Hamas Arrests Palestinian Flag

GAZA, March 15, 2011 (WAFA)- Witnesses said on Tuesday evening that Hamas confiscated the Palestinian flag, and assaulted by severly beating anyone who raises it.

They added that Hamas is targeting anyone who tries to raise the Palestinian flag, searching the cars flying the flag and confiscating passengers’ cards and flags.

Hamas launched campaigns to confiscate Palestinian flags raised on the facilities and houses  in the Gaza Strip.

(http://english.wafa.ps / 15.03.2011)

Bahrain MP quits to protest ‘massacre’

Bahraini lawmaker Nada Hafad has resigned from the country’s parliament as a brutal crackdown of peaceful anti-government protesters continues.

Hafad’s resignation came on Tuesday in protest to the ongoing massacre” in Bahrain and amid reports of random shootings by military helicopters.

Bahraini security forces are reportedly using live rounds in their attempt to disperse thousa

Bahraini lawmaker Nada Hafad has resigned from the country’s parliament as a brutal crackdown of peaceful anti-government protesters continues.

Hafad’s resignation came on Tuesday in protest to the ongoing massacre” in Bahrain and amid reports of random shootings by military helicopters.

Bahraini security forces are reportedly using live rounds in their attempt to disperse thousands of people have been staging street protests in their quest for political refoms.

The forces have reportedly attacked a hospital and clashed with the doctors in the medical center.

Witnesses also said of the involvement of Arab armies in the killing of Bahraini protesters adding that Saudi troops prevented ambulances from delivering the injured to hospitals.

Meanwhile in the Saudi city of Qatif rallied in a show of solidarity with protesters in Bahrain and condemned the use of violence against them.

nds of people have been staging street protests in their quest for political refoms.

The forces have reportedly attacked a hospital and clashed with the doctors in the medical center.

Witnesses also said of the involvement of Arab armies in the killing of Bahraini protesters adding that Saudi troops prevented ambulances from delivering the injured to hospitals.

Meanwhile in the Saudi city of Qatif rallied in a show of solidarity with protesters in Bahrain and condemned the use of violence against them.

(http://realisticbird.wordpress.com / 15.03.2011)

Oud premier: ‘Israël is schuldige in conflict’

DEN HAAG – Elke twee jaar organiseert een Palestijns-Christelijke organisatie een internationale conferentie, waarbij dit jaar oud-premier Dries van Agt uitgenodigd was om een voordracht te houden. Samen met de directeur van The Rights Forum bezocht van Agt Israël en de Westelijke Jordaanoever. The Rights Forum is een organisatie die zich inspant voor een rechtvaardig Midden-Oosten. Jarenlang spant van Agt zich in voor Palestina. Hij vertelde in een interview met de Volkskrant dat hij zich “tegen dit onrecht zal verzetten tot aan zijn laatste doodssnik.”

Tijdens een bezoek aan het actualiteitenprogramma Pauw & Witteman vertelde van Agt dat zijn reis twee doelen had. Het onderzoeken van onrecht in Israël. Daarbij is van Agt op schokkende ontwikkelingen gestuit. Hij wil bekend maken hoe weinig inzicht Nederlanders hebben in de kwestie. Hij verwijst naar het welbekende gezegde: ‘Waar twee vechten, hebben twee schuld.’ Dit is echter niet het geval bij de Palestijnse kwestie. Palestina wordt voortdurend aangevallen. “De hoofdschuldige in dit geval is Israël, geen twijfel mogelijk,” vertelde van Agt.

Daarnaast verzet hij zich hevig tegen de muur die volgens hem niet bestemd is om veiligheid te waarborgen. “Dat is namelijk een smoes,” melde van Agt. Het doel van de muur is volgens van Agt het land te annexeren en daarbij tevens de grote bevolkingsconcentraties van Israëlische kolonisten te beschermen die zich hebben gevormd op bezet gebied. Als bewijs noemt hij de route van de muur, die zou niet langs de feitelijke grens lopen, maar ver binnen de Palestijnse gebieden lopen.

Het Israëlische leger treedt wekelijks hard en bruut op tegen ongewapende Palestijnse demonstranten. Er wordt met diverse materialen op hun geschoten; denk hierbij aan de rubberekogel, waar een stalen kern in zit, en traangasgranaten. De traangas bevat een heftig spul waardoor men maandenlang zal stinken, het is namelijk niet weg te krijgen. “Dat is zeer vernederend,” zei van Agt. De Palestijnen zijn er als profkonijnen voor veel producten, waaronder ook dodelijke wapens. Wanneer de testen geslaagd zijn, worden de producten naar het buitenland geëxporteerd.

Kolonisten
Op de derde dag van zijn reis, 1 maart, vertrokken ze in de vroege ochtend naar Nablus waar ze verwelkomd werden door de directeur van een maatschappelijke organisatie. Ze werden rondgeleid door het oude stadscentrum en brachten een bezoek aan de gouverneur van het Nablus-district, vertelde hij in zijn dagboek wat hij bijhield voor Pauw & Witteman.

De gouverneur vertelde hen over het geweld van de kolonisten dat de omgeving erg kwelt. Als voorbeeld toonde de gouverneur een Palestijns huis dat een dag eerder door kolonisten in brand is gestoken. Bij het zien van het afgebrande Palestijnse huis vertelde van Agt: “Ter plaatse treffen we een vreselijke situatie aan; één van de kamers op de benedenverdieping is volledig uitgebrand, nadat kolonisten twee molotovcocktails door het raam hebben gegooid op het moment dat er twee kinderen van twee en vijf jaar in de kamer lagen te slapen. Het is aan hun grootmoeder te danken dat ze nog leven; die kon hen net op tijd redden. De ouders en hun kinderen treffen we in shock-toestand aan.”

George
De Palestijnse organisatie Wi’am spant zich in voor vreedzame banden binnen de Palestijnse gemeenschap. Gebrek aan land, water, ruimte en bewegingsvrijheid en diepe trauma’s zijn de redenen van een stressvolle samenleving. Eén van de medewerkers vertelt over een zeer bedroevende gebeurtenis.

“Toen in 2002 de Geboortekerk in Bethlehem belegerd werd en de stad onder een doorlopend uitgaansverbod geplaatst werd, bezette het Israëlische leger veel strategisch gelegen huizen, waaronder het huis van George en zijn familie. Toen het leger Bethlehem met veel geweld binnenviel, vluchtte George. Zijn jonge vrouw Nisreen en hun twee zoontjes moest hij achterlaten. Gedurende enkele dagen onderwierpen soldaten Nisreen aan zware verhoren en dreigden haar te vermoorden als zij de verblijfplaats van haar man niet zou prijsgeven. Haar twee zoontjes werden gedwongen bij de verhoren te blijven en werden zelf ook ondervraagd.

Het vijfjarige jongetje kreeg te horen dat, indien hij niet zou vertellen waar zijn vader verbleef, ze hem toch wel zouden vinden en direct zouden vermoorden. Vervolgens werd hem een computer beloofd als hij de verblijfplaats zou prijsgeven. Vanzelfsprekend wist dit kind niet waar zijn vader was. Het driejarige zoontje ontsnapte per ongeluk naar buiten en kreeg een machinegeweer tegen zijn hoofd. De moeder vertelde later dat beide kinderen regelmatig ‘s nachts schreeuwend wakker worden en in hun bed plassen.”

(www.dawah-tv.nl / 15.03.11)

Duizenden inwoners betogen in Gaza, demonstratie loopt uit op geweld

Palestijnen nemen deel aan een demonstratie die oproept tot politieke eenheid tussen Hamas en Fatah. Foto AFP / Mohammed AbedPalestijnen nemen deel aan een demonstratie die oproept tot politieke eenheid tussen Hamas en Fatah. Foto AFP / Mohammed Abed 

Buitenland

Duizenden inwoners van Gaza zijn op de been om aan te dringen op een verzoening tussen Fatah en Hamas.

Een meerderheid van de naar schatting tienduizend demonstranten zwaaien met zwarte, rode, groene en witte Palestijnse vlaggen. Enkelen houden groene vlaggen vast van Hamas. Hamas-aanhangers lijken het meest prominent vertegenwoordigd. Het protest is door Facebook-gebruikers georganiseerd, zo meldt persbureau AP. Het is de grootste demonstratie in het gebied in tien jaar tijd.

Breuk Hamas en Fatah
Na de breuk in 2007 kwamen Hamas en Fatah recht tegenover elkaar te staan. De bevolking eist dat de twee partijen weer met elkaar gaan samenwerken na de volgende verkiezingen. Abbas kondigde in februari parlements- en presidentsverkiezingen aan voor september. Verkiezingen zijn sinds de breuk tussen Fatah en Hamas, in 2007, niet meer voorgekomen. Abbas regeert nu per decreet op de Westelijke Jordaanoever, terwijl Hamas de Gazastrook bestuurt.

NRC-correspondent Guus Valk is ter plaatse en twittert over de demonstratie:

“Scholen en universiteiten in Gaza zijn dicht. Iedereen wordt opgeroepen naar het centrum van Gaza-stad te gaan.”

“Het dragen van vlaggen is verboden, behalve de Palestijnse. Een eerste relletje tussen Fatah- en Hamas-aanhangers is al geweest.”

Update 14.42 uur:

“De demonstratie in Gaza ziet er slecht uit. Demonstranten op het plein bij de universiteit, pro-Hamasgroepen vallen aan met stokken en stenen.”

“Hamas heeft groepen aanhangers de straat op gestuurd met groene vlaggen, bevestigd aan lange houten stokken. Handig bij rellen.”

“Groepen Hamas-aanhangers trekken op vanaf Plein van de Onbekende Soldaat naar Universiteitsplein. Betogers bewaken daar het plein.”

“Hamas laat aanhangers en geheime politie het werk opknappen. Politie en leger zijn nergens te bekennen. Demonstranten worden gefilmd.”

“Demonstrant: ‘We zijn niet bang meer. Voor het eerst sinds de machtsovername door Hamas durf ik openlijk kritiek te geven’.”

“Vanaf 16:00 Nederlandse tijd heeft Hamas demonstreren verboden. Duizenden betogers zeggen niet weg te gaan.”

(www.nrc.nl / 15.03.2011)

Saudi-Arabië stuurt leger naar Bahrein

Saudi-Arabië en de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten hebben gisteren troepen naar Bahrein gestuurd om er de regering te helpen de opstand van de sjiitische bevolking neer te slaan.

Bahrein is militair belangrijk. De vijfde vloot van de Amerikaanse zeemacht heeft er haar thuisbasis. Bovendien wordt zowel Bahrein als buurland Saudi-Arabië door soennieten geregeerd. Een val van het regime in Bahrein kan onrust in Saudi-Arabië veroorzaken, zeker in het olierijke oosten, waar de sjiieten in de meerderheid zijn.

De regering in Bahrein riep gisteren de hulp in van alle Golfstaten. Verder afgelegen Golflanden als Oman en Qatar reageerden tot nader order niet. Saudi-Arabië stuurde 1.000 soldaten, de Emiraten 500 politieagenten.

De agenten en soldaten hebben de opdracht de financiële instellingen en de olie- en gasinstallaties te bewaken. Zondag waren er hevige gevechten tussen de opstandelingen en de Bahreinse politie, waarbij de politie zich moest terugtrekken en jongeren het financieel district probeerden te barricaderen.

De sjiitische oppositie in Bahrein reageerde in een persmededeling dat ze de buitenlandse troepen als bezetters ziet. ‘De inval brengt de bevolking van Bahrein in ernstig gevaar en bedreigt hen met een onverklaarde oorlog door buitenlandse troepen.’

Iran en Libië

Ook elders in het Midden-Oosten wordt de repressie harder. De VN meldden gisteren dat Iran de executies van politieke tegenstanders opschroeft.

In Libië gaat de door kolonel Muammar Khadaffi ontketende oorlog tussen hem en de bevolking voort. Plannen om een no-flyzone af te dwingen om de bombardementen op burgers te stoppen, bleken ook gisteren te ver gegrepen. Turkije blokkeert in de NAVO een initiatief in die zin.

Gisteravond laat vergaderden de ministers van Buitenlandse Zaken van de G8-landen. Er werd vooral uitgekeken naar het standpunt van Rusland, dat zich tot nu toe tegen een no-flyzone kantte. Dat de Russische president

Dmitri Medvedev gisteren de familie Khadaffi de toegang tot Rusland ontzegde, werd als een signaal gezien dat de kloof tussen de visie van Rusland en die van de westerse landen aan het verkleinen is.

(www.tijd.be / 14.03.2011)

Another dead freedom fighter in Libya. This one was family.

Photobucket
Muhannad O. Bensadik, finger raised, stood joyful with his best friend Ahmed and others in liberated Benghazi, Libya, in Martyrs Square March 1. On March 12 he became a martyr himself when he was killed by government forces outside Brega, 140 miles from Benghazi.

I never met Muhanned O. Bensadik. And now I never will. He was my step-daughter’s cousin. He was killed by pro-Gaddafi forces in their attack on rebel-held Brega, a port city on the southeastern coast of the Gulf of Sidra. On March 4, in my diary here and above, he appears smiling, looking into the camera as young men and boys swarm over a liberated tank in Benghazi.

He was raised in Libya. But he was an American citizen, born in Eden, N.C., on Oct. 9, 1989. Summers he often spent in his mother’s speck of a hometown, Martinsville, Va. In fourth grade, he attended school all year there. His two sisters, 12 and 8, still live there with his mother. His brother and father live in Benghazi.

From age 7, he was in the Libyan Boy Scouts and when he got older he became a troop leader. He was a fan of the blues, of Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur. His favorite novel was of the French Revolution, A Tale of Two Cities. His favorite movies included Saving Private Ryan and Eclipse (of the Twilight series). He loved The Simpsons, South Park and Happy Tree Friends.

He studied taekwondo, was an avid swimmer and enjoyed spear-fishing. His hobby was photography. He graduated from high school in 2007 and wanted to study mechanical engineering in the United States. But he never got here.

He was a generous boy. He often helped feed the poor in Benghazi during Ramadan. And when he first joined the rebels surging out of Benghazi, headed ultimately, they hoped, to Tripoli to free their country from murderous tyranny, he helped pass out food to people after Ajdabiya was liberated. Somewhere between there and the port of Ras Lanouf, he acquired a rifle and some basic training.

Here he is being briefly interviewed by Al Jazeera in Ras Lanouf, starting about 0:45:

After describing the situation in Ras Lanouf on March 6, Al Jazeera reporter Hassan abu al-Hassan questions an enthusiatic Muhannad (speaking English):

Hassan: There is brutal fighting going on in Ras Lanouf.Muhannad: Gaddafi’s battalions are shooting from the military ships from the sea, and from tanks on the mountains and by missiles from behind.

Here is an interview with him on CNN on March 6.

Six days after this interview, Muhannad and four friends, including Ahmed, were caught in an attack just northeast of Brega. They split up and ran, three and two. Muhannad and another friend disappeared. Ahmed and the other two escaped. Muhannad was shot dead. We don’t know whether his friend was. His father, who was injured near Brega and is now in the hospital in Benghazi, has not been able to recover Muhannad’s body.Here is an audio link to a comment today in English from Muhannad’s father to a supporter of my step-daughter’s anti-Gaddafi dissident group. He explains what happened as he was told. There is a transcript and an Arabic translation here.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s forces march on. Today, they are bribing people in Brega with 500 dinars to fight the passionate but poorly armed, poorly trained rebels, most of them civilians until February 15 when an arrest of the dissident Fatih Tarbel sparked the revolt. The dictator, Brother Leader he calls himself, pays Libyans to kill Libyans so he can continue his rule.

If Gaddafi succeeds, if he regains full control, everything we know about him indicates a quiet bloodbath will take place. He will have plenty of time and plenty of money. At risk is every Libyan who has protested, has joined dissident Facebook groups, has put up a YouTube video, or has spoken to Al Jazeera. As well as the families of those who have done these things.

As the international community slowly discusses whether to take up the Arab League’s requesting a no-fly zone, many Muhannads are dying. If nobody answers their plea, many more will.

 

Muhannad poses with his catch last August in the Mediterranean near Benghazi.

(www.dailykos.com / 14.03.2011)

The Cost of Israel to US Taxpayers

For many years the American media said that “Israel receives $1.8 billion in military aid” or that “Israel receives $1.2 billion in economic aid.” Both statements were true, but since they were never combined to give us the complete total of annual U.S. aid to Israel, they also were lies—true lies.

Recently Americans have begun to read and hear that “Israel receives $3 billion in annual U.S. foreign aid.” That’s true. But it’s still a lie. The problem is that in fiscal 1997 alone, Israel received from a variety of other U.S. federal budgets at least $525.8 million above and beyond its $3 billion from the foreign aid budget, and yet another $2 billion in federal loan guarantees. So the complete total of U.S. grants and loan guarantees to Israel for fiscal 1997 was $5,525,800,000.

One can truthfully blame the mainstream media for never digging out these figures for themselves, because none ever have. They were compiled by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. But the mainstream media certainly are not alone. Although Congress authorizes America’s foreign aid total, the fact that more than a third of it goes to a country smaller in both area and population than Hong Kong probably never has been mentioned on the floor of the Senate or House. Yet it’s been going on for more than a generation.

Probably the only members of Congress who even suspect the full total of U.S. funds received by Israel each year are the privileged few committee members who actually mark it up. And almost all members of the concerned committees are Jewish, have taken huge campaign donations orchestrated by Israel’s Washington, DC lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), or both. These congressional committee members are paid to act, not talk. So they do and they don’t.

The same applies to the president, the secretary of state, and the foreign aid administrator. They all submit a budget that includes aid for Israel, which Congress approves, or increases, but never cuts. But no one in the executive branch mentions that of the few remaining U.S. aid recipients worldwide, all of the others are developing nations which either make their military bases available to the U.S., are key members of international alliances in which the U.S. participates, or have suffered some crippling blow of nature to their abilities to feed their people such as earthquakes, floods or droughts.

Israel, whose troubles arise solely from its unwillingness to give back land it seized in the 1967 war in return for peace with its neighbors, does not fit those criteria. In fact, Israel’s 1995 per capita gross domestic product was $15,800. That put it below Britain at $19,500 and Italy at $18,700 and just above Ireland at $15,400 and Spain at $14,300.

All four of those European countries have contributed a very large share of immigrants to the U.S., yet none has organized an ethnic group to lobby for U.S. foreign aid. Instead, all four send funds and volunteers to do economic development and emergency relief work in other less fortunate parts of the world.

The lobby that Israel and its supporters have built in the United States to make all this aid happen, and to ban discussion of it from the national dialogue, goes far beyond AIPAC, with its $15 million budget, its 150 employees, and its five or six registered lobbyists who manage to visit every member of Congress individually once or twice a year.

AIPAC, in turn, can draw upon the resources of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a roof group set up solely to coordinate the efforts of some 52 national Jewish organizations on behalf of Israel.

Among them are Hadassah, the Zionist women’s organization, which organizes a steady stream of American Jewish visitors to Israel; the American Jewish Congress, which mobilizes support for Israel among members of the traditionally left-of-center Jewish mainstream; and the American Jewish Committee, which plays the same role within the growing middle-of-the-road and right-of-center Jewish community. The American Jewish Committee also publishes Commentary, one of the Israel lobby’s principal national publications.

Perhaps the most controversial of these groups is B’nai B’rith’s Anti-Defamation League. Its original highly commendable purpose was to protect the civil rights of American Jews. Over the past generation, however, the ADL has regressed into a conspiratorial and, with a $45 million budget, extremely well funded hate group.

In the 1980s, during the tenure of chairman Seymour Reich, who went on to become chairman of the Conference of Presidents, ADL was found to have circulated two annual fund-raising letters warning Jewish parents against allegedly negative influences on their children arising from the increasing Arab presence on American university campuses.

More recently, FBI raids on ADL’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices revealed that an ADL operative had purchased files stolen from the San Francisco police department that a court had ordered destroyed because they violated the civil rights of the individuals on whom they had been compiled. ADL, it was shown, had added the illegally prepared and illegally obtained material to its own secret files, compiled by planting informants among Arab-American, African-American, anti-Apartheid and peace and justice groups.

The ADL infiltrators took notes of the names and remarks of speakers and members of audiences at programs organized by such groups. ADL agents even recorded the license plates of persons attending such programs and then suborned corrupt motor vehicles department employees or renegade police officers to identify the owners.

Although one of the principal offenders fled the United States to escape prosecution, no significant penalties were assessed. ADL’s Northern California office was ordered to comply with requests by persons upon whom dossiers had been prepared to see their own files, but no one went to jail and as yet no one has paid fines.

Not surprisingly, a defecting employee revealed in an article he published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs that AIPAC, too, has such “enemies” files. They are compiled for use by pro-Israel journalists like Steven Emerson and other so-called “Terrorism experts,” and also by professional, academic or journalistic rivals of the persons described for use in blacklisting, defaming, or denouncing them. What is never revealed is that AIPAC’s “opposition research“ department, under the supervision of Michael Lewis, son of famed Princeton University Orientalist Bernard Lewis, is the source of this defamatory material.

But this is not AIPAC’s most controversial activity. In the 1970s, when Congress put a cap on the amount its members could earn from speakers’ fees and book royalties over and above their salaries, it halted AIPAC’s most effective ways of paying off members for voting according to AIPAC recommendations. Members of AIPAC’s national board of directors solved the problem by returning to their home states and creating political action committees (PACs).

Most special interests have PACs, as do many major corporations, labor unions, trade associations and public-interest groups. But the pro-Israel groups went wild. To date some 126 pro-Israel PACs have been registered, and no fewer than 50 have been active in every national election over the past generation.

An individual voter can give up to $2,000 to a candidate in an election cycle, and a PAC can give a candidate up to $10,000. However, a single special interest with 50 PACs can give a candidate who is facing a tough opponent, and who has voted according to its recommendations, up to half a million dollars. That’s enough to buy all the television time needed to get elected in most parts of the country.

Even candidates who don’t need this kind of money certainly don’t want it to become available to a rival from their own party in a primary election, or to an opponent from the opposing party in a general election. As a result, all but a handful of the 535 members of the Senate and House vote as AIPAC instructs when it comes to aid to Israel, or other aspects of U.S. Middle East policy.

There is something else very special about AIPAC’s network of political action committees. Nearly all have deceptive names. Who could possibly know that the Delaware Valley Good Government Association in Philadelphia, San Franciscans for Good Government in California, Cactus PAC in Arizona, Beaver PAC in Wisconsin, and even Icepac in New York are really pro-Israel PACs under deep cover?

Hiding AIPAC’s Tracks

In fact, the congress members know it when they list the contributions they receive on the campaign statements they have to prepare for the Federal Election Commission. But their constituents don’t know this when they read these statements. So just as no other special interest can put so much “hard money” into any candidate’s election campaign as can the Israel lobby, no other special interest has gone to such elaborate lengths to hide its tracks.

Although AIPAC, Washington’s most feared special-interest lobby, can hide how it uses both carrots and sticks to bribe or intimidate members of Congress, it can’t hide all of the results.

Anyone can ask one of their representatives in Congress for a chart prepared by the Congressional Research Service, a branch of the Library of Congress, that shows Israel received $62.5 billion in foreign aid from fiscal year 1949 through fiscal year 1996. People in the national capital area also can visit the library of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Rosslyn, Virginia, and obtain the same information, plus charts showing how much foreign aid the U.S. has given other countries as well.

Visitors will learn that in precisely the same 1949-1996 time frame, the total of U.S. foreign aid to all of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean combined was $62,497,800,000–almost exactly the amount given to tiny Israel.

According to the Population Reference Bureau of Washington, DC, in mid-1995 the sub-Saharan countries had a combined population of 568 million. The $24,415,700,000 in foreign aid they had received by then amounted to $42.99 per sub-Saharan African.

Similarly, with a combined population of 486 million, all of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean together had received $38,254,400,000. This amounted to $79 per person.

The per capita U.S. foreign aid to Israel’s 5.8 million people during the same period was $10,775.48. This meant that for every dollar the U.S. spent on an African, it spent $250.65 on an Israeli, and for every dollar it spent on someone from the Western Hemisphere outside the United States, it spent $214 on an Israeli.

Shocking Comparisons

These comparisons already seem shocking, but they are far from the whole truth. Using reports compiled by Clyde Mark of the Congressional Research Service and other sources, freelance writer Frank Collins tallied for the Washington Report all of the extra items for Israel buried in the budgets of the Pentagon and other federal agencies in fiscal year 1993.Washington Report news editor Shawn Twing did the same thing for fiscal years 1996 and 1997.

They uncovered $1.271 billion in extras in FY 1993, $355.3 million in FY 1996 and $525.8 million in FY 1997. These represent an average increase of 12.2 percent over the officially recorded foreign aid totals for the same fiscal years, and they probably are not complete. It’s reasonable to assume, therefore, that a similar 12.2 percent hidden increase has prevailed over all of the years Israel has received aid.

As of Oct. 31, 1997 Israel will have received $3.05 billion in U.S. foreign aid for fiscal year 1997 and $3.08 billion in foreign aid for fiscal year 1998. Adding the 1997 and 1998 totals to those of previous years since 1949 yields a total of $74,157,600,000 in foreign aid grants and loans. Assuming that the actual totals from other budgets average 12.2 percent of that amount, that brings the grand total to $83,204,827,200.

But that’s not quite all. Receiving its annual foreign aid appropriation during the first month of the fiscal year, instead of in quarterly installments as do other recipients, is just another special privilege Congress has voted for Israel. It enables Israel to invest the money in U.S. Treasury notes. That means that the U.S., which has to borrow the money it gives to Israel, pays interest on the money it has granted to Israel in advance, while at the same time Israel is collecting interest on the money. That interest to Israel from advance payments adds another $1.650 billion to the total, making it $84,854,827,200.That’s the number you should write down for total aid to Israel. And that’s $14,346 each for each man, woman and child in Israel.

It’s worth noting that that figure does not include U.S. government loan guarantees to Israel, of which Israel has drawn $9.8 billion to date. They greatly reduce the interest rate the Israeli government pays on commercial loans, and they place additional burdens on U.S. taxpayers, especially if the Israeli government should default on any of them. But since neither the savings to Israel nor the costs to U.S. taxpayers can be accurately quantified, they are excluded from consideration here.

Further, friends of Israel never tire of saying that Israel has never defaulted on repayment of a U.S. government loan. It would be equally accurate to say Israel has never been required to repay a U.S. government loan. The truth of the matter is complex, and designed to be so by those who seek to conceal it from the U.S. taxpayer.

Most U.S. loans to Israel are forgiven, and many were made with the explicit understanding that they would be forgiven before Israel was required to repay them. By disguising as loans what in fact were grants, cooperating members of Congress exempted Israel from the U.S. oversight that would have accompanied grants. On other loans, Israel was expected to pay the interest and eventually to begin repaying the principal. But the so-called Cranston Amendment, which has been attached by Congress to every foreign aid appropriation since 1983, provides that economic aid to Israel will never dip below the amount Israel is required to pay on its outstanding loans. In short, whether U.S. aid is extended as grants or loans to Israel, it never returns to the Treasury.

Israel enjoys other privileges. While most countries receiving U.S. military aid funds are expected to use them for U.S. arms, ammunition and training, Israel can spend part of these funds on weapons made by Israeli manufacturers. Also, when it spends its U.S. military aid money on U.S. products, Israel frequently requires the U.S. vendor to buy components or materials from Israeli manufacturers. Thus, though Israeli politicians say that their own manufacturers and exporters are making them progressively less dependent upon U.S. aid, in fact those Israeli manufacturers and exporters are heavily subsidized by U.S. aid.

Although it’s beyond the parameters of this study, it’s worth mentioning that Israel also receives foreign aid from some other countries. After the United States, the principal donor of both economic and military aid to Israel is Germany.

By far the largest component of German aid has been in the form of restitution payments to victims of Nazi atrocities. But there also has been extensive German military assistance to Israel during and since the Gulf war, and a variety of German educational and research grants go to Israeli institutions. The total of German assistance in all of these categories to the Israeli government, Israeli individuals and Israeli private institutions has been some $31 billion or $5,345 per capita, bringing the per capita total of U.S. and German assistance combined to almost $20,000 per Israeli. Since very little public money is spent on the more than 20 percent of Israeli citizens who are Muslim or Christian, the actual per capita benefits received by Israel’s Jewish citizens would be considerably higher.

True Cost to U.S. Taxpayers

Generous as it is, what Israelis actually got in U.S. aid is considerably less than what it has cost U.S. taxpayers to provide it. The principal difference is that so long as the U.S. runs an annual budget deficit, every dollar of aid the U.S. gives Israel has to be raised through U.S. government borrowing.

In an article in the Washington Report for December 1991/January 1992, Frank Collins estimated the costs of this interest, based upon prevailing interest rates for every year since 1949. I have updated this by applying a very conservative 5 percent interest rate for subsequent years, and confined the amount upon which the interest is calculated to grants, not loans or loan guarantees.

On this basis the $84.8 billion in grants, loans and commodities Israel has received from the U.S. since 1949 cost the U.S. an additional $49,936,880,000 in interest.

There are many other costs of Israel to U.S. taxpayers, such as most or all of the $45.6 billion in U.S. foreign aid to Egypt since Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979 (compared to $4.2 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt for the preceding 26 years). U.S. foreign aid to Egypt, which is pegged at two-thirds of U.S. foreign aid to Israel, averages $2.2 billion per year.

There also have been immense political and military costs to the U.S. for its consistent support of Israel during Israel’s half-century of disputes with the Palestinians and all of its Arab neighbors. In addition, there have been the approximately $10 billion in U.S. loan guarantees and perhaps $20 billion in tax-exempt contributions made to Israel by American Jews in the nearly half-century since Israel was created.

Even excluding all of these extra costs, America’s $84.8 billion in aid to Israel from fiscal years 1949 through 1998, and the interest the U.S. paid to borrow this money, has cost U.S. taxpayers $134.8 billion, not adjusted for inflation. Or, put another way, the nearly $14,630 every one of 5.8 million Israelis received from the U.S. government by Oct. 31, 1997 has cost American taxpayers $23,240 per Israeli.

It would be interesting to know how many of those American taxpayers believe they and their families have received as much from the U.S. Treasury as has everyone who has chosen to become a citizen of Israel. But it’s a question that will never occur to the American public because, so long as America’s mainstream media, Congress and president maintain their pact of silence, few Americans will ever know the true cost of Israel to U.S. taxpayers.

(www.ifamericansknew.org / 14.03.2011)

Gaza: Protesters to sleep in Unknown Soldier Square

Gaza: Protesters to sleep in Unknown Soldier Square
Published today (updated) 14/03/2011 21:48
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GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza City’s Unknown Soldier Square is filled with Palestinian flags, mattresses, tents, stereos, speakers and banners as young Palestinians rally to end the division.

At least 3,000 protesters hit the streets today, and say they plan to sleep in the square ahead of the mass demonstration planned for March 15.

Demonstrators carried banners demanding national unity: “Sit-in, sit-in until the end of division,” “We won’t go, we won’t sleep until we end the division,” “We are united in our struggle: workers, students and farmers.”

But the most common slogan read simply, “The people want to end the division.”

“We went out in a spontaneous demonstration today from Al-Azhar University and Al-Quds Open University” Hani Abu Mustafa of the March 15 coalition told Ma’an. Word has spread and the people have joined the movement, he added.

He said they would stay in the square until their demands were met.

“We upheld the slogan of the youth revolutions, we won’t allow any flag into the square other than the Palestinian flag,” he said.

The same principle is governing the coalition’s demonstration in Ramallah, where protesters insist only the national flag will fly.

As more and more people arrived at the Gaza City sit-in, there was a party-like atmosphere in the square, with youngsters waving flags, singing national songs and chanting slogans.

Huge loudspeakers blasted tunes from a popular Lebanese singer as young people stood around chatting or put up tents, some lounging on mattresses.

There were few signs of the security forces, although a handful of police could be seen directing traffic around the square, an AFP correspondent said.

Some activists said the decision to start the mass protests a day early was taken for fear the Hamas-run security forces would close off the square or block roads in a bid to prevent the planned rallies.

But Samah al-Rawah, another of the March 15 organizers, said the decision to start early came after the Hamas Interior Ministry refused to give them a permit to protest on March 15, saying another group had already applied to hold a protest that day.

Organizers believe the permit was handed to a Hamas organization which is trying to co-opt the March 15 movement, which goes by the name The National Campaign for an End to Division.

“So we have started now because we don’t want any other Palestinian faction to steal this event. We will sleep here because we don’t want anyone else to take over the square,” Rawah said.

Earlier on Monday, Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh had ordered the Interior Ministry to let the rallies go ahead without interruption, his office said in a statement.

The premier, it said, “supports all the efforts by the young people and the factions which aims to end the division and protecting the… national unity of our people.”

Haniyeh ordered the ministry to ensure the security forces “created an atmosphere which would let these public events succeed.”

Later, a statement from the Hamas security forces said they would “work hard to protect these noble goals and will continue to keep the compass national and the public away from hateful partisanship that some people are trying to make up to poison the atmosphere.”

Since the outbreak of massive protests in Egypt, Hamas security forces have clamped down on numerous demonstrations. Last week, they detained 11 “unity” protesters and interrogated those believed to be behind the Facebook campaign.

(www.maannews.net / 14.03.2011)

Het ongebreidelde racisme van Wilders

Geert Wilders heeft weer een dankbaar onderwerp gevonden om zijn hetze tegen de islam en moslims nieuw leven in te blazen. Vorige week, op 11 maart, werd in de illegale nederzetting Itamar nabij Nablus in de door Israël bezette West-Bank een joods gezin vermoord. De daders zijn niet bekend, maar de Israëlische autoriteit gaat ervan uit dat het Palestijnse terroristen waren. Minstens twintig Palestijnen zijn inmiddels gearresteerd in het naburige Awarta. In de omgeving van Nablus is het al jaren onrustig en zijn er voortdurend gewelddadige conflicten tussen de kolonisten en Palestijnen.

Gruwelijke beelden van het vermoorde gezin, waaronder een baby van drie maanden en twee jonge kinderen gingen over het web en maakten, logisch, veel woede los. Overal braken relletjes uit en gingen woedende bewoners van de illegale nederzettingen de straat op en vernielden eigendommen van Palestijnen. 24 uur na de afschuwelijk moordpartij kondigde de regering van Netanyahu aan dat in reactie op de ‘terroristische aanslag’ er 100 nieuwe woningen gebouwd worden.

Uit niets is bekend of deze moorden islamitisch gemotiveerd waren, maar omdat er een kans bestaat dat de daders wellicht moslims zijn — die kans is groot als het Palestijnen zijn — ziet hij hierin het bewijs dat de Islam niet deugt. En Palestijnen deugen immers ook niet, want die zijn volgens hem naast moslim ook nog eens een verslagen volk en verdienen het om vernederd te worden.

Alhoewel ieder spoor van de daders ontbreekt weet Wilders dat de aanslag islamitisch was. Het gaat niet om bewijzen, het gaat hem om de waarheid. Zijn waarheid die diep racistisch gemotiveerd is, zo blijkt maar weer. Voor Wilders is iedere misdaad waarbij een moslim betrokken is het bewijs van Islamitisch fascisme. Dat maakt iedere moslim medeschuldig aan de misdaad van een willekeurige moslim.

Er worden vrijwel dagelijks kinderen en families op gruwelijke wijze vermoord, overal, ook in het ‘vrije’ westen. We horen Wilders echter nooit wanneer Palestijnen en hun kinderen worden vermoord. Als er een gezin in Nederland of elders wordt vermoord dan heet het een familiedrama. Als de daders moslims of immigranten waren dan is hun motief blijkbaar anders dan wanneer het om anderen zou gaan. Niet de moord is de misdaad maar het moslim-zijn. Net zoals vroeger de jood, communist, homoseksueel, of neger.

Je vraagt je af wat dan het motief van niet-moslims is, wanneer zij iemand vermoorden. In het paradijs van Wilders zijn alle moslims fascisten en alle fascisten eigenlijk goedbedoelende burgers zoals hij. In de strijd van gewone mensen voor vrijheid en recht en tegen onrecht in het Midden-Oosten ziet hij het bewijs van islamisering. Zijn subtiele racisme bestaat uit medelijden met slachtoffers van daders afkomstig uit door hem zo gehate bevolkingsgroepen. En omdat zijn politieke macht gebouwd is op zijn acteertalent als slachtoffer wordt zijn ongebreidelde racisme geen strobreed in de weg gelegd.

(www.krapuul.nl / 14.03.2011)

Why Palestinians will protest on 15 March

Rawan Abu-Shahla, The Electronic Intifada, 14 March 2011

On 15 March Palestinians will demonstrate, calling for unity. (Luay Sababa/MaanImages)

We are a group of Palestinian youths who have come together for the sole purpose of leaving behind our political identities and affiliations, and deciding to put our best interests above all else, united under our Palestinian flag. We have called for peaceful demonstrations on Tuesday, 15 March across the Palestinian nation — in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, the territories of 1948 and the Palestinian diaspora, calling out together one slogan: “The people want to end the division!”

We call for peaceful actions in support of unity in the Palestinian political scene under one banner, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Division in the Palestinian body politic has affected every aspect of our lives: socially, economically, educationally and intellectually. It is ordinary Palestinians who have paid the price of the four-year long division that serves no one but the Israeli occupier.

Our campaign to end the division started out as a thought which stirred discussion, and some youths decided to give it a try and did everything possible to make this initiative happen. Day after day, the idea grew and became a plan and then a public decision to not be silenced anymore, not to be terrorized or oppressed and most importantly, not to be ignored and forgotten anymore. That is how we came to our decision to demonstrate on 15 March, state the public’s refusal of the status quo and the practices of the political “leadership.”

It is an idea so beautiful in its simplicity and purity, that all the political parties’ attempts to alter it, complicate it, or accuse those behind it of serving some subversive agenda, have failed. And after discovering that this is a genuine movement that reflects nothing more than the conscience of the Palestinian public being awakened, the political parties are in distress and confusion. To oppress or not to oppress? — that is the question they now face.

In recent weeks, we worked to spread the idea among the people, encouraging them to participate with their families, to trust that their voice will be heard once they raise it, and to trust each other and understand that we are all in this together no matter what political affiliations or beliefs we hold. We have sought to convince them that with unity in our call and in the field, we will vanquish the fear that is nesting inside us, and that when we stand together as one to claim or rights, no one can harm us or oppress us.

The peaceful 15 March demonstrations will be the start of a series of activities, and the first day of an open-ended sit-in. The main idea is that we’re staying until the political “leadership” wises up, subjects itself to the people’s demands and takes serious actions toward fulfilling them. What happens next is totally in the hands of the people.

This movement is from the people, and for them. As for Gaza Youth Breaks Out (GYBO), and all other participating groups working in the field, we have only the honor of initiative. All else now depends on how the Palestinian street responds, and on how strong they can be.

Things will be hard; there are threats, whether of violence from controlling parties, or fear of chaos. But we have complete faith in our call and in our people. We are betting on the patriotic Palestinian conscience to act up, and for all to learn to accept, respect and salute our differences, forgive the past and start anew, showing the world a true Palestinian example of tolerance. Our calls are peaceful and our only purpose is to restore the lost harmony in Palestinian society.

The campaign to end the division is a long-awaited public decision to move, and to cast away all the fears. There is a long list of reasons why people are so fed up and why they are going out to make their demands heard.

Palestinians have now come to understand that through their silence and submission to the political parties’ wills, through accepting to be manipulated and terrorized, they become accomplices just as guilty as the parties themselves.

The people are going out so that they will do their part in bringing change, and breaking out of the general air of indifference that has been filling our hearts for the past four years.

We Palestinians, with all our different backgrounds, will no longer be ignored. We will claim our rights as citizens and human beings to be respected, protected and recognized as the sole source of legitimate power. Our government must understand that we the people are a force to be reckoned with. We will not be deceived by speeches — we’ve had enough of those. We believe that actions speak louder than words and we, the Palestinian public, are doing our part with this initiative to give the “leadership” one more chance to earn our trust.

The day of a one-way relationship between the governors and the people will be, come 15 March, over.

The division among Palestinians must end. It has weakened our cause and instead of remaining the internationally-renowned symbol of a righteous and lawful struggle that it has always been, it has deteriorated into an illusion of authority and positions, allowing our occupier and real oppressor, Israel, to violate us. Israel continues to kidnap and imprison more innocent Palestinians without fair trials, to invade our territories, wreck our homes, uproot our trees, steal our heritage, bomb our cities and besiege the Gaza Strip for five consecutive years. Israel continues to violate UN resolutions without anyone holding it accountable. And with the lack of a proper Palestinian leadership, there will be no stopping Israel from doing what it wants.

So our message is clear and simple: end the division, turn to Palestinian public opinion and work for the prosperity of Palestinians to pave the way for the establishment of our democratic, independent Palestinian state. Unity is due.

Our call goes out to every Palestinian, be true to yourself, be true to your cause, be true to the sacrifices that our great people have given throughout 63 years of suffering. Go out on 15 March, denounce the division and anyone who stands by it.

Together in the name of our sacred cause, our martyrs and our prisoners, we call for unity under our Palestinian flag. There’s absolutely no doubt in our hearts that our peaceful demonstrations will be the dawning of a new Palestinian day, where every Palestinian feels that he or she belongs.

Rawan Abu-Shahla is a member of Gaza Youth Break Out and lives in Gaza

(electronicintifada.net / 14.03.2011)