From the river to the sea,
Palestine will be free!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Palestinians in Europe to Commemorate the 61st Anniversary of Nakba 'Catastrophe'"

Date: 30/4/2009
London
-- Palestine Return Center PRC
After 61 years of the Palestinian Nakba, Palestinians still adhere to their rights and legacy which was intended to be destroyed in the past decades but never it never happened. Palestinian communities, institutions and associations all over European countries are preparing for the 7th Europe Conference in Milan, Italy by the 2nd of May 2009. A broad spectrum of leaders, Palestinian public figures and delegations will attend the conference.

This year conference is entitled; "Right of return is nonnegotiable and will not be relinquished". The message of the conference is to show the determination and adherence of all rights especially the right of return and independency. Thousands of Palestinian refugees and residents living in Europe are expected to attend.

The conference is being prepared and organized by the Secretariat of the Conference of Palestinians in Europe, and the Palestine Return Center (PRC) along with Palestinian assembly in Italy and several other institutions.

A number of Palestinian key figures, officials from the occupied Palestine as well as the Palestinian communities in Diaspora in Europe are expected to participate. Other European officials and highly-profiled figures expected to take part in the event.

European Parliament will be represented through Luisa Morgantina, vice president of EU parliament. British Member of Parliament, Jenny Tong, would attend as well.

The occupied territories would be represented by Mustafa Al-Bargouti, a Palestinian MP and secretary General of Palestinian Initiative. From the besieged Gaza Priest, Manuel Musalam, is predicted to participate.

Additionally, head of Islamic Movement in occupied Palestine Sheikh Raed Salah, Journalist Ghasa Bin Jido from Al Jazeera space channel, Palestinian writer-researcher Zeinat Abu Shawish, Doctor Muhammad Salem chair of Palestinian Doctors Assoication, Zinat and Doctor Salman Abu Sita chair of Palestine land committee would take place.

It's worth mentioning that over the past years, the Europe Conference turned to be vast room for all Palestinians. It's a mosaic-like that includes tens of Palestinian academics, thinkers, writers, activists, artists and journalists based in Europe.

The past conferences were of good organization and preparation that showed the adherence of the Right of Return. Those actions considered to be a way to bridge the gap between Palestinian generations and evoke the popular efforts in service of the cause.

The first conference was held in London 2003
The Second in Germany 2004
The Third in Austria 2005
The Fourth in Sweden 2006
The Fifth in the Netherlands 2007
The Sixth in Denmark 2008

In the meantime, organizers are in race with time to hold the 7th conference in Milan, Italy. Thousands of people are expected to participate from the European countries as well as guests from Arab countries and occupied Palestine. A convoy of tens of trucks will leave for Gaza directly after the end of the conference organized by European Campaign to end siege on Gaza.

Contact Info:

Venue:
1 Piazzale Carlo Stuparich
Milan 20148 Italy
PALALIDO Hall
Northern West Milan
Milan City
Italy

For More Information:
Adel Abdallah
Secretary General of Europe Conference
Tel: 004369913811754

Or

Majed El Zir
President of Europe Conference
Director of Return Center
Tel: 00442084530919
Email: info@prc.org.uk

Or

Muhammad Hanon
Chairman of Palestinian Assembly in Italy
Tel: 00393477604355
Email: info@abspp.org

The Speaker of the House Speaks for Israel ("Pelosi the Hawk" -- Stephen Zunes)

Pelosi's antipathy to the rights of Palestinians goes way back and it's a gut issue for her, apparently, not just the wishes of her funders.

Portion below; whole thing (from Antiwar.com) here: http://original.antiwar.com/zunes/2009/04/29/pelosi-the-hawk/

Nancy Pelosi isn’t, as some of her critics would have it, too "pro-Israel;" rather, she is simply too right-wing. Her positions on U.S. policy toward Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and a number of other nations in that region put her closer to the right-wing Christian Coalition than the moderate National Council of Churches, closer to the neoconservative Project for a New American Century than to the liberal Peace Action, and closer to right-wing Zionist groups like AIPAC than liberal Zionist groups like Americans for Peace Now or Brit Tzedek v’Shalom.

The 2006 Lebanon War, which Israel launched after months of pressure by the Bush administration to attack its northern neighbor, ended up as a disaster for Israel, as outlined by the Israeli government’s 2007 Winograd Report. During the fighting, as thousands of Israeli peace activists took the streets of Tel Aviv chanting "We will not kill or die for Bush," Pelosi was back in Washington essentially saying, "Oh, yes you should!"

Where Pelosi’s allegiance lies in the Israeli political spectrum is not only illustrated by her opposition to the Israeli peace movement, but in her outspoken support of former prime minister and war criminal Ariel Sharon. She repeatedly praised the right-wing Israeli leader for his "remarkable leadership," endorsing Sharon’s construction of a separation barrier deep inside the West Bank as well as his "disengagement plan," which would eventually annex most of Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied territory into Israel.

And she has been quite intolerant of Democrats who dissent from her hawkish views, heavily pressuring House Democrats to support various resolutions supporting Bush’s Middle East policy and seeking to damage the campaigns of insurgent Democrats who challenge her right-wing views. For example, Pelosi attacked Howard Dean, early in his campaign for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, for suggesting the United States should be more "even-handed" towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She has even condemned former President Jimmy Carter for opposing Israeli occupation policies in the West Bank. No Democratic leader has ever criticized either a former president or the front-running presidential candidate of his or her own party on any issue as harshly as Pelosi criticized Dean and Carter on Israel and Palestine.

Pelosi’s views don’t reflect her role as a major Democratic fundraiser. Her antipathy toward Palestinians goes back long before she came into leadership. As a junior congresswoman in 1988, without links to wealthy national contributors, she was an outspoken opponent of Palestine’s right to exist, helping lead an effort to defeat a ballot proposition in San Francisco supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.

Pelosi’s right-wing Israel policy is less a matter of AIPAC’s power and more about the inability of the progressive community in San Francisco and Democrats elsewhere to force her to do otherwise. She changed her position in support of the U.S. occupation and counterinsurgency war in Iraq only because her constituents and Democrats nationwide demanded it, fearing the political consequences of doing otherwise. She isn’t likely to change her position on these other important Middle East policy issues unless we do the same.

Unfortunately, few Democrats are even aware of how far to the right Pelosi is when it comes to the Middle East. Not only has the mainstream media failed to call attention to her Middle East agenda, but progressive publications have failed do so as well. In These Times praised Pelosi for her "solid record" on human rights issues, while Ms. Magazine lauded her for having a "voting record strong on…human rights," failing to even mention her defense of Israeli war crimes against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.

Obama was initially able to withstand attacks by right-wing Republicans over the Chas Freeman appointment and tentative plans to participate in the UN Anti-Racism Conference, but he capitulated once prominent Democrats began pressuring him as well. Unless, then, rank-and-file Democrats are willing to challenge Pelosi on the Middle East, there is little hope that Congressional Democrats will allow the Obama administration to take human rights or international law seriously — not just in terms of Israel and its neighbors — but anywhere else.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

MIDEAST: If Only They Could See -- Mohammed Omer


Part of article below; read whole article here:  

AMSTERDAM, Apr 28 (IPS) - Mohammed Al-Sheikh Yousef could save his eyesight if only he could cross the border out of Gaza. He was denied a permit by Israel; he got one from Egypt, but not for someone to accompany him. And he can't go on his own because he cannot see very well.

"If Mohammed does not get out of Gaza for medical treatment within the next 14 days, he may totally lose his eyesight and be blind for life," Dr. Mawia Hasaneen, head of the ambulance and emergency service for Gaza hospitals told IPS in a telephone interview. 

"In the past few weeks we have received 150 appeals from people in Gaza who are in need of urgent medical care," says Ran Yaron from Physicians for Human Rights, a human rights group in Israel that campaigns on behalf of Palestinian patients to obtain exit permits for healthcare. 

"We submitted 99 applications to the Israeli army on behalf of the patients, but only 15 cases were approved," Yaron told IPS. "Israel as the occupying power has primary responsibility for the health of the civilians of Gaza because it controls the crossings. It should not use the patients as a political tool." 

The emergency staff often stand by helpless spectators to suffering. "I just received a call from the mother of a four-year-old child from Jabalyia refugee camp in the north, her son has congestive heart failure and respiratory distress," said Dr. Hasaneen. "As an official I can't stand watch her child dying simply because medical treatment is not available in Gaza and the borders are closed." But he has no option but to do just that. 

The Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights based in Gaza says that at least 41 Gazans died last year of causes that can be attributed to the collapse of the medical referral process. Currently, it says the condition of hundreds of Gazans is deteriorating rapidly. 

For Gazans, what happens at the border crossings can make the difference between life and death. Medicines for many easily treated diseases sit across the Rafah crossing with Egypt or the Erez crossing into Israel. Patients cannot get across, and most medicines are not allowed in. 

Egypt says it can only reopen the border fully with the co-operation of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority - which has no control over Gaza. Meanwhile at least 750 patients in urgent need of treatment outside Gaza are unable to leave, according to medical sources in Gaza.

Obama "Looking Forward" to More Torture?

The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world— well over 7 million people are caught up in its prison system. This is a country that regularly imprisons juveniles, and it is the only major western state that retains the barbaric death penalty. Bush himself showed no clemency when he served as governor of Texas, sending 131 people to their deaths. None of them were spared on the principle of avoiding “retribution” or because of the need to “look forward.”
Beginning of article below; whole article here: http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13369

In the face of mounting opposition from the Republican Party and the national security apparatus, President Obama and leading Democrats have indicated they will block any independent commission to investigate the widespread torture of prisoners under the Bush administration in “the war on terror.”

In meetings with top Congressional Democrats on Wednesday and Thursday, Obama told lawmakers that he would oppose any investigation, including one carried out by an independent commission. This marked yet another shift by Obama, who on Tuesday had indicated that he might accept the creation of a blue ribbon panel along the lines of the 9/11 Commission that investigated—and whitewashed—the events leading up to the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. in 2001.

According to press reports, Obama told Congressional Democrats that any sort of investigation of the torture, which was carried out on the orders of top officials and in blatant violation of domestic and international law, would use up too much time and would likely expand into other areas of Bush administration criminality.

The Congressional Democrats agreed with Obama, announcing that they will await the results of a closed-door investigation being carried out by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which would not be known until “the end of the year” at the earliest, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Democrats hope that by stalling for time, the issue will simply go away.

Even if the Senate committee eventually completes its investigation, “it is actually unclear how much of the panel’s findings will ever be made public,” the New York Times points out. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who chairs the committee, has indicated that much of the information will remain classified.

On Thursday Reid said he thought it “unwise” to have any sort of investigation “until we find out what the facts are. And I don’t know a better way of getting the facts than through the Intelligence Committee.”

This is deceit. The “facts” are plain enough: the Bush White House approved, organized, and oversaw in minute detail widespread and systematic torture. A serious investigation would likely turn up further evidence, some of it horrific, proving these facts.


Bendib on the Good Depression


http://www.bendib.com/newones/2009/march/small/3-15-Good-Depression.jpg

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dangers of the Ongoing Struggle Against the Occupation in Bil'in

Part of article below; whole article here:  http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=53756&s2=28
The Bil'in demonstration was always intended to be non-violent, although on Friday, as is often the case, there were half a dozen younger, angrier men lobbing stones at the soldiers with slingshots. The Israeli military, for its part, fires teargas, stun grenades, rubber-coated bullets and sometimes live ammunition at the crowd.

There have long been Palestinian advocates of non-violence, but they were drowned out by the militancy of the second intifada, the uprising that began in late 2000 and erupted into waves of appalling suicide bombings.

Eyad Burnat, 36, has spent long hours in discussions with the young men of Bil'in, a small village of fewer than 2,000, convincing them of the merits of "civil grassroots resistance".

"Of course it gets more difficult when someone is killed," said Burnat, who heads the demonstration. "But we've faced these problems in the past. We've had more than 60 people arrested and still they go back to non-violence. We've made a strategic decision."

Some, like the moderate Palestinian MP Mustafa Barghouti, hope this might be the start of a broader movement throughout Palestinian society. "It is a spark that is spreading," he said in Bil'in. "It gives an alternative to the useless negotiations and to those who say only violence can help."

But it is not so much that all the young men of the village are converted to the peaceful cause, rather that they respect and follow their elders. "I personally don't believe in non-violent resistance," said Nayef al-Khatib, 21, an accountancy student. "They've taken our land by force so we should take it back from them by force."

The barrier at Bil'in cuts off the village from more than half its agricultural land and has allowed the continuing expansion of Jewish settlements, including the vast, ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modiin Illit, even though all settlements on occupied land are illegal under international law.

The international court of justice said in a 2004 advisory opinion that the barrier was illegal where it crossed into the West Bank, and even Israel's supreme court ruled nearly two years ago that the route at Bil'in did not conform to any "security-military reasons" and must be changed. But it has not been moved.

Like most of the men in the village, Nayef al-Khatib has spent time in jail. He was arrested aged 17 for demonstrating and spent a year behind bars, taking his final year of high school from his prison cell. That jail term means he cannot now obtain a permit to travel to Jerusalem or across to Jordan and is often held for hours at Israeli military checkpoints inside the West Bank. "But it was an honour for me. Now I'm like the older men," he said.

Some of those older men are influential. Ahmad al-Khatib, 32, was once a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a prominent militant group, and was jailed for a year for transporting weapons. Now he is committed to non-violence, even objecting to the stone throwers.

"I don't apologise for what I did, but I'm not going back to it," he said. "We are an occupied nation according to international law and we have the right to resist, though that doesn't mean I support suicide bombers. But I don't want to resist all my life."

He argues that a non-violent strategy brings fewer Palestinian casualties. "I have no problem dying to get back my land, but I'd say to hell with my land if it just brought back our martyr who died last week. The life of a human being is more important than the land itself."

Often the most sensitive issue for the villagers has not been whether to take up arms, but whether to accept in their midst so many foreigners, and in particular so many Israeli demonstrators. Ahmad al-Khatib said it was the "most disputed question" and that many feared the Israelis were spying on them until they saw they, too, were being injured and arrested.

One of the first Israelis to join the Bil'in protest in its earliest days was Jonathan Pollack, 27, an activist and member of Anarchists Against the Wall who lives in Jaffa, just south of Tel Aviv. Although they warmly welcome him now, it was tense at first. "I'm still not one of their own and I don't pretend to be," he said.

Unlike most other joint peace initiatives, in this case the Israelis are in the minority and in the background. "I think it is very important that the struggle is Palestinian-led and that the colonial power relations are knowingly reversed," said Pollack.

Number of 12 year olds Arrested and Imprisoned by Israeli Forces on Sharp Incline This Year

Link to original (via Uruknet.info):

http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5147

Nablus / Amin Abu Wardeh - The Global Movement for the Defense of Children’s Palestine Branch reports that Israeli imprisonment of Palestinian children is up.

Over the past two months Israeli forces have increased campaigns against children. At the end of February 2009 the number of Palestinian children detained in Israeli prisons was up to 423. This is the highest number since the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada in 2000.

It is not just that the number is increasing, reports Defense of Children, the age is getting younger.
During the first two months of the year 2009 the arrest of 10 children aged 12 and 13 is documented. Throughout 2008 three Palestinians aged 12 and 13 were arrested. Defense of Children says there is a “dangerous escalation in Israeli policy of targeting younger Palestinian children.”

Since the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada, the occupying Israeli authorities arrested approximately 6,700 Palestinian children. Currently there are 423 still in Israeli prisons. Their ages range from 12 through 17. Among the kids are six girls and six being held under Administrative Detention, meaning without charge or trial.

Detained children are subjected to torture, humiliation and cruel treatment during arrest and interrogation, states Defense of Children. These patterns are being employed to destroy the morale of child Palestinian prisoners and to extract quick confessions to use for convictions in military courts which do not abide guarantees of fair trials.

The international organization continues to back-up prisoner rights reports by stating that children are deprived the right to receive appropriate medical treatment, are subjected to extortion when seeking treatment and also deprived family visits. Palestinian children in Israeli prisons are also deprived of the right to education while their mental health is comprised in both the short and long terms. The same is true of physical health which remains compromised due to solitary confinement, beatings and the confiscation of funds for the prison store where the children might be able to purchase supplemental food.

The Palestine Branch of Defense of Children added that the policy of arbitrary arrest of Palestinian children must be stopped while at the same time called on the international community to pressure the occupying state’s commitment to standards set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture.

The occupying power must be compelled to put an end to Administrative Detention and release the children being held, said Defense of Children. The global organization also called for an immediate end to violations of human rights principles and full investigation into torture and mistreatment of the youngest Palestinian political prisoners.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Nonviolence? Israel Prefers the Hamas" -- Noam Sheizaf

Link (via Friday Lunch Club and Mondoweiss) to original: http://www.promisedlandblog.com/?p=892

Ibrahim abu-Rakhma, a 31-year-old Palestinian, was killed during Friday’s weekly anti-separation fence demonstration in Bil’in. Abu-Rakhma was shot in the chest with a tear-gas grenade, launched from a distance of some 30 meters from him by IDF soldiers. The soldiers were under no threat at any stage of the demonstration, as this video of the incident clearly shows. [see video in post below this one]

The death of Abu-Rakhma, a civilian from Bil’in who protested the taking of his own village’s land, is not only sad and unjustified, but also carries a bad lesson for both Palestinian and Israelis.

Many Israelis (and most of their supporters around the world) justify Israel’s policies, and even the occupation itself, with the nature of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. In the Jewish religious circles and the radical right you can still hear people claiming we should stay in the West Bank simply because “this land is ours”, but most people prefer to talk about Palestinian terrorism, and the threat it poses to Israelis. Some go on to attributing an inherent tendency to violence to all Palestinians, talking about their “murderous nature” and “a culture of death”, which just forces us to stay in the West Bank.

What we tend to forget is that the current violence is a relatively new phenomena. Since 1967 and for the first 20 years of occupation, the West Bank was fairly quiet. I remember, as a kid, how we traveled there during weekends, went shopping and sightseeing. Yes, the PLO carried on the armed fight, but this was done mostly from other countries – Jordan, later on Lebanon, and finally Tunisia.

But guess what – this nonviolent struggle never made Israel even think about abandoning the land it conquered or hand the Palestinians any civil and political rights. In fact, these were the years in which the colonization of land became an official government policy. Israel agreed to a Palestinian autonomy as part of the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, but never really considered keeping its promise.

Then came the first Intifada. By today’s standards it was a nonviolent struggle - mainly stones throwing, huge strikes and popular demonstrations. It wasn’t pleasant – soldiers were hurt, and there was an increase in terrorism as well, but it was nothing like the “culture of death” everyone’s talking about now. Suicide bombing started only during the 90’s, both as a response to the suicide attack by Dr. Baruch Goldstein in Hebron, and as an opposition to the peace process from the Hamas, which was a relatively weak fraction back than. The real popular armed struggle, as we know it today, only began in October 2000. When I served in the West Bank, as late as the summer of 2000, we were still driving open vehicles and walking in villages without bullet-proof vests.

Bil’in was an effort to go back to the unarmed model, even though by now, after more than 40 years of occupation, most Palestinians think it led them nowhere. And it was for a good cause: the protesters didn’t seek the destruction of Israel. They weren’t Hamas people. They didn’t even oppose the separation wall. They just didn’t want it to pass on their land, in their village. Israel could have just the same build the wall on the international border (the Green Line), and no one would have said anything. But we wanted to get some more land.

My bottom line is this: in Bil’in, like in the first three decades of the occupation, Israel proved that it didn’t really care what kind of a fight the Palestinians are putting up, or what they ask for. This has nothing to do with “abandoning terrorism”, like Netanyahu – and all Israeli PMs before him, except for one – keep on saying. For all we care the Palestinians can convert to Buddhism or join the Likud. We just don’t want to go back to the ‘67 borders. That’s why, when they throw stones or wave flags, as they do in the video above, we open fire.

That’s the bad lesson I was referring to: that there is no going back. That escalation is inevitable, and even wanted - if you are a Palestinian. That even if you decide to abandon terrorism and protest in a nonviolent way, you would achieve nothing, and you might still get shot in the head. So why not be a radical?



In the Aftermath of the Death of Bassem Aburahma at Bil'in

Read complete article here: http://palestinethinktank.com/2009/04/24/iyad-bornat-for-freedom-and-justice-and-bassem-history-will-not-forgive-those-who-are-partners-in-crime/
Introduction and translation of the speech by Mazin Qumsiyeh - In this videotape, Bassem Aburahma (nick named ElFeel, the elephant, for he was always thought of as a giant among his peers) is seen pleading with Israeli soldiers to wait (saying Raiga in Hebrew) as Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals protested the land confiscation and building of the apartheid fence on village land. The soldiers then shoot Bassem point blank with a high velocity gas grenade which kills him within five minutes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlbzuZ_50mU

and here is a video of the funeral the next day

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F91H8sR64Ro
Please share these videos with media, politicians and others to see what is being done daily under occupation. The speech by Iyad Bornat of the Friends of Freedom and justice given at Bil’in International Conference which had 200 International and local attendees was given 23 April 2009 and is inspiring (translation below). Iyad himself was injured several time and lost relatives.

In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate Ladies and gentlemen; honorable attendees

Greetings to each and every one of you. Greeting from a heart that is bathed with the perfume of a valley that is surrounded by an apartheid wall and dotted with mines. The valley that is watered with the blood of the martyr hero Bassem Aburahma who was butchered by the occupation army without mercy in a cowardly attempt to silence his voice. The voice that always called for freedom and for resistance to injustice. Greetings to the martyr Bassem who fell on this thirsty and torn land to water it with his blood and to feed it with his pure soul.

Honored guests

Our conference comes amid an escalation of Israeli actions against our people and our land. As the racist apartheid wall continues to be built as continued colonial land confiscation and as thousands of houses are being built in colonial settlements especially in occupied Jerusalem which is being Judaicized and cut off from its Palestinian surrounding. [This is done] in contravention of all International laws and resolutions with the aim of creating facts on the ground that prevent any possibility of a future just and peaceful solution. [Our conference] comes at a time that the policy of cantonization of Palestinian land continues through checkpoints that now exceed 590 and through hundreds of orders of closure and military confiscations and home demolitions. This in addition to the brutal siege imposed on the Palestinian areas especially on the Gaza Strip.

Accompanying all these inhuman practices are massacres and assassinations carried out without discrimination between a child, a women or an elderly. Hence just recently, the occupation authorities assassinated our friend and life companion Bassem Aburahma on the land of this steadfast village and in their attempt to break our will and our determination to continue our struggle. Add to that the daily kidnappings/arrests in all districts.

Faced with this painful reality, the Palestinian people could do nothing less than continue to express its rejection of all these occupation practices by confronting the occupation with bare chests and with the faith in our right to life and liberty like all other people side by side with all free people of various nations regionally and internationally who seek peace, safety and dignity.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Meanwhile Back in Iraq... Dahr Jamail

Portion below; full article here: http://www.truthout.org/042409A
Neither the US military nor the Iraqi military has proven itself capable of finding al-Qaeda, nor of ceasing the attacks. In fact, Agence France-Presse reported on April 22 that the US military is, in fact, continuing to lead 'Iraqi-led' operations. The report reads:

"The [US and Iraqi] troops assembled by torchlight at Camp Falcon for a mission to the farming village of Owessat, which American and Iraq forces believe is being used as a staging ground for bombings in and around the capital. As with nearly every operation in Iraq these days, the Americans insisted that the Iraqis were in charge, leading the fight against Al-Qaeda and other armed groups with US forces cast in a supporting role. But the scene at Camp Falcon told a different story: six years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, the Americans not only vastly outnumbered the Iraqis, but they were giving orders and providing vital logistical support. Under a security pact signed in November, Iraqi forces are to assume full responsibility for security as US forces withdraw from cities and towns by June 30 and from the country as a whole by the end of 2011. Iraqi and US leaders and commanders have repeatedly said that Iraq's 560,000 police and 260,000 soldiers will be able to maintain security as the Americans pull back and have vowed to adhere to the timeline of the security plan. But on the Owessat operation this month, 600 US troops backed by helicopters were joined by a group of 40 Iraqi soldiers who, over the course of the 21-hour raid, repeatedly took their cues from the Americans."


Many Americans who voted for Barack Obama last November continue to believe he will do the right thing in Iraq. The reality is that, unless forced to do so from below, there will be none of the promised "change" in US foreign policy. Those on the receiving end of US policy in the Middle East, Iraq in particular, know this better than most Americans.

In April 2004, when I was in Fallujah during the first major US military assault on that city, I spoke with Maki al-Nazzal, who was managing a small, makeshift emergency clinic. We spoke while dozens of women and children, most shot by US military snipers, were carried into the clinic.

"For all my life, I believed in American democracy," he told me with an exhausted voice. "For 47 years, I had accepted the illusion of Europe and the United States being good for the world, the carriers of democracy and freedom. Now, I see that it took me 47 years to wake up to the horrible truth. They are not here to bring anything like democracy or freedom."

Maki, who is now a refugee in Amman, Jordan, continued, "Now I see it has all been lies. The Americans don't give a damn about democracy or human rights. They are worse than even Saddam."

I asked him if he minded if I quoted him with his name. "What are they going to do to me that they haven't already done here," he replied.
______________________________
_________________

** Dahr Jamail's MidEast Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail website http://dahrjamailiraq.com **


On Hearing That Bush Used Torture to Justify Iraq Invasion...

Torture in "Good Faith'" -- Christopher Dowd
Portion below; whole thing (via Antiwar.com) here: http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-3665-Boston-Libertarian-Examiner%7Ey2009m4d22-Torture-in-good-faith

But the truth is that torture tactics have never been used by governments to get truth. Torture is never conducted in good faith. Torture is used by corrupt governments and brutal leaders to justify the unjustifiable. It has always been so. Governments use torture not to extract truth but to generate lies they then use to justify their own power or a particular policy or plan they wish to undertake. Torture is used by governments to terrorize. In fact- governments find it preferable to torture innocent people as that only adds to the torture's effectiveness as a terror tactic.

Torture is used by governments to get people to admit to things they didn’t do. That is why torture is used. Stalin used torture for this reason. Hitler used torture for this reason. The North Vietnamese used torture for this reason. Saddam Hussein used torture for this reason. The inquisition used torture for this reason. Every government on Earth that has ever used torture as a matter of systematic policy has done so in bad faith- has done so precisely for the express reason to get people to admit to things they didn’t do so a particular evil or nefarious course of action by the government could then be justified.

But not the US. Nope. We are the only country on Earth to ever use torture in a "good way". We have the most moralist and goodest torturers on the planet! Isn’t that obvious? Men who hang other men from ceilings by their shackled arms and leave them so for a week dressed in diapers are men whose “good faith” we should automatically believe in according to people like Jeff Jacoby.

So now we have information that maybe the torture wasn’t conducted to “keep us safe” as is automatically and universally assumed in virtually all mainstream Beltway “debate” on this issue.

Could it be that the United States government has used torture, gasp, like other governments have used torture? To justify lies? Ooops. Now I’ve done it! Not believing in the inherent goodness of the US government or that its motives and actions are always pure and “well intentioned” is to be “Anti American”.

Stalin’s NKVD “techniqued” hundreds of thousands of people into admitting that they belonged to vast “Anti Soviet” plots and organizations, almost all of which were entirely fictional. He did so to justify his purges and to consolidate his power. No serious person in the West thought Stalin’s purges were being conducted because of the “threat” of counterrevolution.

Did the US government torture people to justify certain policies? To create sustainable myths and broad narratives like the existence of “Al Qaeda” itself? As part of a campaign designed to justify a police state at home and wars of blatant aggression abroad?

Oh no! We can’t even ask that! What we would assume to be the case if done by any other country that used torture is beyond the pale to even suggest about the US Federal Government. Those questions can’t be allowed to appear at all! That is to “hate America” to dare question the intentions and motives of the US government. No, instead, let’s assume, like Jeff Jacoby, that our government is staffed by saintly warrior poet paladins who used torture, only after wrestling with their super heightened sense of morality, to “defend” the good people of America from the heinous barbarism of radical Islam- just like our favorite TV characters would do.

Yeah- and the Inquisition was about getting them “witches”.

AIPAC, NSA Spying and the Corruption of Congress -- Tom Burghardt

It's getting really hard to avoid the stench!
Portion below; whole thing here: http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=53642&s2=24
Harman however, isn't the only Democrat accused by critics of currying favor with corporate grifters. As I reported last June, top Democratic Party representatives raked-in hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the telecom industry in return for their support of the odious FISA Amendments Act passed last July by Congress.

In addition to handing the telecommunications industry retroactive immunity and thus, protection from prosecution for aiding and abetting NSA's warrantless wiretapping programs, the law greatly expanding the agency's driftnet spying.

The whistleblowing website MAPLight revealed that the 94 Democrats who changed their positions on telecom immunity "received on average $8,359 in contributions from Verizon, AT&T and Sprint from January, 2005, to March, 2008. As I wrote at the time:
Despite congressional bromides about "national security" and "keeping America safe," what it all comes down too is cold, hard cash. Considering that legislation passed last week by the House will effectively quash some 40 lawsuits pending against telecom giants--with potential savings for these corporate grifters running into the billions--it doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude its a rigged game. ("'Fighting Democrats' Rake-in Big Telecom Bucks," Antifascist Calling, June 25, 2008)
Among the largest recipients of telecom largesse were James Clyburn, (SC-6), $29,500; Steny Hoyer (MD-5), $29,000; Rahm Emanuel (IL-5), $28,000; Nancy Pelosi (CA-8), $24,500. Harman clocked-in with some $7,000 from the industry.

On Sunday Emanuel, now White House chief of staff told ABC News that "those who devised policy" ... "should not be prosecuted," handing senior Bush administration officials a get-out-of-jail free card for their role in ordering American torture policies.

Harman was quick to denounce the CQ report. According to Stein, the California Democrat said in a prepared statement: "These claims are an outrageous and recycled canard, and have no basis in fact. I never engaged in any such activity. Those who are peddling these false accusations should be ashamed of themselves."

CQ's sources however, told the Washington insider publication that "Justice Department attorneys in the intelligence and public corruption units who read the transcripts decided that Harman had committed a 'completed crime,' a legal term meaning that there was evidence that she had attempted to complete it, three former officials said."

When Porter J. Goss, the former CIA Director and no slouch when it came to corruption in his own agency (paging Dusty Foggo!), signed off on DoJ's FISA warrant after a review of the transcript, he notified then House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi "of the FBI's impending national security investigation of a member of Congress--to wit, Harman."

"But that's when," CQ reports, "Attorney General Gonzales intervened."

Top officials interviewed by Stein said Gonzales "needed Jane" to carry water for the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. Gonzales picked the right person for the job. "And thanks to grateful Bush administration officials, the investigation of Harman was effectively dead," Stein reports.

Despite evidence that Harman was enmeshed in a "pay for play" scheme to secure the top post at the Intelligence Committee, a highly-politicized--and criminal--Justice Department did nothing.

One official involved in the AIPAC investigation told CQ: "It's the deepest kind of corruption. It's a story about the corruption of government--not legal corruption necessarily, but ethical corruption."

While top Democrats such as Harman, Pelosi and Hoyer assert that the Obama regime should be looking "forward" and not "backwards," and do everything in their power to sabotage criminal investigations of lawbreaking by officials in the former administration, and actively engage in an on-going cover-up of everything from warrantless wiretapping and torture, to the waging of preemptive wars of aggression and conquest, why is Harman now screaming for an investigation of the leaking of private conversations obtained by a legal warrant?

This is nothing but the boldest, most shamefaced hypocrisy writ large. Some liberal commentators have suggested that breaking the Harman story is an attempt by elements within the national security establishment to "change the story" following last week's release of previously classified Office of Legal Counsel memos. Those documents revealed the Bush regime's monstrous authorization of--and justification--for torture; Stein however, denies this. As the World Socialist Web Site reports,
The reality, however, is that the revelations demonstrate the intimate and indispensable collaboration and complicity of the Democrats in all of the criminal actions of the Bush administration, from launching a war of aggression based upon lies against Iraq, to the systematic use of torture, to the unconstitutional and illegal spying on American citizens.

Harman personally played a prominent role in all of these crimes. She promoted the lies about "weapons of mass destruction" and supposed ties between Baghdad and Al Qaeda before the war. She, along with Pelosi, was among the four members of Congress to be fully briefed on the CIA's torture--including waterboarding--of detainees in "black sites" scattered around the world. Neither she nor anyone else made the slightest protest over these criminal actions, while they kept them secret from the American people. (Bill Van Auken, "Democratic defender of NSA spying was wiretapped in Israeli spy probe," World Socialist Web Site, April 22, 2009)
What's that old adage about the justice of roosting chickens...

INCREDIBLE GRILLING OF UK DIPLOMAT! -- from Palestine Think Tank

Israeli Holocaust Museum Fires Employee Who Mentioned Palestinians' Nakba

Thanks to Itamar Shapira for telling the truth!
Found on Lorca, News from Occupied Palestine
Link to original: http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=37318
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – The Israeli museum Yad Vashem has fired an employee who compared the trauma of Jewish Holocaust survivors to that of Palestinians who were expelled in 1948 from their land in what is now Israel, the newspaper Haaretz reported on Thursday.

Jerusalem resident Itamar Shapira, 29, was relieved of his position as a teacher after a group of Jewish students from the settlement of Efrat made a complaint to the museum.

Shapira told Haaretz that he had spoken to visitors about the 1948 massacre by Jewish militias of Palestinians at in the village Deir Yassin, which is near the present-day site of Yad Vashem. The ruins of the village can be seen as one leaves the museum.

"Yad Vashem talks about the Holocaust survivors' arrival in Israel and about creating a refuge here for the world's Jews. I said there were people who lived on this land and mentioned that there are other traumas that provide other nations with motivation," Shapira said, according to Haaretz.

"The Holocaust moved us to establish a Jewish state and the Palestinian nation's trauma is moving it to seek self-determination, identity, land and dignity, just as Zionism sought these things," he said.

Yad Vashem’s official position, according to the report, is that “the Holocaust cannot be compared to any other event and that every visitor can draw his own political conclusions.”

Shapira said Yad Vashem “is being hypocritical. I only tried to expose the visitors to the facts, not to political conclusions. If Yad Vashem chooses to ignore the facts, for example the massacre at Dir Yassin, or the Nakba ["The Catastrophe," the Palestinians' term the events of 1948], it means that it's afraid of something and that its historic approach is flawed," Shapira said, according to Haaretz.

Gaza Father: IDF lying in investigation -- Ali Waked

Dr. Mahmoud Iyad, whose two sons were killed by IDF fire during the daily humanitarian ceasefire during Operation Cast Lead, is furious with the army's vindication of its conduct - 'Are my sons the little mistakes the deputy chief of staff is talking about?'


Link to original: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3705363,00.html
Dr. Mahmoud Iyad, who lost two sons during the IDF operation in Gaza, responded to a report on the army's conduct during the incursion, released Wednesday.

"The deputy IDF chief of staff is lying, with a right that belongs only to those who have power but not justice on their side," Iyad said. "It is the same power that gives the IDF the privilege not to take moral responsibility for the crime it committed."

The report found that no fire had been intentionally aimed at civilians, but that certain "operational errors" had occurred, the direst of which killed 21 members of the al-Daya family.
Dr. Iyad told Ynet that on Friday, January 16, his two sons had called him to say that they were planning on taking advantage of the 4-hour humanitarian pause, employed on certain days during the operation, in order to pick him up from his farm on the outskirts of Khan Younis.

"My children, one of whom was a 27-year old engineer and the other a 21-year old freshman student risked their lives," he said. "It was afternoon, there was no fog or anything to inhibit the soldiers' view. There were no incidents, no fire."

He said they had left the farm in the direction of Khan Younis in a car, when suddenly they heard yelling and the soldiers began to fire upon them. "The soldiers were in a house that was empty and suddenly we heard yelling and fire and a soldier yelling, "Get down, son of a whore."

According to Dr. Iyad, the fire killed his eldest son instantaneously. "My young son bled from 12:30 that day and until Saturday in the early morning, when he was defeated and died. He yelled to me 'Father I'm thirsty, Father I'm thirsty,' and there was nothing I could do. I yelled to the soldiers, but there was nothing I could do. I was wounded too. If this the mistake the Israeli deputy chief is talking about? My children are gone. Maybe for him we were 'a little mistake here and there' but my children's life is over. They were my treasure, and in one moment they were taken."

Iyad described how he and his family listened to the radio to hear when the ceasefire would go into effect. "We were glued to the Israeli station to hear when the daily 'hudna' began. We didn't take the chance with any other place. I told my children to come in the middle of the hudna, so they couldn't say it was at the beginning or the end, so nothing would go wrong. But, it did not good and I stayed with the two bodies in the car for nearly 24 hours."


He dismissed the IDF's conclusions from its investigation. "There was no one there, all the people had evacuated. There was nothing to prevent them from identifying us, and yet they still fired, knowing they were firing at civilians. But unlike the deputy chief of staff, I don't have a press conference and I don't have microphones.

"They were killed through this lie called the Israeli purity of arms, but no one can tell the IDF that it's lying. They shoot, they kill, and they lie."

The IDF Spokesperson's Office said in response: "The IDF does not intend to issue any further responses beyond the inquiries already released. This is an individual case."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Norway Lawyers to Charge Olmert with War Crimes

Attorneys seek to charge top officials, accuse Israel of 'massive terror attacks' in Gaza
Agence France Press
Link to original: http://www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/ArticleLayout/CdaArticlePrintPreview/1,2506,L-3704667,00.html

Israel's former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other top officials could face legal action in Norway over the Gaza offensive after six Norwegian lawyers said Tuesday they would accuse them of war crimes.

The lawyers, who plan to file their complaint with Norway's chief prosecutor on Wednesday, said they will call for the arrest and extradition of Olmert as well as former Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and seven senior Israeli army officers.

The lawyers, who plan to file their complaint with Norway's chief prosecutor on Wednesday, said they will call for the arrest and extradition of Olmert as well as former Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and seven senior Israeli army officers.

Legalities

ICC prosecutor mulls 'Gaza war crimes' probe / AFP

Luis Moreno-Ocampo tells Argentinean newspaper he is considering launching investigation into Israel's alleged use of white phosphorus shells in densely-populated areas during recent offensive
Full story

Under the Norwegian penal code, courts may hear cases involving war crimes and other major violations of human rights.

The lawyers released a statement accusing Israel of "massive terrorist attacks" in the Gaza Strip from December 27 last year to January 25, killing civilians, illegally using weapons against civilian targets and deliberately attacking hospitals and medical staff.

"There can be no doubt that these subjects knew about, ordered or approved the actions in Gaza and that they had considered the consequences of these actions," the lawyers' statement said.

It also said the lawyers were representing a number of people living in Norway.

"It involves three people of Palestinian origin living in Norway and 20 families who lost loved ones or property during the attack," one of the lawyers, Kjell Brygfjeld, told AFP.

When questioned on the chances of the case reaching court, fellow lawyer Harald Stabell said: "If we do nothing, it is more likely that a similar attack will happen again in the future."


"In our eyes, the political aspect is less important than the preventive aspect," he added when asked if the move could hinder Norwegian diplomacy in the region.

Israel's embassy in Oslo said they were unaware of the lawyers' attempt to bring the war crimes charges and couldn't immediately comment.

Anyone Got Any Pull with Leonard Cohen?

Link to original (via Palestine News): http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10480.shtml
Dear Leonard Cohen:

Your songs have been part of the soundtrack of our lives -- like breathing, some of them. But we can't make sense of why you've decided to perform in Israel in September this year.

If we understand anything about Buddhism -- your practice of which is public knowledge -- it's that Buddhism advocates "right action." We accept that this precept, like the injunction to "love thy neighbor as thyself," is probably honored more in the breach than the observance. But we can't believe you didn't weigh up performing in Israel in the light of "right action." And apparently you've decided that it's right to take your unavoidably starry and very newsworthy presence there.

But what does this say to the Palestinians? If you had just emerged from three weeks of unfettered bombing from land, sea and air, with no place to hide and no place to run, your hospitals overwhelmed, sewage running in the streets and white phosphorous burning up your children, what would the news that the great Canadian musician Leonard Cohen had decided to play for your tormentors say to you?

You will perform for a public that by a very large majority had no qualms about its military forces' onslaught on Gaza (in fact wanted it to continue). You will perform in a state whose propaganda services will extract every ounce of mileage from your presence (they will use it to whitewash their war crimes). As someone who lives in the US, you are saying "yah boo sucks" to the American academics, musicians, filmmakers and others (including poet Adrienne Rich), who earlier this year launched the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel. And you are telling the Palestinians -- who had nothing whatsoever to do with the Holocaust in Europe but have endured the torments of exile and military occupation ever since they were driven out of their country in 1948 -- that their suffering doesn't matter.

Have you come across an Israeli woman called Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan? She lost her 13-year-old daughter to a Palestinian suicide bomber in 1997, but Dr. Peled -- showing the compassionate greatness of which human beings are sometimes capable -- didn't retreat into rage, revenge or depression. Instead she co-founded an Israeli-Palestinian network called "Bereaved Parents for Peace." When the 10-year-old daughter of a Palestinian colleague was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier, Peled said: "I sit with her mother Salwa and try to say, 'We are all victims of occupation.' But my daughter's murderer had the decency to kill himself. The soldier who killed Abir is probably drinking beer, playing backgammon with his mates and going to discotheques."

Or going to a Leonard Cohen concert in Ramat Gan. Is this really what you want to be part of?

Yours sincerely,

Professor Haim Bresheeth
Mike Cushman
Professor Hilary Rose
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead

Gilad Atzmon - "I am in love with Clare"

Link to original: http://palestinethinktank.com/2009/04/22/gilad-atzmon-i-am-in-love-with-clare/#comment-8068

Heroic ex Cabinet Minister Clare Short was criticised today over the Parliament’s invitation of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to address MPs and Peers via a video-link up. Needless to say, Short’s initiative is the right thing at the very right time.

However, Israel’s response must be noted. It is either pathetic or amusing. I let the reader decide.

Israel’s ambassador accused those behind the event of delivering a “slap in the face” to moderate Palestinians “seeking a peaceful solution”. One may note that “slap in the face” is the most the Palestinians can wish for as far as Israelis are concerned. Noticeably, Israel used the most devastating tactics to punish the Palestinians including starvation, WMDs, White Phosphorous and other methods. A “slap in the face”, is no doubt, a move in the right direction.

Israel also accused former Labour Cabinet Minister Ms Short of “undermining the Middle East peace process.” This is not a joke. The Israelis who just a month ago performed a merciless genocidal campaign in Gaza, dare criticise an attempt for an open dialogue as an assault on the “peace process.”

Ambassador Ron Prosor said: “Hamas's charter states categorically that: 'There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad'.”

I wonder, what is Prosor’s interpretation of the “Israeli solution” because as far as we can see, it is no less than an Old Testament murderous plundering of the Palestinians and their land. It would be interesting to hear what Ambassador Prosor’s interpretation of Jihad is. Because as far as scholarship is concerned (as opposed to Bush’s take on the subject) Jihad is realised as “striving to live a moral and virtuous life, spreading and defending Islam as well as fighting injustice and oppression.” Jihad is indeed a beautiful and peaceful concept, unlike the current barbarian manifestation of Jewish nationalism.

“Clare Short and Lord Alderdice,” said Prosor, “offer no attempt to persuade Hamas to change its policies of missiles and murder. Instead, they attempt to sanitise, legitimise and reward an organisation and ideology that remains committed to violence, bloodshed and the destruction of a sovereign state.”

In psychoanalysis a statement such as this is interpreted as banal projection. Ambassador Prosor is basically projecting on the Hamas everything Israel and Zionism is practically engaged with i.e., violence, bloodshed and the destruction.

“The British parliament is an icon of the democratic values to which Hamas is violently opposed,” said the amusing Ambassador. Someone should remind the Israeli diplomat that the Hamas was actually democratically elected.

Ambassador Prosor learned from Herzl that arse licking is always a good way to promote Zionist interests. “It is ironic that the mother of all parliaments should play host to a leader who seeks to subjugate his people with a theocratic nightmare based on the oppression, torture and execution of religious and political opponents.”

Once and for all, someone should remind those pathetic Israelis that they are actually the ones who went back to their alleged “biblical promised land” and formed a racist Jewish only state. Not only they are theocratic, they are actually a Fascist theocracy, which is actually a unique concept.

“It seems that for Clare Short and her friends, the murder of Israeli civilians and a willingness to march to Ahmadinejad's tune are the hallmarks of Palestinian ‘resistance’ authenticity.”

I must admit that very much like Clare Short, I interpret Palestinian resistance as a humanist call. As if this is not enough, being a musician with a considerable reputation, I do develop more and more sympathy to Ahmadinejad’s different tunes. Especially his latest speech in Geneva is like music to my ears.

However, after the embarrassing and stupid sheepish behaviour exhibited by British diplomats in Geneva just two days ago, a voice of reason was heard in the Parliament. A spokeswoman for the Commons authorities said the meeting would go ahead as “freedom of speech” issues were involved. Seemingly, Zionist terror didn’t manage to dismantle completely most fundamental Western assets.

Nobel Laureate Accuses Israel of 'Ethnic Cleansing'

Thanks, Elliot!

Link to original: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/04/22-1

[Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire speaks during a press conference in the Silwan neighborhood of east Jerusalem. Maguire on Tuesday accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing" policies in annexed east Jerusalem, where the municipality plans to tear down almost 90 Arab homes. (AFP)]

Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire speaks during a press conference in the Silwan neighborhood of east Jerusalem. Maguire on Tuesday accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing" policies in annexed east Jerusalem, where the municipality plans to tear down almost 90 Arab homes. (AFP)


Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire on Tuesday accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing" policies in annexed east Jerusalem, where the municipality plans to tear down almost 90 Arab homes.

"I believe the Israeli government is carrying out a policy of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians here in east Jerusalem," said Maguire, who won the 1976 Nobel prize for her efforts at reaching a peaceful solution to the violence in Northern Ireland.

"I believe the Israeli government policies are against international law, against human rights, against the dignity of the Palestinian people," she said at a news conference.

It was held in a protest tent erected by residents of east Jerusalem's Silwan neighbourhood where 88 Arab homes are under demolition orders.

The Israeli authorities say the houses were built or extended without the necessary construction permits. Palestinians say the planned demolitions aim at forcing them out of east Jerusalem.

If the demolition orders are carried out 1,500 people would be left homeless in one of the largest forced evictions since Israel occupied mostly Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 war and later annexed it.

Israel considers Jerusalem to be its eternal and undivided capital, while Palestinians want to make east Jerusalem the capital of their future state.

The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem says that since 2004 the Israeli authorities have torn down more than 400 homes in east Jerusalem.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Just Look

by Mattia Massolini

from Palestine Think Tank

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Death of Bassem -- A Shooting at the Wall in Bil'n

Link to original:  http://www.counterpunch.org/barat04212009.html

On April the 17th, like any Friday afternoon for the last four years, the small village of Bil'in, north of Ramallah, was preparing for the usual demonstration against Israel's annexation wall (some people call it apartheid wall or separation wall. The Israeli government refers to it as the security fence).

The village of Bil'in has, since the mid-eighties, lost more than 60 per cent of its land for the purpose of new Israeli settlements and the construction of the wall. The inhabitants of the village used to live mainly from agriculture and olive trees plantations but more and more the community of Bil'in has been foreced to rely on the work of its women to survive. Embroidery has become one of the main resources of the place, located a few kilometres away from Tel Aviv. (On a nice day, you can see the “inaccessible”-for the Palestinians- beach from the rooftops of Bil'in).

In January 2005, a village committee (led by Mohamed Khatib, Iyad Burnat and Abdullah Abu Rahme) was created and a month later non-violent demonstrations started, first taking part every day, then once a week, on Yum Al Juma'a (Friday, the day of prayer).

The village won a huge battle in August 2008 (1) when the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that the new route of the barrier wall in Bil’in was in violation of the Court ruling released on September 2007 (2) (which held that the Wall path was prejudicial to Bil’in and must be altered) and ordered the State to present within 45 days a new route, which would adhere to the principles of the ruling.

On Friday the 17th of April 2009, the Wall still had not moved one inch and while the inhabitants of the village were praying at the village mosque, many internationals (coming from all around the world), a strong Israeli contingent (including people from the Alternative Information Centre (3) and Anarchists Against the Wall (4) were looking for some shade from the baking sun and chatting about the day's events. As soon as prayer was over with, the demonstration started to move forward in direction of the Wall, a few kilometres away.

You can be sure that Bassem (aka Phil) was right at the front of the march. He always was. I had met Bassem a few times while visiting Bil'in. He was a strong looking man, singing the loudest, joking all the time, jumping around and leading the way, accompanied by the rest of the village committee and the Israeli contingent.

As typically happens, as soon as the marchers reached the corner where the Israeli soldiers can be seen, the tear gas started. A few brave ones, always continue anyway and reach the beginning of the Wall, after a few minutes. Bassem, as usual, was one of those. The Israelis present at the front of the demonstration started talking with the nearby soldiers in Hebrew. Bassem screamed, “We are in a non violent protest, there are kids and internationals...”. He was shot in the chest and never managed to finished his sentence. He fell on the ground, moved a little bit, fell again, and died. (http://www.bilin-village.org/english/articles/testimonies/Basem-Abu-Rahme-killed-in-Bilin-weekly-protest. Scroll down for stills and videos)

Bassem was shot by a new kind of Tear Gas shell, called “the rocket”. The soldier who shot him was a mere 40 meters away. This is the same type of tear gas cannister that critically injured US citizen Tristan Anderson a few weeks ago. Those tear gas rockets are as fast and lethal as live ammunition and very hard to get away from. Normally, tear gas canisters fly in the air for a long time, then fall and bounce a few times. But the new ones fly like a bullet and go straight, not in an arc.

Once more, Israel is using the West Bank as its testing ground, the Palestinians as guinea pigs.

The soldier who fired, knew what he was doing and who he was targeting. The shame is that he probably knew Bassem. Bassem was always at the front of the march, and had been for a few years now. The soldiers often come back more than once in Bil'in and start to get to know the demonstrators facing them. Bassem did not get a chance to say hi or bye.

On April 17th, the people of Bil'in and Palestine lost one of their heroes.

What is going to happen next?

Israel has claimed that it will investigate the killing (out of every single investigation into such crimes, only 6 per cent of the soldiers are ever prosecuted, often let off with a few weeks suspension), but before it did, the government started the usual propaganda, saying that the protest had been violent and that the soldiers had to react. (The video of the demonstration clearly shows otherwise). We might even hear in a few days that it was actually the Palestinians who fired the tear gas and killed their beloved friend.

The Palestinian Authority, instead of issuing a strong denunciation against this act of brutality and halting once-and-for-all the negotiations with the Israeli government and joining the demonstrators every Friday to be hand-in-hand with its people, said next to nothing, and is, instead, looking forward to the forthcoming White House meeting between Mahmoud Abbas and Obama, which is being planned as I write.

The media hardly reported on the killing. The Palestinians do not count. This is even more shocking when a video of the shooting is available to all and could have been used to great effect.

The international community refuses to mention this “incident” (it is for them) and continue issuing calls for the Palestinians to renounce violence and resist peacefully while saying nothing about Israel's killings (since the start of the second intifada, 87 percent of the dead have been Palestinians), violations of international law and oppression of the Palestinians.

It is therefore up to us, the citizens of this world, to act, join solidarity groups, write articles, make films and talk, constantly, about the plight of the Palestinian people. Palestine has to become the number one issue.

This is a must.

For Bassem, his family, Bil'in and Palestine.

Will Obama Be Chasing the Pirates of Israel?

Portion below; whole (via Information clearing house) thing here:  http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22466.htm

Wide publicity has been given to piracy in Somalian waters since Captain Phillips of the American crewed Maersk Alabama was captured. The arrival of a US missile cruiser and US destroyer added the tension and glamour required by the Hollywood confederation. The killing of three young Somalians and the release of the captain provided the blood and the triumph for the star spattered banner. Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and along the long shoreline of Somalia started in 1995 in response to rapacious fishingmostly by Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean vessels. (1) The dumping of toxic wasteby European nations stoked more resentment (2). Foreign fishing boats were the first targets but when these got protection from local warlords, the Somalian pirates turned to commercial and cruise shipping. With at least 20,000 vessels on passage they had plenty to choose from. Since the US navy Seals shot their men, over sixty more seamen have been taken hostage.

Why is it that little is heard of the piracy off the coast of the Zionist entity and the strip it dominates called Gaza? In contrast to the actions of young Muslim fishermen from an impoverished and broken Somalian nation, the entity carries out its piracy under the title of the Israeli Occupation Force, out of a country with the greatest wealth and with the pretence of a fully fledged legal system. As it turns out, its maritime law is the British Maritime Law of 1856, a hangover from the British Mandate.

Free Gaza advanced the sailing of its 66ft 50 tonne MV Dignity from 6 January 2009 to 29 December in response to the 'greater shoah (holocaust)' promised to the people of Gaza by the deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai in February 2008, this massacre having started with the killing of over two hundred people within the first fifteen minutes of the blitzkrieg on 27 December. The British master and the Greek mate had the boat readied as fourteen passengers joined in Larnaca. One was Cynthia McKinney. This erstwhile congress woman and very recent presidential candidate had come from the US at a day's notice. There were also two surgeons and a Palestinian physician. 3.5 tonnes of medical supplies were loaded; the majority had been given by the Cyprus government. Cypriot customs and excise officers had inspected the vessel and its cargo. The Dignity slipped its moorings in the dark at 07.00 hrs and the two Detroit 840 hp engines drove it hard and south towards Gaza.

At 04.55 hrs EMT on 30 December, searchlights appeared astern. There were two Israeli gunboats. They came abreast, circled and stayed with us. These boats can do over 45 knots, carry ten tonnes of fuel and have sophisticated weapon systems including Hellfire missiles (3) Tracer bullets were fired skywards, forming ellipses, and flares put up. At 05.30 hrs approximately, one gunboat was playing its searchlight on the port side of Dignity. Suddenly there was a tremendous crash at the bow, and then another almost simultaneously, and another on the port beam across from where the author had sat vomiting for eight hours. The bow dipped and it seemed the boat was breaking up. It was dark, the wind force was 4 to 5 and there was a 10ft sea. The master shouted 'we have been rammed'. It was feared the boat would sink. He broadcast a Mayday distress signal; there was no later response. Cynthia Mc Kinney and Caoimhe Butterly could not swim; the life vests were rapidly deployed to all. The hull was taking water but bilge pumps were working. The first words from a commander of one of the gun boats came over the radio. First there was the accusation that the ship's company was involved with terrorists and that it was subversive. Then there came the threat to shoot. The master was forbidden from making for Gaza or further south to El Arish in Egypt. He was ordered to return for Larnaca – about 160 miles, though the boat was badly damaged and the Israeli did not know whether there was sufficient fuel, which there was not. He set a northerly course and the boat stayed buoyant in a moderating sea. A crew member arranged with the Lebanese authorities for a safe harbour in Sour (Tyre) where jubilant crowds thronged the quays.

Was there lethal intent? A gun boat came out of the black of night with no lights showing whilst a searchlight from the other gun boat displayed the port hull of its target. It would have approached at about 30 degrees to the Dignity's port and at speed. The intention to sink the Dignity and thus to drown its company was clear (4). If the hull had been GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) it would have shattered and the boat would have sunk like a stone where it was rammed 53 nautical miles off Haifa. Fortunately, the hull was constructed of marine ply with timber ribs and the company survived. The Zionist entity greatly resents anyone coming to the aid of the native population, whatever its depth of suffering, and war lust was growing by the day.

A New Palestinian Patient Die Due to Siege -- The Palestine Telegraph

Very sorry to hear of this reporter's loss of his father due to Israel/Egypt's criminal siege.  Linda

A new Palestinian patient die due to siege
The Palestine Telegraph
http://www.paltelegraph.com
Gaza Strip, April 22, 2009, (Pal Telegraph) - Siege on the Gaza Strip is still chasing Palestinian to death. A Palestinian man mid of his fifties died an hour ago due to inability of getting the needed medication and treatment.

Nai'm El Ejla, 58, turned to be severely sick directly after the war on Gaza. Doctors in Gaza failed in diagnosing his case which was vague till the death.

He was stuck on the borders with Egypt many times. He tried to travel to Israel for treatment but failed too.
Ebrahim, 24, journalist from Gaza and son of Mr. Nai'm reported for the Palestine Telegraph of his father's death.

"We tried to give him treatment but we failed. He is Shaid (Martyr) of siege. Doctors in Gaza were not able to help him. We tried to send him to Egypt but we failed until his health conditions deteriorated.

Finally, we managed to get him a medical referral from Gaza hospitals but this didn't rescue him. Egyptian authorities didn't allow him even to get into the hospital. He died on the door of the hospital as doctors and Egyptian authorities denied to treat him. " Ebrahim said while crying.

The El ejla family is waiting the corps[e] of the victim to arrive into Gaza which is still in the Egyptian territories. The number of siege victims therefore increased to reach 323 people.

Lack of access to medical treatment threatens Palestinian lives daily. All hospitals and clinics in Gaza report severe shortages of medicines and equipment. Stocks of basic medications are 50% low.

Medicines to treat diabetes, heart disease, asthma and other chronic diseases are not available. Access to Oncologists or dialysis is non-existent. A poignant problem given high cancer rates resulting from the Israeli army use of depleted uranium coated munitions.
Sterilized supplies are short by 30%.

Diagnostic testing supplies are down by 40%, directly affecting patients health. Even children's incubators are affected by the shortages.

Hospital equipment desperately needs spare parts and maintenance. The siege prevents supplies from being replenished. Shipments are frequently blocked or delayed at border crossings.
Continued power cuts and blackouts have damaged hospital equipment and information systems.