Israeli soldiers broke into the house of Saher Al-Sous, in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem. Al-Sous is a board member of the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People, the founding organization of the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC).
At around 3:30 am, Israeli troops knocked-down the door of Al-Sous’ cousin with the rifle-butts terrorizing the children and their mother; the father was out of town for some business.
After realizing their mistake, they went to Saher’s house and woke up all the family to hand Saher a ‘warrant’ for an interview with an Israeli intelligence officer they identified as “Leor”.
Al-Sous told IMEMC that he went to the appointment at the Gush Etzion military base, near Hebron, and waited for more than one hour, without being interviewed or asked any question by any officer; he finally decided to go back home.
Al-Sous is a graduate of Bethlehem University and has been involved in the Rapprochement Centre for more than 10 years, he helps promote the center’s work and activities. He is currently working with the team preparing for the Shepherds Nights Festival around Christmas time.
This is not the first time the Israeli military harasses members of the board of the Rapprochement Center. Similar harassment targeted the chairman of the board, Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, who was also summoned to an interview with the Israeli intelligence officers and was not interviewed.
The Israeli military invaded the headquarters of the Rapprochement Centre in 2003, and confiscated all the computers and files from the offices an issue that caused a serious interruption to its work and activities.
The Rapprochement Centre was established in 1988 as a non-profit, nongovernmental organization that works to bridge the gap between Palestinians and peoples from all around the world, including Israel, informing the public about the reality in Palestine, and empowering the community through nonviolent direct action.
The center is a co-founding member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and several other advocacy and nonviolent networks in Palestine.
The controversial tribunal investigating the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri continues to refuse looking into claims Israeli had role in the crime despite mounting evidence.
“The submission made by Attorney Marwan Dalal in October does not obligate us in any way,” an official of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) told al-Akhbar Monday by telephone from The Hague.
He was referring to the memorandum which Dalal, introducing himself as “an attorney and citizen of the State of Israel,” presented to the tribunal, in which he made the case that the Israelis may have been involved in Hariri’s murder.
“Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare has employed investigative procedures that are consistent with international standards,” the official continued, “and the investigations led to the collection of sufficient evidence to charge the four individuals (Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Hussein Oneissi, and Assad Sabra) with the crime of assassinating Hariri.”
Asked whether the criminal investigations carried out by the International Independent Investigation Commission since 2005, and by the STL prosecutor’s office since 2009, had considered the mere possibility that the Israelis may have been involved in the crime, the official answered “No.”
After a pause, he added: “There was no need. The results of the investigations pointed to the four individuals and did not indicate any Israeli involvement in the crime.”
But why hasn’t the possibility of Israeli involvement been taken seriously since the start of the probe, or since the STL prosecutor’s office was established?
And professionally speaking, isn’t one supposed to avoid reaching conclusions before investigations have been completed?
The official avoided answering these two questions by reiterating that Bellemare adheres to international standards.
However, the STL did confirm that it has made no attempt to gather information from occupied Palestine about possible Israeli involvement in the 14 February 2005 car-bombing that killed Hariri.
This came in the form of a written answer provided on Monday by the STL’s official spokesman, Marten Youssef, to a question submitted by al-Akhbar.
He was asked: Given that any exchange of information between the STL and the Israelis would require an agreement between the two sides, did the STL ask Israel to sign a cooperation agreement with it, and if so, when, and with what outcome?
The reply was: “No. Israel was never approached by the STL to sign a cooperation agreement. The STL only has cooperation agreements with Lebanon and the Netherlands. ”
Youssef noted that any information about the investigators’ work – including whether or not they had visited Israel or met Israeli officials to seek information related to the Hariri assassination – would have to be provided by the prosecutor’s office.
He said he had passed on al-Akhbar’s questions in this regard. There had been no reply by press-time.
But the topic about which Bellemare is reluctant to respond was discussed at length last year by Israeli security and intelligence analyst Yossi Melman.
He wrote in the daily Haaretz on 23 November 2010: “The UN commission’s resources have been relatively limited…The potential countries that have spy agencies with the necessary technology is also limited, and includes the National Security Agency in the United States, British, and French intelligence, and undoubtedly, Israeli intelligence.”
If that is the case, and seeing as the STL has officially said it has no cooperation agreement with Israel, then Melman’s report would appear to reveal that Bellemare and his team have been violating STL rules, and that Israeli officials have been violating Israeli law.
Two observations need to be made in this context:
First, Israeli intelligence would not cooperate with any foreign party, or provide it with information about monitored or intercepted communications in Lebanon, except under clear orders from the highest Israeli political authorities.
Secondly, it is – at the very least – unlikely that the motives for this ‘irregular’ cooperation can be separated from the conclusion reached by Bellemare’s investigation, namely that Hezbollah officials were involved in Hariri’s assassination.
And at most, it is not unlikely that Israeli intelligence could have collaborated with Western agencies in the hi-tech fabrication of electronic evidence for Bellemare to base his indictment on.
In August, here on Mondoweiss, I wrote an article on the failure to recognize Palestinians in public discourse.
In order to listen to a Palestinian, one must be able to hear their voice, and to give that voice consideration and legitimation. The refusal to recognize a land known as Palestine coincides with the refusal to consider the Arab people who live there – to refuse to recognize their existence, their humanity, their mortality, and their voices.
So in September, when a friend with Prometheus Radio pitched the idea for members of Philly BDS to take to the airwaves with West Philadelphia’s community radio station WPEB 88.1, the opportunity was too good to pass up. Evan “DJ Ev Daddy” Hoffman and I, Matt Graber, have been producing a radio program called ‘Radio Against Apartheid‘ on WPEB 88.1 every Wednesday at 9 PM for the past 6 weeks. We are hoping to bring voices for justice and equality throughout the Middle East to the Philadelphia community by radio and to the world via podcast. We have both been active with the Philadelphia Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Coalition for over a year, and through this work we have been fortunate to collaborate with a tremendous group of insightful and moral individuals.
Evan was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in a family which strongly valued criticism, protest, and social justice. Even in his youth, his family has been involved in a peace group in the area called the Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern (LEPOCO). Evan remembers being 8 years old and marching against the first Gulf war in Washington DC with his parents and their good Palestinian friends, Lena and her daughter, Jinan. He carried all these experiences with him through college at Temple University, where he majored in dance and continued to be an independent disc jockey. Evan has always utilized the power of creative expression, choreographing dances protesting the Iraq war (as a member of Not In Our Name), DJing at peace/justice rallies at City Hall in Philly and other locations, and learning how to connect lines of expression to create a new dialogue and use his voice! Radio Against Apartheid is another project of his which seeks to incorporate the power of creative expression into political activism.
I have only been marginally employed for the past year, after leaving the University of Pennsylvania with an incomplete masters degree in Social Work. In the summer of 2010, I spent a month living in al Azzeh refugee camp in Bethlehem. There, I experienced first hand the violence of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank. We didn’t have running water for 23 days. I was tear gassed in Bil’in, and harassed at a check point. I helped to rebuild a demolished home in al Walaja. Reflecting on these experiences, I realized that in the world which I want to build, political institutions must come to consider both my own well-being and livelihood along with that of the anonymous other, regardless of their geographic location, ethnicity, spoken language, gender, or any other identifier.
Radio Against Apartheid is our way of bringing progressive, alternative views of the Middle East to the West Philadelphia community. Though there were no shows about the Middle East on West Philadelphia’s WPEB 88.1 until we started our program, the issues facing Palestinians are not foreign to the local community. West Philadelphia is a community historically and currently facing gentrification at the hands of the University of Pennsylvania and patrolled by a militant Philadelphia police force. Just as Palestinian communities are being destroyed and Palestinians are being unjustly imprisoned, so too have communities of Philadelphia been decimated and destroyed by gentrification and urban renewal, and so too have homes been bombed and people been imprisoned for political reasons.
With programs such as Labor Justice Radio and On the Block, West Philadelphia’s WPEB 88.1 has already been dealing with critical issues facing the local community. Radio Against Apartheid continues this tradition. As the charter of the radio station states:
WPEB 88.1 FM is an independent, noncommercial community radio station dedicated to reflecting, representing, incorporating, empowering, and serving West Philadelphia communities by:
providing a channel for groups, issues, and music that have been overlooked, suppressed or misrepresented by other media.
promoting communication, education, and entertainment through programming that invites interaction between the station and the community.
providing training that facilitates creative expression and exploration of public issues with the goal of incorporating and empowering members of the community.
Our hope with Radio Against Apartheid is to be a venue in Philadelphia fostering critical analysis of America’s and Israel’s continuing militarism in the Middle East and North Africa by featuring and listening to those most directly affected by these policies. So we’ve featured artists such as Omar Offendum, Suheir Hammad, and Susan Abulhawa, and we’ve gotten firsthand accounts, insight, and analysis from reporters Joseph Dana and Jesse Rosenfeld.
In an interview broadcast heard by hundreds, if not thousands, over the radio and through podcast, Joseph Dana and Jesse Rosenfeld reflected on their experiences as journalists living in Ramallah. Rosenfeld has reported for Alternet, The Nation, and various other outlets, and was on board the second Freedom Flotilla. Dana has reported for The Nation on board the US Boat to Gaza, the Audacity of Hope, and he writes regularly for +972 Magazine. His views challenged the notion of Israel as a democratic state:
Last Summer, Israel, a Western-style democracy, decides to basically cancel freedom of speech over [the issue of boycott, divestment, and sanctions] by passing an anti-boycott law, in which myself, as an Israeli citizen, am unable to publicly state any support for the boycott, and I’m unable to publicly advocate for the boycott. So if I was to say on this program, ‘Palestinian unarmed resistance is the best form of resistance. I understand their desire to resist the occupation and I think the boycott move is the most effective form of unarmed resistance and therefore people should support it.’ If I say that, then I can be sued in Israel. The people that would bring a lawsuit against me, any Israeli, they don’t have to prove that I actually damaged them. They just have to prove that I intended to. And so this law is so corrosive and so toxic that it, first off, demonstrates how effective the boycott campaign is. Because governments don’t pass these types of laws unless they’re effective. And secondly, its taking off this mask of Israeli democracy that we’ve had for so long. I mean, we can talk about it in terms of the rights of non-Jews, but now its filtering even into the rights of Jews.
One of my favorite shows featured a conversation with Susan Abulhawa, the author of ‘Mornings in Jenin’, Karina Goulordava of the Great Book Robbery, and me. We discussed the Great Book Robbery – a project examining the systematic theft of thousands of Palestinian books during al Nakba – and the consequences of the project from the perspective of Edward Said’s Orientalism.
In a conversation filled with grim topics, Susan offered hope to the program and to our listeners:
Of course they would want to hide evidence of culture. But you can’t. Israel has succeeded to a large extent at sort of re-writing history and covering it up. But I think that the truth has a way of emerging, of finding its way to the light. And I think we’re living in a time where we’re seeing that starting to happen. This documentary, The Great Book Robbery, is one element of that. The explosion of Palestinian literature throughout the West is another manifestation of that. There are a lot of documentaries in addition to the Great Book Robbery that are emerging by very talented film-makers. And of course the growing international solidarity and the slow but sure persistent awakening of civil society across the world. This is the truth starting to come to light.
This was Susan’s second appearance on the program, after her appearance on our second show when she told the history of Palestine since 1948.
Everybody involved in the show has been gracious. Its been very humbling to connect with such amazing guests, who have been surprisingly accessible. As we just began our program, I wasn’t certain about how we could create content for the radio show. At first, we thought “Every week? That sounds like a whole lot of content to put together in a short amount of time.” But we went about e-mailing people involved in the movement for justice in Palestine, and they replied. Everybody whom we have contacted has done an amazing job of working through their extremely busy schedules to try to make time for our program.
The people with WPEB and Scribe Video, the parent organization of WPEB, have also been supportive throughout the process. After our first proposal, they were helpful in training us in the studio and then getting us on the air. With a very tight schedule of programming at WPEB, Rashaw Alston cut an hour of his programming to fit with our schedules and allow us to go on the air. And though WPEB and Scribe have received complaints, they’ve been steadfast in their support of our program. We would never have been able to do this without the support from the WPEB community.
WPEB has been running a fundraiser from the beginning of October until the end of the year in the hopes of raising $5,000. This money would go towards keeping all of our programs on the air. The media landscape in the United States is dominated by corporate media, and it is essential to maintain community and independent radio as a place for alternative viewpoints to be expressed. If you’d like to make a donation to keep all of our programming going, you can go to the Scribe website.
As exciting as the experience has been so far, what is most exciting is the potential for what the program could be. This week’s show features a new segment produced by the Palestine News Network, “News from the Occupied Territories”, which reports on this week’s arrests, home demolitions, and land seizures in the occupied West Bank. This segment is the result of a new partnership between Radio Against Apartheid and the Palestine News Network.
This effort really shows how radio can be used to bring people together. And we would love to have your comments, ideas, and contributions. As a space for people to talk about building a world based on values of justice and equality, we hope that you’ll tune in and join the conversation.
Links to our latest program, relevant news topics, and previous shows are all posted to our blog. You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast via itunes. You can reach us by e-mail at RadioAgainstApartheid@Gmail.com and on Twitter at PEB881RAA.
Rain clouds ringed the lush hillsides and poor neighborhoods cradling Caracas, Venezuela as dozens of Latin American and Caribbean heads of state trickled out of the airport and into motorcades and hotel rooms. They were gathering for the foundational summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), a new regional bloc aimed at self-determination outside the scope of Washington’s power.
Notably absent were the presidents of the US and Canada – they were not invited to participate. “It’s the death sentence for the Monroe Doctrine,” Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said of the creation of the CELAC, referring to a US policy developed in 1823 that has served as a pretext for Washington’s interventions in the region. Indeed, the CELAC has been put forth by many participating presidents as an organization to replace the US-dominated Organization of American States (OAS), empower Latin American and Caribbean unity, and create a more equal and just society on the region’s own terms.
The CELAC meeting comes a time when Washington’s presence in the region is waning. Following the nightmarish decades of the Cold War, in which Washington propped up dictators and waged wars on Latin American nations, a new era has opened up; in the past decade a wave of leftist presidents have taken office on socialist and anti-imperialist platforms.
The creation of the CELAC reflected this new reality, and is one of various recent developments aimed at unifying Latin America and the Caribbean as a progressive alternative to US domination. Other such regional blocs include the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) which has successfully resolved diplomatic crises without pressure from Washington, the Bank of the South, which is aimed at providing alternatives to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and the Bolivarian Alliance of Latin America (ALBA), which was created as an alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a deal which would have expanded the North American Free Trade Agreement throughout Latin America, but failed due to regional opposition.
The global economic crisis was on many of the leaders’ minds during the CELAC conference. “It seems it’s a terminal, structural crisis of capitalism,” Bolivian President Evo Morales said in a speech at the gathering. “I feel we’re meeting at a good moment to debate … the great unity of the countries of America, without the United States.”
The 33 nations comprising the CELAC make up some 600 million people, and together are the number one food exporter on the planet. The combined GDP of the bloc is around $6 trillion, and in a time of global economic woes, the region now has its lowest poverty rate in 20 years; the growth rate in 2010 was over 6% – more than twice that of the US. These numbers reflect the success of the region’s social programs and anti-poverty initiatives.
In an interview with Telesur, Evo Morales said the space opened by the CELAC provides a great opportunity to expand the commerce of Latin America and the Caribbean in a way that does not depend on the precarious markets of the US and Europe. In this respect he saw a central goal of the CELAC being to “implement politics of solidarity, with complementary instead of competitive commerce to resolve social problems…”
While the US is the leading trading partner for most Latin American and Caribbean countries, China is making enormous inroads as well, becoming the main trade ally of the economic powerhouses of Brazil and Chile. This shift was underlined by the fact that Chinese President Hu Jintao sent a letter of congratulations to the leaders forming the CELAC. The letter, which Chávez read out loud to the summit participants, congratulated the heads of state on creating the CELAC, and promised that Hu would work toward expanding relations with the region’s new organization.
The US, for its part, did not send a word of congratulations. Indeed, Washington’s official take on the CELAC meeting downplayed the new group’s significance and reinforced US commitment to the OAS. Commenting on the CELAC, US Department of State spokesman Mark Toner said, “There [are] many sub-regional organizations in the hemisphere, some of which we belong to. Others, such as this, we don’t. We continue, obviously, to work through the OAS as the preeminent multilateral organization speaking for the hemisphere.”
Many heads of state actually saw the CELAC meeting as the beginning of the end for the OAS in the region. This position, held most passionately by leaders from Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, was best articulated by Venezuelan President, and host of the CELAC meeting, Hugo Chávez. “As the years pass, CELAC will leave behind the old OAS,” Chávez said at the summit. “OAS is far from the spirit of our peoples and integration in Latin America. CELAC is born with a new spirit; it is a platform for people’s economic, political and social development, which is very different from OAS.” He later told reporters, “There have been many coup d’états with total support from the OAS, and it won’t be this way with the CELAC.”
However, the presidents involved in the CELAC vary widely in political ideology and foreign policy, and there were differing opinions in regards to relations with the OAS. Some saw the CELAC as something that could work alongside the OAS. As Mexican chancellor Patricia Espinosa said, the OAS and the CELAC are “complementary forces of cooperation and dialogue.”
A test of the CELAC will be how it overcomes such differences and makes concrete steps toward developing regional integration, combating poverty, upholding human rights, protecting the environment and building peace, among other goals. The final agreements of the two day meeting touched upon expanding south to south business and trade deals, combating climate change and building better social programs across the region to impact marginalized communities. In addition, the CELAC participants backed the legalization of coca leaves (widely used as a medicine and for cultural purposes in the Andes), condemned the criminalization of immigrants and migrants, and criticized the US for its embargo against Cuba.
Various presidents at the CELAC spoke of how to approach these dominant issues. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said the CELAC should “monitor and rate” the US anti-drug efforts. As long as the US continues its consumption of drugs, Ortega said, “All the money, regardless of by how much it’s multiplied, and all the blood, no matter how much is spilled” won’t end the drug trade.
Yet there are plenty of contradictions within the CELAC organization itself. The group is for democracy but includes the participation of Porfirio Lobo from Honduras, the president who replaced Manuel Zelaya in unfair elections following a 2009 military coup. The CELAC is for environmental protection, yet its largest participant, Brazil, is promoting an ecologically disastrous agricultural model of soy plantations, GMO crops and poisonous pesticides that are ruining the countryside and displacing small farmers. The group is for fairer trade networks and peace, yet various participating nations have already signed devastating trade deals with the US, and corrupt politicians at high levels of government across the region are deeply tied to the violence and profits of the transnational drug trade.
These are some of the serious challenges posed to Latin American and Caribbean unity and progress, but they do not cancel out the new bloc’s historical and political significance. The creation of the CELAC will likely prove to be a significant step toward the deepening of a struggle for independence and unity in the region, a struggle initiated nearly 200 years ago and largely led by Latin American liberator Simón Bolívar, whose legacy was regularly invoked at the CELAC conference.
In 1829, a year before his death, Bolívar famously said, “The United States appears destined by Providence to plague America with miseries in the name of Freedom.” Yet with the foundation of the CELAC under the clouds of Caracas, the march toward self-determination is still on.
Benjamin Dangl attended the CELAC conference, and is the author of Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America (AK Press, 2010).
Correo del Orinoco International | December 6th 2011
Venezuela is using public investment, foreign direct investment, public education, and the law in order to craft a sustainable solution to the rapidly growing demand for electricity that has resulted from economic growth and poverty reduction.
Through a campaign to promote energy conservation, the oil-producing South American nation has kept electricity consumption in check amidst economic growth in 2011, according Minister for Electricity Ali Rodriguez, who appeared last week on the Sunday talk show hosted by former Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel.
Normally, for a 2% increase in the GDP, electricity consumption is expected to increase by as much as 2,000 megawatts, Rodriguez explained. Venezuela’s GDP grew by 3.8% in the ﬁrst nine months of this year, so the government was preparing for electricity consumption to reach 18,400 megawatts.
“We were expecting increases in consumption, but 17,000 megawatts at peak hour has been the upper limit until now”, Rodriguez said. “The campaign for the efficient use of electricity has been very successful”, said Rodriguez.
The government’s measures to reduce wasteful energy consumption began two years ago during a drought that reduced the water level at the Guri hydroelectric complex and nearly caused the collapse of the national electric system.
The state-owned electricity company, CORPOELEC, increased rates for high-consumption households and restricted imports of energy-intensive appliances. Meanwhile, the government replaced millions of incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving ﬂuorescent bulbs, and implemented temporary energy rationing that included programmed reductions in the heavy industries. Private companies that invested in electricity infrastructure were given tax breaks.
The energy-saving measures helped avert a deeper and prolonged crisis. Nonetheless, the temporary electricity shortage aggravated Venezuela’s recession amidst the global economic downturn that began in 2009. It also came at a time of high electricity consumption following ﬁve-years of sustained economic growth and a 50% reduction in poverty.
EXPANDING ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION
As Venezuela now emerges from recession, propelled by increased social investments by the government, the country has begun a multi-billion dollar plan to expand its electricity infrastructure and prevent future crises.
On Sunday, Rodriguez said the wave of economic growth that is expected in the coming years could increase Venezuela’s electricity consumption from 17,000 megawatts to 40,000 megawatts.
The country cannot continue to rely on the Guri dam for the majority of its electricity, the minister asserted.
Speciﬁcally, the government’s latest plan to build more than two million homes and equip them with electric household appliances such as refrigerators, washers and dryers, ovens and stoves, televisions, and air conditioners will contribute to the increased energy consumption, Rodriguez contended.
The appliances are imported from China and distributed through the state-subsidized Bicentenario markets. They are sold at a discount of up to 50%, and consumers are offered low-interest ﬁnancing from the state-owned Bank of Venezuela, Women’s Bank, People’s Bank.
To provide for the citizenry’s energy needs, CORPOELEC has invested 21.4 billion bolivars ($5 billion) in electricity production and transmission in 2011.
A large part of the funding went toward the construction of a decentralized system of local thermo-electric plants that generate between 45 and 450 megawatts each and are dispersed in cities and towns across the country.
The government also received a $700 million loan from the InterAmerican Development Bank, which was matched with $609 million of state funds, to renovate and improve the efﬁciency of six generators in the Guri dam.
To improve the electricity transmission system, Venezuela is building power lines connecting the eastern Bolivar state, where the Guri dam is located, with the Uribante hydroelectric complex in the western region.
Minister Rodriguez afﬁrmed that 122 out of a planned 187 high-powered transformers have been installed.
“We have to advance in the construction of new transmission lines so that we do not depend on the three-line radial system that we have, which in the case of any incident could leave the country without energy”, Rodriguez said on Sunday.
The investments for this project came out of a bi-national investment accord signed by Venezuela and China. In the accord, China pledged to invest $28 billion over several years to increase Venezuela’s electricity production by 2,750 megawatts.
In the ﬁrst six months of this year, the government added 1,300 megawatts to the national electric system. The company projects that it will add 3,618 megawatts to the system by the end of 2012. As of April 2011, Venezuela reported to have the capacity to produce 17,922 megawatts.
TEN TIMES MORE ELECTRICITY
During the decade before Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was elected, 1989-1998, the national electric system’s production capacity was expanded by only 33 megawatts. In contrast, during the ﬁrst ten years of the Chavez government, 3,229 megawatts were added to the system, according to Rodriguez.
While the government has focused primarily on the construction of thermo-electric generators so far, it has also increased its investments in renewable energies, in particular wind and solar power.
The state-run Foundation for the Development of Electricity Services has installed approximately 2,000 solar panels nationwide, mostly in poor rural communities where connecting to the electricity grid would incur serious environmental and economic costs.
The foundation’s wind energy projects in the Guajira region of Zulia state currently produce 24 megawatts. Windmills on the Paraguana Peninsula produce 100 megawatts. Experts from the Central University of Venezuela estimate that the region could potentially produce as many as 10,000 megawatts – approximately the output of the Guri dam.
In an April 2011 interview, Electricity Minister Rodriguez stated: “Another factor that propels demand is the sensation among the population that all of the problems in the electricity sector have been solved, so people return to their previous practices of excessive consumption”.
A far-reaching and consistent effort toward public education and publicity oriented toward the formation of energy-saving habits will be essential as Venezuela continues to grow in the coming years, Rodriguez added.
“It’s not about people having to give up electricity, it’s about the rational use of electricity, which is part of a worldwide campaign to contribute to better environmental conditions”, said the minister.
EFFICIENT USE OF ENERGY
To provide a legal instrument for the fulﬁllment of these objectives, the National Assembly passed the new Law for the Rational and Efﬁcient Use of Energy last week. The law grants the Ministry for Electrical Energy six months to produce national guidelines for saving energy, conserving natural resources, minimizing the environmental impact of development, and promoting social equity. The ministry must also maintain a database of potential sources of renewable energy in the country.
The law also grants the Education Ministry one year to launch a national program for education about energy efﬁciency, to be carried out in primary schools, secondary schools, and universities. And, it sets the foundation for energy efﬁcient building regulations to guide city planners and architects.
President Obama thinks he can win reelection by running the same hoax on his Democratic base as he did in 2008: flavoring his speeches with progressive sounding rhetoric while tightening the bankers’ grip on government and continuing his pursuit a “grand bargain” with the Republicans. In his speech on Tuesday in Kansas, Obama depicted himself as the reincarnation of President Teddy Roosevelt, known as a corporate “trust-buster” at the turn of the 20th century. But Obama is no trust-buster. He has never busted a corporate monopoly. His administration approved the merger of Comcast and NBC, consolidating even an bigger monopoly and giving the lie to his 2008 campaign promise to reinvigorate anti-trust enforcement.
The Obama m.o. is to talk a progressive game and then do just the opposite. He claims he found it “infuriating” to rescue the banks from collapse when he came to office. If that’s the case, then the best thing that could happen to Black people would be for Obama to get absolutely furious at us – and then the trillions would flow. When Obama supposedly got furious at the banks, he put the whole government and the Federal Reserve at their beck and call and funneled more than $16 trillion into their accounts. Apparently, it pays big time to get Barack Obama “infuriated.” If he gets mad enough at you, he’ll open up the windows at the Federal Reserve and hand out trillions of dollars in interest-free loans. Then, if you’re a bank that he’s really mad at, you can take the people’s money and buy U.S. Treasury bonds and get a healthy return on your cost-free investment.
In Kansas, Obama claimed that his so-called banking reform legislation will funnel money to “families who want to buy a home or send their kids to college.” We’ve seen no evidence of that happening. But Obama did make sure that his “reforms” did nothing to upset the Wall Street derivatives casino that is now notionally valued at at least $600 trillion – about the same as it was before the 2008 meltdown and bailout. $600 trillion is roughly ten times the value of all the yearly goods and services produced by every man woman and child in the world. It is a ticking time bomb that will inevitably bring down the real world economy if it is not defused. Apparently, that makes Obama absolutely paralyzed with rage.
Obama says the banks “should be remedying past mortgage abuses that led to the financial crisis, and working to keep responsible homeowners in their home.” It’s nice to hear what he thinks banks “should” be doing, but he didn’t use his presidential clout to compel them to do much of anything to change their ways, even when he could, back when Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress. And Obama’s own pitiful program to keep families in their homes was a colossal failure that helped only a fraction. Perhaps Obama is now infuriated with himself.
Throughout his Wizard of Oz Kansas speech, Obama attempted to put moral and philosophical distance between himself and the Republicans. But this is not 2008. Anyone with eyes and ears and a memory now knows that Obama is a true believer in the old time deficit cutting religion, a disciple of austerity, a man who wants nothing more than to join hands with the GOP to gut Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. Obama is a charlatan who cites the deeds of dead presidents but pursues policies that are directly the opposite. In other words, he is a very elaborate liar.
At least 7,000 prisoners are held without benefit of law, suspected of having connections to slain leader Muammar Gaddafi by various armed elements in Libya. According to a report by the office of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, most of the prisoners are black migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa. Others are black Libyans. The new regime, that was bombed into power by NATO after a green light from the UN Security Council, doesn’t make distinctions between black Libyan citizens and foreign blacks – they are all “slaves” and inferiors as far as the former rebels are concerned.
A doctor who is among the prisoners told reporters that detainees have been burned with cigarettes, beaten on their feet, hung by their arms, had their finger and toenails pulled out, and otherwise tortured. Those who were captured may be considered to be the lucky ones. Untold thousands have been massacred or simply disappeared. As one Nigerian man who lives in Libya said, “The Libyan rebels consider the blacks as their enemies and decided to kill any black man they come across.” A black Libyan who lived in Bani Walid, one of the last outposts of resistance to NATO and the rebels, said: “Anyone who tells the truth in Libya gets slaughtered.”
The former rebels cling to the lie, that Colonel Gaddafi employed legions of black mercenaries to keep him in power. Even the human rights groups that vilified Gaddafi’s regime now admit the mercenary stories were false, fictions that were reported as fact by virtually all of the western corporate media.
There is no real government in Libya, no central authority to safeguard the lives of prisoners held because of their politics, or their color, or for no clear reason at all. Rebel military units from various cities hold the prisoners in makeshift jails and detention centers. Among the most aggressive armed factions hails from Misurata, whose brigades waged a long siege of the black town of Tawurgha, once home to 30,000 people. Tawurgha has now disappeared, its people dispersed or detained or dead.
The UN Secretary General says he believes, in the absence of any evidence, that “the leaders of the new Libya are indeed committed to building a society based on respect for human rights.” The International Criminal Court, which was brandishing warrants for the arrest of Gaddafi and members of his government months before NATO established control over the country, is blind to the blatant ethnic cleansing, political persecutions and imprisonments, and rapes of displaced women that are ongoing in Libya. The same goes for most of the European and North American media, many of which continue to insist that NATO’s Libyan allies are freedom fighters, even though many of the one-time rebels are clearly Islamic jihadists who reject any formula for governing Libya that bears any resemblance to western notions of democracy.
Six hundred Libyan gunmen are said to have traveled to Syria to wage war against the government, there. Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council has demanded measures to “protect” the Syrian people from their own government, language reminiscent of the UN Security Council resolution that ultimately plunged Libya into hell. And the Security Council has just tightened sanctions against Eritrea, in the Horn of Africa, another nation marked for regime change by the United States.
In 2009 the UN Human Rights Council appointed the South African Judge Richard Goldstone to head the fact-finding mission investigating possible Israeli war crimes committed in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. Aside from being a well-respected judge, Richard Goldstone could not easily be dismissed as anti-Semitic given his Jewish origin.
Goldstone probably had no idea what awaited him. After the Mission published its findings and conclusions, the judge quickly became the victim of a vicious slander campaign. Israel’s Information Minister said that the Goldstone Report was “anti-Semitic.” Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz informed the listeners of Israel Army Radio that Goldstone was “an evil, evil man” and “an absolute traitor,” a “man who uses his language and words against the Jewish people.” Dershowitz later apologised for calling Goldstone a traitor, saying he thought the term moser (Hebrew for informer, delator) meant “monster” (as if that was any less harsh).
“I wrote to the broadcaster, retracting my word ‘traitor,’” Dershowitz told the Forward. “But if you’re asking me deep in my heart and soul do I believe that the word fairly characterizes him, in light of the way he’s used his Jewishness, both as a shield and a sword? You know, if the shoe fits.”
In the end, it all became too much for the South African judge. He’s tried to retract parts of the report he co-authored, along with publicly defending Israel against ‘the Apartheid Slander’. And if the truth be told it seems that he has never disengaged himself from Zionism. However, the damage has already been done and the greater part of the Jewish community simply has no trust in him anymore.
I came to think of Goldstone’s destiny as I was reading Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists. The book is an anthology with contributions from 25 Jewish activists living in different parts of the world who have come to see the conflict from the Palestinian point of view. For most Jews, criticising Israel comes at a price – relatives and Jewish friends regard it as treason, they are accused of being self-hating, and in some cases even of paving the way for another Holocaust. But these stories are not mainly about the price they have to pay for their activism; it’s about their personal journeys that led them from being (in many cases) completely uncritical supporters of Israel and Zionism into defenders of Palestinian rights.
The book is edited by Avigail Abarbanel, a psychotherapist residing in the United Kingdom. Born in Israel in 1964, Abarbanel grew up in an abusive family and was—just like most other Israelis—completely blind to Palestinians and their suffering. Instead, Jewish suffering was the ubiquitous issue. During her school years the fear of another Holocaust was “repeatedly raised and debated” and she “was taught that everyone in the world, including Arabs, hated us just because we were Jews.” Even though Palestinians make up a fifth of Israel’s population she never understood who they were. She recalls:
I resented the Arab countries around us and our “enemy from within”—or the “fifth column” as the Palestinian citizens of Israel were sometimes called—that I thought wanted to “throw us into the sea”. I resented the world that didn’t seem to understand us and was against us all the time, for what I thought was no reason except our Jewishness. I didn’t understand why “they” couldn’t just leave us in peace. I thought the reason for our suffering, anxiety and insecurity was out there. Together with everyone else I felt hard done by, hassled and unsafe.
Abarbanel later left Israel for Australia, where she earned a degree in psychotherapy. As a student she was forced to scrutinise her past. This, along with reading The Iron Wall by Avi Shlaim, led her to renounce her Israeli citizenship and eventually reject Zionism altogether.
Ronit Yarosky was also unaware of who the Palestinians were. Her family left Montreal for Israel when she was 14 years old. She did her military service and was stationed in the West Bank. The Palestinian residents served as background actors – they were there, yet unimportant. West Bank cities and towns she stayed in as a soldier “were nameless to me because they were “only” Arab towns, and therefore of no significance in my life,” she remembers. Yarosky’s conversion began as she was working on her MA thesis back in Canada. It wasn’t until she read Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem that she realised that Jewish settlements were established on the ruins of Arab villages, and that her uncle was even living in a Palestinian house. When she brought this up with her mother, the latter replied: “Well, obviously.” But to Ronit the newly discovered facts was life-changing, and after she could no longer turn a blind eye to what is happening to the Palestinians.
For others like Peter Slezak, Zionism as such doesn’t appear to have been important in his childhood. As a Jew in Australia he felt as an outsider already in primary school. And with most of his relatives being Holocaust survivors, the Haggadah’s warning that “in every generation they [i.e. non-Jews] rise against us to destroy us….” can easily feel validated. Slezak, like many other Jews, used to worry that all non-Jews inevitably harbored anti-Semitic feelings, a worry that took many years to finally overcome. Instead of regarding the Holocaust as a crime against Jews and a proof of why a Jewish state is needed, he sees a universalistic message in Never again. Some Jewish friends have even cut all ties with Selzak, and he has in his own words ended up “becoming a pariah in my own community” because of his pro-Palestinian activism.
This culture of intolerance is well captured by American musician Rich Siegel when he describes himself as “a cult survivor.” There is something “very seriously wrong with Israel, and with the culture that supports it,” he writes. Siegel should know. He was an ardent Zionist as a teenager, even to the degree that he was out in the streets protesting Arafat’s appearance at the UN in 1974, this while singing along to lyrics such as “We’ll kill those Syrians.” For Siegel, the image of an innocent Israel threatened by Jew-hating Arabs first started to crack while waiting for his wife outside a train station in Rhode Island in 2004. A few activists had a book stand outside the train station and he perused Phyllis Bennis’s Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer. He was left shocked after reading about Jews massacring Arabs at Deir Yassin, something he had never heard of. He kept on reading books about the conflict and came to understood what Zionism represented. Some of his friends and relatives are no longer part of his life, but he has no regrets.
I have here only presented glimpses from some of the 25 contributions, but they all deserve to be read in full. As a non-Jew it is difficult to fully relate to the ‘sacredness’ of the Jewish state. However, all people and cultures have their taboos that cannot be disrespected without running the risk of being questioned, persecuted or excommunicated. On a personal level, we all have inner demons holding us back until we have the courage to face them.
Hardly surprising, fear is a reoccurring theme in the stories. Zionism thrives on fears – fear of the Arabs who want to kill the Jews just because of who they are; fear of the non-Jewish world that doesn’t understand Jews because there’s an anti-Semite living in every Gentile. It is only by challenging and facing their fears that Jews can detach themselves from Zionism.
In the afterword Abarbanel writes that she struggled with finding a common denominator for all 25 contributors. But eventually she did find one thing they all share, which she terms “emotional resilience.” She defines it as “the ability to tolerate uncomfortable feelings without avoiding them or trying to make them go away,” and adds that it includes “the ability to tolerate the experience of being disapproved of, disliked and rejected by others, sometimes even by relatives and close friends.” In plain English: to have the courage to stand up for what you believe in no matter the cost.
This is what makes the book so inspiring. 25 stories written by people who struggle because they feel what they are not supposed to feel, because they do things they are not supposed to do. They have the emotional resilience and sense of justice that Richard Goldstone lacks.
NAZARETH — Physicians for human rights (PHR)-Israel, Adalah center and Al-Mizan center for human rights issued a joint position paper against the extraction of false confessions under torture and extortion from Palestinian children and adolescents.
This position paper addresses the extreme vulnerability of Palestinian children to specific conditions and practices of detention, and the illegitimate and cruel interrogation methods to which they are subjected by Israeli soldiers and interrogators, which result in extortion and false confessions.
It also analyzes the legal framework as it applies to Palestinian children and adolescents, who are detained by the Israeli occupation forces.
The paper is based mainly on a psychiatric expert opinion written by Dr. Graciela Carmon, a psychiatrist and member of PHR-Israel’s board of directors, which was submitted to the military courts during legal proceedings in the case of a 14-year old Palestinian boy from the village of Nabi Saleh.
According to this paper, some 700 Palestinian children are detained by Israel each year, on average one or two per day. Palestinian children as young as the age of 12 are arrested, interrogated and put on trial in Israel’s military courts.
Based on testimonies provided by 40 children who were detained and sent to military courts in 2010, physical and verbal violence was used against them during detention in 70% of the cases.
Most violent incidents occurred during their presence in military jeeps or during their wait at a military base or a police station, where the children are made to wait for hours often blindfolded, with their hands painfully tied behind their backs with plastic cable ties, and deprived of food, drink, access to a toilet and sleep.
Interrogations of Palestinian children and adolescents by the Israeli occupation forces are, in most cases, conducted without the presence of their parents or a lawyer, and carried out by several regular police interrogators, not by special interrogators for children and adolescents.
The interrogators also use physical and verbal violence in a considerable number of cases, as well as deception and threats of harm against them and their family members.
The paper also noted that there is an almost absolute acceptance shared by almost all judges in Israel’s courts of the abusive conduct of the security and military forces towards Palestinian children and adolescents.
This situation constitutes a flagrant violation of Israel’s obligations under international human rights law, including the UN convention on the rights of the child (CRC) of 1989, to which Israel is a state party, the paper underlined.
According to the CRC, the arrest of a child should be the last resort, and the best
interest of the child should be the main consideration, the paper read.
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, published its concluding observations earlier this week, calling Israel to stop forthwith house demolitions, forced eviction and residency revocation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and East Jerusalem. After considering the state report by Israel on compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the ICAHD parallel report (found here…) the Committee recommended Israel reviews and reforms its policies, to align with recommendations made by ICAHD and partner human rights and peace organizations.
ICAHD Co-Director Itay Epshtain addressed the Committee and highlighted the propagated ethnic displacement of Palestinians in the Occupied Territory and within Israel proper, and turned the Committee members’ attention to politically driven displacement trends in East Jerusalem, Jerusalem periphery and the Jordan Valley. To listen to the statement, press here…
The Committee was also presented with findings of the recent ICAHD publication ‘No Home, No Homeland: A New Normative Framework for Examining the Practice of Administrative Home Demolitions in East Jerusalem’ (found here…) in a side event held by ICAHD in conjunction with Al-Haq, Adalah, and Be’tselem.
The Committee adopted the following concluding observations:
The Committee is concerned about the revocation of residency permits of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, which results in the loss, among other things, of their right to social security, including access to social services (art.9). The Committee calls upon the State party to put a stop to the revocation of residency permits of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem. The Committee urges the State party not to hinder the enjoyment of their right to social security, including access to social services.
The Committee is deeply concerned about home demolitions and forced evictions in the West Bank, in particular Area C, as well as in East Jerusalem, by Israeli authorities, military personnel and settlers (art.11). The Committee urges the State party to stop forthwith home demolitions as reprisals and ensure that evictions in Area C are in conformity with the duty (a) to explore all possible alternatives prior to evictions; (b) to consult with the affected persons; and (c) to provide effective remedies to those affected by forced evictions carried out by the State party’s military. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure that the development of special outline plans and closed military zones are preceded by consultations with affected Palestinian communities. The Committee also recommends that the State party review and reform its housing policy and the issuance of construction permits in East Jerusalem, in order to prevent demolitions and forced evictions and ensure the legality of construction in those areas.
The Committee is concerned that Palestinians living in the OPT do not have access to sufficient and safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. It is also concerned about the continuing destruction of the water infrastructure in Gaza and in the West Bank, including in the Jordan Valley, under military and settler operations since 1967. (art.11). The Committee urges the State party to take measures to ensure the availability of sufficient and safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for Palestinians living in the OPT, including through the facilitation of the entry of necessary materials to rebuild the water and sanitation systems in Gaza. The Committee urges the State party to take urgent steps to facilitate the restoration of the water infrastructure of the West Bank including in the Jordan Valley, affected by the destruction of the local civilians’ wells, roof water tanks, and other water and irrigation facilities under military and settler operations since 1967.
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights concluding observations in their entirety can be found here…
At the time of the release of the Committee’s observations, Israel continued demolishing homes in East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank in defiance of international law. Yesterday (December 5th) a house and an animal pen were demolished in Wadi Asoul (Silwan, East Jerusalem), two homes were demolished in Beit Hanina, and this morning three homes were demolished in Al Khalayleh (Area C, West Bank).
SALFIT – A mosque was set on fire on Wednesday by settlers in the West Bank village of Bruqin, near Salfit, local officials said.
The governor of Salfit Isam Abu Bakr told Ma’an that at 2.00 a.m. a number of settlers sprayed racist anti-Arab slogans on the mosque walls and torched a car belonging to local resident Muatasim Samarah.
Abu Bakr said that the attack came “after Israeli forces issued demolition warrants against the mosque claiming it was built without a license.”
Mayor of Bruqin village Accra Samara said a flaming tire was thrown into the entrance of the mosque, and that assailants scrawled the words, “Hero of Ariel,” The Associated Press reported.
Ariel is a nearby Jewish only settlement which cuts deep into the West Bank.
A bulldozer belonging to local villager Ali Nael was also set on fire by settlers, locals said.
Israeli police spokeswoman Cuba Samurai told AP police were investigating the incident.
In June, a mosque in al-Mughayyir, near Ramallah was torched and sprayed with anti-Arab graffiti.
In a similar incident, settlers broke into al-Nurayn mosque in Qusra, south of Nablus in September, smashing windows before setting fire to used tires inside the building.
Settler-related incidents resulting in Palestinian injuries and damage to property are up more than 50 percent this year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which documents violence in the Palestinian territories.
Almost all “price tag” attacks occur in the occupied West Bank, but in October a mosque in the Bedouin village of Tuba Zangaria in northern Israel was set alight. On the outside of the mosque were scrawled the words “price tag” and “revenge” in Hebrew.
RAMALLAH — The Palestinian human rights foundation (Monitor) on Tuesday called for prosecuting US president Barack Obama and Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu in an international court as war criminals.
“The American administration participates in Israel’s killing of Palestinians and the powers in control of the decision-making in the US including the Jewish lobby are working on hiding the truth and undermining justice principles at the pretext of fighting terrorism,” Monitor stated in a press release.
“They make justifications for the genocidal campaign launched openly and gradually against an entire people simply because they demand the right to freedom and the independence of their land from which they were forcibly uprooted,” Monitor added.
Monitor highlighted that the terrorizing Israeli brutality used against the Palestinian people represented in massacres, a genocidal war and a deadly blockade is supported by some western countries, especially Britain and the US.
The human rights group also called for referring Israel’s nuclear file to the UN security council.
“It is not right to let such a devastating weapon in the hands of a handful of terrorists,” it said.