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Detained journalist boycotts Israeli military court

Palestine Information Center – 09/04/2012

AL-KHALIL — Detained journalist Amir Abdul Halim Abu Arafeh, 28, who is held in administrative detention at the Negev Desert prison, refused to appear before the Zionist military court last Thursday in accordance with the administrative detainees’ decision to boycott these courts which try to give legitimacy to administrative detention.

The court session, that was supposed to take place last Thursday to hear the prosecution, was held to renew the prisoner’s administrative detention for six more months, according to sources at Negev prison.

The same sources confirmed that the prison administration tried by force to make Abu Arafeh attend the court but he refused describing it “arbitrary and illegal”. The prisoner added that his arrest was political insisting on his commitment to the decision taken by administrative detainees to boycott military courts.

Abu Arafeh was arrested by the occupation forces on 21 August 2011 from his home in Al-Khalil in the southern West Bank, and turned him to administrative detention because of his work as a reporter for Shihab News agency after his release from the PA prisons where he was arrested 3 times.

Palestinian captives declared in early March 2012 the boycott of the Zionist military courts that deal with administrative detention cases, demanding an end to administrative detention and the release of all administrative detainees.

April 8, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Brazilian Judge Suspends Dam License, Upholds Indigenous Rights

ENS | April 5, 2012

BRASILIA, Brazil  – A federal judge has suspended the construction license of the Teles Pires hydroelectric dam in the Brazilian Amazon, saying the permitting process violated the rights of indigenous people protected under the Brazilian Constitution.

In her ruling, Judge Celia Regina Ody Bernardes, a federal judge in the state of Mato Grosso, sided with federal public prosecutors and public prosecutors from Mato Grosso and the state of Pará who argued the dam would cause “imminent and irreversible damage to the quality of life and cultural heritage of indigenous peoples of the region.”

The dam would flooding a series of rapids on the Teles Pires River known as Sete Quedas, or Seven Waterfalls, the spawning grounds of fish of great importance to the indigenous residents.

The judge ordered the immediate suspension of all activities in dam construction, “especially explosions of boulders in the region of Sete Quedas.”

A recent declaration by indigenous peoples cited in the lawsuit states, “Sete Quedas is a sacred place, where the Mae dos Peixes (Mother of Fish) and other spirits of our ancestors live – a place known as Uel, meaning that it should not be messed with.”

The 1,820 megawatt capacity dam has been under construction since August 2011 on the Teles Pires River, a major tributary of the Tapajos River in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon.

The dam is one of six large hydropower projects planned for the Teles Pires River, which forms the border between the states of Mato Grosso and Pará.

In her decision, Judge Bernardes concluded that prior to greenlighting dam construction, the federal environmental agency IBAMA failed to consult with affected indigenous communities, despite serious threats to their “socioeconomic and cultural well-being.”

She ruled that this constitutes a violation of the Brazilian Constitution and ILO Convention 169, which Brazil signed in 2004.

In addition to its importance for the physical survival of indigenous peoples, Sete Quedas holds tremendous cultural significance. The lawsuit argues that the dam construction site is “a sacred area relevant for the beliefs, customs, traditions, symbolism and spirituality of indigenous peoples. As a cultural heritage site, it is protected by the Brazilian Constitution and international agreements.”

Other threats to indigenous peoples provoked by dam construction, cited in the lawsuit, include conflicts associated with a massive influx of migrants to the region, land speculation, illegal deforestation, predatory fishing and illegal exploitation of mining resources. The prosecutors argued that, given a delay of almost 20 years in the demarcation of the Kayabi territory, such threats are even more severe.

Taravy Kayabi, a leader of the Kayabi people, said, “While the federal government stalls in implementing laws that protect the rights of indigenous peoples, it is pressuring us to accept the dams. But we know the compensation they are offering will never substitute places that are sacred to us, such as Sete Quedas, that hold the cemeteries of our ancestors and that should be preserved.”

“Sete Quedas is also the spawning grounds of fish that are an important source of food. They talk about fish ladders, but where have these ever worked? Kayabi asked.

“The government needs to look for alternative ways to generate energy that don’t harm indigenous peoples and their territories,” he said.

Civil society groups and leaders of the Kayabi community welcomed the news of the the suspension of dam construction, but warned against a possible overturning of Judge Bernardes’ restraining order.

Brent Millikan, director of the Amazon Program at International Rivers, based in California, says he has seen it happen before.

“What we’ve seen over and over again, in cases such as Belo Monte, is that the President’s office politically intervenes in regional federal courts to overturn decisions against violations of human rights and environmental legislation, using false arguments, such as an impending blackout at the national level if dams aren’t immediately constructed,” he said.

“Of course, this is ludicrous,” said Millikan. He says indigenous peoples and human rights groups in Brazil and around the world” are calling on the government of President Dilma Rousseff “to change course and respect the country’s constitution and rule of law.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.

April 8, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK: Queen invites Bahraini king to Jubilee banquet

Press TV – April 8, 2012

The UK Queen has invited one of the world’s most tyranical rulers, the King of Bahrain, to her upcoming Diamond Jubilee banquet irrespective of widespread criticism of his repressive regime.

Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s regime is accused of killing and torturing civilians during more than one year of pro-democracy demonstrations in the tiny Persian Gulf island nation.

Sheikh Hamad is on the guest list for a lunch hosted by the Queen in May at Windsor Castle. He is also thought to be among those invited to a champagne dinner given by Prince Charles the same evening at Buckingham Palace. The event will be an intimate gathering of reigning monarchs from around the world.

The invitations will infuriate human rights campaigners and members of parliament (MPs) angry at the regime’s violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations.

The Bahraini regime is accused of using brutal force and torture to crush the protests, which saw more than 50 civilians killed and thousands arrested. Bahrain’s royal family has direct control of the police, army and security services.

It is believed the elderly King of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, has declined the invitation but is sending the crown prince in his place.

The Saudi Arabian royal family has also been criticised for human-rights abuses, as has another invitee, the King of Swaziland, Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch.

April 8, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Foxman & Friends: ADL Head Lambastes NYC High School Trip to Israel/Palestine for Insufficient Hasbara

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep In America | April 7, 2012

The Anti-Defamation League‘s Abe Foxman is annoyed that a group of seventeen high school students and six faculty members from New York City’s prestigious Friends Seminary recently visited Israel and Palestine (which he terms the “West Bank region”), but didn’t spend nearly enough time being force-fed ADL-approved hasbara.

Writing in The Jerusalem Post in late March, Foxman expressed his clear frustration that “the participants will be spending most of their time in the West Bank meeting with Palestinians,” during which time students “will have overnight stays with Palestinian families” and “will be developing oral histories of those families.” While Foxman states that “[t]here is, of course, nothing intrinsically wrong in doing these things,” he worries that “because of the intensely personal nature of the home visits in the West Bank, which will expose the group only to a Palestinian perspective, these visits should be balanced by similar experiences with Israelis within Israel,” including “meeting with Israeli families” and “visiting important venues like the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem.”

Foxman is irked about what he calls the school’s “distorted, anti-Israel version of historical and current events in the Middle East” and worries that its administrators and students won’t “recognize how easily what seems like criticisms of Israel can veer into anti-Semitism.”

What Foxman deftly omitted from his criticism of the Friends trip is that, at the time his piece was published, students had already visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall, explored a number of synagogues, St. Anne’s Church and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, spent time at The Israel Museum, where they met with the director of a program that conducts workshops in which Palestinian and Israeli children create art together, and visited the Jordan River Valley with Mira Edelstein of the Tel-Aviv-based organization EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME). The day after Foxman’s piece appeared in the Jerusalem Post, the group traveled to Jaffa where they met with Dr. Edward Rettig, Director of the Israel/Middle East Office of the American Jewish Committee as well as a representative of The Abraham Fund Initiatives, a non-profit organization dedicated to “promote coexistence and equality among Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens.”

Nevertheless, Foxman criticizes Friends for “taking high school kids to the Middle East and devising such a pro-Palestinian schedule,” especially because “Israel is America’s main ally in the region, a number of the students are Jewish, and balance is one of the school’s valued and oft-stated educational goals.”

It is unsurprising that Foxman’s disingenuous yearning for “balance” is driven by his desire to see the “impressionable high school students” exposed to Israeli narratives that reinforce the eternal victimhood of not only Israel but all Jews worldwide and which equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Learning about the personal experiences of Palestinians and experiencing the infrastructure, discrimination and oppression of the occupation does not fit with Foxman’s agenda.

This past November, an ADL sponsored “group of senior Latino and Latin American journalists, editors and producers completed an eight-day mission to Israel” in an effort “to counter what it sees as Latinos’ less favorable attitudes toward Israel.” The Jerusalem Post reported that “Stops on the tour included the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, Sderot, Nazareth, Safed, Lake Kinneret and the Golan.”

What balance!

These Latino journalists, who hailed from the United States, Bolivia, Chile and Venezuela, went to multiple areas under Israeli occupation and probably met with numerous local colonists in their illegal settlements on stolen land! Imagine how “intensely personal” these “visits in the West Bank” were for the journalists. One has to assume that, due to Foxman’s apparent commitment to a “balanced” narrative presenting “similar experiences” of both Israelis and Palestinians, when visiting Christian holy sites on the ADL’s dime and with their own guides, the Latino journalists were able to spend ample time speaking with Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim. Oh, wait, that didn’t happen? Shocking!

In early 2004, the ADL took “[s]enior law enforcement personnel from across America, including “sixteen police chiefs and FBI terrorism task force representatives,” to Israel to meet “with their Israeli counterparts and learned how to better predict, prevent and respond to terrorism.” By Foxman’s standards of “balance,” the officials must have been told about the rampant Israeli arrests of Palestinian children and toddlers, who suffer abusemental, physical and sexual – and who are tortured during and traumatized by their imprisonment.  They surely learned about Israel’s use of administrative detention to hold Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial, a direct violation of universal human rights and international law.

Did the group visit Palestinian communities victimized by housing demolitions, a particularly vindictive form of collective punishment favored by the Israeli government, examine the illegality of Israel’s Apartheid Annexation Wall and U.S.-supplied weaponry, or study the implications of surveillance state built upon domestic spying and racial profiling? Of course not.

University of Florida student Virlany Taboada was sent to Israel in 2010 by the ADL and “visited key sites related to Israel’s history,” “learned the country’s significance to the Jewish people,” and heard “different perspectives… from a variety of people while in Israel including military and a family that the group had a Shabbat dinner with one night.” Balance! No wonder that upon her return, Taboada said,

“For people who say that the Holocaust didn’t exist or that God doesn’t exist, you know the moment you go to the Jewish home and see a Jewish city that something happened. You know something took place that has completely transformed the way Israel is and the way people talk about it and I think that is what I saw there — that there is something special and something unique that you can’t find in a lot of places.

That “special” and “unique something” is actually called Apartheid, Virlany.

In fact, the ADL’s annual Campus Leader Study Mission is so nauseatingly balanced, the non-propaganda just drips from the following description of last year’s trip:

Each year, the ADL brings leaders from colleges across the country to Israel. In August, 17 campus leaders joined the latest of these annual trips.

The eight-day trip, designed for students who have never visited the country, included visits to the Dead Sea, the Golan Heights, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, the Jordan River and Christian and Jewish holy sites.

Students also learned about Israel’s diverse culture. They had Shabbat dinner with a family in Jerusalem and met with members of the Druze community as well as Ethiopian immigrants. They met Israeli Defense Force soldiers, students, and young citizens at the forefront of the summer’s tent city protests.

The mission also sought to further the students’ understanding about the conflict by bringing speakers with varying opinions such as a West Bank settler and a Palestinian journalist.

Whoa, one whole Palestinian journalist, eh? What perspective. Assuredly, Foxman didn’t raise any qualms about “balance” when AIPAC brought over 80 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to Israel in a move that was assailed by Palestinian Knesset member Ahmad Tibi as a “propaganda tour” designed to whitewash and obfuscate “the discrimination and occupation that the state of Israel imposes on the Palestinian people in its midst.
”

But Foxman is right: how are New York students supposed to internalize hasbara when they’re actually meeting with Palestinians in Palestine and staying in their homes under Israeli occupation?  And all without a visit to Yad Vashem?  I mean, when exactly was the emotional blackmail supposed to occur?  And how are they supposed to suck face with IDF soldiers if they’re busy learning Palestinian oral histories?

But that’s not all.

Foxman attacks not only the “imbalanced structure of the trip” but also one of its chaperones, a history teacher at Friends, who he describes as having “well-known anti-Israel views, which he promotes at the school” and who “he presents the students a completely biased and one-sided version of events in the Middle East.”  Here, the ADL chief seems to be taking his cues from the eminent liar, warmonger, plagiarist, torture-advocate, and outspoken terrorist supporter Alan Dershowitz, who recently also took to the pages of The Jerusalem Post to declare Friends Seminary a haven for anti-Semitism and condemn the same teacher as “rabidly anti-Israel… who propagandizes his students against Israel in the classroom, and who has a picture of Anne Frank wearing a Palestinian headdress on his website.”

“In his World History class, when he devotes one day to Israel, his two primary sources have been reported to be a speech by former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and a paper by the American Friends Service Committee,” reveals Foxman, adding that the AFSC “has a long history of one-sided advocacy against the State of Israel.” Readers are supposed to gasp with horror at this. But Foxman’s selective and sensationalistic suggestion is not supported by facts and deliberately seeks to elicit shrieks of shock and condemnation.

The speech assigned to students is not just “a speech by former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat,” it is the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence, written by renowned poet Mahmoud Darwish.  Students are also assigned to read both the 1917 Balfour Declaration and Israeli’s own 1948 Declaration of Independence. Furthermore, that a Friends school would include a paper by the American Friends Service Committee is hardly newsworthy.

Foxman also misunderstands the “oral history” component of the Friends trip.  The project consists not of Friends students doing oral histories of Palestinian families, but rather sharing their own oral histories about Friends Seminary and Meetinghouse in Manhattan with Palestinian students from the Ramallah Friends school who developed oral histories of their own families.

The fact that the picture of Anne Frank in a kaffiyeh – used to spooky effect by Dershowitz – was actually this photograph of New York City street art posted on Flickr by someone else and merely “liked” by the history teacher in question hardly merits any attention, but perhaps demonstrates just how absurd these charges are.

Perhaps most telling is the inconvenient fact which Foxman and Dershowitz both deliberately leave out of their libelous descriptions of the Friends history teacher: he’s Jewish.

While Foxman claims to have spoken to “a number of parents” who seem to question the “balanced” nature of Middle East curricula at Friends, Joel Cohen, a current Friends parent, responded to both Foxman and Dershowitz’s attack on the school.  In a letter written to and published by The Jerusalem Post the day after Foxman’s article appeared, Cohen condemns the “unjustified and unsupported attack on a New York private school, Friends Seminary, that Alan Dershowitz began last month,” stating that “Foxman, like Dershowitz, criticizes this respected school, its administration and faculty based on assertions he fails to support.” Cohen writes that Foxman “cites no evidence for his accusation about the history teacher, much like Dershowitz failed to offer when he began the attacks against Friends and this teacher. Like Dershowitz, Foxman also fails to provide evidence that he in fact knows anything meaningful about the Friends visit.” An even more detailed rebuttal of Dershowitz’s claims was posted on the Friends Seminary Facebook page in late February.

But the best counter to the attacks on Friends and its faculty lies with the students themselves. During the trip to Israel and Palestine, the students kept an incredible, publicly-accessible blog, entitled “Friends Visiting Friends in the Middle East.” It features posts written by the students themselves about their experiences and feelings.

Reading through the posts (written by the students themselves about their experiences and feelings during the trip), understanding the trip’s itinerary and looking at the gorgeous pictures, one can easily see why Foxman and friends are terrified of Friends students traveling to Israel and Palestine without the requisite hasbara pit stops.  Truth and knowledge are directly anathema to Zionism’s stranglehold on emotional blackmail, ethnocratic exclusivity, and perennially exploited victimization.

In one entry, a Friends student named Eliza wrote about her conflicted feelings:

When I reflect on the experiences of this trip, the criticisms of it, and the larger conflicts within this region, I have found it really easy to lose sight of the human element in all of this. When I think about my host mother and the way she treated me with love and warmth despite my personal religion and political views, I find it a little bit easier to see the human side and I am incredibly grateful and thankful for that. I am more appreciative that I feel I am coming away from this experience with more of a human connection absent of all politics.

Jacob, who is in his senior year at Friends, wrote the following after spending time with Palestinian students and his host family in Ramallah:

I was amazed at how much these students like me, and also fascinated by the cultural differences… I never want to forget my experiences here, nor do I want to forget the lessons that I drew from them even though we are from different cultures and hold different beliefs. We are the same where it matters most: we both want peace, we both want to laugh, we both value passion, and we both enjoy a good felafel.

Another senior, Will, described painting messages on the separation wall as “one of the most ‘Friends’-like experiences I’ve ever had,” elaborating

We were all painting messages of hope and peace, and beyond that I was moved by how much we were supporting each other, both metaphorical and literally: Not only did we cheer each other on and applaud each other’s handiwork, but I actually lifted Rose up on my shoulders so she could find space to write. I also wrote my own message; after much internal debate, I decided to write the phrase that kept coming to my head: “WE ARE FRIENDS.” And walking away in the sunlight, with empty spray-paints cans in hand and classmates at my side, I really felt that these words were true.

Shortly after arriving in Israel and traveling to the West Bank, Rose summarized her feelings about what she had experienced so far:

We’re simply not staying here long enough.  It’s a relief.  A dream come true.

It is no surprise that experiences like those described by the inspiring and courageous students of Friends Seminary and which humanize Palestinians represent a dangerous threat to the hegemony of narrative so desperately promoted by career Zionist apologists like Foxman and Dershowitz.

For them, Rose’s “dream come true” is an absolute nightmare.

April 8, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Deir Yassin Day in London

By Paul Eisen* | Uprooted Palestinians | April 8, 2012

On April 23 in London, Deir Yassin Remembered and The General Union of Palestinian Students will be commemorating Deir Yassin Day 2012.

Deir Yassin Day commemorates the Deir Yassin massacre of April 9th 1948.

Not the only massacre at that time and by no means the worst, Deir Yassin signaled and has come to symbolise, the dispossession of the Palestinian people and their continuing exile.

April 23 is also the birthday of Miguel Cervantes creator of Don Quixote and of Roy Orbison creator of “Only the Lonely” – and a man who, just when you thought he could go no higher – up an octave he’d go. It’s also the birth- and death day of William Shakespeare – highly appropriate for a man known for his immaculate dramatic structure and pleasing endings.

But in England April 23rd is above all, St. George’s Day. St George is the patron Saint of England and strangely, St George was a Palestinian.

George hailed from the Palestinian town of Lydda, turned into an airport in 1948 and named Lod, and named again after the great ethnic-cleanser David Ben Gurion. Like Deir Yassin itself, the story of Lydda could serve as a template for all the expulsions and massacres of 1948.

At Deir Yassin the perpetrators massacred over a hundred villagers and burned their bodies. Others were loaded onto trucks and paraded through the streets of Jewish Jerusalem, then taken to a nearby quarry and shot. Orphaned children of Deir Yassin, dragged from under the bodies of their dead and dying relatives were taken and dumped, dazed and bleeding, in a Jerusalem alley.

At Lydda the Israelis massacred 426 men, women, and children; 176 slaughtered in the town’s main mosque and the remainder driven into exile. Forced to walk in the summer heat, they left behind them a trail of bodies – men, women and children. It was the Palestinians’ very own ‘Trail of Tears’.

And, just like at Deir Yassin, the town of Lydda was repopulated with Jewish immigrants, the name Hebraised to Lod and, like the name Deir Yassin, the name Lydda was wiped off the map.

At our commemoration DYR and GUPS will be joined by the Palestinian Delegation, the Palestinian community of the U.K. and many British and other supporters. We will also be joined by Abu Ashraf, now of Azaria but once of Deir Yassin – because in April 1948 Abu Ashraf lived in Deir Yassin and, on April 9th at the time of the massacre, was a few days short of his eighth birthday.

So, it’s fitting that our commemoration be held on April 23rd, St. George’s Day; in London, the capital of England, and led by Abu Ashraf of Deir Yassin.

* (With thanks to Stuart Littlewood)

April 8, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

German protesters slam US polices in Afghanistan, Middle East

Press TV – April 8, 2012

Tens of thousands of protesters have attended rallies in more than 70 cities across Germany to protest against the US-led war in Afghanistan as well as the proliferation of nuclear arms.

Hundreds of protesters also gathered in front of the US embassy in the capital Berlin on Saturday to voice opposition to US policies in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Chanting slogans in support of the Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass who criticized Israeli policies in the Middle East in his recent poem, the protesters demanded an end to war and violence.

“We are generally protesting an increase of violence, threats of violence and war. Central, it is the situation in Afghanistan and we demand an immediate withdrawal of all German troops from Afghanistan,” Ekkehard Lentz of Bremen Peace Forum said.

Meanwhile, several demonstrations were also held in front of a number of US military bases across the European country.

Protesters also thronged in front of a German military airbase in southwest Germany, which is home to at least 20 US nuclear warheads.

“More weapons are being produced throughout the world and more weapons are being traded than ever before. This indicates that we are to face much more terrible times,” Peter Sturtynski of Federal Committee for Peace Council said.

The traditional Easter marches continue throughout the weekend. Last year, more than 120,000 people joined the protests on the same occasion.

April 8, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Video, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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