Israel clarifies that it has complete power over the entire occupied territories
Posted: 05 May 2010 04:50 PM PDT

A statement from the International Solidarity Movement:

Israel has exposed the extent of its crackdown on resistance in an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on April 29, claiming that the Shin Bet intelligence agency has been conducting surveillance on ISM activist and Australian citizen Bridget Chappell in Area A of the West Bank.
The affidavit claims that her arrest and continuing surveillance of her movements is justified on account of various Israeli military orders, highlighting its overall authority in its implementation of apartheid in the Occupied Territories and its total disregard for the sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority and the Oslo Accords.
“My arrest from Ramallah in February and the Shin Bet’s new claim that I am under surveillance in Area A of the West Bank serves to further abolish the myth of Palestinian control in the West Bank,” says Chappell. “It’s clear that Israel is the authority in the Territories and that this is apartheid.
Israel’s matrix of control in the occupied territories extends not only to the entire Palestinian population, but international activists involved in the popular resistance here, which is very dangerous grounds for them as their attempts to crack down on our participation in the struggle focuses the eyes of the world on what Israel has hoped to execute as a very stealthy and systematic bantustanization of Palestine.”
The state’s affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on April 29 claimed that the arrest of Chappell was based on her violation of a 1970 military order stating that non-residents of the West Bank are prohibited from staying in the area longer than 48 hours without written permission from the military commander of the region.
This is in-keeping with what may become Israel’s strategy of removing internationals from the Palestinian territories via the system of martial law enforced in the West Bank since the military occupation in 1967. Attempted implementation of these military laws on internationals in Palestine will spell the exposure of one of Israel’s most veiled weapons – the system of martial law that has enabled the imprisonment of over 650,000 Palestinians since 1967, mass annexation of land and the network of checkpoints and apartheid roads.
Omer Shatz, attorney for Chappell and Marti, states: “We are pleased that the state has finally admitted that it is the authority in Area A, as if the Oslo Accords have disappeared, and that the ‘bantustan’ known as the Palestinian Authority has no significance. This straightforward position will certainly interest the U.S. secretary of state, in light of the start of proximity talks”.
The gathering momentum of non-violent popular resistance has been met with extreme measures by Israeli forces targeting Palestinian, international and Israeli activists. In the cases of Chappell and Ariadna Jove Marti, Eva Novakova, and Ryan Olander, Israeli authorities used the ‘Oz’ Immigration Unit in an attempt to deport foreigners for their political activities.
 In the case of Chappell and Marti, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of the ‘Oz’ and the Israeli Defense Forces to implement arrests of internationals residing in the West Bank is illegal.
These arrests are part of a wider crackdown on the growing movement of popular struggle in Palestine, that has seen the arrest and imprisonment of many members of the popular committees of Al-Ma’asara, Ni’lin, Bil’in, Nablus and Nabi Salih.
The latest codified measures of arrest are a sign that Israel is intensifying its resources against the grassroots Palestinian struggle. Targeting international supporters is just part of a multi-tiered campaign to quash a quickly spreading model of non-violent resistance.

Obama loves the oil companies to death
Posted: 05 May 2010 06:46 AM PDT

Who bought the myth that Barack Obama was an independent candidate who thrived thanks to countless small donations from concerned Americans? Er, dream on:

While the BP oil geyser pumps millions of gallons of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama and members of Congress may have to answer for the millions in campaign contributions they’ve taken from the oil and gas giant over the years.
BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations come from a mix of employees and the company’s political action committees — $2.89 million flowed to campaigns from BP-related PACs and about $638,000 came from individuals.
On top of that, the oil giant has spent millions each year on lobbying — including $15.9 million last year alone — as it has tried to influence energy policy.
During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records.

Britain shows a modicum of guts towards Israel (take note Australia)
Posted: 05 May 2010 06:41 AM PDT

Some Western countries, at least on the surface, don’t treat Israel as the woman they always want to bed:

Britain has refused to allow Israel’s Mossad secret service to send a representative back to the country’s London embassy following the row over the killing of a Hamas operative by agents using forged UK passports.
Israel’s Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported yesterday that the Foreign Office is digging in its heels because Israel is refusing to commit itself not to misuse British passports in future clandestine operations.
Neither Britain nor Israel gave any details of the embassy official who was ordered to leave the country in March after an investigation by the Serious Organised Crime Agency showed that the Mossad was behind the passport theft.
But the official was understood to be an intelligence officer who was known to the UK authorities and worked as official liaison with Britain’s MI6. There was no suggestion the officer was personally involved in the passports affair.

The world game continues in Gaza
Posted: 04 May 2010 11:55 PM PDT

The first Gaza World Cup football championship is about to begin.
Unable to leave the Gaza Strip due to Israel and Egypt’s blockade, life must go on:

The best of the Gazan footballers will compete against teams representing countries with aid workers and other foreigners in Gaza — Algeria, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey and the United States. The teams themselves are made up of natives from the represented countries, and are “rounded out” when needed with Palestinian footballers who didn’t make the cut for the Gaza team.

It’s a good time to be in the detention centre business. Just ask Serco
Posted: 04 May 2010 11:37 PM PDT

My following article appears in today’s edition of Crikey:

The Australian government’s decision to re-open the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia has attracted predictable outrage from previous detainees and refugee groups but missing from the media coverage was any mention of who will run the facility.
British multinational Serco is in charge of the remote, one-time Australian air force base, having won a contract in June last year to manage all of Australia’s immigration centres. After the successful bid of $370 million for five years work, Serco Australia chief executive David Campbell said that “the government’s new immigration detention values very much align with Serco’s own values”.
Labor pledged before the 2007 election to place the detention centres back in public hands.
A spokesman from the Immigration Department told Crikey that when the original contract was signed in 2009 between Serco and the Australian government, the possibility of opening new detention centres was not discussed but he was optimistic the company would comply with the new demands.
When asked about the sexual and psychological trauma suffered by detainees and guards at Curtin during the Howard years, the spokesman said that “policy settings” were different under the Rudd government and more accountability was now possible. No evidence was given for this claim. Curtin was chosen to keep the asylum seekers because “the infrastructure is already there and it’s the best option to house people. It will stay open as long as necessary”.
Serco has received negative press in Britain after cases of neglect emerged from inside its privately run prisons and detention centres. Before Christmas last year the company was embarrassed after guards at the Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre refused entry to Anglican ministers dressed as Santa Claus who wanted to give gifts to the children inside. They were regarded as a “security threat”.
Britain’s Children Commissioner released a damning report in April 2009 that found systemic failures of treatment at Yarl’s Wood, violent handling of children and ignoring of serious mental health problems.
But Serco’s contract with the Australian government helped the company’s profits soar 34% in the first half of the year. The organisation is valued at about $5 billion.
“There are more opportunities than we are able to bid for,” said chief executive Christopher Hyman in February. Out-sourcing of government services are booming, especially in Britain.
Hyman, an Indian Pentecostal Christian from South Africa, told the Guardian in 2006 that he was “very passionate about our values and building this company not to make a profit. If you can make it have an impact on society, people’s lives and make it fun, crumbs, then we don’t have to worry about making this profit or that.”
In Australia, concerns over Serco’s management of Curtin are rising. Crikey spoke to UNSW law lecturer Mike Grewcock, author of the book Border Crimes, who said that the lack of judicial oversight of the detention centre was worrying. “In 2001, the then Inspector of Custodial Services for Western Australia described detainees as living ‘in gulag conditions’ and argued that if it had been an ordinary jail the prisoners would not have tolerated such conditions.”
Grewcock acknowledges that the previous company running Curtin no longer manage the centre but “the fundamental relationship between the Immigration Department and the private operators remains the same.
The department locks up refugees in circumstances it knows will cause extensive anguish and harm and pays multinational security corporations to make sure the centres operate ‘efficiently’. It is a morally indefensible arrangement.”
Serco was recently fined by the Immigration Department after three Chinese nationals escaped from the Villawood detention centre.
Former Curtin detainee and now Australian citizen, Iranian-born Farshid Kheirollahpoor, says that the relationship between the Howard government and then private manager of Curtin about 2000, ACM, was unhealthy. “ACM realised that they could take financial advantage of the emotional distress in the centre, ” he said. “ACM could ask for more guards and deliberately not manage the problems. The government would then offer more funds.”
Kheirollahpoor saw ACM guards often drunk and beat and abuse detainees. He says the company “wanted to allow the demonisation of refugees and force asylum seekers to act in a way that would make the Australian people hate them”.
Crikey made repeated calls to Serco seeking comment on their exact role at Curtin but no response was forthcoming.
Antony Loewenstein is an independent journalist and author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution.

Shouts of war in Australia for those noble battles
Posted: 04 May 2010 11:31 PM PDT

John Pilger on Australia’s infantile relationship with foreign wars:

Staring at the vast military history section of the airport shop, I had a choice: the derring-do of psychopaths or scholarly tomes with their illicit devotion to the cult of organised killing. There was nothing I recognised from reporting war. Nothing on the spectacle of children’s limbs hanging in trees and nothing on the burden of shit in your trousers. War is a good read. War is fun. More war, please.
On 25 April, the day before I flew out of Australia, I sat in a bar beneath the great sails of the Sydney Opera House. It was Anzac Day, the 95th anniversary of the invasion of Ottoman Turkey by Australian and New Zealand troops at the behest of British imperialism. The landing was an incompetent stunt of blood sacrifice conjured by Winston Churchill, yet it is celebrated in Australia as an unofficial national day.
The ABC evening news always comes live from the sacred shore at Gallipoli, where, this year, as many as 8,000 flag-wrapped Antipodeans listened, dewy-eyed, to the Australian governor general, Quentin Bryce, who is the Queen’s viceroy, describe the point of pointless mass killing.
It was, she said, all about a “love of nation, of service, of family, the love we allow ourselves to receive. [It is a love that] rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. And it never fails.”
Of all the attempts at justifying state murder I can recall, this drivel of DIY therapy, clearly aimed at the young, takes the blue riband. Not once did Bryce honour the fallen with the two words that the survivors of 1915 brought home with them: “Never again.” Not once did she refer to a truly heroic anti-conscription campaign, led by women, that stemmed the flow of Australian blood in the First World War, the product not of a gormlessness that “believes all things”, but of anger in defence of life.
The next item on the TV news was the Australian defence minister, John Faulkner, with the troops in Afghanistan. Bathed in the light of a perfect sunrise, he made the Anzac connection to the illegal invasion of Afghanistan in which, on 12 February last year, Australian soldiers killed fivechildren. No mention was made of them. On cue, this was followed by an item that a war memorial in Sydney had been “defaced by men of Middle Eastern appearance”. More war, please.

10 tips to convince those virulent Israel haters
Posted: 04 May 2010 10:35 PM PDT

Rabbi Marvin Hier is the founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a leading Jewish organisation in the US. The document below is truly astounding, a hilariously clueless attempt to refute allegedly unfair claims against Israel and Jews.
Black is white, the occupation is a charming day in the park and Israel just wants peace and security. I’m sure Benjamin Netanyahu agrees:

It’s no secret to anyone that relations between the United States and Israel reflect a new reality and are not what they once were. The last few months have seen a worldwide frenzy of intimidation and threats directed against Israel that has backed its supporters into a corner. Very few have raised their voices in response.
For this reason, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has produced a new brochure, “2010 Top Ten Anti-Israel Lies,” that we will be distributing to millions of people worldwide. The brochure also provides contact information for U.S. and world leaders and key news bureaus.
Here is a condensed summary of the 10 top lies and the center’s responses:
Lie No. 1: Israel was created by European guilt over the Nazi Holocaust. Why should Palestinians pay the price?
Three thousand years before the Holocaust, before there was a Roman Empire, Israel’s kings and prophets walked the streets of Jerusalem. The whole world knows that Isaiah did not speak his prophesies from Portugal, nor Jeremiah his lamentations from France. Revered by its people, Jerusalem is mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures 600 times, but not once in the Koran. Throughout the 2,000-year exile of the Jews, there was a continuous Jewish presence in the Holy Land.
Lie No. 2: Had Israel withdrawn to its June 1967 borders, peace would have come long ago.
Since 1967, Israel repeatedly has conceded “land for peace.” Following Egyptian President Sadat’s historic 1977 visit to Jerusalem, Israel withdrew from the vast Sinai Peninsula and has been at peace with Egypt ever since. But the Palestinian Authority has never fulfilled its promise to end propaganda attacks nor drop the Palestinian National Charter’s call for Israel’s destruction.
In 2000, Prime Minister Barak offered Yasser Arafat full sovereignty more than 97 percent of the West Bank, a corridor to Gaza, and a capital in the Arab section of Jerusalem. Arafat said no.
Lie No. 3: Israel is the main stumbling block to achieving a two-state solution.
The Palestinians themselves are the only stumbling block to achieving a two-state solution. With whom should Israel negotiate? With President Abbas, who for four years has been barred by Hamas from visiting 1.5 million constituents in Gaza?
With his Palestinian Authority, which continues to glorify terrorists and preaches hate in its educational system and the media? With Hamas, whose Iranian-backed leaders deny the Holocaust and use fanatical Jihadist rhetoric to call for Israel’s destruction?
Lie No. 4: Nuclear Israel, not Iran, is the greatest threat to peace and stability.
The United States and Europe can afford to wait to see what the Iranian regime does with its nuclear ambitions, but Israel cannot. Israel is on the front lines and remembers every day the price the Jewish people paid for not taking Hitler at his word. Israel is not prepared to sacrifice another 6 million Jews on the altar of the world’s indifference.
Lie No. 5: Israel is an apartheid state deserving of international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns.
In fact, Israel is a democratic state. Its 20 percent Arab minority enjoys all the political, economic and religious rights and freedoms of citizenship, including electing members of their choice to the Knesset (Parliament).
Lie No. 6: Plans to build 1,600 more homes in East Jerusalem prove Israel is “Judaizing” the Holy City.
Ramat Shlomo was not about Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem but about a long established, heavily populated Jewish neighborhood in northern Jerusalem, where 250,000 Jews live (about the size of Newark, N.J.) — an area that will never be relinquished by Israel.
Lie No. 7: Israeli policies endanger U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would benefit everyone, including the United States. But an imposed return to what Abba Eban called “1967 Auschwitz borders” would endanger Israel’s survival and ultimately be disastrous for American interests and credibility in the world.
Lie No. 8: Israeli policies are the cause of worldwide anti-Semitism.
From the Inquisition to the pogroms, to the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, history proves that Jew hatred existed on a global scale before the creation of the State of Israel. It would still exist in 2010 even if Israel had never been created. For example, one poll indicates that 40 percent of Europeans blame the recent global economic crisis on “Jews having too much economic power” — a canard that has nothing to do with Israel.
Lie No. 9: Israel, not Hamas, is responsible for the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza. Goldstone was right when he charged that Israel was guilty of war crimes against civilians.
The United Nations Human Rights Council is obsessed with false anti-Israel resolutions. It refuses to address grievous human rights abuses in Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and beyond. Faced with similar attacks, every U.N. member-state, including the United States and Canada, surely would have acted more aggressively than the Israel Defense Forces did in Gaza.
Lie No. 10: The only hope for peace is a single, binational state eliminating the Jewish State of Israel.
The one-state solution is a non-starter because it would eliminate the Jewish homeland. However, the current pressures on Israel are equally dangerous. In effect, the world is demanding that Israel, the size of New Jersey, shrink further by accepting a three-state solution: a P.A. state on the West Bank and a Hamas terrorist one in Gaza.
All this as Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, stockpiles 50,000 rockets, threatening northern and central Israel’s main population centers. Current polls show that while most Israelis favor a two-state solution, most Palestinians continue to oppose it.

Goldstone reminds Jews that Israel is no different to any other state
Posted: 04 May 2010 10:29 PM PDT

Justice Richard Goldstone addressed South African Jewish leaders at at a meeting on the 3rd of May:

I welcome this opportunity of meeting with you this afternoon.
At the outset let me say that I have taken no pleasure in seeing people around the world criticize the South African Jewish community and I commend the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and all responsible for bringing an end to the unfortunate public issues that had arisen relating to my grandson’s bar mitzvah.
My family and I are delighted that I was able to attend the bar mitzvah on Saturday and that it was such a joyous and meaningful occasion. I am deeply grateful to Rabbi Suchard, the members of the committee and the congregation at Sandton Synagogue for having made this possible.
Without more, allow me to turn to the Gaza Report that has caused so much anger in this and other Jewish communities. It is well known that initially I refused to become involved with what I considered to be a mandate that was unfair to Israel by concentrating only on war crimes alleged to have been committed by the Israel Defense Force.
When I was offered an even-handed mandate that included war crimes alleged to have been committed against Israel by Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza my position changed.
I have spent much of my professional life in the cause of international criminal justice. It would have been hypocritical for me to continue to speak out against violations of international law and impunity for war crimes around the world but remain silent when it came to Israel simply because I am Jewish.
The State of Israel was established in 1948 by the United Nations acting on the principles of international law. It should not be surprising that Israel has always committed itself to being bound by the norms and practices of international law. I have always assumed that Israel would wish to be judged by the highest standards of international law.
One of the cardinal norms, accepted by Israel, is that of “distinction”, the requirement that there be proportionality between a military goal and civilian casualties caused in achieving that goal.
This was the first occasion on which the UN Human Rights Council was prepared to consider military operations between Israel and the militant organizations from all perspectives and offer Israel the opportunity of telling her story to a United Nations inquiry. I also anticipated that this might herald the start of a new approach by the Human Rights Council to adopt an appropriate policy in which all similar human rights valuations around the world receive equal attention.
But sadly for everyone, the Israeli Government squandered that opportunity. That did not prevent the Mission from finding that serious war crimes appeared to have been committed by Hamas and other militant groups operating from Gaza. That finding was also accepted by the UN General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the European Parliament. The right of Israel to act in self-defense was also not questioned by the Report.
The letters that passed between me and both Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli Ambassador to Geneva are attached to the Gaza Report and tell the story most openly of my desire for Israeli cooperation and the concerns of Israel with regard to cooperating with our Mission.
That Israel refused to cooperate meant that we had to do the best we could with the information we were able to gather. I only wish that the energy that the Government of Israel and its supporters had put into discrediting the Report had been invested in cooperating with our Mission. It is obvious but must be stated:
Had Israel provided us with credible information to respond to the allegations we received they would have been given appropriate consideration and could potentially have influenced our findings. That was unfortunately not forthcoming. We cannot undo the past.
In conclusion, I would state that it is regrettable that the majority of the members of the Israeli Government decided against accepting the first and primary recommendation of the Gaza Mission namely, to launch its own open and credible investigation into the findings contained in the Report. That is still a course open to it and if adopted and implemented in good faith would effectively put an end to calls for international criminal investigations.
I am not aware that the UN Gaza Report has or is being used to delegitimize Israel by questioning her right to exist as a member of the International Community. I would object to any such use being made of it. I also express my expectation and hope that the UN Human Rights Council will treat all violations of humanitarian law, no matter by who committed, in an even- handed manner and hold all members of the United Nations to the same standards.

Israel can keep its nukes because the US loves Zionism
Posted: 04 May 2010 07:33 PM PDT

Equality in the Middle East? Perish the thought:

It’s buried as Point 31 in a working paper being circulated by Egypt and other nonaligned parties at the Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference in New York: a pledge by countries signing the treaty that they will not permit the transfer of any nuclear-related equipment, information, materials or “know-how” to Israel as long as that country refuses to sign the NPT or put its nuclear facilities under safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Point 31 also calls for signatory countries, including the United States, “to disclose all information available to them on the nature and scope of Israeli nuclear capabilities, including information pertaining to previous nuclear transfers to Israel.” France and the United States have been identified as key suppliers to Israel’s secret nuclear weapons development program in the 1950s and 1960s.
How the Obama administration deals with the nettlesome problem of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East will determine U.S. success or failure at the NPT conference.
See: www.antonyloewenstein.com

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