Neturei Karta on supporting a Palestinian state
Posted: 25 Apr 2010 06:21 PM PDT

Let nobody say that the Jews don’t have a wider variety of practitioners:

Members of the anti-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox sect Neturei Karta never miss an opportunity to express their antagonism to the State and its symbols. Just last week they burned Israeli flags and disrupted the minute’s silence to honor Israel’s fallen, and now, on Sunday, they decided to take advantage of the tension in the Silwan neighborhood of east Jerusalem following the march by right-wing Israelis, to contribute to the tension too.
Between cries of “death to Jews”, flying stones and improvised firebombs hurled at security forces, the members of the haredi group stood out. Some were seen holding stones and others held signs calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.
The right-wing march that sparked the clashes in the neighborhood was organized by members of a group calling themselves “Eretz Israel Shelanu” (“Our land of Israel”).
The march was held in spite of protest from many political figures including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself. The event ended relatively calmly, though some policemen were injured.

Why is Australia really moving forward with net filtering?
Posted: 25 Apr 2010 06:10 PM PDT

A strong editorial in today’s Sydney Morning Herald on the Australian government’s proposed internet censorship regime (destined to both fail and embarrass):

Stephen Conroy, the Communications Minister, is feeling the heat over his attempt to censor the internet for Australians. The latest critic is the US government. Conroy, of course, is used to criticism. Internet polls overwhelmingly oppose his measure. He was 2009’s villain of the year at international internet industry awards for his singleminded doggedness in his self-appointed task.
Reporters Without Borders has placed Australia on its list of countries under surveillance as a possible ”internet enemy”. He has shrugged it all off. We do not doubt he has the self-belief similarly to shrug off criticism by the US State Department as just more carping from an ungrateful world.
Yet the minister should listen more closely. His explanations for what he proposes have been inadequate, and his justifications are equally so. He lists sites dealing with child pornography and bestiality as among those that would be banned as having been refused classification – just as publications would be in other media. He asks:
what’s so special about the internet? The answer is: nothing. But Conroy compares the internet with means of publishing – books, films – and assumes it should be subject to the same classification controls as they are. In fact it should be compared with free means of communication – speech, telephones, newspapers – which it more closely resembles, and in which governments intervene less because intervention is less likely to be effective.
Technology, in effect, makes his arguments about child pornography and terrorist communications into red herrings. As information technology experts attest, a filter will not work. Child pornography and other horrors will still be available to those internet users who pursue the (not particularly sophisticated) ways to circumvent it. The great majority of internet users, needless to say, will steer well clear unprompted.
But by trying to control the net, Conroy raises expectations that such a thing can be done. When the measure fails, as it will, there will be pressure to crack down harder, to restrict freedoms further. And what happens when various pressure groups – well intended, no doubt, every one of them – decide that they would like views opposing theirs censored, and start to pressure governments to limit net access further? Can we be confident that Conroy would defend freedom of speech in particular instances, now that he has so easily given away the general principle?
By trying to sanitise the net, he is limiting what is becoming a basic medium of information exchange, and gagging freedom of speech. He should stop now.

The day Obama allowed Israel to bomb Iran
Posted: 25 Apr 2010 07:03 AM PDT

For anybody who thinks that Obama’s America would never allow Israel to go crazy, here’s a cold shower:

The Barack Obama administration’s declaration in its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that it is reserving the right to use nuclear weapons against Iran represents a new element in a strategy of persuading Tehran that an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites is a serious possibility if Iran does not bow to the demand that it cease uranium enrichment.
Although administration officials have carefully refrained from drawing any direct connection between the new nuclear option and the Israeli threat, the NPR broadens the range of contingencies in which nuclear weapons might play a role so as to include an Iranian military response to an Israeli attack.
A war involving Iran that begins with an Israeli attack is the only plausible scenario that would fit the category of contingencies in the document.

The role of Palestine in global peace (through New Zealand)
Posted: 25 Apr 2010 06:22 AM PDT

I’m soon to visit New Zealand for the Auckland Writer’s Festival and a nationwide tour to various cities to speak about the Middle East.
For any New Zealand readers, here’s another major event:

Obama is like Hitler for some West Bank settlers
Posted: 25 Apr 2010 06:16 AM PDT

Crazy rightist Jews burn effigies of Barack Obama in the West Bank.
The interview between a reporter and a settler is instructive:

Rino Tzror: Hello to Guy Varon, our correspondent in the territories. So they started to distribute effigies and pictures of Obama?
Guy Varon: After we have seen right-wing activists burning pictures of Saddam, Nasrallah and Arafat in recent years on Lag B’Omer, this year there is a new star, US Pres. Barack Obama.
Rino Tzror: Did you see an effigy of Obama?Guy Varon: We saw the effigies and the pictures. I also want to add that we say Barack Obama. These right wing people really like to say Hussein Obama.
Rino Tzror: Right.
Guy Varon: Pictures and effigies of the superpower leader will be distributed this year ahead of Lag B’Omer by rightwing activists. They explained that as far as they are concerned he is an enemy of Israel. His behavior harms Israel more than anything. For them the message is that Obama is bad for the Jews.
Rino Tzror: And they’re going to burn him on bonfires, like they used to burn pictures of Hitler, of all kinds of enemies of Israel. Is that the way Obama is going to be treated this Lag B’Omer?
Guy Varon: That is definitely the intention of the people who are giving out the pictures and the effigies.
Rino Tzror: Stay with us. Now we are going to talk to Bentzy Gopstein. Good morning.
Bentzy Gopstein: Good morning Rino.
Rino Tzror: You are a follower of Kahane, right?
Bentzy Gopstein: Right.
Rino Tzror: Who started this project of Obama effigies?
Bentzy Gopstein: There are a few friends together. They decided that today the enemy of Israel, even though he does not pretend to be an enemy of Israel, is Barack Hussein Obama. Just like you said that you used to burn pictures of Israel’s enemies. That is how I remember that I too used to burn pictures of Arafat, Sheikh Yassin, Hussein. Today our enemy is Obama.
Rino Tzror: No, I never burned Hussein. We used to burn Hitler. We used to go for the real villains, not the ones who maybe were and maybe weren’t.
Bentzy Gopstein: I don’t think maybe he is and maybe he isn’t. I think that Hussein Obama who wants to freeze construction in Jerusalem every minute, he would even like to just freeze Israel over. He pretends to be a friend but actually he loves Islam. He is an anti-Semite, nothing less.
Rino Tzror: So who is responsible for the actual industry, who produces them, how many, do you have any idea?
Bentzy Gopstein: There are printing presses that print it and then stick it on.
Rino Tzror: What picture of Obama did you choose?
Bentzy Gopstein: A nice one.
Rino Tzror: A nice one. With or without a keffiyeh? Did you add one? Did you touch it up?
Bentzy Gopstein: No keffiyeh. A real picture of him conveys a keffiyeh, even if you don’t put one on him.
Rino Tzror: It conveys it to you. How many effigies did you make?
Bentzy Gopstein: A few hundreds. We are in production now. Some have been made. We distribute through Facebook. We opened the group “Hussein Obama comes to the bonfire.” That is where people will join and receive the effigies.
Rino Tzror: And who are the people who take the effigies or the pictures that they want to burn?
Bentzy Gopstein: A lot of people. We have inquiries from children all over the country.
Rino Tzror: Children. That’s the problem. Maybe you are ruining them.
Bentzy Gopstein: We want to educate children while they are small. When you burn it, when you have a Lag B’Omer bonfire with children, education begins with children. We want to teach them that we have to trust God, not Obama.
Rino Tzror: Thank you, Bentzy Gopstein.
Bentzy Gopstein: You’re welcome.

And not a word from the Zionist Diaspora in condemnation.

The grinding familiarity of Israeli attitudes towards Gaza
Posted: 25 Apr 2010 06:07 AM PDT

Just a day in the occupied Gaza Strip.
Jewish blogger Max Ajl is currently living and working in Gaza and writing about a world most people never see (like this).
Here’s a recent post about Israel’s ever-increasing destruction of Palestinian farm-land:

What are you seeing here? After an hour’s time to correctly set up this horrible act, Israeli military bulldozers and tanks entered Palestinian land and churned up winter wheat, rye, and lentils, because they could, because that’s how they punish the Palestinians living in Abasan Kabeer, Farraheen, and because Israeli strategy is to shrink the Gaza prison and force the people living there to rely solely on a feeding tube called UNRWA for survival.

What fascists do to defenders of justice
Posted: 25 Apr 2010 05:57 AM PDT

A warning to any international lawyers who try and address history’s wrongs. You will pay a price, usually by those most closely associated with the original sin:

The crowd gathered outside Madrid’s national court was loud and angry. “The world has been turned upside down,” they cried. “The fascists are judging the judge!” Some carried photographs of long-dead relatives, killed by rightwing death squads in Spain’s brutal civil war in the 1930s. Others bore placards bearing the name of the hero they wanted to save, the controversial “superjudge” Baltasar Garzón.
Pedro Romero de Castilla carried a picture of his grandfather, Wenceslao – a former stationmaster taken away from his home in the western city of Mérida and shot by a death squad at the service of Generalísimo Francisco Franco’s rightwing military rebels 74 years ago. The family have never found his body.
Garzón, he explained, had dared to investigate the atrocities of 36 years of Franco’s dictatorship and now, as a result, he faces trial for allegedly abusing his powers. “My grandfather’s case is one that Garzón wanted to investigate,” he said. “He’s a brave and intelligent judge, but now the right are out to get him.”
Police tried to herd Romero and his fellow protesters away, but 400 of them marched to nearby Calle de Génova and brought traffic to a standstill. It was a taste of the anger being expressed daily across Spain, with tens of thousands of people due to march in the country last night.
Garzón still works at the national court, stepping out of his bomb-proof car every morning and climbing the courthouse steps to deal with cases involving terrorism, political corruption, international drug-trafficking and human rights cases. Soon, however, the hyperactive investigating magistrate who shot to global fame by ordering the 1998 arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London will have his cases taken away from him.
Just a hundred yards across a square, stern-faced judges at the supreme court plan to suspend Garzón next month. The temporary suspension will last while they decide whether he deliberately ran roughshod over Spain’s laws by opening an investigation into the deaths of 113,000 Spaniards executed by Franco’s men during and after the civil war. If they find him guilty – and there are signs that they intend to – his career will be over.

The real fighters, cooks and trainers in Afghanistan
Posted: 25 Apr 2010 05:46 AM PDT

Who is really fighting the war in Afghanistan?

The message, very often, is sent with bloodshed.
There was the suicide bombing last week on a fortified Kandahar guesthouse shared by Western contracting companies, killing four Afghans and injuring several Americans. There was the Afghan engineer, shot dead in March as he helped inspect a school not far from the Pakistan border. Or the Afghan woman, an employee for a U.S.-based consulting firm, shot by motorbike-riding gunmen as she returned home from work in this southern city.
As the United States presses ahead with an Afghan counterinsurgency strategy that depends on speeding up development of one of the world’s poorest countries, the U.S. contractors, construction companies and aid organizations needed to rebuild Afghanistan have faced a surge in attacks that puts the plan in jeopardy.
Overall figures for contractor attacks remain elusive, since the employees come from dozens of nations and work for hundreds of different organizations.
But the death toll has jumped precipitously in the months since President Barack Obama launched a massive troop surge last December.
Of the 289 civilians working for U.S. contractors killed between the start of the Afghanistan war in late 2001 and the end of last year, 100 died in just the last six months of 2009, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.
Sss: www.antonyloewenstein.com

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