Posts Tagged ‘Israel’
Our new best buddies
The United States made plans to send arms to Syrian rebels several weeks ago, Obama administration sources told The Washington Post.
This week’s announcement shipments of rifles and ammunition would be funneled to the beleaguered rebels was based on new evidence the Syrian regime had gassed civilians; however, the Post said Saturday President Obama had ordered officials to start planning the supply operation in late April.
The internal debate boiled down to State Department diplomats who feared Syria — and the entire Middle East — was descending into chaos, and military officers and Obama political aides who were concerned about the complexity of the resupply mission and the ramifications of the U.S. involvement in another regional conflict.
Officials told the Post the CIA and other agencies had used the time well. Covert bases were established in Jordan and Turkey to handle the weapons transfers, and contacts were made with rebel leaders inside Syria…
The Post said the planned peace talks in Geneva this month were derailed by Assad’s recent successes on the battlefield. Sources said the negotiations would likely not begin before fall.
In the meantime, the United States will be trying to work out a deal with Russia that will somehow lead the way to a negotiated settlement between Assad and the rebels. Sources told the Post the Obama administration preferred a deal that would preserve Syria’s infrastructure and institutions rather than an outright overthrow of the government, which would create more chaos on the ground.
And everyone involved – of course – is prepared to listen to the wisdom in the White House, State Department and Congress after all the success we’ve had in bringing peace to the region over the past 65 years, eh?
Picking the time to announce Obama’s satisfaction with military analysis from spy agencies in England, France and Foggy Bottom was easy enough. The simple need to try to get Americans talking about anything other than the forgotten piece of paper we call the Bill of Rights works just fine inside the Beltway.
Israeli military authorities have not issued travel documents to 21 men and one woman who had hoped to compete in this Sunday’s race in Bethlehem, despite an official request from the head of the Palestine Olympic Committee, Jabril Rajoub.
It means the athletes will have missed the chance to run in two marathons within weeks after the United Nations’s relief agency, UNWRA, last month cancelled its race in Gaza – scheduled for April 11 – in protest at a decision by the territory’s Hamas rulers banning women runners.
The controversy has opened the military to accusations of hypocrisy from critics who point out that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) posted a blog on its website criticising Hamas’ decision as a denial of human freedom…
Among the would-be Gaza runners are Sanaa Abu-Bahit, 29, a woman who has entered the 5km part of the race, and Nader Al-Masri, who represented Palestine in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
I wouldn’t expect anything less than hypocrisy, allegiance to Israel’s apartheid ideology.
Spirit and courage like this demonstrated by a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank are not new. Victims of victims is apt – excepting only the oldest Israeli politicians in the Knesset may fit the description of victims. The following generations are making their own decisions based on lousy ideology.
Our own politicians will not defeat them no matter how much aid they provide to Israel’s government.
Last week, the Palestinian foreign minister, Riad Malki, declared that if Israel persisted in its plans to build settlements in the currently vacant area known as E-1, which lies between Palestinian East Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, “we will be going to the I.C.C.,” referring to the International Criminal Court. “We have no choice,” he added…
Israeli leaders are unnerved for good reason. The I.C.C. could prosecute major international crimes committed on Palestinian soil anytime after the court’s founding on July 1, 2002.
Since the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000, the Israel Defense Forces, guided by its military lawyers, have attempted to remake the laws of war by consciously violating them and then creating new legal concepts to provide juridical cover for their misdeeds. For example, in 2002, an Israeli F-16 dropped a one-ton bomb on an apartment building in a densely populated Gaza neighborhood, killing a Hamas military leader, Salah Shehadeh, and 14 others, including his wife and seven children under the age of 15. In 2009, Israeli artillery killed more than 20 members of the Samouni family, who had sought shelter in a structure in the Zeitoun district of Gaza City at the bidding of Israeli soldiers. Last year, Israeli missiles killed two Palestinian cameramen working for Al Aksa television. Each of these acts, and many more, could lead to I.C.C. investigations.
The former head of the Israeli military’s international law division, Daniel Reisner, asserted in 2009: “International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal molds. Eight years later it is in the center of the bounds of legitimacy.”
Colonel Reisner is right that customary international law is formed by the actual practice of states that other states accept as lawful. But targeted assassinations are not widely accepted as legal. Nor are Israel’s other attempted legal innovations…
…It has treated civilian employees of Hamas — including police officers, judges, clerks, journalists and others — as combatants because they allegedly support a “terrorist infrastructure.” Never mind that contemporary international law deems civilians “combatants” only when they actually take up arms.
All of these practices could expose Israeli political and military officials to prosecutions for war crimes. To be clear, the prosecutions would be for particular acts, not for general practices, but statements by Israeli officials explaining their policies could well provide evidence that the acts were intentional and not mere accidents of war…
Indeed, Palestinians would be doing themselves, Israelis and the global community a favor by invoking I.C.C. jurisdiction. Ending Israel’s impunity for its clear violations of legal norms would both promote peace in the Middle East and help uphold the integrity of international law.
Who knows – such actions might even encourage the United States and President Obama to come down on the side of Human Rights. Congress might even acknowledge the standing of the International Court. In your dreams.
This would place thugs like Cheney and Bush in danger of prosecution for the fraud they committed to invade Iraq, Something neither wing of Congress has the integrity to face. And Obama – in his quest for support from rightwing supporters on Israel – is unwilling to face simple reduction of our billion$ to that state – much less support for historic justice.
Israeli police detained 10 women at one of Judaism’s most sacred sites on Monday for wearing prayer shawls, which Orthodox tradition sees as solely for men, a spokesman said.
The incident at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City highlighted the divisions between the more liberal streams of Judaism and politically powerful Orthodox groups that traditionally limit the role of women in prayer.
Also a graphic illustration of Israel’s fealty to theocracy.
The Western Wall is administered under strict Orthodox ritual law, which bars women from wearing prayer shawls or publicly reading from the holy scriptures.
Among those held was Susan Silverman, a reform rabbi who is a sister of U.S. comedian Sarah Silverman. Two other American citizens and Israeli members of “Women of the Wall”, a group that campaigns for gender equality in religious practice, were also detained.
The group routinely convenes for monthly prayer sessions at the Western Wall, revered by Jews as a perimeter wall of the Biblical Temple in Jerusalem. Some of its members have been detained by police in the past for wearing prayer shawls at the site and released without charge.
Susan Silverman…the rabbi said in a telephone interview from the police station where the group was held that they had been among more than 100 women attending the hour-long prayer session…
Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for national police, said the women had acted “against regulations set by the High Court”, citing a decision of a decade ago upholding Orthodox rules at the site to avoid friction between worshippers.
‘Nuff said. Avoiding friction by placing the most backwards sects in the nation in charge of law and order is all that can be expected from a court constituted to rubber stamp reactionary politics.
Amid rising tensions in one of the world’s most volatile regions, an audacious project to use science for diplomacy is taking shape in the heart of the Middle East.
In this land of ancient hatreds, a highly sophisticated scientific installation is being built in Jordan. It has support from countries that are usually openly hostile to each other.
The plan is for a multi-million-pound synchrotron particle accelerator, known as Sesame.
It has backing from several Arab nations, together with Turkey, Pakistan, Cyprus, Iran and – astonishingly – Israel as well.
The Iranian government is publicly committed to Israel’s destruction and Israel has threatened to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. And most recently Israel accused Iran of supplying Palestinian militants with the missiles launched at Israeli cities.
Yet the governments of both these countries and others have pledged to provide more funding to Sesame, and BBC News witnessed their scientists and officials meeting for lengthy discussions in Jordan earlier this month.
After years of doubts about the project’s feasibility, construction is now at an advanced stage and most of the next round of finance is secured. The first science could start as early as 2015…
Synchrotrons have become an indispensable tool for modern science with some 60 in use around the world, almost all of them in developed countries, and this will be the first in the Middle East…
The governing council of Sesame is headed by a British physicist, Prof Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, a former director of Cern, which operates the Large Hadron Collider from Geneva in Switzerland.
During a visit to the facility, in the hills 20 miles northwest of Amman, he told BBC News: “It is pretty remarkable but it’s happened and it’s because the scientific communities in these countries have pushed for this and ignored the political barriers.
“Science is a common language – if we can speak it together, possibly we can build bridges of trust which will help in other areas.”
RTFA for lots more detail – and hope.
The United Nations has voted overwhelmingly to recognise a Palestinian state.
The vote, which was taken at a meeting of the body in New York on Thursday, represents a long-sought victory for the Palestinians but a diplomatic defeat for the US, with 138 countries voting in favour of the upgrade.
Nine countries voted against it and 41 others abstained…
The new status is an indirect recognition of the Palestinians’ claims on statehood in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. It allows them to join a number of UN agencies, as well as the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Immediately after the results were announced, US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice reiterated the US opposition – blah, blah, blah…
The US and Israel voted against recognition, joined by Canada, the Czech Republic, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama…
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon renewed his call for the resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
“Today’s vote underscores the urgency of the resumption of meaningful negotiations,” Ban said.
“My position has been consistent all along. I believe that the Palestinians have a legitimate right to their own independent state. I believe that Israel has the right to live in peace and security with its neighbors. There is no substitute for negotiations to that end…”
There were celebrations in cities across the West Bank, as well as in Gaza, where the Hamas government offered tepid support for the bid and allowed backers to express their solidarity with the move.
In Bethlehem, fireworks were shot into the night sky, and churches rang their bells at midnight to mark the occasion.
Israel has functioned as a client for the United States in every region of the world. The rationales offered by the US, today, aren’t any different from excuses rolled out for every land grab, every act of imperial arrogance over decades.
The reaction from most of the world puts the lie to our government’s poppycock self-portrayal as the heart of democracy and liberation. The United States played a role in the UN General Assembly perfectly comparable to that of Republicans in our Congress. And just as deserving of contempt.
Israel has eased restrictions on Gaza fishermen, further implementing a three-day-old truce brokered by Egypt after a week of fierce fighting with Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip…
A statement from the office of Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas government, said on Saturday Egypt had notified the group that “Israel has allowed Palestinian fishermen to fish in Gaza’s waters at a distance of six miles, up from three miles”…
“…actually under the Oslo accord, the interim agreement that was signed in the 1990s, Gaza fishermen should be allowed to go to 20 nautical miles out and that would make a massive difference to the [fishing] industry…”
Israel had formally barred Gaza fishermen from heading more than three miles out into the Mediterranean Sea for about three years, its gunboats often enforcing the rule…
“Fishermen have been stuck to three nautical miles. It’s been next to nothing to fish here for the last few years. They have even resorted to getting fish from Egypt into the Gaza Strip through underground tunnels at different times”.
Remember the Chinese proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
The Israelis only seem to recall proverbs learned from the people who didn’t really give a shit what was done to Jews – starve a captive nation into submission. Keep a man from fishing and sooner or later he will obey. They say.
I had a dear friend who was one of the few who survived the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. She made it to safety in Russia. She got away from the horror being committed by the German nation gone mad. Her husband was dead. Her daughters were dead. Everything that had been her life as a Jew, an intellectual, a scholar in pre-war Poland was dead. So, she went back. Went back into Poland to fight the Nazis. Thugs never realize that if they take everything away – you have nothing to lose.
Journalists worldwide send condolences to only BBC staffer in Gaza — his infant son killed in Israel’s brutal attacks
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)’s management council has relayed a message of condolences to its Gaza employee for the death of his infant son in an Israeli airstrike.
The 11-month-old baby son of Jihad Misharawi, who is employed by BBC Arabic service, was killed on last Wednesday, when a missile fired by an Israeli army’s fighter jet hit his house in central Gaza.
Misharawi told a fellow BBC reporter in Gaza that “my son is only ten or 11 months old.”
“What did my son do to die like this?” he said.
“What was his mistake? He is ten or eleven months old. What did he do?”, Misharawi added.
The BBC said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with Jihad and the rest of the team in Gaza. This is a particularly difficult moment for the whole bureau in Gaza. We’re fortunate to have such a committed and courageous team there. It’s a sobering reminder of the challenges facing many of our colleagues.”
Usual practice for
the BBC – like most Western news-cum-media sources – is to forgive Israel any criminal act, to defend Euro-American arrogance at any cost. Nice to see a touch of humanity slip through for an occasion this painful. Sadly, the event received barely a notice on American TV news sources, little eminence in print.
* I’ve edited this comment – see the discussion below in comments.
Moshe Rute survived the Holocaust by hiding in a barn full of chickens. He nearly lost the use of his hands after a stroke two years ago. He became debilitated by recurring nightmares of his childhood following his wife’s death last year.
“But after I found this, everything has been better,” said the 80-year-old, as he gingerly packed a pipe with marijuana…
Now, Israel’s Health Ministry is considering the distribution of medical marijuana through pharmacies beginning next year, a step taken by only a few countries, including Holland, which has traditionally led the way in Europe in legalizing medical uses of the drug.
Marijuana is illegal in Israel but medical use has been permitted since the early 1990s for cancer patients and those with pain-related illnesses such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Patients can smoke the drug, ingest it in liquid form, or apply it to the skin as a balm.
In stark contrast, medical use is still hotly contested in the United States, with only 17 states and Washington, D.C. permitting medical marijuana for various approved conditions. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says smoked marijuana is not medicine, and “has not withstood the rigors of science.” In Europe, Spain, Germany and Austria have allowed or decriminalized some degrees of medical marijuana use.
“When push comes to shove, and people see how suffering people are benefitting, I’m sure everyone will get behind it,” said Yuli Edelstein, Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy, as he toured Israel’s largest marijuana growing farm, Tikun Olam, on Thursday and lauded the facility as an example of Israel’s technological and medical advancements.
Rute, the nursing home resident, said the cannabis may not change his reality, but makes it easier to accept…
“I’m now 80 and I’m still a Holocaust child, but I’m finally able to better cope.”
One thing that’s obvious is that even with a state religion Israel isn’t wasting time making medical decisions on the ground of that specious commodity – morality. Here in the United States, we’re not only limited by the bought-and-paid-for version of morality, we get the additional scourge of looneybirds who think their bible is a guidebook to politics and social justice.
Certainly Israel has the latter component – and the former – but, there’s also a pragmatic current in governance prompted by necessity. Our political hacks dedicate their greatest responsibility to those who fund their electoral machine.