Israeli campaign to attract UK tourists wipes Palestine and Syria off the map


Detail of an Israeli map appearing in the Guardian last weekend (click for a fuller view).

An Israeli tourism map appearing in the Guardian last weekend rendered occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories as part of “Israel”.

The map very much appears to be in breach of UK advertising regulations. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in 2009 upheld complaints against an Israeli tourism bilboard because it included a similar map, ruling the ad “must not appear again in its current form”.

The three-page advertising spread from the Israeli tourism ministry in the Guardian Weekend is part of what increasingly looks like a major new advertising campaign in the UK.

On the map, the occupied West Bank is labeled “Judea” and “Samaria” (names from religious texts used by Israeli colonists). The West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights are delineated only by a faint dotted line. Under international law, all three are occupied territories. The West Bank and Gaza are Palestinian, and the Golan is part of Syria. All three were invaded by Israel in 1967.

“Systems breakdown” at the Guardian

On Monday the Guardian issued a correction stating the ad “did not distinguish clearly between Israel” and the occupied Arab territories.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is encouraging people to complain to the ASA and theGuardian. The Guardian has written to a PSC supporter apologizing, saying they usually “carefully check any potentially controversial adverts prior to publication, however in this instance we had a systems breakdown and did not do so”. The Guardian also said theASA is currently investigating the ad.

Major campaign

Roadside “Think Israel” tourism bilboard in North West London.

The ad is part of what seems to be a major recent campaign in the UK. Large billboards have appeared in public spaces encouraging people to “Think Israel”.

The website to this campaign contains an even more offensive (and racist) map [PDF]. The West Bank appears even more solidly absorbed into “Israel proper” (without even a dotted line), with mysteriously empty pink and yellow blobs appearing where Palestinians live in built-up areas. There is no clue that the Golan is anything more than a part of “northern Israel”.

The website’s home page also offers links to “Christian themes” and “Jewish themes” but no “Muslim themes”, wiping the Islamic heritage of Palestine off the map.

Israeli tourism ministry contempt for ASA

To what extent this is part of the “Brand Israel” strategy is debatable. Whatever the case, the ASA should be asked what action it will take against the Israeli tourist board for continuing to violate its rules.

The campaign has also appeared in brochures distributed on British Airways flights, as discovered by The Electronic Intifada in October.

Last month the ASA also ruled against an ad in the Zionist-slanted Jewish Chronicle that it said was “misleading and so “must not appear again in its current form”, because it had advertised an illegal West Bank colony as part of “Israel”.

( / 04.12.2011)

Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire on Palestine, Political Prisoners and Nuclear Weapons

“Israel started the nuclear arms race in the Middle East, it’s the only country that has them, and we all know they have them. Israel has the power to start the whole movement for Middle East nuclear disarmament. The choice is between nuclear disarmament or nuclear proliferation. If we have nuclear proliferation we will never turn the clock back. Every Tom, Dick and Harry and everyone with a back garden will want a nuclear bomb! It’s absolutely crazy. So I think that we need to challenge those who are in power, who can make decisions. Peres is a Noble Peace Laureate. He has a responsibility to do something for the world that gives us hope. Nuclear weapons don’t give anybody hope, they are a fearfully distrustful weapon that we must abolish.”

Mairead Maguire is a peace activist from Northern Ireland who was on the panel of the Russell Tribunal for Palestine which met in Cape Town, where she gave some time to speak with MEMO’s Hanan Chehata.

Hanan Chehata: You were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for your efforts to help end violence in Northern Ireland. Do you think that lessons can be learned in Palestine from the Irish example, either in terms of relations between Fatah and Hamas or between Palestinians and Israelis?

Mairead Maguire: I believe most certainly that lessons can be learned. I think the most important lesson we learned in Northern Ireland was that ethnic political conflicts cannot be solved through militarism, paramilitary activity or armed struggle because violence only perpetuates itself. We found that the only way to solve our problem was saying to everyone, “we need all-inclusive dialogue; we need to sit down and begin to solve this problem together”. That was the main lesson; that non-violent conflict resolution can work, and it did work in Northern Ireland.

I think another important thing to remember is that in Northern Ireland it was an ethnic political conflict. There was a lack of civil rights for the minority community in Northern Ireland. It was not a conflict between Catholics and Protestants, we were not fighting over theology, though you can’t take religion out of the Irish question because it does play a role, but the essential problem in the mid-60s in the North of Ireland and the essential conflict was that you had a minority nationalist, Catholic community – we’re only one and a half million people – who didn’t have basic civil rights. We didn’t have one man one vote, we didn’t have fair housing, and we didn’t have equal employment opportunities so it was discrimination, domination and a lack of real democracy. You had a majority Unionist people who held total power. Now the majority Unionists in the North of Ireland believed they were operating democracy and would have argued that they were a democratic society but the reality is, in a society where you have a minority who have no chance of having any political rights, “majoritarianism” is not democracy. Similarly, when you look at what is happening in Israel proper where Jews would argue that there is democracy but the minority Arab community does not have full civil liberties and human rights then Israel is not a genuine democracy.

So there are those comparisons you can look at. You can further ask well how did Northern Ireland begin to solve its problem and I think in the North of Ireland when the civil rights movement started in the mid-60s it followed the example of Martin Luther King in America. The first civil rights activists in Northern Ireland were the first generation of educated Catholics who were saying “we want our vote, we want our rights” and with more liberal Unionist Protestants they began to work for basic human rights. That could have moved into solving the problem but sadly what happened is that we did not have real political leadership and the guns came into the situation with the IRA usurping the situation and saying, “the problem here is about Irish unity; unite Ireland and all will be well”. Now that was a simple slogan that a lot of people bought into but the reality of the situation was that it was not true, because the vast majority in Northern Ireland were calling for civil liberties and human rights. They weren’t calling for a united Ireland because we were seventy years into partition, things had changed, identities had changed, people were coming together but they were demanding that if we were going to live together we wanted to live in equality with no discrimination. Very much like what you hear now from the Palestinians.

You can also talk about this in many areas of the world where a minority community gets educated and politicised and they want equality and they want jobs too. So we are challenged in these situations to rethink a whole lot of concepts that we thought were right like, what is democracy? Is it majoritarianism? No it’s not. So really in the North of Ireland, when we began to look at these problems we had to look at new political structures of power sharing. The ethnic nationalist minority had to be brought into power sharing so that their vote mattered. It was not just a matter of them having a vote but that their vote actually mattered. Really that was a whole process of beginning to move towards building communities that could live together and that could share power.

The most important thing is about relationships. If people live apart and think of each other as separate, think of each other as enemies, you have to really work on the relationship, on building trust, because nothing happens without trust. So in Northern Ireland we had to really begin to reach out to each other beyond the labels.

HC: The European Union has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization and refuses to speak even to its political wing. Do you think this is a reasonable policy, especially as in your own country the Good Friday agreement was signed before the IRA disarmed?

MM: Hamas is an elected party and should be recognised as such by all. It has the democratic vote and should be recognised. You have to talk to all parties. When we went to Gaza in 2008 on the Free Gaza boats we went to the Hamas parliament and I was actually invited to speak at the Parliament. [During that visit we also] went to the Church of the Holy Family and the Catholic priest there had organised for all of the political parties in Gaza to come together and they were there one night in the Church of the Holy Family: Hamas, Fatah, all of them, and the women members of Hamas who had been elected to the parliament. They were all there talking about peace and moving forward and sending representatives to Egypt so that Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas and Fatah, could come together to move into peace. So when we left Gaza we were very hopeful because there is a passionate desire among the Palestinian people for peace, and then Operation Cast Lead started the following week. That was horrific. It was devastating because when we had been in Gaza we went to the hospital and [even before all the bombing] we saw the awful situation there. We saw medical machines lying unused; they could save lives but spare parts were not allowed into Gaza. We went to the electricity plant which had been bombed so that people’s electricity was constantly being switched off. We went out to Gaza airport which had been bombed flat. We went down to the Gaza beach, where we had come in, and the fishermen were being attacked [by Israeli gunboats] only two miles out to sea while trying to fish for their families. The Israeli navy were shooting at them and killing the fishermen. They’re killing the fishermen and killing the farmers. This is a policy of destruction of a people. So I come back to the absolute belief that the Israeli government does not want peace. It wants land and until Israel makes a choice for peace there won’t be peace.

There is also an Israeli policy of divide and conquer; Israel has Palestinians divided so that the Palestinians in Gaza and the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Palestinians everywhere else are totally separated. Families are divided. When we were in Gaza in 2008 Dr Mustafa Barghouthi from the West Bank had gone in by boat too to meet his colleagues in Gaza, because the people of Gaza can’t just travel to the West Bank or vice versa; they are in a prison. Dr Barghouti met his colleagues in Gaza after two years.

HC: You were a co-founder of the Peace People in 1976 and you have been a vocal and active advocate of the peace movement ever since, inspired, you say, by the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi. Palestinian resistance in the last few years has, by and large, been extremely peaceful made up of weekly demonstrations, hunger strikes and the like (which don’t make the headlines), and yet Israel continues to occupy, imprison, torture and kill Palestinians on a daily basis. It seems that Israel is trying to provoke Palestinians to break away from their largely non-violent forms of resistance in order to justify an ever more oppressive onslaught against them. What advice would you give to the Palestinians trying so hard to enact your principles of non-violent resistance in the face of such vicious Israeli hostility?

MM: I have been greatly inspired because I have been going into Palestinian areas and have seen in villages like Bil’in, where Muhammad Khatib comes from [Muhammad was an eye-witness at the Russell Tribunal], and I have seen the non-violent resistance of the people there and it is very, very inspirational. The Palestinians’ non-violent movement has deep roots. It’s not a new movement and within the Muslim community generally there are deep roots of non-violence. I remember as a young woman being inspired by the story of Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan from Afghanistan. He was Afghanistan’s Ghandi. He was totally non-violent. He organised millions of Afghani tribes-people to resist the British occupation. His life was extraordinary and he was totally non-violent. So I think when you look at people in the Muslim community or elsewhere, it is up to each of us to identify our own traditions of non-violence and offer them to our young children to emulate.

Jesus was totally non-violent. But the Christian tradition in the third century sold out on Jesus. For the first three hundred years of Christianity the Christians truly loved everybody and they didn’t kill. In the first Christian writings a soldier said, “I am a Christian, I cannot be a soldier and kill; I follow Christ.” Our earliest traditions are of total non-violence. Then in the third century we bought into the system. Constantine realised that all these Christians were non-violent and he started to offer them money, positions and power, and Christians started to become soldiers. In a hundred years in the third century they moved from total non-violence – “I will not kill” – to becoming soldiers with the cross as a sign of killing. So those of us who come from the Christian tradition have to reaffirm that our true tradition is one of absolutely no killing. Can you ever imagine Jesus with a machine gun; or early Christians having an “armed wing”?

So that is where we are, if we are to teach non-violence and try to solve our problems without killing each other we start with the children because this generation is very much into the whole militarism thing; we have to start with the children. I don’t think I have anything to teach the Palestinian people. I think they have taught me how it is possible to live dignified lives in the middle of persecution and suffering. I have learned that from them

HC: You have joined the call for global nuclear disarmament. Israel is believed to be in possession of hundreds of nuclear weapons; it has chemical warfare capabilities and an offensive biological warfare programme and yet Israeli officials still refuse to confirm or deny when questioned about their weapons of mass destruction. Do you think it is time for Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open up its Dimona nuclear plant to inspection?

MM: I remember visiting Shimon Peres – the father of the Israeli nuclear bomb – in his office and asking him if Israel would sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). I would still appeal to Shimon Peres to encourage Israel to sign the NPT and to open the Dimona Nuclear installation for inspection because I think Shimon Peres, as the man who started it, has the power to stop it because he is such an influential figure. Can you imagine what that would say to the whole of the Middle East, if Shimon Peres said, yes we have nuclear bombs and yes we will sign the NPT? That would be an amazing signal to the whole Middle East. Don’t give in to the nuclear arms race, because if the Middle East gets into the nuclear arms race… Israel started the nuclear arms race in the Middle East, it’s the only country that has them, and we all know they have them. Israel has the power to start the whole movement for Middle East nuclear disarmament. The choice is between nuclear disarmament or nuclear proliferation. If we have nuclear proliferation we will never turn the clock back. Every Tom, Dick and Harry and everyone with a back garden will want a nuclear bomb! It’s absolutely crazy. So I think that we need to challenge those who are in power, who can make decisions. Peres is a Noble Peace Laureate. He has a responsibility to do something for the world that gives us hope. Nuclear weapons don’t give anybody hope, they are a fearfully distrustful weapon that we must abolish.

HC: Around 25 years ago, whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu was brave enough to tell the world about Israel’s nuclear weapons programme. He was punished by Israel with 18 years in prison (12 of which were spent in solitary confinement) and is today subject to stringent conditions about who he can and cannot speak to, travel restrictions which prevent him from leaving Israel – which he wants to do – and so on. It speaks volumes about how seriously Israel takes its nuclear programme that this is how the government treats one of its own citizens. You have called for Vanunu to be freed by Israel but to no avail. What is his situation like at the moment as far as you know?

MM: Mordechai Vanunu is in his twenty-fifth year of being held within Israel. He’s not allowed to speak to foreigners and he’s not allowed to leave Israel. He’s under strict supervision. Watched constantly, he has no real freedom of movement. He has no real ability to make a living. He is now in Tel Aviv and every year on 21st April Israel puts on another year to his virtual imprisonment. He appeals but they reject the appeal, so his situation is really very, very poor. We need to keep challenging the Israeli government to let Vanunu go. He did his 18 years and now they just keep extending it. But we must ask why Israel is doing this to Mordechai Vanunu. I believe that the Israelis are doing this to him because they don’t trust their own citizens and Mordechai’s treatment is a way of saying to the populace, “if you step out of line, this is what will happen to you”. So he’s there as a reminder to the Israeli people that they must not criticise their government. This is what is so appalling; that this man who is totally non-violent, totally peaceful, who believes in global nuclear disarmament, is being punished for following his conscience. We must never forget what we owe Mordechai because he did it [became a whistle blower] because he wanted to save the Israeli people from a nuclear Holocaust. He followed his conscience and now he is paying a very high price. He is a brave man. He is one of our heroes in the world today. We have to keep remembering him, be grateful to him, and keep pressurising our own governments to say to the Israeli government that it’s time to let Vanunu go.

HC: You’ve been involved in many campaigns on behalf of political prisoners worldwide, including trying to get into Myanmar (Burma) to protest against the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi. Why do you think that more is not being done by the international community to campaign for Palestinian political prisoners, especially the hundreds of children being held in Israeli jails in blatant violation of international law?

MM: I really do think it comes down to education. I think that the Palestinian voice has been silenced and that the Israeli narrative has been predominant and Israel has the PR machines, the money, and the lobby in America, even here in South Africa. We see it everywhere we go. Israel has been able to silence governments and if people have spoken out against Israel they get called anti-Semitic and so Israel has had the power to put out its narrative and to silence the Palestinian narrative. So when people don’t know the truth, how can they operate on it? Our work is to tell the truth, to put the facts out there. Stephan Hessell says that governments are “shy” to speak out against Israel. Well I think that governments are cowards. That’s the word I would use. They are cowards because governments do know the facts. Politicians know the facts but they don’t tell Israel that what it is doing is wrong. I think that governments need to have more courage and to say to Israel, “Look, there are international laws and you have obligations, you cannot carry out partition either in Israel proper or in the Occupied Territories. You cannot persecute these people and think that we will continue to remain silent because we can’t do that.” We need to keep on with the education and put pressure on our governments to make them have more courage.

Moreover, I do think it is very important that we highlight the plight of the Palestinian prisoners. There are Palestinian children in prison. There are sick Palestinians in prison, people dying of cancer, old people. They are not under due process. Many are being held under administrative detention. The whole system of military courts being perpetrated against the Palestinian people where they don’t have rights has got to be changed.

HC: As a Nobel Prize winner, how do you feel about Obama receiving the peace prize? Given his now infamous track record as a war monger, doesn’t it sully the name “Nobel Laureate” to have him amongst your ranks?

MM: I think that it was premature. I think they gave the prize to Obama in the expectation of what he might produce because he said “yes we can” and he raised their spirits and he gave people hope that we could have a different world. The Nobel Committee probably thought that they were helping him but I really think that the whole thing was premature. I also think that the Nobel Committee has a responsibility to look at who is getting the Nobel Prize. Alfred Nobel said distinctly in his will that the prize should be given to people who are working for disarmament and for a world without armies. Look at Nobel’s will. I think we have to go back to that again because we need people who are saying we don’t need armies, we don’t need militarism, we don’t need war and these are important messages for the world today.

HC: How would you respond to people who say that that is a utopian ideal, not one based in practical realities? Is a world without war a practical reality?

MM: That is a myth. Throughout history the vast majority of men and women fell in love, married, had children, looked after their families but did not go to war and they didn’t want war. But there has always been a minority of people who trained people to go to war, to kill. But if you look at history we have a whole tradition of non-violence where people have just lived their lives and solved their problems without killing each other. Why can’t we go back to non-killing societies? Why not? I am an idealist but I’m also a realist. What use are nuclear weapons to us today? What use are drones when all they are doing is killing people on the ground? They’re scandalous. My hope is with women. I think women have a different agenda. Women’s idea of security is being able to have a house, to keep their family safe, to get an education for their kids, to feed their kids. That’s what basic human security means to a woman. Now if we have that agenda as women then we have to challenge men and the agenda of war and militarism and battleships and drones and nuclear weapons. That is a big challenge but I do believe that if women start thinking like that it can change our lives. Change your thinking to change your life. Women must unite together and refuse to be divided along religious and political lines. Move above these things.

HC: You’ve called in the past for Israel’s membership in the UN to be revoked. Do you still stand by that and if so, on what grounds?

MM: Yes. They are committing the crime of apartheid, the crime of persecution and the crime of unjust war.

HC: If unjust war is the criteria would that not also disqualify the USA and the UK from membership of the UN?

MM: I do believe that Britain and America carried out war crimes against the Iraqi people. They killed over one million people. I was in Iraq before Iraq was attacked and I saw the suffering of the Iraqi people under sanctions where one and a half million children under the age of five died because of sanctions against them. The Iraqi people suffered dreadfully. When we visited Iraq in 1998 we were told that Iraq had dismantled its nuclear weapons and that it was not a threat to anybody outside its own borders. If we knew that, then the intelligence community must have known it. So we were taken to war on a lie. Now those who take the world to war against its wishes – millions of people around the world said no to war – they have to be held accountable. Now it is the same with Iran today. This threat against the Iranian people must not be carried through. The Iranian people don’t have nuclear weapons. They should not be attacked, and if governments, be it America, Israel or the UK, if they attack the Iranian people they are war criminals. We have got to say it very clearly. Who is giving them permission? I don’t give the UK government permission to go and declare war against Iran. It’s time we remind these governments that there are international laws and that if they breach them they must be held accountable. If we don’t take a stand for international law and human rights we are going to go further down the road of war. We have got to take a stand for human rights and international laws and to take those who commit war crimes to the International Criminal Court.

HC: Many Irish people in particular seem to feel some sort of kinship and affinity with those suffering in Palestine. Why do you think this is?

MM: Ireland has a tragic history; it was colonised and divided and Ireland has a lot of suffering in its history. In 1976 one of my younger sisters took four of her children for a walk and three of the children were killed in a clash between the IRA and the British army. Six weeks old Andrew; two and a half year old John; and Joanna aged nine, were all killed. My sister was dangerously ill, not expected to live. She had brain bruising and was absolutely, physically and mentally wrecked. It was a miracle she lived. She did not even get to see her children buried. When she eventually recovered she went on to have two more children. She then went with her husband to New Zealand to try to find a different way to live, but she came back home and on 21st January 1980 she committed suicide. My sister Anne suffered tremendously.

We started our peace movement in 1976 and our message was, we have to do this non-violently. We must struggle against violence and militarism. Look at all the suffering of these people. That is why I am passionately committed to working for peace, no matter where I can do it, because I know that Anne’s suffering was terrible and she didn’t need to suffer. Ireland indeed has a history of suffering but when I go to Palestine and Gaza and I see the people suffering there, I just think, by God, these people don’t need to suffer.

( / 04.12.2011)

Gaza hopes electricity line repair will ease blackouts


A view of the sole power plant in the Gaza Strip.

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The main electricity line supplying Gaza has been repaired after two weeks of partial blackout in the blockaded strip, officials said Sunday.

The Israeli Electric Company which controls the sea line has fixed the broken connection that plunged Gaza residents into more than eight hour of power outages per day, Media Director at Gaza’s electricity company Jamal al-Dardasawi told Ma’an.

He said the reconnection of the main supply to the coastal strip would enable energy from other Israeli suppliers to reach Gaza, but warned residents to ration their power usage due to ongoing shortages under Israel’s blockade.

The coastal energy line cut out after 20 hours when it was last fixed on Nov. 17.

Gaza residents had warned that the electricity crisis was disastrous during the cold winter months, and complained that they are still being charged for electricity that they do not have access to.

Last week, the energy authority in Gaza accused Israel of deliberately disconnecting the main electricity grid to the coastal enclave as part of a “punitive policy.”

“The Israeli occupation uses security pretexts to justify disconnecting a grid which provides 14 megawatts to the northern Gaza Strip,” head of the energy authority Kanaan Ubeid said.

Israel continues to supply the Gaza Strip with water and 70 percent of its electrical power, the rest being supplied by neighboring Egypt or local power plants.

Israel had warned that it would cut the supply of water and electricity to the Gaza Strip if rival parties Fatah and Hamas formed a unity government.

Al-Dardasawi told Ma’an on Saturday that breakdown of the Israeli supply line was just one factor in the ongoing energy crisis in the coastal strip.

The Gaza Strip needs investment and regional coordination in the energy sector in order to better prepare for the future, he said.

Israel tightened a land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2007 after Hamas took control of the territory one year after winning national elections, ousting Fatah incumbents and splitting Palestinians into rival administrations in the West Bank and Gaza.

Gaza’s energy sector is crippled by Israel’s ban on importing materials for locally-implemented construction, leaving power stations unable to function without crucial supplies and paralyzed after severe damage inflicted by Israel’s 2009 war on the coastal strip.

( / 04.12.2011)

Iran military downs US spy drone


An American RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned reconnaissance aircraft
A senior Iranian military official says Iran’s Army has shot down a remote-controlled reconnaissance drone operated by the US military in the eastern part of the country.

The informed source said on Sunday that Iran Army’s electronic warfare unit successfully targeted the American-built RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft after it crossed into Iranian airspace over the border with neighboring Afghanistan.

He added that the US reconnaissance drone has been seized with minimum damage.

The RQ-170 is a stealth unmanned aircraft designed and developed by Lockheed Martin Company.

The US military and the CIA use the drone to launch missile strikes in Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region.

( / 04.12.2011)


US ambassador in Belgium provides controversial explanation for Muslim anti-Semitism


Growing global anti-Semitism is linked to Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, the American ambassador to Belgium told stunned Jewish conference attendants in Brussels earlier this week.

Speaking Wednesday at a Jewish conference on anti-Semitism organized by the European Jewish Union (EJU,) Howard Gutman told participants he was apologizing in advance if his words are not to their liking. He then proceeded to make controversial statements about his views on Muslim anti-Semitism, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday.   A distinction should be made between traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, Gutman said. He also argued that an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will significantly diminish Muslim anti-Semitism.

The American envoy, a lawyer by training, is Jewish and played a major role in fundraising for the Democratic Party. He was appointed to the post by President Barack Obama.

‘The so-called Israel critic’

The conference was attended by Jewish lawyers from across Europe. The legal experts at the event were visibly stunned by Gutman’s words, and the next speaker offered a scathing rebuttal to the envoy’s remarks.

“The modern Anti-Semite formally condemns Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust and expresses upmost sympathy with the Jewish people. He simply has created a new species, the “Anti-Zionist” or – even more sophisticated – the so-called ‘Israel critic,’” Germany attorney Nathan Gelbart said.

“The ‘Israel critic’ will never state ‘Jews go home’ but is questioning the legality of the incorporation of the State of Israel and therefore the right for the Jewish people to settle in their homeland. He will not say the Jews are the evil of the world but claim that the State of Israel is a major cause for instability and war in the region,” he said. “There is no other country, no other people on this planet the ‘Israel critic’ would dedicate so much time and devotion as to the case of Israel.”

“For no other country he would criticize or ask to boycott its goods or academics. And this for one simple reason: Because Israel is the state of the Jewish people, not more and not less,” Gelbart said.

‘Muslims appreciate Obama’

Conference attendants received Gelbart’s remarks with loud applause, while the American envoy apologized for having to leave the site as result of prior obligations and departed.

Earlier, Gutman also presented participants with a short video clip showing him received with warm applause at a Muslim school in Brussels. While he did not mention what prompted the warm reception, his message was that this is the kind of welcome given to a Jew who supports President Obama’s policy of openness to Islam.

Approached by Yedioth Ahronoth, the US envoy was asked whether Obama’s policy did not cause America to lose its influence in the region. Gutman responded by saying that the Arab world appreciates Obama following his speech in Cairo, referring to an address delivered by the president in 2009.

( /04.12.2011)

Recognition of Palestine will change Middle East

The U.S. position in the Middle East is perilous. Our policy of building nations with military presence is failing. The cost, in terms of military lives and taxpayer dollars is tragic, and it promotes more Arab hostility. It should be replaced by civilian presence. We were pushed into Iraq and Afghanistan. Now we are being pushed to take action in Iran about reactor graded (3 percent) uranium. We should reduce our military profile as orderly as possible. Russia learned this years ago in Afghanistan.

Our involvement in the Israel/Palestine dispute is a relatively small item but important in the total picture. On Oct. 23 in Paris, Palestine (Mr. Abbas) won membership in the 193 member UNESCO (United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Late in November, a bid for membership in the UN General Assembly for the Palestinian state failed.

Abbas wins standing ovations in both the UN and UNESCO. The rest of the world wants Palestine to have membership and a cessation of Israel building settlements in/on Palestine land. The UNESCO vote was a majority. The “no” vote was 8 percent. Oddly, the U.K. abstained, which is what the U.S. should do. This would bring big gains from a minimum effort.

Abbas would win his membership if the General Assembly were ‘permitted’ to vote. The UN Security Council (15 members) must recommend a full vote to the General Assembly. There are five permanent members in the Security Council — U.S., China, Russia, France, U.K. Any one can veto any action. Over the years, there is a long history of 14 yes votes to one no vote (U.S.), when Palestine needs are involved. The vote never reaches the General Assembly.

Palestine membership should be decided by the rest of the world and not by the U.S. all alone. If the U.S. abstains on the Security Council vote, many positive things will happen for many people, including the U.S.:

reduce the deployment of U.S. military

decrease Arab/U.S. hostility

help to stabilize the price and supply of oil

reduce the threat of terrorism here



( / 04.12.2011)

Report: Israel concession on Palestinian funds forced by German submarine deal

German newspaper Welt am Sonntag quotes sources as saying Germany told Israel it could not go ahead with submarine purchase unless political concessions made.

Israel’s decision to release frozen public funds to the Palestinians last week came after Germany insisted it did so as a condition for the completion of the sale of a submarine, a German newspaper reported Sunday.

The Welt am Sonntag quoted sources as saying Germany had told Israel it could not go ahead with the purchase of the submarine unless it made political concessions.

According to the report, aides of German chancellor Angela Merkel had confidentially informed leaders of opposition parties in parliament that Israel made a concession before Berlin approved the sale on Wednesday.

On the same day, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu said 100 million dollars in blocked revenues such as customs duties was being passed over to the Palestinian Authority. Israel had been withholding the funds in protest at Palestine’s admission to the United Nations’ cultural organization, UNESCO, on October 31.

The sale of the submarine, the sixth from a German high-tech dockyard to the Israeli Navy had been held up for a year.

Merkel has repeatedly appealed to Netanyahu to unblock the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

( / 04.12.2011)

Le PJD réussira-t-il à former un gouvernement fort?

M.Benkirane le secrétaire général du PJD parti arrivé en tête aux élections legislatives a été designé chef du gouvernement par Sa Majesté le Roi comme le stipule la constitution  a entamé des consultations,des négociations avec les différents partis à l’exception du PAM et du RNI.

Bien que certains cadres,leaders de la gauche USFP ET PPS  demandent  au comité éxécutif ,au bureau politique de refuser la participation au gouvernement et d’opter pour l’opposition, les leaders responsables des formations de la Koutla contactés par M.Benkirane ont donné leur accord de principe mais ils demandent du temps pour faire des consultations  afin de régler certains détails ce qui signifie avoir suffisamment de temps pour exercer des pressions,faire des tractations afin d’obtenir des porte-feuilles importants. Ils ont déclaré qu’ils étudieront l’offre,la proposition et prendront la décision qu’ils jugeront adéquate au moment opportun.Certes ils cherchent à obtenir le maximum de postes, de portes feuilles et pourquoi pas des ministères de souveraineté. Pour faire, ils se livreront à  de rudes tractations  .Quant à la position du mouvement populaire Mrs.Ahardane et Al Ansar ont affirmé qu’ils répondront positivement , qu’ils soutiendront le nouveau chef du gouvernement dans ses démarches, qu’ils sont prêts à assumer leur responsabilité et contribuer à la réussite des réformes politiques et de la consolidation de la démocratie.

Le secrétaire du parti de l’istaqlal n’a pas tardé à donner son accord  de principe de prendre part au gouvernement et a déclaré avoir plusieurs points communs, des similitudes , partager des orientations et des objectifs avec le pjd.

La Koutla qui n’a pas réussi à répondre aux attentes ,aux aspirations des citoyens,à tenir ses promesses,à réaliser les projets qu’elle s’est fixés,à respecter les slogans qu’elle  scandait et dont la popularité a régressé,baissé ces dernières années, a intérêt à saisir cette opportunité, et contribuer à la formation d’un gouvernement fort capable de répondre aux attentes ,aux aspirations des citoyens pour gagner la confiance des citoyens. C’est une occasion que la gauche doit saisir pour réparer les erreurs les maladresses qu’elle avait commises quand elle était au pouvoir et se reconcilier avec elle même et avec ses sympathisants et les citoyens.Il faut qu’elle soit consciente,responsable et prenne part, participe au gouvernement  afin de contribuer à la réussite des réformes,à la  consolidation de la démocratie à résoudre les problèmes socio-économiques tels que le chômage,la crise du logement insalubre,l’inégalité des chances,la mauvaise répartition des richesses…Il ne faut pas qu’elle commette l’erreur  de refuser l’offre,la propsition du PJD et d’être responsable de l’echec de la formation du gouvernement ce  qui donnera de bons arguments au PJD de dire que la gauche a comploté, a avorté,mis les bâtons dans les roues,a contribué à l’echec des réformes..ce qui renforcera encore la position du PJD et augmentera sa popularité .

( / 04.12.2011)

From Occupation to “Occupy”: The Israelification of American Domestic Security

The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed against the OWS, has taken place at every level of law enforcement.

In October, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department turned parts of the campus of the University of California in Berkeley into an urban battlefield. The occasion was Urban Shield 2011, an annual SWAT team exposition organized to promote “mutual response,” collaboration and competition between heavily militarized police strike forces representing law enforcement departments across the United States and foreign nations.

At the time, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department was preparing for an imminent confrontation with the nascent “Occupy” movement that had set up camp in downtown Oakland, and would demonstrate the brunt of its repressive capacity against the demonstrators a month later when it attacked the encampment with teargas and rubber bullet rounds, leaving an Iraq war veteran in critical condition and dozens injured. According to Police Magazine, a law enforcement trade publication, “Law enforcement agencies responding to…Occupy protesters in northern California credit Urban Shield for their effective teamwork.”

Training alongside the American police departments at Urban Shield was theYamam, an Israeli Border Police unit that claims to specialize in “counter-terror” operations but is better known for its extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders and long record of repression and abuses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Urban Shield also featured a unit from the military of Bahrain, which had just crushed a largely non-violent democratic uprising by opening fire on protest camps and arresting wounded demonstrators when they attempted to enter hospitals. While the involvement of Bahraini soldiers in the drills was a novel phenomenon, the presence of quasi-military Israeli police – whose participation in Urban Shield was not reported anywhere in US media – reflected a disturbing but all-too-common feature of the post-9/11 American security landscape.

The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed. The phenomenon has been documented in bits and pieces, through occasional news reports that typically highlight Israel’s national security prowess without examining the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses. But it has never been the subject of a national discussion. And collaboration between American and Israeli cops is just the tip of the iceberg.

Having been schooled in Israeli tactics perfected during a 63 year experience of controlling, dispossessing, and occupying an indigenous population, local police forces have adapted them to monitor Muslim and immigrant neighborhoods in US cities. Meanwhile, former Israeli military officers have been hired to spearhead security operations at American airports and suburban shopping malls, leading to a wave of disturbing incidents of racial profiling, intimidation, and FBI interrogations of innocent, unsuspecting people. The New York Police Department’s disclosure that it deployed “counter-terror” measures against Occupy protesters encamped in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park is just the latest example of the so-called War on Terror creeping into every day life. Revelations like these have raised serious questions about the extent to which Israeli-inspired tactics are being used to suppress the Occupy movement.

The process of Israelification began in the immediate wake of 9/11, when national panic led federal and municipal law enforcement officials to beseech Israeli security honchos for advice and training. America’s Israel lobby exploited the climate of hysteria, providing thousands of top cops with all-expenses paid trips to Israel and stateside training sessions with Israeli military and intelligence officials. By now, police chiefs of major American cities who have not been on junkets to Israel are the exception.

“Israel is the Harvard of antiterrorism,” said former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, who now serves as the US Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. Cathy Lanier, the Chief of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police, remarked, “No experience in my life has had more of an impact on doing my job than going to Israel.” “One would say it is the front line,” Barnett Jones, the police chief of Ann Arbor, Michigan, said of Israel. “We’re in a global war.”

Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham School of Law’s Center on National Security and a leading expert on terror and civil liberties, said the Israeli influence on American law enforcement is so extensive it has bled into street-level police conduct. “After 9/11 we reached out to the Israelis on many fronts and one of those fronts was torture,” Greenberg told me. “The training in Iraq and Afghanistan on torture was Israeli training. There’s been a huge downside to taking our cue from the Israelis and now we’re going to spread that into the fabric of everyday American life? It’s counter-terrorism creep. And it’s exactly what you could have predicted would have happened.”

Changing the way we do business

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is at the heart of American-Israeli law enforcement collaboration. JINSA is a Jerusalem and Washington DC-based think tank known for stridently neoconservative policy positions on Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and its brinkmanship with Iran. The group’s board of directors boasts a Who’s Who of neocon ideologues. Two former JINSA advisorswho have also consulted for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, went on to serve in the Department of Defense under President George W. Bush, playing influential roles in the push to invade and occupy Iraq.

Through its Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP), JINSA claims to have arranged Israeli-led training sessions for over 9000 American law enforcement officials at the federal, state and municipal level. “The Israelis changed the way we do business regarding homeland security in New Jersey,” Richard Fuentes, the NJ State Police Superintendent, said after attending a 2004 JINSA-sponsored Israel trip and a subsequent JINSA conference alongside 435 other law enforcement officers.

During a 2004 LEEP trip, JINSA brought 14 senior American law enforcement officials to Israel to receive instruction from their counterparts. The Americans were trained in “how to secure large venues, such as shopping malls, sporting events and concerts,” JINSA’s website reported. Escorted by Brigadier General Simon Perry, an Israeli police attaché and former Mossad official, the group toured the Israeli separation wall, now a mandatory stop for American cops on junkets to Israel. “American officials learned about the mindset of a suicide bomber and how to spot trouble signs,” according to JINSA. And they were schooled in Israeli killing methods. “Although the police are typically told to aim for the chest when shooting because it is the largest target, the Israelis are teaching [American] officers to aim for a suspect’s head so as not to detonate any explosives that might be strapped to his torso,” theNew York Times reported.

Cathy Lanier, now the Chief of Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department, was among the law enforcement officials junketed to Israel by JINSA. “I was with the bomb units and the SWAT team and all of those high profile specialized [Israeli] units and I learned a tremendous amount,” Lanier reflected. “I took 82 pages of notes while I was there which I later brought back and used to formulate a lot of what I later used to create and formulate the Homeland Security terrorism bureau in the DC Metropolitan Police department.”

Some of the police chiefs who have taken part in JINSA’s LEEP program have done so under the auspices of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a private non-governmental group with close ties to the Department of Homeland Security. Chuck Wexler, the executive director of PERF, was so enthusiastic about the program that by 2005 he had begun organizing trips to Israel sponsored by PERF, bringing numerous high-level American police officials to receive instruction from their Israeli counterparts.

PERF gained notoriety when Wexler confirmed that his group coordinated police raids in 16 cities across America against “Occupy” protest encampments. As many as 40 cities have sought PERF advice on suppressing the “Occupy” movement and other mass protest activities. Wexler did not respond to my requests for an interview.

Lessons from Israel to Auschwitz

Besides JINSA, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has positioned itself as an important liaison between American police forces and the Israeli security-intelligence apparatus. Though the ADL promotes itself as a Jewish civil rights group, it hasprovoked controversy by publishing a blacklist of organizations supporting Palestinian rights, and for condemning a proposal to construct an Islamic community center in downtown New York, several blocks from Ground Zero, on the basis that some opponents of the project were entitled to “positions that others would characterize as irrational or bigoted.”

Through the ADL’s Advanced Training School course on Extremist and Terrorist Threats, over 700 law enforcement personnel from 220 federal and local agencies including the FBI and CIA have been trained by Israeli police and intelligence commanders. This year, the ADL brought 15 high-level American police officials to Israel for instruction from the country’s security apparatus. According to the ADL, over 115 federal, state and local law enforcement executives have undergone ADL-organized training sessions in Israel since the program began in 2003. “I can honestly say that the training offered by ADL is by far the most useful and current training course I have ever attended,” Deputy Commissioner Thomas Wright of the Philadelphia Police Department commented after completing an ADL program this year. The ADL’s relationship with the Washington DC Police Department is so cozy its members are invited to accompany DC cops on “ride along” patrols.

The ADL claims to have trained over 45,000 American law enforcement officials through its Law Enforcement and Society program, which “draws on the history of the Holocaust to provide law enforcement professionals with an increased understanding of…their role as protectors of the Constitution,” the group’s website stated. All new FBI agents and intelligence analysts are required to attend the ADL program, which is incorporated into three FBI training programs. According to officialFBI recruitment material, “all new special agents must visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to see firsthand what can happen when law enforcement fails to protect individuals.”

Fighting “crimiterror”

Among the most prominent Israeli government figure to have influenced the practices of American law enforcement officials is Avi Dichter, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service and current member of Knesset who recently introduced legislation widely criticized as anti-democratic. During the Second Intifada, Dichter ordered several bombings on densely populated Palestinian civilian areas, including one on the al-Daraj neighborhood of Gaza that resulted in the death of 15 innocent people, including 8 children, and 150 injuries. “After each success, the only thought is, ‘Okay, who’s next?’” Dichter said of the “targeted” assassinations he has ordered.

Despite his dubious human rights record and apparently dim view of democratic values, or perhaps because of them, Dichter has been a key figure in fostering cooperation between Israeli security forces and American law enforcement. In 2006, while Dichter was serving at the time as Israel’s Minister of Public Security, he spoke in Boston, Massachusetts before the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Seated beside FBI Director Robert Mueller and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Dichter told the 10,000 police officers in the crowd that there was an “intimate connection between fighting criminals and fighting terrorists.” Dichter declared that American cops were actually “fighting crimiterrorists.” The Jerusalem Post reported that Dichter was “greeted by a hail of applause, as he was hugged by Mueller, who described Dichter as his mentor in anti-terror tactics.”

A year after Dichter’s speech, he and then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff signed a joint memorandum pledging security collaboration between America and Israel on issues ranging from airport security to emergency planning. In 2010, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano authorized a new joint memorandum with Israeli Transport and Road Safety Minister Israel Katz shoring up cooperation between the US Transportation Security Agency – the agency in charge of day-to-day airport security – and Israel’s Security Department. The recent joint memorandum also consolidated the presence of US Homeland Security law enforcement personnel on Israeli soil. “The bond between the United States and Israel has never been stronger,” Napolitano remarked at a recent summit of AIPAC, the leading outfit of America’s Israel lobby, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Demographic Unit

For the New York Police Department, collaboration with Israel’s security and intelligence apparatus became a top priority after 9/11. Just months after the attacks on New York City, the NYPD assigned a permanent, taxpayer-funded liaison officerto Tel Aviv. Under the leadership of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, ties between the NYPD and Israel have deepened by the day. Kelly embarked on his first trip to Israel in early 2009 to demonstrate his support for Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip, a one-sided attack that left over 1400 Gaza residents dead in three weeks and led a United Nations fact-finding mission to conclude that Israeli military and government officials had committed war crimes.

Kelly returned to Israel the following year to speak at the Herziliya Conference, an annual gathering of neoconservative security and government officials who obsess over supposed “demographic threats.” After Kelly appeared on stage, the Herziliya crowd was addressed by the pro-Israel academic Martin Kramer, who claimed that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was helping to reduce the numbers of “superfluous young men of fighting age.” Kramer added, “If a state can’t control these young men, then someone else will.”

Back in New York, the NYPD set up a secret “Demographics Unit” designed to spy on and monitor Muslim communities around the city. The unit was developed with input and intensive involvement by the CIA, which still refuses to name the former Middle East station chief it has posted in the senior ranks of the NYPD’s intelligence division. Since 2002, the NYPD has dispatched undercover agents known as “rakers” and “mosque crawlers” into Pakistani-American bookstores and restaurants to gauge community anger over US drone strikes inside Pakistan, and into Palestinian hookah bars and mosques to search out signs of terror recruitment and clandestine funding. “If a raker noticed a customer looking at radical literature, he might chat up the store owner and see what he could learn,” the Associated Press reported. “The bookstore, or even the customer, might get further scrutiny.”

The Israeli imprimatur on the NYPD’s Demographics Unit is unmistakable. As a former police official told the Associated Press, the Demographics Unit has attempted to “map the city’s human terrain” through a program “modeled in part on how Israeli authorities operate in the West Bank.”

Shop ‘til you’re stopped

At Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, security personnel target non-Jewish and non-white passengers, especially Arabs, as a matter of policy. The most routinely harassed passengers are Palestinian citizens of Israel, who must brace themselvesfor five-hour interrogation sessions and strip searches before flying. Those singled out for extra screening by Shin Bet officers are sent to what many Palestinians from Israel call the “Arab room,” where they are subjected to humiliating questioning sessions (former White House Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala encountered such mistreatment during a visit to Israel last year). Some Palestinians are forbidden from speaking to anyone until takeoff, and may be menaced by Israeli flight attendants during the flight. In one documented case, a six-month-old was awoken for a strip search by Israeli Shin Bet personnel. Instances of discrimination against Arabs at Ben Gurion International are too numerous to detail – several incidents occur each day – but a few of the more egregious instances were outlined in a 2007 petition the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed with the country’s Supreme Court.

Though the Israeli system of airline security contains dubious benefits and clearly deleterious implications for civil liberties, it is quietly and rapidly migrating into major American airports. Security personnel at Boston’s Logan International Airport have undergone extensive training from Israeli intelligence personnel, learning to apply profiling and behavioral assessment techniques against American citizens that were initially tested on Palestinians. The new procedures began in August, when so-called Behavior Detection Officers were placed in security queues at Logan’s heavily trafficked Terminal A. Though the procedures have added to traveler stress while netting exactly zero terrorists, they are likely to spread to other cities. “I would like to see a lot more profiling” in American airports, said Yossi Sheffi, an Israeli-born risk analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Transportation and Logistics.

Israeli techniques now dictate security procedures at the Mall of America, a gargantuan shopping mall in Bloomington, Minnesota that has become a major tourist attraction. The new methods took hold in 2005 when the mall hired a former Israeli army sergeant named Mike Rozin to lead a special new security unit. Rozin, who once worked with a canine unit at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, instructed his employees at the Mall of America to visually profile every shopper, examining their expressions for suspicious signs. His security team accosts and interrogates an average of 1200 shoppers a year, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

One of the thousands who fell into Rozin’s dragnet was Najam Qureshi, a Pakistani-American mall vendor whose father accidentally left his cell phone on a table in the mall food court. A day after the incident, FBI agents appeared at Qureshi’s doorstep to ask if he knew anyone seeking to harm the United States. An army veteran interrogated for two hours by Rozin’s men for taking video inside the mall sobbed openly about his experience to reporters. Meanwhile, another man, Emile Khalil, was visited by FBI agents after mall security stopped him for taking photographs of the dazzling consumer haven.

“I think that the threat of terrorism in the United States is going to become an unfortunate part of American life,” Rozin remarked to American Jewish World. And as long as the threat persists in the public’s mind, Israeli securitocrats like Rozin will never have to worry about the next paycheck.

“Occupy” meets the Occupation

When a riot squad from the New York Police Department destroyed and evicted the “Occupy Wall Street” protest encampment at Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, department leadership drew on the anti-terror tactics they had refined since the 9/11 attacks. According to the New York Times, the NYPD deployed “counterterrorism measures” to mobilize large numbers of cops for the lightning raid on Zuccotti. The use of anti-terror techniques to suppress a civilian protest complemented harsh police measures demonstrated across the country against the nationwide “Occupy” movement, from firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets into unarmed crowds to blasting demonstrators with the LRAD sound cannon.

Given the amount of training the NYPD and so many other police forces have received from Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus, and the profuse levels of gratitude American police chiefs have expressed to their Israeli mentors, it is worth asking how much Israeli instruction has influenced the way the police have attempted to suppress the Occupy movement, and how much it will inform police repression of future upsurges of street protest. But already, the Israelification of American law enforcement appears to have intensified police hostility towards the civilian population, blurring the lines between protesters, common criminals, and terrorists. As Dichter said, they are all just “crimiterrorists.”

“After 9/11 we had to react very quickly,” Greenberg remarked, “but now we’re in 2011 and we’re not talking about people who want to fly planes into buildings. We’re talking about young American citizens who feel that their birthright has been sold. If we’re using Israeli style tactics on them and this stuff bleeds into the way we do business at large, were in big trouble.”

( / 04.12.2011)