Bolivia has extradited former Argentinean military officer Luis Enrique Baraldini, who is wanted for human rights abuses during Argentina’s military dictatorship.
Bolivian Interior Minister Wilfredo Chavez announced on Sunday that Baraldini “was delivered to the Argentine authorities in [the border city of] Bermejo.”
Baraldini is accused of crimes he committed in Argentina’s La Pampa province, where he served as chief of police during the Dirty War, which lasted from 1976 to 1983.
The former officer has been “very much sought after as a longtime fugitive… for personally torturing people, according to witness accounts,” Argentine Security Minister Nilda Garre said at a press conference held after Baraldini was handed over.
Bolivian authorities apprehended the suspect on Saturday in Santa Cruz, about 900 kilometers (approximately 560 miles) east of the Bolivian capital La Paz. They said Baraldini had been living there for several years under the pseudonym Marco Antonio Aponte.
Buenos Aires had offered a reward of about $23,000 for information leading to his arrest.
According to human rights groups, an estimated 30,000 people — mostly leftist dissidents — died in Argentina’s Dirty War.
Palestine solidarity activists staged protests on Christmas Eve at Lacoste clothing stores in several French cities to protest the censorship and expulsion of Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour from a prestigious art competition sponsored by the French luxury clothing firm.
The scandal led last week to the cancelation of the 2011 Lacoste Elysée Prize by the Musée de L’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland.
At actions in Paris, Lyon, Lille and Bordeaux, activists picketed stores, handed out flyers and told Christmas shoppers about Lacoste’s censorship, calling on them to boycott the company. Protestors held signs and prints of Sansour’s censored work and called out slogans condemning Lacoste’s “racism” against Palestinians.
The protests against Lacoste come just days after 12 French activists were acquitted of “inciting hate and discrimination” by a French court for having staged protests at Carrefour supermarkets calling on shoppers to boycott Israeli goods.
While the mainstream media commonly refers to the West Bank and Gaza as the Occupied Palestinian Territories, it often incorrectly calls the Golan Heights part of Israel. How has the occupation impacted the Golan? And why has the world forgotten it?
Earlier this month, The Atlantic published “2011: The Year in Photos.” It included a picture of Palestinian protesters climbing the fence that separates, according to The Atlantic, the “Israel-Syria border… near Majdal Shams.” The caption explained that Majdal Shams is located in “northern Israel.”
Imagine the fury if mainstream media outlets referred to the occupied West Bank as “Judea and Samaria.” That would be equivalent to calling the Golan Heights, which also lies beyond the Green Line, “northern Israel.” Calling the Golan “northern Israel” tacitly legitimizes the 1981 Israeli annexation, which has been rejected by the United Nations on numerous occasions in numerous resolutions and goes unrecognized by the international community.
It is this kind of blind repetition of the Israeli government line that has caused both Israeli citizens and the world to forget that the Golan Heights is occupied territory, not unlike East Jerusalem. Those who live in both East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are not citizens of the state but residents who pay taxes to the Israeli government and receive next to nothing in return. The residents of the Golan run their own hospitals. They build their own schools. And, as is the case in East Jerusalem and Area C in the West Bank, they usually build without permits as Israel will not allow for natural population growth.
As is the case in the West Bank, Arab residents of the occupied Golan Heights have faced restricted access to their lands, land confiscation, and tight water restrictions that impede their farming. According to the NGO Jawlan- Golan for the Development of the Arab villages, the area’s Israeli settlers use as much as 17 times more water per capita than the indigenous inhabitants of the Golan.
As is the case with Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Palestinian citizens of Israel, Israeli expulsions and expansion has split Golan families into two. In 1967, 130,000 Arab inhabitants were expelled from the Golan Heights, leaving only 6000 residents behind. As a number of Majdal Shams residents told me, every house in the Golan is divided. Everyone has family in Syria, loved ones they see through binoculars at Shouting Hill, cousins they talk to through bullhorns, brothers they have never met.
As is the case with the Palestinians, residents of the Golan have resisted Israeli occupation. Many a member of the Golan Heights’ community has been held in Israeli jails as political prisoners.
But The Atlantic isn’t the only media outlet to forget the occupation of the Golan. For reasons I don’t quite understand, a number of journalists I’ve spoken to consider the Golan “different” from the Palestinian territories. Perhaps it’s easier for journalists to talk about “Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories” or the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” But to do so is an oversimplification that ignores the broader regional context that includes the Golan Heights.
Or, perhaps, journalists have bought into Israel’s line that the Golan residents aren’t Arab, they’re Druze, and the Druze are “different.” But, talk to most Druze in the Golan and they’ll tell you that they are Druze only by religion. Most identify as Arab, Syrian, or both.
The Golan Heights serves as yet another reminder that the conflict on the ground is very different than the story Israel offers up to the world. The conflict isn’t about the Western world battling the Muslim world; it’s not a clash of cultures or a clash of values; the occupation isn’t a security measure, meant to protect Israel from “terrorists.” And while the Palestinians are the people who, as a whole, suffer the direst consequences of the conflict and the occupation, the conflict and the occupation isn’t necessarily about the Palestinians—it’s about the Jewish state privileging Jewish interests and rights over those of non-Jewish “others.”
In a shocking, racist outburst, an Israeli cabinet minister has described Arabs as a “damaged nation”, in remarks reportedly made at a conference in the Tel Aviv-area city Or Yehuda on Sunday.
Israel’s Minister of Information and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein, who posted the comments on his Facebook profile, said:
As long as the Arab nation continues to be a damaged nation that continues to invest in terror infrastructures, in education to hatred, and in the welfare of families of martyrs, there will be no peace.
Edelstein, a member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, lives in the illegal West Bank settlement of Neve Daniel. Not only is Edelstein a settler, but he also supports initiatives like the ‘Lobby for Greater Israel’, whose members want “to hold onto all of Judea and Samaria”.
Ironically, given how it would be received if a member of Congress or European minister said similar remarks about “the Jewish nation”, Minister Edelstein plays a crucial role in the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) as a member of the body’s steering committee.
In October, he was in London for an ICCA meeting hosted by Labour MP John Mann, co-founder of the ICCA and chair of the UK-focused All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism (APPGAA).
Edelstein is committed to the conflation of political actions like Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) and antisemitism. At an international “combating antisemitism” conference he co-organised with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in December 2009, Edelstein told delegates:
We must repeat again and again these basic facts – TO BE ‘anti-Israel’ IS TO BE ANTI-SEMITIC. TO BOYCOTT ISRAEL, ISRAELI PROFESSORS and ISRAELI businesses, these are not political acts, these are acts of hate, acts of anti-Semitism! Anti-Israel hysteria is anti-Semitic hysteria. They are one and the same. [Ed: Upper case letters in the transcript]
He has also drawn parallels between the Goldstone Report and the rise of Hitler, saying that the UN investigation into war crimes is “simply a type of anti-Semitism”.
While none of this has dissuaded members of the ICCA from working with the Minister, how will they react now, given the unapologetically anti-Arab views of someone apparently coordinating a fight against racism?
[h/t to Mya Guarnieri for finding the Facebook status]