The Extremely Dark and Unexamined Underside of the Charlie Hebdo Affair
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | January 13, 2015
We hear much about bloody events in Paris being an attack upon western traditions and freedom of the press, and I am sorry but such claims are close to laughable, even though there is nothing remotely funny about mass murder. It certainly is not part of the best western tradition to insult the revered figures of major religions. You are, of course, technically free to do so in many western countries – always remembering that in many of them, a wrong target for your satire will get you a prison term for “hate crimes” – but it does represent little more than poor judgement and extremely bad taste to exercise that particular freedom. What Charlie Hebdo does is not journalism, it is sophomoric jokes and thinly disguised propaganda. Hebdo’s general tone and themes place it completely outside the mythic tableau of heroic defender of free speech or daring journalism, it being very much a vehicle for the interests of American imperialism through NATO.
Of course, the best western traditions don’t outlaw what garments or symbols people may wear for their beliefs, as France has done. Note also the history of some of the politicians making grandiose statements about freedom of the press. Nicolas Sarkozy was involved a number of times in suppressing stories in the press, even once getting a journalist fired. Sarkozy is a man, by the way, who took vast, illegal secret payments from the late Muammar Gaddafi and from France’s richest heiress to secure his election as president. David Cameron had police seize computers at Guardian offices and allows Julian Assange to remain cooped in the Embassy of Ecuador to avoid trumped-up charges in Sweden. Cameron is also best buddies with Rupert Murdoch, the man whose idea of journalism appears to be what he can dredge up to exchange for what he wants from government. His Fox News in the United States enjoys a reputation for telling the truth only by sheer accident. Barack Obama is a man transfixed by secrecy and ready to use all of his powers to punish those who tell the truth, a man who holds hundreds in secret prisons, and a man who regularly oversees the extrajudicial execution of hundreds and hundreds of people in a number of countries.
The parade celebrating the good things of western tradition – which Obama missed but which saw now-potential presidential candidate Sarkozy shove his way to the front – also included such luminaries as the Foreign Minister of Egypt’s extremely repressive government, which, even as the minister marched proudly, held innocent journalists in prison simply for writing the truth. The Prime Minister of Turkey was there celebrating, a man who has put a number of journalists in jail. Celebrating rights and freedoms also was King Abdullah of Jordan who once saw a Palestinian journalist sentenced to hard labor for writing so simple a truth as that the king was dependent upon Israel for power.
We shouldn’t forget, too, that Israel targeted and killed a number of journalists in its Gaza invasions, that the United States’ forces in Iraq targeted and killed a number of journalists, and that “NATO” deliberately targeted Serbia’s state television service with bombing, killing many civilians. Free speech and western traditions, indeed.
There are more doubts and questions in the Charlie Hebdo affair than there will ever be answers. In part this is because the French security forces silenced witnesses, killing three assumed perpetrators in a display which seems to say that Dirty Harry movies are now part of French training programs.
And then we have the sudden death by apparent suicide of a police commissioner in charge of the investigation just as he was writing his report alone at night, an event which received little mainline press coverage. A man in his forties in the midst of likely the biggest case of his career just decides to kill himself?
We should all be extremely suspicious of a trained killer, seen as being informed and exceedingly efficient at his work, leaving behind his identity card in an abandoned car. It really is a touch more serendipity than we would credit in a mystery story. We should all be extremely suspicious of men so obviously well trained in military techniques, about men who were well informed about schedules at the offices they attacked, and about men heavily armed in the center of Paris. People serving in notorious killer outfits like America’s SEALs or Britain’s SAS rarely achieve such complete success as twelve victims, all shot dead, and an easy get-away.
And just to add to the confusion we have the video of one of the armed men shooting a police officer lying on the sidewalk. The armed man, face covered, lowers his AK-47 to within a couple of feet of the victim’s head and fires. The head goes down, but we see no blood. Have you ever seen photos of someone shot in the head with a high velocity weapon? That’s what the Zapruder film is about, and the results are more like an exploding pumpkin than a death at the end of a stage play.
We need to be more than suspicious about anyone or any event which has any connection with ISIS. ISIS is one of the terror groups assembled, armed, and supplied by Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States for the deliberate and wanton destruction of Syria. The two brothers killed in Paris both fought in Syria. It certainly would be easy enough for someone to have obtained an ID card there from one of them. Remember, the excesses of ISIS we all read about – at least those that aren’t clearly staged propaganda stunts such as video of a hostage beheading – are the direct result of assembling large bands of cutthroats and fanatics, arming them, and setting them loose to terrorize someone else’s country.
It is the simplistic view of ISIS that the involved intelligence services want us to have that it is a spontaneous fanatical rebellion in favor of one extreme interpretation of Islam. Despite many recruits for ISIS holding what are undoubtedly genuine fanatical beliefs, they almost certainly have no idea who actually pays their salaries or provides their equipment – that is simply the way black intelligence operations work. And those participating in such operations are completely disposable in the eyes of those running them, as when the United States bombs some in ISIS who perhaps exceeded their brief.
Every society has some percentage of its population which is dangerously mad, and if such people are gathered together and given weapons, their beliefs are almost beside the point, except that they provide the targeting mechanism used by those doing the organizing.
We should all be extremely suspicious about any event when a man such as Rupert Murdoch is quoted afterward saying, “Muslims must be held responsible for jihadist cancer,” as he was in The Independent. In case you forgot, Murdoch is a man whose news organizations for years lied, stole, and violated a number of laws to obtain juicy tidbits for his chain of cheesy mass-circulation newspapers. Murdoch also is a man who has had the most intimate and influential relationships with several prime ministers including that smarmy criminal, Tony Blair, and that current mindless windbag and ethical nullity, David Cameron. Publicity from large circulation newspapers, which can swing at a moment’s notice from supporting to attacking you, plus campaign contributions buy a lot of government compliance. Murdoch also is one of the world’s most tireless supporters of Israel’s criminal excesses.
And speaking of David Cameron, Murdoch’s made man in Britain, David felt compelled to chime in on the Hebdo publicity extravaganza with, “Muslims face a special burden on extremism….” Now, why would that be? No less than Murdoch’s creepy words, Cameron’s statement is an indefensible thing to say.
Who has a special burden for the massacre of students at Columbine High school in Colorado? Who has a special burden for Israeli Baruch Goldstein who murdered 29 Palestinians as they worshipped? Do Noweigians bear a special burden for Anders Breivik, who shot 69 people, mostly children, perhaps the most bizarre mass murderer of our times? Does the American Army bear a special burden for Timothy McVeigh’s horrific bombing in Oklahoma City, killing 168, he and his associates having met in Fort Benning during basic training, two of them having been roommates? Perhaps, in both these latter cases, Christianity bears a special burden since these people were exposed to that religion early in life? As was Hitler, as was Stalin, as was Mussolini, as was Franco, as was Ceaușescu, as was Pinochet, and countless other blood-drenched villains?
The late Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, was responsible for a great many murders, including about a hundred people bombed in a terror attack on the King David Hotel. He also was responsible for the assassination of the distinguished Swedish diplomat, Count Folke Bernadotte, and he started the invasion of Lebanon which eventually left thousands dead, but you’ll have a hard time finding him described anywhere as a “Jewish terrorist” or finding prominent people asking who has a special responsibility for his extraordinarily bloody career.
There is something hateful and poisonous in conflating the religious background of a criminal or mentally unbalanced person and his violent crime. We seem to do this only in cases involving violent men with Muslim backgrounds. Why? How is it possible that even one decent Muslim in this world has any responsibility for the acts of madmen who happen to be Muslim? This gets at one of the deep veins of hate and prejudice in western society today, Islamophobia, a vein regularly mined by our “free” press and by our ‘democratic” governments. Our establishment having embraced Israel’s excesses and pretensions, we have been pushed into worshiping the mumbo-jumbo of Islamic terror, a phenomenon virtually invented in Israel and perpetuated by Israel’s apologists as a way of stopping anyone from asking why Israel does not make peace, stop abusing millions of people, and return to its recognized borders.
Well, we do have an entire industry exploiting every event which may be imagined as terror. I read an interview with the great cartoonist, Robert Crumb, who happens to live in France. When asked if any other journalists had approached him on the topic of controversial cartoons, he said that there weren’t any journalists in America anymore, just 250,000 public relations people. That is precisely the state of American journalism. It digs into nothing, at least nothing of consequence, working full time to manage the public’s perceptions of government and its dreadful policies, from murdering innocents with drones and remaining quiet on the many American and Israeli atrocities of recent decades to manipulating fears of “terrorism” and saying little about such domestic horrors as the many hundreds of citizens shot dead by American police every single year.
The French government is reported to have been quite concerned about Benjamin Netanyahu showing up at the Paris march and making volatile speeches, and they specifically asked him not to come. At first, Netanyahu’s own security service, Shin Bet, agreed that he should not go because the parade in the streets represented a difficult security situation. But neither the host government’s formal request nor the security service’s concerns can stop a man like Netanyahu. France was advised he would come, and the French made their displeasure clear by saying they would then also invite Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestine Authority to the parade, which they did.
Netanyahu not only marched for the cameras at the front rank of a parade where he had no business, he made arrangements with the families of four Jewish victims for an all-expense-paid showy funeral in Jerusalem. None of the victims was even an Israeli citizen, yet at this writing they have all been buried there with pomp and plenty of publicity. But Netanyahu didn’t stop there, he went on to make speeches that the French and other European Jews should leave their countries, riddled with anti-Semitism, and come to Israel, their true homeland. In diplomatic terms, this was what is termed unacceptable behavior which in almost any other case would get you thrown out of a country. In ordinary terms, it was outrageous behavior, much like seeing a seriously drunken guest loudly insulting his host at a party to which he was not even invited.
The ineffectual current President of France, François Hollande, sent notice to Jerusalem that the four dead shop victims were being awarded the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest honor. The nation’s highest honor, founded by Napoleon over two hundred years ago for exceptional contributions to the state, awarded for the act of being murdered by thugs? Simply bizarre.
I don’t pretend to understand everything involved in this complex set of events, but it is unmistakable that we are being manipulated by a number unscrupulous and unethical people who use murder victims and the public’s natural sympathies for them as board pieces in some much larger game.
There is even a trivial side to these bloody events with many Parisians carrying signs which read “Je suis Charlie,” surely the kind of asininity posing as deep feeling that long has been established in the United States where Walmart teddy bears and plastic flowers with cheap slogans are regularly tossed in piles here and there as memorials to this or that. Perhaps Euro-Disney has had a more devastating influence on French culture than I realized.
A stinging defeat for Abbas, but no great victory for Israel … Netanyahu persuaded Nigeria to abstain as UN Security Council rejected Palestinian statehood, but could only muster US and Australian opposition, and the French let Israel down.
Had the UN Security Council voted for Palestinian statehood it would still have made no difference because the resolution would have been vetoed by Israel’s superpower lapdog — that principled and supreme upholder of democracy and international law — the United States of America. But even before this latest amoral rejection, the Palestinian people had already been forewarned that the New Year of 2015 would herald no change in their misfortunes.
They would continue to be faceless, voiceless, and unrecognised by a Zionist blackmailed, bribed, bullied, and sadly spineless international community; continue to be stateless prisoner refugees on their own land and in adjoining Arab states; continue to be subject to air, sea, and land blockades that prevent free trade — the import of essential foods, medical supplies, and rebuilding materials — and freedom of their own movement; continue to exist under the constant threat of another barbaric military assault in keeping with Zionism’s rationale that Palestinian existence denies and challenges Israel’s insatiable territorial claims which can only be satisfied by annihilating the Palestinian people; continue to be subject to arbitrary arrest, beatings, torture, and indefinite imprisonment without charges or due process — for up to ten or more years in some cases without knowledge of when or if they will ever be released — under Israel’s Administrative Detention Orders; continue seeing their children being systematically detained by the military and police who subject them to violent physical and verbal abuse, humiliation, painful restraints, hooding of the head and face in a sack, threats with death, physical violence, and sexual assault against themselves or members of their family, and denial of access to food, water, and toilet facilities; continue to be subject to attacks against themselves and their property — including the burning of their olive groves which are the only means of livelihood for many — by deranged savages from illegal Israeli settlements; continue to have their property demolished, their resources including water stolen, and their land expropriated by “God’s chosen people” from the “only democracy in the Middle east”; and finally, they would continue to be aghast at how the world could stand idly by and do nothing while Israel barbarically violated every article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which incidentally both warmongering criminal states of the U.S. and Israel had ratified.
So despite recent encouraging recognitions of a “Palestinian state” by some European parliaments, forewarnings that the status quo for the Palestinian people would remain unchanged came from various sources including the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron. Cameron, who during a visit to Israel in march 2014 had taken obsequious Knesset-grovelling to new heights by confirming that very determined and insidious “friends of Israel” lobby groups corrupt and exert influence over the Western leaders irrespective of what the the people themselves may want as was the case in the lead-up to the Iraq War:
I will always stand up for the right of Israel to defend its citizens, a right enshrined in international law, in natural justice and fundamental morality [which is not applicable to the Palestinian people because their lobby is nowhere near as powerful as yours], and in decades of common endeavour between Israel and her [bought and paid for political] allies. When I was in opposition, I spoke out when – because of the law on universal jurisdiction – senior Israelis could not safely come to my country without fear of ideologically motivated court cases and legal stunts; when I became Prime Minister, I legislated to change it. My country is open to you and you are welcome [as are your shiny shekels] to visit any time.
Despite Israel’s flagrant crimes against humanity during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge and following Israel’s Jewish nation-state bill which affirmed “the personal rights of all [Israel’s] citizens according to law,” but reserved communal rights for Jews only — which meant that while individual Arabs would be equal in the eyes of the law, their communal rights would not be recognised — the following exchange took place in parliament between an unabashed Cameron and the high-principled Jewish Sir Gerald Kaufman:
Sir Gerald Kaufman: “Will the Prime Minister condemn the new Israeli Government Bill that removes what are defined as national rights from all Israeli citizens who are not Jews, makes Hebrew the only national language and has been denounced by the Israeli Attorney-General as causing a ‘deterioration of the democratic characteristic of the state’? Will he make it clear that the statutory, repressive removal of citizenship rights on the basis of religion will turn Israel into an apartheid state?”
Prime Minister David Cameron: “One of the reasons I am such a strong supporter of Israel is that it is a country that has given rights and democracy to its people, and it is very important that that continues. When we look across the region and at the indexes of freedom, we see that Israel is one of the few countries that tick the boxes for freedom, and it is very important that it continues to do so.”
Furthermore, as a consequence of last year’s increased public sympathy for the Palestinian people, Israel has ramped-up its propaganda through Zionism’s reliable army of selfish, self-serving, sleazy, sewer-scavenging, slime ball supporters — time to abandon political correctness and unjustified respect — whose leading light is Tony Blair the war criminal “Middle East Peace Envoy.” Such lowlife paid for recruits contaminate not only politics, but also the mainstream media that plants the seeds of support for Israel by expurgating the news we hear, read, and watch. While speaking at a conference in Jerusalem last month, Danny Cohen the director of the Israeli-biased BBC Television said: “I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as in the last 12 months,” and that rising anti-Semitism has made him question the long-term future for Jews in the UK.
It would be an insult to morons to refer to Mr. Cohen as such, but it has obviously escaped his Zionist mentality that what he refers to as anti-Semitism in Britain, may in fact be the British people’s exasperation with continually seeing images of Israel’s barbarity against a defenceless people who only want to be left alone to enjoy their inalienable human rights in an unoccupied Palestinian state. How can Mr. Cohen and others of his heartless ilk be made to understand that the general public’s revulsion and condemnation resulting from seeing [WARNING: images very graphic!] images of Palestinian children burnt to a crisp with limbs blown off, is not in any way anti-Semitic but simply empathy for fellow human beings whose savage persecution has been ongoing for more than 60 years.
Unmitigated Zionist arrogance — with its inherent Ariel Sharon belief that “Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial” — presumes to tell the rest of us “unchosen” goyim what we can and cannot do; presumes to condemn the European parliaments that finally took a moral stand and voted to recognise a Palestinian state; presumes —after the Palestinians signed up to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) — to issue the threat that Israel would take “steps in response and defend Israel’s soldiers”; presumes that it has a right to special trade agreements and dispensations whose conditions it routinely violates; presumes that it can take what it wants without giving anything in return; and presumes in accordance with its self nomination as “God’s chosen people” that it has a supremacist entitlement to treat all non-Jews as contemptible individuals to be used and exploited.
Further proof of an unchanged Palestinian status quo in 2015 came after the first step was taken to join the ICC with the U.S. state department — an Israeli mouthpiece — releasing a statement condemning what it called “an escalatory step” on the part of the Palestinians and that negotiations between the two sides were the only “realistic path towards peace … today’s action is entirely counter-productive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state.”
It is hard to comprehend how after decades of “peace talks” anyone can still believe that peace is achievable through negotiations. The Israeli position of insisting that only through negotiations can an agreement be reached is a ploy that always includes the deliberate Israeli intent to sabotage such negotiations so as to prolong the status quo and thereby enable Israel to continue with its illegal settlement building and gradual expropriation of more Palestinian land by means of ethnic cleansing. Israel does not want peace. Peace would mean an end to Israel’s gratuitous persecution of the Palestinian people and the larcenous plunder of Palestinian land and resources.
Even before the UN Security Council vote Israel considered the resolution to be a diplomatic declaration of war with Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz calling for drastic measures if the Palestinians indeed do make the move. “A vote at the UN is expected on the aggressive, hostile and one-sided resolution regarding a Palestinian state. We must not let it pass quietly,” Steinitz declared. “In my opinion, if such a resolution is accepted by the UNSC we will have to seriously consider the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority … in my opinion, if such a resolution is accepted by the UNSC we will have to seriously consider the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority.”
It is time for decent people everywhere to face two inescapable realities: the first is to recognise and accept what Israel is — a Zionist Apartheid warmongering state bent on driving out the indigenous Palestinian people so as to grab their land irrespective of cost or consequences, and the second is that Western political leaders cannot be relied upon on to unconditionally insist on justice for the Palestinian people including Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 borders thereby allowing for a Palestinian state.
So what can decent people do? They can resort to the only peaceful and proven alternative which successfully ended Apartheid in South Africa and simply involved an all out boycott. The current global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) has to be supported and expanded to such an extent that Israelis will have no option other than to accept that even as a God chosen people they still have the responsibility of respecting international law and the rest of humanity.
Britain’s opposition leader has criticized Prime Minister David Cameron for failing to take a firm stance on Israel’s aggression against Gaza.
Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, said Saturday that it was “wrong and unjustifiable” that Cameron had failed to speak out about the Israeli atrocities.
“…The prime minister is wrong not to have opposed Israel’s incursion into Gaza,” said Miliband, adding, “His silence on the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians caused by Israeli’s military action will be inexplicable to people across Britain and internationally.”
In response, the British prime minister has criticized his rival for playing politics with such a serious issue.
The reactions come amid reports that the Israeli regime has been using weapons containing British-made components in the fatal aggression against the Gaza Strip.
The UK daily Independent revealed that arms export licenses worth $70 million have been granted to 130 British defense manufacturers since 2010 to sell military equipment to the Tel Aviv regime.
These range from bulletproof garments to naval gun parts and armored vehicles.
“Among the manufacturers given permission to make sales were two UK companies supplying components for the Hermes drone, described by the Israeli air force as the ‘backbone’ of its targeting and reconnaissance missions. One of the two companies also supplies components for Israel’s main battle tank,” the report said.
Since July 8, more than 1,700 people have been killed and over 9,100 others injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza. Nearly 400 children are among the fatalities.
Meanwhile, thousands of people have staged demonstrations in different countries around the world in condemnation of the ongoing Israeli military aggression against the besieged Palestinian territory.
From the Gov.uk website:
‘The Prime Minister spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu earlier this evening about the situation in Israel. The Prime Minister strongly condemned the appalling attacks being carried out by Hamas against Israeli civilians. The Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s staunch support for Israel in the face of such attacks, and underlined Israel’s right to defend itself from them’.
So then, Israel simply defending itself from Hamas’ attacks on Israeli civilians.
The actual facts, of course, speak of a somewhat different reality. According to medical sources in the Gaza strip:
Number of Israelis killed since the launch of ‘Operation Protective Edge’: 0
Number of Palestinians killed since the launch of ‘Operation Protective Edge’: ‘at least 47′, of which 41 were civilians, and 12 children.
Nevermind that the very idea of ‘defending yourself’ against a people you have spent decades occupying, dispossessing, racially oppressing, collectively punishing and generally brutalising is a complete nonsense.
It doesn’t need me to point out that David Cameron’s supposed ‘humanitarianism’ and commitment to ‘freedom’ – which we are told was behind his decision to bomb Libya, and to almost bomb Syria – is a complete sham. He is simply the latest mouthpiece for a British Establishment that has long both committed and supported the perpetration of war crimes and atrocities in the service of colonial domination, while talking the language of human rights and freedom.
But statements like that one help to drive the point home.
And they illuminate where the BBC have been taking their lead from, perhaps:
(BBC News Online front page, circa 01:00 A.M., July 9th 2014)
The parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea has sent an official invitation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to send a mission to observe the referendum on the region’s future, slated for March 16.
The Supreme Council has handed over the invitation to Switzerland, the country that holds the rotating presidency of the OSCE. Crimean authorities invited observers from both individual OSCE member-countries and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to come to Crimea.
“I am confident that the parliament of Crimea will make it possible for them to be present at polling stations. This process is underway now and the referendum itself will be as transparent as possible,” Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov said, as quoted by Itar-Tass.
On Saturday, Crimean residents – about 60 percent of whom are ethnic Russians – will cast ballots to decide whether the region will “become part of the Russian Federation as its constituent territory.”
They will also decide whether Crimea’s 1992 constitution, under which the autonomous republic is part of Ukraine but has relations with Kiev defined on the basis of mutual agreements, should be restored.
Preparations for holding the referendum are in full swing.
Crimea will allocate up to US$2 million for printing ballots and providing technical support. A total of 1,550,000 ballots will be printed.
Some 1,500 Crimean troops will guard polling stations during the referendum, Prime Minister Aksyonov said.
“We will have about 1,500 armed troops by the time the referendum is held. They will be placed on duty at all polling stations,” he said. “The referendum will be guarded by armed people, primarily the autonomy’s self-defense units and Armed Forces.”
While Crimean authorities prepare for holding the referendum, radical groups plan provocations on the republic’s administrative border, according to unconfirmed reports from a Ukrainian Special Forces source, cited by RIA Novosti news agency.
“We are receiving information that Ukrainian radical groups are preparing provocations at the Crimean administrative boarder on the day of referendum, March, 16,” the source told the news agency.
The referendum has been brought forward twice from its original date of May 30 since it was appointed by local lawmakers last month.
The US has said it will not recognize the results of any referendum about the autonomous republic’s future, as Washington continues to consider Crimea a part of Ukraine, US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt stated.
Earlier, President Obama said that a referendum in Crimea would “violate the Ukrainian constitution and international law.”
This stance has been echoed by British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also stated that “any attempt by Russia to legitimize the results could bring more consequences.”
Speaking to Cameron and Merkel over the phone, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that Crimea’s upcoming referendum will reflect the legitimate interests of its people.
By Friends of Al-Aqsa November 7, 2013
The need to boycott Israel is growing
The call for boycotting Israel has grown significantly in recent years. The main purpose of this global campaign is to bring Israel to account for its human rights violations against Palestinians. The reason such civil action is necessary is because governments around the world with the power to intervene have repeatedly failed to utilise international legal apparatus in to hold Israel to account for its crimes.
However, successful boycott campaigns have revealed that ordinary people do have the power to act and respond to Palestinian calls for intervention. The destruction of Palestinian infrastructure through Israeli military assaults, routine demolitions of essential resources such as water wells, and blocking access to farmlands; means that Palestinians are unable to freely harvest their lands and bring their produce onto the markets. It is well documented that farmers are attacked by extremist settlers, and shot at by army personnel. Entire initiatives such as the Olive Cooperative have been built in response to these attacks, so that international solidarity activists can go to Palestine simply to help farmers harvest their crops and document the violent assaults some face on a daily basis.
Fishermen off the coast of Gaza face similar deadly assaults, this time from Israel’s naval vessels. Thus, peaceful farming or fishing is now a luxury for Palestinians, yet Israel is exporting its own produce globally and reaping the financial rewards for it. Its exploitation of stolen Palestinian lands in the West Bank should not be allowed to enter European markets and the boycott campaigns seek to highlight this.
The boycott of illegal settlement produce is becoming established. However, there is now also a move to boycott Israeli produce too, as Israeli companies have been found to breach EU food labelling regulations by labelling settlements goods as ‘produce of Israel’. By doing this, they mislead consumers into believing that the goods are legitimately farmed in Israel, instead of illegitimately farmed on stolen Palestinian land, often exploiting Palestinian labour.
Recent statistics reveal that illegal settlements profit from exporting their produce to Europe to the tune of 230 million Euros a year. When compared to Palestinian exports, this is fifteen times greater in value. Thus, the EU imports 100 times more produce per illegal Israeli settler than it does per legitimate Palestinian resident of the West Bank.
The success of the boycott campaigns reflects the feeling on the ground. Ordinary Brits do not want to be a part of Israel’s racist and illegal occupation policies, and they do not wish to support the illegal settlements by buying their produce.
British Politicians Oppose Boycott
Both the Conservatives and the Labour Party have both come out against boycott of Israel.
David Cameron stated in October 2012:
In a speech by David Cameron at the annual dinner of the United Jewish Israel Appeal, Cameron said on boycotting:
“And to those in Britain’s universities and trades unions who want to boycott Israel and consign it to an international ghetto, I say not only will this Government never allow you to shut down 60 years worth of vibrant exchange and partnership that does so much to make both our countries stronger but I also say this: we know what you are doing – trying to delegitimise the State of Israel – and we will not have it.”
The Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander, recently stated ”it is not Labour policy to support boycotts. We would like to see even stronger economic ties with Israel’. His comments were reported on twitter following a London meeting on 7 February 2013.
European Consumer Labelling laws
The EU is considering making it illegal for Israel to sell produce from the illegal settlements labelled as ‘produce of Israel’. This would be a marked step towards obstructing settlements from profiting from the land they have stolen.
Produce to Boycott
Products to look out for are: dates, citrus fruits and herbs, and manufactured products including cosmetics, carbonation devices, plastics, textile products and toys.
Recently, Morrisons supermarket was found to be selling medjoul dates labelled as ‘Produce of Israel’ but which were in fact from illegal settlements.
1) Every time you go shopping, ‘Check the Label’ on the produce you buy. Ensure they are not from Israel, West Bank or Jordan Valley. If you do see produce from these places, take a photo and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org detailing the store and location.
2) If you find produce from Israel, West Bank or Jordan Valley ask to speak to the store Manager and explain that the produce are from illegal Israeli Settlements as they are grown on land that has been stolen from Palestinians. Ask for them to be removed from the shelves and for them not to be stocked again. Please also ask for the suppliers name if it is not clear as this is useful information. Email your experience to email@example.com
3) If you do not want to approach the Manager whilst you are shopping, contact the stores Head office on their customer service number/email explaining your concern.
Tesco Customer Service Centre, Baird Avenue, Dundee, DD1 9NF
08457 22 55 33
Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, 33 Holborn, London, EC1N 2HT
0800 636 262
0800 188 884
Customer service enquiries – 0845 611 6111
General or corporate enquiries – 0845 611 5000
By Post: Customer Service Department, Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC, Hilmore House, Gain Lane, Bradford, BD3 7DL
General Enquiries: 0800 952 0101
Write to: Customer Service, ASDA House, Southbank, Great Wilson Street, Leeds LS11 5AD
Holly Lane, Atherstone, Warwickshire CV9 2SQ
0844 406 8800
0870 444 1234
|Cultural Boycott as a Political Tool; Impact and Importance|
The British government has admitted complicity in a deadly attack on Sikhism’s holiest shrine in India, the Golden Temple, almost three decades age.
Appearing in the House of Commons on Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague disclosed the findings of a government investigation into the level of British involvement in the June 1984 massacre of Sikhs in India’s northwestern city of Amritsar.
Hague acknowledged that a British officer from the Special Air Service (SAS) travelled to India in February that year and advised Indian authorities on planning one of the most notorious atrocities in Britain’s imperial history in the South Asian country.
The UK’s top diplomat, however, sought to play down the SAS role in the assault, as he insisted that the advice to the Indian Intelligence Services on their Operation Blue Star raid on the temple had “little impact” on the outcome.
“The nature of the UK’s assistance was purely advisory, limited and provided to the Indian government at an early stage,” he said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron launched the probe in January after newly-released documents showed that the government of former British premier Margaret Thatcher was involved in the Amritsar raid.
Cameron said in a video message that he hopes the report would give “reassurance to the Sikh community here in Britain and elsewhere.”
But Sikh groups criticized the scope of the Whitehall review, saying it failed to cover the British complicity during the time of the massacre.
In a letter to Cameron, Bhai Amrik Singh, the chairman of the Sikh Federation, said he was “hugely disappointed” with the probe’s “narrow terms.”
“It appears the review has looked at a narrow period and not covered the period in the latter half of 1984 and may not have addressed some of the concerns raised by UK politicians in the last three weeks,” Singh wrote.
The death toll from the temple raid still remains disputed, with Indian authorities putting it in the hundreds and Sikh groups in the thousands.
In February last year, Cameron visited the scene of the massacre in the state of Punjab at the end of his three-day trade trip to India but he stopped short of making a formal apology.
David Cameron Says Snooper’s Charter Is Necessary Because Fictional Crime Dramas He Watches Prove It
You may recall the stories from the past couple years about the so-called “snooper’s charter” in the UK — a system to further legalize the government’s ability to spy on pretty much all communications. It was setting up basically a total surveillance system, even beyond what we’ve since learned is already being done today. Thankfully, that plan was killed off by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
However, Prime Minister David Cameron is back to pushing for the snooper’s charter — and his reasoning is as stupid as it is unbelievable. Apparently, he thinks it’s necessary because the fictional crime dramas he watches on TV show why it’s necessary. I am not joking, even though I wish I was:
In the most serious crimes [such as] child abduction communications data… is absolutely vital. I love watching, as I probably should stop telling people, crime dramas on the television. There’s hardly a crime drama where a crime is solved without using the data of a mobile communications device.
What we have to explain to people is that… if we don’t modernise the practice and the law, over time we will have the communications data to solve these horrible crimes on a shrinking proportion of the total use of devices and that is a real problem for keeping people safe.
Yes, he just said that. Because fictional characters on crime drama TV shows make use of data, that’s somehow proof that it’s necessary. Perhaps someone can send Cameron a copy of Enemy of the State or any other fictional work showing how the government can abuse such information. Or, better yet, let’s have our side stick with reality, and we can just point to real historical events of governments abusing such information.
LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande agreed Friday to beef up the two countries’ cooperation in defense, nuclear energy and climate policy.
Britain and France inked the cooperation deals at the UK-France Summit 2014 held in British royal air force station RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire of southeast England.
The two countries issued a communique setting out plans for joint investment in the procurement of defense equipment, joint training of armed forces and continued development of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, an Anglo-French joint military training and operation program.
“Britain and France are natural partners for defense cooperation,” British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said, adding that the agreements reached at the summit would enhance the “interoperability” of British and French forces.
According to the agreements, the two countries are set to launch a two-year-long joint feasibility study program with an investment of 120 million pounds (about 197.4 million U.S. dollars) for a future Anglo-French combat air system.
Britain and France also agreed to invest in Britain’s major nuclear weapons base, the Atomic Weapons Establishment, to carry out safe testing of British and French stockpiles and achieve greater sharing of technical and scientific data for joint research.
The two nations pledged to join hands in tackling security issues, such as terrorism and drug and arms trafficking, in north and west Africa, as well as building on international peacekeeping missions in Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic.
In addition, the two sides declared their commitment to developing safe nuclear energy, collaborating on new nuclear power stations, combating climate change and pushing for European Commission’s domestic emissions reduction agenda.
“We reiterated our resolve to work together towards achieving an ambitious and legally-binding agreement at the next COP (UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change) in Paris in 2015,” said Edward Davey, British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
In a statement marking the death of Ariel Sharon, British prime minister David Cameron said he was “one of the most significant figures in Israeli history and as Prime Minister he took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace, before he was so tragically incapacitated.”
This sickening tribute will not go down well outside Israel. Sharon, real name Scheinermann, was the child of immigrants fleeing Russia to the British mandate of Palestine in the 1920s. At the tender age of 10 the boy joined the Zionist youth movement Hassadeh. At 14 he was a member of a paramilitary youth battalion and later joined the terrorist group Haganah.
Sharon made a name for himself in 1953 when his secret death squad, Unit 101, dynamited homes and massacred 69 Palestinian civilians – half of them women and children – at Qibya in the West Bank. His troops later destroyed 2,000 homes in the Gaza Strip, uprooting 12,000 people and deporting hundreds of young Palestinians to Jordan and Lebanon.
He was regarded as the patron of the settlers’ movement. He used his position as housing minister to encourage the establishment of a network of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories to prevent the possibility of ethnically-cleansed Palestinians returning. Explaining his policy, Sharon said: “Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Judean) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours… Everything we don’t grab will go to them.”
Chief of staff of the Israeli Defence Force, Rafael Eitan, remarked, “When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.” Sharon doubled the number of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. By the end of 2005 the total was 177.
In 1982 he masterminded Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, which resulted in a huge death toll of Palestinians and Lebanese, a large proportion being children. An Israeli tribunal found him indirectly responsible for the massacre of Palestinians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila and he was forced to resign as Defence minister, but that didn’t stop him being appointed to other senior government posts.
In 2000, just before his election as prime minister, Sharon and an escort of over 1,000 Israeli armed police visited the Temple Mount, site of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, and declared that the complex would remain under perpetual Israeli control. It was a deliberately provocative move which triggered the second Intifada, although there are indications that the Palestinians had already planned an uprising and Sharon’s reckless move simply pushed the button.
He was also responsible for war crimes at Jenin in 2002 when, after the second intifada was declared, the Israeli army turned a variety of strategic weapons on the town. Accusations of a massacre were denied but many civilians living in the town and its refugee camp were killed in the street fighting and helicopter gunship attacks, and in sections of the town that were flattened by armoured bulldozers.
Israel prevented UN investigators gaining access but a Human Rights Watch report concluded:
Israeli forces committed serious violations of international humanitarian law, some amounting prima facie to war crimes. Human Rights Watch found no evidence to sustain claims of massacres or large-scale extrajudicial executions by the IDF in Jenin refugee camp. However, many of the civilian deaths documented by Human Rights Watch amounted to unlawful or willful killings by the IDF. Many others could have been avoided if the IDF had taken proper precautions to protect civilian life during its military operation, as required by international humanitarian law… Some of the cases documented by Human Rights Watch amounted to summary executions, a clear war crime… Throughout the incursion, IDF soldiers used Palestinian civilians to protect them from danger, deploying them as ‘human shields’ and forcing them to perform dangerous work … the IDF prevented humanitarian organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, from gaining access to the camp and its civilian inhabitants, despite the great humanitarian need.
Sharon was the driving force behind the evil Separation or ‘Apartheid’ Wall which deviates wildly from the Demarcation/Green Line and effectively annexes 10 percent of the Palestinian West Bank’s choicest land and water resources, and cuts off villagers from their crops and livelihoods.
And there have been reports that Israeli death squads are authorised to enter “friendly” countries and kill those suspected of being a threat to the Jewish state wherever they are hiding. Targeted killings were pretty much restricted to Occupied Palestine but the appointment of a new Mossad director, Meir Dagan, in 2002 changed all that.
Sharon was said to have given his old buddy Dagan a mandate to revive the traditional methods of Mossad, including assassinations abroad, even at the risk to Israel’s bilateral relations. It is quite possible that Mossad hoodlums are at this moment prowling the streets of London, Bradford, Glasgow and Manchester – as well as major cities in Europe and the US – snuffing out plotters against their rotten racist regime.
The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Vivian Wineman, paying tribute to Sharon, says: “He was among Israel’s greatest military strategists and a master of tank warfare, an art learnt at staff college in Britain… His final major act demonstrated his vision and political boldness in unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza in pursuit of the peace process with the Palestinians.”
The truth is that Israel continued to control Gaza’s airspace, air-waves, coastal waters and border crossings, and still does, creating, in effect, an open air prison camp. The idea that Sharon’s withdrawal was a peace overture is nonsense.
Former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, called him “a warrior who became a man of peace”. A poll by the Israeli news website Ynet voted Sharon the eighth greatest Israeli of all time.
One of Sharon’s must famous (or should that be infamous?) sayings was at an Israeli Cabinet meeting when he (allegedly) told Peres: “We the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it.” Americans from now on should make damn’ sure they unshackle themselves from such people.
Sharon escaped earthly justice and belongs to the mega-criminal class that Cameron’s government changed our law of Universal Jurisdiction to protect. It is hoped others, however, will live to feel the teeth of justice chewing their sorry ass.
The UK Parliament is presenting itself as a complete joke. Rather than looking into controlling the GCHQ (the UK’s equivalent to the NSA), it has instead held a hearing to interrogate and threaten Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger for actually reporting on the Snowden leak documents and revealing the widespread abuses of the intelligence community. The hearing included the insulting and ridiculous question: “do you love this country?”
Committee chair, Keith Vaz: Some of the criticisms against you and the Guardian have been very, very personal. You and I were both born outside this country, but I love this country. Do you love this country?
Alan Rusbridger: We live in a democracy and most of the people working on this story are British people who have families in this country, who love this country. I’m slightly surprised to be asked the question but, yes, we are patriots and one of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of democracy, the nature of a free press and the fact that one can, in this country, discuss and report these things.
Perhaps equally ridiculous: after UK Prime Minister David Cameron ordered the destruction of Guardian hard drives, urged the Parliament to start this very investigation and flat out threatened news publications for reporting on government abuse, folks in Parliament have the gall to suggest that it’s Rusbridger who broke the law in sharing some of the Snowden docs with the NY Times? Maybe if Cameron hadn’t done everything he could to try to stifle a free UK press, the Guardian wouldn’t have felt the need to share documents with a competitor.
Conservative MP Michael Ellis: Mr Rusbridger, you authorised files stolen by [National Security Agency contractor Edward] Snowden which contained the names of intelligence staff to be communicated elsewhere. Yes or no?
Rusbridger: Well I think I’ve already dealt with that.
Ellis: Well if you could just answer the question.
Rusbridger: I think it’s been known for six months that these documents contained names and that I shared them with the New York Times.
Ellis: Do you accept that that is a criminal offence under section 58(a) of the Terrorism Act, 2000?
Rusbridger: You may be a lawyer, Mr Ellis, I’m not.
And from there it took a turn to the bizarre as Ellis started talking about how Rusbridger might reveal that GCHQ agents were gay. I’m not kidding.
Ellis: Secret and top-secret documents. And do you accept that the information contained personal information that could lead to the identity even of the sexual orientation of persons working within GCHQ?
Rusbridger: The sexual orientation thing is completely new to me. If you could explain how we’ve done that then I’d be most interested.
Ellis: In part, from your own newspaper on 2 August, which is still available online, because you refer to the fact that GCHQ has its own Pride group for staff and I suggest to you that the data contained within the 58,000 documents also contained data that allowed your newspaper to report that information. It is therefore information now that is not any longer protected under the laws and that jeopardises those individuals, does it not?
Rusbridger: You’ve completely lost me Mr Ellis. There are gay members of GCHQ, is that a surprise?
Ellis: It’s not amusing Mr Rusbridger. They shouldn’t be outed by you and your newspaper.
[Brief inaudible exchange in which both men are talking]
Rusbridger: The notion of the existence of a Pride group within GCHQ, actually if you go to the Stonewall website you can find the same information there. I fail to see how that outs a single member of GCHQ.
Ellis: You said it was news to you, so you know about the Stonewall website, so it’s not news to you. It was in your newspaper. What about the fact that GCHQ organised trips to Disneyland in Paris, that’s also been printed in your newspaper, does that mean if you knew that, information including the family details of members of GCHQ is also within the 58,000 documents – the security of which you have seriously jeopardised?
Rusbridger: Again, your references are lost to me. The fact that there was a family outing from GCHQ to Disneyland … [CUT OFF]
There was much more in the hearing, with multiple UK members of parliament making statements that suggest that they are ignorant of a variety of things, including how encryption works and the nature of a free and open press.
But, really, just the fact that they’re spending time investigating Rusbridger in the first place, rather than looking more closely at what the GCHQ is doing, makes a complete mockery of the UK Parliament.
The United Nations is set to carry out an investigation into the spying activities of the US and UK, a senior judge has said. The probe will examine the espionage programs and assess whether they conform to UN regulations.
UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC told British newspaper The Guardian that the UN will conduct an inquiry into the NSA and the GCHQ’s spying antics. Following Edward Snowden’s revelations, which blew the whistle on both agencies’ intelligence gathering programs, Emmerson said the issue was at “the very apex of public interest and concerns.”
The report will broach a number of contentious issues, said Emmerson, including whether Snowden should be granted the legal protection afforded to a whistleblower, whether the data he handed over to the media did significant harm to national security, whether intelligence agencies need to scale down their surveillance programs and whether the UK government was misled about the extent of intelligence gathering.
“When it comes to assessing the balance that must be struck between maintaining secrecy and exposing information in the public interest, there are often borderline cases,” Emmerson told The Guardian.
Emmerson also mentioned the raid this summer on The Guardian’s London offices in search of hard drives containing data from Snowden. Addressing the allegations made by the chiefs of British spy agencies MI5, GCHQ and MI6, that publishing Snowden’s material was “a gift to terrorists,” Emmerson said it was the media’s job to hold governments to account for their actions.
“The astonishing suggestion that this sort of responsible journalism can somehow be equated with aiding and abetting terrorism needs to be scotched decisively,” said Emmerson, who will present the conclusions of his inquiry to the UN General Assembly next autumn.
Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger is set to appear before a Commons home affairs committee in a hearing about the newspaper publishing of Snowden’s security leaks. British Prime Minister David Cameron issued a statement in September, warning of a possible crackdown if media continued to publish information on covert intelligence gathering programs.
He said the government had not yet been “heavy-handed” in its dealings with the press, but it would be difficult not to act if the press does not “demonstrate some social responsibility.” Cameron added that the UK was a more dangerous place after the Guardian published Snowden’s material.
Snowden’s revelations of the international spying activities of the UK and US have embarrassed the White House and Downing Street. Recent leaks show that the NSA and GCHQ not only monitored millions of civilian communications using programs such as PRISM and Tempora, but also eavesdropped on high-profile businessmen and politicians. Moreover, it was revealed that the NSA also spied on the UN’s headquarters in New York.
Both nations have sought to justify their intelligence gathering programs as being in the interests of national security.