Is de politiek te vertrouwen?

Steeds vaker hoor je de vraag op straat en elders of de politiek wel te vertrouwen is. En of het nu helemaal onterecht is? Ik denk het niet.

Bij de laatste verkiezingen heeft Nederland tactisch gestemd, niet op een programma of zo. De rechtse kiezer wilde niet dat iemand van links in het kabinet kwam (in eerste instantie m.n. de SP), dus werd er massaal op de VVD van Mark Rutte gestemd. Ter linkerzijde dacht men dat er niet nog eens 4 jaar Rutte moest komen, dus werd daar en masse op Diederik Samsom en zijn PvdA gestemd. En dat werd dus de uitslag: een meerderheid voor de VVD en de PvdA, die daarna de deur dichttrokken en een kabinet en een regeerakkoord samen in elkaar sleutelden volgens de gouden regel: “Mag ik van jou …, dan krijg jij …”. Het programma verdween in de grote doos en toen deze doos van Pandora openging, ontstond er paniek.   Men had nl. niet gerekend op een belangrijke groep: de achterban (lees: leden) van de partijen en m.n. die van de VVD.
Op het moment dat het eerste belangrijke punt, de inkomensafhankelijke zorgpremie, publiekelijk werd, regende het klachten en opzeggingen bij de VVD. “Er moest wat gebeuren, want dit kon echt niet; het was een aanslag op de portemonnee van de middeninkomens.”

Ook bij de PvdA ontstond er hommeles in de achterban, m.n. over de uitspraak van minister Frans Timmermans over het standpunt van Nederland over Palestina. Als kamerlid had Timmermans een beduidend ander standpunt dan als minister.

Waarom veranderen politici zo makkelijk van standpunt? Is er dan toch iets wat trekt, zodat men kan blijven zitten en daarom standpunten aanpast? Misschien is het duidelijker als het verkiezingsprogramma zou bestaan uit 2 delen: deel I waar de punten worden genoemd die voor een politieke partij van belang zijn en die niet “uitgeruild” kunnen worden en deel II, waar de punten worden opgesomd die als ruilmiddel gebruikt kunnen worden. Staat zo netjes richting de kiezers en op die manier is er geen kiezersbedrog meer. Geen bedrog zou weer wat meer vertrouwen in de politiek kunnen opleveren.

Nu een meer serieus voorstel. In onze huidige moderne maatschappij met pc, laptop, iPod en iPad is iedereen met elkaar verbonden, meestal via de sociale media. Waarom komt er geen partij op het lumineuze idee om een vorm van continue volksraadpleging in te stellen? Het kan zelfs heel snel geregeld worden door bureaus als die van Maurice de Hond. Natuurlijk geldt dit alleen bij heel belangrijke, zware punten, maar er ontstaat wel een soort van draagvlak onder de bevolking. Dit zal dan onder de vlag van een beslissend referendum of enquête komen te vallen.
Voor de minder belangrijke zaken kan een periodieke  enquête worden ingesteld , waarbij de strekking meer raadgevend zou moeten zijn. Nederland loopt vaak voor op het gebied van ICT, waarom wordt daar niet meer gebruik van gemaakt?

Tenslotte, als er een kamerlid of minister is, die een ander standpunt heeft, kom er eens eerlijk voor uit en ben geen blauwe zetelplakker; op die manier gaat u die kiezer niet terugwinnen.

Google Mapping Apartheid

Few things depict the absolute absurdity and injustice of Israeli apartheid policies than maps. Google Maps offers us a unique tool with which to do this. Let’s take a virtual drive through Apartheid.

In the interactive map below you will see a few pegs, two red and two blue. The two pegs at the north end of the map are the Palestinian city of Ramallah (Red) and the neighboring Israeli settlement of Psagot (Blue). As you can see, they are less than one kilometer apart. At the south end of the map is the Palestinian city of Bethlehem (Red) and the Israeli settlement of Har Homa (Blue). Again, the distance between these two areas is under one mile.
So let’s say you want to travel from the locations in the north to the locations in the south. Logic would lead you to believe that given that the starting and ending points are so close to each other, you would likely take the same route and main roads. But how long it takes you, and the route you take, is determined entirely by whether you are an Israeli settler or Palestinian. Here is the same map below with some added details and labels.

Please zoom in for additional detail. First, let me explain what the colors here are all about. The Red line (which starts at Ramallah in the north and merges further south with the orange line) is the route Palestinians would have to take to make the trip. Settlers, however, can follow the far more direct path highlighted in light blue. You will notice that there is also an orange line which heads north before coming south again. This is an alternative route Palestinians can take.

For settlers, the length of the trip is about 19 miles, almost directly south, through mostly well paved and constructed roads and highways.

For Palestinians, there are two options. The first, which is the red line, involves heading south first toward the Qalandia checkpoint, then east on the Jaba’ road, before heading south again on the dangerous and winding road 437. At this point, your GPS might tell you to proceed through the logical route on road 60 but that’s only because your GPS is not programmed to understand apartheid. As a Palestinian, you would have to go east continuing on 437 in the direction of Jericho. The reason for this are Israeli settlements, depicted here in darker blue shading, and Israel’s segregation wall which is shown here in dark black. Once you have headed sufficiently east, so as to be be able to head south without entering into the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem, you could then head south on road 417, past the massive Israeli settlement of Maale Addumim.

Now you might notice this path runs through the Maale Addumim settlement and an area shaded in a lighter blue color. That lighter blue color is the area known as E-1, where the Israelis intend to build to create territorial contiguity between Maale Addumim and the municipality. As you pass this area, your GPS would probably be trying to hopelessly re-route you toward Road 1 so you can connect with Road 60 again and proceed through the more logical route. Instead, as a Palestinian, you’d have to continue southward through a very dangerous, hilly and winding road referred to as Wadi Nar (Valley of Fire) Road. This extremely dangerous passage goes through significant elevation, making driving through it tedious, costly and even life-threatening. Once you make it through that road you will approach your destination of Bethlehem from the East. After your 27 mile journey, much through the mountains, you can kick back and relax and enjoy the view above the apartheid wall of the Israeli settlement Har Homa where your privileged counterparts from Psagot surely arrived long ago.

That mess of a trip is the better of two options for Palestinians. The second option, depicted by the orange line, is far less direct and far longer. Since the first option involves using restricted roads (much more info on that here) you may not be able to take that route. Instead, you may have to go the longer way around. This involves first heading north from Ramallah through Al-Bireh toward Taibeh. Then southeast in the direction of Jericho until you reconnect with the road that will allow you to pass between Maale Addumim and E-1 and reach the Wadi Nar road. This route is 38 miles.

For those who wonder about the significance of the E-1 project, it will essentially mean that the Israeli controlled settlement territory will plunge into the West Bank from the Green Line all the way through Maale Addumim contiguously. This is an approximately 8 mile intrusion. If this were the case, and Israeli restrictions for Palestinians around their territory are applied as they are elsewhere (and we have no reason to believe they won’t be) then the West Bank is effectively divided in two.

The Mountains in the West Bank

Some might look at the map and wonder how the West Bank can be divided in two if there is still another 10 or so miles to the border with Jordan. Well, have a close look at the map. Beyond this area, there is no east/west road infrastructure and the land is sparsely populated. The closest north/south road infrastructure is Road 90 in the Jordan Valley. Why? Because of a massive mountain ridge.

So what E-1 essentially means is that there will be no independent viable contiguity between the north and south of the West Bank. Or, in other words, no possibility of an independent viable Palestinian state.

Why should Palestinians be asked to move mountains to adjust for the contours of every Zionist whim and desire?

The truth is E-1 didn’t kill the possibility of a two-state solution. Maale Addumim, founded in 1976, did. The size and location of Maale Addumim and settlements like it in the West Bank, like Ariel for example, made it impossible for Israeli leaders to imagine any agreement without territorial contiguity with them. In other words, for all practical purposes, the only thing they could imagine was a one-state outcome. Of course the one-state outcome they have in mind, one of perpetual occupation and apartheid, is not the type Palestinians or anyone who loves freedom and justice can accept.

(blog.thejerusalemfund.org / 03.12.2012)

#GazaUnderAttack | Israeli army used radioactive and heavy materials in aggression on Gaza

 

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GAZA, (PIC)– Major Hazem Abu Murad, assistant director of explosives engineering and member of the Committee to document war crimes, revealed that the occupation used radioactive materials in the explosives with which it had bombed the Gaza Strip.

Abu Murad told the Interior Ministry that the weapons with which Israel targeted Gaza contain heavy elements, including the Uranium, tungsten, aluminum and nickel”, and pointed out that these materials raise the temperature in the center of the explosion to 7 thousand degrees Celsius, and boost the destructive ability of the shell.

He also pointed to the types of weapons used by the occupation during the recent aggression on the Gaza Strip, noting that among those weapons there are 3types of ammunition which have been used for the first time.

Major Abu Murad noted that the occupation had bombed some targets in the Gaza Strip during more than one strike, and confirmed that the occupation targeted Gaza with nearly 3 thousand artillery shells at a rate of 600 raids every night for the seven nights of aggression.

He appealed to the citizens, in case they discover any suspicious object or military ammunition, to get away from it because it may pose a risk to their lives.

(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 03.12.2012)

Benefiet Manifestatie geslaagd

Zaterdag 1 december heeft de projectgroep van de organisatie “Stop het lijden van de Palestijnen” haar eerste manifestatie voor Palestina georganiseerd. Ondanks de koude en de regen kijkt de projectgroep terug op een geslaagde manifestatie.
De organisatie “Stop het lijden van de Palestijnen” is een spontaan ontstane Facebook groep, die binnen enkele uren uitgroeide tot een groep van ruim 11.000 leden en binnen 2 dagen op ruim 13.000 staat; nog dagelijks melden zich nieuwe leden aan. Op de pagina van de groep op Facebook kon men zich aanmelden om aanwezig te zijn, zich op te geven als vrijwilliger of bepaalde zaken te regelen.
Het weer heeft de manifestatie parten gespeeld, zodat de opkomst niet echt groots was te noemen; begonnen met een kleine 50 aanwezigen, bleek het aantal al snel uit te breiden, zeker aangetrokken door de fantastische muziek.
Op Facebook werd  dagen voor de manifestatie met 2 flyers volop reclame gemaakt en posts op verschillende pagina’s.

De manifestatie was opgezet om geld op te halen, medische hulpmiddelen en kleding. Voor de middag was een programma opgezet met sprekers, muziek en een heuse veiling, waarbij de middag aan elkaar werd gepraat door de presentator Hatim Filali; een presentator die weet waarover gesproken wordt als het onderwerp Palestina wordt aangekaart.  De middag heeft een publiek bijeen gebracht dat genoot van het getoonde op het podium en het resultaat van de manifestatie was daarom ook bijna € 800, vier dozen aan medische hulpmiddelen en vier zakken aan kleding.

Het publiek heeft kunnen genieten – en dat was ook duidelijk te merken – van de Anasheed muziek van de Kunststichting de Regenboog, de muziek van Hajar (van Koor El Wahda), muziek van Hamouda Slawi, Abid el Haddaoui, Saddiq Tazi, Amine, Zouhair op de keyboard, Mohammed op de darbooka  en een Anasheed groep uit Antwerpen.  De muziek werd onderbroken door speeches van Jose van Leeuwen (over Palestina en acties tegen Israël) , Rabi’a  uit België (met enkele fantastische gedichten) en een persoonlijk verhaal over zijn reis naar Gaza van Imad Ben.  De geslaagde middag werd afgesloten met een Aya en Du’a voor Palestina door Ahmet But. Om de manifestatie waren kraampjes neergezet waar men van alles kon kopen over en van Palestina. Bij de veiling heeft men kunnen bieden op enkele kunstwerken en andere zaken.

De projectgroep kan terugkijken op een geslaagde Benefiet Manifestatie voor Palestina, met een zeer klein budget en een enkele sponsor. Na afloop werd er al voorzichtig aangekondigd dat dit de eerste manifestatie was die deze projectgroep heeft georganiseerd, maar dat men toch eens gaat onderzoeken naar een meer continue hulp en support voor Palestina.  

PFLP’s Leila Khaled to visit Gaza Tuesday

 

A mural of Leila Khaled on Israel’s separation wall in Bethlehem.

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Leila Khaled, the iconic Palestinian resistance fighter and PFLP member, will visit the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, a party official said.

Senior PFLP leader Kayid al-Ghoul said Khaled will take part in anniversary celebrations for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian, and will be briefed on the damage caused by Israel’s recent eight-day assault on the coastal enclave.

Khaled, born in Haifa but forced to flee to Lebanon in 1948, gained worldwide notoriety for her role in the PFLP’s strategy of hijacking aircraft carriers in the late 1960’s and 1970’s.

She currently lives in Amman, Jordan.

(www.maannews.net / 03.12.2012)

Syrian foreign ministry spokesman sacked: reports

Syria’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi often spoke at news conferences in Damascus to set out Syria's response to the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. (AFP)

Syria’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi often spoke at news conferences in Damascus to set out Syria’s response to the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi has been sacked for making statements which did not reflect official government positions, Lebanon’s al-Manar Television said on Monday.

Makdissi often spoke at news conferences in Damascus to set out Syria’s response to the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad but was rarely seen in the media in recent weeks, raising speculation that he may have defected.

Makdissi’s mobile telephone was switched off on Monday evening and there was no immediate comment on Syrian state media.

(english.alarabiya.net / 03.12.2012)

UPDATE: Addameer researcher and human rights defender Ayman Nasser has detention period extended once again

Ramallah, 3 December 2012 – Last week Addameer reported that Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) presented Addameer  researcher and human rights defender Ayman Nasser with his list of charges. All of these charges revolve around participating in demonstrations for Prisoners Day and Palestinian icon Ali Abu Musta.

Today Ayman was denied bail at a hearing in Ofer Israeli military court, and therefore will remain in detention until the end of his trial. Addameer’s legal unit is working to appeal the court’s decision at his next hearing which will take place on 17 December 2012. To date Ayman has been detained for 48 consecutive days.

Ayman’s unwarranted charges are evidence of IOF attempts to threaten the work of human rights defenders, and specifically those who advocate for prisoners rights. Ayman is accused of participating in demonstrations that are attended by all sectors of society, as they are annual commemorations that take place in the streets and public squares.

According to the United Nation’s Declaration on Human Rights Defenders  Ayman Nasser’s detention is illegal by international law standards. Article 12.1 states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Ayman is being detained and tried for his defense of human rights, particularly those of Palestinian political prisoners. Addameer demand’s that Ayman be freed from IOF prison immediately, and that IOF arrests and detention of human rights activists cease immediately.

(www.addameer.org / 03.12.2012)

Sweden summons Israeli ambassador over settlements

 

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) — Sweden has summoned the Israeli ambassador in Stockholm to a meeting, the foreign ministry said on Monday, as governments across Europe acted to express concern over Israel’s plans to expand Jewish settlements on occupied land.

Britain and France summoned Israeli ambassadors and were weighing other measures over the move to build 3,000 settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the wake of the Palestinians winning de facto UN recognition of statehood.

(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 03.12.2012)

Israel Asked Jordan For Approval to Bomb Syrian WMD Sites

Anxiety is increasing about the prospect of a desperate Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons against his rapidly proliferating enemies. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Assad that such chemical weapons use would cross a U.S. red line: “I’m not going to telegraph in any specifics what we would do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people. But suffice to say we are certainly planning to take action.”

This new level of anxiety was prompted by reports that Assad’s forces have been moving chemical weapons, according to David Sanger and Eric Schmitt in The Times. They report that one American official told them that “the activity we are seeing suggests some potential chemical weapon preparation,” though the official “declined to offer more specifics of what those preparations entailed.”

The U.S. is not the only country worried about the possible use of chemical weapons. Intelligence officials in two countries told me recently that the Israeli government has twice come to the Jordanian government with a plan to take out many of Syria’s chemical weapons sites. According to these two officials, Israel has been seeking Jordan’s “permission” to bomb these sites, but the Jordanians have so far declined to grant such permission.

Of course, Israel can attack these sites without Jordanian approval (in 2007, the Israeli Air Force destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor), but one official told me that the Israelis are concerned about the possible repercussions of such an attack on Jordan. “A number of sites are not far from the border,” he said, further explaining: “The Jordanians have to be very careful about provoking the regime and they assume the Syrians would suspect Jordanian complicity in an Israeli attack.” Intelligence sources told me that Israeli drones are patrolling the skies over the Jordan-Syria border, and that both American and Israeli drones are keeping watch over suspected Syrian chemical weapons sites.

He went on to provide context of the Israeli request: “You know the Israelis — sometimes they want to bomb right away. But they were told that from the Jordanian perspective, the time was not right.” The Israeli requests were made in the last two months, communicated by Mossad intermediaries dispatched by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office, according to these sources. (I asked the Israeli embassy in Washington for comment on this, but received no answer.)

Jordan and Israel closely cooperate on security matters, and Jordan itself has become a hub of anti-Assad activity. Sources told me that the U.S., Jordan and their Arab Gulf allies have established a “war room” coordinated by the Jordanian General Intelligence Department (GID), which is organizing efforts to screen Syrian militants for jihadist sympathies, and to provide those without jihadist connections or proclivities with training and equipment. The “war room” was established in part to counter the influence of Turkish and Qatari supporters of more religiously militant anti-Assad fighters. Jordanian intelligence is also concerned about the Syrian regime infiltrating sleeper agents into the main Syrian refugee camp in Jordan near Zaatari, and into Jordanian cities, which are already temporary home to tens of thousands of refugees.

(www.theatlantic.com / 03.12.2012)

Frida Ghitis: How to start solving Gaza’s problems

  • When watching the continuing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, many have held on to a profoundly mistaken idea. I heard it again just recently from an otherwise well-informed observer. The conflict, this acquaintance confidently declared, will not be resolved until Israel lifts the blockade of Gaza.

The trouble with this line of thinking is that it ignores everything Hamas itself has stated about its goals, beliefs and strategy.

To understand the dispute it is not necessary to listen to a single word Israel says. A good starting point is Hamas’ charter, easily found in many places online, including this one from Yale University at avalon.law.yale.edu/ 20th-century/hamas.asp.

The Covenant explains Hamas in great detail. It makes for a very educational read for anyone with an interest in understanding the tragedy that has befallen the people of Gaza.

For those uninclined to read the document, let me offer some highlights and a brief summary. Essentially, Hamas is committed, in writing, to Israel’s destruction. It opposes negotiations, and it considers Jews, not just Israeli Jews, the enemy.

The Hamas Covenant gets to the point quickly. “Israel will exist … until Islam will obliterate it.” Then the introduction helpfully explains, “Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious.”

Hamas rejects the existence of a Jewish state because it considers the land, as Article Eleven states, an “Islamic Waqf” a divine, unalterable endowment, “for future generations until Judgment Day.” That applies to every inch of the territory, as its leaders have frequently said “from the river to the sea.” So, we’re not talking about the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, what Westerners normally call the occupied territory.

Hamas considers every piece of land on which Israel stands, including Tel Aviv, Haifa, the Galilee, all of Jerusalem – all of it – as exclusively Muslim land, by divine grant, for which it must fight to the death.

Hamas leaders may occasionally agree to ceasefires, or talk in conciliatory tones to the Western media, but their objective, clearly stated, is that nobody has a right to negotiate. “Who could claim the right to represent Muslim generations until judgment day?” asks the charter.

So, the fight is not about negotiating a two-state solution; much less about lifting a siege.

Hamas considers all of Israel “occupied” Muslim land. And speaking of occupation, in 2005 Israel withdrew every single one of its soldiers, along with tens of thousands of Jews who lived in Gaza.

Many people still speak of the Gaza “occupation” although Hamas governs a territory without any outside forces – except for the occasional Iranian military advisor. They say it is occupied because Israel keeps control of the sky and at sea. That’s the sky, by the way, across which thousands of rockets fly towards Israel.

When Israel’s critics talk about the “siege” of Gaza, they have a puzzling tendency to ignore Gaza’s other international border, a border with Egypt.

“Humanitarian” flotillas challenge Israel’s sea blockade, a legitimate tool under international law, but they apparently don’t check their maps to realize anything Gaza cannot get from Israel it might obtain across its border with Egypt which, incidentally, is governed by the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is the Palestinian branch.

It’s disingenuous to demand Israel freely open a border to a regime that has proclaimed its intention to destroy it, and it’s dishonest to make that demand when borders are conduits for weapons deliveries from Iran to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Some of the most dangerous missiles fired by Hamas and other Iran-linked groups at Israel – at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem – in the latest round were Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets.

It’s easy to stop noticing the stripes, to hear a purr instead of the roar, but anyone thinking of Hamas and other militant Islamist groups in Gaza as harmless pussy cats can easily be reminded of the sharpness of their claws. Hamas’ charter proclaims in Article Eight that “death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of wishes.”

Before Hamas’ rockets became a daily source of terror for Israelis near Gaza, the group sent scores of suicide bombers into Israeli cities killing hundreds of civilians, including children, fathers, mothers, grandmothers.

A commercial recently aired on Palestinian television addressed Israelis, saying, “We’ve missed suicide attacks. Expect us soon at bus stations and cafes.”

So, to anyone thinking that a lifting of Israel’s strict restrictions on Hamas-held Gaza would put an end to the tensions and the killing, I suggest a few minutes listening to or reading Hamas’ own words.

A real solution would require rescinding Hamas’ commitment to the destruction of the Jewish State, something Israel and other countries have long demanded of Hamas in exchange for lifting sanctions and moving to a constructive relation.

Now, that would really help the people of Gaza.

(Frida Ghitis / www.kansascity.com / 03.12.2012)