Ramallah'
    • Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, ordered his army to attack targets in Gaza, and recalled from Cairo negotiators who were involved in indirect talks with Palestinians on a permanent ceasefire.

      "In response to Hamas's violation of the truce, the prime minister and defence minister have ordered the IDF [Israeli army] to once more attack terror sites in the Gaza Strip," a government official said.
      link to aljazeera.com

  • Gruesome tales surface of Israeli massacres against families in Gaza's Shujaiya neighborhood
    • "Five years after the presentation of the Goldstone Report, there is no real accountability and the recommendations remain unimplemented. Neither Israel nor the Gaza authorities have taken any meaningful measures for accountability for gross violations resulting in killing of civilians, deliberate targeting and destruction of UN buildings and other places protected under the Geneva Conventions, and destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza. As far as Israel is concerned, the record shows its contempt for real accountability in the manner it has dealt with incidents during the 2009 offensive, about which the Mission had given findings of serious human rights and humanitarian law violations."
      link to middleeastmonitor.com

  • 5 micro incidents of hope
    • Farther afield and as Noam Chomsky has observed.....
      But as the U.S. government backpedals to reconcile its unconditional support of Israel with basic principles of human rights and Europe waffles, one region stands out in its opposition to the siege of Gaza: Latin America. Leaders from across the region have condemned the Israel Defense Forces’ attacks on Gaza as excessive and unfair. “I think what’s happening in the Gaza Strip is dangerous,” Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff told the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. “I don’t think it’s genocide, but I think it’s a massacre.”
      Chile, currently a member of the U.N. Security Council, stated that the Israeli government “does not respect the fundamental norms of international humanitarian law.”
      link to america.aljazeera.com

  • The catastrophe inflicted on Gaza--and the costs to Israel's standing
    • Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a letter to the Jewish communities thanking them for being "a source of great strength for the people of Israel" over the past two months. He acknowledged in the letter that "this has been a difficult period for Jews around the world, as many of you face increasingly virulent and sometimes violent manifestations of antisemitism".

      While the most severe incidents have been in Europe, there has been violence and abuse in many countries around the world.

      In the US, where antisemitic incidents have been less prevalent, the Gaza crisis has played out mainly in the media and in various Jewish movements, where the largely liberal community has been thrashing out its dilemmas. In addition, some of the more prominent figures criticising Israel's actions, such as comedian Jon Stewart, are Jewish.

      While there have been large rallies in support of Israel in many US cities, there have also been reports of pro-BDS Jewish groups attracting more members.

      Groups such as J Street have tried a middle path, expressing shock over the dead civilians in Gaza, supporting Secretary of State John Kerry's faltering attempts to reach a ceasefire, while recognising Israel's right to defend itself.

      This round of fighting seems to have left in its wake a divided and uncertain Jewish landscape in America.

      link to thejc.com

    • n a letter recently sent out by the Ministry of Agriculture to Israeli dairy and livestock producers, Israeli farmers were told to start separating out their products that come from beyond the Green Line ahead of the European Union's boycott of dairy, poultry, eggs and meat that come from the West Bank and Golan Heights. The separated products will then not be sent to the European Union.

      The EU's ban is designated for products from the West Bank and Golan Heights, but would technically include certain parts of Jerusalem, though no Israeli goods are produced there anymore.

      In accordance with instructions from the Foreign and Finance ministries, the letter goes on to state that farmers must present the ministry with a list of farms over the Green Line from which they receive raw materials that are combined with materials from multiple farms. This is being done in order to separate end products, such as powdered milk, that could include materials from both farms over the Green Line and farms within the EU's definition of Israel.

      Currently, products sold in the European Union that come from over the Green Line carry a label, but are not banned outright.

      The European Union agreed to the Green Line poultry, egg, meat and dairy ban on February 17 of this year. The ban is supposed to go into effect on September 1.

      link to jpost.com

    • The evidence of atrocities is mounting. One of the defining horrors of this attack has beenthe targeting of family homes – close to 1,000 homes have been destroyed or severely damaged by Israeli airstrikes. Reporting on the issue, the Associated Press said that the Israeli military did not respond to repeated requests "to explain in detail why even one of [the homes] was targeted". Earlier on in the operation, Israeli NGO B'Tselem noted how the Israel military itself had "acknowledged" conducting attacks that were "illegally aimed at homes that were not military targets". A senior officer, commenting on the bombing of a senior al-Qassam Brigades figure's house, said: "You call it a home, we call it a command centre and a military post for all intents and purposes". As Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard put it, the Israeli military's "combat doctrine...redefines what constitutes a legitimate target for attack" so that it includes "houses belonging to Hamas commanders and operatives" (it should be noted homes have also been hit lacking even this 'link').
      link to middleeastmonitor.com

  • Israel and its advocates have a new target in sight: Head of UN inquiry William Schabas
    • U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today slammed the United Nations for appointing William Schabas as head of the U.N Gaza Commission and urged the United States to defund and withdraw from the U.N. Human Rights Council if Schabas is not removed.

      link to theyeshivaworld.com

    • UN Watch sounded the alarm: Mr Schabas has a long record of statements attacking Israel and defending the Iranian regime.

      Specifically, we cited his recent participation in a mock trial of alleged Israeli war crimes, in which he said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was "my favourite" to put "in the dock of the International Criminal Court".

      Not the mass murderers of Syria, Iraq, Sudan. His one favourite: Mr Netanyahu. How could someone openly express his dream of indicting a particular individual - and the next day claim to be his impartial judge?
      link to thejc.com

  • Israeli soldiers carved Stars of David in homes in Gaza, report Blumenthal and Cohen
    • “The recent fighting has resulted in substantial direct damage to Gaza’s 17,000 hectares of croplands as well as much of its agricultural infrastructure, including greenhouses, irrigation systems, animal farms, fodder stocks and fishing boats,” the statement continued.

      The report added that Gaza had lost half of its poultry in the attack, “either due to direct hits on their shelters or lack of water, feed or care resulting from access restrictions.”

      Losses among Gaza’s crucial fishing sector, meanwhile, were estimated at 234.6 tons, or about 9.3 percent of the yearly catch.

      According to the organization, although Gaza imports most of its food needs, around 28,600 people in Gaza rely on farming (19,000 people), livestock raising (6,000) and fishing (3,600) for their livelihoods.

      “Under the most recent ceasefire many farmers and herders are now able to access their lands, however resumption of food production faces serious obstacles given the damages sustained and shortages of water, electricity, inputs and financial resources, as well as ongoing uncertainty regarding the possible resumption of military activities”, said Ciro Fiorillo, head of the FAO office in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
      link to juancole.com

  • Liberal Zionism has lost its refuge-- a plausible two-state solution
    • Haaretz talked to Israel Prize laureate and renowned scholar Zeev Sternhell about his fears for the collapse of Israeli democracy.

      Of all the phenomena you’ve encountered here, which do you find ugliest?

      “What we’ve seen here in the past few weeks is absolute conformism on the part of most of Israel’s intellectuals. They’ve just followed the herd. By intellectuals I mean professors and journalists. The intellectual bankruptcy of the mass media in this war is total. It’s not easy to go against the herd, you can easily be trampled. But the role of the intellectual and the journalist is not to applaud the government. Democracy crumbles when the intellectuals, the educated classes, toe the line of the thugs or look at them with a smile. People here say, ‘It’s not so terrible, it’s nothing like fascism – we have free elections and parties and a parliament.’ Yet, we reached a crisis in this war, in which, without anyone asking them to do so, all kinds of university bodies are suddenly demanding that the entire academic community roll back its criticism.”

      Do you think it’s due to fear?

      “Fear of the authorities, fear of possible budgetary sanctions and fear of pressure from the street. The personification of shame and disgrace occurred when the dean of the law faculty of Bar-Ilan University threatened sanctions against one of his colleagues because the latter added a couple of sentences to an announcement about exam dates in which he expressed sorrow at the killing and loss of life on both sides. To grieve for the loss of life on both sides is already a subversive act, treason. We are arriving at a situation of purely formal democracy, which keeps sinking to ever lower levels.”

      When will we cross the line in which democracy implodes?

      “Democracy rarely falls in a revolution. Not in Italy, not in Germany and not in France with the Vichy regime – which is a crucial thing, because France was a democratic country that fell into the hands of the right wing with the support of the vast majority of the population. It was not the fall of France that generated this ideology. It was the result of a gradual process in which an extreme nationalist ideology took shape, a radical approach that perceives the nation as an organic body. Like a tree on which human individuals are the leaves and the branches – in other words, people exist only thanks to the tree. The nation is a living body.

      “In Israel, the religious factor strengthens the national singularity. It’s not a matter of belief, but of identity; religion bolsters your distinctive identity. It’s essential to understand that without this radical nationalism there is no fascism. I also distinguish between fascism and Nazism, because fascism does not necessarily carry a race doctrine. Let me put it in no uncertain terms: Fascism is a war against enlightenment and against universal values; Nazism was a war against the human race.”

      Do you see a negation of universal values in Israel and a war against enlightenment in recent years?

      “It cries out to heaven. Israel is an extraordinary laboratory in which one sees the gradual erosion of enlightenment values, namely the universal values I mentioned. You see the negation, which always existed on the fringes, slowly impinging, until one day it dominates the center.”
      link to warincontext.org

  • The Walzer Problem
    • MHughes976....The issue covered in the article is "the targeting of civilians" and "Just War" theory in the aftermath of "Operation Cast Lead". It was a time when much of the civilized world war appalled at Israeli impunity , the numbers of dead Palestinians, the infrastructure damage done by missiles and bombs and the dubious claims of "the use of human shields". Walzer and the world seem to have moved on since then, thanks to the ongoing and successful demonization of Arabs/Palestinians/ Muslims campaign.....

    • Michael Walzer seems to have adopted a much harder line than that voiced in the article co-authored with Avishai Margalit in their article, "Israel: Civilians&Combattants" (NYR May 14, 2009) concluding

      "This is the guideline we advocate: Conduct your war in the presence of noncombatants on the other side with the same care as if your citizens were the noncombatants"

    • Page: 1
    • GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Doctors and human rights activists believe that they have conclusive evidence that Israel used internationally banned weapons against civilians during its military aggression on the Gaza Strip, as it did during the previous two wars against Gaza in 2008-2009 and 2012. Doctors in the Gaza Strip say they have evidence that shows the Israeli military used internationally prohibited Dense Inert Metal Explosives against civilians during Operation Protective Edge.

      Since the start of the Israeli military operation, more than 1,939 Palestinians have been killed and 9,800 others injured. Hundreds of the victims arrived at hospitals as charred corpses or in pieces, or with lost limbs and wounds that were difficult to treat, Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qadra told Al-Monitor . Controversy erupted when Norwegian Dr. Erik Fosse, who recently visited Gaza to treat the wounded, accused Israel of using internationally prohibited weapons in its ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip. During a press conference on July 13 at Al-Shifa Hospital, attended by Al-Monitor, Dr. Fosse said, “Many of the casualties that have arrived at the hospital confirm Israel's use of internationally banned weapons of the [Dense Inert Metal Explosive] DIME variety."
      So much for "proportionality"....

      link to al-monitor.com

  • How the Israeli discourse on terrorism seeks to justify blatant war crimes
    • Remi, thank you so much for your in depth historical review of America's "terrorism" evolution. I am curious to know if you perceive if Asa Kasher, a professor of philosophy and "practical ethics" at Tel Aviv University, the author of the Israeli army's Code of Conduct, and Major General Amos Yadlin, former head of the IDF's National Defense College, irrevocably influenced Israel's defense policy and by fiat, America's very own, as recent conflicts in the ME seem to indicate....????

    • From Yonatan Mendel's "Diary" March 6, 2008:
      At a time when there were many Israeli raids on Gaza I asked my colleagues the following question: ‘If an armed Palestinian crosses the border, enters Israel, drives to Tel Aviv and shoots people in the streets, he will be the terrorist and we will be the victims, right? However, if the IDF crosses the border, drives miles into Gaza, and starts shooting their gunmen, who is the terrorist and who is the defender? How come the Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories can never be engaged in self-defence, while the Israeli army is always the defender?’ My friend Shay from the graphics department clarified matters for me: ‘If you go to the Gaza Strip and shoot people, you will be a terrorist. But when the army does it that is an operation to make Israel safer. It’s the implementation of a government decision!’
      link to lrb.co.uk

  • Despite potential groundswell, Congress reluctant to recognize Palestinian rights
  • How many Israeli civilians have been attacked from the Gaza tunnels? Any?
    • Eva, I have been thinking the very same thing. Given the enormous revenue the tunnels have generated, why wouldn't Israeli entrepreneurial business minded people want to cash in on a lucrative good thing. And Palestinians too, in order to help all those trapped on the other side of the Gaza wall!!
      (See Sara Roy's Palesine Center Lecture on Gaza)
      link to thejerusalemfund.org

  • 'A blind evil rage that increased forever, day and night' --Mads Gilbert on Operation Protective Edge
    • For Hamas, the choice wasn’t so much between peace and war as between slow strangulation and a war that had a chance, however slim, of loosening the squeeze. It sees itself in a battle for its survival. Its future in Gaza hangs on the outcome. Like Israel, it’s been careful to set rather limited aims, goals to which much of the international community is sympathetic. The primary objective is that Israel honour three past agreements: the Shalit prisoner exchange, including the release of the re-arrested prisoners; the November 2012 ceasefire, which calls for an end to Gaza’s closure; and the April 2014 reconciliation agreement, which would allow the Palestinian government to pay salaries in Gaza, staff its borders, receive much needed construction materials and open the pedestrian crossing with Egypt........
      link to lrb.co.uk

  • 'NYT' is furiously rewriting history of Gaza conflict
    • [F]riedman visited a tunnel near an Israeli kibbutz and says that Hamas was using them to try and murder Israeli civilians.....

      .As the invited speaker at the 2012 Edward Said Memorial Lecture, Harvard economist Sara Roy goes into detail about the importance of "the tunnel economy" with points drawn mainly from her book, "The Gaza Strip: the Political Economy of De-development" published in 2012.......

      "The tunnels, which are almost entirely devoted to smuggling goods into Gaza (with limited exports), have become Gaza’s primary trading route, a critical lifeline for, and driver of, the local economy, allowing it to mitigate the pressures imposed by the blockade. By 2012 the tunnel economy (with and via Egypt) had become Gaza’s principal economic engine accounting for 80 to 90 percent of its trade valued at close to $700 million annually, and for marked increases in private sector employment. Nicholas Pelham, who has written extensively on the tunnel economy, similarly observed, "All told, the tunnels have kick-started Gaza’s reconstruction, propelling it out of the darkest days of the siege. Imports have triggered a building boom... [and] Gaza resembles a vast construction site."

      Once Gaza’s smuggling trade began to assume more formal commercial dimensions, the Hamas government moved to regulate it, establishing a regulatory authority known as the Tunnel Affairs Commission (TAC), translating what was "[o]nce a tax-free enterprise to escape closures [into] a source of domestic revenue."

      In its drive to formalize the tunnel economy, the Hamas government, writes Pelham, established an "increasingly comprehensive customs regime, providing it with a new revenue base that partially compensated for the Ramallah-based PA’s monopoly on customs revenues collected at Israeli’s ports." I will not list all the fees imposed except to say that the taxes on tunnel goods (consumer items and inputs and raw materials for construction) have proven extremely lucrative. For example, according to Omar Shaban, an economist in Gaza who studies the tunnel trade, the government levies the following taxes: fifty cents on every liter of gas, with 500,000 liters brought in daily; eighty cents on each of the 300,000 packs of cigarettes that enter Gaza each day; $15 on every ton of construction steel with 300 tons entering every day; and $10 per ton of cement with 2,000 tons imported daily. These four commodities alone yield the Hamas government an annual income of $188 million. Hamas also regulates many types of businesses - from street vendors to Gaza’s 20 money-changing companies - by requiring them to pay license fees. Taxes are also collected on a variety of "luxury" items such as cars coming from Israel in order to compensate for lost tunnel income after 2010 when imports from Israel increased.

      Import taxes on tunnel goods allowed the government to raise "over half of its $750 million 2011 annual budget locally," while the tunnel trade generated rising levels of employment especially in the construction sector, and improved some of Gaza’s public infrastructure including government buildings, police stations and mosques. The Gaza-Rafah highway was widened, while parks and coastal areas were beautified. In fact, the tunnel economy as a whole was, at its peak in 2010, "Gaza’s largest non-governmental employer and its largest employer of youth" with some 5,000 tunnel operators and 25,000 workers supporting some 150,000 people - around 10 percent of the population.

      An extremely crucial aspect of the tunnel trade is its size, which has dwarfed official trade with Israel, outstripping formal trade supplies. For example, by February 2012 a monthly average of 1,600 tons of cement came through Israeli crossings compared to 31,000 tons received through the tunnels. More strikingly, Pelham reports that by mid-2011, 3,000 tons of cement entered Gaza daily; hence, in one day the tunnels could supply nearly double the amount of cement that Israel delivered in one month. This in turn has catalyzed a building boom addressing Gaza’s desperate need for housing with large-scale investment from the Saudi Development Bank, Turkey and Qatar.

      The impact of the tunnel economy (coupled with Israel’s easing of import restrictions) has been dramatic. According to the UN, "As in 2010, construction activity was the single most important element in private sector growth in 2011 in the OPT... In 2010 and 2011, Gaza’s annual average real GDP growth surpassed 20 percent and boasted a stunning 23 percent GDP growth rate in 2011 alone - admittedly built on a very low economic base devastated by years of closure. The number of people working in construction more than tripled between 2010 and 2011 and overall employment in Gaza grew nearly 25 percent (relative to 2010)." It is clear that the tunnel trade is now the principal catalyst behind Gaza’s booming construction sector and GDP growth “precipitating... Gaza’s postwar reconstruction while donors remained on the sidelines."

  • Israel, your brand is tanking
    • It is quite clear that the resistance is well aware of its own strengths and weaknesses as well as the Israelis'; there has been no exaggeration or underestimation. The Palestinians did not violate the 2012 truce agreement, nor did they initiate the war. Israel provoked this current aggression for political and internal reasons. As such, all blame has been removed from the Palestinian resistance and placed instead on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, it seems, will pay the price for his folly and recklessness.
      link to middleeastmonitor.com

    • Gaza cease-fire could save Hamas from military collapse and Israel from PR disaster
      After the outrage sparked by the carnage in Rafah, Israel stood on the verge of the 'Goldstonization' of its’ Gaza campaign and on the brink of a diplomatic meltdown.

      link to haaretz.com

    • …”After all, I remember we were saying the same thing right after Cast Lead — that this time Israel has gone too far…….”
      @PeaceThroughJustice, this is of some concern to me as well especially since Netanyahu and his talking horse Marc Regev have been playing the “Terrorism” trump card and “ Moral army protecting the civilian population” (not hard to figure out which civilian population they mean) since the cows left the barn for the field.
      Going on 13 years after 9/11, the younger generation of under 30s have perhaps come to the realization that the United States and Israel excel in daily reminders of how Jihadi forces are threatening national security at every turn of the road. The rest of the world doesn’t live that way. They also may have figured that Israel and the US have totally disregarded the Geneva Convention and attempted to redesign International Human Rights Law to conveniently suit their needs (on torture, detention without trial, asymmetry/ disproportionate use of force and targeted assassinations) in battling enemy terrorists.
      Many of these radical changes originated in Israel and were cemented in the “IDF Code of Conduct “under the philosophical and ethical tutelage of Asa Kasher and Major General Amos Yadlin who contributed to the volume with on point observations from the field …..
      “A new model of warfare -- the counter-terrorism war -- requires a new set of rules on how to fight it. The other side, as non-state belligerents, is fighting outside the rules and we have to create new ethical rules for the international law of armed conflict. The duty of the state is to defend its citizens. Any time a terrorist gets away because of concerns about collateral damage, we may be violating our main duty to protect our citizens. We look for alternatives so as not to cause collateral damage, or to cause the minimum amount of collateral damage, but the main obligation is to defend our citizens. . .” Ethical Dilemmas in Fighting Terrorism Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin

      The question is then, can we put the genie back in the bottle….????

  • Elie Wiesel plays the Holocaust trump card in Gaza
    • If Ellie Weisel only thought about what he said/wrote as applying to ,well, those other people .....

      “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

      “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence
      “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides.”

      “No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them”

      “Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe.”

  • The member of Knesset who called for genocide -- against the mothers of the 'snakes'
    • In the weeks since the most recent Gaza war began on July 8, we have seen organized lynch mobs of Israeli youths prowling the streets of Jerusalem at night in search of Palestinians who have the misfortune to be passing by. Many restaurants and bars in downtown Jerusalem employ Palestinian waiters and kitchen staff; they tend to get off work around midnight or 1 AM, when they have to go home to their neighborhoods. Those are the dangerous hours. Dozens have been attacked. On July 25, two Palestinian men, Amir Jalal Shweiki and Samir Mahfuz, both twenty, were beaten unconscious near the northeast Jerusalem neighborhood of Neve Yaakov. They are still in the hospital. There have also been unconfirmed reports of incidents where the police either stood by or joined in with right-wing thugs, for example on July 24 when two Palestinians, Amir Mazin Abu Eisha and Laith Ubeidat, who were delivering bread to stores on Jaffa Road in downtown Jerusalem, were savagely attacked.

      A particularly terrible case occurred in early July when a train of the Light Rail, the electric tram, was surrounded in the border between east and west Jerusalem by an Israeli mob screaming “Death to Arabs!” A Palestinian Ph.D. student in Islamic studies at the Hebrew University, a woman well known to my colleagues, was caught in the tram and witnessed passengers trying to shove another Palestinian woman, a young mother with her baby, out of the carriage, into the hands of the mob. Most of the passengers, as so often in such cases, watched passively. Fortunately, the tram was eventually able to continue its journey, and the mother and child survived. On June 30, according to eyewitness accounts, right-wing youths repeatedly entered carriages of the tram looking for Palestinians to assault. .....
      link to nybooks.com

  • Emergency call from Gaza
    • I remember the same targeting of economic lynchpins was done in the 2006 Lebanon war. Bombs hit a glass factory which made jars to hold the olives exported to Europe and the largest dairy processing plant was smashed to smithereens. Israel quickly offered to fill the gap!

      Thirty years of hard work were needed to build the Alawda biscuit and ice cream factory into the biggest private company in the Palestinian territories. It took just a few minutes in the early hours of Thursday morning to send all that endeavor up in smoke. Hitting the factory, which employs 400 people and also produces concentrated fruit juice, served no obvious military purpose. It survived unscathed during the 2008-9 and 2012 wars between Israel and Hamas, which left widespread destruction elsewhere in Gaza. To the firm's management, however, the goal was very clear - to destroy Gaza's private economy. "They want to destroy everything," said Manal Hassan, Alawda's executive manager, standing in the smoke blackened remains of the factory as workers battled smoke and sweltering heat trying to save raw materials vital to the company's manufacturing process. "They don't want the people to produce. They want them just to be dependent on aid. No rockets were being fired out of this area because the resistance knows this is a very big and important factory and wouldn't want it attacked.
      Outside central Gaza City, a string of businesses with no obvious links to militant activities lie in ruins after being demolished by missiles or shells. They include a plastics factory, a sponge-making plant and even the headquarters of the territory's main fruit distribution near the northern town of Beit Hanoun, much of which has been levelled in the Israeli land invasion. It had taken two direct hits from missiles fired by an Israeli war plane in the early hours of Monday morning, according to Hassan Jihad, 25, the factory caretaker, who survived fortuitously because he had moved to the company's administrative headquarters outside the main factory for the duration of the conflict.
      He too had little doubt about the reason behind the strike. "The Israelis are trying to destroy the economy and paralyse Gaza," he said. "This is the only factory in the Gaza Strip producing cardboard containers. We don't have any rockets in the place."
      link to telegraph.co.uk

  • Crisis in Rafah: Palestinian civilians trapped trying to escape Israeli onslaught (Updated)
    • The harrowing effects of the broken Gaza ceasefire.....

    • A Palestinian minister in Ramallah told Al-Monitor on the evening of July 31, “The humanitarian truce was announced to pave the way for the Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to look into a permanent truce in Gaza and into an amended version of the Egyptian initiative, following Saudi and US interventions to convince Cairo to accept the amendments approved by all parties. I am expecting an official announcement of a truce at the beginning of next week.”

      This announcement came after both sides publicly hardened their positions ahead of the cease-fire announcement. The news conference held by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 28 seemed to shatter all hopes of reaching an immediate truce, as he declared that the army still has long days ahead of it as military operations against Hamas in Gaza continue.

      The cease-fire announcement also followed the remarks of al-Qassam Brigades commander Mohammed Deif, who said in a July 29 statement aired on Al-Aqsa TV station that there would be no truce without the lifting of the siege on Gaza.

      The cease-fire negotiations had reached a deadlock because of the divergent and uncompromising positions of the two parties. In a telephone interview with Al-Monitor, a Hamas official said, “Hamas has announced that lifting the blockade on Gaza must be concurrent with any truce with Israel, while the Egyptian initiative said that the conditions of the resistance will be met after the truce, whereby a cease-fire is immediately declared followed by a discussion on the outstanding issues.”
      link to al-monitor.com

    • ...A credible timeline of Rafah events by Max Blumenthal @ AlterNet.....

      link to alternet.org

  • The experts’ verdict: Every Israeli missile strike is a war crime
    • Israel expects the commission of inquiry on Gaza, which the Human Rights Council of the United Nations set up, to reveal damning evidence against its actions in the wake of the serious crimes being committed in the Strip during the current offensive.

      Today, Israel Today reported the massive destruction caused by the offensive, in addition to the large number of deaths on the Palestinian side. It predicted that these crimes will not go unnoticed and Israel will be punished for them. In turn, there is a prevailing fear in Israel that the Human Rights Council will publish an incriminatory report that could lead to indictments against Israeli officials to the International Criminal Court in The Hague on the accusation of committing war crimes.

      The newspaper said that the political and military leadership in Israel has been preoccupied with how to face the commission of inquiry. A series of deliberations have been discussed, including the deliberations that took place in the Political-Security Cabinet.

      The newspaper reiterated that Israel's concern was focused at the end of the aggression, when crews from the international media enter Gaza and see the enormity of destruction caused by the Israeli aggression. This would increase international criticism about the size of military force used by the Israeli army, which will lead to a serious backlash in international public opinion, which would impact political leaders, especially those in Western Europe.
      link to middleeastmonitor.com

    • Speaking to the news agency, Rami Abdo, the director of the Euro-Mediterranean Observatory for Human Rights, said that the Observatory's teams in the Gaza Strip had monitored the destruction of 250 economic facilities, including 180 factories, since the start of the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip on 7 July. Abdo pointed out that the losses incurred by the economic sector in the Gaza Strip are unprecedented, stressing that Israel has dragged Gaza's economy decades backwards
      link to middleeastmonitor.com

    • Ten human rights organizations urgently contacted Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein today following the release of reports on the nature of attacks within the Gaza Strip and the high rate of civilian casualties. This information raises concerns about grave violations of international humanitarian law.
      The organizations demanded that the Attorney General instruct the government to refrain from violating the laws of war and re-evaluate its aggressive policy and rules of engagement. The organizations seek to clarify whether the Attorney General critically evaluated the legal advice supplied to the Military Advocate General that underpins ‘Operation Protective Edge’, and calls on him to establish an external, independent and effective investigatory mechanism to examine the decision making of the political and operational establishment as required by international law and supported by the rulings of the High Court of Justice.
      The joint letter notes that more than 400 people have been killed and thousands injured since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, the vast majority of which are Palestinians. More than 80 of the dead Palestinians are children. According to estimates provided by the United Nations, civilian casualties constitute 70% of the deaths.
      link to acri.org.il

      Letter:
      link to acri.org.il

  • Bombed homes, shelling and cars charred by missiles: Fidaa Zaanin on how Israel destroyed Beit Hanoun
    • Seeing Israel as engaging in senseless bloodletting might seem an even more reasonable conclusion in light of the massacre of sixty-three people in Shujaiya after “the extensive use of artillery fire on dozens of populated areas across the Gaza Strip” that left bodies “scattered on streets,” or the bombing of United Nations shelters for those fleeing the violence. That conclusion is also tempting based on reports out of Khuza’a, a hamlet in the hinterlands of the Strip that was the scene of another Israeli massacre. But describing such violence as aimless misses the underlying logic of Israel’s conduct throughout Operation Protective Edge and, indeed, for much of its history.
      The result is that Palestinians are not merely subject to extreme violence. Rather, their capacity to live autonomously in historic Palestine is being attacked. The destruction of infrastructure, as in the recent attack on the Gaza Strip’s lone power plant, is one index of that. Not only does the current Israeli onslaught end the physical existence of specific Palestinian individuals, it aims to obliterate Palestinians as a people with the capacity to live independently in their homeland.

      While denying refugees their legally protected and natural right of return is the most overt tactic that Israel uses to maintain its desired demographic picture, creating conditions inhospitable to the autonomous existence of Palestinians can also in the long run secure for Israel “as much land as possible, [and] as few Palestinians as possible.”
      link to jacobinmag.com

  • With nearly half a million displaced in Gaza, UNRWA head calls on Israel to take responsibility
    • ....@ Blownaway......absolutely scorched earth and hunger as the article states...!!!
      The farmers who had dairy or chicken farms raised produce, fed themselves and other people. Now that is no longer possible .....

      In 2012/13 Israeli ramped up the imposed “no-go” zone (Access Restricted Area/ ARA) on lands within 500 meters inside Gaza from the armistice line with Israel by regularly firing on any Gazans in the vicinity. Areas up to 1.5 kilometers from the Israeli perimeter fence were considered “high-risk” due to shootings by Israeli forces which dubbed them kill zones. The area comprises 35 percent of Gaza’s agricultural land, according to the UN. These Access restrictions have resulted in a loss of agricultural produce valued at 50.2 million USD per year. Farmers are heavily indebted and suffer from a sharp decline in the quality and quantity of food they are able to cultivate and consume. Land leveling operations and the use of live ammunition against farmers up to 1,500m from the fence are at the root cause of this food shortage.

      Today, August 1, 2014,, the permitted area for everyday activity in the Strip has shrunk even further. The Israeli military has relentlessly and methodically, is driven people out of enlarged three-kilometer (1.8 mile) buffer zone it says it needs to protect against Hamas rockets and tunnels. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the restricted area eats up about 44 percent of Gaza’s territory.

  • 'Is the Zionist dream based on the repeated slaughter of civilians?'
    • If the human cost of ongoing Operation Protective edge is too much to bear, animals belonging to Gaza farmers have paid an equally heavy toll. Horribly wounded by the same ordinance that has killed or maimed their human owners, they have bled to death or perished from dehydration….
      link to telegraph.co.uk

  • Video: Mark Regev, deciphered
  • Slaughter is not self-defense: The assault on Gaza and the corruption of language
    • "Hannah Arendt provides a template for studying all such acts of barbarity by the organized and brute force of the state, with full complicity of the overwhelming population, against people who are made stateless either in the sense of being deprived of the state they had hitherto lived in or are forced to live as stateless wards of occupying power.....It is precisely the later scenario that we are confronted with in Gaza, where an occupying power is conducting a slaughter of the stateless, defenseless and caged population under its occupation.....It is remarkable that in spite of the huge difference in scale, the psychological and societal factors underlying the brutal onslaught of these declared racist regimes against their captive and largely defenseless populations bears close resemblance. Not only that, USA, without whose total and unconditional support Israel cannot carry out any of its criminal acts, bears many marks of institutional mind control and propaganda so eloquently exposed by HA in her book(s).

      link to counterpunch.org

  • Israeli embassy puts Mona Lisa in a hijab -- 'Israel now, Paris next'
  • How many would be alive today if Obama had not quashed Goldstone Report?
    • If Operation Protective Edge, does get a GoldstoneII (and I sure as hell hope it will), the brave people who have the task of "fact finding" will face an unholy propaganda war in an attempt to refute EVERY accusation made against Israel and the IDF. The CAMERA people blasted the Report in November 2009 mercilessly with accusations and video clips creating doubt and skepticism in their wake....And people who were confused, fearful or who knew no better were undoubtedly convinced...
      .link to camera.org

    • Goldstone was not alone in being arttacked. He was assisted in fact gathering and writing the Report by Irishman Colonel Desmond Travers, Hina Jilani, a prominent Pakistani human rights lawyer and Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics. Subsequent to the Report's publishing, all of them were victims of character assassination. A scathing article appeared in the National Review:
      link to nationalreview.com

      This prompted a three part defense which appeared in The Guardian:
      link to theguardian.com

  • Claim that Hamas killed 3 teens is turning out to be the WMD of Gaza onslaught
    • ....Not to mention the Israeli's conveniently adopted the British colonial
      "State of Emergency"....to quell Arab unrest.....(sic).....

  • The killing fields
    • ....yes perhaps guilty and also ill informed. The issue and answers seem to have been designed to confuse and discourage substantive action:

      We are now asking why R2P isn’t being applied to Palestine today. In reality, it never was –not at its inception and not since. The second (al Aqsa) Palestinian intifada against Israeli occupation began in September 2000, while the original International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) report on R2P was published in December of that year. Throughout the second intifada, the invasion of Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq, R2P supporters had nothing of consequence to say about any of this.
      Only 4 mentions of ‘Palestine’ are in Vols 1-3, 2009-11, of the journal "Global Responsibility to Protect" ‘the premier journal for the study and practice of the responsibility to protect (R2P)’.
      Can political activists or legal scholars, reluctant to see the world in terms of a democratic/non-democratic binary, and who seek to further justice and human rights, think and imagine a broader picture???
      link to juancole.com

  • PLO official Hanan Ashrawi: Israel's assault on Gaza is 'state terrorism' and should be referred to the International Criminal Court
    • hinking about R2P from the Palestine angle also brings to mind Hilary Charlesworth’s thoughts on international law being merely a discipline of crisis (MLR 65.3, 2002). She wrote that international lawyers are preoccupied with great crises, rather than the politics of everyday life: ‘In this way international law steers clear of analysis of longer-term trends and structural problems’. This was also considered by David Koller, (EJIL 23.1, 2012) discussing how ‘accuracy in empirical description is sacrificed to advance normative prescriptions’ in order to support the dominant scholarly narrative of international law, whereby ‘historical events situated at particular coordinates in space and time are co-opted to tell a story of international law’s progressive development over time’. Thus, international law academics have created ‘and continue to create the metaphysical geography of international law, first as a linear field of progressive development and then in the circular counter-narrative’ i.e. ‘…and New York and The Hague and Tokyo and Geneva and Nuremberg and…’
      link to juancole.com

    • ....@Kalithea
      I couldn't agree more with what you have written...!!! Israel's ruse and the international community's silence/complicity is an outrage. Though it is natural for all of us who view the "simud" of Palestine and Palestinians remarkable, and admire their strength and fortitude in the face of overwhelming adversity, we might focus on the post-Operation Protective Edge consequences and the issue of redress for its victims. Is there such a thing?? Who will pay the bill??
      I am convinced that the aid provided by Hamas after past military operations in Gaza, is one of the reasons for its popularity. (See the Destruction of Risk Society and the Ascendancy of Hamas; Neve Gordon/Dani Flic in The Power of Inclusive Exclusion and also available on line in pdf format). I feel it would be of service to outline the"bare life" results of the IDF's incursions. Literally thousands of people are now without shelter. So many have injured relatives, some of them in critical condition not to mention the number of emotionally traumatized individuals rendered powerless and without hope. Is it cynicism that makes me think that such a result has been purpose driven so as to compel hundreds of Gazans to leave? And then, what in heavens name will become of those who stay...???

    • Why Do the Palestinians want to become a member of the International Criminal Court...???

      People forget: or don't realize that the Oslo Accords never gave the Palestinian Authority let alone Hamas any legal authority whatsoever. Thus all cases where citizens of the Jewish State (settlers, military personnel, bureaucrats ) are accused of crimes or misdemeanors, and objection to policies, (decrees, judicial rulings, resurrected Ottoman Law or racially biased adjudications) all cases are tried in the Israeli judicial system. Specific Courts handle related complaints: district courts, magistrate courts, labor courts, and military courts. Upon unfavorable verdicts, (in theory) individuals may petition and be heard by the Israeli Supreme Court. Unfortunately redress for Palestinians is rare, not to mention prohibitively costly. After Operation Cast Lead ( 2008-09) the Palestinian Center for Human Rights filed no less than 1046 court actions for plaintiffs in the Gaza Strip with paltry results as the Memorandum findings demonstrate: link to pchrgaza.org

      and concludes.... “it is evident that any meaningful justice including reparation is unavailable within the Israeli justice system...” Hopefully application and acceptance to the ICC will remedy the situation given the sure to be staggering list of Gaza litigants wanting justice after Operation Protective Edge.....

      Three years after the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) initiated legal action for civilian victims of Operation Cast Lead, it is evident that any meaningful justice, including reparations, is unavailable within the Israeli legal system. This reality is reflected in the status of both criminal and civil complaints— the latter being the subject of this memorandum submitted to Israeli authorities by Gaza claimants. In particular, the physical and monetary barriers imposed by Israeli authorities fundamentally deny victims their right to reparations.

      (11) The Israeli authorities impose two fees with respect to civil complaints. The first is a routine court fee which is applied in each case (approximately 1600NIS). The imposition of this fee can also prove an unsurpassable financial burden when a large number of complaints are being filed simultaneously. In this regard, PCHR was forced to return over 400 Operation Cast Lead compensation files to victims as PCHR was unable to cover the initial court expense due to resource constraints.

      (12) The second (fee) is a court guarantee or insurance fee imposed on a discretionary basis by the court. This guarantee must be paid before the case can proceed; previously, the amount stood at 10,000NIS per case.

      (13) With respect to those Cast Lead reparation cases in which a response has been received, however, Israeli courts have begun to impose a 20,000NIS (approximately 5,300 US dollars) per claimant in each case; as noted, previously, these guarantees related to the overall case and not the individual claimants. As a single expense, this guarantee is often prohibitively high bearing in mind that over 80% of the population of the Gaza strip is aid dependent.

      (14) The imposition of this guarantee per claimant represents an insurmountable barrier to justice. Significantly, the greater the alleged violation, the greater the monetary barrier. For example, in the case of the 'Abdul Bayem family, the 22 complainants were required to pay a total of 440,000 NIS (approximately 19461 USD) before the case could proceed. This claim related to an incident were a flechette shell was fired at a condolence tend near Izbat Beit Hanoun. Five people were killed including a child, and 17 others including 2 children and a woman were injured. Similarly, in the case of the Al-Samouni family, the court imposed a guarantee for all 62 victims claiming compensation of
      62x 20,000 =1, 240,000 NIS (approximately 329,800 USD).

      (15) Whenever a guarantee is requested, if it is not paid in 120 days, further proceedings are barred and the right to reparation is irredeemably lost.

      (17) Three years after the PCHR initiated legal actions on behalf of civilian victims of Operation Cast Lead, it is evident that any meaningful justice including reparation is unavailable within the Israeli justice system ; This reality is reflected in the status of both criminal and civil complaints--- the latter being the subject of this memorandum --- submitted to the Israeli authorities by Gaza claimants. In particular, the physical and monetary barriers imposed by Israeli authorities fundamentally deny victims their legitimate right to compensation.

      (18) This reality has recently been acknowledged by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights MS Navanethem Pillay in her 2012 report on the human rights situation in the OPT to the UN Human Rights Council, addressing the lack of accountability in the Gaza Strip and the physical and monetary obstructions to justice for Gazans (para 40) calling on Israel to duly investigate and compensate victims (para 54) without discrimination with regard to justice (para 56); Likewise, the UN Commission on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which has expressed “ concern at the monetary and physical obstacles faced by Palestinians seeking compensation before Israeli tribunals for loss suffered, in particular as a consequence of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip (Artilces 3,5, and 6 of the Convention)......

  • Which crowded cities can you fire into?
  • Controversial, illegal, and documented: Israeli military strategies in Gaza
    • Ramping up the question a little more, the testosterone-fuelled Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett harangued Sky News presenter Samantha Simmonds by asking how London would cope with 200 rockets fired daily on the capital. Well, quite simply, it would not happen, because Britain has not corralled 1.5m refugees into a tiny ghetto off the M25, depriving them daily of food, fresh water and life's other essentials. Nor is the UK refusing to let anyone enter the said ghetto with aid or trade. But that's what Israel has done, and is doing, to the people of Gaza.
      link to middleeastmonitor.com

  • 'Israel is wrong by any moral standard' -- Robinson says, as US media pile up
    • “It must be intensely painful to have American reporters actually on the scene, being able to check many of these things out for themselves, rather than simply saying that it is Palestinian propaganda”.....
      And it must be excruciatingly painful to stand under the relative safe umbrella of a major Western news organization were the mandatory credo is to present a balanced view consisting of opposing narratives when the unarguable facts point to open season slaughter. In the face of such devastation, it's crazy that Israel's studied and well honed practice of ambivalence wins hand down and all that is retained are the litany of counter arguments: “human shields”, “stored rockets in domestic settings and schools” and we are the most ethical miliary out there as the civilians have been forewarned....

      The Beit Hanoun elementary school, which was being used as a shelter, had around 800 people - mostly women and children - inside when the attack took place at 2.30pm today. UN spokesman Adnan Abu Hassna told ITV News that the Israeli military attacked the school, despite having received the exact co-ordinates of the facility. Israel neither admittted or denied responsibility for the attack
      link to itv.com

  • Israeli forces shell UN school where displaced Palestinians gathered, killing at least 9
    • Unbearable how the Jewish State manages to white wash its war crimes again and again.....
      On April 18, 1996, Israeli Armed Forces shelled a United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Compound in Qana, Lebanon killing 106 civilians and wounding hundreds of others. The shelling marked one of the bloodiest massacres in Lebanon’s modern history. Israeli and American pressures shelved a UN investigation, but legal actions are now being taken in an effort to redress this injustice.
      Israel claims that the shelling the U.N. compound was a mistake. ]Israeli officials also claim that they were targeting Hizbollah forces which had fired 6 Katyusha rockets from two separate targets—one 200 meters southwest of the compound and the other, 350 meters southeast of the compound. In its targeting of the Hizbollah forces, Israel claimed that “regrettably, a few rounds had overshot and hit the United Nations Compound.” However, according to UN special envoys findings, “the pattern of impacts is inconsistent with a normal overshooting of the declared target by a few rounds.” Moreover, the report found that “the distribution of point impact detonations and air bursts makes it improbable that impact fuses and proximity fuses were employed in random order, as stated by Israeli forces.”
      The strongest evidence refuting Israel’s claim that shelling the UN compound was a mistake is video footage revealing that a remotely piloted vehicle (RPV) hovered above the compound before, during, and after the shelling. The RPV, equipped with real-time data link capability, enabled the Israeli forces to observe the UN compound as well as the presence of approximately 800 civilians taking shelter there.

  • 'No food, no water to revive awaiting certain death...': Horrifying report from Khuza'a village following Israeli attack
    • Salon's Article on Israel Loosing the media war....
      One of its first instructions is that pro-Israeli propagandists need to show empathy. The manual insists that they should “show empathy for BOTH sides” (caps in original) as a way of gaining credibility and trust. To make sure that the point is understood, the manual repeats again (in bold, and underlined this time) the instruction “use Empathy”—the suggestion being that empathy is an important tool to be used in the propaganda war.

      When innocent Palestinian children and women are killed, the first response should be to show empathy; the next is to reframe the issue stating that Israel is not to blame and that it is only defending itself and further that it only wants peace. Even when it is raining death and destruction on Palestinians, the manual is clear: “Remind people—again and again—that Israel wants peace.”
      link to salon.com

  • Palestinians build tunnel to attack Israeli kindergarten, Netanyahu says
    • Why the Tunnels....??

      The First Intifada, a genuine popular uprising (1987-1993) began in Gaza and spread throughout the West Bank. It was driven by economic discontent as Gazans were subjected to economic discrimination and control by means of the Civil Administration's permit requirement (1981) for all those intent on more lucrative jobs inside Israel. The people's revolt mirrored the discontent as
      the response consisted of general strikes, boycotts,civil disobedience, refusal to pay taxes, refusal to buy Israeli goods, graffiti, barricading neighborhoods, the widespread throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails by disaffected youth at the Israeli military and its infrastructure within Palestinian territories. IDF response was direct armed confrontation on street level and the infamous “breaking of bones” and live rounds. Over six years the Israeli Defense Forces killed an estimated 1,162-1,204 Palestinians while Palestinians killed 100 Israeli civilians and 60 Israeli security forces personnel and injured more than 1,400 Israeli civilians and 1,700 soldiers.

      The long, costly, and disastrous face off prompted a serious reappraisal of standard military procedure. By the time of the Second Intifada (2000-2003) the Israeli military had revamped its approach entirely as 0peration Defensive Shield demonstrated in both the Battle of Jenin and siege of Nablus. In each instance, Palestinian fighters had prepared for battle by booby trapping the geographic crossroads, main thoroughfares, alleyways and doorways of the cities, intent on destroying as many of the enemy using urban guerrilla warfare tactics. In JENIN, superior technology employed by the Israel troops thwarted this effort as the army relied on the relative safety and height of D-9 armored bulldozers to fire fired rocket propelled grenades , to clear out explosives laid inside the camp, and to tear down buildings where insurgents were hiding. AH-Cobra helicopters were deployed to fire missiles at Palestinian sniper positions on rooftops. The result in Jenin, were many civilian casualties and death in the rubble. NABLUS saw an entirely different innovation. Soldiers did not often use the streets, roads, alleys, or courtyards that define the exterior grid of the city, nor did they enter doors, stairwells, or the windows of buildings; Instead they moved horizontally through shared residential walls, and vertically through holes blasted in ceilings and floors. The idea s driving the change were surprise, subjugation, terror, and a reduction in military casualties. Had the overrunning of the urban environment been executed “normally” through frontal invasion IDF losses would no doubt have been much greater....It should become clear as to why the current “tunneling strategy” was planned as such with regard to Operation Protective Edge: as a countermeasure to both aerial attack and running street battles with IDF soldiers. The Palestinian fighters have mimicked Viet Cong and other resistance guerrillas in standoffs where small numbers of men manning missile launching sites and sniper outposts, have succeed in surprising the Israeli Defense Forces Central Command....

  • 'Telegenically Dead': Israel’s crumbling media war
    • Israeli government spokespersons almost always talk to points that are limited to the “immediate”. Rhetoric and accusations are abundant. “Self-defense” claims aim to deflect from the IDF F16s that drop bombs on people. “Hamas are using Human Shields” is thrown about to justify the heavy and obvious civilian casualty deaths resulting from Israel’s “self-defense”. But more importantly, this is done to demean and degrade Palestinians. By reducing the conversation to the immediate, Israeli spokespersons hope to restrict the narrative. A trap is set where the cycle of heavy Israeli airstrikes against Hamas rocket fire, reduces the discussion to a blame game. Who fired first?. Who must stop firing first? Any meaningful exploration of the events and circumstances that lead to this situation in the first place, falls at the wayside. Those points aside, perhaps the most important effect of reducing the discussion to the “immediate” is that it simplifies the discourse for an already news barraged public: the daily bloodshed that is spilled in Syria and Iraq; the brutal government crackdowns in Egypt; Hamas rocket fire. All of that is skillfully lumped together. The public is tired. They’ve heard so much about sectarian and state sanctioned violence in the region. By claiming “self-defense” and dehumanizing the Palestinians, Israeli spokespersons are hoping to feed into one of the cruelest and most racist meta-narratives of our era. “These Arabs and Muslims in general are all backwards and uncivilized” and we are surrounded by them.
      link to medium.com

  • Netanyahu's latest 'cartoon evidence': racist image identifying Muslims with terror
    • Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini cover the house, mosque, school....“Israel uses weapon to protect its civilians. Hamas uses civilians to protect its weapons” accusation very well....
      The logic is straightforward: insofar as Hamas hides weapons in houses (illegitimate), Israel can bomb them as if they were military targets (legitimate). Within this framework, a single function (hiding weapons) out of many existing functions (home, shelter, intimacy, etc) determines the status of an urban site (in our case the house), so that the edifice’s form loses its traditional signification.

      The question “when does it become a legitimate military target?” is merely rhetorical. Its real meaning is: “All houses in Gaza are legitimate targets” since all houses are potentially non-homes.
      link to counterpunch.org

  • Finally, Israel is alienating the US mainstream media
    • This the latest in a series of Gaza massacres is certainly influencing the opinion of ordinary people world wide as the coverage has been remarkably "in your face" through images and an hour by hour body count. We have seen there are real people living in the impersonal spacial grid which is Gaza. Remember however, that the United States has followed/coauthored the IDF manuel, from missile launched targeted assasinations, to drone killings, to storming civilian neighborhoods, not to mention the use of chemical weapons (Fallujah) and disproportionate (aysemetrical) use of force (battalions of Marines stormng villages in Afghanistan). And along with Israel, the US has invented a very fluid/malable view of the International Conventions with regard to the Rules of War. Eventual incrimination before a human rights tribunal will be a dual affair, as the war crimes of one pertain to the other. It is of no wonder that Richard Goldstone went down in smoke....

  • Massacre in Gaza: At least 60 killed in Shuja'iyeh, over 60,000 in UN shelters
    • Harvard's Sarah Roy weighs in in Boston Globe column...
      "Gaza’s deterioration, however, was not accidental or inadvertent. To the contrary, the devastation of Gaza’s economy (and environment) was deliberate and planned by Israel, imposed through separation and isolation and through a destructive economic blockade, which entered its eighth year last month. The blockade — which has been supported by the United States, the European Union, and Egypt in particular — virtually bans access to markets outside Gaza and confines the overwhelming majority of people to the Strip. This has ended all normal trade upon which Gaza’s tiny economy depends and has disabled the private sector and its capacity to generate jobs, preventing any viable recovery of Gaza’s productive sectors.

      Unemployment in Gaza stands at 40.8 percent, a dramatic increase from 18.7 percent in 2000; however, for those people between 15 and 29 years of age, the unemployment rate is almost 60 percent. Because of this, poverty has increased with almost 80 percent of Gazans made dependent on humanitarian aid to survive although they are able and desperate to work.

      Another way to understand the impact of the Israeli blockade is this: In 2000, UNRWA (the UN agency responsible for Palestine refugees) was feeding 80,000 people in the Gaza Strip; today it feeds over 830,000 people. Yet, UNRWA’s food aid to almost half the population is now under threat as some international donors such as Canada have inexplicably defunded UNRWA or fund at levels that do not meet Gaza’s burgeoning need. Without an increase in financial support to cover a $22 million shortfall, UNRWA may have to eliminate its food distributions by the end of 2014. If this happens there should be no doubt that Palestinians in Gaza will face starvation for the first time in their history, and the violence that will ensue from their deepened agony and abandonment will be calamitous......"
      link to bostonglobe.com

    • Israeli logic has been carefully calibrated to sow confusion with the aim of absolving the IDF of war crimes...
      The distinction between civilians and combatants in the laws of war, alongside the principle of proportionality, is supposed to provide minimal protections to the civilians who are caught up in a “conflict” zone. Israeli military onslaughts on Lebanon in 2006 and on Gaza 2009 deliberately sought to erode the distinction by attacking the “civilian infrastructure” supporting the “combatants” and expanding the latter’s definition.
      . If the reference point of retaliation are the combatants rather than the civilians, then civilians are defined as a negation. They are an afterthought. Rather than being the norm, they become the exception. The expectation and fear thus lingers beneath the categories that define and represent the reality of the oppressed: they are against the invader and hence are suspected of being combatants until proven otherwise. The Israeli reaction to every report of civilian casualties is representative of this view by indicating that the fatal strike targeted a combatant. The international parties call for restraint and return to calm: i.e., to proportional civilian suffering, unattainable peace, and absence of freedom.
      link to criticallegalthinking.com

    • Dr. Mads Gilbert has said that the type of injuries he is seeing at the Shi'fa hospital are eerily similar to those caused by white phosphorous in 2006 and 2008/9 during Operation Cast Lead....

      link to youtube.com
      link to forensic-architecture.org

  • 'Washington Post' exhibits naked double standard in Israeli, Palestinian deaths (and injuries)
  • 'We are moving from Iron Dome to an iron fist': Israel launches ground invasion of Gaza
    • ...We'll be seeing more of this:
      During the attack, soldiers moved within the city across hundred-meter-long “over-ground-tunnels” carved out through a dense and contiguous urban fabric. Although several thousand soldiers and hundreds of Palestinian guerrilla fighters were maneuvering simultaneously in the city, they were saturated within its fabric to the degree that most would not have been visible from an aerial perspective at any given moment. Furthermore, soldiers did not often use the streets, roads, alleys, or courtyards that constitute the syntax of the city, as well as the external doors, internal stairwells, and windows that constitute the order of buildings, but rather moved horizontally through party walls, and vertically through holes blasted in ceilings and floors. This form of movement is part of a tactics that the military refers to in metaphors it borrows from the world of aggregate animal formation as “swarming” and “infestation.” Moving through domestic interiors this maneuver turns inside to outside and private domains to thoroughfares. Fighting took place within half-demolished living rooms, bedrooms and corridors of poorly built refugee homes, where the television may still be operating and a pot may still on the stove.......
      link to eipcp.net

  • 'Hamas... is putting their own people at risk' -- State Dep't on Israel killing 4 boys on Gaza beach
    • .....[The ongoing Israeli claim is that] all civilians in Gaza are being held hostage by Hamas, which is considered a war crime and a gross violation of international law governing armed conflict. This, then, provides legal and moral justification against the accusation that Israel is the one killing civilians. Presumed human rights violations carried out by Palestinians against Palestinians - taking hostages and human shielding - thus become the legitimisation of lethal and indiscriminate violence on the part of the occupying force.

      Hence, the use of human shields is not only a violation. In contemporary asymmetric urban wars, accusing the enemy of using human shields helps validate the claim that the death of "untargeted civilians" is merely collateral damage. When all civilians are potential human shields, when each and every civilian can become a hostage of the enemy, then all enemy civilians become killable.
      link to aljazeera.com

    • All civilians in Gaza are being held hostage by Hamas, which is considered a war crime and a gross violation of international law governing armed conflict. This, then, provides legal and moral justification against the accusation that Israel is the one killing civilians. Presumed human rights violations carried out by Palestinians against Palestinians - taking hostages and human shielding - thus become the legitimisation of lethal and indiscriminate violence on the part of the occupying force.

      Hence, the use of human shields is not only a violation. In contemporary asymmetric urban wars, accusing the enemy of using human shields helps validate the claim that the death of "untargeted civilians" is merely collateral damage. When all civilians are potential human shields, when each and every civilian can become a hostage of the enemy, then all enemy civilians become killable.
      link to aljazeera.com

  • Israeli strike kills four Palestinian children playing soccer on Gaza beach
    • The IDF responds:
      The IDF Spokesperson unit had difficulty coming up with an explanation for the explosions which killed the four children and wounded others and it took a few hours for them to begin to respond. Toward 8 P.M they began briefing reporters that the first explosion was most likely caused by an attack on a "legitimate" Hamas target and the second the result of misidentification of the fleeing children as Hamas fighters. The incident is still under investigation, said IDF Spokesperson Brigadier General Moti Almoz. He said on Channel One that "we understand there was a target which was hit after suspects were identified. ....
      link to haaretz.com

    • If this new killing of four young Palestinian children the beach and the wounding of several other people in front of the Deira hotel arouses the international indignation it should, we can be sure that Israel’s IDF will mount a rabid disinformation Blitzkrieg as it did over the collective slaughter of Amneh Ghaliya and the seven members of her family back on June 9, 2006. However, providence would have it that The Guardian’s Peter Beaumont along with other journalists saw the incident first hand. As a cautionary note, let us not forget the smear campaign and character assassination that befell HRW’s Marc Garlasco which ended his career as a weapons expert. Forensic evidence he unearthed on Israel’s use of white phosphorous and DIME munitions were discredited after allegations were raised on his collection of Nazi memorabilia…..

  • Violence outside Paris synagogue falsely attributed to anti-Semitism (Updated)
    • Michele Sibony responds to the alleged anti-Semitic attacks Rue de la Roquette (in French) and states:
      1)The focus on the riots in the French press purposely shifted the conversation away from Gaza and what is taking place there.
      2)Made no mention of the French public's solidarity with the people of Gaza.
      3)Transformed the question of current crimes committed in Gaza into a question of Anti-Semitism.
      4)Enabled an already prepared court order Prohibiting pro-Palestinian demonstrations to take affect....(One had been called for Saturday July 19th)
      link to leplus.nouvelobs.com

  • Israel viciously bombs Gaza, that's the only truth
    • A post at the Guardian’s Live Blog ( July 10) on the war dismissed as ineffective Israeli measures to warn Palestinians in Gaza before launching attacks on terror targets.
      "Knock on the roof" warnings do not help save civilians lives as the Israeli military claims, according to the University of London's Forensic Architecture centre at Goldsmiths which carried out a UN study into how the tactic operated during Operation Cast Lead in 2009.
      Eyal Weizman, director of the centre, said:
      The Israeli Defence Forces are again using a tactic in their attack on Gaza that they claim is aimed at saving lives—despite it having a track record of leading to the death of civilians, including women and children. So called “roof knock” strikes involve a drone firing a low- or none-explosive missile at the roof of a building that is to be destroyed. The missile is followed a short time later by a bomb that flattens the house—but exactly how long after is not known by the inhabitants.
      The tactic first came to light after the 2008/9 offensive on Gaza. One of the case studies that we at Forensic Architecture produced for the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism’s inquiry into drone strikes focused on an attack on the Salha family in Beit Lahiya on 9 January 2009. A missile was fired at the roof of the family’s home, but they did not know that this constituted a warning. After moments of terrified confusion, the family began to leave the house. However, before they could all safely leave, a bomb was dropped, and six women and children were killed.
      At a time when most attacks in Gaza are on houses, the Israeli military is anxious to present themselves as trying to avoid civilian casualties. Yesterday it released a video showing a warning missile being fired at a house that it then deciding not to strike. However, in the attack on the home of Odeh Ahmad Mohammed Kaware, Defence for Children International Palestine reported that a warning missile was followed by a bomb that killed seven people, including five children. This should be taken as further confirmation that the use of this tactic should be stopped immediately.
      Not only is it illegal to fire a missile at a civilian to warn them, the missiles also frequently penetrate the roofs they are intended to bounce off, further endangering civilian lives. Israeli military lawyers argue that after residents of a building have been warned, they can be considered as combatants and legitimately targeted. This is a gross misuse of international law that enables the Israeli military to justify attacks on buildings in built up areas, populated by civilians, that they would otherwise be unable to legally carry out. link to cifwatch.com
      link to vimeo.com

  • Gaza under attack again
  • 'NYT' casts Israelis as victims of Palestinians who complain bitterly about oppression
    • Maybe the NYTs is taking the current play book strategy of the French government' in its efforts to ban performances by the comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, accused by officialdom of anti-semitic incitement and deriding the Holocaust. It has worked like a charm.....

  • Stop the Nonsense: Nobody is proposing a boycott of 'the Jews'
  • Former AIPAC official warns against US 'retreat' from Israel's 'permanent reality'-- conflict
    • The British had no fear of opening challenging the Israeli lobby nor its past usage of white phosphorous ( definitely a chemical weapon) during their own Parliamentary debate.....

  • American teacher denied entry to Palestine calls on Obama to address Israel's Jim Crow policies
    • Given that this brave young woman is a Palestinian American marks her for harassment by the Israeli authorities. A background check would have confirm Nour Joudah’s heritage. Could she have been singled out for her participation in campaigns thought to be too pro-Palestinian during her academic career in the US which a simple Google search would indicate? Or is her case simply a random selection done to intimidate a teacher responsible for young Palestinian minds in what have become intentional acts where the goal is to create a publicized spectacle with the intention of discouraging protest and encouraging quiescence. The more attention these cases receive, the more embarrassing Israeli policy becomes….
      Keep up the good fight Nour Joudah. Your case is far from being unique….

  • Israeli claims of West Bank 'terror cells' fly from Jerusalem to D.C. and back again
    • Elections are over in done with and the governing coalition is falling into place tidily. I would argue that these simultaneous panic buttons are being pushed in coordination with President Obama’s visit scheduled for next week , nor would I be surprised if a few false flag explosions took place here and there along with free fire by the IDF at protesting Palestinians. The Netanyahu will round up the usual “Hezbollah linked perpetrators (sic)”, then turn to Obama with that steely look, and exclaim, “You see what a dangerous neighborhood the Jewish people live in”. Back in Washington, the Lobby friendlies will clap, cheer and ramp up the bomb bomb Iran chorus another notch or two….

  • Israeli strike on Syria followed violations of Lebanon's airspace and movement of missile defense system to north
    • According to Al Jazeera's guest analyst Michael Eisenstadt in Washington, there were two airstrikes; one on a convoy suspeced of transporting weapons and another on the Jamraya scientific research facility outside Damascus ..If true, it would clarify conflicting reports.....
      link to aljazeera.com

  • Neocons, wearing jackboots, are suddenly on the defensive over Hagel
    • ......"Iran more than any other single issue is at the core of the opposition to Hagel, and that issue is closely linked to the question of the extent to which the US should be allied with the aggressive policies of the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toward Iran, as well as other issues, such as the settlements and a Palestinian state. And Iran has been among the policy differences Hagel has had over the years with the strongly pro-Israel organizations that are trying to influence US policy, the most politically powerful one being, of course, AIPAC. While still a senator, Hagel spoke out against using military force against Iran, was more circumspect about imposing sanctions, and refused to sign some of the more robust letters that AIPAC circulated on Capitol Hill, an extra-legislative way of trying to impose policy. The most vocal opponent to Hagel is Bill Kristol, an architect of the neocon policy that led to the Iraq war. Kristol set the tone for the opposition to Hagel by equating his criticism of some Israeli policies to “a record of consistent hostility to Israel,” and his caution about a possible military strike on Iran as “anti-Israel-pro-appeasement-of-Iran.” Hagel has been labeled “anti-Israel” by his opponents, and even “anti-semitic,” a monstrous and preposterous charge."

      The opponents of Hagel weren’t content to fight his nomination in the Senate, where they were expected to lose, so they have tried something different, with long-term significance to the power of the presidency. They have been attempting to dissuade the President from nominating Hagel, which he was on the verge of doing before this fight broke out. These forces counted on Obama’s caution, his oft-displayed lack of stomach for a fight, and set out to convince him that Hagel was “controversial”—that if he were nominated there would be a difficult set of confirmation hearings, so it wasn’t worth it.

      In Washington it’s quite simple to get someone labeled “controversial.” All it takes is an attack by a prominent person, followed up by similar arguments by allies; throw in a couple of senators whom the press loves because they make controversial statements—John McCain has been the reigning champ for years—and, voila! someone is seen to have “a lot of opposition.” In the absence of a statement of support by the president, some elected politicians hide under their desks. Before you knew it the word in Washington was that Hagel was controversial and his nomination faced strong opposition.
      link to nybooks.com

  • 'NYT' equates Palestinian suicide-bombers to CT school-killer
  • Updated: Report: Obama will travel to Israel
  • Israel rejects truce and escalates fighting in Gaza with assassination of Hamas leader; 10 killed, 90 wounded in Israeli attacks
  • Blacklist: 4 Israel critics have now been purged from Democratic Party-linked orgs
    • More under belly dirt...
      "Anti-Islam groups in America have provided financial support to Dutch politician Geert Wilders, an anti-immigration campaigner who is seeking re-election to the Dutch parliament this week"
      .... And who might that be? Noneother than Daniel Pipes and his sidekick David Horowitz
      link to reuters.com

  • Iran/Palestine (keep your eye on the ball)
  • New report documents 'war crime of pillage' by BDS target Ahava
    • An important 2007 essay by Professor Neve Gordon succeeds in
      clarifying the stealing of natural resources out from under the Palestinians feet…

      link to israelsoccupation.info

      By the colonisation principle I mean a form of government whereby the
      coloniser attempts to manage the lives of the colonised inhabitants while
      exploiting the captured territory’s resources. Colonial powers do not
      conquer for the sake of imposing administrative rule on the indigenous
      population, but they end up managing the conquered inhabitants in order to
      facilitate the extraction of resources….. The colonisation principle thus incorporates some type of separation principle, which one might call the first separation principle. Levi Eshkol,
      Israel’s prime minister in 1967, clearly articulated this separation principle
      during a Labor Party meeting that took place three months after the war and
      in which he discussed the consequences of Israel’s military victory. He turned
      to Golda Meir, who was then the party’s general secretary, and said: ‘I
      understand . . . you covet the dowry, but not the bride’. The dowry was the
      land that Israel occupied in June 1967, and the bride was the Palestinian
      population.

      If one reads the eight different Oslo agreements the Israelis and
      Palestinians signed over the years, not as part of a peace process (ie the
      way they were presented to the public), but rather as texts that depict the
      modification or replacement of existing controlling technologies, in an
      attempt to outsource responsibility for the occupied population to a
      Palestinian Authority (PA), the strategy Israel adopted becomes clear.
      Instead of reaching a settlement about the withdrawal of Israeli power, the
      Oslo agreements actually stipulated, in unambiguous language, how Israel’s
      power would be reorganised in three distinct spheres—the civil institutions,
      the economy and law enforcement. In exchange for providing Israel an array
      of services, Israel offered the fledgling PA some sort of truncated sovereignty
      over the occupied people, while it, in turn, continued to control most of the
      occupied land. The overarching logic informing the different agreements is
      straightforward: transfer all responsibilities relating to the management of
      the population to the Palestinians themselves while preserving control of
      Palestinian space.

      The partition of space and the reorganisation of power were intricately
      tied. Oslo divided the West Bank into Areas A, B and C, as well as H1 and
      H2 in Hebron and Yellow and White Areas in Gaza.35 Areas A, B and C
      determined the distribution of power in the West Bank by creating internal
      boundaries. These boundaries produced a series of new ‘insides’ and
      ‘outsides’ within the Occupied Territories, each one with its own specific
      laws and regulations. While in all three areas the PA assumed full
      responsibility over the civil institutions, in Area A, which in 1995 amounted

      The partition of space and the reorganisation of power were intricately
      tied. Oslo divided the West Bank into Areas A, B and C, as well as H1 and
      H2 in Hebron and Yellow and White Areas in Gaza.35 Areas A, B and C
      determined the distribution of power in the West Bank by creating internal
      boundaries. These boundaries produced a series of new ‘insides’ and
      ‘outsides’ within the Occupied Territories, each one with its own specific
      laws and regulations. While in all three areas the PA assumed full
      responsibility over the civil institutions, in Area A, which in 1995 amounted to 3% of the West Bank’s land and 26% of its population, the PA was given
      full responsibility for maintaining law and order. In Area B, which amounted
      to 24% of the land and 70% of the population, the PA was handed
      responsibility for public order, but Israel maintained overriding responsibility
      for security and in Area C, which comprised 73% of the land and 4%
      of the population, Israel retained full responsibility for security and public
      order as well as for civil issues relating to territory (planning and zoning,
      archaeology, etc). Thus in 1995 the PA was responsible for managing all of
      the Palestinian inhabitants, but had full control of only 3% of the West
      Bank’s land (ie the cities Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Ramallah,
      Bethlehem and Jericho). By 2000, following a series of agreements, the
      18%, Area B 22% and Area C 64%.36 Area A was divided into 11 separate
      clusters, Area B was made up of 120 clusters, while the 64% that constituted
      Area C was contiguous. The areas in which the Palestinians had full control
      were like an archipelago of sorts, while the areas controlled by Israel were strategic corridors that interrupted the territorial contiguity of the West Bank. Thus the division of space within the Occupied Territories not only determined the distribution of certain powers, but also allowed Israel to maintain the distinction between the Palestinian population and their land.

      Wittingly or unwittingly the specific organisation of space and the transfer
      of authority over civil institutions to the PA reflects the beginning of a
      transformation from the principle of colonisation to the principle of
      separation, where the latter does not mean the termination of control but
      rather its alteration from a system based on managing the lives of the
      occupied inhabitants to a system which is no longer interested in the lives of
      the Palestinian residents. Consequently Israel no longer provides any kind of
      ‘account’ of the conditions under which the Palestinians are living. One
      important manifestation of this change is that the Israeli Bureau of Statistics
      has stopped monitoring any development pertaining to the Palestinian
      population in the Occupied Territories. Another manifestation involves
      Israel’s relation to the law. If up until September 2000 Israel controlled the
      occupied inhabitants primarily through the application of multiple legal
      frameworks—including, to be sure, the enforcement of draconian laws that
      both legalised the incarceration of thousands of political prisoners and
      permitted deportations, house demolitions, torture, extended curfews and
      other forms of collective punishment—one of the most striking characteristics
      of the second intifada, alongside the separation principle, is the
      extensive suspension of the law.

  • Must Read -- Medea Benjamin's Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control
    • (First source is from an article by Ashley Goetz March 04, 2008 for written the Saint Paul Minnesota Daily)

    • Israel has been involved in drone technology from the beginnings of IAF research and development to the whiz and blur of their deployment as a "preemptive" measure to kill "terrorists" before the said terrorists take action. From 2008:

      Israel is at the forefront of the drone technology that is increasingly being used in hotspots around the world. The unmanned craft provide a deadly and cost-effective alternative for armies to target enemies, without risking their own pilots' lives and reducing civilian casualties in heavily populated areas.
      They are guided by remote control from the ground. Because of their small size and relatively low speed, their low-yield missiles can be aimed precisely. The use of drones is shrouded in secrecy, and Israeli defense officials refuse to comment publicly on whether they are being used in airstrikes in Gaza. However, Israeli officers in private conversations have confirmed use of the weapons.
      link to mndaily.com

      Droes have been easily sold to Congress and the Pentagon, because they do not put troops in harm’s way:

      UAVs are ideal systems to support the emerging joint character and the asymmetric nature of warfare.”17 Unmanned systems can operate in environments contaminated by chemical, biological, or radioactive agents. They can also operate in other environments denied to manned systems, such as altitudes both lower and higher than those typically traversed by manned aircraft. The long endurance of some RPAs and UAVs provides sustained support for more efficient time-critical targeting and other missions requiring greater persistence than that provided by manned aircraft or passing space systems.18 Small UAVs provide a unique capability to get close to a target and provide the “bird’s eye view.” Their small size, quiet propulsion systems, and ability to feed information directly to Battlefield Airmen enhance the combat effectiveness of our forces. ...

      However, the legal issue of drone use remains a thorny one in international law, but here too Israel led the way with a High Court ruling in 2006 condoning “targeted killing” as a legal means of self defense
      link to defense-update.com
      From targeted assassinations by helicopter gunship pilots to missiles fired from an unmanned drone was unfortunately an easy hop skip and jump…
      For a brief history of done use:
      link to foreignpolicy.com

  • Trapped
    • After 10 annual trips to Israel/Palestine, my own feelings dovetail with those of Philip Weiss and yet I keep hoping for a miraculous change to the status quo. Despite the spring protests in Tel Aviv focused on Jewish economic inequality, the government has fulfilled its promise of providing security to average Israelis. The Palestinians are sequestrated behind what it really is, a “Separation barrier” (Mikhshol HaHafrada) and not a security barrier, controlled by a internal police force trained by the Americans and inhibited from moving freely by ID controls at hundreds of check points. Jeff Halper uses the term “warehousing” and borrowing from Niaomi Kline’s concept of “corralling surplus humanity” he elaborates further:
      Warehousing is permanent. Apartheid recognizes that there is another side. With warehousing it’s like prison. There is no other side. There is us, and then there are these people that we control, they have no rights, they have no identity, they’re inmates. It’s not political, it’s permanent, static. Apartheid you can resist. The whole brilliance of warehousing is that you can’t resist because you’re a prisoner……Prisoners can rise up in the prison yards but prison guards have all the rights in the world to put them down. That’s what Israel has come to. They are terrorists and we have the right to put them down. In a sense Israel has succeeded with the international community, and the US especially, in taking out of this situation the political. It’s now solely an issue of security, just like in prisons. It’s another concept that does not have any legal reference today but we’d like to put that in because warehousing is not only in Israel. Warehousing exists all over the capitalist world. Two-thirds of the people have been warehoused….. I’m saying that Palestine is a microcosm of what’s happening around the world. (link to aljazeera.com)
      Like the Egyptians, Tunisians Bahrainis, Palestinians desire basic human freedoms and a fair say in shaping their own destiny. As Israel’s has complete control of media and messaging, even the passive resistance efforts are met with IDF retaliation and the BDS campaign portrayed in a negative light.
      Halper’s conclusion to his May2, 2012 interview with British Ceasefire Magazine gives encouragement to the disheartened, including myself:
      There is [cause for optimism]; simply because the present situation is completely unsustainable. It is no longer a localised issue. It impacts the global system and is so disruptive that we know it isn’t going to last forever. “Collapse with agency” (the PA) is something we should put into the equation, and that will happen sometime in the near future. We must organize and create stronger relationships with the young Palestinian leadership. Our role is to hasten the end of occupation, but the problem is not ‘67, it’s ‘48….So we mustn’t just talk about occupation, we must end the oppression, the Apartheid system. We need to hasten its end, truly make it unsustainable through our organizing with churches, trade unions, the UN. The BDS campaign is very good because it keeps people involved at a local level. We have to continue to keep the issue alive and eventually Israel will lose the moral war……http://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/jeff-halper-the-two-state-solution-longer-viable-stop-talking-it/

  • NY Times 'confirms' Hezbollah/Iran connection to Bulgaria attack by quoting unnamed American 'officials'
    • The next thing you know, “unnamed official” will be dredging up the story of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who attempted to assassinate Pope Jean Paul II as “proof” of the Bulgarian hotbed/haven for “international terrorism”…..

  • 7 dead in terrorist attack in Bulgaria
    • Gareth Porter wrote a piece for the nation and found Hezbollah's link to the Buenos Aires bombing more than "inconclusive".....
      link to thenation.com

    • I find the timing of the bombing more than coincidental. Could this attack on young Israeli tourists in a fairly obscure place in Bulgaria be the " 1914 Sarajevo moment" the warmongers have been waiting for? And if Israel does carry out a retaliatory move, what will the Iranians do? My heart goes out to the families of the victims, ordinary people on holiday.....

  • Israeli gov't study declares West Bank not occupied, Earth flat
    • ...."The impasse of the Israeli settlement enterprise revolves around territorial claims
      derived from interpretations of its legal underpinning, political interests and social
      constructions anchored in mythical and symbolic claims often contravening accepted
      legal standards. The resulting blurriness of the legality and the pretexts for settlement
      construction are, according to Newman, best understood through the lens of territorial
      claims and the settlements are, effectively, multifold manifestations of claims to
      territory deployed as strategies of legitimisation with varying intensity and success.
      These multifold manifestations consist of territory seen as: 1) an economic resource
      (access to more/better agriculture, water, the construction of new ‘neighbourhoods’
      pertaining to a mercantilist strategy); 2) a strategic asset (purportedly optimising
      security requirements and military strategic options and to employ ‘realities on the
      ground’ as point of departure in bilateral negotiations); 3) a demographic container
      (a container of people through which the state attempts to transform sovereignty
      de jure into de facto control encompassed in the dual dimensions of the conflict, the
      territorial control and demographic superiority) and, entering the scene of territorial
      symbolism; 4) territory as historic and religious homeland (attachment to territory
      based on identification of symbols and signs in the landscape, in the case of the West
      Bank and East Jerusalem epitomised in the use of the biblical term ‘Judea and Samaria’
      or as expressed in the Israeli Declaration of Independence: ‘Eretz Israel’26 (literally
      meaning ‘Greater Israel’ referring to the entire West Bank and, in some versions,
      even including part of other states of the region such as Jordan and Egypt). Lastly;
      5) territory as an exclusive entity (the exclusive claim to land through which others
      peoples’/nations’ claims to the territory are delegitimised and alienated).27 More
      concretely in relation to the settlement enterprise, Israel’s main argumentative pillar
      has evolved around a mixture of Jewish history, security and autonomy ……
      link to diis.dk

    • Interesting interview of Israeli lawyer Talia Sasson who elaborates on legal questions surrounding the settlement policy:
      link to timesofisrael.com

  • Sam Harris, uncovered
    • Sam Harris got a lot of media attention as an advocate of “rational thought” during the last year of Christopher Hitchens’s battle with cancer. Both were purveyors of the idea that science and scientific minds were an anecdote to the emotionalism of the Teabaggers and Religious Right’s mindless acceptance of Creationism. An atheist friend of mind thought Harris the next best thing to buttered bread and sent one of his hour long screeds for me to watch, one of the ones filled with slides of lots of angry Muslims without any contextual information and for all I know, maybe they had a right to be angry. Nonetheless, it is shocking that Harris has such a wide following mainly due to debates with credible intellectuals and religious leaders, many of whom he makes look ridiculous and thereby discredits them in a show of arrogant browbeating and disparagement….

  • Latest demographic threat: 43 million Arabs on Facebook
    • Indeed, it’s the availability of articles, essays, journalism, reporting think-tank documents and ever increasing Youtube clips and television network footage. An important point one author mentions is annotated in a footnote which leads to an elaboration from another author quoting a different source verifying the same material. Furthermore, since the neoconservative public relations Iraq War disaster, perhaps the public at large are more likely to be mistrustful of what passes for the truth when it comes from the mouths of media icons such as Richard Ross, Shimon Peres, David Aaron Miller or Niall Ferguson. The hasbara talking points, formally issued to American Zionist bloggers several years ago, have bypassed their shelf life end date, but continued to be bandied forth ad nauseam. The no nonsense Facebook generation is more than Arab demographics its everybody…..

  • Who knew! Hummus and falafel are 'Israeli foods'
    • Nice riff on chickpeas Taxi....!!!!

    • The chickpea (Cicer arietinum) (also ceci bean, garbanzo bean, chana, sanagalu Indian pea, Bengal gram). Its seeds are high in protein and it is one of the earliest cultivated vegetables; 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East. Domesticated chickpeas have been found in the aceramic levels of Jericho along with Cayönü in Turkey and in Neolithic pottery at Hacilar, Turkey. Early Neolithic peoples cultivated and ate variations of chickpea dishes, but it was the Roman Imperium which spread the sowing and harvesting of this variety of pulse throughout the Mediterranean basin territories it ruled over as a source of food (soups, bread, flour)high in protein (meat spoiled easily) for billeted troops beyond supply lines and because the plant’s water demands was minimal. It is the most heat and drought-resistant crop and is suitable for production in low moisture and fertility soils. India, Pakistan and Turkey are the top leaders in chickpea production.( link to en.wikipedia.org)
      In Israel, chickpea is the main pulse crop and is grown on about 7 500 ha across the country, from the Negev in the south to the Galilee in the north, with average yields of 2-4 T ha. Chickpea in Israel is mainly cooked and mashed into a paste (hummus) or deep-fried into falafel balls, both favorite dishes in the Israeli kitchen.( Influence of Sowing Date on Yields of Fresh-harvested Chickpea ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/jas/article/.../6218)
      The” chickpea war” is ongoing, with local restaurant owners in various middle eastern cities claiming to offer the best humus and falafel, and disparaging similar Israeli claims….. (link to independent.co.uk)

  • How do we make Zionism 101 an everyday reality? Yeah, how?
    • "3.Develop a “great books” list that makes up the core of Zionist thinking. Disenchanted with university courses on Zionism and Israel? Craft your own and use the democratizing power of the Internet to disseminate them. (Hell, start a virtual reading club.)"
      I wonder what the top ten books would be....?????

  • 'New York Review of Books' calls it 'apartheid' and prepares Americans for the end of the Jewish state
    • David Shulman writes, ""The new cabinet will continue to entrench the occupation and to legalize the massive theft of Palestinian lands while loudly complaining that the Palestinians are responsible for the collapse of negotiations." And of course in view of Israeli front page news manipulations, subversions and reverse psychology this is likely to come to pass over time. However, under the cover of an attack on Iran (as all options still remain on the table) the fate of thousands of Palestinians could get a lot worse should the Jewish state begin to accuse them collectively of being potential fifth column. Notwithstanding unsubstantiated evidence and/or false flag attacks, the Jewish state will finally have the ideal excuse to initiate the long dreamed of “Transfer process” in a final step to rid Eretz Israel of its unwanted inhabitants…..Has anybody else had this nightmare…????

  • Rep. Pitts in damage control mode following call for Arafat-Sharon negotiations
    • Or it could be that Representative Pitts is marching, albeit with great confusion, in tune with the information AIPAC’s junior lobbyists are telling him…..

  • Tail has stopped wagging, so dog can stop talking about war with Iran
    • Perhaps Yuval Diskin's recent statement that Benjamin Netanyahu had a latent "messianic complex" frightened the more rational minds in Washington. The article appeared in Ha’aretz (link to haaretz.com "I don't believe in either the prime minister or the defense minister. I don't believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings") and made the front page of the Huffington Post ( Yuval Diskin said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak – who have been saber-rattling for months – have their judgment clouded by "messianic feelings" and should not be trusted to lead policy on Iran.....) link to huffingtonpost.com
      Messianism is the belief in a messiah, a savior or redeemer. For decades, the Jewish intelligentsia has fought a long hard public relations campaign to vilify Muslims and largely succeeded. The state of the world is seen as hopelessly flawed and unmanageable (primarily due to radical Islam, Communism’s convenient replacement) far beyond normal human powers of correction, and intervention through a specially chosen and divinely supported human is deemed necessary. Jews received benevolent treatment in ancient Persia (as the Vetran’s Today article points out), until the 16th Century Savavids and late 19th century Qajars. Both later day kingdoms initiated pogroms on par with those of the Russian Tsars.
      Plucky little Israel as a country, claims to have defeated its Arab neighbors in 1948 and again in 1967 by way of tactical military and intelligence superiority, still has a strange inferiority complex even though it’s nuclear stockpile and vast compendium of weapons and surveillance technology are cutting edge.
      This being said, imagine the consequences of an Israeli total eradication of the remnants of the ancient Persian Empire. Does Netanyahu’s messianic obsession ( with the support of the Lubavitcher Rebbe,now deceased link to haaretz.com) with Iranian nuclear capabilities have roots in the annals of history?

  • How to win friends and influence people -- to bomb Iran
    • ...Yes the Oded Yinon stategy for Israel
      link to cosmos.ucc.ie
      mentioned in the French overview of the current situation in Syria
      link to scribd.com

    • Actuall, there may be more to this than meets the eye. Ever since Azerbaidjan gained its statehood status after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, strong cultural, economic and regional links have tied it to Iran. Religious affinities have encouraged the process. The Muslim population is approximately 85% Shi'a and 15% Sunni; differences traditionally have not been defined sharply. Most Shias are adherents of orthodox Ithna Ashari school of Shi'a Islam (twelver). But very recently, relations between Iran and its neighbor have soured significantly over allegations that the Azeri government provided assistance to Israel in the attacks and deaths of several of their nuclear scientists. One must question the timely convenience of such a rift between two regional entities, once so friendly, in light of the ongoing hysterical call to bomb Iran’s nuclear plants….
      "Someone counts on using the Iranian Azerbaijanis against the Islamic republic. However, these attempts have had and will have little success. The Azeri factor in Iran became a state issue. The Iranian Azeris simply have no reasons for any serious discontent. The spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic is their representative. Moreover, half of the Iran's elite is Azerbaijanis who strongly support the leadership of their country....."

      link to english.pravda.ru

  • Latest expulsion from the occupied territories: 55 Harvard students
    • As we retreated, an officer pushed several students toward the bus. They seized identification from Palestinians traveling with us, and placed Shireen and the bus driver under arrest. We were told we would be taken to a nearby checkpoint to be searched. Two officers boarded the bus as the police vehicles escorted us to the checkpoint. When asked why we were being detained, one responded, “I don’t know,” and later refused to answer. At the checkpoint, Shireen was driven from the premises and later released. No Harvard students were searched or arrested.
      Harvard Crimson op-ed piece
      link to thecrimson.com

  • MSM jailbreak: Chris Hayes devotes 2 hours to conflict with panel of 2 Zionists and 2 Palestinians
    • Perhaps Chris Hayes had the blinders lifted on a trip to Israel and the West Bank with a group of American journalists on a trip sponsored by the New America Foundation during the summer of 2010. He wrote a heartfelt article for The Nation, filled with his personal impressions. There is something about an eye witness encounter that really changes how one responds to the accusations and rhetoric of pro-Zionist commentary after a confrontation with facts on the ground.
      link to thenation.com

  • The end of the 'two-state solution' is the beginning of a more just future
    • As Jeff Halper notes, time is of critical importance in devising a solution to the Israel/Palestine problem. Indeed at the current rate of settler expansion there will be very little territory left to negotiate a two state solution and life under one unitary government is filled with thorns. This leaves a sort of federated entity, the shape of which remains to be seen. The Israeli demands would be such to crush it before finishing the mission statement.
      Lately I have found myself getting exceedingly cross as the awareness of Israeli injustice has never been as high and growing. Many hopeful people bought in to Oslo, convinced that President Clinton’s Whitehouse lawn extravaganza would solve the conflict, eventually iron out all the snags and because of blind optimism, many advocates for an equitable solution sat on the sidelines. Of course life for the Palestinians only got worse as the bombs went off and the Wall went up. The American tragedy of September 11 was pie in the sky for counter terrorism in all its shapes and forms coopting as it did a Cold War attitude towards Muslims.
      It is imperative that the American public wakes up. Thanks to campus action, paneled discussions, outspoken activists, trips to Israel, questioning church congregations, and an instant electronic news feed, more Americans are coming around which gives me some hope. Jamil Toubbeh has posted an interesting, albeit somewhat disheartening article on the Palestine Chronicle website “Obsession with Israel: Variegated Trojan Horse” calibrating many of the abysmal potholes in the rough road ahead.
      link to palestinechronicle.com

  • Would you buy a used metaphor from this warmonger? (Niall Ferguson's 'creative destruction' echoes Rice's 'birth-pangs')
    • Niall Ferguson is a nervy sort of Brit who still regrets the end of the British Empire’s civilizing mission. He has taken it upon himself in the circles of punditry, to endorse the United States’ necessity to fill the gap and be the new “enlightened” beacon of civilization”. This stance did not exactly endear him to Pankaj Mishra whose demeaning review of Ferguson’s “Civilization: The West and the Rest” in the London Review of Books (November 3, 2011) struck a blow to the man’s ego. A rancorous flow of commentary ensued in the Review’s pages that spilled over onto the pages of The Guardian and beyond, culminating in the threat of a law suit on Ferguson’s part.
      It seems to have been a bluff as there has been no further word of pending legal action that I am aware of…
      link to lrb.co.uk

  • Israel is trying to hook us into a war with Iran-- Matthews and Baer speculate
    • Most likely, Chris Mathews is playing coy because he doesn't want to get slammed as anti-Semetic if and when the higher-ups make that call in response to complaints by "offended viewers". Nothing could be worse for one of CNN's star hosts than to be put on "probation" during an election year.... Stop squabbling....The Iran escalation is serious......

  • Tariq Ali and Oliver Stone to discuss 'On History' in NYC
  • A Jewish voice left silent: Trying to articulate 'The Levantine Option'
    • As with food, scholarship and literature, the same kind of overriding Ashkenazi dominance is prevalent in music where Klezmer has obfuscated the rich contribution of Sephardic Jews in both instrumental and lyric traditions. For this, one must salute the initiative among others, of Spanish early music icon Jordi Savall and his wife Montserrat Figueras. Following in the footsteps of Spanish soprano Victoria de los Angeles, who was the first mainstream classical artist to record Sephardic repertory, specifically, two songs in her 1962 release, “Spanish Song of the Renaissance”, Savall’s ensemble Hespérion XX et XXI (since 2001) has provided enthusiasts with a selection of early music by Ladino composers and lyricists, often anonymous, and made them come alive to modern listeners….

  • Expendables of a waning empire
    • As the military tactician he was, Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) recognized the importance of strategic overview. If you really want to dominate anything, it pays to hold the
      high ground… and hang on to it. ). From a military perspective, domination boiled down to one simple thing: keeping the heights. In Chapter 17 he states, “. First, every height may be regarded as an obstacle to approach; secondly, although the range is not perceptibly greater in shooting down from a height, yet, all geometrical relations being taken into consideration, we have a better chance of hitting than in the opposite case; thirdly, an elevation gives a better command of view. How all these advantages unite themselves together in battle we are not concerned with here; we collect the sum total of the advantages which tactics derives from elevation of position and combine them in one whole which we regard as the first strategic advantage.”

      The Israelis recognized the importance of “the heights” as a means of defense early on and used to their advantage. When it came to settlement building Ariel Sharon superseded the Allon Plan with one of his own whereby new construction would be built on the tops of ridges in a double parallel. Aerial surveillance soon became an adjunct to watching over a restive Palestinian population. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Syrian missile batteries in Lebanon caused heavy damage to Israeli fighter jets. As a result, Israel developed the first modern UAV. for real-time surveillance, electronic warfare and decoys. The images and radar decoying provided by these UAVs helped Israel to completely neutralize the Syrian air defenses at the start of the 1982 Lebanon War, resulting in no pilots downed
      The earliest “extra-judicial killing” from the air were carried out by Israeli helicopter gunships firing missiles. But then on July 22, 2002, in what was referred to by Sharon as "one of our greatest successes," Israel ascended another rung in the ladder of escalation aerial warfare , using a one-ton bomb dropped from an F-16 fighter jet to kill Salah Shihada, the leader and founder of Hamas' military wing, killing fifteen civilians, including nine children . The IDF was exempt from combat operations on the ground.
      The United States has a long history in the development of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) dating back to WWII. Precursors of today’s models were widely used in the by the US military in Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina for surveillance purposes. The first extra judicial killing in a foreign country came in 2002, a suspected al-Qaeda operative Qaed Salim Sinanal-Harethi, who was allegedly involved in killing 17 US sailors on the USS Cole, was killed in a drone attack while traveling in a car with six other people in Yemen.

      Although astronomically expensive to produce at first, drone technology has come way down in cost. It is touted as a lifesaving innovation as the collateral damage on the ground is “contained” and Western troops spared unnecessary death and casualties. The plans for bigger more sophisticated RPAs and UAVs is ongoing at a rapid pace. Although the Gorgon Stare is reported to have serious glitches, U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (Darpa) Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance – Imaging System (ARGUS-IS) is in the pipeline. Rest assured that futures drone technology will be on the market before myriad of legal quandaries are codified into an acceptable human rights doctrine. In view of the unlawful and growing number of civilian deaths and the undeniable blowback they cause, we have no choice but to demand a freeze on drone technology.

  • Two revealing headlines
  • Now he tells us (Jeffrey Goldberg says 'many' American Jews regard occupation as 'moral disaster')
    • On a deeper level, Israel’s campaign of acceptable “Jewishness” interfered with the very core values of the modern American family: the freedom to choose one’s life partner beyond the confines of religion, a choice based on affinities, the ability to compromise, shared life goals and mutual respect. Of course Judaism might and does play an important role in personal selection of one’s spouse, but not exclusively. That the State should decide, that the religious apparatus on which the State has built its identity should interfere with the institution of marriage went beyond the pale for many American Jews as does the Haredim treatment of women
      Furthermore, the prohibition to marry “ undesirable persons” or outsiders, or condemn parents for instilling in their children a liberal worldview which values the universality of all customs and friendships goes against the grain of American egalitarianism and equality, already in short supply in the United States….

  • Welcome Annie Robbins as Writer at Large
  • A point for the Israel lobby theory, from Panetta
    • Pamela, I have wondered about this too. What is it that Israel holds over Washington's head that makes an American dissenting view impossible? Isn't it true that the Israeli tech industry is the security gate-keeper at many US airports and has provided spyware/software to the Pentagon and intelligence gathering branches of the government...???

  • The case for invading Iran
    • Don't forget Norman Podhoretz's cold war rant "The Case for Bombing Iran
      I hope and pray that President Bush will do it. " in the May 30, 2007 issue of Commentary Magazine

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