In 2000, the television station France 2 reported that Israeli soldiers shot dead Mohammad Ad-Durra, 12, in Gaza City. The killing was filmed by French reporters and the channel broadcast footage of the incident, in which Ad-Durra’s father Jamal was also shot and injured as he tried to take cover with his son.
In an interview to a French Jewish publication in 2008, Israeli doctor Yehuda David claimed Jamal Ad-Durra’s injuries stemmed from a previous accident. He had operated on Ad-Durra in 1994.
Ad-Durra sued David and the publication for slander.
A Paris court on Friday convicted the doctor, a reporter and the editor of Jewish News Weekly, of defaming Jamal Ad-Durra. The three were fined 1,000 euros each and ordered to pay 5,000 euros in damages.
MK Ahmad Tibi urged the Israeli Medical Association and the Ministry of Health to prosecute the doctor, noting that misusing and distorting confidential medical files is a criminal offense.
David has previously claimed that the video footage of Mohammad’s killing was fabricated, and that the boy was killed by Palestinian fire.
In 2000, the Israeli army conducted an internal investigation and admitted responsibility for the killing but in 2007 the Israeli government officially denied involvement.
May 5 is Children’s Day, a Japanese national holiday that celebrates the happiness of childhood. This year, it will fall under a dark, radioactive shadow.
Japanese children in the path of radioactive plumes from the crippled nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station are likely to suffer health problems that a recent government action will only exacerbate.
On April 19, the Japanese government sharply ramped up its radiation exposure limit to 2,000 millirem per year (20 mSv/y) for schools and playgrounds in Fukushima prefecture. Japanese children are now permitted to be exposed to an hourly dose rate 165 times above normal background radiation and 133 times more than levels the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows for the American public. Japanese school children will be allowed to be exposed to the same level recommended by the International Commission on Radiation Protection for nuclear workers. Unlike workers, however, children won’t have a choice as to whether they can be so exposed.
This decision callously puts thousands of children in harm’s way.
Experts consider children to be 10 to 20 times more vulnerable to contracting cancer from exposure to ionizing radiation than adults. This is because as they grow, their dividing cells are more easily damaged allowing cancer cells to form. Routine fetal X-rays have ceased worldwide for this reason. Cancer remains a leading cause of death by disease for children in the United States.
On April 12, the Japanese government announced that the nuclear crisis in Fukushima was as severe as the 1986 Chernobyl accident. Within weeks of the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, the four ruined reactors at the Dai-Ichi power station released enormous quantities of radiation into the atmosphere.
According to the Daily Youmiri, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) announced that between 10 and 17 million curies (270,000- 360,000 TBq) of radioactive materials were released to the atmosphere before early April, a great deal more than previous official estimates.
Even though atmospheric releases blew mostly out to sea and appear to have declined dramatically, NISA reports that Fukushima’s nuclear ruins are discharging about 4,200 curies of iodine-131 and cesium-137 per day into the air (154 TBq). This is nearly 320,000 times more than the radiation the now de-commissioned Connecticut Yankee nuclear power plant released over a year. NISA’s estimate is likely to be the low end, given the numerous sources of unmeasured and unfiltered leaks into the environment amidst the four wrecked reactors. On April 27, Bloomberg News reported that radiation readings at the Dai-Ichi nuclear power station have risen to the highest levels since the earthquake.
With a half-life of 8.5 days, iodine-131 is rapidly absorbed in dairy products and in the human thyroid, particularly those of children. Cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years and gives off potentially dangerous external radiation. It concentrates in various foods and is absorbed throughout the human body. Unlike iodine-131, which decays to a level considered safe after about three months, cesium-137 can pose risks for several hundred years.
Measurements taken at 1,600 nursery schools, kindergartens, and middle school playgrounds in early April indicate that children are regularly getting high radiation doses. Radiation levels one meter above the ground indicate that children at hundreds of schools received exposures 43- 200 times above background. And this is outside of the “exclusionary zone” around the Dai-Ichi reactors, where locals have been evacuated. Japan’s Ministry of Education and Science has limited outdoor activities at 13 schools in the cities of Fukushima, Date, and Koriyama Cities.
Although the extent of long-term contamination is not yet fully known, disturbing evidence is emerging. Data collected 40 kilometers from the Fukushima’s nuclear accident show cumulative levels as high as 9.5 rems (95 mSv) nearly five times the international annual occupational dose. Soil beyond the 30-kilometer evacuation zone shows cesium-137 levels at 2,200 kBq per square meter 67 percent greater than that requiring evacuation near Chernobyl.
Three-fourths of the monitored schools in Fukushima had radioactivity levels so high that human entry shouldn’t be allowed, even though students began a new semester on April 5.
Robert Alvarez, an Institute for Policy Studies senior scholar, served as senior policy adviser to the Energy Department’s secretary from 1993 to 1999. www.ips-dc.org
The government is handing out weapons to the people anticipating an invasion by NATO forces. Photo by Pan-African News Wire
Moscow is aware of the coalition’s plans about the ground military campaign in Libya, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday.
“The information shows that both NATO and EU work on the similar plans. EU develops these plans to secure humanitarian convoys, though it is being stressed that it would take place after the UN gave the green light,” Lavrov said in an interview with Russian Center TV channel.
He said the possible ground military campaign should be sanctioned with the UN Security Council.
“If anybody wants to ask for this mandate [on carrying out ground campaign], welcome to the UN Security Council. We will discuss, try to understand what is planned, because the digressions from the mandate that we are watching now, are enough to learn lessons,” Lavrov said.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya on March 17, paving the way for a military operation against Gaddafi which began two days later. The command of the operation was shifted from a U.S.-led international coalition to NATO in late March.
A total of 14 of the 28 NATO countries are taking part in the operation Unified Protector in Libya, which includes airstrikes, a no-fly zone and naval enforcement of an arms embargo.
Glenn Greenwald used to be a liberal favorite back when he was railing against the Bush administration, considered a progressive hero for his forceful defenses of civil liberties and attacks on the warfare state.
Guess what happened: Greenwald kept up his whole having-actual-principles shtick even after Barack Obama’s glorious ascent to power. And that’s a no-no.
Since January 2009, Greenwald has come under increasingly ludicrous attacks from Obama’s partisan fan club, the premise underlying most of the broadsides being that any critic of the president’s must be a secret Republican or, my favorite, in it for the fame and money (I’m still waiting for my check from the Koch brothers).
In a recent interview with Out Magazine, Greenwald really stepped in it, though, when he suggested he might be open to supporting someone for president who’s not a Democrat. In particular, he said some complimentary things about Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor who, like Ron Paul, is campaigning for the Republican nomination on an anti-war, pro-drug legalization platform.
Now, as a non-voter I could perhaps criticize Greenwald for focusing a bit too much on electoral politics, which very rarely is a path toward real change; independent social movements, like the ones that pushed for civil rights and an end to the Vietnam war, seem to me much more effective. Instead of diverting time and resources into elections, I’d like to see more people organizing and their own communities and raising money not for politicians, but for health clinics and even alternative news organizations. But that, of course, is not what upsets Obama’s loyal fans.
In a piece much-circulated by that fan club, which by the reception from Democratic partisans I take it is supposed to be scathing, not satire, we are told Greenwald’s hypothetical support for Johnson constitutes an excommunicable offense. “Neither a Liberal Nor a Progressive,” blares the headline to the pieces, which gives a run-down of Johnson’s history as governor of slashing “taxes on the rich while cutting social services for the poor” (no one tell liberals about how that guy in the White House who just extended Bush’s tax cuts for the rich at the expense of social programs for the poor).
Given Johnson’s record — the accounting of which excludes that whole opposition to war and locking up hundreds of thousands of people for non-violent offenses stuff — we are told:
“You simply can’t consider yourself a progressive in any broadly accepted meaning of the term and thoughtfully and in an informed way support for president someone with the views and history of Gary Johnson.”
“By saying he might support Gary Johnson, Glenn Greenwald has now demonstrated that he is a narrowly-focused advocate who cares about only a few issues, and is not a liberal or progressive with a broad sense of the common good.”
As the post makes clear, though, one can still be a “liberal or a progressive with a broad sense of the common good” if you support a guy who blows up little children with cluster bombs, as Barack Obama has in Yemen. You can still be a liberal or progressive in good standing if you support a man who has killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Pakistani civilians with flying death robots. And you can still be a liberal if you back a guy who has shown not the slighest inclination to reform, much less do away with, a war on drugs that has led to 2.3 million Americans being placed in cages, the vast majority minorities.
That the president has doubled the number of troops in Afghanistan, ordered more drone strikes in Pakistan than his predecessor did in eight years, and launched another war in Libya without so much as getting a rubber stamp from Congress is of no concern to the good party-line liberal. The president, after all, is a Democrat.
If that’s what it really means to be a liberal or a progressive — supporting empire and mass incarceration or, even worse in my opinion, pretending neither exist — Greenwald might be happy to learn he’s not one.
Earlier in April, the Israeli Ministry of Education decided to add a question about the Holocaust to the matriculation exam of Arab students.
Because the state has banned any study of the Nakba– going so far as to strike the word from the textbooks– the move has drawn sharp criticism in Israel’s Palestinian community.
The Abraham Fund — a joint Jewish-Arab organization that advocates for equality within in Israel — remarked that, “It is important that Arab students learn about the Holocaust and understand the history and pain of the Jewish people… At the same time, it is important that Jewish students learn about the history of the Palestinian minority in Israel, especially those aspects tied to the state of Israel and her existence.”
Sawsan Zaher is a Palestinian who was born and raised in Israel. An attorney at Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Zaher recalls that she did not learn about the Nakba until she studied it on her own, in her early twenties.
“I finished high school without being able to study Palestinian history–about what was here before 1948, about the nakba.”
“And if the parents [of Palestinian students] aren’t political?” she adds. “That’s it.”
The decision to add a question about the Holocaust comes in the wake of the “Nakba Law,” which was passed by the Knesset last month.
The new legislation states that municipalities, public institutions, or organizations that receive public funds will be fined for marking the Nakba or expressing feelings of mourning about Israel’s establishment.
The law was slammed by both Jewish and Arab members of Knesset. “On this day, the thought police is being established in Israel,” Isaac Herzog of the right-wing Labor party said.
Both the Nakba Law and the change to the matriculation exam come just months after a principal of a public school in Yafo, the historically Arab city that was annexed by the Tel Aviv municipality in 1950, forbade students from speaking Arabic.
About half of the school’s students are Palestinian citizens of Israel. While all classes are taught in Hebrew, the principal’s decision forbade Palestinian students from speaking Arabic amongst themselves.
Russian-speaking students, however, are allowed to use their mother tongue.
A 6-year-old Bahraini boy has died after being exposed to tear gas fired by Saudi-backed Bahraini security forces in the east of the country.
The victim, named Mohammad Abdul-Hussain Farhan, lost his life on Saturday as a result of the police raid on Sitra, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February, calling for an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty’s over-40-year rule.
On March 13, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates deployed police and military forces in the kingdom upon Manama’s request to quell the nationwide protests.
According to local sources, scores of protesters have been killed during the government-sanctioned clampdown with the foreign troops contributing to a rise in the violence.
The rallies continued on Saturday in several cities in defiance a martial law put in place by Manama last month.
The public repeated their demand for the ouster of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and condemned Riyadh’s involvement in suppression of the revolution.
Saudi and Bahrain troops have also destroyed dozens of mosques and religious sites.
The public, however, have asserted they would keep up the protests until the regime collapses.
Israeli leaders have condemned the nascent Palestinian reconciliation, considering the possible participation of Hamas members in any government to be unacceptable because of the party’s history of terrorism. To the great surprise of no one, American politicians have been competing for press attention to parrot the same line. What if Palestinian leaders, and our own Congress, did likewise, and demanded that Israel bar from elective office any member of a political party with a history of engaging in or supporting terrorism?
Of course, a full recital of Israeli attacks on civilians would fill a multi-volume treatise, but let’s content ourselves with a thumbnail sketch. First, consider Labor, the most liberal/left of Israel’s major parties. Anyone who supported the great peacemaker and Nobel laureate Yitzhak Rabin would be barred.
Rabin proudly boasted that as a young army officer in July, 1948, he executed Ben-Gurion’s order to ethnically cleanse the villages of Lydda and Ramle, forcing tens of thousands to march many miles in stifling summer heat to areas Israel did not (yet) claim as its own territory. A significant number did not survive. In 1987-88, as Defense Minister, Rabin ordered his troops to break the bones of children caught hurling stones toward well-protected soldiers who were defending Israel’s “right” to violate international law. In 1993, as Prime Minister, Rabin launched Operation Accountability, indiscriminately bombing civilians in southern Lebanon with the intent of killing enough of them to cause hundreds of thousands to flee northward in panic to send a signal to the Lebanese government.
Co-Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres, as Prime Minister in 1996, implemented a very similar operation, Grapes of Wrath. As long time leaders of the Labor Party, Rabin and Peres’s history of attacking civilians disqualifies all of their supporters from public office.
What about Kadima? The party was founded by Ariel Sharon, who commanded the 1953 massacre of scores of innocent civilians in the Jordanian village of Qibya (on the orders of the god-like Ben-Gurion). In 1982, Sharon, as Defense Minister, personally commanded Israeli troops on their rampage through Lebanon, slaughtering up to 20,000 civilians, apparently setting the Israeli record for personal responsibility for mass murder. His role in smiling benignly on the Sabra/Shattila massacres was merely bloody icing on his blood-soaked cake.
Then there’s Likud, whose founding members included Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, unapologetic and unashamed practitioners of terrorism for many decades, rewarded for their efforts with election to the highest office in the land.
How long must we wait before we hear Gary Ackerman or Ileana Ros-Lehtinen articulate their actual position, which is that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East that is free to elect terrorists? If Israel were to implement the same standards of disqualification-for-terrorism on its own politicians that it demands of the Palestinians, there would be virtually no one left to run the government.
Wait a minute, what about MK’s Ahmed Tibi and Hanin Zouabi?
TEL AVIV — Thousands of Israelis, escorted by the Israeli army, entered the village of Kifl Haris in the northern West Bank Thursday night to pray at the site revered by Jews as the tomb of the Joshua, Israeli media reported.
To mark the anniversary of his death, mass prayer services were held in the Salfit district Palestinian village at midnight, in a ceremony organized by settler groups.
Israeli news site Ynet said an Orthodox Jewish man who bought a nargila pipe from a Palestinian shop in the village, was greeted by angry shouts from Israelis, saying “don’t buy in Arab shops.”
Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger addressed the worshipers, calling for greater access to Jewish religious sites, and urging settlers to coordinate their visits with the Israeli army, following the death of an Israeli settler on Sunday after a group of Jewish worshipers snuck into Nablus without coordinating with Palestinian or Israeli security.
“Every Jew has a right to visit Joseph’s Tomb but it must be coordinated with the security forces. Take great care of your souls,” Metzger was quoted saying by Ynet.
“I call on government ministers to allow more people to enter the site, not just once a month, especially as this is stipulated in all the agreements.”
Settler leader Gershon Mesika held up Joshua as an example to Israelis, Ynet reported, saying “Sever the hand of any person who lifts it against a Jew. Our leaders must learn from Joshua’s power and decisive way.”
Israel’s Minister of Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein and four Knesset members attended the ceremony, which was for the first time marked as a official state event, the far-right Israeli news agency Artuz Sheva reported.
The agency quoted MK Danny Danon drawing on the story of Joshua, saying “We are standing by the tomb of Joshua son of Nun, conqueror of the land. We do not need to fear the word ‘conquer’ — there is no shame in conquering the land.”
A call for “million-man” marches in support of the Palestinians has been made by Egypt’s Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution. The first march, to be held in Alexandria on 13 May, will also demand the opening of the Egypt-Gaza border for food, medical and humanitarian aid; marchers will head for the Israeli Consulate in the city.
According to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Shorouk, the protests will put pressure on the Zionist state by demanding that the Egyptian government stops exporting natural gas to Israel, as the Israelis use it to produce military equipment used against Palestinians. The protesters will also call for a review of the Camp David accords to remove the inbuilt favouritism towards the Zionist state.
The youth coalition said that it will coordinate with various political groups to prepare a number of aid and medical convoys to be sent to Gaza. Care will be taken to ensure that the protests are peaceful, especially any which gravitate towards the Rafah border crossing.
There is a risk, said a spokesperson, of a confrontation between the Egyptian Army, which is protecting the national borders, and the revolutionaries. Such a confrontation would distract participants from their main objective, which is “to pressure the ruling regime in Egypt to take a decisive stance on the issue of exporting natural gas to Israel, which can be important in weakening Israeli military power”.
Having laughed off Libyan government peace feelers, Official Washington is now beating the drum for a new round of “shock and awe” bombings and close-combat air strikes to “finish the job” of ousting Col. Muammar Gaddafi.
Typically, this Washington debate is being framed as a series of choices for President Barack Obama and NATO: one, abandon the current campaign of air strikes and let Gaddafi prevail; two, continue the conflict at its current pace and accept a stalemate; or three, commit more military resources to “win.”
The neoconservative-dominated opinion circles of Washington are almost unanimous in their determination to push Obama and NATO to adopt option three. It is a consensus not seen since almost all these same Serious People supported George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, which started off with the “shock and awe” bombing that was supposed to solve everything.
Left out of today’s Libyan debate is any consideration of building on the African Union’s proposal for a ceasefire and a transition to democracy with Gaddafi on the sidelines. Gaddafi’s embattled regime agreed to those terms, but the plan was spurned by anti-Gaddafi rebels and doesn’t even rate a mention when the “options” are listed in the Big Media.
Besides taking a page from Bush’s “shock and awe” playbook, the Smart Talk in Washington also suggests modeling “regime change” in Libya after NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999.
Those NATO strikes against the capital of Belgrade inflicted hundreds of civilian deaths, with estimates ranging from about 500 to more than 1,200, including the killing of 16 people working at the Serb TV station.
NATO generals justified their bombing of Serb TV on the premise that “enemy propaganda” is a legitimate target in wartime, even if the station’s personnel were unarmed and defenseless. Since then, the intentional targeting of civilian TV and radio stations has become part of Western military doctrine when trying to overthrow Arab and Third World regimes.
The Serbian model is now being applied to Libya with the blessings of senior military officials who participated in that campaign. For instance, Gen. John P. Jumper, who commanded U.S. Air Force units over Serbia, told the New York Times that bombing high-profile institutional sites in Belgrade proved more effective than the destruction of Serbian tanks and other military targets.
“It was when we went in and began to disturb important and symbolic sites in Belgrade and began to bring to a halt the middle-class life in Belgrade, that [Serbian President Slobodan] Milosevic’s own people began to turn on him,” Jumper said.
Now, Jumper said a similar approach is being pursued in Libya. This week, NATO planes bombed Libya’s capital of Tripoli briefly knocking Libyan TV off the air and blasting Gaddafi’s personal residence (although NATO insisted that the raid wasn’t an assassination attempt, wink-wink).
In other words, the anti-Serb air campaign, which was estimated to kill four Serb civilians for every Serb soldier slain, is now becoming the model for NATO’s military strategy in Libya.
Contradicting a Mandate
One might think the application of the Serbian model to Libya would raise red flags in the U.S. news media since it suggests that NATO may end up killing large numbers of civilians under a United Nations mandate to protect civilians.
However, led by the Washington Post and the New York Times, major U.S. news outlets have ignored this obvious contradiction. Instead, there’s a renewed excitement over the prospect of a new “shock and awe” bombing of an “enemy” country that’s been stripped of its air defenses.
In influential U.S. opinion circles, it’s pro-war propaganda all the time. Indeed, the New York Times seems to publish only editorials and essays favoring an expanded conflict.
Dominating the Times op-ed page on Tuesday was a call from retired Army Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik to “finish the job” in Libya.
Dubik, who served in the Iraq War and is now a senior fellow at the Institute for the Study of War, framed the debate in a way to make escalation and victory the only “responsible” choice. He also projected a long-term U.S. and NATO presence in Libya after Gaddafi’s defeat.
“If Colonel Qaddafi falls, the United States and NATO will have a responsibility to help shape the postwar order, including providing security to prevent a liberated Libya from sinking into chaos,” Dubik wrote. “Washington must start planning and preparing for this complex and expensive contingency and muster the substantial political will required to see it through.”
In other words, we’re looking at another U.S./NATO occupation of a “liberated” Arab or Muslim country.
What’s also clear from the U.S. news coverage is that the Times editors and other opinion-shapers are engaged in Dubik’s important first step, building the “political will” for this new war and future occupation by excluding any serious questions about the wisdom of the desired course.
The Times on Wednesday published another pro-war op-ed – focusing on Gaddafi’s supposed failure to provide quality milk to his countrymen. Meanwhile, there has been zero reexamination of a key rationale for U.S. participation in the war, Gaddafi’s alleged guilt in the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.
“The blood of Americans is on [Gaddafi’s] hands because he was responsible for the bombing of Pan Am 103,” declared Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, after a recent trip to rebel-held Benghazi during which McCain joined the call for a larger U.S. military role.
The Times and other leading U.S. news outlets also treat Libya’s guilt as a flat fact, but the case actually remains murky.
In 2001, a Scottish court did convict Libyan agent Ali al-Megrahi for the bombing which killed 270 people. But the judgment appears to have been more a political compromise than an act of justice. One of the judges told Dartmouth government professor Dirk Vandewalle about “enormous pressure put on the court to get a conviction.”
Megrahi’s conviction assuaged the understandable human desire to see someone punished for such a heinous crime, albeit a possibly innocent man.
Reopening a Terror Case
In 2007, after the testimony of a key government witness was discredited, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission agreed to reconsider the conviction as a grave miscarriage of justice. However, that review was proceeding slowly in 2009 when Scottish authorities released Megrahi on humanitarian grounds, after he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.
Megrahi dropped his appeal in order to gain the early release, but that doesn’t mean he was guilty. He has continued to assert his innocence and an objective press corps would reflect the doubts regarding his conviction.
The Scottish court’s purported reason for finding Megrahi guilty – while acquitting his co-defendant Lamin Khalifa Fhimah – was the testimony of Toni Gauci, owner of a clothing store in Malta who allegedly sold Megrahi a shirt, the remnants of which were found with the shards of the suitcase that contained the bomb.
The rest of the case rested on a theory that Megrahi put the luggage on a flight from Malta to Frankfurt, where it was transferred to a connecting flight to London, where it was transferred onto Pan Am 103 bound for New York, a decidedly unlikely way to undertake an act of terrorism given all the random variables involved.
Megrahi would have had to assume that three separate airport security systems – at Malta, Frankfort and London – would fail to give any serious scrutiny to an unaccompanied suitcase or to detect the bomb despite security officials being on the lookout for just such a threat.
As historian William Blum recounted in a Consortiumnews.com article after Megrahi’s 2001 conviction, “The case for the suitcase’s hypothetical travels must also deal with the fact that, according to Air Malta, all the documented luggage on KM180 was collected by passengers in Frankfurt and did not continue in transit to London, and that two Pan Am on-duty officials in Frankfurt testified that no unaccompanied luggage was introduced onto Pan Am 103A, the feeder flight to London.”
There also were problems with Gauci’s belated identification of Megrahi as the shirt-buyer a decade after the fact. Gauci had made contradictory IDs and had earlier given a physical description that didn’t match Megrahi. Gauci reportedly received a $2 million reward for his testimony and then moved to Australia, where he went into retirement.
In 2007, the Scottish review panel decided to reconsider Megrahi’s conviction after concluding that Gauci’s testimony was unbelievable. And without Gauci’s testimony, the case against Megrahi was virtually the same as the case against his co-defendant who was acquitted.
However, after Megrahi’s conviction in 2001, more international pressure was put on Libya, which was then regarded as the archetypal “rogue” state. Indeed, it was to get onerous economic sanctions lifted that Libya took “responsibility” for the Pan Am attack and paid reparations to the victims’ families even as Libyan officials continued to deny guilt.
Yet, despite these doubts about the Pan Am 103 case, the U.S. news media continues to treat Libya’s guilt as a flat fact.
A Defector Questioned
Earlier this month, there was some excitement over the possibility that Gaddafi would be fingered as the Pan Am 103 mastermind by a high-level defector, former Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa, who was believed to be in charge of Libyan intelligence in 1988.
Moussa Koussa was questioned by Scottish authorities but apparently shed little new light on the case and was allowed to go free after the interview. Very quickly the press interest over Moussa Koussa faded away.
Yet, as the clamor now builds in Official Washington for an escalation of U.S. participation in the war – and as the Pan Am 103 case is cited over and over as justification – there has been no serious reexamination of the mystery, only the repetition of Libya’s assumed guilt.
Looking across the landscape of the U.S. news media, it is hard to find any major voice suggesting peace negotiations with Gaddafi’s government or even advocating that the sincerity of its acceptance of the African Union’s plan for a cease-fire and democratic reforms should be put to the test.
Instead, virtually all the talking heads are armchair warriors, with the neoconservative editors of the Washington Post and the New York Times again leading the way by condemning Obama’s decision to minimize U.S. military participation.
“If his real aim were to plunge NATO into a political crisis, or to exhaust the air forces and military budgets of Britain and France — which are doing most of the bombing — this would be a brilliant strategy. As it is, it is impossible to understand,” the Post wrote on April 17:.
“Mr. Obama appears less intent on ousting Mr. Gaddafi or ensuring NATO’s success than in proving an ideological point — that the United States need not take the lead in a military operation that does not involve vital U.S. interests.
“How else to explain his decision to deny NATO the two most effective ground attack airplanes in the world — the AC-130 and A-10 Warthog — which exist only in the U.S. Air Force and which were attacking Mr. Gaddafi’s tanks and artillery until April 4?”
The New York Times has been equally adamant about seeing the AC-130s and A-10 Warthogs put back into action mowing down Libyan troops loyal to Gaddafi. “Mr. Obama should authorize [the ground-attack planes] to fly again under NATO command,” the Times declared on April 14, reiterating a demand that the editors had made just a week earlier.
Yet, if NATO’s real goal is to minimize civilian casualties, Western countries might want to think twice about taking sides in what is shaping up as an ugly tribal war. They might even give peace a chance, rather than replay the civilian bombings in Belgrade or the “shock and awe” over Iraq.
Iran’s National Museum has rejected claims made by France’s Louvre Museum about the lack of an agreement on holding exhibitions in Tehran and Paris.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the National Museum of Iran said that a cultural agreement was signed between Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) and the Louvre Museum on October 31, 2004, under which the two museums were supposed to hold exhibitions in the Iranian and French capitals.
The agreement, which is in English, Persian and French, has clearly stated that the two museums can exchange experts and cooperate in research and educational activities, IRNA reported.
According to the third article of the agreement, the Iranian and French museums agreed to hold exhibitions in Tehran and Paris.
Iran kept its promise and held two exhibitions at the Louvre, one showcasing objects from the Safavid era and the other introducing the ancient Persian Civilization.
The French side, however, has not shown any commitment to the promises it made.
The statement also says that the agreement between the two museums expires at the end of June this year and that the Iranian side will no longer cooperate with the Louvre Museum.
Iran announced earlier in April that it had severed all ties with the Louvre Museum because the French art center had not shown any commitment to the promises it made.
Head of ICHTO Hamid Baqaei had warned Louvre officials in January that Iran would only wait until the beginning of the Persian New Year (March 21, 2011) for them to give an exact date for their exhibition in Iran and the artifacts they would send to the country.
This is not the first time that Iran has encountered such a problem with international museums.
In February 2010, Tehran severed ties with the British Museum as it had not sent the Cyrus Cylinder for an exhibition in Iran as promised.
In April 2010, the ICHTO demanded USD 300,000 in compensation for the delay by the British Museum.
The Achaemenid relic was finally displayed at the National Museum of Iran last September after being escorted by a delegation headed by Keeper of the Middle East collections of the British Museum John Curtis to the exhibition site where it was displayed for the first time in 40 years.
The Cyrus Cylinder was initially sent to Iran for a four-month exhibition ending on January 10, 2011, but the event was extended until the end of Nowruz (Persian New Year) holidays.
Iran also won in appeals court concerning a collection of Persepolis tablets which was loaned to Chicago University to be studied in 1937.
Although some of the tablets have been returned to Iran, the dispute broke out when an American Federal Judge ordered the tablets to be confiscated and auctioned in order to compensate the Israeli victims of the 1997 al-Quds (Jerusalem) bombing.
A US federal appeals court overturned the lower court order in March 2011, recognizing the 2,500-year-old relics as part of Iran’s cultural heritage.
The 41-page document at the seventh appeals court admitted that the former order was “seriously flawed.”
The tablets, which were discovered by the archeology team of the University of Chicago in 1933, bear cuneiform inscriptions recording administrative details of the Persian Empire from about 500 BCE.
What makes one a philosopher?
Probably, the capacity to aim at the essence of things, while celebrating the love of wisdom (philo-sophos).
Although Bernard-Henri Lévy presents himself as a French philosopher, he seems to lack that elementary capacity. Unlike a true philosopher, Levy engages in an endless spin, typical of a hasbara – Israeli propaganda – agent.
On 2 February the Huffington Post gave a platform to the so-called “philosopher” Levy.
Levy doesn’t approve of the Boycott, Disinventment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. He claims that the campaign is “anti-democratic”.
Levy the Israeli propagandist
I would have expected Levy eloquently to advocate freedom of speech and human rights, but the Zionist “intellectual” failed miserably. Levy followed the well-trodden Judaeo-centric Zionist template and spouted half-baked ideas that hardly form an argument. Pathetically, Levy’s ranting is mostly counter-productive to his own cause.
“First of all” he said, “one boycotts totalitarian regimes, not democracies… One can boycott Sudan, guilty of the extermination of part of the population of Darfur. One can boycott China, guilty of massive violations of human rights in Tibet and elsewhere. “
For some bizarre reason, Levy seems to be convinced that his beloved Jews-only state is an “exemplary democracy”. He says: “One does not boycott the only society in the Middle East where Arabs read a free press, demonstrate when they wish to do so, send freely-elected representatives to parliament and enjoy their rights as citizens.”
I guess that Levy either doesn’t know or pretends not to know that in the “Jews-only democracy” laws are racially orientated. The Law of Return, for instance, favours Jews and Jews only.
Levy should also learn about the case of Azmi Bishara, the Arab citizen of Israel and member of the Israeli parliament, who had to run for his life for suggesting that Israel should be transformed into a “state of all its citizens” based on equality for all.
But it actually goes much further.
Levy’s argument is totally flawed and counterproductive to his Zionist cause. It is actually democracies, rather than dictatorships, that should be subjected to humanitarian boycotts because in democracies the people are complicit in their governments’ crimes.
We must boycott Israel because in the Jewish state every citizen is culpable in the war crimes committed by the democratically-elected government. We must boycott Israel because 94 per cent of its Jewish population supported the Israeli armed forces’ genocidal tactics during Operation Cast Lead against the people of Gaza. We must boycott Israel because its state-terror policies are a reflection of the public’s true will as proven in opinion polls and democratic elections.
According to Levy, in a democracy the voters have the power to sanction, modify and reverse the position of their government. It would be fabulous if Levy could enlighten us and suggest how exactly the Jews-only democracy is progressing towards an acceptance of universal rights for all.
Apologist for racism
As with all hasbara agents, Levy is outraged by the attempt to delegitimize Israel, yet, the philosopher in him fails to tell us what is exactly so wrong in delegitimizing a racially-driven, murderous collective. I also wonder what is so unacceptable about delegitimizing a state that was illegitimate to start with.
Levy doesn’t approve of the “one-state” enthusiasts. He far prefers to divide the land into two states. Someone had better remind this lame mind that Israel is currently one state that is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
Those who support one state are actually far from being radical. They have their feet on the ground. They accept Israel as one state, with one international dialing code and one power grid.
However, the supporters of one state also realize that one-state Israel is dominated by Jewish Talmudic racism that is far more vicious than Nazi ideology. Proponents of the one state also realize that by the time Jewish racist ideology is defeated this one state between the river and the sea will become Palestine.
Levy is furious with one-state advocate Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, who, according to him, “does not hesitate to compare Israel to Nazi Germany”. It would be a little bit more useful if “philosopher” Levy is kind enough to suggest to us once and for all what is so wrong with comparing the Jews-only state with the Aryans-only state also known as Nazi Germany.
Towards the end of his Huffington Post article, Levy comes up with something that could almost pass for an argument. For Levy, the Western world should have hoped to be “cured of its worst criminal past”. It would be helpful and productive if Levy and other Zionists grasp that it is actually the West’s problematic past that shapes our criticism of the murderous Israeli present. It is our troubled past that makes us into enemies of racist Israel.
I was looking forward to read a Zionist “thinker” advocating for Israel. Levy obviously failed.
However, I admit that, as with Levy, I also have reservations regarding the BDS movement.
For instance, I believe that if the demand to boycott Israeli academics is valid, then we should also boycott academics and intellectuals who advocate Israeli policies and Zionism worldwide, because Israel is racist to the bone and racism must be opposed. If the BDS movement is taking itself seriously, then it should also demand the boycott of Levy, Alan Dershowitz, David Hirsh and many others.
On the one hand, this would underline the BDS movement’s integrity. But as an advocate of freedom of speech, I actually want Dershowitz, Hirsh and Levy to speak their minds. I believe that together with Mark Regev, they are the best promoters of Zionist tribal morbidity.