Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Germans form anti-nuclear human chain

Press TV – 24 April 2010

Protestors urge govt. to change nuclear policy.

Tens of thousands of Germans have created a human chain as they expressed opposition to the use of nuclear energy.

Around 100,000 people participated in the event on Saturday to form the human chain, measuring at 120 kilometers (75 miles) along the Elbe River between the northern towns of Brunsbuettel and Kruemmel that passed through the city of Hamburg.

“The chain is almost complete,” a police spokeswoman in the northern German region of Schleswig-Holstein told AFP.

Organizers of the peaceful demonstration dubbed “Chain reaction — Stop nuclear energy” also urged the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel to alter its nuclear policy.

“Today will spark a countrywide chain reaction of protests and resistance if the government does not reverse its atomic policy,” organizers said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The German government has offered delay on the closing of the country’s 17 nuclear power plants beyond a 2020 target date.

The protests come just days before Monday’s 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

###

Germans call for arms embargo against Israel

BDS Day of Action | March 30, 2010

On Tuesday, 30th of March 2010 activists of different peace groups gathered close to the Berlin office of Germany’s biggest steel and arms industry company Thyssen Krupp in the centre of Berlin close to the sqare called Gendarmenmarkt to protest against the export of German Dolphin Submarines and warships to Israel.

(The text on the foto reads: “No submarines and warships to Israel!”)

The protest was part of the second Global BDS Day of Action in solidarity with the Palestinian people and for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

ThyssenKrupp is the owner of the North-German shipyard HDW (Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH). HDW already fabricated/produced 5 submarines of the Dolphin type for Israel. A further ship of this kind is planned to be sent to Israel. It is widely believed among experts that the Israeli government wants to add atomic warheads to the submarines.Later the avtivists turned to a Natural Food Store. They distributed leaflets informing the public about the fact that Israel is one of most important producer of Natural Food products. In the text of the leaflet with the headline “Off One’s Oats” (“Appetit vergangen”) it is stressed that “the Israeli organic agriculture is part of a regime of permanent human rights violations, of the destruction of the environment and violence/disregard of International Law.”

The activists are members of a group where different organisations work together – among them the Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East/EJJP Germany, the Middle East Committee of Berlin Peace Coordination and the Workshop Middle East Berlin.

April 24, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Nuclear Power | Comments Off on Germans form anti-nuclear human chain

Six decades of dispossession

Founded on ethnic cleansing, erasing the Palestinians remains the modus operandi of the state of Israel

By Khaled Amayreh | Al-Ahram | April 22, 2010

With a strange combination of self- righteousness and self-gratification, Israel this week celebrated its 62nd anniversary. Using skilfully fabricated sound bites, Israeli leaders sought to deflect blame for the lingering conflict with the Palestinians and the stalemated political process, invoking the old mantras about the Jewish homeland and the miraculous establishment of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel was extending one hand towards peace while the other was holding a sword in self-defense. Meanwhile, Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders used the occasion to assert Israel’s determination to continue to build settlements on occupied Palestinian land, including in occupied East Jerusalem.

“We are a peace seeking nation that prays for peace,” he said.

Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, also claimed that Israel wanted peace: “On this blessed occasion, I want to say in the name of the state of Israel at large: We don’t seek war. We are a nation that yearns for peace, but knows, and will always know, how to defend ourselves.”

Peres’s words came less than 24 hours after one Israeli official warned that Israel would “send [Syria] back to the Stone Age” in any military confrontation. Israel continues to occupy the Syrian Golan Heights taken in 1967.

Overlooking Israel’s decades-old repressive occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as last year’s relentless campaign against the Gaza Strip, Israeli leaders tried to draw a rosy picture of a state that stands falsely accused by extremists in the international community. Meanwhile, though singing the praises of Israeli democracy, the rampant discrimination against Israel’s Palestinian citizens — who make up more than a quarter of Israel’s population — was equally ignored.

Last week, Israel announced plans that would lead to the deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and places of residence in the West Bank. The plans were viewed by most Palestinians, including the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA), as a revival of the policy of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians — the policy upon which Israel’s existence was founded.

Some Palestinian officials argue privately that despite 62 years since Israel’s creation in Palestine, ethnic cleansing remains Israel’s ultimate if undeclared strategy towards the Palestinians, both in Israel proper and the territories occupied in 1967. Israeli officials deny the charges. However, Israeli behavior on the ground fully vindicates the Palestinian view.

In East Jerusalem, which Israel unilaterally declared part of its “eternal and undivided capital,” Israeli authorities have continued meticulous efforts aimed at emptying the town of its non-Jewish inhabitants. There are nearly half-a-million Palestinians living in Jerusalem and its vicinities.

Similarly, Jewish settler thugs, often in tacit coordination with the occupation army, are stepping up attacks on and acts of vandalism against Palestinian villagers, especially in areas adjacent to Jewish settlements. This week, several Arab cars were torched and a mosque desecrated in the Nablus region, apparently by gangs from nearby settlements.

What is more alarming about these Jewish terrorist attacks against Palestinians is that the attacks do not come in response to Palestinian resistance, but rather as a “price tag” in response to half-hearted efforts by the Israeli government to partially freeze settlement expansion in response to American pressure.

Israel’s Independence Day ceremonies saw Israeli leaders reiterating familiar rejections of any equitable resolution to the enduring conflict with the Palestinians, such as the creation of a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state. At the same time, the majority of Israelis reject the idea of annexing the West Bank into Israel, fearing that Israel would lose its Jewish identity as a result.

Some Israeli leaders, such as Moshe Yaalon, former army chief of staff who now holds the post of minister of strategic affairs, say openly that the war of 1948 has not really ended. In an interview this week with the right-wing Israeli paper, The Jerusalem Post, Yaalon suggested that Israel would first have to achieve total victory over the Arabs before contemplating a lasting solution.

Like Netanyahu, Yaalon is frustrated that many Europeans and Americans have come to view the Israeli occupation as the cause of instability in the Middle East. The problem, Yaalon suggests, is “Jihadi Islam”.

On the other hand, Yaalon — who epitomizes the current Israeli government view — doesn’t reject the concept of a Palestinian state outright, so long as this state doesn’t encompass East Jerusalem or lead to the dismantlement of Jewish colonies in the West Bank. “I don’t care, then, if they would call it a state or even an empire,” he said.

For the current Israeli leadership, the “neutralization” of the “Iranian threat” is taken as a precondition for any progress on the Palestinian front. Israel is widely believed to possess 200- 300 nuclear warheads. Overemphasis of the Iranian “threat” is seen by many as a “red herring” aimed at retaining Israeli military supremacy and hegemony in the region.

Indeed, most Palestinian and Arab observers dismiss the Israeli “Iran scare” as a mere “tactical trick” aimed at disposing of any potential foe in order to further enhance Tel Aviv’s maneuverability on the Palestinian issue. In other words, Israel wants to strip the Palestinians and Arabs of real or potential assets while delaying as long as possible the quest for a lasting solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

April 24, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | Comments Off on Six decades of dispossession

Brandeis students prepare to protest Michael Oren commencement speech

By Jonathan Sussman on April 23, 2010

Recently, I was alerted by my Brandeis student newspaper, The Justice, that Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren would be our keynote commencement speaker. Needless to say, I was disappointed, and not just because there were better choices even among the other honorary degree recipients (Paul Simon and Paul Farmer come to mind). What this selection indicates is that Brandeis University, an institution which takes ‘social justice’ as one of its founding credos, is willing to send its new graduates into the world with the words of a rogue state apologist, a defender of (among other things) the war crimes and human rights abuses of the war on Gaza. Moreover, regardless of one’s political beliefs one can easily see that having such a polarizing speaker for commencement is divisive, exclusionary, and just plain stupid.

Brandeis University has a strange relationship with Israel. As an historically Jewish university with deep, abiding ties to the Jewish community, the campus is overwhelmingly of a Zionist bent. However, this tends to overshadow and exclude other positions on the issue. Problematically, it is assumed that all Jews support Israeli policy, all the time, and Brandeis’s actions over the past few years indicate that it is devoted to this idea of community homogeneity:

  • In 2006, a Palestinian art exhibit was initially given approval, then suddenly taken down; President Reinharz’s response to criticism of this crackdown on speech was that the university needed “to move on.”
  • In 2007, former President Carter’s address to students was nearly canceled because of his calls for an end to apartheid in the occupied territories. While he was allowed to speak, President Reinharz refused to meet with him, and after the speech infamous hasbara-monger Alan Dershowitz came on stage to belittle and defame Carter.
  • In fall 2009, Justice Richard Goldstone chose Brandeis as the first place to present his views on the historic Goldstone Report. The University chose to repay him for this honor by forcing him to share the stage with bullying, porn-mustachioed Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador who spent his time proclaiming his ignorance of international law and making wild, derailing claims about Palestinians in order to justify the massacre of thousands of Gazan civilians.

I was involved in organizing around the last incident, and it taught me the total intransigence of our university administration on any topic surrounding Israel. Along with several students, I presented our grievances to the event’s sponsor, the Brandeis Ethics Center, pointing out that Gold’s presence belittled the seriousness of the report, and made the issue of war crimes a matter of armchair debate. The format of the debate forced Goldstone into the role of the ‘anti-Israel’ position, when in fact he was a third party trying to determine the facts in the context of international law. We humbly requested that Gold not be invited, or that they also include a Palestinian speaker who could speak to her community’s concerns. This was summarily rejected.

At the event itself, several students (including myself) silently stood up during Gold’s speech, wearing sheets of paper with the names of Gazan and Israeli citizens killed in the conflict. The idea was to ask the forum participants to face the reality of what they were discussing, to point out that the outcome of this discussion would be measured in real lives, not political points. Gold vociferously denounced us from the stage, whining that his freedom of speech (as the representative of a nuclear state) was threatened by a dozen silent teenagers. Although none of the protesters were arrested, several were physically assaulted by members of the crowd: they were kicked, had their hair pulled, and had chairs thrust into the backs of their knees.

Michael Oren’s selection as commencement speaker is clearly designed to send a message: at a unique turning point in U.S.-Israeli relations, and when strong feelings on this issue have already been voiced on campus, our university administration wants everyone to know that is has no qualms about marginalizing dissenting opinions by bringing a partisan, divisive speaker to commencement. My good friend Mariel Gruszko (a graduating senior) expresses this aptly:

“For some Jews, Oren is a model of statesmanship. For others, he represents a paranoid style in Israeli politics. For most outside the Jewish community, Oren is a figure of little note. For Palestinians, he is the apologist and gatekeeper for a government that has denied them basic rights and humanitarian assistance and made them vulnerable to deportation. Oren is a painful reminder of the divisions we face as a community.

“We deserve better than this. Commencement should be a time to celebrate as we move onto the next phase of our lives, not a time for recriminations and ostracizations. Commencement speakers traditionally give graduating students boring but sage advice on how to conduct oneself in the world. But many of us would rather not take advice from Oren. Many more of us are confused about how Oren fits into Brandeis’ commitment to social justice.”

Despite the heat we dissenters are already getting from those who would enforce the status quo, don’t imagine that Brandeis students will take this lying down. We are organizing to protest this decision. Details on how this campaign is going and how you can help will be forthcoming.

Jonathan Sussman is a junior at Brandeis majoring in English Literature and History of Ideas. He is active in Students for a Democratic Society, Students for Justice in Palestine, Brandeis Humanists and Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance.

April 24, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | 2 Comments

US to maintain tactical nukes in Europe

Press TV – April 24, 2010

The US says it will keep its nuclear arms in Europe, arguing that any cut in the arsenal would require Russia to take a similar step.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ruled out a withdrawal of its 200 tactical weapons stationed in several European countries, saying Washington is going to be committed to its military alliance in the continent.

“As long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance,” Clinton said in remarks prepared for delivery to NATO foreign ministers, according to a Washington Post report on Thursday.

“As a nuclear alliance, sharing nuclear risks and responsibilities is fundamental,” she said in remarks released by the State Department.

Clinton said that any reduction should be tied to a negotiated nuclear withdrawal by Russia. Moscow, however, says it will not pull out its tactical arms unless Washington removes its bombs from Europe.

Moscow and Washington signed a treaty earlier this month which requires a reduction in their nuclear arsenals by about one-third. The treaty, however, is not observed by any international organization.

The US and Russia currently possess 95-percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.

April 24, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News, Militarism | 3 Comments

Earth Day in Israel: Apartheid Showing Through the Greenwash

By Stephanie Westbrook | April 24, 2010

On April 22, as part of the global Earth Day celebrations, homes, offices and public buildings in 14 Israeli cities turned out the lights for one hour in an effort to “increase awareness of the vital need to reduce energy consumption.” The Earth Day celebrations included scenes of green fields, wind generators and rainbows projected on the walls of the Old City in Jerusalem, the Green Globes Award ceremony recognizing “outstanding contributions to promote the environment” and a concert in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv powered by generators running on vegetable oil as well as volunteers on 48 bikes pedaling away to produce electricity.

The irony was not lost on the 1.5 million residents of Gaza who have been living with daily power outages lasting hours on end for nearly three years due to the Israeli siege on the coastal territory. The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) reports that over 100 million liters of fuel were allowed into Gaza in 2009, however as Gisha points out, that amounts to only 57% of the need. As summer approaches bringing peak demands, spare parts and tools for turbine repair are in dire need. There are currently over 50 truckloads of electrical equipment awaiting approval by the Israeli authorities for entry to Gaza.

The constant power outages have led many families in Gaza to rely on low quality generators running on low quality fuels, both brought in through the tunnels from Egypt, causing a sharp increase in accidents resulting in injury and death. According to the UN agency OCHA, in the first three months of 2010, 17 people died in generator related accidents, including fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

The mayor of the central Israeli city of Ra’anana, of which 48% is reserved for city parks, vowed to plant thousands of trees as part of the city’s sustainable agenda. Palestinian farmers from the West Bank village of Qaryut near Nablus had their own tree planting ceremony in honor of Earth Day, only to find the 250 olive tree saplings uprooted by Israeli settlers from Givat Hayovel. Another 300 were uprooted during the night of April 13 outside the Palestinian village of Mihmas by settlers from the nearby Migron outpost. The Palestinian Land Research Center estimates that over 12000 olive trees were uprooted throughout the West Bank in 2009, with Israeli authorities responsible for about 60%, clearing the land for settlements and construction of the wall, and Israeli settlers the rest.

Earth Day in Gaza brought armor plated bulldozers escorted by Israeli tanks that proceeded to rip through fields of winter wheat, rye and lentils at Al Faraheen near Khan Younis in the Israeli imposed buffer zone, destroying the livelihood of a Palestinian family because, as Max Ajl, who filmed the entire shameful episode, explained, “they could.” (http://www.maxajl.com/?p=3482).

But that’s not all that was being dug up in Gaza. The UN Mine Action Service uncovered and removed 345 unexploded ordnance, including 60 white phosphorus shells, left over from the Israeli assault on Gaza. Approximately half were found under the rubble of destroyed buildings.

As the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection was launching its “Clean Coast 2010” program for Earth Day, somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 million liters of raw or partially treated sewage was being pumped into the Mediterranean sea from Gaza’s overworked, under funded and seldom repaired sewage treatment plant. Damage from Israeli air strikes and lack of electric power and spare parts due to the siege make it impossible for the plant to meet the demands of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents, with the daily overflow creating serious health hazards.

In addition to the Green Globe awards, the Ministry of Environmental Protection had it’s own award ceremony last month recognizing Israeli Defense Force units, soldiers and commanders who “exhibited excellence in protecting the environment, environmental resources and the landscape.” The theme for this year’s annual competition was water and included projects related to the “protection of water sources” and “water savings.”

For Palestinians living in the West Bank, this “protection of water sources” was documented in Amnesty International’s October 2009 report Troubled Water: “The Israeli army’s destruction of Palestinian water facilities – rainwater harvesting and storage cisterns, agricultural pools and spring canals – on the grounds that they were constructed without permits from the army is often accompanied by other measures that aim to restrict or eliminate the presence of Palestinians from specific areas of the West Bank.”

The Amnesty International report also notes that for decades, Israeli settlers have instead “been given virtually unlimited access to water supplies to develop and irrigate the large farms which help to support unlawful Israeli settlements.” And nowhere is this more evident than the Jordan Valley where 95% of the area is occupied by Israeli settlements, plantations and military bases and where “Israeli water extraction inside the West Bank is highest.”

One such company helping to sustain the illegal settlement economy is Carmel Agrexco, Israel’s largest fresh produce exporter. By its own admission the company, which is half owned by the State of Israel, exports 70% of the produce grown in the West Bank settlements. Europe is by far its biggest market, though its produce arrives as far as North America and the Far East. Agrexco promotes itself as a green company, with a focus eco-friendly packaging and organic produce, though one could argue that transporting organic bell peppers from Israel to the US is hardly ecological. Even the self-proclaimed “green ships” used to bring fresh produce to Europe are named Bio-Top and EcoFresh. ”

But there is nothing green about occupation and colonization, nothing ecological in violating human rights and dignity. And that’s why an international coalition supporting the Palestinian call for boycotts of Israeli products has set its sights on removing Carmel Agrexco produce from supermarkets – and ports – across Europe.

The original Earth Day was about grassroots mobilization, public protest for change and political awareness of the issues. In Israel’s Earth Day celebrations, its Apartheid system is showing through the greenwash.

(For more information on the boycott campaigns targeting Carmel Agrexco in Europe, see: UK: http://www.bigcampaign.org – Italy: http://www.stopagrexcoitalia.org – France:  http://www.coalitioncontreagrexco.com)

– Stephanie Westbrook is a U.S. citizen who has been living in Rome, Italy since 1991. She is active in the peace and social justice movements in Italy and traveled to Gaza in June 2009. Contact her at: steph@webfabbrica.com.

April 24, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News, Deception, Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | Comments Off on Earth Day in Israel: Apartheid Showing Through the Greenwash

Algerian pilot falsely charged for role in 9/11 exonerated after ‘nine years of hell’

Karen McVeigh and Paul Lewis | guardian.co.uk | 23 April 2010

Lotfi Raissi

Lotfi Raissi outside the high court in 2008. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

The pilot falsely accused of training the hijackers responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks has won his almost decade-long miscarriage of justice battle.

Lotfi Raissi, an Algerian living in Britain who lost his career as an airline pilot, suffered wrongful imprisonment and damage to his health, will now be eligible for up to £2m compensation.

Raissi became the first person to be accused of participating in the 2001 attack in New York and Washington. He was held for five months in Belmarsh high security prison in London and told he would be charged with conspiracy and murder in the US where he could face the death penalty.

Today he described the last nine years as “hell” but said he was delighted with the decision by Jack Straw, the justice secretary. “I have suffered such a great injustice, I’m grateful for this verdict. They took almost 10 years of my life and now I’m starting to breathe again.”

He added: “I’ve been exonerated, not just by a court, but by the British government. Now I can turn the page, but I can never forgive them for what they did.”

Raissi’s solicitor, Jules Carey, said: “The ministry of justice has formally notified me that the justice secretary has found that Mr Raissi is ‘completely exonerated’ of the allegations of terrorism. The allegations of terrorism were utterly ruinous to him both personally and professionally.”

Carey said the decision to compensate Raissi on the grounds of “exoneration” rather than “serious default” by a public authority was “extremely unfortunate” as it meant that mistakes made by the CPS and the Metropolitan police in the case, identified by the court of appeal in 2008, would now not be investigated.

James Welch, legal director at human rights charity Liberty, said: “The shabby treatment of this innocent man is a chilling reminder of why we all need the protection of the courts.”

Raissi’s arrest, at his home in Colnbrook, Berkshire, 10 days after the 9/11 attacks, followed an extradition request from the FBI. In court, where he awaited extradition to the US on a holding charge, he was described by British lawyers representing the US as one of the lead instructors of the four hijackers.

A judge threw the case out in 2002 and said there was no evidence against him. Since then, Raissi has sought an apology. In 2008, in a judgment that exonerated him, three court of appeal judges condemned the Met and the CPS for abusing the court process, presenting false allegations and not disclosing evidence.

Today, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “After careful consideration of all the relevant material available to him, the justice secretary, Jack Straw, has notified Mr Raissi that he is eligible for compensation.”

April 24, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News, Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism | 5 Comments