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Obama's Fake Muslim Outreach

 Obama's Fake Muslim Outreach - by Stephen Lendman

 

While slaughtering Muslims abroad, supporting Israeli's illegal occupation and genocidal Gaza siege, as well as waging domestic war on Islam, Reuters, on November 9, headlined, "Obama says US earnest, reaching out to Muslim world," saying:

 

From Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, "President Barack Obama said Tuesday that Washington's effort to reach out to the Muslim world was earnest and would help improve security, although he acknowledged that there was still more work to do."

 

At a news conference with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhovono, he said, "With respect to outreach to the Muslim world, I think that our efforts have been earnest and sustained. We don't expect that we are going to completely eliminate some of the misunderstandings and mistrust that have developed over a long period of time, but we do think that we're on the right path." 

 

On August 31, he wreaked of duplicitity declaring an "end to the combat mission in Iraq," saying:

 

"Throughout this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility." 

 

No matter that after two decades of war, sanctions, occupation, millions of deaths and displacements, disease, and insecurity, Iraq no longer exists. Divided in three parts (the Basra south, Kurdish north, and Baghdad center), it's unsafe, corrupt, terrorized, tyrannized, contaminated, and permanently occupied like Afghanistan and wherever else America shows up, the scourge of the Muslim world.

 

On November 9, New York Times writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg headlined, "Obama, in Indonesia, Criticizes Israel on Housing," saying:

 

"This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations, and I'm concerned that we're not seeing each side make the extra effort involved to get a breakthrough."

 

More duplicity by a president who partnered with Israel's occupation project, funds its wars, supplies billions of dollars in annual aid, more on request, plus the latest weapons and technology. A president with no interest in peace or Palestinian rights. One spurning his own people, especially the poor, disadvantaged, and millions of American Muslims. Who chides Netanyahu's construction plan for 1,000 new homes in the West Bank Ariel settlement, besides 800 more in East Jerusalem (all on stolen land). Who provides annual aid to fund them. Who now extends outreach to world Muslims with policies that betray them.

 

Obama plans a formal November 10 address, either at the University of Indonesia or a Jakarta mosque, venues that should spurn, not welcome him. So should Seoul, South Korea when he arrives Thursday for the G-20 conference, its agenda planning exploitation, not help for global millions in need, especially victims of US imperialism and persecuted Muslims everywhere who reject Obama's rhetoric, the same fake populism his agenda exposes.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.Obama's agenda belies his rhetoric

Israeli Banks Profiteering from Occupation

 Israeli Banks Profiteering from Occupation - by Stephen Lendman

 

Wall Street does it. Other Western banks do it. They all exploit markets, often ripping off customers illegally. Why not Israeli banks also in their own back yard, easily in expanding settlements.

 

The Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) includes 10 feminist organizations and non-affiliated activist women in Israel. Founded in 2000, it advocates "radical social and political change," and is "a leading voice against the occupation, committed to feminist principles of organizing and Jewish-Palestinian partnership in a relentless struggle for a just peace."

 

In October, it released a report titled, "Financing the Israeli Occupation, The Direct Involvement of Israeli Banks in Illegal Settlement Activity and Control over the Palestinian Banking Market."

 

Besides stealing Palestinian land, economic interests play a large role in Israel's occupation, including resource control, labor exploitation, and commercial enterprises of all kinds, operating freely and illegally in settlements, banks among them.

 

Israeli banks profiteer several ways discussed below, but make no mistake. Like in the West, they're predators, especially in Occupied Palestine, permitted to steal and exploit because what say have occupied people. As a result, banks (construction companies, and other commercial enterprises) breach international law as participants in illegal projects, a lucrative profit center they freely exploit.

 

To encourage migration, Israel offers generous benefits and incentives, most settlements given National Priority Area A status, entitling them to:

 

-- quality, low-cost housing with subsidized mortgages;

 

-- free education from age three and extended school days;

 

-- free transportation to and from schools, and higher teacher salaries to attract qualified ones to move;

 

-- for industry and agriculture, grants and subsidies, indemnification from EU produce tariffs, significantly lower taxes than inside the Green Line; and

 

-- larger balancing grants to help settlements cover deficits.

 

In all aspects of finance, Israel banks are involved, profiteering from an expanding market six ways:

 

(1) Providing mortgages to homebuyers

 

Six large Israeli banks provide them - Bank Hapoalim, Leumi Mortgage Bank (of Bank Leumi), Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, Discount Mortgage Bank (of Israel Discount Bank), The First International Bank of Israel (FIBI), and Jerusalem Bank. All offer mortgages in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Golan, seized from Syria in 1967. By so doing, they actively participate illegally in Israel's occupation.

 

Moreover, as lenders, they're also owners until mortgages loans are repaid, and if not, they seize properties in default, making banks sole owners of illegal ones on stolen land, becoming more than ever criminally complicit.

 

(2) Providing overall settlement financing

 

Israeli housing construction projects (in Israeli and the Territories) depend heavily on loans from inception through completion. They're provided under special terms known as "accompaniment agreements" (Heskem Livui). Moreover, they're regulated by the Sale of Apartments Law (Assurance of Investments for Apartment Buyers) and under Bank of Israel management regulations. They're also supervised by the Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing.

 

These agreements are crucial. Without them, completion of many projects might be jeopardized. Under their provisions, the accompanying bank holds property as collateral until housing units find buyers. Construction companies, in turn, get a reliable source of financing, including credit and guarantees on projects undertaken.

 

Prior to an agreement, special bank officers evaluate a project's profitability. If approved, development is monitored from start to finish, and banks also are involved in determining prices for finished properties. In addition, homebuyer payments are deposited in special accounts, exclusively for that purpose, controlled by accompanying banks to manage all related financial transactions.

 

In 2008, the Sale of Apartments Law was amended, tightening oversight of accompaniment agreements after fraud was exposed in a case called the Heftziba Affair. It involved one of Israel's largest construction companies - Heftziba.

 

Specializing in low-cost housing, it went bankrupt, after which its owner, Boaz Yona, was convicted of fraudulently stealing millions of dollars from unwary clients, without providing promised apartments. As a result, the amended Law requires an appointed Ministry of Construction and Housing commissioner, responsible for the registration and management of accompaniment agreements. The appointee must then submit an annual activity report to the Knesset Finance Committee.

 

In practice, however, agreements are privileged information between banks and construction companies, unavailable to the public. As a result, the 2009 report omitted privileged details, making it of little value. CWP appealed to the Ministry of Construction under Israel's Freedom of Information Act. Established by its Freedom of Information Law, it's, in fact, weak legislation, exempting many public agencies from complying, especially on security related issues. As a result, sanctions are seldom imposed, and appeals rarely upheld.

 

In response to CWP's effort, the Ministry declined, saying it lacked the requested information, whether or not true. As a result, CWP got what it could from banks and construction companies directly. They, of course, withhold vital details freely if they choose.

 

(3) Providing financial services to Settlement Authorities

 

Like settlements, local and regional councils and municipalities connected to them require financing for infrastructure, other projects, and essential services. Banks provide it for greater profits, including through loans, managing accounts, and other services.

 

Loans finance activities and establish enduring relationships, their provisions making banks investors in continued development and settlements growth, producing reliable income streams and greater profits. Overall, hundreds of millions of dollars are involved for projects ranging from a few to up to 99 years duration, supplement by new ones as settlements expand.

 

(4) Occupied Territory branch banking

 

Besides financing, all major commercial banks service private customers through West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan branches - the more settlers, the more customers, and the more branch banks, the more strengthened Israel's settlement project becomes.

 

According to Bank of Israel data, 34 branches operate in settlements, providing the same services as throughout Israel, including personal and business accounts, mortgage and other lending, credit cards, and other financial services, all of it profiteering illegally.

 

(5) Business Lending

 

Occupation is profitable, including for many Israeli and international commercial enterprises. They also need financing to grow. Banks provide it. CWP learned that "all Israeli commercial banks provide business loans for companies that are directly and clearly involved in the occupation." In other words, they operate illegally in the settlements, and they know it.

 

(6) The relationship between Israeli banks and the Palestinian banking market

 

By agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), only the shekel, dollar, euro and Jordanian dinar are used. The shekel, in fact, increases the Palestinian economy's subordination to Israel's much larger one.

 

The shekel's market share depends on several factors, including taxes, mainly from customs, and the VAT. In addition, most Palestinians with jobs work in settlements, and Israel has a thriving export and import market. The trade balance is illustrative. Of about 20 billion annual shekel transfers, 80% accrue to Israel.

 

Moreover, Palestinian banks have no direct access to the shekel clearing house, so must buy services from Israeli banks, mainly Bank Hapoalim and Discount Bank. However, arrangements impose "several limitations and have severe implications on the" cost burden Palestinian banks must bear.

 

Under established arrangements, Israeli banks demand collateral deposits of over one billion shekels (over 212 million euros), earning no interest. In addition, they charge high commissions, increasing costs and risks for their Palestinian counterparties. As a result, Palestinian banks incur deficits in the arrangement, impeding their development, and for some their viability.

 

Moreover, only some Palestinian banks may transfer shekels to Israeli banks. Newer ones are excluded to obstruct their ability to operate. In addition, the Bank of Israel controls monetary policy, including the amount issued, interest charged, inflation-targeting, foreign currency purchases, and export policies favoring Israel, not Palestine. Overall, Palestinian banks face enormous burdens, unfairly imposed to disadvantage them.

 

A Final Comment

 

Nearly all Israeli commercial banks exploit the Territories freely, effecting erasing the Green Line financially and commercially. Israeli and international enterprises are advantaged at the expense of Palestinian ones. 

 

By profiteering from occupation, these banks bear direct responsibility and must "be held accountable for their role in the financing of economic activity which sustains continued Israeli control" illegally. They also perpetuate the Palestinians' enormous burden under "unjust conditions," ones demanding redress.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.Israeli banks operate like Wall Street

Special Issue Sedek عدد خاص سِدق גליון סדק מיוחד

special sedek issue

 Sedek, A Journal on the Ongoing Nakba, is published in Hebrew since 2007. Three years after the publication of your first issue we have translated, together with the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, a collection of articles published in Sedek who deal with prompting practices, visions and possibilities for Palestinian refugees' return. In a special, online trilingual Sedek issue, we have gathered these texts. Please read them, and write back to us.

Israeli Settlers Threaten Sheikh Jarrah

 Israeli Settlers Threaten Sheikh Jarrah - by Stephen Lendman

 

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, including Fourth Geneva's Article 49 stating:

 

"Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of the motive."

 

In addition, various UN resolutions (including 446, 452 and 465) condemned Israel's settlement building, declaring they have "no legal validity" to exist. However, they do and regularly expand, endangering all Palestinian communities, Sheikh Jarrah one of many and their longstanding residents.

 

A predominantly East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood, it's home to about 2,800 Palestinians as well as diplomatic missions and well-known landmarks. However, because of its strategic location, settlers want it, and have encroached for years. So far, over 60 Palestinian families have been dispossessed. Another 500 are at risk. 

 

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published an October report titled, "The Case of Sheikh Jarrah," explaining the growing threat, saying it's "of serious humanitarian concern." Settlers have used different methods to encroach, including:

 

(1) taking over land or property confiscated or expropriated by Israeli authorities, one way, among others, under the 1950 Absentee Property Law (ABL) defining absentees as:

 

"a person who, at any time during the period between (November 29, 1947) and (May 19, 1948) has ceased to exist (and no longer) was a legal owner of any property situated in the area of Israel...."

 

In other words, Palestinians fleeing for their lives became "absentees" with no legal right to land and property Israel wanted to steal.

 

(2) giving settlers land designated "public" or "state" for environmental, historic or religious reasons.

 

(3) using Israeli law (denied Palestinians) to pursue alleged Jewish ownership of land or property prior to 1948.

 

(4) buying land through intermediaries as well as through a process involving threats, deception, false depositions, or forged documentation, complicit courts cheating Palestinian owners.

 

An earlier article on theft of Palestinian land and property can be accessed through the following link:

 

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/01/israeli-theft-of-palestinian-property.html

 

What began incrementally has now intensified through forced evictions, at times involving home demolitions and state-sponsored violence. Sheikh Jarrah areas below have been especially affected.

 

(1) Karm Al Ja'ouni/Tomb Quarter where over 60 Palestinian families have been forced from their homes since late 2008. Evictions followed lost legal disputes over ownership, Jews invariably prevailing over Palestinians. Afterwards, settlers moved in, and according to plans submitted to the Jerusalem Municipality, they'll demolish the entire area for a new settlement, meaning all Arabs will be illegally dispossessed.

 

Over 300 are at risk, mostly refugees in UNWRA-sponsored housing since 1956 after fleeing from their homes in 1948. So far, eight extended families got eviction notices. More are coming. As a result, the affected neighborhood has sharply deteriorated, partly from frequent police-backed settler - resident clashes. Since August 2009, Israeli and international activists have participated in demonstrations, supporting Palestinian rights. Many have been injured, harassed, arrested and/or detained.

 

(2) In Kubaniyat Im Haroun, a protracted legal battle ended in September 2010 after Israel's High Court ruled for settlers, bogusly claiming pre-1948 ownership of Palestinian land. The decision means more forced evictions are coming because Jews nearly always prevail.

 

(3) Originally owned by the Husseini family, Israeli authorities expropriated the Shepherd Hotel and adjacent land in 1967, selling it in 1985 to Jews. They now plan a new 90 housing unit settlement. At least 20 so far have been approved, the others a fait accompli. 

 

(4) Named after its former owner, the Mufti of Jerusalem, the Karm el Mufti olive grove was expropriated by Israeli authorities, later transferring it to the Ateret Cohanim settler association. Although zoned a green area, restricting construction, settlers began a process to build 250 housing units most likely to be approved.

 

(5) In 2009, the Jerusalem Municipality granted the fundamentalist Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful) movement a permit to build a three story office/conference center for their planned Amana headquarters. Construction will be on expropriated Palestinian land, adjacent to Sheikh Jarrah's St. Joseph Hospital, despite objections from area residents.

 

(6) Additional stolen land next to the Al-Hayat Medical Center will be used for a Jewish religious/educational center, funded by Canadian Jews.

 

The fate of Sheikh Jarrah's Hanoun and Al Ghawi families are typical. In August 2009, Israeli police forcibly evicted them. Fifty-three Palestinians, including 20 children were dispossessed, their homes seized, their property loaded on trucks, then dumped on a street near UNWRA's headquarters. Besides losing everything, they now face high legal bills, fines and other charges, including for their own evictions, a shocking contempt for law and justice. Many others have been similarly affected.

 

In 2009, at least 380 Palestinians, including over 90 children, were forcibly displaced in East Jerusalem. Another 190, including over 85 children, were also affected. Moreover, other residents face at least 1,500 demolition orders, their lives to be harmed like the Hanoun and Al Ghawi families. As a result, Palestinian neighborhoods are being incrementally destroyed, their residents discarded like yesterday's garbage.

 

The humanitarian concerns are overwhelming, dispossession having immediate and longer-term physical, social, economic, and emotional consequences on families, neighborhoods and communities. Moreover, depriving people of their main asset and displacing them disrupts their livelihoods, reduces their standard of living, increases their risk for poverty, and limits their access to basic services like water, education and health care.

 

Forced evictions combined with expanded settlements also restrict free movement, and increase settler intimidation and harassment, at times causing injuries or deaths. After similar developments in Hebron's H2 area, over 1,000 Palestinians lost homes and over 1,800 commercial businesses had to close.

 

Under recognized international law, these are grievous violations. Yet Israel lets Jews claim land and property illegally, by alleging they owned it before 1948. Palestinians, however, have no equivalent right to land and property in Israel, legally theirs before being forcibly expelled during Israel's War of Independence.

 

With no enforcement authority, OCHA urges an immediate end to evictions, home demolitions, and dispossessions, as well as returning families to land and property they own, citing international humanitarian law. 

 

Israel, of course, ignores international law, its own as well when it comes to Arabs, remaining defiant because no one intervenes. As a result, Palestinians remain victimized, yet struggle heroically for their rights and dignity, refusing ever to stop until justice they rightfully deserve is achieved.

 

A Final Comment

 

On October 21, the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement obtained documents on Gaza's closure and isolation policy, 18 months after their existence was denied. In early 2009, Gisha filed a Freedom of Information Act petition "demand(ing) transparency regarding the Gaza closure policy." Israel still withholds  information on its amended guidelines, established after the Flotilla massacre.

 

It's now known, however, that Israel imposed "a policy of deliberate reduction" of essential goods to Gaza, including food, medical supplies, fuel for electricity, and much more. In addition, guidelines dictated a "lower warning line" to notify about expected shortages in advance. At the same time, however, it was ignored. 

 

Moreover, an "upper red line" was set above which humanitarian goods could be blocked as part of state policy to suffocate 1.5 Gazans. In early 2006, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert advisor Dov Weisglass explained saying, "The idea is to put (Gazans) on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger." In other words, make them suffer enough to reject Hamas or force its officials to accede to Israeli demands, giving up hope for equity and justice.

 

After the May Flotilla massacre, Israel eased closure modestly, but hardly enough to matter. According to Gisha Director Sari Bashi:

 

"Instead of considering (legitimate) security needs, on the one hand, and the rights and needs of civilians living in Gaza, on the other, Israel banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity - paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still place."

 

Israel is a lawless rogue state, its Gaza closure policy Exhibit A.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.Stealing Palestinian land

Eroding Conditions for Israeli Arabs: Part II

 Eroding Conditions for Israeli Arabs: Part II - by Stephen Lendman

 

An earlier article reviewed the April Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel report titled, "One Year for Israel's New Government and the Arab Minority in Israel," accessed through the following link:

 

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/07/deteriorating-conditions-for-israeli.html

 

This article discusses a new Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) report titled, "Project Democracy - Fighting for the Ground Rules" for Israeli Arabs.

 

Israel's bogus democratic credentials are shameless and transparent, for growing numbers of Israeli Jews, but mainly for denying equal rights to minority Arabs, comprising 20% of the population. ACRI explained, saying:

 

"One of the most important principles in a democracy is to protect the minority against....tyranny. A democratic state is by nature pluralistic and respectful of diversity among its citizens, and enables each group within its population that so wishes to maintain all the components of its own identity, including its heritage, culture, and national identity."

 

Israel governs mirror opposite, disdaining anyone not Jewish, largely denying them any rights, while increasing harsh levels of persecution, especially against unwanted Arabs. As a result, today's reality is lawless discrimination, at times erupting in violence, injuries and deaths.

 

Arab citizens are increasingly persecuted because Israel won't "hesitate to employ lethal violence against" them on any pretext or none whatever. With no accountability or prosecutions, Muslims are unsafe, knowing their government is the enemy, not protector of their rights.

 

At the start of the second Intifada, the events of October 2000 shocked many by the murder of 13 Arabs, 12 citizens and one Occupied Territories resident. No prosecutions followed, a chilling reality that persists. As a result, fear and mistrust grow, instead of adopting the Or Commission's recommendations to diffuse them.

 

Established to investigate the October 2000 incidents, it gave Israel "a historic opportunity to redefine its attitude" to its Arab minority. Ten years later, nothing's changed. In fact, conditions are worse. "(I)n particular, we have seen an unprecedented deterioration in the attitude of the state toward (its) Arab citizens," more than ever since Israel's War of Independence treated them like a fifth column, an enemy to be routed and removed. Today that same attitude prevails.

 

Besides attacks on personal freedoms, authorities propose discriminatory laws, make racist statements publicly, exert force lawlessly, and most recently want Arabs to declare loyalty to "a Zionist, Jewish and democratic state," tarnishing or even made to renounce their own heritage in the process.

 

Moreover, since October 2000, "dozens of Arab citizens have been killed by the security forces." Rarely is anyone held accountable, at most offenders given "light penalties that do not reflect the gravity" of their crimes.

 

Democracies afford equal rights and protections to all its citizens, none excluded for any reason, the true test shown by how minorities are treated. Instead, since inception, Israeli Arabs "have faced systematic and institutionalized discrimination" and repression.

 

Importantly, as recognized by the Or Commission, not only do Arab citizens constitute a large minority, they represent an indigenous people with longstanding roots before Israel's establishment. As distinct from immigrants, they "bear a stronger affinity" to their historic homeland, international law recognizing their right to equality in all respects.

 

Yet an extremist Knesset demands "No citizenship without (pledged) loyalty," what no real democracy requires or enacts repressive measures against any of its citizens. Yet hardline Israelis believe Arab rights depend "on (the) condition that they abandon their national identity, culture, language, and historical heritage, and declare their 'loyalty' to values they do not share."

 

No "loyalty," no rights, they believe, including examples reflecting tyranny, not democracy, such as denying:

 

-- free expression;

 

-- nonviolent protests; and

 

-- participation in social and political life.

 

An example of the latter came from the early 2009 Central Election Committee (CEC) decision to disqualify two Arab parties (Balad and the United Arab List) from standing for Knesset elections. Although Israel's Supreme Court overturned the action, CEC's conduct "constituted an attack not only on the Arab minority itself, but also on the democratic system," exposing its sham nature.

 

Numerous other examples also highlight it, including events after the May Gaza Flotilla attack, unleashing "a tidal wave of attacks and challenges to the Arab Members of the Knesset." 

 

A proposed "Zuabi Law" was introduced, connected to MK Hanin Zuabi's participation. It stipulated that by a special 80 MK majority, any Knesset member could be expelled for having "committed incitement and negated the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state." So far, it's not enacted, but indicates the fragility of personal freedom in Israel, fast eroding and heading for tyranny.

 

This and other examples reflect "the unprecedented deterioration in the current Knesset in all aspects relating to respect for the democratic process." Its most fundamental precept protects the right to dissent, what Howard Zinn called the highest form of patriotism.

 

It also prohibits state-sponsored violence, what Israel uses against its Arab minority, including Bedouin citizens, forcefully removed from their lands with no right to contest. Worse still is cold-blodded murder with no accountability except for meaningless hand slaps.

 

As a result, the attitude of authorities becomes "a role model for many members of the (Jewish) public. The disrespect (and lawlessness) shown by (MKs);" the hostile approach of security force harshness; "the state's denial of the rights of the Arab minority, its preference for (force) over dialogue, and its treatment of Arab citizens" like enemies influences public attitudes and behavior overall.

 

Surveys and other expressions, in fact, confirm an "atmosphere of hostility, hatred, and racism." Countless examples include:

 

-- in 2009, three Misgav district communities (Manof, Yuvalim and Mitzpe) required candidates for membership to declare loyalty to the "Zionist vision" and Israel as a Jewish, democratic state;

 

-- in July 2010, a proposed law passed its First Reading to let communities make these demands;

 

-- discriminatory racism is common in workplaces, at times prohibiting Arabic being used; in other cases excluding non-Jews; "out of 150,000 employees in the industry in Israel, only some 500 (0.33 percent) are Arabs; and

 

-- overall treating Arab citizens like enemies, at times violently.

 

Since inception, government decisions, court rulings, and official documents confirm a culture of discrimination against anyone not Jewish, especially Muslims. The Or Commission, in fact, found that: 

 

"government attention to the Arab sector has largely been characterized by neglect and discrimination." Moreover, "the establishment has not shown sufficient sensitivity to the needs of the Arab sector, and has not taken adequate action to allocate state resources in an egalitarian manner, including to this sector."

 

The Commission recommended genuine equality for Israeli Arabs, saying:

 

"The state should initiate, develop, and operate programs to close gaps, with an emphasis on the fields of budgets, in all areas relating to education, housing, industrial development, employment, and services."

 

Nonetheless, discriminatory gaps widened in areas of education, land, housing, construction, employment, healthcare, politics, civil liberties, and personal safety. Israel institutionalized second-class citizenry for everyone not Jewish, mainly Muslims. ACRI thus concluded, saying:

 

"This reality is morally intolerable and, ultimately, it threatens not 'merely' " Israel's 20% minority, "but all of us....A state that restricts" basic rights; allocates them unfairly; "discriminates against citizens (by misallocation) of resources, infrastrutures, and education; and that labels certain citizens as enemies, is a state" with no democratic legitimacy whatever, heading rapidly toward despotism.

 

A Final Comment

 

Israel's huge political prisoner population belies any democratic pretense, Ahmad Sa'adat a prominent prisoner of conscience, discussed in an earlier article, accessed through the following link:

 

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/07/ahmad-saadat-palestinian-prisoner-of.html

 

On December 8, 2008, he was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment, Israel's harshest political punishment, illegal under international law.

 

An early October 2010 article updated his status, accessed in a final comment through the following link:

 

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/10/israels-persecution-of-ameer-makhoul.html

 

It mentioned an October 4 International Campaign for the Release of Kidnapped Palestinian Legislators press release, saying Sa'adat spent over "500 days in solitary confinement under the most inhumane conditions...."

 

On October 21, Israel sentenced him to six additional months of isolation until April 21, 2011, the web site freeahmadsaadat.org calling it:

 

"another outrage and attack upon the humanity of Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people. (His) ongoing and repeated isolation (will) now stretch to over two years" to silence him on grounds of "security."

 

In fact, it's to crush his human rights mission and perhaps kill him by repression and neglect. The campaign to free him "calls upon all to confront this outrage," adding that "Isolation will not silence" him, other Palestinian political prisoners, or their cause.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.Israeli Arabs no longer are safe

תרגום לעברית של נאום נשיא איראן דר' מחמוד אחמדי נג'אד ברובע הדרומי של בירות - 13.10.2010

להלן נאומו של נשיא איראן דר' מחמוד אחמדי נג'אד במהלך הטקס שנערך לכבודו ברובע הדרומי של בירות, לנוכח אצטדיון מלא מפה לפה של מוקיריו הרבים שבאו לברכו.

בשם האל הרחום והחנון אני מודה לאל יתגדל ויתרומם, ומשבחו ללא סוף, על שהביא אותי לבקרכם, בני העם הלבנוני היקר.
לבנון היא ערש עובדי האל, ובני החורין ונווה ירוק מעוטר בורדים המפיצים ניחוח מגוון של דתות, עדות ואסכולות שונות.
לבנון היא בית-הספר להתקוממות ועמידה איתנה אל מול כוחות הדיכוי של העולם הזה, ובית מדרש לסיפורי גבורה והשתדלות למען המטרות האנושיות הקדושות.
לבנון היא דגל הגאווה והעצמאות המרצד כאבן חן בוהקת מעל האזור.
טוהר המחשבה, התעלות הנפש, וטוהר האבות של העם הלבנוני מתמזגים עם יפי הטבע של חבל ארץ זה, והופכים למרקם שאין דומה לו, ותשורה שמימית מבורכת.

Life in Palestinian Refugee Camps

 Life in Palestinian Refugee Camps - by Stephen Lendman

 

Besides mass slaughter and destruction, wars create refugees, millions at times, uprooted, displaced and homeless, on their own somehow to survive. Israel's "War of Independence" was no different, dispossessing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, a story Western media reports don't explain or even mention.

 

In his book, "My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story," Ramzy Baroud recounted his father Mohammed's story. Born in 1938 in Beit Daras village, he saw it conquered, leveled and erased, except from the memory he took to his grave. A captive in his own land, he lived years as a Gaza Nuseirat camp refugee, raising his family including son Ramzy, dreaming always of going home, struggling as a freedom fighter to end decades of conflict, violence, occupation, and oppression, what Edward Said called "a slow death," shattered hopes, and inexorable toll of its incalculable horror to so many.

 

Spanning over seven decades of history and survivor recollections, it tells a powerful firsthand story of those who lived it, not the airbrushed Western version of the new Israeli state, born in blood, mass slaughter, destruction, and displacement of hundreds of thousands of survivors, to this day oppressed, harassed, intimidated, humiliated, attacked and arrested for being Muslims, not Jews on their own land, in their own country, illegally occupied for decades.

 

In his book "Behind the Wall: Life, Love, and Struggle in Palestine," Rick Wiles recounts other refugee stories, people he encountered firsthand in the West Bank, connecting them to their original villages, expulsion, daily life and dreams of return. 

 

Abu Gaush shared his own 1967 experience, saying:

 

During the Six Day War, "My family fled to the mountains as we were frightened that 1948 was happening all over again....The soldiers emptied all the houses in the villages and forced everyone out onto the streets. The only direction left was to Ramallah, and they told us to go there. Other soldiers were saying, 'Go to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) - all land before there is ours - and if you stop before (arriving), we will kill you.' "

 

Including poignant photos, Wiles' book includes seven sections, discussing: Memories of Exile, The Wall, The Spirit of Resistance, Purity and Love, Land of Palestine, Strength and Sumoud (steadfastness), and Dreams of Return, including his final image of a grandfather giving his original home's key to his son, symbolic of the continuing right to return struggle, what won't ever stop until succeeding.

 

Numbers of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons

 

Al Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, says Palestinian refugees today are the world's "longest suffering and largest refugee population." In its January 2010 report titled, "Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, 2008 - 2009," the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights (BRC) calls them "the largest and longest-standing case of forced displacement in the world today," numbering 9.8 million, increasing by about 100,000 a year. 

 

Most are refugees, another 450,000 internally displaced. For over six decades, they've been denied solutions and reparations for their rights under international law and UN resolutions. An earlier article discussed BRC's report in detail, accessed through the following link:

 

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/05/palestinian-refugees-and-internally.html

 

Life in Occupied Camps

 

Besides those internally displaced, Palestinians have lived in forced exile for decades throughout the world, most within 100 km of their original homes. Those in camps comprise about 21% of the total. Hundreds of thousands of others are in 17 unofficial camps in Occupied Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. About 79% live outside UNRWA's 58 camps, including many in West Bank villages and cities, about 100 locales comprising over half the population.

 

In 2008, the European University Institute's Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies published a report titled, "Palestine Refugee Camps: Disciplinary Space and Territory of Exception," examining daily camp life in 59 camps: 19 in the West Bank, 8 in Gaza, 12 in Lebanon, 10 in Jordan, and 10 in Syria. Saying they're not "natural" settings, they become "slum areas" or under-developed urban sprawls, some "open spaces," others "closed." 

 

In Lebanon, for example, "the gap between the numbers of camp and urban refugee dwellers....is enormous," compared to Jordan and Syria where differences are minimal, yet even "country-by-country analysis does not in any way suggest internal homogeneity, because the question of camp locations within the different countries matters as well."

 

Some are more urban, other peripheral or rural, the differences among them huge, including job discrimination, poverty, and overall conditions. According to Norweigian Institute for Applied Social Science surveys in Jordan and Syria, Palestinian refugee living conditions for those outside camps differ little from host country populations. In camps, however, it's worse, especially in Lebanon. Education there is one of many problems, 60% of 18 - 29 year old Palestinians not finishing school.

 

In Lebanon and Jordan, 60% of camp homes lack proper sanitary installations for safe drinking water. Population density is a major issue, too many people occupying too little space, creating an enormous environmental and public health problem. Buildings are crammed together in narrow alleys, with little natural light, exposure to hazardous substances, inadequate temperature control, and poor ventilation. In Lebanon, the infant mortality rate is 239 per 100,000 births, and chronic infant illnesses are up to three times higher than the country's norm.

 

The Schuman Centre's study preceded Cast Lead, so its Gaza analysis needed updating. The war displaced up to 90,000 people and caused mass destruction. Yet little reconstruction is possible with the Strip under siege and virtually all needed materials and spare parts banned. In addition, three years of closure wrecked Gaza's economy, and sent unemployment and poverty levels soaring - the former up to 65%, the latter 80% with 96% of the Strip's industrial capacity shuttered, leaving well over 80% of the population aid-dependent. Three-fourths of Gazans live in camps, but all of them get below minimal amounts of everything, struggling daily to survive.

 

Overall, Palestinians see camps as "symbols of illegitimacy," a disconnected gray zone under occupation conditions. Of the 4.8 million registered by UNWRA, about 1.2 million live in Gaza, another 800,000 in the West Bank in 27 camps - 19 in the West Bank, 8 in Gaza, the rest in towns and villages.

 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), their 2009 dependency ratio is 85.3% in Gaza and 72.1% in the West Bank. High unemployment and poverty remain grave in both areas, especially in Gaza. So does public health and malnutrition, causing growing levels of illnesses and chronic diseases. 

 

UNWRA calls the refugee population "victims of health inequalities," the occupation, of course, the main contributor, resulting in a chronic imbalance between needs and demands on the one hand, and resources and other constraints on the other. Healthcare, personal safety, legal and political protection, and human welfare are fundamental human rights. Under occupation, they're consistently denied, especially in Gaza under siege.

 

Despite established laws, no international body has an explicit mandate to protect Palestinian refugees. After the 1948 Nakba, the UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP), UNWRA, and later the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were supposed to provide aid, protection, and reparations, but supplied little. In addition, UN agencies, the ICRC, and world community, in deference to Israel, avoided durable solutions, including their obligation to enforce binding international law provisions. 

 

Moreover, refugees are seen more as needing humanitarian aid than having mandated rights, even though international law protects them, including their "inalienable right" of return. As a result, displaced Palestinians remain among the world's most neglected, abused people, including diaspora ones (the majority) excluded from the political process and peace negotiations.

 

The Palestinian National Authority (PA) represents those in the Territories alone, but, in fact, given the Hamas/Fatah split, only West Bank and East Jerusalemites. Most Palestinians are thus disenfranchised. As a result, a volunteer Civitas participant, a collective research project on exiled Palestinian communities, expressed her frustration, saying:

 

"Before the peace treaties, Palestinian political parties were more effective, and we had a voice: we worked properly! We made our voice heard to the entire world. But the world now hears only the voice of the Palestinian president, and his prime minister. As a citizen, I no longer have a voice. His voice is enough, (and he collaborates with Israel. Earlier) my voice was heard. If....peace....silence(s) me then I don't want it!"

 

Diaspora and internal refugees demand their legal rights. Those in Gaza and the West Bank can challenge their occupier directly. Those outside cannot. Without legal documents, passports, travel rights, identity papers, electoral involvement, and ownership and inheritance entitlements, they can't seek redress for decades of injustice, what Israel all along has denied, unchallenged by PA officials. Unless their collective voices are heard, the conflict's historical roots and their rights will go unaddressed, and they'll remain the world's "longest suffering and largest refugee population."

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.



an untold story

Dutch police raided offices of company for building West Bank separation fence and settlements

Press Release 10/19/2010

 

 

Dutch police raided the offices of a company leasing cranes for building the West Bank Separation Fence and settlements. Company executives, including the Israeli Doron Livnat, may face trial for violating International Law. Dutch government warned the Riwal Company two years ago not to engage in construction in the Occupied Trritories. Gush Shalom: another warning sign of the abyss of international isolation into which the Government of Israel leads us.

חברה הולנדית נחקרת בחשד לעבירות על החוק הבינ"ל
 בגין השכרת ציוד לבנייה בגדר ההפרדה ובהתנחלויות

הודעה לעיתונות  19.10.2010

 

החברה ההולנדית ריוול נחקרת בחשד לעבירות פליליות על החוק הבינ"ל

בגין השכרת ציוד לבנייה בגדר ההפרדה ובהתנחלויות

 

גוש שלום: עוד סימן אזהרה לתהום של בידוד בינלאומי אליו גוררת הממשלה את ישראל

פעולה אחת ביום: בית-סוריכּ -- מתחילים!

פעולה אחת ביום

"הפעולה הראשונה! ראש השב"כ פתח את השער!"

היום מתחילים, בפעולה כפולה: גם שולחים מכתב ליובל דיסקין, ראש השב"כ, וגם מגייסים עוד אדם אחד לפחות שיעשה איתנו את הפעולה היומית, שיהיה סיפתח מרשים!!! 

לכל מי שמצטרף אלינו היום - תמצאו כאן בבלוג, בעמודה משמאל, את כל המידע על בית סוריכ והסיבות שאנחנו מצטרפים אליהם בדרישה לגישה לאדמותיהם.

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