When Barack Obama said last week, “I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace,” the president either revealed himself to be a much bigger fool than he is generally regarded, or, thought he must be addressing fools if he imagined his declaration would be taken seriously, or and most likely, assumed everyone reporting his words would know they were horse shit yet no one would be so rude as to point out the fact.
When Netanyahu in 2001 said, “America is a thing you can move very easily,” he was speaking the plain truth that every Israeli leader knows and every American president is ashamed to admit.
Liel Leibovitz at Tablet Magazine reports:
A newly revealed tape of Netanyahu in 2001, being interviewed while he thinks the cameras are off, shows him in a radically different light [from the way he recently presented himself at the White House]. In it, Netanyahu dismisses American foreign policy as easy to maneuver, boasts of having derailed the Oslo accords with political trickery, and suggests that the only way to deal with the Palestinians is to “beat them up, not once but repeatedly, beat them up so it hurts so badly, until it’s unbearable” (all translations are mine).
According to Haaretz’s Gideon Levy, the video should be “Banned for viewing by children so as not to corrupt them, and distributed around the country and the world so that everyone will know who leads the government of Israel.”
Netanyahu is speaking to a small group of terror victims in the West Bank settlement of Ofra two years after stepping down as prime minister in 1999. He appears laid-back. After claiming that the only way to deal with the Palestinian Authority was a large-scale attack, Netanyahu was asked by one of the participants whether or not the United States would let such an attack come to fruition.
“I know what America is,” Netanyahu replied. “America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in their way.” He then called former president Bill Clinton “radically pro-Palestinian,” and went on to belittle the Oslo peace accords as vulnerable to manipulation. Since the accords state that Israel would be allowed to hang on to pre-defined military zones in the West Bank, Netanyahu told his hosts that he could torpedo the accords by defining vast swaths of land as just that.
“They asked me before the election if I’d honor [the Oslo accords],” Netanyahu said. “I said I would, but … I’m going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the ’67 borders. How did we do it? Nobody said what defined military zones were. Defined military zones are security zones; as far as I’m concerned, the entire Jordan Valley is a defined military zone. Go argue.”
Bethlehem: Palestinian MK Ahmad Tibi confirmed reports that the Israeli cabinet is set to pass a law requiring Arab residents to swear allegiance to a Jewish State.
The law would be one of a series of measures poised to be voted into law on Sunday by the Israeli cabinet, all of which would make it more difficult for Palestinians to be granted permanent residency or citizenship in Israel.
The already stringent and discriminatory laws governing citizenship and residency in Israel and Israeli-controlled areas make obtaining residency status via marriage or family reunification a long and often unsuccessful process.
On Sunday, Tibi explained, the series of laws will be presented by Israeli Ministers of Justice and the Interior Ya’akov Ne’eman and Eli Yishai, adding that he expects all of the laws to go forward.
“We must urgently confront these measures,” Tibi said, calling it a move that targets the core of Palestinians inside Israel, and called on rights organizations to intervene to prevent the laws from being passed.
Already, Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel Adalah, protested the proposed wording of the loyalty declaration. In a written statement, the group opposed the wording of the declaration of allegiance, which Tibi said would include the phrase “I affirm that I will be a loyal citizen to the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”
In a statement, Adalah said it was concerned because the wording “requires all non-Jews to identify with Zionism and imposes a political ideology and loyalty to the principles of Judaism and Zionism.”
Tibi said that the initiative was a reflection of the general atmosphere in the Knesset, “which represents the most extremist governmental coalition since the establishment of Israel,” noting that given the makeup of the government, leaders would “ not find any obstacle in passing the decision.”
As it stands, Tibi explained, applicants can be granted citizenship or identity cards through an oath that does not mention Judaism. He called the change an affront to democracy.
Three relatives also wounded in shelling on Gaza border, as family say no rockets were heard being fired before attack
Nasser Abu Said outside the shrapnel-riddled home where his wife, Ne’ema, was killed by Israeli artillery
A mother of five was killed by Israeli artillery fire when she went to fetch her two-year-old son from outside her village home close to the “buffer zone” created by Israel along its border with Gaza.
Three of her relatives were wounded in the shelling earlier this week, but Red Crescent ambulances were not permitted to reach the family for several hours.
According to the woman’s husband, Nasser Abu Said, 37, the attack began without warning at about 8.30pm on Tuesday with two shells being fired as the family of 17 sat outside their house in the village of Johar a-Deek. Apart from Nasser and his 65-year-old father, the entire group was women and children.
“It was completely quiet, there were no rockets being fired or we wouldn’t have been sitting outside,” he said, referring to Qassam missiles launched by militants into Israel.
His sister and his brother’s wife were injured by shrapnel. The family moved indoors and called an ambulance. “About 10 minutes later the ambulance called back to say the Israelis had refused them permission to come to the house,” said Nasser.
His wife Ne’ema, 33, soon realised their youngest son, Jaber, was not among the children she was attempting to calm down, and was probably asleep on a mattress outside that he often shared with his grandfather.
As she went to fetch the toddler, another shell landed. “I called to my wife three times,” said Nasser, who realised his father had also been badly injured in his leg and stomach. “I could hear small noises coming from her. I knew she was dying.”
Via Palestinian co-ordinators, the IDF told the family that anyone going outside the house would be shot dead. Nasser began to tend to his injured father, knowing he could not reach his dying wife.
“I was holding myself in, especially in front of the children,” he said. The children were crying hysterically and some had wet themselves, he added.
After two hours, an ambulance was allowed to reach the family. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), which investigated the incident, said Ne’ema and her wounded relatives were taken to al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah, where it was confirmed she had died from shrapnel wounds.
The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) said it had identified a number of suspects close to the border. “An IDF force fired at the suspects and identified hitting them,” it said. The incident was being investigated, it added, but declined to say why ambulances had not been allowed to reach the family.
Since the three-week war in Gaza that began in December 2008, the IDF has continued to fire on Palestinians it suspects of launching rockets at Israeli civilians or attempting to attack Israeli forces. It created a 300m-wide buffer zone on Palestinian farmland adjacent to the border with Israel and warned it would shoot anyone seen within the forbidden area.
The Abu Saids say their land is not used by militants to fire rockets as it is open ground in full view of an Israeli watchtower at the border 400m away.
In the first five months of this year, 22 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the buffer zone, according to the PCHR. The IDF says one soldier and a Thai farmworker were killed and two soldiers lightly wounded in militant attacks in the first half of this year.
Palestinians have been unable to harvest their crops in the zone, which has swallowed about 30% of Gaza’s arable farmland. The Abu Said family have lived in the area for 40 years, but have had to abandon the part of their land inside the zone. “Everyone is afraid to come to this house,” said Nasser.
The house, isolated down a rutted track, was riddled with shrapnel damage from Tuesday’s shelling, and dried blood still lay in the sand where Ne’ema had been killed.
The PCHR condemned the shelling which, it said, “constitutes the highest degree of disregard for Palestinian civilians’ lives”. This was not an isolated incident but “part of a series of continuous crimes committed by the [Israeli military]”.
Qalqiliya: A father of five from Azzun Atma village in the northern West Bank was told by Israeli soldiers manning the single civilian crossing into the area that on Tuesday, 50kgs of flour was too much and he could not bring it home.
Hassen Mahmoud Qadus was also told to leave two kilograms of meat, purchased for his family, at the checkpoint to rot. The quantity of meat, a soldier told him, was above what was permitted for personal consumption.
“There are such regulations in place,” a representative for the Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories told Ma’an on Wednesday, explaining that if residents of the Qalqiliya-area village want to bring goods into their village to sell, they must get a permit, bring them in via a crossing linking the village with Israel, and pay taxes on the goods.
Azzun Atma, with a population of 1,670, is trapped on the west side of Israel’s separation wall, but residents are prohibited from accessing Israel. Road barriers were constructed to the south of the village, and the illegal Israeli settlements to the east – Sha’are Tiqwa – and to the west – Oranit – constructed perimeter fences blocking movement from all access points except the Azzun Atma checkpoint pierced into the separation wall to the north of the village.
“You will have to ask the army,” the COGAT representative told Ma’an, when asked about the decision to prevent Qadus from bringing home the quantities of flour and meat.
When distributing aid to Palestinian refugees, who make up 4% of the residents in Azzun Atma, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East distributes 50-kilogram bags of flour, five kilograms of rice, five kilograms of sugar, two liters of cooking oil, one kilogram of powdered milk and five kilograms of lentils. The quantities are distributed to families every three months for personal consumption.
An Israeli military source explained that the decision to deny Qadus permission to bring in the food “could have been the independent decision of a soldier based on the situation,” but directed the question to the military’s Central Command.
On Thursday, a second source said the matter was “more complicated” than it appeared, and came back with “no comment” on the situation of Qadus.
Asked if the military could provide the guidelines set out for villagers delineating amounts of goods for personal consumption versus for commercial use, the military took 24-hours to return with an official statement of “no comment.”
Speaking with Ma’an’s reporter in the village, residents of Azzun Attma appealed for international intervention, asking that they be permitted to move freely in and out of their village and to transport food supplies from the city of Qalqiliya and neighboring towns back to their homes without harassment.
On 12 January 2010 my father Ibrahim was arrested by the Israeli army and sentenced to two years in prison for organizing and participating in nonviolent protests against the Israel’s wall in the occupied West Bank. The wall cuts us off from our land and our olive groves, robbing our family of its livelihood.
To date there have already been 15 court hearings. We feel the Israeli occupation bureaucracy is deliberately delaying court proceedings. This creates an additional layer of punishment for my father and for his family. At each hearing, he must wait from 6am to 2pm in a hot room without food or water. Once each hearing begins he is tired, hungry and thirsty.
My father has been charged with the following offenses:
Being present in a declared military zone. The “military zone” is actually our olive groves, which Israel declared a military zone, once they started building the wall. The continued construction of the wall is a clear violation of the July 2004 International Court of Justice ruling declaring it illegal under international law.
Organizing illegal and violent demonstrations. My father is a strong opponent to violence and in fact has discouraged others from reacting violently whenever we have been attacked by the Israeli military.
Incitement to throw stones and use other means of violence. The Israeli authorities claim that my father paid money to demonstrators to throw stones at soldiers, their jeeps and the wall. This charge is completely absurd. After my father first got involved with the nonviolent protests in 2008, the Israeli authorities revoked his work permit. Since then he has been unemployed and struggles to put enough food on the table for my six siblings, our mother and myself. To claim that he was paying others to throw stones or cause damage to the wall mocks the terrible daily reality our life and the lives of other Palestinians living under occupation.
All of these charges are based on the forced confessions of two young men from Nilin, one of them mentally ill.
Mostly, my father is worried about us, his family. Not only because it is even harder now, without him, to cover our bare necessities, but also because our family is being intimidated regularly by the Israeli military. They have raided our house already 25 times in the middle of the night, eight times after my father was arrested. Sometimes they just come to harass, mock and threaten us. Other times they come with dogs, unleash them inside the house, rummage through the house and cause a great deal of damage. Due to the repeated abuse we have endured, both of my five-year-old twin brothers are terrified and suffer from nightmares.
My father wishes for nothing but peace and freedom and he believes that a lasting peace can only be reached with peaceful methods. In his opinion, violence will only add to the hatred and confusion and further worsen the situation of Palestinians living under occupation. This is why he taught us not to consider violence a solution in our struggle to restore our rights.
However, he does believe that it is our duty to protest a terrible wrong that destroys the very existence of the inhabitants of Nilin village. Hence, when Israel started marking the course of the wall that led straight through our olive groves in May 2008 stealing a third of the village’s land, the inhabitants came together and formed the Nilin Popular Committee Against The Wall. The Popular Committee nonviolently resists the construction of the wall.
The Popular Committee chose my father to be part of the leadership as well as its official representative, because they want the world to see the truth about us: we are peaceful people who reject violence and we do not intend to harm anybody. We believe in freedom, peace and justice for every human being on earth and we dream to spread it from Nilin throughout the entire world.
We started with our protests on 27 May 2008, walking toward the bulldozers that were uprooting our olive trees. We walked with our hands raised, so that the Israeli soldiers could see that we were unarmed. Initially, our protests were successful and we managed to delay the construction. Soon Israeli forces started to shoot sound bombs, tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and even live ammunition to disperse our peaceful demonstrations.
Since the protests started, five persons have been killed by Israeli soldiers, including a 10-year-old child, Ahmed Moussa, and more than 500 individuals have been detained. We have endured curfews, destruction of our property, snipers shooting demonstrators in their legs from the roofs of houses in Nilin. All of these acts of repression are intended to to discourage villagers from participating in the nonviolent protests. My 12-year-old sister Sammer has been shot in her hand with live ammunition simply for participating in the protests. My 10-year-old sister Rajaa was hit in her leg by a sound bomb when she tried to prevent snipers from climbing on our rooftop to shoot at other villagers.
Nilin, our village, our home, is being turned into an open-air prison. The current entrance to the village will be closed, and will be replaced by a tunnel that will be built under Route 446 — a road which only Jewish settlers are allowed to use. The tunnel will not only divide Nilin into two parts. It will also give the Israeli military the power to decide when and if they will open or close the gate, and therefore cut us all off from the outside world.
On Monday 12 July, my father appeared in court again. The Ofer Military Court sentenced my father to 11 months and 15 days in prison and a fine of 9,000 shekels ($2,330) with a prohibition from joining future protests. To avoid staying in prison my father pleaded guilty, otherwise he would stay in jail longer and the authorities would continue to postpone the hearing. We have been given two months to pay the 9000 shekels, but have no means to pay this amount. If we do not pay the fine then my father’s sentence will increase to 20 months and 15 days.
Together with my father, two more members of the Popular Committee, Hassan Mousa and Zaydoon Srour, each received the same sentence as my father. Their families are undergoing the same ordeal that we are.
We always try to be strong in the face of the oppressor. However, when they read the sentences, my mother started crying. We had to watch as my father, Hassan and Zaydoon and left the court room in shackles. When my father was asked if he wanted to say something, he stated that this ruling is against humanity and that we all suffer from the occupation and can’t do anything about it.
We are all very upset and worried about my father. He is sick and he doesn’t even get the medication he needs while in jail. We are also very sad, because only my mother can visit him in jail, and only after he had been in prison for four months. Still, my father maintains that nonviolent protests are the only solution. Please show your support for Ibrahim Amireh and your objection to his illegal imprisonment; for more information join the Facebook group “Support My Father: Peace & Freedom Activist Ibrahim Amireh.”
Saeed Amireh is from the occupied West Bank village of Nilin.
Dear Tony Blair,
I think even you would admit your appointment, in 2007, as Special Envoy to the Middle East Quartet was not met with unfettered joy in occupied Palestine. In fact, to be quite honest, the announcement was greeted with a mixture of dismay, derision and not a little anger.
It’s not too difficult to imagine the reasons. After all, you had been Prime Minister of a country which is seen as a right-or-wrong supporter of Israel. You are an avowed ‘Friend of Israel’. And, the party you once led receives large donations from well-known Zionists.
Probably even more damning though is that you danced to George W Bush’s tune and enlisted your country in the disastrous invasion of Iraq – widely seen by many in the Middle East as an Israeli war waged by the West. Yet another reminder to Palestinians, if one were needed, that Western policy in the region seems permanently set to favour Israel.
But appointed you were, and some Palestinians may have even been pleasantly surprised when you were said to be shocked by the level of discrimination you had witnessed in the West Bank. It is this issue and a recent visit to Palestine which has prompted this letter to you.
In March of 2009 you visited At-Tuwani, a small West Bank community in the South Hebron Hills. Under the Oslo Accords of 1993, At-Tuwani, like many other rural Palestinian communities, found itself in that part of the West Bank which was designated as Area C. (Sixty per cent of the West Bank is classed as Area C which means it is under full Israeli civil and military control.)
As you know, life for Palestinians in Area C is particularly difficult. Firstly, in most instances the Israeli government refuses to grant building permission to Palestinians living in places like At-Tuwani and any structure built after 1967 is considered to be built illegally. Consequently they face the threat of the demolition of their homes, mosques, schools, clinics and wells. They are not even allowed to build infrastructure for mains electricity and water supplies.
Secondly, many communities in Area C are subject to attacks by violent Jewish settlers who, incidentally, do not have problems regarding building permits, despite the fact that under international law they are considered to be there illegally.
At-Tuwani is particularly troubled in this respect. Over a period of several years settlers from the nearby settlement of Ma’on and its outpost Havat Ma’on (illegal even under Israeli law) have, amongst other things, poisoned water sources, killed livestock, destroyed crops and, worst of all, attacked Palestinian children as they make their way to and from school. The situation in the village is so bad that international peace activists from the Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove have a permanent presence there to protect Palestinians. I understand that you were briefed in detail about these attacks.
You acknowledged the problems faced by villages such as At-Tuwani and told the press that: “The reason for coming here today is to draw attention to the fact that without a new and different system applying in Area C, it is very hard for Palestinians to enjoy the standard of living they should be able to enjoy and develop their land as they should be able to develop it.”
You also learned that, aside from violent settlers, one of the biggest obstacles in the way of an improved standard of living is the lack of an adequate electricity supply. A diesel-powered generator only operates for 4 to 5 hours per day. A mains supply, just like the one enjoyed by the settlers who attack them, would make an enormous difference to their lives. Children would be able to do their homework in the evenings, fridges would become useful, the few streetlights would work.
But as Saber Hreini, At-Tuwani’s mayor, pointed out, the provision of mains electricity would involve the building of permanent structures on village land. Permits would be needed but would not be forthcoming from the Israeli military.
In trying to be fair to you, I imagine that you were moved by At-Tuwani’s plight and wanted to make a difference. Presumably that is why you later told Mr Hereini that you had received an assurance, unwritten, from the Israelis that the construction of the necessary infrastructure would be permitted.
On the basis of this assurance, shortly after your visit work started. Two rows of pylons began to spring up. One, starting in the centre of the village, would meet the other, snaking south from the nearby Palestinian town of Yatta, by Route 317 – a modern road built to allow settlers easy access to Jerusalem and Israel.
But on May 25th 2009 the Israeli military ordered a halt to the work. No written orders were presented at that time. The following day Mr Hreini wrote to you saying, “We hope that in your role as envoy to the Quartet, you can be of assistance to us in contacting the Israeli Government with the hopes of procuring written permission for these projects. We fear that without written permission our problems will continue.” He did not receive a reply.
Work continued, but on July 28th written orders for the demolition of the pylons were issued by the military. The orders were once again ignored. But, just as the project was nearing completion, on October 30th Israeli soldiers entered the village and forcibly stopped the work, confiscating materials and tools in the process. Then, on November 25th soldiers and border police arrived and, despite protests from villagers and their international supporters, the area was declared a closed military zone. The two pylons nearest to Route 317 were demolished. There would be no mains electricity for At-Tuwani.
A few weeks ago I visited At-Tuwani and saw for myself where the pylons used to be. I also saw power cables hanging uselessly waiting to be connected. I spoke to people from the village. They were angry with the Israeli authorities, of course; but also with you, Tony, angry that you had made a promise you could not keep.
During your visit of March 2009 you were asked what you would do about the situation there. “It’s got to be stopped, hasn’t it? This is what should happen. But it needs to be done in a systematic way so that the whole way the area is looked at and administered is changed to make it fair.”
But I am afraid, Tony, that your analysis of the situation is flawed. It is the continuing Israeli occupation of Palestine which allows these things to happen. The occupation is not fair and never will be. It is not meant to be fair and no amount of tinkering with a system designed to oppress can make it so. For Palestinians currently living under occupation the only way they will be able “to enjoy the standard of living they should enjoy and be able to develop their land as they should be able to develop it” is for the occupation to be brought to an end.
One final point. The people of At-Tuwani and members of the Christian Peacemaker Team have tried to contact you since the work to provide electricity was stopped. They have not been successful. Can I urge you to respond?
Former Foreign Secretary David Miliband lied six times during BBC interview
All five candidates for the Labour Party leadership have been scuttling to distance themselves from the record of Gordon Brown in power.
But the odds-on favourite to win the leadership contest, former Foreign Secretary David Miliband, is finding it very hard indeed to disentangle himself from the most sordid and shameful aspect of New Labour rule – British involvement in the torture of numerous terror suspects overseas.
Today, a special Mail investigation can reveal the depths of Miliband’s embroilment in the torture scandal – and shows that Labour’s latest golden boy is in complete denial about New Labour’s record in sanctioning and then covering up British involvement in torture over the past decade.
Indeed, I can reveal that David Miliband uttered no fewer than six massive lies when grilled in an interview with BBC inquisitor Andrew Neil on the subject of torture for the first time since stepping down from office.
The six lies came in the course of a nine-minute interview – that’s a phenomenal strike rate of one lie every 90 seconds.
Though outwardly confident and relaxed, Miliband told a series of falsehoods that cast a giant shadow over his personal integrity, and even his fitness to succeed Gordon Brown as Labour leader.
Lie number 1: The first lie was quickly produced when Neil asked whether Miliband believed there was ‘any evidence’ that British intelligence officials had been complicit in the use of torture on terror suspects when New Labour was in power.
Back came the insouciant reply: an emphatic ‘no’.
Yet Miliband’s response is bewildering. It suggests that he is completely unaware of the mountain of very troubling testimony which has emerged in recent years suggesting that Britain was ‘complicit’ in torture (i.e. that we received information from foreign intelligence services, even though we had grounds for suspecting it was supplied under duress: nobody suggests that British agents themselves took part in torture).
The grim truth is that there have been at least 15 cases of British nationals or residents who have claimed over the past two years to have been tortured with the complicity, knowledge and sometimes even in the presence of British intelligence officers.
The combined circumstantial evidence of our complicity with torture is nothing short of overwhelming. It is also a matter of national shame.
Some of the evidence has been provided by groups such as the humanitarian organisation Human Rights watch. Some has emerged in court testimony.
Two parliamentary watchdogs, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Joint Committee on Human Rights, regard it as troubling and serious.
But not, apparently, our former Foreign Secretary.
Lie number 2: This came when Andrew Neil asked whether Britain has, at any stage, provided questions to be put by foreign intelligence agents to those who were being tortured. Miliband replied: ‘we don’t have evidence of that.’
Unfortunately for Miliband, there is once again abundant evidence.
Indeed, he himself as Foreign Secretary was obliged to submit documents to court which showed beyond doubt that British intelligence was involved in questioning terror suspects.
This was during the hearing concerning the terror suspect Binyam Mohamed, since cleared on all charges. Miliband was obliged to confess that we were submitting questions for Binyam to answer even when he was being held (and cruelly abused) by the U.S. in a Pakistani prison.
Lie number 3: Miliband’s third lie also concerns the Binyam Mohamed case. He told Andrew Neil that not one of the allegations of torture which have so far been taken to court in Britain involved torture carried out by the Americans.
In fact, the courts have indeed found that the U.S. authorities subjected Binyam to ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment’.
By this stage of the TV interview, the lies and mis-statements were coming thick and fast.
Lie number 4: The fourth lie came when David Miliband absurdly told Neil that he had not tried to prevent public disclosure of court evidence in the Binyam Mohamed case.
In fact, as Binyam’s lawyer Clive Stafford Smith told me last night, Miliband ‘fought us tooth and nail’ to prevent vital documents being brought into the public domain.
Miliband used every legal ruse – and spent some £213,000 in legal fees – in a battle to keep vital evidence secret from the public.
Lie number 5: This concerns David Miliband’s troubled dealings with one of Britain’s most senior judges, Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger.
Last year, in an utterly devastating judgment, Lord Neuberger stated that there were grounds for ‘distrusting’ legal statements made by Miliband based on advice from MI5 personnel about British involvement in torture.
And yet when this was put to him by Andrew Neil, Miliband offered a bland and unruffled denial that such a thing had ever occurred. It is inconceivable that Miliband could have forgotten such a shattering verdict.
Lie number 6: Miliband’s final lie came when Neil asked him why, as Foreign Secretary, he did not institute an inquiry to get to the bottom of the mass of evidence that Britain has been complicit in torture.
In response, Miliband claimed that he took ‘extensive measures inside the system’ to get at the truth.
Yet he once again denied that he had ‘fought against an inquiry’ – notwithstanding the fact that he faced down a barrage of pressure from newspapers like the Mail, human rights organisations and political parties (such as the Conservatives) for one to be held.
There can be only two explanations for Miliband’s set of wildly inaccurate, partial and misleading answers. One is that he is exceptionally stupid and genuinely does not know what he is talking about.
But this does not stand up. David Miliband is a well- trained and competent man who has held high office and aspires to be Prime Minister.
As Foreign Secretary, he was obliged to deal almost daily with allegations about British complicity with torture. He knew the subject matter backwards.
So the only realistic conclusion is that Miliband was knowingly deceiving TV viewers. In other words, he was lying.
How he expected to get away with such a monumental deceit, however, is another matter. The best guess is that Miliband is in denial.
He simply cannot accept that a New Labour government was responsible for what looks like a retreat into barbarism.
To be fair to Miliband, the worst of the abuses would appear to have ended by the time he became Foreign Secretary in the summer of 2007. He was not personally responsible for the abuses – only the subsequent lying and cover-up.
So why didn’t Miliband do the decent and sensible thing and order his officials to come clean?
One answer may be a well-meaning, though morally damnable, desire to stick up for the intelligence agencies who mistakenly believed they were serving their country while tolerating the physical abuse of terror suspects.
Another possible answer is that Miliband was simply being loyal to Tony Blair, his political mentor and friend.
For almost every day we are learning new facts about how, under Blair, Britain turned her back on human decency when it came to torture and human rights.
Is Miliband about to throw away his reputation and perhaps his entire career in defence of Tony Blair?
Remember all the folks who denied that there was any meaningful Israel agenda in the push for war with Iraq? Well here are Jim Lobe and Eli Clifton at lobelog covering the rollout of the neoconservative Emergency Committee for Israel, which has been getting so much mainstream media attention:
Some things are just too good to be true.
It seems that the new Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) is based out of the same office as the old Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI), suggesting that, Yes, Virginia, the same people who led the march to war in Iraq are behind the new Emergency Committee, which, in its very brief existence to date, has attracted a lot of mostly critical attention in the blogosphere.
The link, Clifton shows, is to Randy Scheunemann, the man who schooled Sarah Palin in pro-Israel foreign policy as she was being rolled out two years ago. When will this network be exposed by the mainstream media? Before an attack on Iran, I pray.
NAZARETH // The Israeli government is facing legal action for contempt over its refusal to implement a Supreme Court ruling that it end a policy of awarding preferential budgets to Jewish communities, including settlements, rather than much poorer Palestinian Arab towns and villages inside Israel.
The contempt case on behalf of Israel’s Palestinian minority comes in the wake of growing criticism of the government for ignoring court decisions it does not like – a trend that has been noted by the Supreme Court justices themselves.
Yehudit Karp, a former deputy attorney general, compiled a list of 12 recent court rulings the government has refused to implement, but legal groups believe there are more examples. Many of the disregarded judgements confer benefits on Palestinians, either in the occupied territories or inside Israel, or penalise the settlers.
Critics have accused the government of violating the rule of law and warned that the defiance has been possible chiefly because right-wing politicians and religious groups have severely eroded the Supreme Court’s authority over the past few years.
Senior members of the current right-wing government of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, including the justice minister, Yaakov Neeman, have repeatedly criticised the court for what they call its “judicial activism”, or interference in matters they believe should be decided by the parliament alone.
Legal experts, however, warn that, because Israel lacks a constitution, the court is the only bulwark against a tyrannical Jewish majority abusing the rights of the country’s 1.3 million Palestinian citizens, as well as 4 million Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.
Ilan Saban, a law professor at Haifa University, said: “Unlike most – if not all – other democracies, Israel lacks a political culture that respects limits on the power of the majority.”
Even the protections offered by Israel’s basic laws, he said, were not deeply entrenched and could easily be re-legislated. The lack of both a formal constitution and a tradition of political tolerance, he added, was “a dangerous cocktail”.
Israel’s liberal Haaretz newspaper went further, warning recently that, in “slandering the judiciary”, government officials had provoked a crisis that could “lead to the destruction of Israeli democracy”.
The country’s highest court is due to rule in the coming weeks on whether the government is in contempt of a ruling the court made four years ago to end a discriminatory scheme, known as the National Priority Areas (NPA), that provides extra education funding to eligible communities.
The High Follow-Up Committee, an umbrella political body representing Israel’s large Palestinian minority, launched the case because only four small Palestinian villages were classified in NPAs, against some 550 Jewish communities. The scheme, introduced in 1998, is believed to have deprived Palestinian citizens, a fifth of the population, of millions of dollars.
Although the court ruled in February 2006 that the scheme must be scrapped, the government had issued a series of extensions until at least 2012.
Sawsan Zaher, a lawyer with Adalah, a legal centre that launched the contempt petition, said: “This case has become a symbol of how the government refuses to implement decisions it does not like, especially ones relating to constitutional protection and minority rights.”
However, she said that punishing the state for its actions would not be easy. “After all, the court is not going to jail the government. The best we can hope for is a fine.”
The NPA case is only one of several that have highlighted a growing trend of law-breaking by the government.
Ms Zaher said Adalah had at least half a dozen other cases in which it was considering contempt actions. Most referred either to the treatment of Bedouin villages in the Negev the state refuses to recognise and to which it denies services, or to the failure to allocate equal resources to Arab schools.
The Association of Civil Rights in Israel, the country’s largest legal rights group, in its most recent annual report, listed several examples of Supreme Court orders to dismantle sections of the separation barrier built on Palestinian land in the West Bank that have been disregarded.
In one hearing, in October 2009, Dorit Beinisch, president of the Supreme Court, accused the government of taking “the law into its own hands” and treating her rulings as “mere recommendations”.
She had been angered by the fact that an order to remove the barrier around the Palestinian village of Azzoun, near Qalqilya, had been ignored for three years. The judges had learnt that the hidden reason for building the barrier had been to help expand the neighbouring settlement of Tzufim.
Late last year, the justice minister, Yaakov Neeman, warned that he was considering legislation that would allow the parliament to bypass the Supreme Court, even in cases where the judges have struck down a law on the grounds that it contravenes a basic law.
The government’s flouting of these rulings has been possible because of growing public disenchantment with the courts, observers have said.
Ruling Allows CIA to Conceal Evidence of Its Own Illegal Conduct, Says ACLU
NEW YORK: A federal judge today ruled that the government can withhold information from the public about intelligence sources and methods, even if those sources and methods were illegal. The ruling came in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation filed by the American Civil Liberties Union for Justice Department memos that authorized torture, and for records relating to the contents of destroyed videotapes depicting the brutal interrogation of detainees at CIA black sites.
The government continues to withhold key information, such as the names of detainees who were subjected to the abusive interrogation methods as well as information about the application of the interrogation techniques. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York today ruled that the government can continue to suppress evidence of its illegal program.
The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:
“We are very dismayed by today’s ruling, which invests the CIA with sweeping authority to conceal evidence of its own illegal conduct. There is no question that the CIA has authority under the law to withhold information relating to ‘intelligence sources and methods.’ But while this authority is broad, it is not unlimited, and it certainly should not be converted into a license to suppress evidence of criminal activity. Unfortunately, that is precisely what today’s ruling threatens to do. The CIA should not be permitted to unilaterally determine whether evidence of its own criminal conduct can be hidden from the public.”
Rachel Myers (212) 549-2689 or 2666; firstname.lastname@example.org