Denouncing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians under occupation, a group of veterans from an elite, secretive military intelligence unit have declared they will no longer “take part in the state’s actions against Palestinians” in required reserve duty because of what they called “our moral duty to act.”
In a letter sent Thursday night to their commanders as well as Israel’s prime minister and army chief, 43 veterans of the clandestine Unit 8200 complained that Israel made “no distinction between Palestinians who are and are not involved in violence” and that information collected “harms innocent people.” Intelligence “is used for political persecution,” they wrote, which “does not allow for people to lead normal lives, and fuels more violence, further distancing us from the end of the conflict.”
The letter, revealed Friday in Israel’s Yediot Aharonot newspaper as well as The Guardian in Britain, echoes similar periodic protests by reservists over the years, including a group of 27 pilots who refused to participate in what Israel calls targeted assassinations, and 13 members of the vaunted commando unit known as Sayeret Matkal, both in 2003. But it is the first public collective refusal by intelligence officers rather that combat troops. Unit 8200 has a special role in Israeli society as a coveted pipeline to its high-technology industry.
“After our service we started seeing a more complex picture of a nondemocratic, oppressive regime that controls the lives of millions of people,” said one of the group’s organizers, a 32-year-old sergeant major who was on active duty from 2001 to 2005. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because the military prohibits Unit 8200 members from being publicly identified.
“There are certain things that we were asked to do that we feel do not deserve the title of self-defense,” he added in a telephone interview. “Some of the things that we did are immoral, and are against the things we believe in, and we’re not willing to do these things anymore.”
The new refuseniks said their group began a year ago and was not motivated by Israel’s battle with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip this summer, which a member said was “just another chapter in this cycle of violence.”
RTFA. Please. A rare divergence from US/Israel foreign policy. Our own government exhibits no concern whatsoever for the lot of Palestinians living under the heel of brutal colonial repression – in the name of Lebensraum for Israel.
The 80-20 rule persists, whether discussing markets or military. Though the whole of participants may appear to come from a homogeneous population, there generally is a small percentage with perception and the ability to decide to wander away from the herd in search of something better. In this case, honesty, loyalty to a standard of democracy ignored by Israel’s government for decades, ignored by a United States government more than satisfied with a nation of legionnaires prepared to commit any crime to satisfy policies natural only to the greediest of elites.
Of course, as in the US military, fear of political and criminal retaliation reduces that percentage of those willing to act publicly, to speak out as citizens of decency. The pressure to live whatever passes for a normal life is usually sufficient to quiet most dissent. Especially in a time and place that treats dissent as the greatest enemy of governance.
These members of Unit 8200 deserve recognition for their courage.
At least 10 people have been killed in a strike near a UN-run school housing Palestinians displaced by the Gaza conflict, medics say. The attack hit the entrance of the facility in Rafah, where thousands of Palestinians are said to be sheltering…
The latest exchanges came after Israel’s military said that an officer it feared had been captured had now been confirmed dead. Hadar Goldin went missing on Friday near Rafah.
Confirmation of 2nd Lt Goldin’s death means 66 Israelis have now died in the fighting, all but two of them soldiers…
Palestinian death toll [this morning] now over 1700 – a third of them women and children.
The Israeli shelling of the Jabaliya UN shelter last week, which killed 16 people, drew widespread international condemnation.
In the latest attack, eyewitnesses said a missile struck as people queued for food…At least 30 people were also hurt, Palestinian officials said. Images showed injured children being carried away.
Robert Turner, director of operations for the UN Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, said: “The locations of all of these installations have been passed to the Israeli military multiple times. They know where these shelters are. How this continues to happen, I have no idea…”
I think we all get the idea. Israel’s military, Israel’s government, doesn’t care how many innocents they kill.
Chris Gunness, from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), told the BBC that a “health disaster of widespread proportions is rapidly unfolding in Gaza, with medical services on the verge of collapse”.
He said: “Critical supplies of medicines and disposables are almost depleted and the damage and destruction of power supplies has left hospitals dependent on unreliable generators.”
Yes, there is a lot more in the article from Israel’s government. Don’t worry – you won’t miss any of it.
You will hear that side repeated over and over, again, on all the Sunday talk shows and in the obedient American press. Flunkies from the United States government will say that the billion$ in military weapons provided Israel every year are only there for defense.
Not to keep a captive nation in subjugation.
This is how Israel brings Western democracy to the Middle east – Michael Longari/AFP/Getty Images
At least 15 people have been reported killed and 200 injured in the Israeli shelling of a UN school in northern Gaza which was being used as a shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside…
In an interview with Al Jazeera Chris Gunness, the spokesman for UNRWA, the UN’s humanitarian organisation in Gaza, said his organisation had been in contact with Israeli forces as fighting closed in on the shelter.
“We gave the Israelis the precise GPS co-ordinates of the Beit Hanoun shelter. We were trying to co-ordinate a window [for evacuation] and that was never granted…”
He called the attack “tragic and appalling”…
Robert Turner, the director for UNRWA told Al Jazeera there was no warning from the Israelis before the shells landed.
“This is a designated emergency shelter,” he said. “The location was conveyed to the Israelis.
“This was an installation we were managing, that monitored [to ensure] that our neutrality was maintained.
Thoughtful, concerned citizens of many nations want a UN investigation into Israeli war crimes like this and others. Of course, that doesn’t include representatives from the United States government. It really doesn’t matter how many civilians are killed by Israel’s military – to Congress, the White House, to the less-than-courageous journalists of the center and right mass media.
It has never mattered to the Israeli government or their kriegsmaschine.
After passionate debate over how best to help break the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted on Friday at its general convention to divest from three companies that it says supply Israel with equipment used in the occupation of Palestinian territory.
The vote, by a count of 310 to 303, was watched closely in Washington and Jerusalem and by Palestinians as a sign of momentum for a movement to pressure Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to end the occupation, with a campaign known as B.D.S., for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), one of a handful of historic mainline Protestant denominations and the church of many American presidents, is the largest yet to endorse divestment at a churchwide convention, and the vote follows a decade of debate — and a close call at the assembly two years ago, when divestment failed by only two votes…
The companies the church has targeted for divestment are Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. The church has about $21 million invested in them, a spokeswoman said. The church says it has tried for many years to convey its concerns that the companies are profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories by selling it bulldozers, surveillance technology and other equipment…
In a last-ditch tactic on Thursday, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, leader of the Reform movement (the largest branch in American Judaism), addressed the assembly and offered to broker a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the church’s two top leaders so they could convey their church’s concerns about the occupation — on the condition that the divestment measure was defeated.
That offer appears to have backfired, with some saying afterward that it felt both manipulative and ineffectual, given what they perceive as Mr. Netanyahu’s approval of more settlements in disputed areas and lack of enthusiasm for peace negotiations…
Of more influence was the presence at the church’s convention all week of Jewish activists, many of them young, in black T-shirts with the slogan “Another Jew Supporting Divestment.” Many of them were with Jewish Voice for Peace, a small but growing organization that promotes divestment and works with Palestinian and Christian groups on the left…
It is not the first American church to use divestment to protest Israeli policies: The Mennonite Central Committee and the Quakers have sold stock in some companies that do business with Israel. Last week the pension board of the United Methodist Church announced that it had sold its stock in a company over concerns about its contracts with Israeli prisons.
Bravo. And, yes, it’s overdue. Community and religious organizations that saw the light of freedom bright enough to support the historic boycott of Apartheid South Africa have no excuse for absenting themselves from the BDS campaign against Apartheid Israel.
I’ve taken part in both campaigns and can heartily endorse the effect on the prospects for peace from such a campaign. We can’t count on our elected officials or the White House to get on board till the last possible minute; but, if the citizens of America still care to think of ourselves as a nation that stands up for justice and freedom – then climb on board the peace train and tell your church, your union, your college or university to divest themselves of holdings which aid Israel’s apartheid crimes.
Christians in Israel and Palestine fear an escalation of violence against them after a spate of vandalism in Jerusalem churches by hardline Jewish nationalists ahead of Pope Francis’s visit this month.
Earlier this week vandals wrote “Death to Arabs and Christians” in Hebrew on the Vatican’s Notre Dame centre in Jerusalem’s Old City and on Thursday night offensive graffiti was written on a wall close to the Romanian Orthodox church…
Both incidents come just weeks after a spate of attacks against Christians in Galilee, where a place of worship was vandalised and stones thrown at pilgrims. A radical rabbi also sent a threatening letter to a priest in Nazareth.
“It is increasing daily because nobody is doing anything about it. The police must know who these people are,” said Jamal Khader, the head of the Latin Patriarchate seminary and spokesman for the pope’s visit to Palestine…
In a statement earlier this week the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem said that Christians in Israel felt neither safe nor protected and called on the government to take action against rightwing Jewish extremists.Acts of vandalism and violence against Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank are known as “price-tagging”, a campaign of intimidation that extremists claim is the price Palestinians should pay for Israeli government crackdowns or restrictions on settlement activity…
Recent attacks, however, have specifically targetted Christians and have taken place in the heart of the Old City…
A senior official with Palestinian Liberation Organisation said the attacks demonstrated that the extreme right considered Christians and Palestinians as one and the same.
Life in an apartheid nation.
According to Dr. Yishai Ron, a researcher at Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, nearly half of the people who take medication for chronic constipation are unsatisfied with the results. That dissatisfaction can stem from unwanted side effects, concerns over the long-term safety of the medication, or “the fact that it simply doesn’t work.” That’s why he and his colleagues have created an oral capsule that relieves constipation by vibrating its way along the intestinal tract.
The capsule contains a tiny motor, that is programmed to start vibrating six to eight hours after being swallowed – this gives it enough time to reach the large intestine. Once it starts up, the vibrations reportedly stimulate the intestine into contracting, which in turn helps move stools through…
“Sometimes, drug therapies bring more issues than relief for these patients,” Dr. Ron said. “The results of this study point to the potential for an alternative treatment that avoids the typical drug side effects, such as bloating and electrolyte imbalance, by imitating the body’s natural physiology.”
Um, OK. I’m glad they don’t have a YouTube video.
Adelson and his Israeli Ace
Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who along with his wife plowed more than $92 million into efforts to help mostly losing candidates in the 2012 elections, is undertaking a new strategy for 2016 — to tap his fortune on behalf of a more mainstream Republican with a clear shot at winning the White House…
In 2012, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson spent so much of their money on long-shot candidate Newt Gingrich that they helped extend an ugly intraparty fight that left the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, severely bruised by the time he faced President Obama in the general election.
This time, the Adelsons are plotting their investments based not on personal loyalty but on a much more strategic aim: to help select a Republican nominee they believe will have broad appeal to an increasingly diverse national electorate…
So, if you’re dumb enough to believe the lies they’ll be shoveling out onto the airwaves – you might think the Republican Party has had a change of heart and doesn’t belong just to the rich and powerful. A position chosen for them by the rich and powerful.
This strategy would favor more-established 2016 hopefuls such as former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. All four will descend this week on Adelson’s luxury hotel in Las Vegas, the Venetian, for an important step in what some are calling the “Sheldon Primary.”
Officially, the potential 2016 candidates will be at the Venetian for the spring meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which begins Thursday with a golf outing, followed by a VIP dinner featuring Bush and hosted by the Adelsons in the private airplane hangar where Adelson keeps his fleet.
But some of the most important events will occur between the poker tournament, Scotch tasting and strategy workshops. That’s when Adelson is scheduled to hold casual one-on-one chats — over coffee, at dinner or in his private office — with the prospective candidates.
Victor Chaltiel, a GOP donor and an Adelson friend who sits on the board of Las Vegas Sands, said at this early stage in the 2016 sweepstakes, Adelson is “neutral” and has his eye on a number of potential candidates, including Bush and Christie.
“He doesn’t want a crazy extremist to be the nominee,” Chaltiel said. “He wants someone who has the chance to win the election, who is reasonable in his positions, who has convictions but is not totally crazy.”
What that means in plain English is who is the best liar? There are no proposals to change Republican policies. The War on Women, the War on Children, the War on Hispanics and Blacks, the War on Gays and Lesbians, the War on working people and unemployed – remain priorities for Adelson and his followers.
Everything that can be done to cut taxes, national fiscal responsibilities to the nation where Republicans used to make most of their money – remains target number one for Adelson. Killing the Affordable Care Act, stopping anything to do with equal pay for equal work for women, these still are top of the charts for Kingmakers like Uncle Sheldon.
Pimps like Karl Rove are waiting in the wings for Adelson to turn over matching funds to compete with ideologues like the Koch Bros who prefer a platform more like the old days of the John Birch Society and Barry Goldwater. Either road, they’ll settle for outright ownership of a mortgage on the White House to match the one they have on Congress.
A group of Israeli teenagers have told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that they will refuse to serve in the military because of its role in the occupation of Palestinian land…
The group referred to “human rights violations” in the West Bank, including “executions, settlement construction, administrative detention, torture, collective punishment and unfair distribution of water and electricity”.
“Any military service perpetuates the current situation, and therefore we cannot take part in a system that carries out these deeds,” read the letter posted on the Facebook page of Yesh Gvul.
Haaretz reported that Yesh Gvul, which advocates conscientious objection, said on Saturday evening in response to the letter’s publication that “refusal is a personal decision by every person in a democratic society”.
According to Haaretz, Yesh Gvul added: “We support anyone whose democratic and humanist values drove him to refuse to take part in occupation and repression of the Palestinian people.”
Yesh Gvul (There is a limit) describes itself as a “peace group campaigning against the occupation by backing soldiers who refuse duties of a repressive or aggressive nature”…
Military service is compulsory in Israel, with men serving three years and women two.
Progressives often support reinstitution of the draft in the United States. Surely that would provide motivation for some of our Congress-critters to oppose one or another of our useless wars.
An American organization of professors on Monday announced a boycott of Israeli academic institutions to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, signaling that a movement to isolate and pressure Israel that is gaining ground in Europe has begun to make strides in the United States.
Members of the American Studies Association voted by a ratio of more than two to one to endorse the boycott in online balloting that concluded Sunday night…
Its vote is a milestone for a Palestinian movement known as B.D.S., for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions, which for the past decade had found little traction in the United States. The American Studies Association is the second American academic group to back the boycott, movement organizers say, following the Association for Asian American Studies, which did so in April.
The vote reminds me – as it should – of the divestment movement against Apartheid South Afria. There is more of a congruency than a parallel. The racism and bigotry of Israel’s official practices against the folks who’ve been in place for centuries stinks on ice.
Add in the role of cats paw in the region Israel has played for decades on behalf of Western governments, oil companies and other criminal barons of mineral wealth – and divestment and boycotts make an admirable first line of peaceful economic protest.
William Burns, Wendy Sherman, Jake Sullivan – negotiators in secret
The United States and Iran secretly engaged in a series of high-level, face-to-face talks over the past year, in a high-stakes diplomatic gamble by the Obama administration that paved the way for the historic deal sealed early Sunday in Geneva aimed at slowing Tehran’s nuclear program, The Associated Press has learned.
The discussions were kept hidden even from America’s closest friends, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago, and that may explain how the nuclear accord appeared to come together so quickly after years of stalemate and fierce hostility between Iran and the West.
But the secrecy of the talks may also explain some of the tensions between the U.S. and France, which earlier this month balked at a proposed deal, and with Israel, which is furious about the agreement and has angrily denounced the diplomatic outreach to Tehran.
President Barack Obama personally authorized the talks as part of his effort – promised in his first inaugural address – to reach out to a country the State Department designates as the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism.
The talks were held in the Middle Eastern nation of Oman and elsewhere with only a tight circle of people in the know, the AP learned. Since March, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Jake Sullivan, Vice President Joe Biden’s top foreign policy adviser, have met at least five times with Iranian officials.
The last four clandestine meetings, held since Iran’s reform-minded President Hassan Rouhani was inaugurated in August, produced much of the agreement later formally hammered out in negotiations in Geneva among the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran…
The AP was tipped to the first U.S.-Iranian meeting in March shortly after it occurred, but the White House and State Department disputed elements of the account and the AP could not confirm the meeting. The AP learned of further indications of secret diplomacy in the fall and pressed the White House and other officials further. As the Geneva talks appeared to be reaching their conclusion, senior administration officials confirmed to the AP the details of the extensive outreach.
The Geneva deal provides Iran with about $7 billion in relief from international sanctions in exchange for Iranian curbs on uranium enrichment and other nuclear activity. All parties pledged to work toward a final accord next year that would remove remaining suspicions in the West that Tehran is trying to assemble an atomic weapons arsenal.
Iran insists its nuclear interest is only in peaceful energy production and medical research.
The diplomatic gamble with Iran, if the interim agreement holds up and leads to a final pact preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, could avert years of threats of U.S. or Israeli military intervention. It could also prove a turning point in decades of hostility between Washington and Tehran – and become a crowning foreign policy achievement of Obama’s presidency.
First off, RTFA for the details. The AP has done a professional job outlining the chronology of this comparatively recent – and successful – effort.
The rest of the world will keep the whole history of relations between Iran and the United States in mind even though the average American hasn’t a clue. A condition perpetuated by what passes for news in our media-as-entertainment only, history in our schools.
It starts with the United States, the CIA and Iranian royalists combining to crush the first democratically-elected government in Iran back in 1953. No one in Iran, no one in the Middle East forgets how American greed for oil trumped democracy with violence. No one in the world seriously believes the United States has abandoned the imperial premises that brought about that coup.
The possibility of the detente that started during the Clinton years continuing – were abruptly halted, intentionally or otherwise – by George W. Bush announcing to the world how he demanded the Iranian people vote in elections in 2005. Only an old-fashioned fool in the mold of Colonel Blimp would expect a nation to bow their heads and say, “Yes, boss” to such arrogance. And, so, the Iranian nation ended up with a fool in charge to match the clown in the White House.
We are fortunate that one of the few promises kept by Barack Obama since his election was the one made about negotiating with Iran. No less arrogant than George W, as dedicated as ever to the premises that keep a right-wing government in power in Israel, nevertheless, through the good graces of the Sultan of Oman – communications were continued and expanded until this important first step moved forward yesterday evening.
The usual shitheads are upset. From Lindsay Graham in South Carolina to Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, from Tea Party trollops to Chuck Shumer, the senator from Tel Aviv – right-wingers and liberals alike in their dedication to imperial greed from the United States and our client state in Israel are pissed off.
That is as it should be. Another sign of positive accomplishment.