GAZA — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have killed 19 Palestinian children and wounded 200 others during attacks on the Gaza Strip in the course of 2011, medical sources said on Saturday.
Adham Abu Salmiya, the spokesman for the ambulance and emergency department, said in a statement that the youngest of those killed was two-year-old Malek Shaat followed by three-year-old Islam Quraqai.
He said that one third of the wounded in IOF attacks on Gaza in 2011 were children, noting that one of them, ten-year-old Yousef Al-Za’lan, was still in intensive care after the Israeli raid on Friday in which his father and younger brother were killed.
Abu Salmiya charged the IOF with deliberately targeting civilians especially children, adding that the IOF shelling of residential neighborhoods in Gaza at a late night hour has serious psychological impacts on children.
He asked all human rights groups and those concerned with child welfare to urgently intervene and pressure Israel to halt its crimes against children in Gaza and to secure a safe life for them.
JENIN – Israeli soldiers manning a West Bank crossing to the Jenin village of Barta assaulted a taxi driver on Saturday.
Haitham Ibrahim Kabha, 37, is in al-Razi hospital suffering from bruising on his neck and back, a Ma’an reporter said.
Official news agency Wafa reported that Kabha suffered a fracture in his back.
“I was planning to go to Jenin through Barta crossing which is the only entrance and exit to the town,” Kabha, a taxi driver, said, but he was prevented from leaving by soldiers.
He then asked to speak to a senior official.
“When the officer came, he accused me of insulting a soldier. He asked me to step out of the car and with 8 other soldiers they beat me with their feet, hands and the back of their guns.
“After that I didn’t feel a thing until I woke up in the hospital,” Kabha said.
Kabha’s brother, Baha, said that despite screaming in pain, soldiers kept on beating him until he passed out. A Magen David Adom ambulance was close by but didn’t offer any help, Baha added.
“Israeli soldiers prevented any Palestinian ambulance from helping Haitham when he lost consciousness; they kept back the ambulance for half an hour until they were pressured by protests at the crossing,” he said.
The eastern section of Barta is completely enclosed by the separation wall and there are two crossing points to the village.
An Israeli military spokeswoman deferred calls to the Israeli Defense Ministry who did not answer a call from Ma’an seeking comment.
Newt Gingrich, the US Republican presidential hopeful and former House Speaker who said Palestinians are an “invented people,” was making a “play” to attract “Jewish” money to his campaign, a former close associate said today.
The Republican primary is one in which primarily you have money coming from pro-Israelis and in Jewish organizations and that[s] a play for that money. And you’re really are not going to have a whole lot of folks involved from either the Arab world or from any area that might be affected by these comments that are going to be voting in any of these primaries any time soon.
It is generally considered taboo in the United States and even evidence of “anti-Semitism” to talk about the influence of “Jewish” or pro-Israel money in elections. That a former Gingrich advisor and well-known Republican pundit is doing so openly is a notable development.
Palestinians an “invented people”
Gingrich caused consternation and a great deal of anger among Palestinians when he told The Jewish Channel, cable TV station, that Palestinians were an “invented people” and suggested that they should have left their country voluntarily to make way for Israel.
While the two main parties in the United States, Democrats and Republicans, are both staunchly pro-Israel, they have engaged in intense partisan battles in the run up to next November’s US presidential election over which party would be more supportive of Israel.
The Corrupting Influence of the NED
In 2002, the AFL-CIO’s international arm known as the “Solidarity Center” was greatly embarrassed when it came to light that it had been supporting actors in Venezuela participated in the short-lived coup against President Hugo Chavez. As a number of authors and publications noted at the time, the Solidarity Center, with money donated from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), gave support to the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (“CTV”) which in turn was instrumental in the coup against Chavez which, as the reader may call, involved the kidnapping of Hugo Chavez.
For example, the New York Times explained in an article entitled, “U.S. Bankrolling Is Under Scrutiny for Ties to Chavez Ouster,” that”[o]f particular concern is $154,377 given by the endowment to the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, the international arm of the AFL-CIO, to assist the main Venezuelan labor union in advancing labor rights.” As the Times noted, “The Venezuelan union, the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers, led the work stoppages that galvanized the opposition to Mr. Chavez. The union’s leader, Carlos Ortega, worked closely with Pedro Carmona Estanga, the businessman who briefly took over from Mr. Chavez, in challenging the government.”
And what’s more, it turns out that the Solidarity Center played a critical role, just before the coup, in bringing the CTV together with FEDECAMARAS (the Venezuelan chamber of commerce). This is important because the CTV and FEDECAMARAS went on to plan and carry out the coup together. However, quite curiously, the Solidarity Center did not stick around long enough to see how the coup ended up. This is because it moved its office (which is in charge of the entire Andean Region) from Caracas, Venezuela to Bogota, Colombia just three weeks before the coup took place.
The Solidarity Center attempted to defend itself against charges that it was up to its old Cold War tricks of working with the U.S. government to overthrow progressive, nationalist governments in the Third World – e.g., in the overthrow of Allende in Chile and Arbenz in Guatemala – by denying that the CTV, which it supported up to and indeed through the time of the coup, had anything to do with the coup. As the Boston Globe later noted in an article entitled, “US Tax Dollars Helped Finance Some Chavez Foes, Review Finds,” this denial had a hollow ring to it in light of the fact that “the Venezuelan media broadcast a recorded telephone conversation between [exiled former president Carlos Andres] Perez and Carlos Ortega, president of the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers [CTV], in which the pair plotted against Chavez.” In the end, the AFL-CIO later privately conceded that the CTV leadership did actively participate in the coup against Chavez. The same Boston Globe story concluded that the Solidarity Center’s other defense – that it was merely helping the CTV with matters of internal democratization – were also proven to be false.
This brings us to today. If one concerned over such bad practices goes to the Solidarity Center website and clicks on the “Where We Work” link, one might feel relieved to see that Venezuela is notably absent from the list of countries in which the Solidarity Center does business. Similarly, the Solidarity Center mentions nothing about Venezuela in its most recent Annual Report. However, if one goes to the website of one of the Solidarity Center’s biggest patrons, the NED, one will find that this is misleading. Thus, the NED, in a section entitled, “Latin America Regional,” explains that it recently gave $400,000 to the Solidarity Center to carry out work both in Colombia and Venezuela. I note that this amount is in addition to another $2 million the NED — which on its website openly expresses contempt for “21st Century Socialism” — gave to the Solidarity Center for other Latin American work. And, as the NED explains, “in Venezuela, the SC will build on its ongoing work with partners . . . .” – quite ominous words given the nature of the work and partners the Solidarity Center has hitherto been involved with in Venezuela.
It is not publicly known what the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center – which receives nearly all of its funding from federal grants ($28 million out of its total annual budget of $30 million), including from such sources as the NED, the U.S. State Department and the USAID – is currently doing in Venezuela. Sources in the Venezuelan Embassy in D.C. are aware that the AFL-CIO is in Venezuela and suspect that it is actively helping opposition groups in their attempt to unseat President Chavez in the upcoming elections for President. Again, the truth is uncertain, but given the AFL-CIO’s horrendous track record in Latin America, and in Venezuela in the very recent past; given that it is intentionally concealing the fact that it is even working in Venezuela in the first place; and given that it continues to be heavily dependent upon funding from the U.S. government and NED — two sources openly hostile to the current government in Venezuela – it is fair to have suspicions that the AFL-CIO is up to questionable deeds in Venezuela.
In the end, the only way to quell such suspicions is for the AFL-CIO to come clean to its membership and to the public by giving an accounting for its current activities in Venezuela and all 60 countries in which it is involved. The problem all along has been that the AFL-CIO has refused calls to be accountable for its Third World activities, and instead has preferred to operate in the shadows internationally – many times on behalf of U.S. foreign policy interests.
The time for such secrecy must end. Yet, I am not optimistic that it will, mostly because there is much for the AFL-CIO to hide about its international dealings. Indeed, the best explanation of this fact came from a former staff member of AIFLD (the predecessor of the Solidarity Center) who addressed calls for the AFL-CIO to “clear the air” about its international affairs. This individual, who gave this statement on the promise of anonymity, explained the following about the AFL-CIO’s policies of labor imperialism:
In reality the AFL-CIO has a lot to hide about the late 70’s and 80’s in relation to their international institutes. . . . The AFL always fared better in getting grants from republican presidents during this period because of communist insurgencies around the world or, at least, perceived communist insurgencies. As you are aware, I was part of the most active period for three years in Central America and the Caribbean. Some things I can relate and some things I can’t because of the potential for prosecution. I can say that there is a lot of dirty laundry. Some of the funding was related to what I would call covert operations though this was a very small part of the total operation globally. Most of the activity was related to telling embassies and the State Department what they wanted to hear and that was the labor unions in all developing economies were under threat of communist and extreme left subversion even though in most instances it was nothing more that [sic.] extreme nationalism and not communist inspired. In any event, that was how you got operating program grants and that is how the institutes built their power, with money and staff. Each country program director did the same thing, money, prestige, power, influence mover and shaker.
There is [sic] obvious reasons for not dealing with the past, classified information, loss of grants and, some people are still on staff though most were cleaned out. . . .
And, while the AFL-CIO’s international trajectory was supposed to have changed upon the succession of John Sweeney to the presidency in 1995, this same source made it clear that this was not altogether the case because of the very nature of the AFL-CIO’s international work and those who sponsor it. As he explained:
Some people at the AFL were co-opted by the process. John Sweeney was one of the favorites for being on these high-level delegations that participated in fact finding and solidarity missions all over the world. And, I might add, stayed in the best hotels and it was sort of like a high class tour group. . . . The positions themselves though can corrupt and are high profile internationally.
I write this article with the hope that the AFL-CIO might take a good hard look at itself and its role in the world; that it might re-evaluate the corrupting influence of taking millions of dollars from the NED and U.S. State Department – money which inevitably makes them captive to U.S. foreign policy interests even while the AFL-CIO, in the height of irony and hypocrisy, purports to fight what it perceives to be “government-dominated” unions in such countries as China and Cuba. And, in the short term, I hope that by calling into question its current, covert activities in Venezuela, the AFL-CIO will simply decide to leave that country for good, or at least until it decides to help countries like Venezuela in their struggle against U.S. dominance.
Alberto C. Ruiz is a long-time unionist and peace activist.
NEW YORK – The UN renewed its demand that Israeli authorities comply with international legitimacy resolutions, particularly the Security Council Resolution No. 497 for 1981 which considers Israel’s decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan as null and void and without international legal effect.
The UN demand came on Saturday during the adoption of a draft resolution entitled ‘the Occupied Syrian Golan’ by the UN General Assembly.
The resolution demanded that Israel immediately rescind its decision to annex the Golan, considering all the legislative and administrative measures and procedures which Israel took and will take to change the character of the occupied Golan as null and void and a flagrant violation of the international law and the Geneva Convention related to the Protection of Civilians in time of war without any legal effect.
Israel is also demanded to stop imposing the Israeli nationality and the Israeli ID cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Golan and to halt its suppressive measures taken against the Syrian people in the Golan.
The resolution denounced the Israeli violations of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, renewing call upon the UN member states not to recognize any of the measures and procedures inconsistent with the international law Israel has taken in the occupied Golan.
163 countries voted in favor of the resolution, while only Israel voted against it and the US, Canada and 9 other countries abstained.
The UN General Assembly’s ‘Fourth Committee’, the Special Political and Decolonization Committee, had adopted the resolution in November and submitted it to the General Assembly for vote.
So far, there were three people who had suffocated from the tear gas, and three people injured by rubber bullets. I saw gas, and so assumed that it was another case of suffocation. But the cries got louder, urgent, desperate — quite unlike the previous calls. Along with those around me, we began running to where the injured person lay, 50 meters away.
Screams. “Mustafa! Mustafa!”
I ran faster. I stopped. The youth I was so used to, the same ones who were always teasing and joking and smoking, were crying. One turned to me and groaned, “His head. His head is split into two!”
My stomach plummeted and I forgot to breathe. Exaggeration, I thought. Impossible. Not here. More screams of “Mustafa!”
I saw the man lying on the ground. I saw the medic with one knee on the ground, his face a mask of shock. I saw his bloodied gloved hands.
Mustafa’s sister was screaming his name. I saw Mustafa. I saw the blood, the big pool of dark red blood. I saw the blood dripping from his head to the ground as they carried him and put him in a taxi, since the ambulance was nowhere to be found. I saw other the tear-streaked faces of other activists, and all I felt was numbness.
Mustafa’s sister Ola was still screaming, so I put my arms around her as she buried her head in my chest. I was babbling, “It’s ok, he’s gonna be fine, it’s ok” but she kept on screaming. Her screams and the disturbing reactions of those around me made my legs numb. Ola then left to go to the watchtower where the taxi with her brother was, and my state of shock crumbled as I gasped out my tears in the arms of my friend.
The first protester death in Nabi Saleh
Friday, 9 December marked the second year since the tiny village began its weekly demonstrations protesting the expropriation of their land for the neighboring illegal settlement of Halamish, and the confiscation of the village’s main water supply, the Kaws Spring. It also marked the 24th anniversary of the first intifada. Fittingly, it seemed only natural the Israeli army would react with more violence than usual. But never did we expect someone to be killed. It’s too awful to think about. Nabi Saleh has a population of around 500 people. Everyone knows everyone in this tight-knit community, so when one gets killed, a big part of us dies also.
Mustafa, 28 years old, was critically injured after Israeli soldiers fired a tear gas canister at his face, and died at a hospital after his treatment was delayed by the occupation forces who had invaded the village to repress the weekly demonstration.
One difference that distinguishes Nabi Saleh from other villages with popular resistance committees, like Nilin, Bilin, Biddu and Budrus is that no one has been killed, or martyred in the protests. Beaten up, yes. Arrested, ditto. But never a death. Until yesterday.
My humanity is only human
Just before Mustafa went into the operating room, some good news came through. He had not suffered any cognitive damages to his brain, although he suffered a brain hemorrhage. There was a chance his eye might be saved. Relief washed over us. We tweeted, “please #Pray4Mustafa.”
I had pictured myself going to Nabi Saleh the next day, not the following Friday. I had imagined sitting in a room with weeping women, after passing by the somber men sitting outside. I had envisioned a funeral and an inconsolable Ola with her mother. Thank God there was a reassuring chance he would be ok. We’d make fun of his bandaged face, just like we did to Abu Hussam when a rubber bullet hit him under the eye a few weeks ago.
Then I got the call that Mustafa had succumbed to his wounds.
My humanity is only human. I hate my enemy. A deep vigorous hatred that courses through my veins whenever I come into contact with them or any form of their system. My humanity is limited. I cannot write a book titled I Shall Not Hate especially if my three daughters and one niece were murdered by my enemy. My humanity is faulty. I dream of my enemy choking on tear gas fired through the windows of their houses, of having their fathers arrested on trumped-up charges, of them wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets, of them being woken up in the middle of the night and dragged away for interrogations that are spliced with bouts of torture.
The soldiers laughed. They smiled. They took pictures of us, zooming in on each of our faces, and they smirked. I screamed at them: “Nazis, terrorists, vermin, programmed killing machines.”
They laughed at us as we screamed at them to let us through to where he was, unconscious in a taxi near the watchtower. They threatened us if we didn’t go back. We waved the flag with his blood on it in front of them. One of them had the audacity to bat it away. We shouted, “His blood is on your hands!” They replied, “So?”
I thought of Mustafa’s younger brother, imprisoned all these eight months. I thought of that brother’s broken jaw and his subsequent stay in the prison hospital. I thought of Juju (Jihad Tamimi), he of the elfin face who arrested a few days ago with no rights to see a lawyer after being wanted by the army for more than a year. I shuddered to think of the reactions of these imprisoned men from the village — Uday, Bassem, Naji, Jihad, Saeed – once they received the news.
I got the call just after 11pm Friday night. I was sworn to secrecy, since his family didn’t want to make it public yet. Anger, bitterness and sorrow overwhelmed me. I cried at my kitchen table.
I hate my enemy. I can’t go to sleep. The images are tattooed forever inside my eyelids. They yells, the wailing, the groans, the sobbing all fill my ears like water gushing inside a submarine, dragging me further into a cold dark abyss.
I sought out religion as a source of comfort, yet it didn’t alleviate the anguish. His life was written in al-Lawh al-Mahfooz (The Preserved Tablet) since before he was born. His destiny was to become a martyr. How sweet that will be in the afterlife! But here on this earth, his sister is beside herself. His mother is hurting enormously. Her firstborn gone, no longer to drink the tea she makes or to make her laugh with his jokes.
The images are tattooed forever inside my eyelids. A bloody pulp on one side of his face. The pool of blood rapidly increasing. (Mama, there was so much blood.) His mouth slightly open, lying supine on the cold road. His sister screaming, her face twisted in grief. The young men weeping, looking like little boys again.
I hate them for making us suffer
I loathe my enemy. I will never forgive, I will never forget. People who say such hatred transforms a person into a bitter cruel shell know nothing of the Israeli army. This hatred will not cripple me. What does that mean anyway? Do I not continue to write? Do I not continue to protest? Do I not continue to resist? Hating them sustains me, as opposed to normalizing with them. Their hatred of me makes reinforces the truth of their being murderous machines. My hatred of them makes me human.
I can’t sleep. The shock flows in and then dissipates, before flooding back in again. I see no justification is implementing such violence on a civilian population, no sense in the point-blank murder of a man whose rights are compromised, and whose land is colonized and occupied.
Sure as hell, you will not be forgotten. You will become an icon, a symbol, and the added impetus for persisting and continuing your village’s struggle which reflects the plight of the average Palestinian for its basic rights, equality, and justice.
I hate them for making us suffer. Hating them will give me more strength to shatter their barbaric supremacist ideology, and to bring them under the heavy heel of justice. We’ve suffered so much. I hate them for not giving credit to our sumoud (steadfastness), and so continue to kill and dispossess and imprison and humiliate us.
They killed you, Mustafa. My insides crumple. You, in front of me. My tears are drawn from the depth of my wounded soul. You were engaged to be married. You were wanted by the army because of who you are: a Palestinian who resists the occupation he directly suffers from. I think of your father being denied a permit to be with you, of your mother who had to be granted permission by them to see you in the hospital. I think of your quiet, sardonic expression.
Your screaming sister. Your blood. Your murderers’ smiles.
Linah Alsaafin is a recent graduate of Birzeit University in the West Bank. She was born in Cardiff, Wales and was raised in England, the United States and Palestine. Her website is http://lifeonbirzeitcampus.blogspot.com/.
TEHRAN – The Iranian ambassador to the United Nations has called on the UN to condemn U.S. aggressive moves against the Islamic Republic including the recent violation of Iranian airspace by a U.S. spy drone and adopt “clear and effective measures” to end such “dangerous and unlawful acts.”
Ambassador Mohammad Khazaii made the plea in a letter that he sent on Thursday to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, and Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s UN ambassador who holds the rotating Security Council presidency for December.
“Upon instructions from my government, I have the honor to draw your kind attention to the provocative and covert operations against the Islamic Republic of Iran by the U.S. government, which have increased and intensified in recent months,” the letter said.
The letter added, “In the continuation of such trend, recently, an American RQ-170 unmanned spy plane, bearing a specific serial number, violated Iran’s airspace.
“This plane (flew) 250 kilometers deep into Iranian territory up to the northern region of the city of Tabas, where it faced prompt and forceful action by the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Khazaii also wrote that the Iranian government regards the provocative U.S. move as an act of hostility against Iran, which is in clear contravention of international law and the basic principles of the UN Charter.
The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran strongly protests such hostile and aggressive moves and warns about harmful consequences of the repetition of such actions, he said.
The Islamic Republic of Iran reserves the right to adopt the measures necessary to defend its national sovereignty, he stated.
He added that the Iranian government calls on the UN to fulfill its responsibility to safeguard world peace and security through the condemnation of aggressive U.S. moves and the adoption of “clear and effective measures” to end such “dangerous and unlawful acts”
Walid with his children. (Photo: Via Sam Bahour)
My friend is Walid Abu Rass. He is the Finance and Administration Manager for the Health Work Committees (HWC, at www.hwc-pal.org), one of the largest community health service providers in the occupied Palestinian territory. HWC serves over 500,000 patients/beneficiaries per year! More on HWC in a second.
I had not seen Walid for a while. We are both knee deep in Palestine’s daily rat race. About two months ago, Walid and his HWC colleagues called for a meeting of their circle of friends. They sought assistance. HWC was going through some financial hard times, especially with the financial crisis in Europe, where many of their donors are based.
Given it was close to the end of year, a season when I usually donate some time to assist a community based organization to fundraise, I offered to volunteer. Walid was my counterpart. During the past weeks, we were in daily phone and email contact, and every few days we met up to visit a potential local donor. Progress was being made. We then started to plan, with a few others, an end-of-year fundraising raffle. Plans were coming together, and there was excitement among the team and staff that we were taking our fundraising needs to our local community to compensate for the loss in European institutional funding. This is even more significant since HWC does not accept funding with strings attached (“conditional donor funds”), so they have to struggle just to keep the doors open in this tainted donor-driven market.
For nearly a week I was emailing Walid with no reply. This was not like him. He and I nearly live behind our keyboards. The deadline for the raffle details was rapidly approaching and if we did not get started, we would miss the end of year opportunity for fundraising. I started to think Walid was mad at me for some reason. I rethought our last few weeks of working together. There was absolutely nothing there to cause him to just ignore my calls; after all, I was his volunteer counterpart.
Then, last night I learned why Walid stopped replying to me. On November 22nd, Israeli occupation soldiers arrived at his home at 1:30 A.M. Walid lives in Ramallah with his wife, Bayan, and two daughters, Mais, 13 years old, and Malak, 4 years old, who were all frighteningly awakened during his arrest. Walid was taken into custody and transported in the bone chilling cold of the night to Israel’s Ofer Military Detention Center where hundreds of Palestinians are detained, the vast majority with absolutely no knowledge of why.
The Israelis have been arresting Palestinians nightly for years now. Israel releases a few hundred prisoners in a media frenzy and then, the same night, starts to refill its prisons, a few Palestinians at a time. Although, as per the Oslo Agreements, the Palestinian side is responsible for security inside the Palestinian cities, Israeli armed forces routinely—read nightly, every night—enter the cities in their armored vehicles in the middle of the night and arrest a dozen or so Palestinians from their homes. Walid was merely the latest victim of this kidnap-by-night strategy.
The routine then goes something like this. Within eight days he will be brought before an Israeli military “judge” for the sake of processing only, not deliberating. The entire kangaroo court then, without sharing the reason why the Palestinian detainee is being held, flashes the security card to justify not sharing information on why they have acted against a specific individual. Then the court slaps a six month Administrative Detention Order on the detainee. That means you sit in prison for six months for no reason at all. Walid has already been given just such an order.
Your wife, your children, your work, your end-of-year fundraising campaign, your 500,000 patients/beneficiaries, your life, all abruptly stop. Then, usually, that six month order gets extended a few times before you are released. Walid is not unacquainted with this Orwellian mess. He previously spent nearly five years in and out of detention, never once being charged with anything!
The Health Work Committees association is registered as a not-for profit organization with the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior and also has a Jerusalem registration since they work in Jerusalem as well. HWC employees over 300 persons and operates 14 clinics throughout the West Bank, providing primary health services via these health clinics, mostly in areas not fully covered by the Ministry of Health. HWC also has a community development aspect of their work and operate the following: Jadal Center for Culture and Social Development, Nidal Center (providing health education to East Jerusalem schools), Community Development Plan, Oasis Rehab Center, Community Based Rehabilitation, and the Elderly Care Nursery and Kindergarten. One of the success stories of HWC is its partnership with the Dunya Women’s Cancer Clinic.
All of these activities need health care administrators, of which Walid is one. At a time when the Israeli closure system is making life hell for Palestinians, especially those living in marginalized areas or areas directly affected by the Separation Wall, HWC is needed more than ever. Likewise, at a time when international organizations, like USAID, have dramatically cut funding and laid off staff from their heath care programs (such as Flagship) as punishment to the Palestinians for pursuing membership in UNESCO, HWC’s services are needed more than ever.
The era of silence is over. Also, over for me are the slogans that can’t be operationalized. Yes, we want all 5,000 or so Palestinian detainees released. Yes, the policy of administrative detention is inhumane and must end. However, these slogans, although needed at times, must be matched with action items. Each life being destroyed by the Israeli revolving door policy of detainment is a person with a name and a family and a job. And when the person is my friend or colleague, I refuse to swallow the fact that Israel has carte blanche to act above the law.
Help me get Walid back to his family and his desk so we can get back to the work of improving the Palestinian health care system. Consider contacting your local Israeli Embassy and any or all of the following and demanding his immediate release. Reference his name, Walid Abu Rass, and his ID # 9-9702819-6.
Judea and Samaria Region
Office of the Legal Advisor
P.O. Box 5
Beit El, 90631
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Office of the Prime Minister
3 Kaplan Street
PO Box 187
Fax: +972-2-651-2631 or +972-2-670-5475
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Defence Ehud Barak
Ministry of Defence
37 Kaplan Street
Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909
For more information on Administrative Detention see ADDAMEER (Arabic for conscience) Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association at www.addameer.org.
– Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business consultant from Youngstown living in the Palestinian city of Al-Bireh in the West Bank. He is co-author of “Homeland: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians” (1994) and may be reached via www.ePalestine.ps.
The diminutive Gulf totalitarian monarchy of Qatar has been making quite a name for itself of late. It was one of the only Arab countries to provide air support in Libya, its customs officials — seemingly unprovoked — recently attacked a Russian ambassador, it cajoled the Arab League into voting for sanctions against Syria, and it plays host to Al Jazeera which has increasingly looked more and more like a mouthpiece for the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and the West. Although, Qatar would appear to be a Lilliputian micro-petrostate, it would seem to be one with Napoleonic delusions of grandeur.
The Emir of Qatar — a real peach — who deposed his own father, took power at the early age of 44. Unlike his father, who preferred to use the kingdom’s resources to remain at the same level as the other sheikdoms in the region, the young Emir sought that Qatar should be known and acknowledged. In doing so the young Emir surrounded himself with a phalanx of Western technocratic advisers. Additionally, the Emir sought to become one of the world’s most impish international and geopolitical actors.
In an article in May, the noted Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar, included Qatar — in its rightful place — among the “counterrevolution club” of Middle Eastern countries. Along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Oman it comprises the Gulf Cooperation Council; a deeply backward and anachronistic bloc of sheikdoms, profoundly tied (and some would say indentured) to the Western countries. In fact, the Obama White House played host to the Emir of Qatar just this past April — ostensibly for its role in the promotion of democratization. The White House may value its role in the NATO misadventurism in Libya, but on the home front this democratizing impulse would appear to be glaringly lost.
The Emir exercises virtual total power, with few restraints on his grip. In Qatari courts the opinion of two women is equal to that of one man, and, moreover, nearly half of all Qatari judges are at-will employees, which limits their independence, considering that they can be dismissed promptly; in other words, at the drop of a hat.
Qatar remains one of the only three Arab countries that has not signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and Qatar has also signed on to precious few international human rights conventions and accords. Additionally, Qatar is a destination country for women who are trafficked and forced into conditions of coercive labor. And similarly, foreign domestic workers, often struggle under conditions approaching involuntary servitude, and some are even sexually abused.
Though Qatar has in the past even hosted a Hamas delegation, as well as tried to remain amicable with the government of Iran, it has increasingly looked — as if —it is coming under the thumb of the Anglo-Americans. Qatar had also been seen as an intermediary with Syria, and had invested heavily in the Syrian economy, but now it seems to have signed on — to a different policy — a policy of Libya 2.0. And Qatar, ostensibly so concerned about democracy, gave its full backing to neighboring Saudi Arabia’s intervention into the majority Shia Sunni-led Kingdom of Bahrain.
Qatar not only funneled hundreds of millions to the Libyan opposition, but dispatched Western-trained advisers, who helped finance, arm and train the so-called revolutionary militias. The nature of Qatar’s future machinations in Syria, is, of course, yet to be determined. But if its coarse, robust and inauspicious role at the Arab League is any portent — as to its tactility, we can expect more of the same financing of an armed “revolution”, not knowing what will be wrought for the citizens of a (formerly) sovereign country.
Sean Fenley is an independent progressive who would like to see the end of the dictatorial duopoly of the so-called two party adversarial system. He would also like to see some sanity brought to the creation and implementation of current and future U.S. military, economic, foreign and domestic policies.
The killer said:
“Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top al-Qaeda leaders who’ve been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement,” the president fired back at an impromptu news conference at the White House.
“Or whoever’s left out there,” he added. “Ask them about that.”
Watch the video at the link provided above. It’s instructive, particularly Obama’s expression when he adds, “Or whoever’s left out there.” He speaks of murder, yet the words are breezy and casual: this is a murderer so used to killing that he talks of his past and future victims interchangeably, and in terms of approximation. Just “whoever’s left out there.” He wants to be sure you know he’ll order all of them killed in time. His face is expressionless, the eyes dead. This is a man without a soul in any healthy, positive sense. He murders — and he’s proud of it.
More than a million innocent Iraqis were murdered as the result of the United States’ criminal war of aggression on that country. Obama has heralded America’s “success” in Iraq as “an extraordinary achievement.”
The continuing murders in Pakistan and Afghanistan are so numerous and so regular that they barely merit notice for more than a few days, at least as far as the United States government and most Americans are concerned. Over the recent Thanksgiving weekend, the United States government murdered at least 25 Pakistanis. (NATO and the U.S. government are indistinguishable in any matter of importance, in any matter of murders of this kind.) Pakistan is deeply angry and unhappy. The United States government and Obama are concerned only to the extent that Pakistan’s unhappiness might interfere with the U.S.’s intention to dominate and control that part of the world. The U.S. government and Obama aren’t particularly upset about the murders, but about the strategic problem that might result from the murders.
On the same weekend: “Six children were among seven civilians killed in a NATO airstrike in southern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Thursday.” The story has already fallen into the well of forgetfulness. It must be the case that incidents like this occur at least once a day given the number of military operations ordered by the Murderer-in-Chief and carried out by those who follow his orders. Perhaps only one innocent person is killed. “Only” one. Perhaps we should ask “whoever’s left out there” what that one loss signifies.
Earlier in November, there was this story:
Last Friday, I met a boy, just before he was assassinated by the CIA. Tariq Aziz was 16, a quiet young man from North Waziristan, who, like most teenagers, enjoyed soccer. Seventy-two hours later, a Hellfire missile is believed to have killed him as he was travelling in a car to meet his aunt in Miran Shah, to take her home after her wedding. Killed with him was his 12-year-old cousin, Waheed Khan.
Over 2,300 people in Pakistan have been killed by such missiles carried by drone aircraft such as the Predator and the Reaper, and launched by remote control from Langley, Virginia. Tariq and Waheed brought the known total of children killed in this way to 175, according to statistics maintained by the organisation I work for, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Unless the CIA can prove that Tariq Aziz posed an imminent threat (as the White House’s legal advice stipulates a targeted killing must in order for an attack to be carried out), or that he was a key planner in a war against the US or Pakistan, the killing of this 16 year old was murder, and any jury should convict the CIA accordingly.
These are only a few of the stories we know about, and only from a very brief period of time. Countless other murders take place all over the world, and we can only gather the dim outlines of what is occurring. This is not to mention numerous lesser acts of cruelty and violence, many of which will alter lives in searing ways, for all the desolate years to follow.
Somewhere on this planet an American commando is carrying out a mission. Now, say that 70 times and you’re done… for the day. Without the knowledge of the American public, a secret force within the U.S. military is undertaking operations in a majority of the world’s countries.
Last year, Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post reported that U.S. Special Operations forces were deployed in 75 countries, up from 60 at the end of the Bush presidency. By the end of this year, U.S. Special Operations Command [SOCOM] spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told me, that number will likely reach 120. “We do a lot of traveling — a lot more than Afghanistan or Iraq,” he said recently. This global presence — in about 60% of the world’s nations and far larger than previously acknowledged — provides striking new evidence of a rising clandestine Pentagon power elite waging a secret war in all corners of the world.
In 120 countries across the globe, troops from Special Operations Command carry out their secret war of high-profile assassinations, low-level targeted killings, capture/kidnap operations, kick-down-the-door night raids, joint operations with foreign forces, and training missions with indigenous partners as part of a shadowy conflict unknown to most Americans. Once “special” for being small, lean, outsider outfits, today they are special for their power, access, influence, and aura.
No minimally decent human being would choose to have anything whatsoever to do with a government which systematically engages in acts of this kind. This is true of anyone who is part of the national governing apparatus, or wishes to be. It is most especially true of anyone who wishes to become president. Even if a person declares his or her absolute commitment to ending all of this, it is impossible for one person to do it. The massive bureaucracy of death which carries out these acts was erected over decades; all such bureaucratic monstrosities take on lives of their own. It will not be dismantled by a single individual overnight, or even in a matter of months or probably years. That means the murders will go on.
It may be that at some point this machinery of death will be brought down comparatively quickly. If that happens, it will not be the result of one person’s actions, but of calamitous events on a momentous scale: widening war, catastrophic natural disasters, widespread financial collapse, and/or massive social unrest and violence. In the meantime, a reverence for life demands that we see the Death State exactly for what it is — and walk away to the fullest extent we can.
That is not the course Barack Obama chose. He wanted to be, he now is the Murderer-in-Chief. He is proud of his achievement.
Thus, the words I wrote over five years ago continue to hold a relevance and meaning that fill me with the deepest despair. I desperately wish that I had never had cause to compose this passage, and that I did not feel compelled to repeat it now:
If you have ever wondered how a serial murderer — a murderer who is sane and fully aware of the acts he has committed — can remain steadfastly convinced of his own moral superiority and show not even the slightest glimmer of remorse, you should not wonder any longer.
The United States government is such a murderer. It conducts its murders in full view of the entire world. It even boasts of them. Our government, and all our leading commentators, still maintain that the end justifies the means — and that even the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents is of no moral consequence, provided a sufficient number of people can delude themselves into believing the final result is a “success.”
We can appeal all we want to “American exceptionalism,” but any “exceptionalism” that remains ours is that of a mass murderer without a soul, and without a conscience. … It is useless to appeal to any “American” sense of morality: we have none. It does not matter how immense the pile of corpses grows: we will not surrender or even question our delusion that we are right, and that nothing we do can be profoundly, unforgivably wrong.
On Friday, the United Nations General Assembly passed nine resolutions related to Palestine as part of a set of 24 resolutions and two texts related to human rights and decolonization.
The resolutions were passed by the General Assembly after the recommendation of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee. Several of the resolutions were passed almost unanimously, with only Israel voting against them.
Among these were a resolution that called for an accelerated return of displaced persons who became refugees in 1967, and called on donor countries to assist the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in meeting the needs of the Palestinian refugees. This resolution was passed by a vote of 160 in favor to 1 opposed (Israel), with 9 abstentions.
Another resolution urged Israel to reimburse UNRWA for all transit charges incurred and other financial losses sustained as a result of delays and restrictions on movement and access, and to cease obstructing the movement and access of the staff, vehicles and supplies of the Agency. That resolution passed with a vote of 163 in favour to 7 against (Israel, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 2 abstentions (Cameroon, Vanuatu).
Of the other Israel-Palestine related resolutions passed by the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, five were part of the report from the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, and related to Israel’s practices and obligations as an Occupying Power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
One of these resolutions demanded that Israel accept the de jure (by law) applicability of the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, and that it comply scrupulously with the provisions of the Convention. The text was approved by a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 7 against (Israel, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 3 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Vanuatu).
In another of the five resolutions originating from the special committee, the Assembly, bearing in mind the “extremely detrimental” impact of Israeli settlement policies, decisions and activities on efforts to resume and advance the peace process, reiterated its demand for the immediate and complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.
It was adopted by a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 4 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Panama, Vanuatu).
Since the recommendation that Palestine be split in half to create a Jewish state in 1947, the United Nations has passed hundreds of resolutions on the issue of Israel-Palestine, all of which have been voted against by the Israeli UN delegate. These resolutions have repeatedly called on Israel to adhere to its obligations under international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. But the UN General Assembly has no enforcement capability to ensure that its resolutions are carried out.
The Palestinian Authority attempted in September to achieve recognition as a state at the United Nations, to be able to participate in proceedings at the General Assembly, but that petition was not approved by the United Nations Security Council.
GAZA CITY – Israeli warplanes fired on an open area west of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt on Saturday morning.
No injuries have been reported.
The Israeli army said it confirmed a “direct hit” on a “terror-affiliated site.”
Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel after the strike, an Israeli military spokeswoman said.
Violence flared between Gaza and Israel after Israeli airstrikes killed an Islamic Jihad fighter on Wednesday, and two affiliates of Fatah and Hamas’ armed wings on Thursday.
A further airstrike on Gaza City on Friday morning hit a site of Hamas’ armed group, and flattened a nearby house killing the owner; the man’s 12-year-old son was pronounced dead hours later. The man’s wife and five other children were wounded, medics said.
Militants responded with a barrage of rockets that struck southern Israel on Thursday and Friday, without causing injuries.
Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister in Gaza, said Friday he was “pursuing intensive contacts with several Arab and international parties, and we stress the necessity of this aggression being stopped immediately”.
Cairo is trying to renew a truce to restore calm between its neighbors, Egypt’s ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Yasser Othman told Ma’an on Thursday.