Hezbollah leader delivers speech over Syria situation

Hezbollah’s leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah says a militarization of the conflict in Syria will lead to nothing but further damage. He said Syria’s enemies have plotted to stand in the way of a political solution to weaken and ultimately destroy the country.

Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah once again voiced his support for a political solution to the Syrian unrest.

Speaking during a graduation ceremony in Beirut, Nasrallah said the situation in Syria was not a case of the people against the government.

Rather he depicted the situation as a government backed by a significant segment of the people against an armed opposition which also had its share of popular support.

He went on to accuse all sides who reject dialogue in Syria of participating in the crimes being committed in that country. He added that Al-Qaeda had also fallen into a joint Western-Arab trap in Syria, pointing to how Al-Qaeda fighting the Syrian army was inflicting casualties on both sides to the satisfaction of the West.

The end result of the ongoing fighting he implied was to Israel and the US’s benefit.

Hezbollah along with Iran and Syria under Bashar Al-Assad, form the backbone of a regional anti-Israeli alliance. Israeli officials have often cited this alliance as a reason for supporting the ouster of Assad.

Israeli envoy to Washington Michael Oren even said that Syria’s military and logistical support for Hezbollah leads makes Assad worse for Israel, than an Al-Qaeda affiliated extremist Syria.

It has become crystal clear that the conflict in Syria is part of a broader confrontation between Israel and its regional enemies. But what distinguishes the Syrian case is Israel and Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar that are on the same side, insisting on the ouster of Bashar Al-Assad.

(www.presstv.ir / 16.12.2012)

Een welkom einde van ons integratiedebat

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Vorig jaar vroeg het weekblad de Groene 75 wetenschappers naar de tien grootste problemen van Nederland. Het assortiment was gevarieerd, maar ze waren het eens over het meest overschatte probleem: de integratie. Rond die tijd ook verklaarde Frits Bolkestein, als intellectueel altijd de voorhoede aanvoerend, dat het eigenlijk behoorlijk goed ging met de kinderen van immigranten. In maart publiceerden Rotterdam en Amsterdam een gezamenlijk rapport vol met cijfers, De staat van integratie, waarin Han Entzinger en Paul Scheffer concludeerden dat het tijd werd om integratie als concept ten grave te dragen. Ze vonden weerklank op een grote conferentie in Amsterdam, Integrating Cities, waar Europese steden zich bezonnen op integratie. Zelfs Geert Wilders heeft zijn werkterrein verlegd naar Grieken, Oost Europeanen en een guldengerande nostalgie naar een nooit bestaand Nederland.
Twaalf jaar nadat Paul Scheffer de integratie tot een ‘multicultureel drama’ verhief, lijkt zich een nieuwe consensus af te tekenen: het is tijd om een einde maken aan ons blikvernauwende ‘integratiedebat’ en weer eens goed om ons heen te kijken.

Voor degenen die de cijfers volgden is deze ontwikkeling geen verrassing. De rapporten van de SCP en het CBS laten steeds duidelijker zien dat het met de kinderen van onze Turkse, Marokkaanse, Surinaamse en Antilliaanse Nederlanders behoorlijk goed gaat. Het gemiddelde van de levenskenmerken van deze tweede generatie nadert de rest van de samenleving – niet overal maar het gaat beter dan we vaak denken.
Meestal haalde alleen het slechte nieuws de krant, vooral die onverbeterlijke Marokkaanse jongens. Positieve cijfers en indicatoren hadden een korter leven dan een ééndagsvlinder. Er lijkt iets veranderd. Niet alleen onderkent iedereen die serieus bezig is met het onderwerp (en dat zijn, helaas, niet de politici of de regering) dat het best goed gaat met onze integratie, maar vooral zien we weer dat waar Nederland problemen heeft, dat problemen zijn van de hele samenleving.

Marokkaanse rotjong blijven rotjong, maar het is eerlijker en verontrustender om vast te stellen dat we een gigantisch jongerenprobleem hebben. Zuipketen staan niet in de grote steden, ouders maken zich zorgen over comadrinken en permanent blowende scholieren. De voetbalrellen, de bedreiging van het Ajax-bestuur, oudejaarsopstootjes, het uitgaansgeweld (‘zinloos geweld’ in onze newspeak) en in het algemeen losgeslagen jongeren: het is een Nederlands probleem.

Kijk naar ons onderwijs. Er is enorm veel vooruitgang geboekt, zeker als je kijkt naar de toegang tot het hoger beroeps en wetenschappelijk onderwijs. Allochtone meiden gebruiken de kansen die ze krijgen, de jongens volgen in hun spoor. Tegelijkertijd is de schooluitval over de hele linie veel te hoog. Maar het is alles behalve een allochtoon probleem. Dat mochten we willen. We hebben een gigantisch onderwijsprobleem, een VMBO breed probleem.

Witte en zwarte scholen? Inmiddels zijn we het eens dat je moet proberen om het onderwijs op álle scholen te optimaliseren. Zorg dat de scholen goed zijn en de kinderen komen vanzelf – de goede scholen bewijzen het. We moeten ons gewoon met onderwijs bezig houden, in de meest brede zin.
Taalproblemen moeten we zo vroeg mogelijk aanpakken, ze garanderen onderwijsproblemen. Onderzoek laat zien dat ook behoorlijk wat autochtone Nederlanders problemen met hun taalbeheersing en bijpassende achterstanden oplopen. Maak er geen integratiebeleid van. En biedt iedereen die dat wil, jong en oud, gratis cursussen aan – niet verplicht maar wel toegankelijk. Maak het gemakkelijk om volwassenenonderwijs te volgen. Heel wat rotjong van alle soorten en maten komen tot inkeer, geef ze tweede, derde en vierde kansen. Investeringen in onderwijs zijn de meest kosteneffectieve investeringen die een samenleving kan maken.

Nog zo’n waarheid als een koe: niets werkt beter dan algemeen economisch beleid. Jeugdwerkloosheid daalt spectaculair als de economische groei toeneemt, niet door knip- en plakwerk van goedwillende maar ineffectieve organisaties. Hetzelfde geldt voor woningbouw, gezondheidszorg en andere terreinen waarop de overheid een rol speelt: beleid op grote lijnen graag. Natuurlijk zijn er groepsgerelateerde problemen, zoals te dikke Turks Nederlandse kinderen, blowende scholieren of coke snuivende vissers, maar voer gericht beleid, niet integratiebeleid. Laat lokale overheden of instellingen kijken of er wat te doen valt, concludeerden de deelnemers aan Integrating Cities. Voorspelbaar, maar daarom nog niet minder waar.

Het is tijd om ons te concentreren op waar het werkelijk om gaat. We weten dat sociaal economische factoren de doorslag geven voor maatschappelijk ontwikkelingen. Opleiding en sociale status van ouders zijn nog steeds de beste voorspellers van de opleiding en sociale status van kinderen – etnische afkomst is irrelevant, of het moest zijn dat er daar juist méér sociale mobiliteit is. Laten we gewoon vast stellen dat de ouderwetse brede maatschappelijke problemen de enig relevante problemen zijn.
Beleid moet zich richten op de hele samenleving. Want de problemen van slecht opgeleide, slecht verdienende Nederlanders die moeite hebben met globalisering en arbeidsmarkt zijn voor alle burgers gelijk. Allochtone en autochtone burgers in een bepaalde inkomensklasse hebben meer met elkaar gemeen dan met hun ‘groep’. Allemaal verdienen ze een beleid dat iedereen integreert, zoals elk beleid zou moeten doen.

Het echte drama was de culturalisering van ons debat. Twintig jaar geleden vroeg Frits Bolkenstein zich af of moslims wel ooit goede democraten konden worden, geïntegreerd of niet. In zijn boek riep Paul Scheffer op tot een soort leitcultuur van ‘wij’, waarin ‘zij’ dan konden integreren. Zo liep een discussie uit op een confrontatie. Het leverde een misgebakken nationale geschiedenismuseum op, de bizarre ‘rel’ toen Maxima vaststelde ‘de Nederlander’ niet bestond, wat iedereen die in onze verzuilde samenleving opgroeide heel goed weet. Het schiep ook een bloeiende ‘integratie-industrie’ van belangengroepjes, consultants en andere entrepreneurs die er belang bij had problemen te overdrijven, dure rapporten te schrijven en werkverschaffende ‘oplossingen’ voor te stellen.

De politici mogen niet buiten schot blijven. Een aantal van hen misbruikte het debat voor politieke doeleinden en de meeste van hen konden zich niet losmaken van de aanvechting om toch vooral iets ‘te doen’. Gewoon niets doen en sociale processen hun gang laten gaan, was meestal geen optie. De minister of de wethouder diversiteit zal niet gauw zeggen dat beleid niet nodig is. Het rapport Blok, dat in 2004 namens de parlementaire onderzoekscommissie concludeerde dat beleid weinig uitmaakte, werd al voor publicatie afgeserveerd.

Pas echt lelijk werd het debat na de moord op Fortuyn door een dierengek en de moord op Theo van Gogh door een geloofsgek. Het vertroebelde de geesten van mensen die beter moesten weten; een aantal van hen is nog steeds niet tot denken in staat. De PvdA kwam met een ‘wij’-‘zij’-integratienota waar de honden geen brood van lustten en gelukkig de meeste leden ook niet. Zelfs Paul Scheffer, aangevoerd als inspiratiebron, nam er afstand van. Geert Wilders zette bevolkingsgroepen tegen elkaar op. En iedereen riep maar wat hem voor de mond kwam.

Deze verloedering van het debat was erger dan nutteloos, hij was destructief. Willen we echt vaststellen wat een Nederlander een Nederlander maakt? Geert Wilders was zo verstandig om daar niet aan te beginnen – de enkele PVV’er die zich uitte kwam niet verder dan klompen, schaatsen en boerenkool met worst. Wilders kon zwijgen want premier Rutte was veel minder terughoudend: hij zou Nederland teruggeven aan de Nederlanders.
Alle onderzoek laat zien dat bewoners van de grote steden maar ook van diverse regio’s vooral een lokale identiteit hebben. Terwijl Amsterdammer zijn (of Tukker, Fries of Limburger) een heel sterke identiteit is, blijkt het Nederlander zijn weinig of geen inhoud te hebben, niet veel verder te reiken dan die magere symbolen. Dat is eigenlijk ook heel Nederlands.

Een probleem is het niet. Burgemeester Van der Laan spreekt met terechte trots over ‘superdiversiteit’ en wat Amsterdam altijd een wereldstad heeft gemaakt: haar openheid en aantrekkelijkheid voor nieuwkomers. Ahmed Aboutalep is het vleesgeworden bewijs van alles wat hierboven staat: het is zo langzamerhand irrelevant dat hij een Marokkaanse Nederlander is, hij is gewoon de burgemeester van Rotterdam.

Alles wat er over integratie gezegd kon worden is nu wel gezegd. Het is tijd om integratie als concept af te serveren en weer gewoon met maatschappijbreed beleid aan de slag te gaan. Laat de regering maar voorsukkelen in opportunistisch maar irrelevant geteem over ‘mislukte integratie’, Nederland heeft wel wat beters te doen.

Niet alleen integratie kan bij het oud vuil, ook de woorden autochtoon en allochtoon mogen mee. Laten we in elk geval het CBS opdracht geven de categorie ‘derde generatie allochtonen’ te schrappen. Wie kinderen van hier geboren kinderen in een aparte groep zet, zegt dat ze nooit autochtoon kunnen worden. Laat onze overheden hier dan eens iets doen dat niets kost en erg effectief is: dat taalgebruik verbannen.
Paul Scheffers artikel heeft zijn nut gehad. Het was nodig om de deuren en ramen open te gooien en alles te bespreken. In zijn rapport zegt Scheffer zelf nu dat het relevanter is om van de zoektocht naar integratie ‘een bron van maatschappelijke vernieuwing’ te maken. Luider graag.
Het is niet zonder reden dat onze twee grote steden het voortouw nemen. Ze moeten wel, op nationaal niveau wordt een optimistisch en ontspannen verhaal niet gedoogd. Maar het is ook passend. Gemeentebesturen weten dat superdiverse wereldsteden, of zo u wilt, global cities, het voorbeeld moeten geven. Het is hun levensbelang.

Een multicultureel drama is onze integratie het niet geworden. Misschien dankzij Scheffer of wellicht ondanks Scheffer, maar dat doet er nu niet meer toe. Laten we gewoon vaststellen dat we multicultureel zijn in alle opzichten, altijd geweest trouwens. En laten we dat vooral zou houden en de nieuwe consensus omarmen: weg met het integratiedebat.

(Frans Verhagen / www.republiekallochtonie.nl / 16.12.2012)

BBC admits pandering to Israeli propaganda

Young men carry body of slain man in funeral procession.

Israel’s 10 November 2012 killing of 18-year-old Ahmad Dardasawi was not deemed newsworthy by the BBC.

One of the most consistent aspects of the BBC’s reporting of Gaza and Israel is the insistence of its journalists that any “outbreak of violence” is the fault of the Palestinians.

When Israel bombs or shells Gaza, this is unfailingly reported by the BBC as being in “response” or “retaliation” to rockets being fired from the blockaded territory. The unflinching regularity of this one-sided reporting by the UK’s state broadcaster is meticulously recorded in More Bad News from Israel, the book by Greg Philo and Mike Berry which contains research by the Glasgow Media Unit into the BBC’s reporting of the occupation.

The BBC’s coverage of Israel’s most recent assault on Gaza in November was no exception. An article published on the BBC’s website the day Hamas commander Ahmed al-Jabari was assassinated in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City stated that the killing “follows a wave of rocket attacks against Israel from the territory” (“Israeli air strike kills Hamas military chief Jabari,” 14 November 2012).

The article went on to feature an Israeli army spokesperson’s claim that al-Jabari had “a lot of blood on his hands” and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that a “clear message” had been sent to “Hamas and other terrorist organizations.” Netanyahu’s comments ended with the words: “We will continue to do everything to protect our citizens.”

All of Israel’s key propaganda messages were conveyed, while the reality was carefully hidden. There is, of course, the ongoing reality that Israel is an occupier and a serial violator of international law — facts which are buried under the credibility and authority the BBC accords to its politicians and spokespeople and what they say.

Ignoring reality

On an immediate level, another crucial reality was ignored. By assassinating al-Jabari — itself an illegal act of extrajudicial murder which the BBC failed to examine, even as it printed Netanyahu’s triumphal “clear message” — Israel had violated a ceasefire brokered three days earlier.

This information, so casually ditched by the BBC’s journalists — online, on television and on radio news — was absolutely crucial. It emboldened the lie, disseminated across the BBC’s media outlets, that al-Jabari’s killing and the eight-day onslaught that came next followed “a wave of rocket attacks” from Gaza.

It didn’t. Al-Jabari’s assassination and the ensuing attack on Gaza which killed more than 160 Palestinians, including more than 30 children, followed a ceasefire, which the Palestinian groups in Gaza had been observing and may well have carried on observing if Israel hadn’t broken it. Couple this with the fact that, in 2008, Israel broke another ceasefire to instigate a three-week massacre in Gaza, killing 1,400 Palestinians, including 352 children, and a picture builds of an aggressive Israeli state, regularly bombing and shelling a civilian population with no regard for agreed truce arrangements.

Uneasy pattern

Take into account that both attacks on Gaza, in 2008 and 2012, came just months before Israeli elections, and an uneasy pattern begins to emerge — one which responsible journalists would, presumably, want to question and investigate.

Moreover, al-Jabari was killed as he carried with him, in the car that was hit, a draft agreement for a permanent truce with Israel, raising yet another vital question: was Israel trying to sabotage a possible end to the violence?

Such facts and the questions they prompted appeared to be irrelevant to the BBC’s presenters. On 18 November, four days after al-Jabari was killed, Samira Ahmed hosted BBC One’s Sunday Morning Live program. This included a 15-minute debate entitled “Are Israeli military actions justified?” featuring Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, and right-wing political commentator Charlie Wolf.

The justification for military action put forward by Ahmed to start the debate was “Hamasrocket attacks.” And this is where the debate stuck. Any attempt by Atwan to give depth or context to the discussion, by mentioning the blockade, the occupation, or Israel’s year-round attacks on Gaza, were batted away by Ahmed who unfailingly came back with the rejoinder: “But wouldn’t it all stop if Hamas stopped firing rockets?” The implication of course was that Hamas starts violence, and Israel responds because it has to protect its citizens.

That Palestinian rocket attacks might be a response to 45 years of ongoing occupation, combined since 2006 with a crippling blockade, is not a possibility the BBC is willing to discuss on its airwaves.

In just 15 minutes, the former Channel 4 News presenter revealed how completely she has attuned herself to the BBC’s commitment to the Israeli narrative by referring to “Hamas rocket attacks” 15 times, and never once to Israel’s ceasefire violations and the complicated questions these violations raise.

Blaming the victims

This fits in with what would appear to be her employer’s editorial policy on Israel and Gaza. In an email sent on 21 November to a member of the UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and seen by this writer, the BBC Complaints Department explains in some detail how the broadcaster had gone out of its way to lay the blame for the violence of the previous eight days on the Palestinians.

The email, signed off “BBC Complaints,” states: “Since the news of Israeli air strikes in Gaza our coverage has pointed out on numerous occasions that the attacks are in response to recent rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip.”

It adds: “Our initial online report on 14 November pointed to how the attack on Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari and another Hamas official ‘follows a wave of rocket attacks against Israel from the territory’ and how ‘the United States said it supported Israel’s right to self-defense, and condemned militant rocket attacks on southern Israel.’”

Seemingly oblivious to or unfazed by the inaccuracy of its own reporting, the message goes on: “On the BBC’s News at Ten that same evening, the BBC’s Gaza and West Bank correspondent Jon Donnison’s report explained that ‘Israel says the strike followed a wave of rocket attacks from inside Gaza,’ before hearing directly from Israeli Army Spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich as she explained how ‘I can just elaborate that the target of the operation is to protect Israeli civilians. The same lives of Israelis that have been under constant rocket attack for the past year.’”

In a twist of almost comic absurdity, given eight days of reporting which squarely blamed Hamas for the violence and equated the fear caused by the 12-pound and 90-pound Palestinian rockets with the terror induced by Israel’s 500-pound to 2,000-pound bombs, the email ends with: “We will continue to report on developments from the region in a fair, accurate and impartial way.”

The email highlights the BBC’s willingness to ignore facts and important questions — for example, why did Israel really kill al-Jabari? — in favor of a narrative that, deliberately or not, echoes that of the Israeli government.

Child deaths unreported

Less than a week before al-Jabari’s execution, Israel had killed seven Palestinians in Gaza in the space of 48 hours. Of these, five were teenage boys (“New Israeli escalation against the Gaza Strip,” Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 11 November 2012).

The first to die, 13-year-old Ahmad Abu Daqqa, was shot in the abdomen by Israeli soldiers. Two days later, brothers 16-year-old Mohammed Harara and 17-year-old Ahmed Harara were killed playing football when Israeli forces fired shells at their playground. As people rushed to help, three more shells were fired, and an 18-year-old and 19-year-old were killed.

It is safe to assume that if five Israeli teenagers, including two brothers playing football and a 13-year-old, had been killed by Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza, it would be headline news for the BBC.

The Israeli killing of the Palestinian youngsters was ignored on BBC television and prime-time radio news. Even when al-Jabari was killed, four days after the Harara brothers lost their lives, and some kind of premeditated build-up to the eight-day assault began to emerge, the BBC still refused to mention Israel’s two-day killing spree in Gaza a few days earlier.

Official line

All BBC journalists stuck to Israel’s official line that the assassination of 14 November, and what followed, was in retaliation to Palestinian rockets — and conveniently omitted from their reports the fact that Israel had been engaged in killing Palestinian children in the days immediately preceding al-Jabari’s execution.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign wrote to the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs program Today on 12 November to ask why it had not covered the killing of the five Palestinian teenagers on 8 and 10 November.

The program’s assistant editor, Dominic Groves, wrote back to say: “Even in the space of a three hour program it is not always possible to cover every development in a story — especially one as long running and complex as the one in the Middle East.”

And yet the killing of five young boys by Israel isn’t a “development in a story;” it is news in itself. When the Today program can give prominent coverage to a Palestinian rocket attack on a bus in April 2011, which killed a 16-year-old Israeli schoolboy, how can Groves claim the same program has no room to report on the slaughter of five Palestinian boys by the Israeli army? (“Israeli boy Daniel Viflic dies after rocket hits bus,” 18 April 2011).

Since the latest “ceasefire” came into effect on the evening of 21 November, Israel has been flying its F-16s over the skies of Gaza, 40 Gaza fishermen have been detained by Israeli forces, and a 20-year-old Palestinian has been shot and killed by Israeli fire, while 54 Palestinians, including six children have been injured (“Protection of civilians weekly report,” UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 28 November – 4 December 2012 [PDF]).

Like the everyday struggle of Palestinians in Gaza, currently dealing with power cuts lasting eight hours each day, this has gone unreported by the BBC and other mainstream media because no one, yet, is firing rockets back.

(Amena Salee / electronicintifada.net / 16.12.2012)

PA rejects prospects of peace talks with Israel

A crane completes a section of Israel

A crane completes a section of Israel’s controversial separation barrier near Al-Quds’ Shuafat refugee camp on December 5, 2012.
A minister with the Palestinian Authority (PA) says there are no prospects of peace talks with the Israeli regime as its hostile policies towards Palestinians continue.

“There is no peace with the occupation, settlements and settlers,” said Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud al-Habbash on Friday.

He went on to say that Israel’s “constant violations against Palestinians” stood in the way of any negotiations with the Tel Aviv regime.

Direct talks between Tel Aviv and the Palestinian Authority were stalled around three weeks after they had resumed in the US in September 2010 due to Tel Aviv’s refusal to extend a partial freeze on its illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Habbash also said the upcoming general elections which might be held in 2013 are aimed at ending the split between rival Palestinians groups, Fatah and Hamas.

“Holding elections is the door to the reconciliation and those who reject them reject the reconciliation,” he said, adding “our hands are open for reconciliation” with Hamas.

“Despite the differences in our way of thinking and approaches, we all live in one homeland and are in the same boat and we’re facing the same challenges, obstacles and enemy,” Habbash added.

Hamas and Fatah are in talks to form a national unity government.

The two sides have been at odds since Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006, which were lauded as the freest and fairest polls ever held in the Arab world. The dispute marginalized Hamas’ governance to the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip.

(www.presstv.ir / 16.12.2012)

De MoslimConsumentenVereniging

De MoslimConsumentenVereniging wil een organisatie zijn die (halal) producten, diensten en voorzieningen helpt realiseren.

De eerste generatie moslims in Nederland heeft hard gewerkt om moskeeën op te richten. Van deze erfenis genieten we nog dagelijks. Dit was hun uitdaging. Onze tijd brengt nieuwe uitdagingen. Hoe kunnen we halal eten, hoe kunnen we op een islamitisch verantwoorde manier onze geldzaken regelen? Waar zijn deze producten en diensten te vinden? Hoe kunnen we beoordelen of ze betrouwbaar zijn? Als moslimconsumenten-vereniging kunnen we deze zaken en vele andere zaken regelen, voor onszelf en voor de generaties na ons.

De directe aanleiding voor het initiëren van de vereniging waren de gebeurtenissen rond de initiatiefwet van de Partij voor de Dieren uit 2011 om de rituele slacht (d.i. halssnede zonder voorafgaande kopschoten, elektrocutie of vergassing) te verbieden. Het debat was voor voor- en tegenstanders verwarrend, de moslims waren moeilijk te bereiken, en de moslims werden er zich voor het eerst bewust van dat er in de halalmarkt nog heel wat te verbeteren valt.

Meer consumentenbewustzijn onder moslims, effectieve belangenbehartiging van moslimconsumenten en betere productinformatie voor moslims zijn als belangrijke behoeften van de moslimgemeenschap naar voren gekomen. Deze behoeften laten zich verder vertalen naar de behoeften van individuele moslimconsumenten. Op tal van vlakken ontbreekt het de moslimconsument aan specifieke (halal) producten, diensten en voorzieningen of laat de kwaliteit daarvan te wensen over. De stelling is dat hier nog een hele wereld te winnen is.

De vereniging wil haar belangenbehartiging gepaard laten gaan met onafhankelijkheid en directe inspraak van de leden, met gedegen professionaliteit en efficiëntie, en met openheid en betrokken leiderschap.

Belangenbehartiging, directe inspraak, onafhankelijkheid en professionaliteit bij het verwezenlijken van wensen van moslimconsumenten zijn ongeveer de ingrediënten voor de oprichting van deze landelijke moslimconsumenten-vereniging.

» De MoslimConsumentenVereniging is een organisatie waar iedereen lid van kan worden die zich betrokken voelt bij de moslims in Nederland. «

(www.demoslimconsumentenvereniging.nl / 16.12.2012)

Fayyad calls for economic boycott of Israel

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad on Sunday called for Palestinians to launch an economic boycott of Israel, Ma’an’s correspondent said.

Speaking with journalists in Ramallah, the PA premier said Palestinians should boycott Israeli products in response to Israel withholding the PA’s tax revenues.

Ex-Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday that his government would withhold the funds, some $100 million a month, until at least March in response to Abbas’ statehood campaign at the United Nations.

The boycott should apply to all Israeli products, not just those made in illegal settlements, Fayyad added.

In the long-term it is vital that the PA receives funding, the PA prime minister said, calling for an urgent Arab summit to address the financial crisis. The PA needs $240 million per month, he added, urging Arab governments to fulfill their promises of $100 million in aid per month.

This week, the Arab League began calling in donor pledges to Palestine from its members, but could not confirm the exact date the so-called Arab safety net will be transferred to the government.

Assistant Secretary General of Palestine Affairs in the Arab League Mohammad Sbeih told Ma’an that the group had opened communications with Arab states over the $100 million monthly payment promised.

Last Sunday, Arab states agreed to provide the PA with a monthly “financial safety net” to help President Mahmoud Abbas’s government cope with an economic crisis after the United Nations granted de facto statehood to Palestine.

(www.maannews.net / 16.12.2012)

Assad prepares to ‘fight to his last bullet’ in Alawite hometown: report

President Bashar al-Assad is facing a lingering 22-month-old uprising against his rule. (AFP)

President Bashar al-Assad is facing a lingering 22-month-old uprising against his rule.

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is reportedly planning an escape from Damascus, preparing for a last stand in his home town, The Sunday Times reported this week.

The embattled leader, facing a lingering 22-month-old uprising against his rule, is preparing for the “worst case scenario,” according to a Russian source who spoke to the newspaper.

The story cites unconfirmed report suggesting Assad “may already have moved members of his family to the town of Qardaha, the family’s ancestral home, where they were being guarded by loyal Alawite special forces.”

Assad plans to “fight to his last bullet” the Russian source told The Times, which highlighted that at least seven largely Alawite commando battalions and up to one ballistic missile battalion had been redeployed to the Alawite territory earlier this month, says Middle East intelligence sources.

They add the missile battalion was equipped with chemical munitions, noting “Assad’s forces mined roads along the border and moved Elite Special Forces to monitor the area,” the newspaper said.

This reflects on recent reports that a flood of Alawites were fleeing to a sanctuary along the Mediterranean coast between Lebanon and Turkey.

Alawites, who make up about 12 percent of the Syrian population, have largely stayed loyal to President Assad. Many occupy key positions in the government and security forces.

If Assad were to take his last battle to his home town, the Russian source told the paper that Assad’s army could “fight on for months with the help of … a sympathetic local population.”

The source is reported to have met with Assad several times since the start of the Syrian uprising, which erupted in March 2011.

“The Americans know that the Alawites are well trained and well equipped and that they have no choice but to fight to the bitter end,” he emphasized, in reference to continued U.S. condemnation of the deadly Syrian army attacks on the civilian population.

The newspaper says the source, who has also been involved in talks with U.S. officials, was disappointed by last week’s American decision to recognize a coalition of opposition forces as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

In a meeting between him and Assad, the Syrian leader reportedly said: “Mubarak may have gone but Egypt remains. But if I go, none of Syria remains.”

At least 40,000 people have been killed in violence across the country since the outbreak of an antiregime revolt, with major attacks reported in Sunni villages, including Tremesh, Rastan and Houla – all of which lie on the which lie on the eastern edge of Alawite territory.

(english.alarabiya.net / 16.12.2012)

Bahrain: Disturbing Updates on the Current Situation of Talib Ali and 4 Other Citizens kidnapped by the authorities

 


Photo (Left to Right) : Saeed Al Hirz, Ahmed Abdullah, Ebrahim Al-Sharqi, Talib Ali, Hassan Al-Moalim
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its grave concern over the well-being of 5 citizens of Mehazza, who have reportedly been kidnapped by the Bahraini authorities in Nov 2012 following the siege and house raids on the village (see BCHR report for more detailsbahrainrights.org/en/node/5536). These men were taken by the security forces without any information about their location being known for several weeks, and now they are being detained in Bahraini prisons while sham charges are being brought against them. According to received information, these men are being ill-treated, they are being tortured, and they have been denied access to adequate medical care.

Said Yousif Al-Muhafadha, Acting Vice President and Head of Monitoring at the BCHR met with the families of detainees after the men were first allowed to receive visitors. This was several weeks after they were first kidnapped by the Bahraini authorities. Al-Muhafdha received very disturbing and worrying updates from the families on the detainees’ current situation.
The family of Talib Ali (36 years-old, and father of two children), who was reportedly kidnapped from his car on the 14th of November 2012, stated that Talib informed them that he was severely tortured and sexually assaulted. His family members reported that Talib was beaten with sticks all over his body, and especially in his face, they were able to see that his eyes were very red and his face was swollen.


Photo: Daughter of Talib Ali holding a poster that reads in Arabic, “State their Fate”
 

His family stated that Talib became partially deaf in his right ear and that his right jaw is broken due to the repeated beatings that he was subjected to for 15 days. Tabil informed his family that he was shocked with electric wires on his stomach, waist and the private parts of his body. They were able to see that Talib is missing 4 finger nails. Two finger nails were reportedly removed from each hand while he was being tortured.

Talib was taken to the 7th floor at the Public Prosecution office on the 16th of November, 2012, at 1:00 AM to be interrogated by Public Prosecutor Fahad Al-Boainain. Talib stated to his family that Al-Boainain put a gun on the table and threatened to kill Talib if he did not confess to the fabricated charges against him, which allege that he participated in bombings in Adliya city; as many as 15 police officers were waiting to beat him if he did not sign the document.

Talib was deprived of his right to have a lawyer present while being interrogated and while at the public prosecution. The BCHR documented many reports on the complicity of the Public Prosecution in supporting these human rights violations.
(Read more : bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5357 )

Talib is now reportedly being held at Hid Police Station in solitary confinement, where he is being blind folded and handcuffed while under high security surveillance as reported by his family.

Along with Talib, Saeed Al Hirz, Ahmed Abdullah, Ebrahim Al-Sharqi, and Hassan Al-Moalim also stand accused of the same alleged crimes and their families confirmed to BCHR that they were also subjected to severe torture, with the support of the public prosecution. All of these men are all in solitary confinement. Their health has deteriorated to the point that they are hallucinating, and adequate healthcare is still not being provided to them.

Therefore, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights demands the following:

• The immediate intervention of the international community, human rights groups and the United Nations to put an end to the arbitrary arrests and brutal torture practices employed by Bahrain’s Security Forces.

• The release of Talib Ali and others convicted in cases where the judgment is only based on confessions extracted under torture, which is internationally prohibited.

• The investigation into claims of systematic torture.

• Accountability against those involved in torture and bringing them to a fair and independent judiciary.

(www.bahrainrights.org / 16.12.2012)

Women

Over the last 45 years, an estimated 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested and/or detained under Israeli military orders. As of 1 September 2012, 7 Palestinian women remain incarcerated in Israel’s detention centers and prisons.

Number of women held in Israeli prison at the beginning of the month since January 2010
(Statistics based on Addameer’s documentation)
Jan
Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2010 36 36 36 35 36 34 38 38 37 36 39 40
2011 37 35 37 37 37 37 35 33 33  36  11  11
2012 6 5 5 6 7 6 6 6 7

Palestinian women are held mainly in Hasharon and Damon prisons. Both of these prisons are located outside the 1967 occupied territory, in direct contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an Occupying Power must detain residents of occupied territory in prisons inside the occupied territory.

In addition to the illegality of Israel’s practices under international law, the practical consequence of this system is that many prisoners have difficulty meeting with Palestinian defense counsel, and do not receive family visits as their attorneys and relatives are denied permits to visit on “security grounds”. Moreover, both Hasharon and Damon prisons lack a gender-sensitive approach and, as such, women prisoners often suffer from harsh imprisonment conditions including medical negligence, denial of education, denial of family visits, including for mothers with young children, solitary confinement, overcrowded cells which are often filled with insects and dirt, and lack natural light. Personal health and hygiene needs are rarely addressed by prisons authorities, even in cases involving the detention of pregnant women.
Moreover, the majority of Palestinian women prisoners are subjected to some form of psychological torture and ill-treatment throughout the process of their arrest and detention, including various forms of sexual violence that occur such as beatings, insults, threats, body searches,  and sexually explicit harassment. Upon arrest, women detainees are not informed where they are being taken and are rarely explained their rights during interrogation. These techniques of torture and ill-treatment are used not only as means to intimidate Palestinian women detainees but also as tools to humiliate Palestinian women and coerce them into giving confessions. While Israel’s prison authorities and military forces recruit women soldiers to detain, and accompany women prisoners during transfers, the female soldiers responsible for these procedures are no less violent towards Palestinian detainees than their male counterparts. In January 2010, Breaking the Silence, an Israeli NGO which collects anonymous testimonies from Israel’s occupation forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, released a 122-page booklet documenting the increasing levels of violence inflicted upon Palestinians by Israeli women soldiers. The testimonies compiled in the study reveal that the Israeli women soldiers deploy violent methods of control against Palestinian men and women in an effort to seek respect and recognition from male soldiers and their superiors.
 
CONTINUOUS VIOLATIONS OF PALESTINIAN WOMEN PRISONER’S BASIC RIGHTS: UNLAWFUL CONDITIONS UNDER ISRAELI DETENTION
While Israeli detention conditions vary from prison to prison, in no case do they meet women’s needs or international legal standards. Currently Neve Terza Prison in Ramleh is the only specialized women’s prison facility in all of Israel. Many women have been detained there since the wave of arrests that accompanied events following the beginning of the Second Intifada in September 2000, in a special section designated for what Israel classifies as “security prisoners”. One of the many effects of being classified as a ‘security prisoner’ is that Palestinian women political prisoners under this classification are sometimes placed in the same cells as Israeli women criminal offenders who take it upon themselves to threaten, assault and humiliate them through various forms of verbal and physical abuse. In addition, Palestinian women detainees are also discriminated against in the facility; enjoying less or at times, no recreation time, and living in dorms without access to books, newspapers or other media. Neve Terza also holds Palestinian women kept in isolation and for short-term detentions during transfers. Other women detainees are imprisoned in old jails that date back to the British Mandate period (1922-1948) and lack modern day infrastructure. These facilities, designed for and by men, consequently rarely meet the gender-specific needs of women prisoners.
Since the Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice in 2000, which focused in part on the special needs of women as criminal justice personnel, victims, offenders and prisoners, many studies have shown that women’s needs in prison deserve special attention from the United Nations, policy-makers and practitioners. Among the set of needs specific to women prisoners, issues pertaining to health care require urgent attention, a right strategically denied by Israeli Prison Service (IPS).
The IPS has adopted a systematic policy of medical negligence regarding Palestinian prisoners held in its prisons and detention centers. In addition to medical negligence, the denial of cultural and gender sensitive medical treatment has acutely affected women prisoners heath conditions pre and post-release. A study conducted by Addameer in September 2008 revealed thatapproximately 38% of Palestinian female prisoners suffer from treatable diseases that go untreated. The poor quality of food and lack of essential nutrients cause women detainees to suffer from weight loss, general weakness, anaemia and iron deficiency. They are also exposed to harsh treatment (such as routine practices of physical and psychological punishment and humiliation) from both male and female prison guards, who demonstrate little to no regard for their wellbeing or special needs, even when ill or pregnant.
Harsh imprisonment conditions such as lack of fresh air and sunlight, moisture in the winter and heat in the summer, dirty overcrowded cells which are infested with insects, combined with stress, poor diet and isolation from families contribute to frequent menstruation perturbations. Many women also suffer from rheumatism and dermatological problems due to the moisture infiltrating their cells in the winter. In the summer, poor ventilation, lack of fresh air and the prevalence of cockroaches and other bugs also contribute to skin diseases. Despite requests made by women prisoners, the prison authorities have repeatedly refused to provide them with cleaning products.
Palestinian women prisoners suffering from treatable diseases such as asthma, diabetes, kidney and eye diseases, sickle cell anaemia, cancer, and seizures have little to no access to medical services. Long delays in providing substandard medical treatment are typical. Although all prisons include a medical clinic, physicians are on duty irregularly and specialized medical healthcare is generally unavailable. To date, there are no specialized gynecological services available for Palestinian women held in Israeli prisons and detention centers, despite their continuous requests for access to such services and complaints launched against the IPS’s repeated denials. Of particular concern is the absence of trained Arabic-speaking female medical specialists. The denial of gender-sensitive social services, in addition to culturally and religiously sensitive treatment, place women who are suffering from health concerns in an extremely vulnerable and uncomfortable position. For instance, when women prisoners require hospitalization in Israeli institutions, the gynecological care that is provided is often culturally insensitive, causing them further stress. This form of discrimination is compounded by the denial of other forms of culturally and religiously sensitive social services and professionals. The effects of this discriminatory treatment amount to violations of Palestinian women’s human rights and, accordingly, often lead to conditions of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
 
DENIAL OF RIGHTS TO PREGNANT WOMEN PRISONERS PRE AND POST DELIVERY
Pregnant Palestinian women have not escaped the mass arrests of Palestinian civilians under Israel’s unlawful occupation regime. Between 2003 –2008, Addameer documented four cases of Palestinian women detainees who were forced to give birth while held in Israeli prisons; all of whom received very limited to no pre- and post-natal care.
As the incarceration of pregnant women poses a high risk not only to the woman herself, but also to the birth outcomes, posterior growth and development of the newborn, their cases are of outmost concern. Pregnant women in Israeli prisons and detention centers do not enjoy any preferential treatment in terms of diet, living space or transfers to hospitals.
Pregnant detainees who are transferred to hospitals to give birth are moved only under strict security supervision, with the woman’s hands and feet typically shackled with metal chains. The women are then chained to their beds until they enter the delivery room and are shackled once again only minutes after delivery.
Article 12 of the Convention to End all Discrimination Against Women, ratified by Israel on 3 October 1981, stipulates that “States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation”.
 
STRIP AND BODY SEARCHES: ISRAELI STATE PRACTICES OF SEXUAL TORTURE
 
A frequent complaint expressed by many Palestinian women political prisoners is Israel’s routine and systematic practice of strip and body searching, a process by which almost all of their clothing is forcibly removed by Israeli soldiers, sometimes including their undergarments. During strip searches, female prisoners are often asked to squat while naked, and are frequently subjected to intrusive internal body searches. Those who refuse to comply with these practices are often sent to isolation cells. These searches often occur during transfers to court hearings, and can sometimes take place in the middle of the night as a punitive measure. According to Dr. Mahmoud Saiwail, the director of a treatment and rehabilitation centre for victims of torture in Ramallah, strip searches of women prisoners can even amount to torture in certain circumstances.
Sexual harassment of Palestinian women prisoners also occurs through threats of rape (including threats of rape of their family members) and sexually degrading insults made by prison personnel. These occurrences are a fundamental part of Palestinian women’s prison experience and should be understood as a common and systematic form of racial and gender-based State violence. Research has shown that Israel’s prison authorities deliberately exploit Palestinian women’s fears by playing on patriarchal norms as well as gender stereotypes within particular customs of Palestinian society. Accordingly, occurrences of sexual assault are a sensitive issue for Palestinian women and their families, making post-assault resources difficult to obtain. Israel’s routine practice of strip and body searching women prisoners as a method of punishment violates its obligations under both international human rights and humanitarian law, including the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states in Article 7 that: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Similarly, Article 3(1)(c) of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) forbids “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment”.
Relevant Addameer Publications:
Relevant Prisoner Profiles:

(1)     Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War, Geneva, 12 August 1949
(2)     Breaking the Silence. 31 January 2010
(3)     Nahla Abdo, “Palestinian Munadelat: Between Western Representation and Live Reality,” in Thinking Palesine, ed. Ronit Lentin, Zed Books, New York, 2008
(4)     Peace Women, “Israel and the Occupied Territories, Conflict, Occupation and Patriarchy: Women Carry the Burden”, 31 March 2005 (available at: http://www.peacewomen.org/resources/OPT/Womencarryburden.html)

(www.addameer.org / 16.12.2012)

PA condemns Syrian regime after Yarmouk attack

Syria is home to nearly 500,000 UN-registered Palestinian refugees.

RAMALLAH (Reuters) — The Palestinian Authority leadership condemned the Syrian regime on Sunday after Bashar Assad’s forces attacked a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, killing at least 25 people.

“We hold Bashar Assad and his regime responsible for this crime in Yarmouk camp, which clearly reveals that this regime knows no limits in its approach to criminal murder and destruction,” Senior PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo told Reuters.

“In the Yarmouk refugee camp massacre and everywhere in Syria, the international community must put an end to a system of murder and terrorism in Syria before they burn the whole region.”

Syrian fighter jets rocketed the Palestinian Yarmouk camp in Damascus on Sunday, killing at least 25 people sheltering in a mosque in an area where Syrian rebels have been trying to advance on the capital, opposition activists said.

They said the deaths resulted from a rocket hitting a mosque in the camp, to which refugees have fled from other fighting in nearby suburbs of Damascus. It was the first reported aerial attack on the camp since the revolt against President Bashar Assad erupted last year.

A video posted on Youtube shows bodies and body parts scattered on the stairs of what appears to be the mosque.

“We are following up with our people in Syria about the conditions on the ground and we will take all measures that enable us to protect our people at all levels,” Abed Rabbo said.

Syria is the home of more that 500,000 Palestinian refugees, most of them living in Yarmouk. Assad’s government and Syrian rebels have enlisted and armed Palestinians refugees during the 21-month uprising, which has escalated into a civil war

Heavy fighting broke out 12 days ago between Palestinians loyal to Assad and Syrian rebels, together with a brigade of Palestinian fighters known as Liwaa al-Asifah (Storm Brigade).

The fighting intensified on Saturday with rebels gaining ground inside the camp, forcing Ahmed Jibril, a veteran leader of a Damascus-based Palestinian faction that back Assad to leave the capital with his son.

Jibril’s PFLP-GC has maintained strong ties to Assad throughout the uprising, unlike Hamas whose Damascus-based officials – including leader-in-exile Khaled Mashaal – quietly pulled out of Syria as the mainly Sunni Muslim revolt against Assad gained momentum.

In November, the PLO said that around 600 Palestinians had been killed in the Syrian conflict.

(www.maannews.net / 16.12.2012)