Syrian forces ‘kill 12’ as pressure mounts on Assad

DAMASCUS (AFP) — Security forces in Syria shot dead at least 12 people in operations across the country on Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, as pressure mounted on the regime to end the crackdown.

The latest deaths came after UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for “coherent” global action over President Bashar Assad’s deadly response to dissent, as dissidents marked six months of anti-regime protests in Syria.

And Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Libyan capital on the final leg of his “Arab Spring” tour, lashed out at Assad, telling him that the era of oppressive dictators is past.

“Four people were killed and 11 more were wounded — three of them seriously — during search and seize operations in the town of Hilfaya” 10 miles from Hama city, the Britain-based group told AFP in Nicosia.

“One person was also killed in the village of Khattab in Hama province,” it added.

Elsewhere, three people were killed in the villages of Sarjeh and Kfar Weid in the northwestern region of Jebel al-Zawiya after being detained, the Observatory said.

In the central city of Homs, two demonstrators were shot dead by security forces when several thousand people gathered to protest, activists said.

And one person was shot dead by security forces in the Nahr Aisha quarter of Damascus, and one was killed in Douma, also in the capital, the Observatory said.

It also reported the discovery of eight bodies — six in Jebel al-Zawiya and another two in Homs. It said most had been killed over the past 24 hours.

State television said one member of the security forces was killed and another four were wounded at Basr al-Harir in Daraa province in the south during an attack by “armed groups.”

In the city of Hama itself, security agents “surrounded the Saad bin Abi Waqas mosque” anticipating an anti-regime protest after Friday prayers, activists there reported.

In July, Hama saw protests by hundreds of thousands of people calling for the downfall of Assad’s regime, but the rallies were put down by security forces using deadly violence.

Citing activists on the ground, the Observatory also reported several tanks and troop transports bearing down on the northwest town of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province.

It said security operations in Idlib on Thursday resulted in the deaths of two people, 73 arrests and another nine people missing.

Elsewhere, communications were still cut on Friday in Zabadani some 30 miles northwest of Damascus. One man has been reported killed and 153 people arrested there since Tuesday.

Opposition protesters had called for more rallies on Friday, the Muslim day of weekly prayer when demonstrations tend to be the heaviest, undaunted by the crackdown that the United Nations says has killed more than 2,600 people.

The rallies were to be staged under the slogan “we advance toward the fall of the regime.”

Ban said on Thursday of Assad that “when he has not been keeping his promises, enough is enough and the international community should really take coherent measures and speak in one voice.”

The UN chief has had several telephone conversations with Assad since the protests erupted on March 15, during which the president repeatedly promised to end the bloody crackdown and institute political reforms.

“Six months. More than ever determined to (continue) the March 15 uprising,” activists wrote on Facebook page The Syrian Revolution 2011, one of the main engines of the revolt.

“We have been massacred and we are more determined than ever; we have been thrown in prison and are more determined than ever,” the page said. “The revolution has burst forth and will not stop until the regime is overthrown.”

In Tripoli, Erdogan said on Friday that “those who oppress the people of Syria… should understand that his time is is past because the era of repressive regimes has ended.”

A Turkish daily, meanwhile, quoted the Turkish premier as saying Ankara has warned Iran “not to spoil” the Syrian leadership by encouraging Damascus in its crackdown on dissent.

Erdogan said he had discussed the matter with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, which accuses its arch-foes Israel and the United States of stirring up trouble in Syria.

Syrian opposition figures in Turkey announced a list of names of people on the “Syrian National Council” on Thursday, in a move welcomed by the US State Department.

The Red Cross meanwhile condemned attacks on medical services in Syria, saying relief workers and ambulances have come under fire on several occasions.

“It is completely unacceptable that volunteers who are helping to save other people’s lives end up losing their own,” said Beatrice Megevand-Roggo, the International Committee of the Red Cross’ operations head in the region.

A Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteer died week from injuries and two other volunteers were hurt after their ambulance was caught in heavy fire while transporting a wounded person to hospital, said the relief agency.

(www.maannews.net / 17.09.2011)

Rising Against Islamophobia – Newcastle’s multi-cultural Celebration

Tijd
zaterdag 29 oktober · 12:00 – 16:00

Locatie
Grey’s Monument, Newcastle


Gemaakt door:

Supported by Unison, Northern Public Services Alliance, Coalition of Resistance, Stop the War Coalition, Show Racism the Red Card, Enough Coalition Against Islamophobia, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC), writer and broadcaster Yvonne Ridley, councillor Dipu Ahad and more…

Speakers and music – at Grey’s Monument from midday. More details to follow soon.

Official prejudice against Muslims is turning into state pers…ecution in country after country across Europe.

In France we see Muslim women arrested in the street for what they wear. In Switzerland, minarets have been prohibited; elsewhere Halal food is banned from schools and immigration from ‘Muslim countries’ is openly discouraged. In Germany there has been no official condemnation of an Islamophobic murder.

In Britain, Muslims face defamation in the media as well as threats and attacks on mosques. The authorities often collude in this victimization. Too many politicians are joining in the chorus of demonization. Unsurprisingly, statistics show an increase in physical attacks on Muslims almost everywhere.

Islamophobia is often dressed up as cultural critique, but it is a form of racism. It is sometimes used by sections of the establishment to blame Muslims for the effects of government policies.

Western foreign policies have created anger across the Muslim world and beyond. The vast majority of Muslims in Europe are integrated but discrimination in housing, jobs and education creates barriers to this process.

None of this is the fault of the Muslim communities. On the contrary, Muslim are both discriminated against and scapegoated.

On Saturday 29 October 2011 we are bringing together organisations and individuals to actively challenge Islamophobia. Let’s stand united. We believe that it is time for Muslims and non-Muslims alike to take a clear stand against this spreading menace.

We say enough. We will not be silenced. And we ask you to join us.

“Islamaphobia is racism and has no place here. This irrational hatred of Islam and active discrimination of Muslims was experienced previously by people of another faith … the Jews, who suffered unspeakable atrocities because of hatred and ignorance towards their faith. Never again should we allow history to repeat itself. I salute the people of Newcastle for reaching out to its richly, diverse Muslim community. Only through tolerance, and understanding can we call ourselves civilised human beings. Born equal, we should treat each other with respect and courtesy. That is real comradeship and brotherhood and that is the true nature of Northerners”, Yvonne Ridley, proud Geordie and Muslim.

“Newcastle’s Rise Against Islamophobia carnival is an amazing idea. It is an inspiration for all the communities to stand against Islamophobes/EDL And join in peace and harmony. This is why we the MDL team are in support Newcastle’s Rise Against Islamobia carnival and always will insha’Allah.” Chechnyan Wolf, MDL

The Sabra and Shatila Massacre (16-18 September 1982)

For 40 hours in September 1982, members of the Israeli-allied Lebanese Phalangist militia raped, killed, and injured a large number of unarmed civilians, mostly children, women and elderly people inside the encircled and sealed Sabra and Shatila camps. The estimate of victims varies between 700 (the official Israeli figure) to 3,500. (Added 20 October 2003)

On 6 June 1982, the Israeli army invaded Lebanon in retaliation for the attempted assassination of Israeli Ambassador Shlomo Argov in London on 4 June. The Israeli secret services had that same day attributed the attempted assassination to a dissident Palestinian organization backed by the government of Iraq, which was at the time eager to deflect world attention from its recent
setbacks in the Iran-Iraq war.[1] The Israeli operation, planned well in advance, was called “Operation Peace for Galilee.”

Initially, the Israeli government had announced that its intention was to penetrate just 40km into Lebanese territory. The military command, however, under the orders of Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, decided to execute a more ambitious project that Sharon
had prepared several months earlier. Having occupied the south of the country and destroyed any Palestinian and Lebanese resistance there, simultaneously committing a series of violations against the civilian population,[2] Israeli troops proceeded to penetrate as far as Beirut. By 18 June 1982 they had surrounded the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) armed forces in the
western part of the Lebanese capital.

According to Lebanese statistics, the Israeli offensive, particularly the intensive shelling of Beirut, caused 18,000 deaths and 30,000 injuries, mostly among civilians.

After two months of fighting, a cease-fire was negotiated through the mediation of United States Envoy Philip Habib. Under the terms of these negotiations, the PLO was to evacuate Beirut under the supervision of a multinational force deployed in the
evacuated part of the town. The Habib Accords envisaged that West Beirut would subsequently be under the control of the Lebanese army, and the Palestinian leadership was given guarantees by the Americans regarding the security of civilians in the camps after their departure.

The evacuation of the PLO ended on 1 September 1982.

On 10 September 1982, the multinational forces left Beirut. The next day, Sharon announced that “2,000 terrorists” had remained
inside the Palestinian refugee camps around Beirut. On Wednesday 15 September, the day after the assassination of President-elect Bashir Gemayel, the Israeli army occupied West Beirut, “encircling and sealing” the camps of Sabra and Shatila, which were inhabited by Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, the entirety of armed resistors (more than 14,000 people) having evacuated Beirut and its suburbs.[3]

Historians and journalists agree that it was probably during a meeting between Ariel Sharon and Bashir Gemayel in Bikfaya on 12
September that an agreement was made authorizing the “Lebanese forces” to “mop up” these Palestinian camps.[4] Sharon had already announced, on 9 July 1982, his intention to send the Phalangist forces into West Beirut,[5] and in his autobiography he confirms having negotiated the operation during his meeting with Gemayel in Bikfaya.[6]

According to statements made by Ariel Sharon on 22 September 1982 in the Knesset (Israeli parliament), the decision that the
Phalangists should enter the refugee camps was made on Wednesday, 15 September 1982 at 15.30.[7] Also according to General Sharon, the Israeli Command had received the following instruction: “[t]he Tsahal [8] forces are forbidden to enter the refugee camps. The ‘mopping-up’ of the camps will be carried out by the Phalanges or the Lebanese army.”[9]

By dawn on 15 September 1982, Israeli fighter-bombers were flying low over West Beirut and Israeli troops had secured their entry. From 9 am, General Sharon was present to personally direct the Israeli penetration, installing himself in the general army area at the Kuwait embassy junction situated at the edge of Shatila camp. From the roof of this six-story building, it was possible to observe the town and the camps of Sabra and Shatila clearly.

By midday, the camps of Sabra and Shatila — in reality a single zone of refugee camps in the south of West Beirut — were
surrounded by Israeli tanks and soldiers, who had installed checkpoints all around the camps in order to monitor the entry or exit of any person. During the late afternoon and evening, the camps were shelled.

By Thursday 16 September 1982, the Israeli army controlled West Beirut. In a press release, the Israeli military spokesperson declared, “Tsahal controls all strategic points in Beirut. The refugee camps, inside which there is a concentration of terrorists,
are surrounded and sealed.” On the morning of 16 September, the following order was issued by the army high command: ” [t]he searching and mopping up of the camps will be done by the Phalangists/Lebanese army.”[10]

During the course of the morning, shells were being fired down at the camps from higher elevations and Israeli snipers were shooting at people in the streets. By approximately midday, the Israeli military command gave the Phalangist militia the green light to enter the refugee camps. Shortly after 5pm, a unit of approximately 150 Phalangists entered Shatila camp from the south and south-west.

At this point, General Amir Drori telephoned Ariel Sharon and announced, “Our friends are advancing into the camps. We have co-ordinated their entry.” To which Sharon replied, “Congratulations! Our friends’ operation is approved.”[11]

For the next 40 hours the Phalangist militia raped, killed, and injured a large number of unarmed civilians, mostly children, women and elderly people inside the “encircled and sealed” camps. These actions, accompanied or followed by systematic roundups, backed or reinforced by the Israeli army, resulted in dozens of disappearances.

The Israeli army had full knowledge of what was going on in the camps right up until the morning of Saturday 18 September 1982, and its leaders were in continuous contact with the militia leaders who perpetrated the massacre. Yet they never intervened.
Instead, they prevented civilians from escaping the camps and arranged for the camps to be illuminated throughout the night by flares launched into the sky from helicopters and mortars.

The count of victims varies between 700 (the official Israeli figure) and 3,500 (in the inquiry launched by the Israeli
journalist Amnon Kapeliouk). The exact figure can never be determined because, in addition to the approximately 1,000 people who were buried in communal graves by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or in the cemeteries of Beirut by members of their families, a large number of corpses were buried beneath bulldozed buildings by the militia members themselves. Also, particularly on 17 and 18 September, hundreds of people were carried away alive in trucks towards unknown destinations, never to return.

The victims and survivors of the massacres have never been deemed entitled to a formal investigation of the tragedy, whether in Lebanon, Israel, or elsewhere. After 400,000 Israelis took to the streets in protest once news of the massacre was broadcast by the international media, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) named a commission of inquiry, to be presided over by Yitzhak Kahan, in September 1982. In spite of the limitations of the Commission’s mandate (limited because it was a political rather than a judicial mandate and because the voices and demands of the victims were completely ignored), the Commission concluded that the Minister of Defense was personally responsible for the massacres.[12]

Upon the  insistence of the Commission, and the demonstrations that followed its report, Sharon resigned from his post of Minister of Defense but remained in the government as Minister without Portfolio. It is worth noting that during the Peace Now demonstration immediately prior to Sharon’s “resignation,” demonstrators were attacked with grenades, resulting in the death of a young demonstrator.[13]

Several non-official inquiries and reports, including those of Sean MacBride and of the Nordic Commission, based mainly on the
testimony of western eyewitnesses, as well as other pieces of journalistic and historical research, have assembled vital pieces of
information.[14]

Despite evidence of what the UN Security Council described as a “criminal massacre,” and the ranking of the Sabra and Shatila
massacres in humankind’s collective memory as among the most heinous crimes of the 20th century, the man found “personally responsible” for this crime, as well as his associates and the people who carried out the massacres, have never been pursued or punished. In 1984, Israeli journalists Schiff and Ya’ari concluded their chapter on the massacre with this sobering reflection: “If there is a moral to the painful episode of Sabra and Shatila, it has yet to be acknowledged.”[15] The reality of this impunity remains true to this day.

The United Nations Security Council condemned the massacre with Resolution 521 (19 September 1982). This condemnation was followed by a 16 December 1982 General Assembly resolution qualifying the massacre as an “act of genocide.”

Endnotes
[1] The “Revolutionary Council,” better known as the “Abu Nidal Group,” cf. Z Schiff and E Ya’ari, Israel’s Lebanon War, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1994, 97-100, on page 99: “The three detainees [arrested by Scotland Yard] also disclosed that an
envoy from Baghdad emissary had brought them orders to carry out the assassination, and that they had received their weapons from the military attache’s office of the Iraqi embassy in London.” The name of the Iraqi responsible is mentioned by Dilip Hiro, Iran under the Ayatollahs, London, Routledge, 1985, 211: “Israel’s attack was triggered off by an attempt to assassinate Shlomo Argov, the Israeli ambassador to Britain, on the night of 3 June. The London operation was masterminded by Nawal Al Rosan, an Iraqi ‘carpet dealer’ who was later found to be a colonel in the Iraqi intelligence.” (Footnotes omitted). It is worth noting that Ambassador Argov later denounced Ariel Sharon’s war on Lebanon.

[2] For a detailed catalogue of the violations of the Geneva Conventions with regard to the civilian population, see the report of the MacBride Commission (Nobel Peace Prize 1974), “Israel in Lebanon, The Report of the International Commission to enquire into reported violations of International Law by Israel during its invasion of the Lebanon, 28 August 1982 – 29 November 1982,” London, Ithaca, 1983, 187-192 (Conclusions) – hereafter referred to as the MacBride Commission.

[3] According to Kapeliouk, Sabra et Shatila: Enquete sur un massacre, Paris, Seuil 1982, citing Haaretz of 15 September 1982, General Eitan declared the previous day before the Knesset’s Commission for Foreign Affairs that “[n]othing remains in Beirut but some terrorists and a small PLO office.” Kapeliouk, p 30.

[4] Benny Morris, The Righteous Victims, New York, A. Knopf, 1999, p. 540.

[5] Schiff and Ya’ari, Israel’s Lebanon War, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1984, p. 251.

[6] Ariel Sharon, Warrior: An Autobiography, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1989, p. 498.

[7]
Sharon at the Knesset, Annex to the Kahan Commission report, The Beirut Massacre, The Complete Kahan Commission Report, Princeton, Karz Cohl, 1983, p. 124 (Hereafter, the Kahan Commission Report).

[8] Israeli Defense Forces [actual literal translation from Hebrew; tsahal is an acronym of this phrase.]

[9] Kahan Commission Report, p. 125.

[10] Kahan Commission Report, p. 14.

[11] Kapeliouk, p. 37

[12] Kahan Commission Report, p. 104: “We have found … that the Minister of Defense bears personal responsibility.” We shall return to this edifying conclusion.

[13] Emil Grunzweig. Avraham Burg, the current Speaker of the Knesset, was hurt during this demonstration.

[14] The most well known works are the reports of the Kahan Commission, the MacBride Commission and the Nordic Commission, and the books of Robert Fisk, Ze’ev Schiff and Ehud Ya’ari, Amnon Kapeliouk, Thomas Friedman, Jonathan Randall and others. An enquiry by the Lebanese military prosecutor, which concluded that no responsibility lay with the executors of the massacre, has never been published. Tabitha Petran, The Struggle Over Lebanon, New York, Monthly Review Press, 1987, p. 289.

[15] Schiff and Ya’ari, p. 285.

(peaceandjustice.org / 16.09.2011)

FBI Teaches Agents: ‘Mainstream’ Muslims Are ‘Violent, Radical’

The FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader”; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding mechanism for combat.”

At the Bureau’s training ground in Quantico, Virginia, agents are shown a chart contending that the more “devout” a Muslim,
the more likely he is to be “violent.” Those destructive tendencies cannot be reversed, an FBI instructional presentation adds: “Any war against non-believers is justified” under Muslim law; a “moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah.”

These are excerpts from dozens of pages of recent FBI training material on Islam that Danger Room has acquired. In them, the
Constitutionally protected religious faith of millions of Americans is portrayed as an indicator of terrorist activity.

“There may not be a ‘radical’ threat as much as it is simply a normal assertion of the orthodox ideology,” one FBI presentation notes. “The strategic themes animating these Islamic values are not fringe; they are main stream.”

The FBI isn’t just treading on thin legal ice by portraying ordinary, observant Americans as terrorists-in-waiting, former counterterrorism agents say. It’s also playing into al-Qaida’s hands.

Focusing on the religious behavior of American citizens instead of proven indicators of criminal activity like stockpiling guns
or using shady financing makes it more likely that the FBI will miss the real warning signs of terrorism. And depicting Islam as
inseparable from political violence is exactly the narrative al-Qaida spins — as is the related idea that America and Islam are necessarily in conflict. That’s why FBI whistleblowers provided Danger Room with these materials.

(www.globalresearch.ca / 16.09.2011)

Israeli deputy foreign minister: 50-70 countries won’t support Palestinian U.N. bid

Israel’s deputy foreign minister is predicting that “between 50 and 70” countries will not vote for a U.N. resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood.

“We believe — I believe — that we could look into a group of 50 countries which will not support [the Palestinian resolution],” Danny Ayalon said in an interview late Thursday. “It’ll be at least 50. Between 50 and 70.”

The resolution, which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will submit to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon next Friday, has become the focal point of a high-stakes game of diplomatic poker.

The U.S. has vowed to veto the resolution in the Security Council, saying that a Palestinian state can only be created through negotiations with Israel.

But the Palestinians are expected to receive an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly, where they enjoy the automatic support of the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement.

With no hope of actually defeating the resolution, Israel has sought to obtain a “moral majority” of primarily Western democracies that will either vote against the resolution, abstain or not participate in the vote.

“This is the group that counts,” Mr. Ayalon said. “Western democracies count because of their special weight on the international scene — not just political weight and moral weight, which is very important, but also financial weight.

“The Palestinians get most of their money, not from the Muslim and Arab countries, but from Europe and the United States, so there is a leverage here that should be used in a responsible way.”

Mr. Ayalon said Israel is targeting countries in Africa, Latin America and even the Carribean, acknowleding that the primary battleground — and the greatest prize — is the European Union.

“A lot will be dependent on the Europeans,” he said. “Many countries are waiting to see how Europe will vote.”

The 27-member European bloc has struggled to forge a unified position on the Palestinian resolution, the exact text of which has yet to be finalized.

If the bloc spinters, Israeli officials expect Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and most former Soviet bloc countries to oppose the resolution, and most of the Scandanavian countries and other historically pro-Palestinian countries like Ireland and Belgium to favor it. Britain and France are seen as bellwethers, though the French are leaning toward supporting the Palestinians.

Israeli officials believe that the final vote will resemble the 2009 vote endorsing the “Goldstone Report,” a U.N. document that accused Israel of systematic war crimes in its 2008-09 war against Hamas in the Gaza strip: 114 countries voted for that resolution, 18 voted against, 44 abstained and 16 were absent.

Mr. Ayalon said that if Western democracies announce a unified position in the coming days, “the Palestinians will think long and hard about whether to go forward because — it could be really embarrassing for them to get their resolution [passed] only on the numbers of Islamic and Non-Aligned [Movement] votes.”

“I believe it is time to tell the Palestinians that they cannot just act as spoiled brats and avoid negotiations on the one hand and try to impose on the international community an agenda which is very very negative because this unilateral approach of the Palestinians is slamming the door shut on negotiations and on the agreements [we have] with them so far, and it’s choosing conflict and confrontation over negotiations and reconciliation,” he said. “And this is why we believe responsible partners and players in the international community should not support it.”

(www.washingtontimes.com / 16.09.2011)

Palestinians to seek full U.N. membership: Abbas

(Reuters) – President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday he would demand full membership of the United Nations for a Palestinian state when he goes to the U.N. General Assembly next week, setting up a diplomatic clash with Israel and the United States.

“We are going to the United Nations to request our legitimate right, obtaining full membership for Palestine in this organization,” Abbas said in a televised speech.

“We are going to the Security Council,” he added, to rapturous applause from his audience of Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, signaling his determination to press ahead despite efforts by U.S. and European officials to dissuade him.

Both Israel and its main ally, the United States, firmly oppose the initiative, arguing that a Palestinian state can only be created through direct negotiations.

The Palestinians say almost 20 years of on-off direct talks on statehood envisaged by an interim peace accord have hit a dead end for reasons including Israel’s refusal to stop expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands it took in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and which Palestinians want, along with the Gaza Strip, for an independent state.

The last round of the U.S.-backed talks between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu collapsed nearly a year ago when Israel decline to extend a partial moratorium on West Bank settlement building.

A full halt to such construction on territory the Palestinians say they need for a viable state is one condition they have set for a resumption of negotiations. Israel withdrew settlers from tiny, coastal Gaza in 2005.

Abbas said the U.N. step would not “end the occupation,” but would strengthen the Palestinians’ hand.

Washington has already said it will veto any statehood resolution in the Security Council and some U.S. politicians have said they will try to cut American aid to the Palestinians, totaling some $500 million a year, if they refuse to back down.

A statement from Netanyahu’s office issued after the speech said the Palestinians were “systematically” avoiding direct talks with Israel.

Abbas said recognition as a state would allow a return to peace talks, but on a stronger footing. “Negotiations, no matter how difficult, will be between one state and another,” he said.

A flurry of diplomacy led predominantly by the European Union has sought to avert the U.N. showdown by seeking a deal that would bring about a return to talks within weeks, diplomats say. However, the mediation is struggling in the face of long-standing disagreements over the terms of reference.

HAMAS SAYS ANY RESULT “COSMETIC”

Failing that, the EU has also been trying to avoid a Security Council confrontation by persuading the Palestinians to accept a diluted upgrade to their status at the United Nations, where they are currently recognized as an “entity.”

If the United States does veto the resolution, as expected, the Palestinians could then go to the full U.N. General Assembly. It does not have the power to grant them full membership, but could recognize Palestine as a non-member state.

Such a move would give the Palestinians possible access to other international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, from where it could seek to sue Israel for the 44-year-long occupation of the West Bank.

Abbas said there was no decision on alternative options the Palestinians could pursue in the event of failure.

“If we succeed, and this is what we are working toward, then we must know that the day following the recognition of the state, the occupation will not end,” Abbas said.

“But we will have obtained the world’s recognition that our state is occupied and that our land is occupied and not disputed territory, as the Israeli government claims,” he said.

Abbas’ rivals in the Hamas movement which governs the Gaza Strip dismissed the plan. A spokesman said any result would be “cosmetic, especially when Mahmoud Abbas said his aim is to return to the negotiations with the occupation after all.”

Long criticized at home for appearing weak in the face foreign pressure, Abbas signaled no retreat from his plan.

“You certainly don’t believe me,” he joked during the speech, adding that he would present the application after delivering his speech to the General Assembly on September 23 — when Netanyahu is also addressing the gathering

He also stressed that any popular protests in support of his initiative should be peaceful. Israel fears that the U.N. showdown could spark violence across the West Bank and is putting its forces on high alert in the area.

A French government official warned of a race against time.

“What (Europeans) would like is the relaunch of peace talks. Our feeling is that time is running out for peace and even more so with the Arab Spring,” he said, alluding to popular revolutions in several Arab countries this year.

“These states will be democratic countries that will have to consider public opinion even more … Today we still have a window of opportunity for peace but the feeling is that if these renewed peace talks don’t happen then the Palestinian territories, which are fairly calm (now), could explode.”

(www.reuters.com / 16.09.201)

Barack Obama caught between Israel and his Palestinian ‘promise’

Jewish support for the president has slipped despite him risking the US’s reputation in the Arab world to protect Israel from Palestinian moves to have the UN recognise independence

Barack Obama has good reason to ask what the present Israeli government has ever done for him.

When the White House asked it to halt construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories to give peace talks a chance, the building went on. After Washington pressed Binyamin Netanyahu to embrace the promise of Palestinian independence within months, the Israeli prime minister did his best to scupper any prospect of new talks.

Netanyahu even went so far as to publicly dress down the president of his country’s closest ally by lecturing Obama on Jewish historical claims and the Arab threat in front of the press at the White House. The president was furious at the humiliation and the administration made it known in private.

Netanyahu was unperturbed and has continued to agitate in favour of Obama’s domestic political opponents in a way that no other foreign leader would dare interfere in American politics.

Yet the president is expending considerable diplomatic capital and risking what remains of the US’s tattered reputation in the Arab world to protect Israel from a Palestinian move to have the United Nations recognise what amounts to a unilateral declaration of independence.

At a time when the US is working to build ties with the new leaderships emerging from the Arab spring, it might be thought that Washington would hedge its bets over Palestinian statehood.

But Obama is is taking an unequivocal stand in favour of Israel in saying America will veto the Palestinian bid at the UN despite alarm in the Arab world. The former head of Saudi Arabian intelligence and ex-ambassador to Washington, Turki al-Faisal, this week warned that an American veto will make the US “toxic” in the region.

Whatever the foreign policy implications, Israel is primarily a domestic political consideration and Obama’s position on Palestinian statehood is staked out with one eye firmly on the consequences at the ballot box and in dealings with Congress.

“The answer to American policy lies exclusively in the realm of American domestic politics,” said Daniel Levy, a former adviser to Israeli cabinet ministers and now a US based analyst.

“Most American Jews do not vote solely on the Israel issue. They vote on the range of feelgood factor, socio-economic issues. But the political perception is that if an issue can cost you with a very small pool of voters concentrated in certain states, like Florida (a critical swing state in presidential elections), you try and neutralise it from doing you harm. And this issue is doing Obama harm.”

Ghaith Al-Omari, a former adviser to the Palestinian leadership and peace negotiating team who now lives in Washington, agrees.

“There are a number of factors in the US decision to veto. One is that the US has the longstanding view that the UN is not the forum for these things because at the UN they risk losing control. But we also we are in a political moment here. We are in election time, and it’s not the time that the president is wiling to expend any political capital over Israel,” he said.

Obama won a sizable chunk of the Jewish vote when he was elected in 2008 but polls show that support has slid sharply with implications not only for his own reelection but for Democrats in Congress.

This week, Obama’s party suffered an upset defeat in a New York congressional election in a heavily Jewish constituency. Israel was not the only factor at a time of high unemployment and economic stagnation. But a Public Policy Polls survey taken shortly before the  election showed a majority of voters said Israel was “very important” in determining how they cast their ballot, and fewer than one in four Jewish voters approved of Obama’s handling of Netanyahu.

That has implications for Obama’s own reelection campaign in some swing states with significant Jewish populations, particularly Florida.

“For a while now, I’ve been hearing from my constituents a lot of dissatisfaction with the statements on Israel that have been coming from the president and the administration,” a Democratic party member of Congress, Eliot Engel, told the New York Times. “He’ll still get a majority of Jewish votes, but I would not be surprised to see that drop 10 to 20 points.”

The president’s political problems over Israel began with his early attempts to press Netanyahu to stop Jewish settlement construction in the occupied territories, beginning with a testy White House meeting between the two after the US president took office. Obama followed that up by telling American Jewish leaders that he would put some “daylight” between the US and Israel after eight years of George Bush slavishly refusing to pressure the Jewish state to move toward ending the occupation. More recently, Obama upset Israel supporters by stating the obvious in saying that a final agreement will see Palestinian borders largely follow the 1967 lines with land swaps.

The Democratic National Committee is attempting to win back Jewish supporters with a campaign to explain that the issues on which Obama is most criticised – his pressure on Israel to halt settlement construction and his recent statement that a Palestinian state should be based on the 1967 borders with land swaps – are intended to strengthen Israel’s security not undermine it.

The Democratic party is also making much of the fact that Obama has repeatedly defended Netanyahu’s government in the face of virulent criticism at the UN on issues such as Israel’s 2008 assault on Gaza and the killing of nine Turks last year in the raid on a flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists.

Through it all, the White House has watched Netanyahu undermine Obama by brazenly cosying up to his opponents in Congress where Republicans are blaming the president for the Palestinian statehood bid because of a speech he made to the UN a year ago in which he alluded to just such a prospect.

“When we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that can lead to a new member of the United Nations, an independent, sovereign state of Palestine living in peace with Israel,” Obama said in 2010.

The Palestinians are portraying that statement as “Obama’s promise”. The president’s Republican critics in Congress say it is further evidence that Obama is hostile to Israel. So does Mitt Romney, a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination.

“This vote and the course pursued by the Palestinians and others by others in the United Nations is another testament of the president’s failure of leadership,” he told CNN. “This would have been avoided, or could have been avoided, in my view, had the president made it clear from the very outset we stand by Israel, that we lock arm and arm. Instead the president tried to communicate to the Palestinians and to others that support their effort that, well, there may be distance between us and Israel.”

Levy said the Republicans are likely to go on making an issue of it ahead of next year’s presidential and congressional elections.

“Obama’s Israel policy will be part of a policy narrative of the Republican presidential campaign and in Congress that Obama was weak with our enemies and harsh with our allies. They’ll say he abused the relationship,” he said. “Obama’s problem in Congress is that now that you have a Congress almost completely shorn of realist, internationalist old school Republicans, the Republicans line up four-square behind the most extreme positions on Israel. And because the congressional Democrats don’t want the Republicans to allow them to be able to use this as an issue against them, they line up with the Republicans. That means that the president’s room for manoeuvre is even further diminished.”

That can be seen in Republican moves, with strong support from some Democrats, to cut the the $500m in annual US aid to the Palestinian Authority if the UN general assembly votes to recognise a Palestinian state.

Steve Rothman, a member of the powerful House of Representatives appropriations committee, said the move is designed to protect Israel.

The House foreign affairs committee on Wednesday held a hearing on whether to punish the PA. The chairperson, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, made her view clear.

“Despite decades of assistance totalling billions of dollars, if a Palestinian state were declared today, it would be neither democratic not peaceful nor willing to negotiate with Israel,” she said.

Other members of Congress would go further. Representative Joe Walsh, who identifies with the Tea Party and has said that Obama “is not Israel’s friend”, submitted a resolution in support of Israel’s right to annex all of the West Bank in response to the Palestinian move for statehood.

“My hope is that this will help buck up Israel,” Walsh told Washington Jewish Week. “We’re not going to get peace until the other side realises that they’re dealing with strength, that Israel and the US are not going to back down.”

The pro-Israel lobby has sought to ensure that Congressional support remains solid by sending 81 members of the House of Representatives on an all-expenses-paid trip to the Jewish state this summer to “gather information”.

Obama is winning approval for his stand at the UN. But Levy says he should not expect Netanyahu to be particularly grateful for blocking UN recognition of a Palestinian state.

“It’s not like once the Americans have delivered and gone out of their way and done all this, Netanyahu will say I’m calling off the attack dogs, I’m going to be neutral in your reelection campaign,” he said. “We all know he’s going to continue to be a nightmare for Obama. Obama’s doing this for someone who will continue to be a fly in the ointment of American domestic politics for 2012 which he has had no compunction in stirring up.”

Netanyahu will be in New York next week for the opening of the UN general assembly and to try to mobilise opposition to a Palestinian state. He plans to take a side trip to congratulate the Republican winner of the election in the congressional district where Obama’s Israel policy cost the Democrats dearly.

(www.guardian.co.uk / 16.09.2011)

Zionistische strategie van de Faits Accomplis.

“Aangezien het Zionistisch ideaal het oprichten van een Hebreeuwse natie, Hebreeuwssprekend, op het land van de oude Hebreeën als doel heeft, was een dringend, maar niet naar voor gebracht onderdeel van de taken van de Zionistische Commissie het bewerkstelligen van een aantal faits accomplis die het project in een gunstig daglicht zouden stellen (ook stimulerend voor sponsors) op de vergadering van de Vresesconferentie.

Begin 1918 werden de twaalf funderingsstenen – voor iedere stam een steen – van de Hebreeuwse universiteit gelegd in het bijzijn van een voornaam gezelschap, waaronder de opperbevelhebber van de Britse Administratie.

Het exclusieve gebruik van Hebreeuws werd aan de Joden opgelegd met een voor buitenstaanders irriterende strengheid, soms inderdaad grappig, maar volgens mij volledig terecht in het kader van de theorie en de resultaten. Het was misschien ergerlijk voor de ambtenaar die een Joods gezinshoofd goed Arabisch hoorde praten met een Moslim vriend om officieel te moeten doen alsof de man enkel Hebreeuws sprak en dus geen formulier kon aanvaarden in het Arabisch. Maar in dit en vele andere gevallen paste het Zionisme alleen het Turkse spreekwoord toe : “Aan het niet huilende kind, geeft men geen melk,” om zo de voorzichtige werkwijze van de Militaire Administratie te versnellen. Ook zou de fervente Zionist uit Centraal-Europa of Amerika afgeschrikt worden wanneer hij als spreker in het Jiddisch werd onthaald op gehuil : “Dabér Ivrit – Spreek Hebreeuws!”.

Zelf was ik in de war toen ik een Zionistische tandheelkundige kliniek inspecteerde en aan een man, die ik kende van gezicht, vroeg wat er met hem scheelde. Tot mijn verbazing gaf hij mij in het Hebreeuws te kennen dat hij mij niet begreep. Toen de secretaresse van de kliniek buiten de kamer werd geroepen zei de patiënt haastig : “Ik heb vreselijke tandpijn, maar indien ik het zeg in een andere taal dan Hebreeuws, zal ik niet behandeld worden.” Deze vreemde situatie werd nog versterkt door de absolute weigering van Orthodoxe rabbi’s om ook maar iets ander dan Jiddisch te spreken en de heilige taal enkel in een religieus kader te gebruiken. Veel niet-Joodse inwoners en bezoekers van Palestina maakten grapjes over deze drastische opleving van het Hebreeuws en vroegen: ”Hoe ver geraakt een Jood met Hebreeuws? – Zelfs niet tot in Beiroet.” Men tolereerde dit echter omdat het een inperking bewerkstelligde van de Duitse taal, Kultur en invloed. (Het gevecht tussen Duits en Hebreeuws was al voor de oorlog uitgevochten, en verloren door het ‘Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden’ een Duits-Joodse vereniging voor bijstand aan Joden in het Oosten, die pleitte voor Duitstalig onderwijs).”

 

 

De schrijver Ronald Storrs bekleedde veel hoge koloniale functies in het Midden-Oosten, Egypte en het toenmalige Rhodesië. Van 1917 tot 1920 was hij ordonnans bij het Britse leger in Bagdad en Mesopotamië. Daarna was hij tot 1926 goeverneur van Jeruzalem en Judea. Uit hetzelfde boekje, over zijn kennismaking met de Zionistische Commissie :

“ Toen Brigadier Generaal Clayton mij begin maart 1918 de telegram liet zien die ons op de hoogte bracht van het nakend bezoek van een Zionistische Commissie, samengesteld uit vooraanstaande Joden, met de bedoeling als tussenpersoon op te treden tussen Joden en de Administratie, en om de Joodse bevolking ‘te controleren’, konden wij onze ogen niet geloven en vroegen wij ons zelfs af of wij deze ontmoeting niet konden uitstellen, tot de rechtspositie van de Administratie duidelijker was bepaald. Hoedanook, bevelen zijn bevelen en de O.E.T.A. trof voorbereidingen om de bezoekers te ontvangen.”

(Facebook / Bettina Billiau / 16.09.2011)

Soldiers Harass Beit Ommar Farmers

This morning at around 7.30 am, Beit Ommar farmers Ali Thalji, aged 70, and his son Ahmed, 40, were harassed by a group of Israeli soldiers as they tended to their sheep on fields in Safa, Beit Ommar.

The group of soldiers approached from the direction of the illegal settlement of Bat Ayn, telling Ali and Ahmed that the land they were on – their own fields – had been appropriated by the Israeli State, and repeatedly told them to leave the area.

After approximately half an hour, the soldiers left without any major incidents, but it is a development of great concern to the residents of Safa, a suburb on the edge of Beit Ommar.  This is because it implies that the settlement of Bat Ayn has designs on this area and may soon attempt to steal the farmer’s fields.

Beit Ommar residents and farmers face continual harassment from Bet Ayn settlers.  Raw sewage is regularly piped down into the valley, rendering the land unusable during harvest time, approximately 30 000 olive trees have been burned by settlers in this area, and it is common practice for settlers to shoot farmers’ sheep if they come with range.

This January, local youth Youssef Ikhlayl, aged 17, was murdered by settlers from Bat Ayn as he picked olives in fields near Saffa. He was shot in the head, and never regained consciousness, while a 15-year-old who was also present survived despite being shot in the arm. For more information on Yousef’s murder, see here.

Bat Ayn is one of only two illegal settlements in the entire West Bank that is not surrounded by a fence and barbed wire. This is at the settlers own request, to allow them to maraud into Beit Ommar lands at will.

(palestinesolidarityproject.org / 16.09.2011)

Abbas: We’re going to the Security Council

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday in a televised address from Ramallah that the Palestinians would seek full membership in the UN Security Council.

“We are going to the United Nations to request our legitimate right, obtaining full membership for Palestine in this organization,” Abbas said.

“We are going to the Security Council,” he added, to rapturous applause from his audience of Palestinian leaders. “As for other options, we have not yet taken a decision on them,” he said.

Both Israel and the United States are firmly opposed to such a move, arguing that a Palestinian state can only be created through direct negotiations.

Washington has already said it will veto any statehood resolution in the Security Council and some U.S. politicians have said they will try to cut American aid to the Palestinians, totalling some $500 million a year, if they refuse to back down.

If the United States does veto the resolution, the Palestinians could then go to the full U.N. General Assembly. It does not have the power to grant the Palestinians membership, but could recognise it as a non-member state.

Such a move would give the Palestinians possible access to other international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, from where it could seek to sue Israel for the longstanding occupation of the West Bank.

Abbas said he wanted to see a Palestinian state recognised on the basis of the 1967 lines, comprising the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, adding that this would then enable the Palestinians to return to negotiations with Israel.

He stressed that any popular protests in support of his initiative should be peaceful. Israel fears that the U.N. showdown could spark violence across the West Bank and is putting its forces on high alert in the area.

Abbas is due to address the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 23, when he said he would present Palestine’s membership bid.

( www.maannews.net / 16.09.2011)