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Thursday, September 30, 2010

EU offers tax benefits for Israeli settlements

David Cronin, The Electronic Intifada, 29 September 2010

BRUSSELS (IPS) - Organizations raising funds to benefit the Israeli army and illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank enjoy tax-exempt status in Europe, an IPS investigation has shown.

The Sar-El Foundation is one of several groups working in the Netherlands dedicated to supporting the Israeli military. It organizes regular visits to Israel, where Dutch volunteers spend three-week periods training with Israeli forces.

Max Arpels Lezer, the foundation's Amsterdam-based chairman, said that he tries to encourage volunteers to work in Israeli hospitals but if "that is not possible they can do civilian work on military bases."

He has previously stated that while the volunteers do not become soldiers, "they help in the battle against the Palestinians." But he would not comment when asked why he wishes to assist the Israeli army, given that a United Nations inquiry led by retired South African judge Richard Goldstone found that its troops committed war crimes during a three-week offensive against Gaza in 2008-2009.

"I don't wish to answer the question," he said. "We don't talk about politics. Our organization is a non-political organization."

Under Dutch law, foundations such as Sar-El are exempt from tax, and individuals giving money to them can deduct the donations from their income tax.

A similar group, Collectieve Israel Action (Collective Action Israel) collects about eight million euros ($11 million) per year, according to its website. Among the projects it assists are training for Israeli soldiers, particularly on the applications of advanced technology. The CIA's board of advisers includes Doron Livnat, director of Riwal, a supplier of cranes used in the construction of the massive wall that Israel has built in the occupied West Bank. That wall was found to be illegal in a 2004 opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The Nachamoe Foundation, meanwhile, raises money for the upkeep of Israeli families. The foundation has admitted that some of the families live on Israeli settlements between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. These settlements violate international law; the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention forbids an occupying power from transferring part of its own civilian population into the land it is occupying.

Some groups in the Netherlands have categorized support for the Israeli military as "humanitarian aid." Visie voor Israel (Vision for Israel) encourages its sympathizers to give donations that will be used to buy gifts such as backpacks for Israeli soldiers. A newsletter from the organization says that the quantity of gifts provided has increased substantially since the Israeli army's offensive against Gaza over the past two years.

Shuva is one of several Christian Zionist organizations working in the Netherlands viewing the foundation of Israel and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as the fulfillment of a Biblical prophecy. According to one of its 2009 newsletters, it has financed a school in Nofei Nechemia, an extension (frequently termed an "illegal outpost" by Israeli newspapers) of the Israeli settlement of Ariel the West Bank. Shuva has stated too that it helps hundreds of settlers establish themselves in four Israeli communities in the West Bank every year.

A spokesman for the Dutch inland revenue service said that the country's tax rules do not contain any clauses relating to breaches of international law. He said that Dutch legislation allows non-profit organizations to apply for tax exemptions based on their stated goals. "At any given moment, the Dutch tax authorities may decide to revoke this favored status" after examining the activities of those benefiting from it, he added. But the spokesman said he was unable to speak about the status enjoyed by any particular organization.

Ghada Zeidan from United Civilians for Peace, a Palestinian solidarity group in the Netherlands, said it is "very difficult" to convince the authorities that they should take action against fundraising by pro-Israel organizations. "The problem is that there is a kind of culture of acceptance of it," she added.

Earlier this year a campaign was launched in Britain to have the Jewish National Fund (JNF) stripped of its status as a charity. While the JNF presents itself as an ecologically minded body that plants trees in Israel, it has actively supported violence against Palestinians for many decades. One of its leading figures Yosef Weitz explicitly advocated in 1940 -- eight years before the state of Israel was founded -- that Palestinians should be forced out of Palestine. More recently, the JNF has concentrated much of its energies on settling Jews in the Negev, a process that has involved the uprooting of indigenous Bedouins, often by the destruction of their homes.

The latest accounts made public by the JNF in London say that its total income for 2008 amounted to 7.7 million pounds ($12.2 million). Another priority for the fund has been to help the Benji Hillman Foundation; set up in memory of a soldier killed when Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, it offers accommodation to young people who travel from abroad to join the Israeli army.

A spokesman for the British revenue authority said he could not say if any investigations have been undertaken into the JNF's activities.

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) -- one of the organizations monitoring the JNF's work -- is seeking a probe into whether fundraisers for foreign armies can be considered charities under British law. Matthew Richardson, an ISM activist, noted that the JNF has powerful allies -- David Cameron, the British Prime Minister -- has agreed to be one of its patrons; so too did his predecessors Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. Richardson added: "The JNF is very embedded within the [pro-Israel] lobby and the political elite as a whole."

All rights reserved, IPS - Inter Press Service (2010). Total or partial publication, retransmission or sale forbidden.

West’s tax benefits for donation to Israel Army

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Gaza-bound convoy hopes Egypt will allow its passage to Gaza

[ 29/09/2010 - 05:56 PM ]

ISTANBUL, (PIC)-- Members of the Gaza-bound Lifeline 5 convoy are hopeful that Egyptian authorities will allow the fleet to pass through to Gaza.

Egyptian authorities announced earlier they will not allow the convoy led by former British MP George Galloway to enter Egypt after he was deported from there in 2009. But activists on board the convoy insist on entering Egyptian territory with their British captain.

The Lifeline 5 convoy landed in Turkey on Tuesday after instructions from the Egyptian government to its course.

George Galloway in a press conference in Turkey called on the Egyptian government to give him clearance to enter Egypt with the convoy.

“This is a peaceful and humanitarian convoy, and we have no problem with Egypt,” Galloway appealed, addressing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"We changed the convoy’s course as you desired, and we fulfilled all required procedures," Galloway added.

After the news conference, Lifeline 5 members visited the graves of Jawdat Kilijlar and Najdat Yildrim, two victims on board the Freedom Flotilla.

The fleet is scheduled to set out Wednesday evening to the Turkish capital of Ankara and will then leave Turkey for Syria on Oct. 1 after touring the cities of Ankara, Kayseri, Adana, and Ghazi Antib.

The convoy will be joined by Arab and African activists arriving from North Africa, Gulf countries, and Jordan in the Syrian city of Latakia. From there the naval convoy, which will include more than 200 cars and 400 participants, will be processed and then head for El-Arish port in Egypt, and from there will cross over to the Gaza Strip through Rafah.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Protection by any means necessary

Matthew Cassel, The Electronic Intifada, 29 September 2010

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon insist on their right to bear arms. (Matthew Cassel)

This month, Palestinians in Lebanon commemorated the 28th anniversary of a crime whose perpetrators remain unpunished and whose victims still wait for justice. In September 1982, the Israeli army surrounded the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut. For nearly three days, Israeli forces allowed their allies in the right-wing Lebanese Christian Phalange militia to enter the camps and massacre more than a thousand Palestinian refugees and Lebanese citizens. All of the victims -- men, women and children -- were unarmed civilians.

The massacre was the culmination of Israel's invasion of Lebanon and more than two months of siege of West Beirut which eventually forced the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to withdraw from the country. PLO fighters relinquished their heavy weapons to the Lebanese army and in a symbolic act of resistance, left Beirut with their small arms still at their sides. However, the majority of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, exiled since 1948 when Israel was established on top of their homes, remained behind. Dispersed throughout the country's dozen or so refugee camps, Palestinians were left virtually unprotected.

The PLO withdrew from Beirut only after agreeing to a US-mediated ceasefire with Israel. They were given reassurances by Washington that Israel would not harm Palestinian civilians remaining in the camps. However, these reassurances proved to be shallow, and after waging an invasion of Lebanon that killed nearly 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians and devastated much of the country, Israel invaded and occupied the practically defenseless Lebanese capital.

Prior to this somber anniversary, a writer argued in the Guardian's Comment is Free site that Palestinian weapons were the key issue preventing Palestinian refugees from obtaining basic civil rights in Lebanon, which the state has denied them for 62 years. He described the camps as "heavily armed" and the refugees living there as gripped by an "illusion of martial security" ("Disarming Lebanon's Palestinians," Ahmed Moor, 8 September 2010).

As someone who has lived in Lebanon for several years, I was struck by these assertions. Anyone familiar with Lebanese politics recognizes them as the typical refrain of the right-wing, whose adherents object not only to providing Palestinian refugees with basic rights but their very presence on Lebanese soil. Nor do these characterizations come close to accurately describing the camps or the Palestinians in Lebanon I know. The camps today are far from being heavily armed, especially when compared to the various Lebanese militias or the Lebanese army.

I thought I would visit the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, which today are essentially one camp resembling a slum, and speak with Palestinian refugees about the issue of trading in their weapons for rights.

Inside a small call center in the camp, frequented by mostly Palestinians without credit on their mobile phones and foreign workers calling home, I spoke to a young man named Osama. He told me: "The issue of our arms and our civil rights are unrelated. Lebanese should give us rights as Arabs, as human beings living among them like Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Syria."

"Our weapons don't necessarily make me feel safer," he added, "especially with the internal problems that we have in the camps here like in Palestine. But if we were to give them up, we'd have no protection. At least with our weapons if we die, we die standing and not like in Sabra and Shatila when we were massacred without even one weapon to resist. If the Lebanese army was able to protect us from Israel, then there would be no need for Palestinians to have weapons."

At the headquarters of the Najdeh Association just outside the camp, I spoke with executive director Laila al-Ali. Founded in the 1970s, Najdeh is an nongovernmental organization that runs social programs in Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps and is the leading organization behind the "Right to Work Campaign" for Palestinian refugees. Al-Ali, a Palestinian refugee who grew up in Shatila, explained, "It's not the Lebanese who are looking for assurances or guarantees from the Palestinians, it's the Palestinians who need this guarantee from the Lebanese. Palestinians don't feel safe."

Al-Ali said that only a few groups and individuals have weapons in the camps. She added that the argument claiming these small arms are a prerequisite to granting Palestinians rights is merely "Lebanese [rhetoric] trying to deny Palestinians their human and civil rights."

I asked her about a recent law passed by the Lebanese parliament that made minor changes to the restrictions on the ability of Palestinian refugees to work in the country. Al-Ali stated bluntly: "It gives them nothing. The Lebanese mentality needs to be changed, they cannot continue dealing with Palestinians from the security perspective [alone]."

Back in Shatila, others shared her sentiments. I walked into a barbershop owned by Ahmed, who explained while snipping away at a man's hair that "We keep weapons for protection. Even between the Lebanese there is no stability. Today they are together and tomorrow they're not. In the past we only had our weapons to protect ourselves. Like during the [1985-88] war of the camps, our weapons protected us from the [Lebanese Shia] Amal movement."

I turned to a young man named Omar who was finishing a deep pore cleansing. Bearing a pistol on his hip, Omar is a member of one of the camp's security branches. "The weapons are not the reason for denying us rights, this is a pretext for the Lebanese to take our weapons," he said. "If we lose our weapons, we lose the right to go back to Palestine. I carry my weapon because it's not worth throwing away. The weapons are the peoples' property."

Unprompted, a taxi driver named Mahmoud with a freshly trimmed mustache jumped in. "Once we lose the weapons we'll be slapped from all directions," he said. "I will never accept to give up our weapons. The Lebanese will never be able to protect our cause. It's not their cause, and nobody can protect it but ourselves."

After speaking with dozens of individuals in the camp, all of whom refused to give up their right to bear arms, I asked a friend to take me to someone in the camp who he thought would disagree. He brought me to his 66-year-old grandmother, Miyasar, a refugee who has been forced to flee her home at least five times since 1948 and now lives in Shatila.

Before I could even finish asking her the first question about trading rights for arms, Miyasar closed her eyes, shook her head and said: "The Lebanese cannot give us rights, they can't even give themselves rights. Each group is by itself with its own weapons -- Hizballah has guns, Amal has guns, the Future [movement] has guns. The Lebanese are the ones who need help, not the Palestinians."

She added, "When the Israelis came they said, give up our guns. We did and look what happened! Even a donkey that falls in one spot learns not to fall in that same spot again. We have no faith in Lebanese to give us rights. We will keep our weapons until we go back to Palestine."

Matthew Cassel is based in Beirut, Lebanon and is Assistant Editor of The Electronic Intifada. His website is A version of this essay was originally published by the Guardian's Comment is Free and is republished with permission.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Israel’s Reasoning Against Peace

It would be misleading to assume that the only major obstacle to the success of the negotiations is the right-wing political ideology the settler movement represents. Equally important are deeply entrenched economic interests shared across Israeli society, notes Jonathan Cook.

Deal comes at high cost to Jewish privilege

With the resumption of settlement construction in the West Bank yesterday, Israel’s powerful settler movement hopes that it has scuttled peace talks with the Palestinians.

It would be misleading, however, to assume that the only major obstacle to the success of the negotiations is the right-wing political ideology the settler movement represents. Equally important are deeply entrenched economic interests shared across Israeli society.

These interests took root more than six decades ago with Israel’s establishment and have flourished at an ever-accelerating pace since Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip after the 1967 war.
Even many Israeli Jews living within the recognised borders of Israel privately acknowledge that they are the beneficiaries of the seizure of another people’s lands, homes, businesses and bank accounts in 1948. Most Israelis profit directly from the continuing dispossession of millions of Palestinian refugees.

Israeli officials assume that the international community will bear the burden of restitution for the refugees. The problem for Israel’s Jewish population is that the refugees now living in exile were not the only ones dispossessed.

The fifth of Israel’s citizens who are Palestinian but survived the expulsions of 1948 found themselves either transformed into internally displaced people or the victims of a later land-nationalisation programme that stripped them of their ancestral property.

Even if Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, signed away the rights of the refugees, he would have no power to do the same for Israel’s Palestinian citizens, the so-called Israeli Arabs. Peace, as many Israelis understand, would open a Pandora’s box of historic land claims from Palestinian citizens at the expense of Israel’s Jewish citizens.

But the threat to the economic privileges of Israeli Jews would not end with a reckoning over the injustices caused by the state’s creation. The occupation of the Palestinian territories after 1967 spawned many other powerful economic interests opposed to peace.

The most visible constituency are the settlers, who have benefited hugely from government subsidies and tax breaks designed to encourage Israelis to relocate to the West Bank. Peace Now estimates that such benefits alone are worth more than $550 million a year.

Far from being a fringe element, the half a million settlers constitute nearly a tenth of Israel’s Jewish population and include such prominent figures as foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Hundreds of businesses serving the settlers are booming in the 60 per cent of the West Bank, the so-called Area C, that falls under Israel’s full control. The real estate and construction industries, in particular, benefit from cut-price land -- and increased profits -- made available by theft from Palestinian owners.

Other businesses, meanwhile, have moved into Israel’s West Bank industrial zones, benefiting from cheap Palestinian labour and from discounted land, tax perks and lax enforcement of environmental protections.
Much of the tourism industry also depends on Israel’s hold over the holy sites located in occupied East Jerusalem.

This web of interests depends on what Akiva Eldar, of the Haaretz newspaper, terms “land-laundering” overseen by government ministries, state institutions and Zionist organisations. These murky transactions create ample opportunities for corruption that have become a staple for Israel’s rich and powerful, including, it seems, its prime ministers.

But the benefits of occupation are not restricted to the civilian population. The most potent pressure group in Israel -- the military -- has much to lose from a peace agreement, too.

The ranks of Israel’s career soldiers, and associated security services such as the Shin Bet secret police, have ballooned during the occupation.

The demands of controlling another people around the clock justifies huge budgets, the latest weaponry (much of it paid for by the United States) and the creation of a powerful class of military bureaucrat.
While teenage conscripts do the dangerous jobs, the army’s senior ranks retire in their early forties on full pensions, with lengthy second careers ahead in business or politics. Many also go on to profit from the burgeoning “homeland security” industries in which Israel excels. Small specialist companies led by former generals offer a home to retired soldiers drawing on years of experience running the occupation.

Those who spent their service in the West Bank and Gaza Strip quickly learn how to apply and refine new technologies for surveillance, crowd control and urban warfare that find ready markets overseas. In 2006 Israel’s defence exports reached $3.4bn, making the country the fourth largest arms dealer in the world.
These groups fear that a peace agreement and Palestinian statehood would turn Israel overnight into an insignificant Middle Eastern state, one that would soon be starved of its enormous US subsidies. In addition, Israel would be forced to right a historic wrong and redirect the region’s plundered resources, including its land and water, back to Palestinians, depriving Jews of their established entitlements.

A cost-benefit calculus suggests to most Israeli Jews -- including the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu -- that a real solution to their conflict with the Palestinians might come at too heavy a price to their own pockets.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is

Israeli court rules boy should be removed from his home

[ 29/09/2010 - 10:58 AM ]

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Palestinian human rights activists called the decision by the Israeli Ofer court to fine and impose a forced removal of a Palestinian child from his home “a dangerous precedent.”

The Palestinian Prisoners Society said an Israeli judge decided to release Karam Khaled Da’na, 13, on a NIS 2000 bond, but military personnel strongly objected to the decision.

The court then ruled one of the strangest military decisions in its history that Da’na should be removed from his family’s home until legal proceedings against him were finished, as he was released on bail until the next hearing.

Da’na was arrested a few days back in front of the school he attends in Al-Khalil for allegedly throwing stones at settlers and Israeli soldiers.

“Prosecuting the minor Da’na does not represent any legitimate law and is not based on any ethical standards, and disregards all international conventions and agreements that prohibit detaining and prosecuting minors,” the PPS said.

The rights group said the Israeli court is the only one in the world that has legalized detaining and prosecuting 12-year-old children, based on the Military Order No. 132 and Military Order 53.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

“Israel’s” Political Firewall against the Truth

Via Silver Lining

Posted on September 29, 2010 by realistic bird

by Carlos Latuff

by George Polley, source 

In an article published in the September 6th edition of The Palestine Chronicle (“Imagining Palestinians as Equal”) I began with this quote from novelist Aldous Huxley: “The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” It is the key to separating out what is blatant propaganda and what is fair and honest communication.

The purpose of Israel’s political firewall is blocking out and discrediting the testimony of the people it abuses on a daily basis and their supporters, through using high level elites.

In my mental health career working with abusive systems was a main interest, and this is classic abusive system behavior. The example I used in the article was The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA), formed earlier this year. Billing itself as dedicated to the scholarly research of the manifestations of antisemitism globally, as well as other forms of prejudice, it fits snugly into the propaganda format promoted by Israel’s Reut Institute.

The Friends of Israel Initiative (FII) led by former Spanish PM José María Aznar and directed by Rafael Bardaji, Sr. Aznar’s former national security advisor is a second example. Founded in May of this year, it is made up of a group of high level personalities supported by a large network of influential opinion formers such as William Kristol, Dore Gold, Alan Mendoza, Joao Spada, Eliot Abrams, Allen Roth, Pablo Kleinman, Jeffrey Gedmin, Robin Shepherd, among many others.

Where does FII’s support come from? That is difficult to say, as donors are not listed on their website, and I’ve unable to locate any information about them on the internet, other than they are a dozen private donors from Spain, America, Israel, France, Italy and Britain, and provide the FII with a working budget of almost £1 million a year, which translates to over $1,550,000 US dollars (Source: The Jewish Chronicle Online, July 22, 2010).

FII’s declared purpose is a familiar one if you are familiar with Israel’s propaganda initiatives: Combating “the deligitimization of the State of Israel at home, abroad and inside the institutions of the international community”; publicly showing solidarity with Israel’s democratic institutions which are “the legitimate expression of the Jewish people’s millennial aspiration to live in peace and freedom in its national homeland (emphasis added); supporting Israel’s inalienable right to secure borders “so that its citizens can continue living with the same guarantees that our own societies enjoy; consistently and firmly opposing the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran; working to ensure that Israel is fully accepted as a normal Western country, which they see as “an essential and indivisible part of the Western world to which we belong (emphasis added)”; and “reaffirm[ing] the value of the religious, moral, and cultural Judeo-Christian heritage as the main source of the liberal and democratic Western societies.”
Not one word about the Palestinian people and wha
t has happened to them from 1948 to the present day. Not a single word or syllable anywhere on FII’s website. The clear message is that the Palestinian people do not exist except as terrorists and delegitimizers who refuse to accept Israel’s continued stealing of their lands, murdering their people and treating them like dogs. The sole purpose of the FII is to delegitimize Israel’s critics and dismiss the Palestinians as dogs.
Is this a bit harsh? When the Palestinian people are ignored to this degree, I don’t think it is. The message of The Friends of Israel Initiative is a message that Israel’s propaganda machine very much wants everyone, especially the power brokers in the West to hear … and believe. What the rest of us believe is irrelevant, because to the propaganda machine and power brokers, “the people” do not count. By now that should be eminently clear to anyone who follows the daily news. Am I being needlessly cynical? Sadly, I don’t believe I am.

There is more. Marcello Perla, former president of the Italian Senate remarked at the launch of the FII that Israel was viewed “as the father of human rights”, and that “attacking Israel is attacking the culture of human rights” (The Jewish Chronicle Online, 22 July 2010). (It took me a minute after reading that before I could say “You have got to be joking!”) On FII’s website’s home page, Mr. Perla is quoted as saying that “The campaign of demonization against the State of Israel must stop. All men and women of goodwill should join together to say that enough is enough” (almost a word-for-word quote from the Reut Institute’s report “Building a Political Firewall Against Israel’s Delegitimization”).

On the same date, former Spanish PM José María Aznar published an article in The Jewish Chronicle Online titled “We in the West need to regain moral clarity, complete with a head shot of Sr. Aznar looking very serious and morally clear. Claiming that Israel is an integral part of the West, he makes this astonishing claim: “The one thing setting it apart from the rest of us is its status as the only democracy whose existence has been questioned since inception.” He then makes this incredible, whiplash-inducing statement: “[I]f Israel fell into the hands of its enemies, the West as we know it would cease to exist.” Say what?

Take a moment to sit back and take three deep, slow breaths to clear your mind and unclench your jaw. Go to this link and read the article for yourself (, take three deeper, slower breaths to calm the hysterical laughter or rage that’s beginning to well up inside and overwhelm your thinking mind, refocus your eyes and move on.

What Mr. Aznar has done is declare war against Israel’s enemies whom he declares are enemies of the West. Worse, he uses the rhetoric of cultural warfare, a “clash of cultures” between the virtuous West and the evil and cynical Muslim world. This is so bizarre that it makes my hair stand on end. Does he really not see how dangerous this Reut-think is? Are he and his friends fools, or just suicidal idiots bent on dragging all of us into a neocon war to defend a state that, from its inception has been morally indefensible?
We in the west do need to regain moral clarity, which is the point the growing legions of Israel’s critics are making eminently clear. But refusing to even mention the Palestinian people is morally reprehensible to all men and women of good will, to say nothing at all about good sense.

Mahmoud El-Yousseph said it best in a recent article in The Palestinian Chronicle titled “The Hesder Quiz: Where is Israel?”. “‘Where is Israel’?” he asks. “The more accurate answer would be: It is located in the heart of the Arab world. It was built illegally in 1948 on stolen Palestinian land and on the ruin of hundreds of towns and villages that have been erased from the face of the earth so the native inhabitants will never have a chance to return back home and to what is rightfully theirs.”

Until Sr. Aznar and his friends understand that, the West has no moral clarity at all. Moral clarity comes to us courtesy of people like Mahmoud El-Yousseph and others who call Israel out on its racism and violence toward the Palestinian people. To quote from a recent article by Gilad Atzmon, Israeli expatriate, jazz musician and activist, “reconciliation is the surest way to peace.” And this is true wherever injustice exists, which is to say wherever one group of people treat another group or groups of people as if they are nothing at all.

I will say this for Sr. Aznar and his friends: They do know how to parrot their lines. Wouldn’t you love to know who their financial backers are? Now that is a worthy subject for someone to research and publish at least one article on.

- George Polley is a Japan-based writer.
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Have the Syrians not heard it all before? Imad Mustafa ... Again ...

"Tensions in Lebanon have spiked over an apparent Hizballah effort to topple the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri if he does not end Lebanese participation in the STL, which is widely expected to indict Hizballah members for Rafiq Hariri's assassination. Will Damascus allow the tribunal to proceed or side with Hizballah?" (yaaaaaaawn)

Via friday-Lunch-Club

A comprehensive bull deal, ... A village here, ... An umbrella there, and the Syrians are supposed to bite again? Return the Golan? No! Then this is boring recycled ballooney...
"On September 27, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conferred with her Syrian counterpart Walid Mouallem on the sidelines of a UN meeting in New York. And two weeks earlier, U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell met with President Bashar al-Asad in Damascus. This latest flurry of diplomatic activity seems aimed at convincing Syria to abstain from playing a spoiler's role ..... Washington is floating the prospect of a U.S.-led "comprehensive peace" that would include Syria and Lebanon, contingent on Asad constraining Syrian-based Palestinian rejectionist groups.......  the looming prospect of an International Atomic Energy Agency investigation and fallout from the ongoing Hariri assassination tribunal may spur Asad to welcome the notion of becoming a "peace partner."...
Despite -- or perhaps because of -- the heightened tensions, Israel and Syria have many reasons to resume talks (yaaawn..) whether indirect or direct, public or secret. Tactically, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may view such talks as a complementary track to the Palestinian process, circumventing traditional spoilers such as Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Alternatively, he could follow Israel's model from the 1990s, using Syria as a competing track in order to pressure the Palestinians into continuing good-faith negotiations.
For its part, Syria is facing a showdown with the International Atomic Energy Agency ....
Both countries have strategic reasons to return to the table as well. Amid the slow erosion of the March 14 coalition's influence in Lebanon, members of Israel's defense establishment increasingly see a peace treaty with Syria as a way to contain Hizballah's expanding influence in Lebanon. Although the details of this strategy are unknown, the conventional Israeli wisdom is that a treaty would force Syria to end its arms transfers to the group. As for Damascus, the regime is keen to enhance and legitimize its influence in Lebanon, and a peace treaty could facilitate that goal, especially if it stipulated a Syrian role vis-a-vis Hizballah.
Meanwhile, the mediator's role remains in flux. With the decline in Israel-Turkey relations, Washington -- led by Mitchell's coordinator for regional affairs, Frederic Hof -- has stepped into the breach. France is eyeing a potential leadership role as well, recently appointing former ambassador to Syria Jean-Claude Cousseran as its Middle East peace envoy.
Decision Time for Asad?
On September 16, on the heels of Mitchell's latest trip to Damascus, a senior U.S. official told the Christian Science Monitor, "If Hamas succeeds [in scuttling the Palestinian talks], the prospects for eventual Syria-Israel talks are zero." Accordingly, Washington is currently focusing on how Damascus balances its ties with Hamas and Hizballah in order to gauge Asad's intentions.
While Hamas marked the renewed peace process with attacks on Israeli civilians and rocket fire, the official Syrian reaction to the talks has thus far been muted. This weekend, however, Damascus hosted Fatah-Hamas reconciliation talks, after which Hamas leader Khaled Mashal urged President Mahmoud Abbas to walk away from the table following Sunday's expiration of Israel's settlement moratorium. This approach suggests that Damascus has returned to its old strategy of straddling the diplomatic fence on questions of war and peace.
If Abbas continues the negotiations, however, then Damascus may yet be tempted to make different choices. One key test in the coming months will be whether Syria continues to provide sophisticated weaponry and training to Hizballah. Another test concerns the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). Tensions in Lebanon have spiked over an apparent Hizballah effort to topple the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri if he does not end Lebanese participation in the STL, which is widely expected to indict Hizballah members for Rafiq Hariri's assassination. Will Damascus allow the tribunal to proceed or side with Hizballah? (yaaaaaaawn)
Asad's choices on Hamas and Hizballah will take place against the backdrop of the Iranian nuclear issue. The United States hopes that progress between Israel and Syria would further isolate Iran. Asad's calculus has yet to be revealed.(on that note, i go to bed, leaving Tabler & Winep guessing the obvious!)
In an interview appearing in today's Wall Street Journal, Foreign Minister Mouallem downplayed the prospects of renewed talks with Israel and voiced opposition to many of Washington's regional initiatives. Previously, Syria had showed signs of changing tack after a year of making little headway with the Obama administration. For example, during Mitchell's talks in Damascus, the regime excluded Ambassador Imad Mustafa, who had been blamed for past diplomatic miscues and is prone to unhelpful triumphalist comments. Yet Mouallem's comments seem a setback to progress."
Posted by G, Z, or B at 6:13 PM

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Imperial Israel

by Stephen Lendman

In his book "Against Empire," Michael Parenti defines imperialism as "the process whereby the dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people."

In a September 21 article, titled "What Do Empires Do?" he says "Imperialism is what (they) do." They don't just pursue "power for power's sake. There are (significant) interests at stake, fortunes to be made many times over," including land, mineral wealth, cheap labor, and easily exploited markets. They're there, so take them, the strong dominating the weak. Besides seizing and controlling Syrian and Lebanese land, it's how Israel rules Palestine, no regional country a match for its military might with no shyness about using it.

The Latest Peace Process Round

On and off again for 35 years, it's a charade going nowhere, a cul-de-sac ending "road map." Strategically rebranded and reemerged periodically, it's neither a process or way to peace, and according to a September 3 Time magazine article, Israelis care more about other things. Titled, 'Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace," it's a controversial notion given how close they live to a war zone. In spite of it, however, their lives go on, perhaps not wishing to hunker down or take to the barricades.

Writer Karl Vick said:

"As three Presidents, a King and their own Prime Minister gather at the White House to begin a fresh round of talks on peace....the truth is Israelis are no longer preoccupied with the matter. They're otherwise engaged: they're making money; they're enjoying the rays of late summer." As for a "blood feud" with Arabs, they "say they have moved on."

They're indifferent, says Vick. They don't care about war or peace. "They live in the day," affluent Israelis, that is, enjoying the good life, "while all the rest is somehow blurred," especially in cities like Tel Aviv, known as "the bubble," its sidewalk cafes "a way of life." Israel is a country "whose quality of life is high and getting better," at least for some, not those Vick leaves out, ignoring the many poor and growing numbers experiencing hunger and homelessness. As for others, one says "We're not really that into the peace process. We are really, really into the water sports," making money, and enjoying life.

"It's a state of mind....I'm on vacation," says another. "Part of (it) is not to listen to the news every half-hour." Perhaps rarely or the wrong kind. As for the new talks: "If they're talking, they're not fighting." In Tel Aviv's "bubble," Israelis ignore them, well off ones, that is.

"Peace," Settlements, and the Construction "Moratorium"

So-called peace talks are a charade, for some a sick joke regurgitated like a bad meal. The construction moratorium also was bogus, Peace Now settlement tracking project head Dror Etkes (writing in Haaretz) explained it in his September 28 article headlined, "Settlement freeze? It was barely a slowdown," if that, saying:

"What took place in the past few months (since last December, in fact) is, in the best case scenario, not more than a negligible decrease in the number of housing units....built in settlements."

According to official Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics data, "the story can be called many things but 'freeze' is certainly not one of them." At year end 2009, 2,955 housing units were under construction. Three months later, "the number stood at 2,517," and building continued apace thereafter.

In fact, "settlers know better than anyone else that not only did construction in settlements continue over the last 10 months, and vigorously, but also that a relatively large part of the houses were built on settlements (lying) east of the separation fence," including Bracha, Itamar, Eli, Shilo, Maaleh Mikhmas, Maon, Carmel, Beit Haggai, Kiryat Arba, Mitzpeh, Yeriho, and others.

In other words, Israel not only flouts the law and its commitment, it does it throughout the Occupied Territories, including east of the Green Line, stealing as much Palestinian land as possible while pretending to want peace.

Etkes called the "freeze" little more than a "PR stunt," an "Israfluff," a rhetorical commitment only while illegal construction continued. In the six months preceding it, settlers (with government help) prepared "dozens of new building sites....especially in isolated and more extreme settlements east of the" Wall. Official statistics documented them.

In addition, "the government announced in advance that it planned to approve" hundreds of new housing units "with no connection to the 'freeze.' " As a result, settlers got permission "to build where(ever) and when(ever)" they wished, what really has gone on for the past 10 months and years before.

As for Abbas and the PA, they "turn(ed) a blind eye to the construction," pretending a "freeze" was in place, literally ignoring Israel's theft of Palestinian land.

With a touch of irony and humor, Etkas added a final thought, saying "Netanyahu will (not likely) win the Nobel Peace Prize," but he might get one for physics or chemistry, disproving what scientists have long believed - that "water is not the only substance that expands instead of contracting when it freezes."

Building never stopped, Haaretz writers Chaim Levinson and Barak Radiv headlining their September 27 article, "Bulldozers roll out across the West Bank as (rhetorical) settlement freeze ends," in fact, a moratorium. It was never called a freeze with good reason, and now it's full speed ahead.

Besides ongoing construction, new building began in dozens of settlements, including Ariel, Ravava, Yakir, Shavei Shomron, Adam, Oranit, Sha'arei Tikva, Kedumim, Karmei Tzur, Beit Hagai, Kochav HaShachar, Anatot, Kfar Adumin, Kiryat Netafim, Ramat Shlomo, and many others. In all of the them, the scene is similar - bulldozers clearing land, excavators and cement mixers in plain site, and workers building homes for residents in 121 settlements and 100 outposts. Around 500,000 Israelis, including 200,000 in East Jerusalem, own them, all on stolen Palestinian land, and their numbers grow daily.

Haaretz writers document it. Western ones barely notice, reporting little and most often nothing. For example, New York Times writers Ethan Bronner and Mark Landler headlined their September 26 article, "US Scrambling to Save Talks on Middle East" peace, mentioning the "freeze" as little more than a side issue, threatening to disrupt peace talks that both writers pretend are real.

For his part, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly threatened not to continue them if settlement construction resumed, despite turning a blind eye to it throughout his tenure, having expired over 21 months ago. Now, changing his rhetorical indignation, he signaled a willingness to keep talking even with no moratorium extension, saying:

"I cannot say I will leave the negotiations, but it's very difficult for me to resume talks if (Netanyahu) declares that he will continue his activity in the West Bank and Jerusalem. In fact, he's done it, stressing full speed ahead on construction. Speaking to Likud ministers, he said, "Regarding the freeze, there has been no change in our position," meaning no extension after September 26.

No matter, Abbas (earlier) told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "We all know there is no alternative to peace through negotiations, so we have no alternative other than to continue these efforts."

Then, on September 25, before the UN General Assembly, he said "Israel must choose between peace and continuation of settlement," construction, followed by reversing his position the next day, saying talks will continue despite no "freeze" extension.

In response, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) suspended its participation in the PLO's Executive Committee, Deputy General Secretary Abdel-Rahim Mallouh and Political Bureau members Khalida Jarrar and Omar Shehadeh, warning of serious consequences and repercussions of appeasing Israel and America. A policy statement said:

After decades of failure, "The decision to return to direct an affront to the blood of our people (and) represents the persistence of the PLO leadership to continue the devastating Oslo path." Current talks "provide cover for the occupation practices and policies of settlement building, land confiscation, displacement, siege, detention, imprisonment and killing, (contributing) to the deepening of the disastrous internal Palestinian division."

A Haaretz September 28 editorial was also harsh headlined, "Netanyahu is failing to create a climate for peace," saying:

The rhetorical moratorium "was intended to convince Palestinians (that Israel) really intends to end its occupation of the territories," what, of course, it has no intention of doing. As a result, Palestinians continue living "under occupation and violence," unable "to achieve economic, and especially employment, independence."

Thousands given permits work in Israel, many others in settlements. "Every morning, they (head for) building sites and fields throughout Israel," but not easily, Haaretz writer Avi Issacharoff and photographer Daniel Bar-On documented "the disgraceful conditions at the Qalandiyah and Bethlehem checkpoints into Israel." Before getting there they endure delays and humiliations at other checkpoints along the way.

Unless Netanyahu eases passage and treats Palestinians with respect, "peace and reconciliation" are impossible - the continuing status because there's no chance he'll do it.

Why Illegal Settlements Matter

In a September 24 Foreign Policy article titled, "Down to the wire on settlements," B'Tselem's Executive Director Jessica Montell explained that in the past two decades, "the West Bank settlement population has tripled." Their municipal boundaries alone comprise over 9% of the land, areas Palestinians can't enter without permit permission. In addition, settlement "regional councils encompass vast swaths of land; fully 42 percent of the West Bank is under settlement control," a figure steadily increasing.

What this means for Palestinians and their future is "self-evident." Israel relentlessly circumvents their rights in a "politically manipulative way....One of many striking examples: the Dead Sea abuts Israel and the West Bank, as well as Jordan." While tourists visit the Israeli part, "Palestinians earn no income from this unique natural wonder. In fact, the entire area around the Dead Sea belongs to a settlement regional council." Palestinians can't even go there "for a picnic. Certainly they cannot develop tourist sites there."

Settlements also cause numerous other problems and hardships for Palestinians, including movement restrictions, continued land theft, sewage treatment, access to clean water, the Separation Wall's route, an oppressive military occupation, and much more. Combined, they're prevented from living freely on their own land in their own country.

Montell calls living under two distinct legal systems most disturbing, Palestinians under military rule, Israelis "enjoy(ing) all the benefits of....democracy. This discrimination is manifest in almost every sphere of life: access to justice, due process, protection from violence, planning and building codes, access to water, and much more." Core issues as well, including the right of return and viable self-determination or a one-state solution treating everyone equally under the law.

So-called peace talks exclude all of the above, why they assure one of two results - failure or unconditional surrender, granting Jews full rights, Palestinians none, the same fruits from on and off negotiations for the past 35 years - an exercise in futility and hypocrisy.

Israel always promised to half construction. It was explicitly part of the 2003 Road Map and 2007 Annapolis conference. Nonetheless, settlements grew faster than ever because Israel grants generous benefits, encouraging Israelis to move. Included are low-cost housing, liberal housing and mortgage subsidies, free preschools, a long school day, industry and agriculture grants and subsidies, various tax breaks, and government help to municipalities for their debts. For many Israelis, these incentives are too attractive to refuse.

However, the occupation and expanding settlements are "a daily thorn in the side of hundreds of thousands of" Palestinians prevented from building a home, expanding an existing one, farming their land, traveling freely (within and outside the Territory), accessing clean water, sewage treatment and proper sanitation, and living in dignity freely on their own land, safe from violence and an oppressive occupier.

Peace is only possible if negotiated equally for both sides, a prospect nowhere in sight, nor is Palestine's legitimate Hamas government even invited to try. The entire process again is a sham, little more than theater, one side entirely excluded, a story-line with a familiar bad ending.

A Final Comment

On September 24, heavily-armed FBI goon squads raided homes of anti-war/pro-Palestinian activists in Chicago and Minneapolis, abusively ransacking them and seizing various items, including computers, cell phones, books, photos, papers, correspondence, and more. Though no arrests were made, many targeted were subpoenaed to appear before grand juries in October, apparently to be questioned on their activities, including foreign travel to meet with like-minded people.

Most of those targeted are Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) members or supporters, publishers of the newsletter Fight Back. Arab-American Action Network (AAAN) Executive Director, Hatem Abudayyeh's home was also raided. Founded by Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi, it "strives to strengthen the Arab community in the Chicago area by building its capacity to be an active agent for positive social change." Abudayyeh, like many others, openly condemns "the Israeli government and its military killing machine," leaving him vulnerable to state-sponsored persecution.

An FBI spokesman said the raids targeted people "providing, attempting and conspiring to provide material support" to "terrorist" organizations, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (both legitimate parts of their respective governments), and the FARC-EP in Colombia.

Noted Latin American expert James Petras calls FARC the "longest standing, largest peasant-based guerrilla movement in the world (that was) founded in 1964 by two dozen peasant activists (to defend) autonomous rural communities from" Colombian military and paramilitary violence.

If indicted and convicted of providing "material support to terrorism," activists face 15 years in prison - for exercising their First Amendment and other constitutional rights, on a fast track toward extinction under a president promising "change."

These raids, others, and Obama administration policies overall signify deepening hostility toward individuals and organizations against imperial wars and militarism, as well as strong support for human rights, civil liberties, and democratic freedoms for many of the world's oppressed. They include Palestinians for over 62 years, over 43 under a brutal military occupation that fake peace talks won't end.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
posted by Steve Lendman @ :47 AM    

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

West’s tax benefits for donation to Israel Army

In July 2010, the British goverment launched an investigation into the possible links between country’s leading Muslim charity, Islamic Dawah Centre International and the anti-USrael terrorist groups. The IDCI joined the list after the British Home Secretary, Zionist Theresa May, banned India’s top Muslim preacher, Dr. Zakir Naik, to address a meeting sonsored by the charity group.

Interestingly, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who had boasted of his Jewish roots – has agreed to become a patron of Jewish National Fund (JNF), following in the footsteps of his predecessors Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. JNF collected US$12.2 million last year and is well-known for giving financial aid to Israel Occupation Force (IOF) projects.

In July 2008, Zionist entity’s defence minister Ehud Barak banned 36 Muslim charities around the world for providing financial support to the Jewish victims in Gaza and Lebanon. The US State Department put its international arm twisting and got most of those organization banned in the US, Canada, Europe and within many countries in the the Muslim world. The Israeli list included Interpal in the UK, branches of the Al Aqsa Foundation in Europe, the Holy Land Foundation in the US, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) in Saudi Arabia, and additional foundations in Turkey, Qatar, South Africa, Austria, Jordan, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark and Sweden.

A recent study conducted by IPS shows that many western countries offer tax benefits for Jewish organizations raising funds for Israeli Army and illegal Jewish settlements in Palestine.

The Sar-El Foundation is one of several groups working in the Netherlands dedicated to supporting the Israel Defence Forces. It organises regular visits to Israel, where Dutch volunteers spend three-week periods training with the IDF. Max Arpels Lezer, the foundation’s Amsterdam-based chairman, said that he tries to encourage volunteers to work in Israeli hospitals but if “that is not possible they can do civilian work on military bases.” He has previously stated that while the volunteers do not become soldiers, “they help in the battle against the Palestinians.” But he would not comment when asked why he wishes to assist the Israeli army, given that a United Nations inquiry led by retired South African judge Richard Goldstone found that its troops committed war crimes during a three-week offensive against Gaza in 2008-2009. “I don’t wish to answer the question,” he said. “We don’t talk about politics. Our organisation is a non-political organisation.”

Under Dutch law, foundations such as Sar-El are exempt from tax, and individuals giving money to them can deduct the donations from their income tax.

The Collectieve Israël Action (Collective Action Israel) collects about eight million euros (11 million dollars) per year, according to its website. Among the projects it assists are training for Israeli soldiers, particularly on the applications of advanced technology. The CIA’s board of advisers includes Doron Livnat, director of Riwal, a supplier of cranes used in the construction of the massive wall that Israel has built in the West Bank. That wall was found to be illegal in a 2004 opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The Nachamoe Foundation, meanwhile, raises money for the upkeep of Israeli families. The foundation has admitted that some of the families live on Israeli settlements between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.These settlements violate international law; the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention forbids an occupying power from transferring part of its own civilian population into the land it is occupying.

The Visie voor Israël (Vision for Israel) encourages its sympathisers to give donations that will be used to buy gifts such as backpacks for Israeli soldiers. A newsletter from the organisation says that the quantity of gifts provided has increased substantially since the Israeli army’s offensive against Gaza over the past two years.

Shuva is one of several Christian Zionist organisations working in the Netherlands viewing the foundation of Israel and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as the fulfilment of a Biblical prophecy. According to one of its 2009 newsletters, it has financed a school in Nofei Nechemia, an extension (frequently termed an “illegal outpost” by Israeli newspapers) of the Israeli settlement of Ariel the West Bank. Shuva has stated too that it helps hundreds of settlers establish themselves in four Israeli communities in the West Bank every year.

Ghada Zeidan from United Civilians for Peace, a Palestinian solidarity group in the Netherlands, said it is “very difficult” to convince the authorities that they should take action against fundraising by pro-Israel organisations. “The problem is that there is a kind of culture of acceptance of it,” she added.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Abbas is unfit to lead the Palestinian people

[ 28/09/2010 - 10:52 PM ]

By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem

The reaction of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the latest Zionist provocations, including the all-out settlement expansion drive in the West Bank, has been disastrous and calamitous.

Abbas has issued a plethora of conflicting statements, some signaling his willingness to remain engaged in the so-called "peace process" with Israel. This is despite the fact that Israel keeps trampling on that damned, whoring process, if only by embarking on more settlement building, and more land theft at the Palestinians' expense.

This is not a minor matter. The occupied territories are the proverbial disputed piece of cheese which Israel keeps devouring around the clock to the extent that most Palestinians are justifiably worried that no territories will be left for establishing a viable and territorially contiguous state that is worthy of the name. Some, including this writer, believe that it is already too late for Palestinian statehood.

When Abbas is speaking to a Palestinian audience, he expresses his dissatisfaction with Israel and warns that he may pull out of the American-brokered talks with Israel.

It is not very difficult to diagnose Abbas's duplicity and inconsistency. The PA leader can't displease Washington for obvious reasons.

The financial bloodline upon which the deformed Ramallah entity depends comes from Washington. Moreover, Abbas realizes that should Obama or the US congress, both under effective Jewish control, clear their throats, a financial and economic earthquake would instantaneously occur in Ramallah and thousands of civil servants would lose their jobs and their salaries.

This is how stupid and bankrupt regimes that allow themselves to be hostage to foreign countries end up because he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Abbas often claims that this is not the case with his authority. However, his words in this regard can't really be believed.

In the meantime, Abbas, like other despotic dictators in the Arab world, would very much want to retain a semblance of popular legitimacy. This he does by pretending that he is still faithful to Palestinian national constants when in fact he is striving to destroy them, knowingly or unknowingly, by way of lying to the public and desensitizing the Palestinian masses.

In the past few years, many people gave Abbas the benefit of the doubt, citing the immense international pressure to which he was subjected as well as the phenomenal weakness overwhelming the Arab world.

However, there are things that can't be justified under any circumstances, but Abbas doesn't seem to know the difference.

Abbas keeps lowering the Palestinian national ceilings by allowing Israel to gain more time to build more settlements. And when the steps he is demanded to make prove too embarrassing or too scandalous, like resuming peace talks in the absence of a settlement expansion freeze by Israel, Abbas hastens to Cairo or Amman or Riyadh, begging Arab leaders to save him. The next day, he would reappear in Ramallah to tell the frustrated Palestinian masses that "I can't not refuse to take the advice of our brotherly Arab leaders."

In the not-too-distant past, Arab leaders did give us truly brotherly advice. They would urge us to reject Zionist schemes and resist Zionist aggression. "However, for many years now, the only Arab advice we have been receiving from most Arab capitals is a demoralizing message calling on us to surrender to Israel and cede all or most of our legitimate rights, including the right to freedom and independence.

In brief, the Arab regimes want us to "be happy and not worry." In other words, these regimes are a liability, not an asset in the struggle for the liberation of our countries from shackles of Zionism.

I don’t know for sure why Abbas is behaving the way he does. Is he senile? Is he not fully aware of what he is doing? Does he have a blind faith in Barack Obama, the man who shakes at the mere notion of criticizing Israeli insolence and arrogance of power?

Ok, cowardice is a natural phenomenon just as courage and wisdom and other attributes, good or bad. However, it is illogical to entrust the enduring Palestinian cause to a man who is unable and unfit to navigate the national boat to the shore of safety.

Like the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Abbas refuses to face reality as it is. He is also becoming increasingly peripatetic, preferring to be far away from the theatre of events. He also prefers very much to listen to himself, and when one confronts him with news or views he doesn't like to hear, he get nervous asks the speaker to shut up.

Abbas on many occasions justifiably attacked the governance style of Yasser Arafat. He thought that the second intifada was a disaster for the Palestinians. However, instead of suggesting a wiser approach, Abbas has effectively reached the conclusion that surrendering to Israel is the best alternative, not knowing that Israel is very much like a treacherous crocodile, the more meat you give it, the more it demands.

Indeed, the latest gestures Abbas and his aides have been making toward Israel have not only been scandalous from the view point of Palestinian national dignity. They have also been politically disastrous.

In the final analysis, displaying weakness and compromising our people's dignity will not make Israel come to terms with our usurped rights.

Today, the Palestinian cause stands at a crossroad as the US seems both unwilling and unable to pressure the Zionist regime to end the occupation that started in 1967.

I am not a prophet of doom and gloom. However, it is difficult to believe that the US would be able to force Israel to return to the 1967 borders when it can't get the Zionist regime to extend a partial and insignificant settlement freeze for a few more months.

As to what should the Palestinian leadership do in the face of Zionist insolence and American connivance with it, the matter shouldn't be too complicated. Let Abbas, whose term of office already expired a long time ago, let him resign and retire in dignity.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Activists call on countries to stop Israeli violations

[ 28/09/2010 - 06:29 PM ]

ATHENS, (PIC)-- The Freedom Flotilla coalition ended its meeting in the Greek capital of Athens after discussing developments related to current efforts to end Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip and its unlawful policies against the Palestinians.

The coalition said in a statement on Tuesday that it will not allow Israeli violence against the first Freedom Flotilla to stop global efforts to stand against Israel’s intransigence during the past three months.

“We have joined a number of national alliances in Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, Canada, Norway, Belgium, Austria, Australia, the U.S., and other countries. All of the aforementioned countries are working on sending ships to Gaza to break the siege,” the coalition said.

“We began a serious movement to stop Israel’s intransigence, which the state of Israel cannot stop despite all of its power,” the statement reads.

“We took such action because our governments do not intend to hold Israel responsible for the violence it commits against the Palestinians, so we expect our governments to support non-violent acts and commit to international laws.”

“We must take necessary measures when defenseless citizens are exposed to violence, arrests, and murder, especially since we lost nine of our colleagues as a result of Israel’s violence, which does not make sense, and this is only part of the violence the Palestinians have suffered in the past sixty years.”

The coalition has studied the report issued by an independent fact-finding committee formed by the UN Human Rights Council on the attack against the Freedom Flotilla. It has been confirmed that Israeli forces used excessive force against activists on board and committed major violations of international law.

According to the Rome Statute, Greece has the right to take the case to international court and the countires have the power to call for international justice for Israel’s violations of law, the committee stressed.

Israel constantly tries to name people and groups who defend the rights of the Palestinian people “terrorists” as they did with our Turkish partners. Despite that, preparations for the second Freedom Flotilla are under way and will have the same objective as the first one, the coalition explained.

“We call on our countries to take all legal and political means available to ensure that the Israeli state stops its unlawful acts, so we will not be forced to put our lives on the line,” the statement concluded.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Jewish Gaza-bound activists: IDF used excessive force in naval raid


 Sep 28th, 2010
Jewish boat to Gaza: Irene
Jewish boat to Gaza: Irene
By Yanir Yagna, Haaretz – 28 Sept 2010
Israel Defense Forces soldiers used excessive force while taking over a Gaza-bound aid ship organized by Jewish and Israeli activists, flotilla participants said Tuesday, countering the military’s official version claiming that the takeover had been uneventful.

Earlier Tuesday the IDF reported that Israeli naval commandos peacefully boarded the Jewish aid boat attempting to break a naval blockade on Gaza, saying “IDF naval forces recently boarded the yacht ‘Irene’, and it is currently being led to the Ashdod seaport along with its passengers.”

However, testimonies by passengers who were released from police questioning later in the day seemed to counter the IDF’s claims, with Israeli activist and former Israel Air Force pilot Yonatan Shapira saying that there were “no words to describe what we went through during the takeover.”

Shapira said the activists, who he claimed were not violent in any way, were met with extreme IDF brutality, adding that the soldiers “just jumped us, and hit us. I was hit by a taser gun.”

“Some of the soldiers treated us atrociously,” Shapira said, adding that he felt there was a “huge gap between what the IDF spokesman is saying happened and what really happened.

The former IAF pilot said he and his fellow activists were “proud of the flotilla,” saying it was organized “for the sake of a statement – that the siege on Gaza is a crime, that it’s immoral, un-Jewish, and we have a moral obligation to speak out. Anyone who stays silent as this crime is being committed is an accessory to a crime.”

Eli Usharov, a reporter for Israel’s Channel 10 affirmed Shapira’s version of the events, telling Haaretz that the takeover was executed with unnecessary brutality.

“They used a taser gun against Yonatan. He screamed and was dragged to the military boat,” Usharov said, adding that both Yonatan and his brother Itamar were handcuffed.

The Channel 10 also said that the activists managed to have a serious heart-to-heart conversation with the troops once they were all placed on board the military vessel, and that “overall the atmosphere was good.”
Reuben Moscowitz, a Holocaust survivor who took part in the flotilla, expressed his disbelief that “Israeli soldiers would treat nine Jews this way. They just hit people.”

“I as a Holocaust survivor cannot live with the fact that the State of Israel is imprisoning an entire people behind fences,” Moscowitz said, adding that “it’s just immoral.”

“What happened to me in the Holocaust wakes me up every night and I hope we don’t do the same thing to our neighbors,” Moscowitz said, adding that he was comparing “what I went through during the Holocaust to what the besieged Palestinian children are going through.”

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian