By porterspeakman | March 20, 2012
A Short film by Porter Speakman, Jr. (@porterspeakman) for the “Christ at the Checkpoint Conference 2012″. “The Checkpoint” looks at the system of Israeli checkpoints in the West Banks and the daily routine Palestinians must face going through the Bethlehem Checkpoint.
- Qalandia Checkpoint – December 2011 (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel student society attacks peaceful Palestine protest with water bombs at London School of Economics (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli police escort Harvard tour from Bethlehem village (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Pakistan’s main religious parties, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Difa-e-Pakistani Council (DPC), have warned the country against reopening NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, Press TV reports.
Addressing a large crowd in the Bat Khela area of the Malakand division in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, JI Chief Amir Syed Munawar Hassan said the members of the party along with Pakistani people would close all the routes if the parliament decided to reopen the passageways.
“The leaders and government are following a US agenda,” he said.
Meanwhile, DPC Chairman Maulana Samiul Haq said reopening the routes was unacceptable.
“Democratic tactics would be used for blockade of supply to NATO forces in Afghanistan,” he added.
Samiul Haq announced that a related protest rally would be held in front of Pakistan’s parliament on March 27.
The gathering comes days after a meeting between high-ranking Pakistani officials, including President Asif Ali Zardari, Amy Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, and Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani along with his senior ministers.
The meeting was held to discuss channels to normalize the relations with the US-led forces in Afghanistan and restore the supply routes.
In November 2011, Islamabad closed the routes to the supplies headed for the US-led foreign forces deployed in Afghanistan in reaction to the Western military alliance of NATO’s airstrikes that killed 26 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border earlier in that month.
The relations between Pakistan and the US have also significantly soured in the past year over the unsanctioned US drone strikes against the former’s northwestern tribal belt.
There have been large-scale protests in Pakistan against the drone strikes, which might force Islamabad to condition the reopening of the supply lines to the halting of the attacks.
The Muslim Brotherhood aims to open the Egyptian border with Gaza to commerce, a shift that would transform life for 1.7 million Palestinians strangled by a six-year Israeli siege, but faces resistance from powerful remnants of Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the biggest party in Egypt’s new parliament, but not in government, have been seeking ways to ease the impact of the blockade imposed by Israel and Mubarak’s Egypt on the territory run by Hamas, an ideological offshoot of the Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood recently lobbied the Egyptian government to conclude a deal to supply fuel for Gaza’s sole operating power station to reduce electricity blackouts.
Gaza’s three other power plants were destroyed in previous Israeli airstrikes and the siege has prevented Hamas from importing material to reconstruct the stations.
However, the blackouts still plaguing Gaza several weeks after a deal was declared show that changing Egyptian policy is easier said than done, where the government is still largely run by remnants of Mubarak’s regime.
“It’s the continuation of the Mubarak method in dealing with the Palestinian issue,” said Gamal Hishmat, the deputy chair of the Egyptian parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and a Muslim Brotherhood MP.
The fuel has yet to arrive because of a dispute over how it should be delivered, according to Hamas and Brotherhood MPs familiar with the details.
Hamas wants it to come across Gaza border with Egypt, a precedent that could lead to broader trade through the only Palestinian frontier not controlled by Israel.
Egypt had initially backed this, but then said it should go via Israel, Hamas and Brotherhood sources said. Officials at the Egyptian oil ministry could not be reached for comment.
Egypt signed a peace deal with Israel in 1979 and Mubarak was a key US ally and Israeli ally during his 30-year autocratic rule.
Mubarak’s Egypt joined Israel in its blockade on Gaza in a bid to erase Hamas, fearing an Islamist leadership on its doorstep could instigate Islamists at home.
Under international pressure, Israel eased some import curbs on Gaza in 2010, but for the most part businesses cannot export.
Protests organized by Hamas at the border this week over the power crisis have signaled growing impatience with restrictions Palestinians feel should have ended with Mubarak’s rule.
Egypt’s ruling military led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi eased restrictions on the passage of travelers last year, but the change fell short of what Palestinians were seeking.
“The Field Marshal of Egypt and the government of Egypt and the whole world stand silent as Gaza remains under blockade,” Mohammed Ashour, a local official in Gaza, told a rally, his voice booming from loud speakers across the frontier.
Commerce has been forced underground into tunnels under the border, but the Brotherhood is pushing to have ties normalized with Gaza.
“I want the crossing to open completely, so that whoever wants to travel from Gaza can come to Egypt,” said Mahmoud Ghozlan, spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood. “We support opening the crossing for imports and exports.”
Hamas wants the same. “When the crossing officially opens, we will be the ones to close down the tunnels,” Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas figure, told Al-Akhbar.
For the Brotherhood, the first justification for opening the crossing is moral. The Gaza blockade is one of the most emotive issues in the Arab world. There would also be an economic benefit for northern Sinai, one of the poorest parts of Egypt.
For Israel, the idea does not appear a cause for concern.
“The Israeli foreign minister has suggested that we do everything we can to help Gaza stop depending on Israel for anything and instead deal directly with Egypt,” an Israeli diplomat said.
He added that checks would be needed on the Egyptian side to prevent arms reaching Gaza, but said the fuel deal did not raise any alarm.
The Egyptian position has long been shaped by a concern that Israel would relinquish all responsibility for Gaza were the border with Sinai opened.
A diplomat familiar with Gaza policy said Cairo’s worry was now that yielding to Hamas demands would weaken Egypt’s leverage over the group and undermine efforts to nudge it towards reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Zahar did not expect any serious change in policy until Egypt elects a new president, completing the transition from army rule at the end of June. “In this interim period I do not believe fundamental changes will happen,” he said.
- Egypt’s rulers resist Muslim Brotherhood’s push to open Gaza border (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Gaza to be connected to Egypt’s power grid: Egyptian envoy (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Muslim Brotherhood wary of Egypt IMF loan (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- ‘Egypt will show unity with Palestinians’ (altahrir.wordpress.com)
The Egyptian Ambassador to Occupied Palestinian Territories Yasser Othman has announced that the Israel-blockaded Gaza Strip will be connected to Egypt’s power grid within the next four to five months.
In a Wednesday interview with Saudi Arabian newspaper, Al-Sharq, Othman said that Egypt and Gaza would start work on connecting their power grids within a few weeks.
“This will lead to a real relief for the deepening crisis in the Gaza Strip,” he said.
He explained that the plan to end Gaza’s power crisis was a two-phased one.
During the first phase, Egypt will supply diesel to Gaza’s sole power plant and in the next one, which will take 18 months to complete, Gaza will be connected to a regional power grid in Egypt.
Gaza has been blockaded since 2007, causing a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.
The full-scale land, aerial, and naval siege has turned the enclave into the world’s largest open-air prison.
In mid-February, Egypt blocked the flow of diesel through the tunnels lying beneath its border with Gaza, which are used to transfer supplies into the impoverished coastal sliver amid the siege.
The stoppage forced the territory’s sole electricity power plant out of work, causing the enclave to start experiencing blackouts of up to 18 hours a day.
- Gaza faces more blackouts as Egypt fuel fails to arrive (altahrir.wordpress.com)
It is ironic but perhaps sadly appropriate that Attorney General Eric Holder would choose a law school, Northwestern University, to deliver a speech earlier this month in which he demolished what was left of the rule of law in America.
In what history likely will record as a turning point, Attorney General Holder bluntly explained that this administration believes it has the authority to use lethal force against Americans if the President determines them to be a threat to the nation. He tells us that this is not a violation of the due process requirements of our Constitution because the President himself embodies “due process” as he unilaterally determines who is to be targeted. As Holder said, “a careful and thorough executive branch review of the facts in a case amounts to ‘due process.'” That means that the administration believes it is the President himself who is to be the judge, jury, and executioner.
As George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley wrote of the Holder speech:
“All the Administration has said is that they closely and faithfully follow their own guidelines — even if their decisions are not subject to judicial review. The fact that they say those guidelines are based on notions of due process is meaningless. They are not a constitutional process of review.”
It is particularly bizarre to hear the logic of the administration claiming the right to target its citizens according to some secret selection process, when we justified our attacks against Iraq and Libya because their leaders supposedly were targeting their own citizens! We also now plan a covert war against Syria for the same reason.
I should make it perfectly clear that I believe any individual who is engaging in violence against this country or its citizens should be brought to justice. But as Attorney General Holder himself points out in the same speech, our civilian courts have a very good track record of trying and convicting individuals involved with terrorism against the United States. Our civilian court system, with the guarantee of real due process, judicial review, and a fair trial, is our strength, not a weakness. It is not an impediment to be sidestepped in the push for convictions or assassinations, but rather a process that guarantees that fundamental right to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
I am encouraged, however that there appears to be the beginning of a backlash against the administration’s authoritarian claims. Just recently I did an interview with conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham who expressed grave concern over using these sorts of tactics against Americans using the supposed war on terror as justification. Sadly, many conservative leaders were silent when Republican President George W. Bush laid the groundwork for this administration’s lawlessness with the PATRIOT Act, warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention without trial, and other violations. Similarly, as Professor Turley points out, “Democrats previously demanded the ‘torture memos’ of the Bush administration that revealed poor legal analysis by Judge Jay Bybee and Professor John Yoo to justify torture. Now, however, Democrats are largely silent in the face of a president claiming the right to unilaterally kill citizens.” The misuse of and disregard for our Constitution for partisan political gain is likely one reason the American public holds Congress in such low esteem. Now the stakes are much higher. Congress and the people should finally wake up!
- Attorney General Eric Holder: Wrong on the Law, the Politics, and on the Wrong Side of History (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Fifty years ago this week, the French admitted defeat in their war against Algerian independence, by signing a formal ceasefire. The government of Nicholas Sarkozy said it would hold no formal ceremonies, because to mark the anniversary would reopen “deep wounds of a painful page in the recent history of France.” It’s all about the French, you see – their pain at being defeated by a people they had subjugated and treated as lesser forms of life for 132 years; their loss of face as a great imperial power, not the Algerian’s pain at the loss of one million men, women and children in the final struggle for nationhood.
This week also marks the 9th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The Americans have, of course, never admitted defeat in that war – although defeat is the only reason U.S. troops are no longer in Iraq. President Barack Obama very reluctantly carried out the troop withdrawal agreement that President George Bush was forced by the Iraqis to sign in November of 2008, after it had become clear that America’s unprovoked war of aggression was lost.
Obama was even less gracious in defeat than French President Sarkozy, who at least had the manners to keep personally silent. In proclaiming March 19th “A National Day of Honor,” Obama praised the “unshakeable fortitude and unwavering commitment” of U.S. troops who fought “block by block to help the Iraqi people to seize the chance for a better future.” Other obscenities and damnable lies flowed from Obama’s mouth, as the president embraced George Bush’s great crimes against global peace and his holocaust against the Iraqi people. “The war left wounds not always seen, but forever felt,” said Obama – speaking, of course, only about the wounds suffered by Americans, just as Sarkozy spoke only of the pain of the French. The anniversary of a U.S. invasion of another people’s country, is all about the Americans, you see – the 4500 American dead, to whom, Obama said, “we owe a debt that can never be fully repaid.” No mention of the blood debt that is owed to the more than one million dead Iraqi men, women and children whose country, once the most advanced in the Arab world, was utterly destroyed by the United States, and who hope to never see an American in uniform again.
What are a million Algerians worth to the French? The same as one million Iraqis are worth to the United States. They are not even worth mentioning.
There is no word that can describe the absolute moral turpitude of imperialists, the casualness of their genocides, their infinite capacity for narcissism, and their whining self-pity when confronted with minimal casualties to themselves in the course of their global depredations.
The Americans and western Europeans regret nothing but their own setbacks in the 500-year war they have waged against the darker peoples of the Earth. They have annihilated and enslaved whole continents, and dare to call it civilization. Their only remorse is for their loss, in recent times, of total dominance over the human species, of which they still consider themselves the superior fraction. It is during weeks such as this, when the French and American governments note the historical markers of their national depravity, that affirm the inseparability of racism and imperialism, and the necessity to defeat them once and for all.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy was criticised yesterday for comparing the killing of three children and a rabbi in a shooting attack in France to the situation in Gaza.
At the “Palestine refugees in the changing Middle East” conference in Brussels, Baroness Ashton, described the murders in Toulouse as a “terrible tragedy”, but she then added: “When we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”
Seemingly some prominent Jewish and Israeli leaders couldn’t agree less. For them Jewish suffering exceeds all other suffering and Palestinian’s in particular.
The London Jewish Chronicle quoted some of the outraged critics. “Even when read in context, Ashton’s words are beyond unacceptable,” said Oliver Worth, the British chairman of the World Union of Jewish Students. He said they were “truly outrageous and revolting” and called for her to resign because she had “lost all credibility”. And yet, Mr Worth fails to explain why is it “outrageous and revolting” to equate Jewish suffering with Palestinian one.
“Baroness Ashton’s remarks were both crass and wholly inappropriate,” said the chief executives of the Board of Deputies, yet he also fails to provide any reasoning.
“There is absolutely no equivalence between the situation in Gaza and the cold and callous murder of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and the three children,” said Stefan Kerner, director of public affairs for the Zionist Federation. And I wonder why there is no ‘equivalence’, is it because the Jews are yet to withdraw from Toulouse? Or may be Mr Kerner actually expects the French to withdraw from Toulouse and to leave it to Rabbi Sandler and a few other Jews. I obviously find it really difficult to follow the Zionist logic anymore.
The Rabbi added: “For a person in Baroness Ashton’s position to even consider her comments appropriate is disgraceful. She should withdraw her statement immediately and apologise unreservedly for the offence that she has caused.” And I wonder why is it offensive to Jews when someone equates their grief with Goyim’s suffering. Does the Rabbi really believe that Jewish suffering is somehow superior?
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Foreign Minister, said he viewed her remarks as “inappropriate”. He said he hoped that she “re – examines and retracts them”. And I wonder, what kind of a retraction would please the Israeli Government. Do they really expect Baroness Ashton to accept that Jewish suffering is the ultimate form of human grief?
Israeli war criminal as well as Opposition leader Tzipi Livni also, attempted to offer some reasoning. She described Ashton’s remark as “reprehensible, infuriating, and wrong” to draw any link “between the murder of children in Toulouse and the massacre Assad is leading in Syria and the situation in Gaza”. Livni may be right for a change, the crime committed in Gaza by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish People is indeed unique in the history of brutality. Also the fact that 94% of the Israeli Jewish population supported IDF genocdial tactics at the time of operation Cast Lead is also very unique. Israel’s war crimes are indeed uniquely cruel and beyond comparison.
But Livni didn’t just stop there, she tried to qualify her statement. “A hate crime or a leader murdering his people is not like a country fighting terror, even if civilians are hurt.” According to Lvini, the Baroness had failed to make “the appropriate moral distinction”. To start with we do not know yet what led to the tragic event in Toulouse. However, the fact that Israel defines the Palestinians as “terrorists” is yet to provide the Jewish State with an moral excuse to slay the indigenous people of the land and to abuse every possible human right.
I guess that we are all becoming impervious to Jewish political logic. But maybe this is another symptom of the Zionification of our reality. From now on we are expected to obey.