Deaths pile up in Hama siege

Scores of people died in and around the restive Syrian city of Hama on Thursday, according to grim reports from activists confirming fears of widespread casualties a day after the start of a new brutal military clampdown targeting protesters.

At least 109 people died in and around Hama, according to Avaaz, a global activist group, citing a medical source. The Local Coordination Committees of Syria said 30 people were killed the day before.

“The brutality continues in Hama on the fourth day of Ramadan. Communication with the city and surrounding area is very difficult as the electricity supply has been cut off,” Avaaz said.

“However, Avaaz has been in touch with a medical source who confirms that 109 people have been killed since the early hours of this morning. Avaaz has been told that scores more have been injured and bodies are lying in the streets as ambulances and private vehicles are unable to get through.”

The western Syrian city has been a cauldron in recent days. It is the center of the anti-government movement roiling the country, and that has prompted a push by security personnel to crack down on the huge demonstrations there and secure the city.

Citing the medical source, Avaaz said the bodies transported to al Hourani hospital had been shot at close range, mostly in the head. The geographic breakdown is 48 dead in the town of Hai al Hadyr, 31 in Janoub al Manaab, and 30 in the northern part of Hama and the Hamidia area.

One resident who spoke to CNN by satellite phone said injured people have passed away in hospitals because the facilities are without electricity.

Residents reported a breakdown and cutoff in communications and electricity accompanying the siege, and said the military was bombing the city.

The resident said entrances of the city are blocked, with no one getting in or out, and snipers are stationed across the city. People who try to leave the city, he said, are being shot.

The man said he was sure that about 10 people are dead and dozens of people are injured.

However, he said, he is hearing reports of dozens of deaths and said he was told there was “genocide” in one particular area. Activists have said many civilians may have died as the military and security forces took hold of the city.

Witnesses said Wednesday that security forces were brazenly advancing into the heart of Hama.

Hama, which has seen massive demonstrations by anti-government protesters, was the site of the 1982 bloody crackdown by the Alawite-dominated government against a Muslim Brotherhood uprising.

Memories of that siege, carried out by late President Hafez al-Assad, the father of President Bashar al-Assad, have reverberated during the nearly five-month uprising, and the ongoing violence in Hama has prompted international anger against the al-Assad regime.

CNN is unable to independently confirm death tolls or events in Syria, which has restricted access to the country by international journalists, including CNN’s.

The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday issued a presidential statement condemning the Syrian government’s crackdown on protesters and calling for an immediate end to violence by all parties.

But Amnesty International on Thursday cited the Hama siege and slammed the council’s response as “completely inadequate” and “limp” because it failed to take decisive action. The council issued a presidential statement, which carries no enforcement weight.

Jose Luis Diaz, Amnesty International’s representative to the United Nations, said al-Assad has allowed his security forces to carry out another bloody attack on civilians, with dozens killed in the city of Hama in recent days.

“It’s crucial that a U.N. Human Rights Council fact-finding mission to Syria is able to investigate the situation as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the Security Council has also failed to provide support for such a mission,” he said.

He notes that Syrian authorities haven’t permitted a U.N. fact-finding delegation into the country to investigate the situation.

“The U.N. must act now, with a firm and legally binding position. At the very least, its position must include imposing an arms embargo, freezing the assets of President al-Assad and other officials suspected of responsibility for crimes against humanity, and referring the situation to the ICC prosecutor,” he said, in reference to the International Criminal Court.

Two permanent members of the Security Council weighed in on how to proceed in the future.

The Russian Foreign Ministry warned against outside interference and said the country’s citizens should solve their problems themselves, state-run RIA Novosti said.

“The settlement in this country should be carried out by the Syrians themselves without outside interference and should be based on an all-Syria dialogue, which is the only way to resolve the conflict,” the ministry said in a statement.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said earlier Thursday that the Security Council may take a tougher stance on Syria “if nothing changes on the Syrian side.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group, also issued an update about Deir Ezzor, a restive city in the country’s northeastern region. It said an opposition leader in the city confirmed a systematic series of government measures to punish residents.

They include not providing salaries to government employees, halting wheat transports to bakeries, preventing hospitals from rescuing injured protesters, and asking governmental medical staff to leave. Pharmacies are closing over fears of detention for giving medications to protesters.

Al-Assad has issued a decree authorizing a multiple-party political system, state media reported Thursday.

A law was earlier passed by Syrian lawmakers, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported, and grants citizens the right to establish political parties with the aim of contributing to political life “through peaceful and democratic means.”

However, the Syrian opposition has argued the decrees are simply for show and will not bring about real change.

That’s because it is questionable whether the move could end decades of single-party Baathist rule without constitutional reform. One of the articles of the Syrian constitution guarantees supremacy for the ruling Baath party.

(edition.cnn.com / 04.08.2011)

Direct news from Gaza

Initial reports: injuries in the bombing of an Israeli neighborhood in eastern Gaza apples

6 airstrikes today, and Israel is increasing its attacks in Ramadan.

Urgent uncertain news about the fall of a martyr … And another wounded in the region of Jabal al-Rayes central Gaza Strip

Bombing in the area of apples and injuring a child slightly injured

(Facebook / 04.08.2011)

Letter From An Egyptian

Dear Muslims

I felt that I need to write to you expressing my gratitude for your sincere solidarity, with our noble revolution. A revolution that defied the stereotypes portraying Islam as incompatible with democracy, progress and freedom.

Our revolution showed the world who is on the side of justice and democracy and who is on the side of brutality and tyranny.

American and Western support for the tyranny of Arab dictators in oppressing and brutalizing the people of the Middle East, for decades has engraved a lot of pain in our hearts and souls.

We as Arabs and Muslims are tired of being depicted by the West as anti -democratic terrorists. The whole discourse in the West about the Arab revolutionary winds of change, is centered around the welfare of Israel, as if democracy, justice and freedom for Arabs don’t matter.

There is a video that encapsulates our struggle for freedom, progress and Democracy.

The video shows a young Egyptian protester, unarmed and courageous. He is taking a stance. This is a very symbolic video. This young Egyptian protester lost his life fighting for Democracy. This young Egyptian protester lost his life fighting for a better education, for a better future, for progress and justice.

My story could be a case study representing one of many similar Egyptian stories. I had to burn myself flat out, studying 2 years in high school to be able to join a prestigious University. Places for Universities are extremely competitive, to the extent that people have to achieve 100% in high school in order to join schools of Medicine and Pharmacy. I achieved 94% and this was barely enough for me to join Engineering in the University that I wanted.

After joining University in Egypt, I had to work very hard to be able to survive an educational system that is extremely underfunded, overcrowded and overloaded with unnecessary content. Studying in the West is easier and much more pleasant, than in a corrupt education system like that which the corrupt regime established in Egypt.

Before graduation, I and a lot of my colleagues were worried about the prospects of unemployment, as the corruption of the regime has eaten through the progress and development of Egypt.

I had a lot of brilliant colleagues who felt that their Science and talents would be wasted, as the regime strangled most research programmes. They felt that they cannot use their Science and knowledge to benefit Egypt, because the regime almost persecuted Scientific research, consequently a lot of them left Egypt looking for opportunities to contribute to Science and human progress abroad. A lot of Egyptians made huge sacrifices, having to leave their homes and families and move to other countries.

They couldn’t benefit Egypt. They thought maybe they could benefit humanity.

It is very difficult to find a grant or a scholarship or to apply for a place in a University abroad, even if it is at your own expense. It is not easy to study in a foreign language. Some Egyptians abroad managed to overcome all these obstacles and became very successful Scientists, Engineers, Lawyers and Doctors.

Prophet Muhammad PBUH said “The ink of a scholar is holier than the blood of a martyr”.

Are you an excellent student? Are you the best in your class? Are you the best in your career? What have you done for Islam and humanity? Don’t you know that it is your Islamic duty to pursue Science and knowledge to benefit yourself and humanity?

Don’t you know that even if you are already studying or working, you are still required to achieve the Islamic value of Ihsan which means excellence?

Why is it important to be excellent? Because the world we live in, exponentially rewards those who are the best and disproportionately ignores those who are the mediocre.

The best two or three companies in every field, almost monopolies the global market, while the mediocre remain on the brink of being unnoticed.

If I ask you to name the 1st person in space, you will be able to answer me, but if I ask you about the 2nd person in space, you wouldn’t know.

This is the meaning of Ihsan (excellence), be the best, be the vanguard, be the leader. This is what Islam wants you to be. Are you the best, yet?

Back to the video, this young Egyptian who was shot dead, sacrificing his life for freedom and democracy, why? Because in Islam there is the principle of Shura, which means that decisions should be based on consultation with experts, not on individual opinion. Islam is against dictatorship and tyranny.The young man in the video was killed because he wanted democracy and political participation.

If you live in a democratic society, how did you use your democratic and political rights? Were you active in advocating justice and progress for Muslims and non Muslims? Did you vote against those who supported illegal invasions of other nations? Did you hold your politicians to account for their actions?

What do you think this innocent protester would have done if he had the freedom and the opportunity of education that you have? He would have definitely done a lot for Islam and for Egypt if he had your opportunities.

Don’t take Democracy, freedom and good education for granted. People sacrifice their lives for these privileges.

If you don’t live in a democratic society, when are you going to stand up for your rights?

Kind Regards

An Egyptian

(www.mpacuk.org / 04.08.2011)

Occupation Law and the One-State Reality

For decades, the international law of occupation – a branch of the laws of war (or “international humanitarian law”) – has played a major role in structuring debates around Israel/Palestine. As applied to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the law of occupation has provided a useful and globally shared set of criteria for analyzing Israel’s discriminatory and repressive policies, as well as certain Palestinian actions.

There is perhaps no legal document cited more frequently in debates on Israel/Palestine than the Fourth Geneva Convention, held up by many as a sacred pact of civilization enshrining basic standards of humanity in wartime. But as the impossibility of partition (the so-called “two-state solution”) as a viable way to end the conflict becomes ever-clearer, it is long past the time to grapple with how the law of occupation can also hamper collective thinking and action.

For over forty years, ten million people between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea have lived under a single segregated political regime – the State of Israel. Occupation law is not merely an inadequate tool for analyzing this regime; it can also help legitimize the very spatial arrangements upon which it depends.

A Law of Otherness

Since 1967, the international community has demanded that Israel apply the law of occupation to the West Bank and Gaza Strip and has condemned its many violations of that law. The law of occupation – as embodied primarily in the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) and the Hague Regulations (1907) – provides a set of standards governing a state’s conduct when, due to an armed conflict, it finds itself in control of territory other than its own. These standards are generally more detailed and theoretically more robust in enforcement than similar provisions in international human rights conventions. Designed to balance the security of the occupying power against the rights of the occupied population, they shape public debates by enunciating basic ground rules, such as the well-known prohibitions on torture, collective punishment, and destruction of property without military necessity. These rules impose duties on states; some of them also impose responsibility on individuals when violated (such violations are known as war crimes).

Since the eruption of the first intifada in 1987 placed the West Bank and Gaza Strip at the center of the Palestinian struggle, much of the diplomacy, activism, and scholarship related to the conflict has revolved around three questions: To what extent should the law of occupation apply? Do the acts of Israel or others comply with this framework? And how can this framework be implemented or enforced? Instead of revisiting these old debates, let us re-examine the assumptions behind the consensus position of the international community upon which Palestinians and their allies have relied.

Seizing territories in wartime is not illegal in itself, but modern international law forbids their unilateral annexation. Accordingly, the modern law of occupation treats these situations as temporary and seeks to preserve the status quo ante pending a conflict’s final resolution through a peace treaty or other political agreement. Consistent with this logic is the Fourth Geneva Convention’s absolute ban on colonizing occupied territories (“settlements”). This assumption of “temporariness” obviously falls apart in the Israel/Palestine case: not only because the occupation has continued for so long, but because it involves a state committed to the demographic transformation of these territories.

It is no secret that respect for occupation law in Israel/Palestine is in short supply. But it is important to draw attention to two crucial assumptions implicitly embedded in the demand to apply occupation law in this case, assumptions that themselves perform political work even when the demand itself is not heeded; assumptions whose consequences we must reckon with.

The first assumption is that the state of Israel is an international legal entity delineated by the “green line” boundary that existed until 1967, distinct from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.[1] The second is that the Israel at most owes the inhabitants of these territories a kind of basic normality: providing for their humanitarian needs and allowing normal commerce to the extent possible, but without any specific political relationship or responsibility to them. Unilateral annexation, and therefore citizenship, is off the table. Let us call these assumptions of otherness: otherness of the land, otherness of the people. Together, they reproduce the idea that the West Bank and Gaza Strip and their inhabitants are outside of, distinct from, not part of Israel.

Occupation law does not require either of these two propositions, but its widespread use as an analytical framework and normative model undeniably helps normalize them. The demand that Israel stop settlements or the separation barrier because occupation law says so cannot be easily separated from occupation law’s framing principles of temporariness and its assumptions of otherness. One reason why occupation law enjoys widespread appeal – why it can provide a shared language that Palestinian nationalists, liberal Zionists, and the “international community” alike can employ – is because its implementation would be consistent with the so-called “two-state solution” to the conflict. Indeed, in light of occupation law’s ban on colonization, one can argue that its implementation is crucial for ensuring the viability of any Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Partitioning the Imagination

Occupation law’s assumptions of otherness, premised on a simple dichotomy between occupied territory and occupying states, are not particularly helpful in grasping a basic fact: since the 1967 War, the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine has been ruled by a single supreme authority. The green line has defined the state of Israel for less than one-third of its liftetime (1948-1967). Meanwhile, it has constructed a complex set of political, legal, economic, and social relationships that have essentially dissolved the West Bank as a coherent entity and converted the Gaza Strip into a large-scale holding pen for a quarter of the country’s indigenous population.

[Maximum Arabs on Minimum Land: An imperfect map of native areas in Israel/Palestine, including recognized Palestinians towns and villages inside the Green Line and areas administered by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Excludes West Bank communities not governed by the PNA (especially in Jerusalem) and "unrecognized" villages inside the Green Line. Map by John Emerson.]

That this regime discriminates between its inhabitants is well-known, favoring Jews, whether they live inside the green line or outside of it, whether they are from the country or not. But equally important to maintaining this privilege is segregation amongst non-Jews, who are divided into various categories according to a spatial logic.[2] Those inside the green line may, at most, hold Israeli citizenship (ezrahut) with some formal rights, while lacking the true inclusion that comes with possessing Jewish nationality (leom). Next come residents of occupied Jerusalem, who have mobility without citizenship, followed by West Bank residents who have neither, and then finally Gazans at the bottom of the ladder. Refugees outside the state, of course, enjoy no share in this polity at all.

While the law of occupation does not require partition as a political solution, it does contribute to a partitioned understanding and analysis of this regime. Occupation law’s assumption of the otherness of the occupied territory encourages us to treat pre-1967 Israel as a given while limiting attention to settlements and various repressive practices only as so many different “violations.” Even when such violations are treated as systematic, they are detached from the larger context. They focus solely on only the twenty-two percent of the country comprised of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, leaving parallel situations inside the green line to be analyzed separately as “domestic” problems under international human rights law.

At the same time, the otherness of the occupied population is not only unquestioned and left to the realm of “political negotiations,” it is also a crucial feature of this regime. Israel persists in the notion that there is a Jewish and democratic majority inside the state, even as the state’s refusal to define its boundaries renders the very idea of “insideness” inherently unstable. Annexing the territories and their populations would destroy this illusion. Thus, occupation law, with its concomitant strictures against annexation, is a useful legal placeholder once divested of any real ability to constrain colonization. Contrary to what some may believe, Israel has never rejected occupation law wholesale; right-wing ideologues may assail it as some kind of security threat, but Israel’s military lawyers and courts continue to selectively rely on occupation law when it suits their purposes.

This is also why partisans of Israel display incredible bad faith when they rhetorically demand to know why Tibet, Kashmir, or Chechnya are not considered occupied territories. China, India, and Russia may be just as or even more repressive than Israel, but they at least extend citizenship to the populations involved and pretend to accept their equality. And that is the last thing Israel wants to do. Occupation law may make many demands on a state to respect certain basic rights of civilians. But the one thing that it does not demand – and that it never could demand – is the extension of equal citizenship to occupied populations.

Sovereign Voids and Native Administration

The segregated regime described above is constantly evolving through “facts on the ground” that reshape lived space, such as the separation barrier, checkpoints and roadblocks, and new roads and colonies. In order to clarify how occupation law’s basic assumptions can facilitate this process, let us compare Israel’s policies towards native self-administration with the South African Bantustan experiment.

For the better part of the last two decades, Israel has relied for native management in significant part on the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), a self-rule body that exists in dozens of disconnected enclaves run by Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The PNA has been widely criticized for legitimizing and extending the occupation: it assumes the burden of caring for natives, while Israel maintains the ultimate ability to dictate their conditions of life while colonizing as it wishes. Israel maximizes its control while minimizing its responsibility. At the same time, the Palestinians are stuck with maximum responsibility and minimum control: they are expected to “crack down on terrorism” in the absence of any political solution or sufficient rudiments of statehood.

Many critics have compared the PNA to the Bantustans in South Africa. The apartheid regime sought to deflect international criticism of white minority rule by concentrating much of the native population into disconnected patches of territory, and then declaring them to be independent sovereign states. Derisively called “Bantustans,” these enclaves were tiny, often non-contiguous, and entirely dependent on the apartheid regime, much like the PNA. However, the Bantustans largely failed to gain international recognition as states – although Israel and Taiwan supported them through security, political, and trade ties.

[Areas of native self-administration in Israel/Palestine (under the Palestinian National Authority) and apartheid South Africa (bantustans). Image from unknown archive.]

The scattered areas of PNA jurisdiction and the Bantustans may share many similarities, but there is a crucial difference from the standpoint of international law (to say nothing of their contrasting approaches to the problem of native labor). In South Africa, the state was attempting to alienate parts of its own sovereign territory and, more egregiously, to denationalize its own subjects. International law has spent so much time dealing with states claiming territory that it was unclear how it should even approach states trying to unilaterally rid themselves of territory, as South Africa attempted to do. It became apparent that the regime could not simply create “sovereign voids” in its own territory; it had to convince other states to step forward and affirmatively recognize the Bantustans as independent. Otherwise, the default option was that South Africa maintained its responsibility for those areas and their inhabitants, which is exactly what happened.

Israel/Palestine is different from the South Africa case. Thanks to occupation law’s assumption of otherness, classifying the Gaza Strip and West Bank as occupied territories means that by definition they were not part of Israel to begin with. Moreover, they have the unique status of already being “sovereign voids” in the sense that they did not transition from their status as colonial territories to belonging to any recognized nation-state.

From this starting point, it is far easier to relieve oneself of responsibility for resolving the political status of natives. South Africa faced widespread criticism for attempting to denationalize its own citizens. In contrast, Israel is not legally required to confer citizenship to occupied populations in the first place, or provide them with any political status whatsoever.

Territorially, South Africa needed states to recognize the Bantustans, and none did so. But in Israel/Palestine, we instead face the more ambiguous legal question of whether a territory is occupied, a question that turns on factual analysis instead of formal declarations. Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip gave rise to a set of debates as to the status of the territory, even though it continued to exercise authority there through regular ground incursions, management of crucial infrastructure and administrative tasks, and control over borders and airspace. Although Israel did not convince the world that the occupation had ended, it created sufficient doubt and confusion to provide political cover for portraying its new relationship with the Gaza Strip as one of parity, between two neighboring states trading rocket and artillery fire. Israel reclassified the Gaza Strip from something like an occupied territory to a “hostile territory” with an even lower level of legal restraint. This helped legitimize a massive escalation of repression, including the tightening of the siege and the 2008-2009 onslaught.

In terms of legitimizing discrimination and conferring discretion to the state, Israel has achieved far more than the apartheid regime could have hoped to accomplish. But all of these rearrangements in the structure of the occupation have distracted from a much more important question. That is the question of why the people of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip and Sderot in southern Israel should live as neighbors under the same supreme authority for over four decades, but with entirely different sets of rights.

Conclusion: At the Frontiers of Law

The purpose of this essay is not to attack occupation law, nor those who have devoted efforts to understanding and upholding it. The benefits and importance of this body of law are undeniable, and as someone who has worked over the past decade for various human rights groups on this issue I have no interest in repudiating it. But serious questions remain as to whether occupation law – historically developed and applied mainly around Europe (including parts of the Ottoman Empire such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Egypt) – is an appropriate tool for facing the challenge of contemporary settler colonialism.

And this challenge is not merely a theoretical one. After decades of fruitless negotiations and unceasing colonization, there is a growing awareness of the limitations of partition in addressing the Israel/Palestine conflict. Some celebrate this as a step towards building a single non-colonial state for all of its citizens. Others mourn this development, either because they wish to preserve the Zionist project or because they fear that the demise of the partition option will only herald more bloodshed and suffering without respite. My point here is not to argue that the end of partition is a good thing or a bad thing. My point is that as partition recedes as a viable option, the evolving situation on the ground raises difficult legal questions that require sustained consideration.

Israel has skillfully deployed multiple juridical categories while physically reshaping the territories and populations under its control. Grappling with this situation requires more than reliance on static categories such as those of occupatiwww.jadaliyya.comon law, or other approaches described as “apolitical” or technocratic. Instead, jurists, legal scholars, and activists would be well-served to also engage core questions of political belonging, responsibility, and equality in a manner that creatively engages the evolving spatial dynamics of this regime. In exploring the limitations and problems of occupation law, this essay is an attempt to join this difficult but necessary conversation.

(www.jadaliyya.com / 04.08.2011)

Israelis and Palestinians gear up for final diplomatic battle

In response to the Palestinians’ decision to declare statehood at the UN General Assembly in September, Israel has started drafting options of “punishing” Palestinians if they proceed with their quest for independence.

­The latest threat to the Middle East peace process is a promise from Israel to scrap the Oslo Accords, a 1993 agreement which is the main roadmap for a resolution to the conflict.

However, this response to a possible decision of the UN is not the only one. The Israeli National Security Council started drafting a set of possible responses in case the independence of Palestine is recognized, Haaretz newspaper reported. Security Council will introduce its recommendations in September, when the UN is due to render its decision over Palestinian statehood.

Meanwhile, the draft of the UN resolution on the recognition of an independent Palestinian state is expected to be presented during a meeting of representatives of the Palestinian Authority and several Arab States in Doha, Qatar, on August 4.

A spokesperson from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yigal Palmor, claims that this “punishment”, stirred up by the media, is just propagandist fiction from the Palestinian side, which decided to ignore negotiations and go straight to the UN in breach of existing agreements.

“That will have legal implications,” he told RT. “They must bear the consequences, and now we are examining what this would mean to relations between Israel and the Palestinians.”

“We are not threatening anyone,” he added. “On the contrary, we are under threat. Israel has evacuated the Gaza Strip completely in 2005, handed it over to the Palestinian authority and hoped that this would dynamize [sic] the peace process. We were helping the Palestinian authority to work together for the prosperity of Gaza. And yet, Gaza is now a platform for terror attacks against Israel.”

The peace talks between Israel and Palestine have been stalled since last September when Israel resumed settlement building. But Yigal Palmor believes everything that has been done is the consequence of the Palestinian policy.

“I could give you a full list of provocative moves by the Palestinians, and that is precisely because we have our grievances and they have a grievance, or many grievances that we need to negotiate,” he said. “The settlement issue can and will be solved but only if addressed in a negotiation, and through talking, through dialogue.”

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas continues to gather international support for the UN vote despite Israeli threats. Reportedly over 100 countries have promised support in September. Yigal Palmor says the whole thing is about “scoring some PR points.”

“If they can get some sort of symbolic satisfaction at the UN nothing will change on the ground, and everybody knows that,” he said. “A negotiation means concessions. If you go to the UN you don’t need to concede anything. Things will not move forward right here on the ground where they need to make progress.”

Yigal Palmor says Israel wants to negotiate a peace treaty that will give security to both sides

“The issue is, will this Palestinian state come out of an agreement, because if there is no agreement there will be no recognition and no state,” he said. “And once it is established can we have the guarantees that this will be real peace, or will this be only a phase in the Palestinians’ plan to continue to combat and battle Israel, but under improved conditions, from their point of view.”

Politics and International Studies professor at San Francisco University, Dr. Stephen Zunes, explained what’s behind the Palestinian declaration.

“Declaring independence based on the 22 per cent of Palestine that was occupied by Israel back in 1967, they [the Palestinians] are hoping to essentially force a crisis to isolate Israel and the US in the international community, get recognition from much of the rest of the world and hope that that would move the process forward. It’s not a desperate act. It may not work, but in many ways the Oslo process died many years ago,” he said.

(rt.com / 04.08.2011)

President verbiedt minderjarigen toegang tot moskee

president verbiedt minderjarigen toegang tot moskee

Imomali Ratsjmon, de president van Tadzjikistan, heeft minderjarigen het verbod opgelegd om moskeeën en andere religieuze gebouwen te bezoeken.

De leider van de voormalige Sovjetrepubliek neemt de onpopulaire beslissing om het religieus fanatisme uit te bannen.

Heel wat moslimleiders zijn uiteraard woedend. Ze zeggen dat Ratsjmon geen benul heeft over wat er leeft onder zijn bevolking. 98 procent van de Tadzjieken is moslim.

Ratsjmon is sinds 1992 president.

(www.hbvl.be /04.08.2011)

A Response To The Transparent Assault Against Ken O’Keefe

M. Dennis Paul, Ph.D. Associate Editor Salem-News.com

Ken is going to survive this bit of nonsense precisely because the people who truly know him will stick with him and those who have or had ulterior motives will drift away.

Ken O'Keefe
Ken O’Keefe photo by Dexter Phoenix Salem-News.com

(WINDSOR, N.H.) – I am not going to claim full knowledge of all the events behind this issue. As a veteran of many political endeavors, movements and radical groups both above and below ground, however, I will comment on the realities of such smear campaigns.

First, and most important in my mind, is that Ken has certainly proven himself as the “genuine” article through all the work he has thus far accomplished with regard to Palestine and for the beautiful Palestinian people. Anyone who questions this does so with intentionally closed eyes and ears.

I defy those who are attempting to malign his character to produce any verifiable evidence in support of their malicious claims against him. To date, no one has accomplished this, let alone actually try.

Second, what is being demonstrated through this obviously orchestrated attack upon his person and his efforts is a well worn program of deceit very well known and understood by veterans such as myself. We have seen it played out over and over again.

It is commonly understood that any group of advocates and/or activists who gain public awareness for their actions and accomplishments will, without exception, be infiltrated by agents of either governments (which is the more frequent) or politically oppositional organizations.

Ken’s gained western press attention of time and time again when
others tried but could not, pressuring Israel to end Human Rights
violations in Gaza by ending the several year old illegal blockade.

In fact, the more effective an organization or individual is, the greater the need these detractors have for infiltrating and destroying them. The sole intent of such infiltrations is to create dissent within the activists’ circles and diminish their effectiveness and ability to continue their work.

This is easily accomplished through rumour, innuendo, slander, libel, planting of evidence and creating illegal and harmful situations in direct opposition to the core principles and values of the organization in such a way as to bring criminal charges against members and/or the organization itself.

I could easily outline the factual scenarios supporting this for each and every activist organization I have ever worked for or with and a great many for whom I did not work. To do so, here, is not practical. Instead, I suggest anyone seriously interested merely type in Infiltration of Activist Groups into their Google search and commence reading.

Third, the fact that commenters, here, have raised the ridiculous “arguments” presented, absent any attempt to support these foolish claims with any evidence, demonstrates the standard attack used by infiltrators and their network of side promoters.

Ken off the coast of Greece

The concept of repeating a lie or lies again and again, without regard to evidence, and most commonly through pretentious “challenges” such as “How do you know he has an Irish passport?” or harping on his possession of an American passport despite the matter (of what little worth it is) having been thoroughly explained is the sort of subterfuge used by anyone who cannot honestly sustain a reasonable argument under any circumstance but who desires to create some manner of doubt about the intended target. If there is anyone out there that does not recognize the organization behind the “Birther” movement, please now fall upon your sword (or a nail studded board, or pen…).

Fourth, I can personally assure anyone with doubt that, to the degree Hamas trusts anyone not Arab or with lineage within Hamas, Ken is quite highly regarded for the work he has done for Palestine and the beautiful Palestinian people. More important, there is absolutely no question as to the regard the Palestinians hold for Ken.

Ken and the late, great Gaza Activist, Vik Arrigoni. Ken had to
ID his body after his murder last April. This is who Ken is…

Having requested comment from sources I do have in both Egypt and Gaza, if Ken is banned in either country, no one seems to be aware of it, they look forward to his presence and express deep regard for his safety wherever he might be. One source, having heard a bit about this smearing, stated he is sad that such a genuinely compassionate individual has to endure this “trial by fire” but assured that his friends and family in Palestine would always, and proudly, stand with him. Far from being considered a rock star or god, they consider Ken a family member… as do I and all of his family at Salem-news (and I am certain a great many more).

Finally, Ken has learned a difficult lesson. Unfortunately, the perpetrators of this most despicable infiltration (and this is exactly what this is) have further victimized the Palestinian people in attempting to hurt Ken. Ken is going to survive this bit of nonsense precisely because the people who truly know him will stick with him and those who have or had ulterior motives will drift away. Ken will continue to do the good work while his detractors will perhaps make an attempt to glorify their positions with some cosmetic actions or simply move on, having convinced themselves of their efficacy in destroying his name. Fools that they are, they may just believe they actually have the power to do so.

To Ken: Every good organization needs a shake up at some point in order to understand itself and its true allies. These shake ups can be painful at times and self doubt can seep in. You are morally and mentally too strong to succumb to this (far stronger than they must think) and you will definitely come out on top in this matter..stronger and wiser. Don’t let the drama become your focus. Let the infiltrators dance in their illusions/delusions and sing whatever tune makes them giggle.

Don’t play into it with any written or verbal exchanges for public edification. That is what they want.. to draw you into their arena. Focus on your next effort and ignore them. Find the legal team you need and let them deal with these clowns. Your deeds are going to prove them wrong.. not your words. You are a very trusting person and that is a beautiful quality.

In fact, before this all happened, I’d no doubt that had either Judas asked, you would have taken a bullet for them. They knew this.. and they used it against you. In the real world, you have many detractors such as ShuRAT HaDin, Bibi, the Psychotic “Religious” right, and on. Every one of them will attempt to seat you with a Judas. Keep your heart open and continue to trust.. but vet carefully as you have learned that grievous harm can come, to those you love, from filth that would use your trust. You don’t have to prove anything to us or the Palestinians, Ken. We know. The people that truly matter are all behind you, beside you and with you. Shake these desert fleas and move forward.

Stay Human, Brother!!

M. Dennis Paul, Ph.D.

(salem-news.com / 04.08.2011)

Ruim 57% van de Marokkanen in Nederland voor meer onafhankelijkheid Rif-gebieden

ANMV heeft onderzoek gedaan naar de mening van haar bezoekers over de vraag of de Rif-gebieden meer onafhankelijkheid moeten krijgen.
Afbeelding

De stelling was: ” Er moet gehoor gegeven worden aan de eis voor meer onafhankelijheid van Rif-gebieden ? ‘ . Ruim 57 % van de stemmers heeft aangegeven voorstander te zijn van meer onafhankelijkheid voor de Rif-gebieden. Slechts 39% geeft aan niet eens te zijn met de stelling en 19% heeft geen mening.

(www.anmv.nl / 04.08.2011)

Palestinian envoy seeks to ‘relaunch’ relations in advance of UN vote

But confusion over Baird visit, opposition to UN motion tempers optimism.

In the lead-up to a potentially historic UN vote on statehood recognition in September, the Palestinian government has deployed dozens of envoys across the globe to lobby for the initiative.

Canada has been no exception, but Hanan Ashrawi also arrived with a secondary objective: to “relaunch” what have become strained relations between Canada and the Palestinian cause and people. (There is more on the site/Red.)

(embassymag.ca c/ 03.08.2011)