ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN NEWSLETTER

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The New York Times explains just one example of how China’s internet censorship regime works in reality:

Jiaozuo, a city southwest of Beijing, deployed 35 Internet commentators and 120 police officers to defuse online attacks on the local police after a traffic dispute. By flooding chat rooms with pro-police comments, the team turned the tone of online comment from negative to positive in just 20 minutes.
According to one official newspaper editor who refused to be named, propaganda authorities now calculate that confronted with a public controversy, local officials have a window of about two hours to block information and flood the Web with their own line before the reaction of citizens is beyond control.

What Australia owes each and every asylum seeker

One of Australia’s leading human rights lawyers, Julian Burnside, skewers anybody who willfully misrepresents the flow of refugees into the country:

Hazaras from Afghanistan are fleeing because the Taliban are increasing their control in Afghanistan. Tamils from Sri Lanka are fleeing because they face genocide in Sri Lanka, after the collapse of their long-running attempt to establish a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka’s north.
During the final push against the Tamils, the Sri Lankan government bombed hospitals, killing thousands of civilian men, women and children. Since the hostilities ended, more than 100,000 Tamils have been held in crowded camps with hopelessly inadequate facilities. One camp had a single bore to provide water for 2000 people; it had no flushing toilets. Girls who went to wash themselves in the stream in the camp disappeared without a trace. Men who were thought to have been involved in the separatist movement were ”disappeared”; a number of them were executed. Some Australian commentators have suggested that the Tamils could simply go to India, but India is not a signatory to the refugee convention.

As long as Israel barely allows shoes into Gaza, expect outrage to grow

Oh, the generosity:

Israeli authorities have allowed shoes and clothes into the Gaza Strip for the first time in three years of the tight economic blockade of the Palestinian territory.

Here’s the latest Israeli commentator to tell America to keep its annual aid; we’ll cope just fine. Dream on, sunshine – without Washington protecting you on the global stage, you wouldn’t last more than a few months. It’s called being a client state.
Around the world, such as Scotland, it seems that protesting Israeli actions is increasingly encouraged (or more than tolerated):

Charges of racially aggravated conduct against five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign have been thrown out by a Sheriff.

Around 60 of their supporters burst into applause when Sheriff James Scott delivered his judgement at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today.
Michael Napier, 63; Sofia Macleod, 39; Vanesa Fuertes, 35; Kevin Connor, 40; and Neil Forbes, 55, all of Edinburgh, were charged with having pursued a racially aggravated course of conduct which amounted to harassment of members of the Jerusalem String Quarter as they performed at the International Festival on 29 August, 2008, at Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh.

It was alleged that, while acting together, on five separate occasions, they shouted at the players, made comments about the State of Israel which evinced malice towards them based on their membership or supposed membership of an ethnic group or nationality, disrupted the concert and struggled with security and other staff. Two alternative charges accused them of acting in a racially aggravated manner, causing or intending to cause the members of the quartet alarm and distress.

The case had been continued without plea on a number of occasions.
During legal debate earlier this year, counsel for the accused challenged the relevancy of the charges and claimed that under the European Convention of Human Rights the prosecution represented an unnecessary, illegitimate and disproportionate interference with their freedom of expression, speech and peaceful political protest. The Crown held that the charges were relevant and that the accused’s rights under the Convention were “not unfettered” as the rights of one person might impinge of the rights of another.
It was alleged that during the concert there were shouts of “They are Israeli Army musicians”, “Genocide in Gaza”, “End Genocide in Gaza” and “Boycott Israel”.

A timely piece in the Guardian by Israeli Aluf Benn that explains the growing alienation of the Arabs and ultra-Orthodox in Israel (the former far more, of course) and the “threat” to the country’s future:

If you’re interested in Israel’s future, all you need to know is one statistic: among Israeli kids in their first year at primary school, about half are Arabs or ultra-Orthodox Jews. And their portion is expanding. Looking forward, a very different Israeli society is emerging, with its Jewish secular core shrinking. Alas, as this scenario matures the country is going to face growing difficulties in defending itself and sustaining its economy.
Israeli Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews are exempt from military service, and are under-represented in the workforce. As their relative weight in society keeps growing, Israel risks security and economic implosion, since fewer and fewer soldiers and employees will protect and provide for an expanding population of welfare recipients. The Jewish state’s long-term survival depends on reversing the trend of non-participation among its Arab and ultra-Orthodox citizens.

Of course, Zionism doesn’t really want to create a truly equal society, but rather a state by the Jews for the Jews (with others merely being allowed to reside but not enjoy full rights).

How the British want to “protect” citizens from online truths

Yet another example of why governments can’t be trusted to properly regulate/censor the internet. Their main goal will never be to provide maximum coverage but rather remove politically problematic material:

The [British] government forced through the controversial digital economy bill with the aid of the Conservative party last night, attaining a crucial third reading – which means it will get royal assent and become law – after just two hours of debate in the Commons.
However it was forced to drop clause 43 of the bill, a proposal on orphan works which had been opposed by photographers. They welcomed the news: “The UK government wanted to introduce a law to allow anyone to use your photographs commercially, or in ways you might not like, without asking you first. They have failed,” said the site set up to oppose the proposals.
But despite opposition from the Liberal Democrats and a number of Labour MPs who spoke up against measures contained in the bill and put down a number of proposed amendments, the government easily won two votes to determine the content of the bill and its passage through the committee stage without making any changes it had not already agreed.
Tom Watson, the former Cabinet Office minister who resigned in mid-2009, voted against the government for the first time in the final vote to take the bill to a third reading. However the vote was overwhelmingly in the government’s favour, which it won by 189 votes to 47.
Earlier the government removed its proposed clause 18, which could have given it sweeping powers to block sites, but replaced it with an amendment to clause 8 of the bill. The new clause allows the secretary of state for business to order the blocking of “a location on the internet which the court is satisfied has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright”.
The Labour MP John Hemming protested that this could mean the blocking of the whistleblower site Wikileaks, which carries only copyrighted work. Stephen Timms for the government said that it would not want to see the clause used to restrict freedom of speech – but gave no assurance that sites like Wikileaks would not be blocked.
Don Foster, the Liberal Democrats’ spokesman for culture, media and sport, protested that the clause was too wide-ranging: “it could apply to Google,” he complained, adding that its inclusion of the phrase about “likely to be used” meant that a site could be blocked on its assumed intentions rather than its actions.

The most interesting parts of this article by MJ Rosenberg are the quotes from some of America’s leading “pro-Israel” advocates. Racism, fear, bitterness and anger. Yes, Zionism is in great shape:

Other than screaming by the right, there does not seem to be any significant aftermath to President Obama’s decision to oppose Israeli settlement expansion.  The Israeli government is simply ignoring Obama’s demand to stop building in the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
Speaking on CNN on Sunday, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, described US-Israeli relations today as “great,” meaning, no doubt, that the Israeli government no longer fears US pressure on the Jerusalem issue.
He even said that Jerusalem “has the same status as Tel Aviv” and that “this policy is not going to change.”
Of course, that isn’t true.
Israel has signed agreements with the Palestinians which stipulate that sovereignty questions about the future of Jerusalem will be decided in “final status” negotiations between the two sides.
As Oren surely knows, the only people who view Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as having the “same status” are those — like, say, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran — who are opposed to the Jewish state’s right to existence.  For them, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Nablus all have the same status: occupied.
Oren’s point, however, was to tell President Obama that, no matter how much aid the United States supplies, the Netanyahu government does not much care what the President thinks about Israel’s right to build settlements whenever and wherever it chooses.
What accounts for this impressive self-confidence?  My guess is that AIPAC (the “pro-Israel” lobby) and top Democrats and Republicans have told the Israelis not to worry.  It’s an election year and no one wants to offend donors so, Bibi is told, he can safely do whatever he wants.
Another sign of rightwing self-assurance is that Steve Rosen, the former AIPAC employee, penned an anti-Obama screed that is being circulated by Republicans, neocons, and right-wingers of all stripes.  Rosen is the AIPAC official who was indicted under the Espionage Act. The charges were later dropped, but AIPAC, having seen what the US government had on Rosen, sent him packing.
Rosen’s piece is an attack on “Obama’s Foolish Settlements Ultimatum.” No big surprise there.
The only surprise is that Foreign Policy, which published the piece, would print criticism of US policy on Israel by someone indicted for passing US government secrets to Israel.  If the neocons were worried would they allow Rosen, of all people, to make Israel’s case?
Of course, Rosen may be right.  If the Obama administration does not follow its “ultimatum” with some serious pressure, the ultimatum may indeed turn out to have been simultaneously correct and pointless.
I don’t know if the administration will back down, but veteran neocon luminaries like New York ex-Mayor Ed Koch, The New Republic editor-in-chief Martin Peretz, and American Jewish Committee chair David Harris are at least pretending to be worried that he won’t.
I offer today’s Exhibits A, B & C.
Exhibit A comes from the AJC’s David Harris, writing in USA Today.
In a piece called, “Don’t Embarrass Israel,” Harris ignores the reasons for the US rebuke of Israeli settlement expansion and focuses instead on Israel’s hurt feelings.  “The country is tiny, the size of New Jersey — but its neighbors aren’t quite as friendly,” he writes in circa 1959 tenderness. Harris is particularly anguished by President Obama’s decision to take his differences with Netanyahu public
“All friendly countries have differences, big and small, but they are most effectively dealt with in private,” he writes.
Either Harris does not know, or does not care, that the reason the Obama administration went public is because the Israeli government publicly announced its latest settlement expansion while Vice President Joseph Biden was in Israel, thereby leaving the impression that the United States approved.
Obama had just heard from General David Petraeus that Israeli policies — and the belief in the Muslim world that we support them — had the potential to threaten the lives of American men and women in uniform.
Obama had to speak out publicly because a private whisper in Bibi’s ear would have accomplished nothing.  It is in America’s interest for the world to know that the United States and Israel are not joined at the hip.  The perception that we are endangers Americans.  And this is the reason Obama went public.
Exhibit B comes from Martin Peretz of The New Republic, admonishing Obama for criticizing Israeli policy when his job is to simply, as the old World War II song goes, “praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”
Obama…sent out very top members of his administration to beat up on Israel and they did…. Hillary Clinton, who may or may not have a soul, launched her shrill assault on both Bibi Netanyahu and Israel’s ingratitude for her favors. […]
Last but not least (and actually a true instance of effrontery) was the dispatching of David Axelrod, (who in 2004 was behind John Edwards, “Bill Clinton without the sex”) who knows nothing about foreign policy, but maybe being a Jewboy thinks he is more than credentialed to chastise the Jewish state. The fact is that he is an ignoramus on these matters. An “insult,” indeed.
Ignore Peretz’s disgusting misogyny. For him, women by definition are “shrill” and a female Secretary of State can only offer “her favors.”  Ignore the weird reference to John Edwards and sex.  No, just take in the use of the term “Jewboy” to refer to David Axelrod, one of the President’s highest aides.
Peretz thus takes his Muslim hatred to the next level.  Not only is he consumed by his hatred of Muslims and Arabs, he now joyfully employs anti-Semitism to attack Jews who do not share his ugly bigotry.  Ultimately, he will wish physical harm on Jews to punish them for not recognizing the danger Obama poses to them.  That is how his mind works.
Exhibit C is mainly comic.  Former Mayor Ed Koch of New York is “terrified” that the Israel-hating Obama is about to let the United States be destroyed in a nuclear attack.
Why the terror? Obama’s plans to strictly limit the use of nuclear weapons.
What would we do if Venezuela invited Russia to build a missile launch pad, or Russia provided Venezuela with the plans and materials for building nuclear weapons? Would there be a replay of the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960s?
Based on our continuing failure to confront North Korea and Iran with regard to their nuclear activities, I suspect we would do nothing. I fear that we have lost the battle and lost our nerve. It appears that the Obama administration has decided to live with the idea that these two rogue states – North Korea and Iran – can do as they please on the nuclear front.
There is a foul whiff of Munich and appeasement in the air. A harbinger of what is to come is the Obama administration’s abysmal treatment of our close ally, Israel. […]
One well known supporter of Israel, with great access to the White House, said to me recently, “I have never been so terrified.” Me too.
Of course, Koch is not worried about Venezuela.  He is worried about Israel.
And he should be.  Time is passing.  Unless the Obama administration pressures Israel to stop settlements, thereby allowing negotiations to start, the two-state solution will be dead.
For their part, the Palestinians assume that is the case and they are not that worried.
They can live with the one-state solution: Israelis and Palestinians living in all of historic Palestine on the basis of “one person, one vote.”  Some Israelis are now saying that they can live with that too.
But most Israelis, and most Jews, would find such a one-state solution intolerable.  Why, then, are they making it inevitable?

 

What kind of newspaper publishes an article by an “expert on defence policy in the Indian Ocean” that argues post-war Sri Lanka is a place of harmony and peace, treating all its minorities with compassion and equality?

Murdoch’s Australian. And the writer is Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe. The article is about as credible as Zionists claiming that Palestinians love living under occupation in the West Bank.
The following letter in response is published today:

What extraordinary efforts are underway to airbrush the grim realities of post-war Sri Lanka. Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe (“Beware of asylum-seekers bearing tales of woe”, Commentary, 7/4) makes a series of misleading claims, distorting evidence or withholding chunks that do not fit his Panglossian picture.
More than 76,000 internally displaced people languish in illegal internment camps where even the country’s own oppressed media regularly report complaints of rape, mysterious “disappearances” and extra-judicial killings. Where reporters have managed to gather evidence from on the ground, it directly contradicts DeSilva-Ranasinghe’s account. And, of course, he ignores the Sinhala colonisation of Tamil areas, as new Buddhist shrines and permanent garrisons spring up on sites flattened by government bombing.
Far more Sri Lankan Tamils have sought refuge in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu than come to Australia, but the Indian government, which is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention, has no international obligations towards them, so restricts their movements and access to proper housing. Above all, there is no meaningful move towards prosecuting those responsible for war crimes.
A defeated population, cowering in fear, would recognise no part of DeSilva-Ranasinghe’s travesty.
Jake Lynch and Gobie Rajalingam, Co-conveners, Sri Lanka Human Rights Project, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney

Washington’s aim has always been to terrorise Iraqis

Dahr Jamail reminds us that American violence against Iraqis isn’t an abberation; it’s part of the rules of engagement:

Vincent Emanuele, a Marine rifleman who spent a year in the al-Qaim area of Iraq near the Syrian border, told of emptying magazines of bullets into the city without identifying targets, running over corpses with Humvees and stopping to take “trophy” photos of bodies.
“An act that took place quite often in Iraq was taking pot shots at cars that drove by,” he said, “This was not an isolated incident, and it took place for most of our eight-month deployment.”

The supposed paper of record recognises Arabs can also be peaceful

The New York Times issues a typically patronising article headline (and implies that usually, of course, Arabs are so violent):

Palestinians Try a Less Violent Path to Resistance.

Stealing Palestinian money the old fashioned way

A democracy does not act this way:

For the past 15 years, Israel has been channeling hundreds of millions of shekels it had collected in the West Bank into its state coffers. The move is considered illegal, since international law prohibits an occupying power from appropriating the fruit of economic activity in an occupied territory.
Following protests by military lawyers, the deputy attorney general has ruled that the practice should be stopped and ordered an inquiry into whether the Civil Administration in the West Bank should be compensated retroactively.

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