The Democratic Party is in a shambles over the Iran question. Marc Ginsberg, former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco under Clinton, has just used the pages of the Huffington Post to try and undermine Leon Panetta’s reluctance to use force against Iran, and to push a policy of internationally illegal assassinations, sabotage, and covert war against Iran:
when the Secretary of Defense bares his understandable hesitations against the use of military force, which he did last Friday — no matter how meritorious they are — it only undermines the signals his administration is broadcasting…
More robust and coordinated covert action by western and Arab nations against Iran’s nuclear facilities must become an urgent priority. Mysterious computer viruses such as the Stuxnet worm, undeniably set back Iran’s spinning uranium enrichment centrifuges. But their success was short lived. Assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists may have created a climate of fear, but also have not prevented Iran from moving more quickly to its finish line.
Last week’s “accidental” explosion which destroyed one of Iran’s largest solid-fuel missile construction bases was a gift that may keep on giving. It not only killed a key Revolutionary Guard commander in charge of missile solid fuel rocket development, the explosion also compels Iran to rely more on liquid fuel missiles that are easier to detect on the ground via satellite surveillance.
The escalating use of stealth drones conducting surveillance above Iran is an indication that the administration is not reluctant to push the covert envelope. The question is what to do with the treasure trove of data the drone surveillance program yielded?
Accidents do happen. Bigger “accidents” are needed. Rather than relying further on economic sanctions, we need a more effective “accidents regime” that may do what economic sanctions have failed to do. Of course, Iran has demonstrated a huge tolerance for international isolation and economic pain. There is no assurance that escalating covert action will achieve a better outcome than economic sanctions… but its worth the risk given the stakes involved.
There are targets aplenty throughout Iran, including remote pipelines, ships bound for Iran supplying oil distillates, banking computer networks, and aviation facilities. And the regime has a lot of enemies, including many of its own citizens to do the dirty work. No return U.S. address needed.
Last week, we reported on an article by the Learning Center, in the New York Times (NYT), where the NYT censored coverage of the Palestinian Nakba, due to “reader comments.” The NYT removed the word “expelled” and other words from the description, altering the narrative of events–implying that Palestinian refugees fled, and were not driven out of their homes/villages by pre-state para-military groups. The article also made alterations suggesting Arab armies invaded before the Zionist para-military attacks, rather than “soon” after, as originally reported.
Well, the NYT has once again augmented the same article–again due to reader comments–to now read: “British troops left, thousands of Palestinian Arabs were expelled or fled and Arab armies invaded Israel,” which the NYT offers as a “more neutral rendering of the sentence.”
The “correction” in the NYT articles now reads:
“Six months later, on May 14, 1948, Jewish leaders in the region formed the state of Israel. British troops left, thousands of Palestinian Arabs fled and Arab armies invaded Israel. In the Arab-Israeli War, Israel defeated its enemies. It was the first of several wars fought between Israel and its neighbors.”
The NYT‘s editorial changes to the Palestinian Nakba is not a new occurrence. Earlier this year, Munayyer wrote in “Picking apart the New York Times Zionist narrative on the Nakba . . . using the New York Times,” the NYT regularly prints a “distorted representation” of the Nakba. Munayyer begins with a May 2011 article by Ethan Bronner:
“After Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, armies from neighboring Arab states attacked the new nation; during the war that followed, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes by Israeli forces. Hundreds of Palestinian villages were also destroyed. The refugees and their descendants remain a central issue of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Munayyer then fact-checks Bonner against a NYT article titled “Palestine Jews Minimize Arabs: Sure of Superiority, Settlers Feel They Can Win Natives By Reason or Force,” from March 2, 1947:
“Whatever the degree of their superiority complex, however, the Jews are certainly confident of their ability to bring the Arabs to terms — by persuasion if possible, by might if necessary. The program of the largest terrorist group, the Irgun Zvai Leumi, is to evacuate the British forces from Palestine and declare a Zionist state west of the Jordan, and “we will take care of the Arabs.”
From an April 18, 1948 NYT article, Munayyer again fact-checks the NYT of today:
“According to reports telephoned from Nablus, that town and Jenin are crowded with refugees, among whom the rumor is circulating that the Jews are driving on Jenin. The Haganah said it had killed 130 Druse [sic] tribesmen yesterday when it seized Usha, a village east of Haifa.”
The NYT editorialized Nakba coverage shows that history is more of a comment on today’s politics, and less of an account of the past.
It seems like a great idea – to buy a counter top device that converts tap water into sparkling fizzy water. Add a line of 100 flavours of sweet syrups; in the words of the sales clerk I spoke to, ‘it’s a fun thing.’
SodaStream (sometimes marketed as Soda Club) is sold around the world including in my city, often by big chain stores like Costco, Kmart and Amazon (USA); Sears, The Bay, and Home Outfitters (Canada); Tesco, Asda and Argos (UK); Migros (a large coop network in Switzerland); Carrefour (France & other countries); Edeka, Adler, and Karstadt, (in Germany where it is distributed by Brita, the international water filter company. Brita products are sold in Israel by SodaStream.)
The world’s largest producer of home carbonation systems, sold in 41 countries, SodaStream claims to be environmentally friendly because it uses its own reusable bottles, saving the production and transport of millions of disposable plastic containers and saving money and time for consumers. As some of the syrups use natural products, while others use sugar and artificial sweeteners, it is promoted also as “healthy” in natural food, eco-friendly, green and biological shops.
It sounds too good to be true – and so it is.
These products are labelled “Made in Israel”, the company claims to have factories elsewhere including China. An examination of the corporate annual report reveals that only some parts are made in China. (SodaStream International Ltd.; Annual report,” 30 June 2011).
SodaStream is owned by Soda-Club, an Israeli company founded in 1991 by Peter Wiseburgh and publicly traded on NASDAQ as SodaStream International under the symbol SODA with 2009 revenues of USA$ 142,842,000.
However, the products are not made in Israel at all.
SodaStream is manufactured in Mishor Adumin, (also known as Mishor Edomin) one of 171 illegal settlements within Palestine. Mishor Adumin is about 20 kilometres east of Jerusalem in a strategic area of illegal settlements designed to cut off Palestinians’ right of free movement between the northern and southern areas of the West Bank. Syrups are produced in another settlement, Ashkelon. (The device uses disposable carbon dioxide cartridges which are made in Germany and other countries.)
“These products are fraudulently labelled as “Made in Israel”, but are in fact produced in illegal settlements under the conditions of the military occupation in the West Bank, outside the internationally-recognized borders of Israel.” http://www.bdsmovement.net/2011
Environmentally-friendly? Think of the Palestinian residents and farmers of Mishor Adumin whose homes, fields, orchards and forests were destroyed to create this industrial settlement and the neighbouring residential settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim which today ranks third in population of all Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Over 1.5 million trees have been destroyed in Palestine by the occupiers as they insinuate their homes and factories into Palestinian land. More than 300,000 Palestinians are homeless as a result of home demolitions in Palestine.
The environmental destruction continues. When I was in Palestine I witnessed fields, orchards and homes being bulldozed and leveled, preparing for the continuation of the wall and the construction of an Israeli-only super highway linking all the settlements around Jerusalem, including Ma’aleh Adumim and Mishor Adumin.
So how can SodaStream be green?
There is nothing clean about the production of this ‘fun’ product, either. Many of the workers in SodaStream factory are Palestinians, desperate for any kind of job. Independent research has revealed that workers are poorly paid, sometimes below the minimum wage, are threatened with job loss (in any Israeli-owned facility) if they complain about bad working condition, job insecurity or low wages. They are the occupied subjects of military rule, lacking legal rights, including the right to organize. (For more details, see here)
SodaStream has also been accused of fraud. The European Union grants certain tax benefits to Israeli goods imported into Europe, but that does not include goods produced in occupied territories. In 2010 the European Court of Justice ruled that its products manufactured in Israeli-occupied territories were not subject to the preferential import duty treatment as goods manufactured within Israel. In Germany shipments of these products have been stopped by customs because they are not labelled truthfully.
Resolutions #242 & #338 of the UN Security Council include statements that prohibit permanent settlement of occupied lands for domestic or commercial purposes; Israel continues to rob Palestine of land, resources and access. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 also states that, “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, founded by 180 civil organizations in Palestine, has spread around the world. Solidarity groups everywhere are chalking up successes in consumer products and institutional investments, including national pension plans. (See: BDS: BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, SANCTIONS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights. 2011. Haymarket Books, USA by Omar Barghouti)
Meanwhile SodaStream claims with much publicity to have sold one million of its devices in socially-responsible Sweden. But in July, 2011 the Coop (Cooperative Stores Network) announced it would stop selling SodaStream products because they are made in occupied territory and their sale was in conflict with Coop’s own ethical standard as well as Global Compact, the UN ethical guidelines for businesses. In Belgium as well as other European countries BDS campaigners actively protest against the sale of SodaStream.
USA and Canada both have a Free Trade Agreement with Israel. That means, as in the European Union, certain taxes are not levied on partners. By allowing SodaStream to sell its fraudulently labelled “Made in Israel” products, illegally produced under military occupation, as free trade products, the company receives financial concessions under Free Trade agreements.
Boycotts are powerful tools for our international campaigns for human rights. Ahava Cosmetic Products are also made in an illegal settlement, Mitzpe Shalem, near the Dead Sea; they are no longer sold in major outlets in Canada and USA after boycott actions. As law respecting citizens we have a responsibility to stop the illegal sale of another luxury product with dubious health or environmental benefits, made under conditions that violate the human rights of workers and all Palestinians.
- Theresa Wolfwood is a writer and activist in Victoria, BC, Canada. She visited Palestine in 2010 and Belgium in 2011.
GAZA CITY – A man and his daughter were injured early Sunday after an Israeli airstrike hit the Gaza Strip overnight.
Palestinian medical sources said ambulances evacuated Imad Aqel and his daughter from the Zaitoun neighborhood in Gaza City after their house was hit by the strike.
A Ma’an correspondent said that at least two missiles hit the house.
Aqel sustained moderate injuries while his daughter was seriously wounded, medics said.
In a statement, the Israeli military confirmed an early morning air strike which it said “targeted a weapon manufacturing site in the northern Gaza Strip.”
“Direct hits were confirmed and secondary explosions were identified,” the statement added. “The site was targeted in response to the ongoing rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.”
Violence has flared in recent days between Gaza and Israel after Israeli airstrikes killed an Islamic Jihad fighter on Wednesday, and two affiliates of Fatah and Hamas’ armed wings on Thursday.
A further airstrike on Gaza City on Friday morning hit a site of Hamas’ armed group, and flattened a nearby house killing the owner. The man’s 12-year-old son was pronounced dead hours later.
After declaring that Palestinians are an “invented people,” US presidential hopeful and former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, has said that he would instruct the CIA to hunt down Palestinian prisoners released last October in an exchange negotiated by Israel and Hamas, presumably to kill them.
Gingrich made the comments in a conference call organized by the National Council Young Israel posted on YouTube by the website The Yeshiva World News, in response to a question about whether he had been in favor of the prisoner exchange:
I refuse to second guess the people of Israel doing what they believe is necessary both on a humanitarian level and out of their love for one of their children. I would say flatly that we made no such deal. I’m told that at least thirty of the people released were involved in killing Americans, and I would instruct the CIA to hunt down those thirty.
The comments can be heard at 19:51 in the YouTube recording of Gingrich’s interview.
Gingrich provided no evidence for his claim about the Palestinians being involved in killing Americans. Since the 1990s, the CIA has worked closely and openly with the Palestinian Authority both under the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. But the CIA’s role has been to assist the Palestinian Authority to collaborate more effectively with Israel, rather than to carry out extrajudicial executions of Palestinians.
It is unknown how Israel would view the United States carrying out assassinations within territory it controls.
Support for settlements
In the interview, Gingrich also stated that he had no problem with Israel building settlements on occupied Palestinian land.