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Commentary

Life in East Jerusalem

 Life in East Jerusalem - by Stephen Lendman

 

Palestinians suffer grievously under occupation, including in East Jerusalem. Israel wants it entirely Judaized as its capital even though legally it's an international city under UN trusteeship.

 

No matter. Palestinians face daily hardships and abuses, including its elected officials.

 

In June 2010, three Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members and a former PA Minister of Jerusalem Affairs faced forced deportations as part of Israel's relentless ethnic cleansing policy.

 

Their Jerusalem ID cards were revoked. As a result, their residency and visiting rights were lawlessly rescinded. Lawmakers got a choice. Either renounce a political party Israel rejects or be deported. 

 

Defying Israeli demands, they took refuge in Jerusalem's ICRC compound. In 2006, they were arrested for being elected Hamas legislators. After release, they were ordered out of Jerusalem, then out of the country entirely.

 

Israel doesn't tolerate free Palestinian elections. Officials in parties Israel rejects are called terrorists. They face arrest, expulsion or assassination.

 

After occupying Gaza and the West Bank in 1967, Israel expanded West Jerusalem's boundaries by 70,000 dunams. Doing so meant incorporating 28 Palestinian villages.

 

Thereafter, East Jerusalem was effectively isolated from the rest of the West Bank by expropriating more land, destroying private property, curbing Palestinian demographic and geographic expansion, and reducing the city's non-Jewish population while simultaneously building settlements.

 

Palestinians allowed to stay got blue ID cards. West Bank residents got green ones. In 1980, Israel formally annexed East Jerusalem as its "complete and united" capital in violation of international law. 

 

Israel won't tolerate East Jerusalem as Palestinians' future capital. Palestinians there are considered "permanent (Israeli) residents," permitted to live and work in Israel without special permits.

 

However, their status may be revoked under Article 11a of the 1952 Entry into Israel Law. It permits Israel's Interior Minister to revoke residency of anyone (and their family members), accused of allegedly participating in terrorist activity or belonging to a designated terrorist organization, whether or not true.

 

Hamas members or sympathizers are vulnerable for belonging to or supporting a political party Israel rejects. As a result, they face arrest and/or expulsion in violation of international law. It prohibits forced deportations of protected persons regardless of why.

 

In fact, an amendment to the 1952 Entry into Israel Law, titled Revocation of Nationality for Terrorists and Revocation of Permanent Status for Terrorists and their Families, violated Geneva law.

 

Revoking permanent residency also violates Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), stating: 

 

"Everyone lawfully within the territory of a state shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence."

 

Under occupation, Palestinians have no free movement throughout the Territories. It represents a gross violation of their rights among others consistently denied to quash their hopes for liberation on their own land in their own country.

 

Ahmed Attoun was one of three PLC members imprisoned in 2006. After release in 2009, he and the others took refuge in the ICRC's Jerusalem compound.

 

On September 26, Haaretz writer Liel Kyzer headlined, "Hamas lawmaker arrested in Jerusalem after year of hiding from Israeli Police," saying:

 

In 2010, Ahmed Attoun was expelled from East Jerusalem. Like embassies and UN facilities, ICRC premises are inviolable. Nonetheless, Israeli plain-clothed masked men lawlessly entered and arrested him.

 

He was taken to a West Jerusalem detention facility. A scheduled September 27 hearing was postponed until October 3. An Israeli court ordered him released on condition he leave the country.

 

Prosecutors appealed, calling him "dangerous for the security of Israel" even if deported. He also was prohibited from entering Jerusalem without obtaining an Israeli permit.

 

Attoun refused preconditions. He remains detained pending disposition of his case. His family, friends, and members of the Committee for the Families of Jerusalemite Detainees protested outside the courtroom. 

 

They held pictures of Attoun and banners saying, "Stop Israeli piracy" and "Storming into the Red Cross (premises) is international piracy" in English, Arabic and Hebrew.

 

Attoun holds permanent Jerusalem residency status. In 2006, he became a democratically elected PLC member. Israel treats him like a criminal for representing the wrong party. 

 

After spending three and a half years in prison, he was released in November 2009 but had his residency summarily revoked. At the time, he got temporary permission to remain until July 2, 2010. Thereafter, his status became an "illegal sojourner," liable to arrest, incarceration, fines, and forced expulsion.

 

On June 15, 2010, he petitioned Israel's High Court, challenging his residency revocation. Still pending, his case remains unresolved. 

 

Under international law, East Jerusalem is occupied territory. Its residents are protected persons. As an occupier, Israel has no right to demand Palestinians swear allegiance to Israel by loyalty oath or face revocation of residency or other rights.

 

Israel spurns international law. Breaching it is official policy. So is systemic persecution. Rights are afforded solely to Jews. Anyone can be called a terrorist or security threat for any reason or none at all. Attoun again faces full force Israeli repression.

 

A Final Comment

 

In September, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) published "The East Jerusalem School System - Annual Status Report."

 

Despite Israel's obligation to provide East Jerusalem children free education, "thousands (there) remain outside of the school system each year."

 

At issue is willful disdain and neglect. As a result, Arab schools face:

  •  
  • a severe classroom shortage causing overcrowding in poorly maintained facilities;

 

  • high dropout rates; and

 

  • thousands of children foced into unofficial schools at great cost for parents pressed to afford it.

 

Israel neglected East Jerusalem schools for many years. Arab children aren't treated like Jewish ones.

 

Nearly 4,400 aren't registered in any educational institution. In February 2011, Israel's High Court ordered authorities to pay tuition costs for children forced to attend "recognized but unofficial" schools because of classroom shortages.

 

So far, implementation hasn't followed. ACRI asked the Director of the Jerusalem Education Administration for action. In recent years, it submitted numerous petitions ahead of the opening of each school year with limited success.

 

According to Israel's State Comptroller in 2009, East Jerusalem faces a 1,000 classroom shortage. A decade earlier it was higher. Construction, however, fell far short of meeting needs.

 

A "substantial gap between the needs of the growing population and the existing number of classrooms" poses an unresolved problem. Addressing it is essential.

 

According to official Jerusalem Education Administration (MANHI) figures, more than half of Arab classrooms are substandard. 

 

On September 5, ACRI petitioned the Jerusalem Administrative Court "about the current administration budgets of the official public schools in East Jerusalem."

 

Despite MANHI recommendations, Jerusalem's municipality included one-third of the required budget. ACRI petitioned to have the Ministry of Education "actually budget the official educational institutions in East Jerusalem according to their needs."

 

Besides a severe classroom shortage, inadequate numbers of professional personnel are available, "including educational advisors, psychologists and inspectors."

 

Textbooks and an official curriculum are also at issue. The Knesset education committee, headed by MK Alex Miller, wants Israel's curriculum taught East Jerusalem children.

 

At risk is no longer teaching Palestinian heritage, identity and culture. Provisions of Oslo permit it. International law mandates it. Imposing Israeli curriculum in place of its own poses a grave legal violation if implemented.

 

Israel's current government under Netanyahu is its worst ever. Anything ahead is possible to deny Palestinian rights, including to live freely on their own land in their own country. 

 

With full support from Washington, Israeli abuse never ends.

 

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/Palestinian Prisoner Swap

 Israeli/Palestinian Prisoner Swap - by Stephen Lendman

 

Since Hamas captured Gilad Shalit on June 25, 2006, on and off talks negotiated his release. 

 

Hamas took him captive, responding to repeated Israeli attacks, including a widely reported beach shelling. It killed eight Palestinians, injuring 32 others, including 13 children. Israel denied responsibility, falsely blaming a Hamas mine despite forensic evidence proving otherwise.

 

In retaliation, Hamas struck an Israeli military post near Kerem Shalom crossing, southeast of Rafah. Two Israeli soldiers were killed. Several others were injured, and Shalit was capture. 

 

He's been held ever since because Israel refused to negotiate responsibly to free him. It preferred using his captivity to vilify Hamas until now.

 

On October 12, Haaretz headlined, "Israel cabinet approves Gilad Shalit prisoner swap,” saying:

 

Voting early Wednesday morning, Netanyahu's cabinet agreed to free over 1,000 Palestinian political prisoners in two waves in return for Hamas releasing him after over five years in captivity.

 

According to newly released figures, Palestinian Central Bureau Statistics said over 750,000 Palestinians were arrested and detained since June 1967, including those affected several times. They include about 12,000 women and "tens of thousands of children."

 

Throughout Occupied Palestine and Israel, prisons, detention camps and interrogation centers were established to incarcerate, torture, abuse and humiliate them.

 

Currently, Israel holds about 6,000 detainees, including 35 women and 285 children. Others as young as 10 (and occasionally younger) remain until adulthood, losing out entirely on their formative childhood years.

 

As a result of torture, medical neglect, or assassination, over 200 died martyrs in captivity. Another 302 are called "veteran detainees," serving 17 years or longer. 

 

Another 136 serving 20 years or more are called "Deans of Detainees." "Generals of Patience" is a term applied to prisoners incarcerated over 25 years. As of October, they number 41.

 

On October 13, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) press release headlined, "Closure of Gaza Must Be Lifted as Shalit's Pretext Diminished," saying:

 

Welcoming the deal, PCHR said it calls for swapping 1,027 Palestinians for Shalit. Terms include releasing 27 women and nearly 300 children.

 

Overall, two waves are involved. The first will be completed in a week when Shalit's freed in exchange for 450 Palestinians, including 279 serving life sentences and 27 women. 

 

In two months, phase two will release another 550. According to terms, 203 will be deported, 40 exiled overseas, and 163 expelled to Gaza.

 

In wave one, Haaretz said 110 will be released to their West Bank and East Jerusalem homes, including 55 Hamas members. "According to the deal, 131 Gaza residents will be released" to go home, "many of whom are reportedly top Hamas operatives."

 

In addition, six Israeli Arabs imprisoned for many years will be released to their homes. Two women, Ahlam Tamimi and Amna Muna, will be deported.

 

According to Shin Bet, some prisoners Hamas demanded be freed will remain incarcerated, including Abdullah Barghouti, Ibrahim Hamed, Abbas Sayed, Ahmed Saadat (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader), and Marwan Barghouti because his popular loyalist spirit making him a leading figure to be Palestine's next president.

 

PCHR "expresse(d) reservations on deporting" Palestinians because forced migration violates international law.

 

It's also concerned that 5,000 mostly political prisoners, including 400 Gazans, "will remain detained under cruel and degrading conditions."

 

In recent years, they deteriorated markedly since Shalit's capture. Cruelty includes severe overcrowding; poor ventilation and sanitation; no change of clothes or adequate clothing; wooden planks with thin mattresses for beds; filthy blankets; inadequate food in terms of quality, quantity or conformance with dietary requirements; medical neglect; and hindered access to family members and counsel, among other abuses.

 

Last June, Netanyahu announced plans to toughen conditions further. They already violate international law. Now they've gotten worse. 

 

As a result, hundreds of prisoners went on open-ended hunger strike against Israeli prison hell. Thousands of free Palestinians rallied supportively. Many spent agonizing months or years in Israeli prisons themselves. 

 

In late September, strikers refused to wear prison uniforms, participate in daily roll calls, or cooperate in other ways with Israeli Prison Service (IPS) demands. 

 

In response, prison authorities imposed harsher measures, including transferring large numbers to other prisons, imposing harmful to health dietary restrictions, confiscating electrical appliances, and assaulting prison cells with tear gas.

 

<blockquote>"PCHR is gravely concerned over the continued deterioration of prisoners' conditions inside Israeli prisons."</blockquote> 

 

As a result, it urged international community support to exert pressure for more releases and to treat those confined humanely in conformity with Fourth Geneva's Article 33, stating:

 

<blockquote>"No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or  terrorism are prohibited....Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited."</blockquote>

 

In addition, Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (1955) call for refraining from punitive measures Palestinians have endured for years in prison.

 

PCHR also addressed Gaza's blockade since mid-2006 and tightened siege since mid-2007. These punitive measures gravely impacted normal life in violation of international law.

 

Israel blockaded Gaza in response to Shalit's capture. With his release imminent, its pretext no longer exists. As a result, PCHR calls for its immediate end and for the international community to intervene to relieve years of Gazan suffering.

 

If demands are made with teeth, perhaps Israel will comply. Urging alone won't help. A nation long used to  its own way, only understands ultimatums suggesting too great a price to pay. 

 

It's high time it includes stiff sanctions, isolation, and perhaps UN expulsion unless Gaza's freed, occupation ends, and Palestine is admitted as the world body's 194th member with rights equal to all others.

 

In other words, a price demanding long denied justice is essential. Nothing less than liberation is tolerable after 63 years of persecution and denial. Now's the time to end it.

 

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/.

Ongoing Israeli Human Rights Abuses

 Ongoing Israeli Human Rights Abuses - by Stephen Lendman

 

Throughout its history, Israel's been a serial human rights abuser. Count the ways. 

 

State-sponsored terror is official policy. So is collective punishment, apartheid, colonialism, premeditated war, torture, and filling prison cells illegally with Palestinians wanting to live free on their own land in their own country.

 

Instead they've suffered brutal indignities and persecution under 44 years of occupation. They've endured racism, land theft, dispossessions, road blocks, checkpoints, Separation Walls, mass arrests, prison hell, economic strangulation, terrorized neighborhood incursions, and isolation in cantonized communities and Gaza under siege.

 

Israel is a modern day Sparta, a regional killing machine. It can mobilize over 600,000 combatants in 72 hours, equipped with nuclear and other state-of-the-art weapons. With strong Western backing to do what it pleases, it takes full advantage.

 

Moreover, its youths are indoctrinated to be warriors. Underage boys and girls are prepared for future mandatory military service even though Israel has no enemies except ones it manufactures to justify conflict and violence.

 

Impressionable young minds are taught to believe force and belligerence are preferred ways to solve political problems. Education highlights it, including by uniformed soldiers in classrooms. 

 

Moreover, teachers, especially principals, are retired career officers, and school walls are adorned with names and photos of fallen heros among their graduates. In addition, field trips for all ages visit military memorials on former battlegrounds.

 

Curricula and textbooks also reflect militarism. From kindergarten through high school, programs in all state-run ones mandate "preparation for the IDF." 

 

They feature training, glorifying military heros and conquests. At the same time, children are proselytized to vilify Arabs and hate them. 

 

They learn early and it sticks. They're disciplined for later conscription, combat, and a lifetime of military support. In fact, by raising children in a hostile, violent environment, they're conditioned to wage war against any designed state enemy, whether or not true.

 

Palestinians have paid dearly under occupation hell, especially besieged Gazans. They've endured years of slow-motion genocide from depravation, neglect, and regular air and ground attacks.

 

Israeli Arabs are treated more like fifth column threats than citizens. Even Jews are abused. Military and business priorities come ahead of people needs. 

 

As a result, poverty, homelessness and hunger are growing problems. Israel, in fact, is one of the most unequal Western societies in terms of income, standard of living, and eroding social benefits.

 

Moreover, democratic freedoms are threatened. Israel's Knesset under Netanyahu is its worst ever. Weak-kneed opposition members go along to get along.

 

Recent actions include forcibly transferring around 30,000 West Bank Bedouin Israelis. Beginning in January, 2,300 will lose their homes and be expelled to a site near Abu Dis' refuse dump east of Jerusalem, the city's main one. 

 

It poses health hazards to nearby residents. Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry calls it a "source of environmental pollution, risk of fire and even explosions" for lacking a way to pump out gases produced from unloading waste.

 

Jordan Valley residents next face dispossession. Over three to six years, one option is expelling them to areas near a-Nabi Musa, west of Jericho.

 

Stealing anyone's land and property is illegal. Israel falsely claims Bedouins have no land or property rights where they've lived for decades or generations.

 

Around 80% of Bedouins are 1948 refugees. During Israel's "War of Independence," they lost theirs and their Negev homes and other rights. 

 

Two-thirds now are under 18. All lived for decades in "unrecognized villages." They've been denied basic services afforded other Israelis, including electrical grid and water system connections. Deeply impoverished, OCHA says most suffer from food insecurity.

 

Demolition orders already were issued. Israel has construction plans for thousands of Jews-only apartments and other development as part of its objective to entirely Judaize greater Jerusalem.

 

Colonizing occupied land brazenly violates international law. Forcibly expelling protected persons compounds a grievous crime. Depriving them of all rights with no redress exacerbates it. Nonetheless, it's longstanding Israeli policy.

 

Persecuting Mordechai Vanunu

 

As a Dimona nuclear technician, he smuggled out dozens of photos and scientific documents. On October 5, 1986, the London Times published them, headlined:

 

"Revealed - the secrets of Israel's nuclear arsenal/Atomic technician Mordechai Vanunu reveals secret weapons production," saying:

 

<blockquote>"THE SECRETS of a subterranean factory engaged in the manufacture of Israeli nuclear weapons have been uncovered by the Sunday Times Insight team."

 

"Hidden beneath the Negev desert, the factory has been producing nuclear atomic warheads for the last 20 years. Now it has almost certainly begun manufacturing thermo-nuclear weapons," with yields great enough to destroy entire cities.

 

The Times named Vanunu its source. He worked at Dimona for nearly 10 years in "Machon 2 - a top secret, underground bunker built to provide the vital components necessary for weapons production...."</blockquote>

 

Nuclear experts examined Vanunu's documents, called them genuine, and concluded that Israel's sophisticated technology enabled it "to build up a formidable nuclear arsenal."

 

According to Theodore Taylor, a world expert at the time:

 

<blockquote>"There should no longer be any doubt that Israel is, and for at least a decade has been, a fully-fledged nuclear weapons state....considerably more advanced than (earlier) indicated...."</blockquote>

 

Other top nuclear scientists agreed. Israel then and now is a world nuclear power, possessing sophisticated technology and weapons. Estimates of its arsenal range from 200 - 400 warheads able to destroy entire cities. 

 

Vanunu's revelations cost him dearly. On October 12, 1986, The Times headlined his September 30 disappearance.

 

Mossad lured him to Rome, then beat, drugged, and kidnapped him. In 1986/87, he was secretly tried and sentenced to 18 years incarceration for espionage and treason. 

 

All Israeli prisoners are treated harshly, especially Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Vanunu was kept confined in six square meter isolation. Somehow he survived what destroys most others enduring such treatment this long or less.

 

Released in 2004, his behavior and movements were restricted. As a result, harassing arrests followed after giving foreign journalists interviews and trying to leave Israel. 

 

While incarcerated, he endured "cruel and barbaric treatment," he said. So does anyone Israel calls a security threat, whether or not true.

 

On July 2, 2007, he again was imprisoned for six months for speaking to foreign journalists. Israel's District Court later reduced it to three "in light of (his) ailing health and the absence of claims that his actions put the country's security in jeopardy."

 

In January 2008, he was sentenced to six months community service.

 

Daniel Ellsberg called him "the preeminent hero of the nuclear era." In July 2007, Amnesty International (AI) named him "a prisoner of conscience."

 

Vanunu says "I am neither a traitor nor a spy. I only wanted the world to know what was happening." They had every right to know and still do. 

 

On December 28, 2009, he was again arrested following an alleged meeting with his girlfriend, a Norwegian national. House arrest followed. 

 

On April 14, 2010, he said: 

 

<blockquote>"The restrictions, not to leave the country for one more year (were) renewed. Now 7 years since my release AFTER 18 years in Israel PRISON," he's still effectively in one.</blockquote> 

 

In May 2010, he began serving another three-month prison term, reportedly in isolation.

 

In July 2011, he petitioned Israel's High Court to revoke his citizenship. He said he could "no longer find his place in Israeli society," and despite free from prison, "the State of Israel continues to penalize him by imposing various restrictions on his person and travels."

 

Despite his wishes, he remains an Israeli citizen, trapped, unable to leave.

 

Annually for over 20 years, he's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In March 2009, he asked the Nobel Committee to remove his name from consideration, and in February 2010 again declined the honor. Most often war criminals like Henry Kissinger and Obama get it.

 

In 1979, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative Nobel Prize, "for outstanding vision and work on behalf of our planet and its people." In 2001, Norway's University of Tromsoe honored him as a Doctor Honoris Causa (History).

 

On October 6, 2011, AFP headlined, "Israel bars nuclear whistle-blower from emigrating: media," saying:

 

<blockquote>Israel's Supreme Court barred Vanunu from leaving Israel "on the grounds he still poses a threat to state security."</blockquote>

 

Ordered to stay in Tel Aviv and not speak to journalists, Israel's High Court turned down his appeal to leave, saying:

 

<blockquote>He "proved several times he cannot be trusted and does not respect the letter of the law."</blockquote>

 

Prosecutors claimed he poses "a real danger to the security of Israel." The Court said he has contact with unspecified "foreign elements."

 

For decades, Israel's been nuclear armed and dangerous. In his 1991 book, "The Samson Option: Israel's Nuclear Arsenal and America Foreign Policy," Seymour Hersh revealed its strategy to use nuclear weapons if it felt its existence threatened. In other words, preemptive nuclear war is an option.

 

<blockquote>In his 1997 book, "Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies," Israel Shahak (1933 - 2001) said "Israel (is) clearly prepar(ing) itself to seek overtly a hegemony over the entire Middle East (with no) hesitati(on) to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones."

 

Shahak added that Israel regards "the launching of missiles (onto its territory) as 'nonconventional' regardless of whether they are equipped with explosives or poison gas."</blockquote> 

 

In turn, Israel's nuclear doctrine dictates a nuclear response to a "nonconventional" attack. Shahak called it the foundation of its grand strategy. 

 

Israel's double standard calls for maintaining a formidable nuclear arsenal it wants other regional states denied.

 

Vanunu's knowledge dates through 1986. He's 25 years removed from Israel's most sophisticated technologies. He posed no threat then or now. Israel authorities know it. So don't prosecutors and its High Court. 

 

A generation of punishment amounts to retaliatory viciousness. It's ongoing to deny him justice and relief.

 

Israel is one of three known nuclear outlaws. Besides India and Pakistan, it never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) nor allows inspections. North Korea is a declared but unverified nuclear power.

 

Between them, America and Russia have about 97% of the world's arsenal. Washington and Israel are the only nations claiming the right to use them preemptively, including against non-nuclear states.

 

Both are well armed and dangerous. Vanunu never threatened Israel's security and doesn't now. 

 

Nonetheless, he got lifetime punishment for living in the wrong country at the wrong time. Like America, justice was never Israel's long suit.

 

A Final Comment

 

Israel is democratic in name only, affording rights solely to higher income and wealthy Jews. Vanunu converted from Judaism to Christianity. He believes doing so hardened his punishment.

 

On release from prison, harsh ongoing restrictions include:

  •  
  • contact with Israeli citizens only;

 

  • no phone use;

 

  • no possession of cell phones;

 

  • no Internet access;

 

  • no contact with foreign embassies and consulates;

 

  • no contact with journalists;

 

  • no entering areas within 500 meters of international borders;

 

  • no visits to airports or ports or entry; 

 

  • no permission to leave Israel; and

 

  • no right to other democratic freedoms.

 

Israel is a self-proclaimed democracy. Some democracy!

 

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/.

 

Pushing the Envelope for Confrontation with Iran

 Pushing the Envelope for Confrontation with Iran - by Stephen Lendman

 

Currently waging multiple imperial wars, Obama perhaps plans more. 

 

On October 11, the Department of Justice charged Iranian involvement in a fake terror plot to kill Saudi Arabia's US ambassador, blow up the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Argentina, and smuggle opium into Mexico.

 

Charges, of course, are brazen, fabricated and laughable on their face, but major media scoundrels headlined them since announced. Regurgitating official lies, they declared Iran and three alleged suspects guilty by accusation.

 

On October 13, Manssor Arbabsair, a naturalized US citizen holding an Iranian passport, was indicted in Manhattan's federal court for New York's southern district. 

 

Also implicated, Gholam Shakuri, an Iranian-based member of its Revolutionary Guard Quds Force, is still at large. So is Abdul Reza Shahlai, identified as his deputy with "a notorious past as one of the central architects of Iran's strategy in Iraq."

 

The Justice Department said Arbabsair confessed and provided "other valuable information." His lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, said her client will plead not guilty to all charges.

 

On October 13, New York Times writer Helene Cooper headlined, "Obama Says Facts Support Accusation of Iranian Plot," saying:

 

Vowing to push for the "toughest sanctions," Obama said Washington has "strong evidence that Iranians were complicit in an alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States."

 

Obama's a serial liar. Where's the evidence? There's none except what's concocted without corroboration.

 

"In his first public remarks....Obama sought to counter skepticism about whether Iran's Islamic government directed an Iranian-American car salesman to engage with a Mexican drug cartel" to commit terror attacks.

 

On October 12, the London Guardian reported that "Iran's alleged Mexican hitman was a US drugs informant" with a past criminal record.

 

Russia and China may refuse support for tougher sanctions given commercial and political ties to Iran. Hawkish congressional members want Obama to punish Russian and Chinese companies doing business with the Islamic Republic. So far he resisted.

 

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague endorsed Obama's lie, telling the House of Commons that the alleged plot "would appear to constitute a major escalation in Iran's sponsorship of terrorism outside its borders."

 

In fact, Washington, Britain and Israel are unequalled perpetrators of state-sponsored terrorism globally. As a result, they point fingers at present or perhaps future targets to divert attention from themselves.

 

Obama officials declined to say how high in Iran's leadership the alleged conspiracy goes. Nonetheless, baseless accusations suggest Revolutionary Guard commanders, President Ahmadinejad, and/or Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's involvement.

 

On October 13, Wall Street Journal writer Adam Entous headlined, "Obama Intensifies Pressure on Iran," saying:

 

Tehran must "pay a price" for its behavior. "Mr. Obama injected a new level of gravity into the incident by taking the unusual step of authorizing US diplomats to deliver a tough message directly to Iranian representatives" even though Washington's had no direct contact since 1980.

 

Obama also accused Iran of "dangerous and reckless behavior," saying Washington won't "take any options off the table in terms of how we operate with Iran." Clearly, he suggested open confrontation perhaps leading to war.

 

Claiming undisclosed evidence, he urged other countries back tough retaliatory measures. "Russian and Chinese officials expressed skepticism." They've seen numerous past examples of US duplicity and may refuse to provide support. 

 

They know how America and NATO partners used Resolution 1973 to terror bomb Libya since March 19. They want no part in instigating more regional conflict so will likely back efforts to prevent it.

 

On October 13, tensions were further heightened by claiming Iranian involvement in attacking US forces in Iraq. New York Times writer Michael Schmidt headlined, "Militants Aided by Iran Fired at GI's in Iraq, Officials Say," claiming:

 

Iran's Quds Force financed and trained militants "attacked United States forces in Iraq on Wednesday, continuing a role they have played in recent years in a proxy war between the United States and Iran."

 

No evidence was given, just baseless charges that Iranian-connected militants fired rockets at Contingency Operating Station Garry Owen US forces in Maysan province, bordering Iran, saying three soldiers were wounded.

 

"The military provided few other details of the attack." Iran, however, is often accused with involvement in assaults targeting US forces, Iraqi civilians, its military and members of its government. According to Washington, Tehran wants a weakened Iraq more dependent on Iran.

 

Schmidt quoted General Jeffrey Buchanan saying:

 

"Anything they can do to cause separation between us and Iraq helps achieve their greater aims. Anything they can do to cause dissent or attack our forces and cause us to leave" serves their purpose.

 

He like other US military and political officials provided no evidence to substantiate charges.

 

Accused "mastermind" Arbabsiar is an Iranian/American failed used car salesman. Previously he was arrested for passing bad checks. College associates recall him making hostile comments about Iran. 

 

Iran's Quds Force is highly professional and well trained. It's ludicrous to imagine they'd enlist someone like Arbabsiar for any overt or covert activity, let alone something as bizarre as what Washington's charges. Suggesting it, in fact, is absurd and insulting on its face.

 

In contrast, the Bush administration authorized covert CIA destabilization of Iran. Congress appropriated $400 for it. The Obama administration continues similar policies. It also has "kill lists" of targets (including US citizens) to be assassinated by drones or covert Special Forces death squads.

 

Moreover, Iranian scientists involved in its nuclear program have been murdered. Last spring, Iranian intelligence determined that the Stuxnet malware computer virus infected its Bushehr nuclear facility. At the time, its operations were halted indefinitely.

 

Israel was blamed. Washington was also implicated. Calling it a hostile act, General Gholam-Reza Jalali said if Bushehr went online infected, Iran's entire electrical power grid could have been shut down.

 

Washington has many ways to destabilize, weaken and oust regimes. They include provocations, fake accusations, political and economic sanctions, isolation, covert or direct confrontation, and cyberwar, among other tactics in its arsenal of dirty tricks.

 

All are ruthless ways to advance America's imperium, no matter what it takes to make it unchallenged globally, including all out general war.

 

A Final Comment

 

Interviewed on Press TV, US Army Lt. General Anthony Shaffer said an FBI insider told him that Obama officials likely manufactured the plot.

 

Political scientist Kaveh Afrasiabi said charges will "make a laughing stock of US diplomacy because by all indications (they're) absurd and baseless and they (won't) be sustainable."

 

He added that sooner or later the whole scheme will unravel. Notably, they follow a familiar "pattern of Iran bashing behavior (by) the United States."

 

Ismail Salami said:

 

"Regardless of the impertinence and hollowness of the claim, one should not disregard the influence of" America's powerful Israeli Lobby "in the new mudslinging campaign."

 

It's part of a longstanding US/Israeli plan to vilify and destabilize Iran. So far, in fact, nothing's worked, including sanctions countries like Russia, China and others mostly or entirely ignore.

 

Iran's UN ambassador Mohammad Khazaei called the scheme an "insult to the intelligence" of people globally, saying:

 

"We are used to the baseless allegations made by some US officials over the past three decades, but the big lie they told today is so unfounded that it sounds like the work of Hollywood (script) writers."

 

Notably post-9/11, US policy has been bomb first, then ask questions when it's too late to matter. NATO allies France and Britain go along willingly and institute other measures.

 

Last August, UK Prime Minister Cameron targeted free expression, saying social network sites can be used for good or ill. As a result, he called for monitoring and perhaps censoring them to curtail anti-government communication that could lead to violence.

 

On October 12, Britain's Office of Communications (Ofcom) banned Iran's Press TV for alleged noncompliance with UK law. In fact, it was brazen censorship to silence a vital source for news, information and analysis. 

 

A personal note. Press TV interviews this writer often. A platform is provided to speak openly and freely on many topics. Other independent writers, authors, academics and global analysts also appear regularly. They rarely ever get air time on BBC or US major media.

 

Press TV said Ofcom bowed to government and royal family pressure. Doing so violates UK media law. Last May, Ofcom said Press TV breached rules "by airing a 10 second extract from an interview with Iranian-born Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari while (detained) in an Iranian prison."

 

WikiLeaks documents revealed that Britain's Foreign Office told Washington's London embassy that it was "exploring ways to limit (Press TV's) operations...."

 

Tehran-based Press TV is a 24-hour English language global news service available in most parts of the world by satellite, cable or online. Its US presence is limited through intermediary companies. 

 

Major cable operators Comcast and Time Warner exclude it from their lineups. So do media conglomerates Disney, Viacom and Fox. 

 

Controlled and funded by Britain's government, BBC's an imperial tool. Throughout its history, it's suppressed information, commentaries and analysis critical of its policies.

 

Money power in private hands controls America's media, including long ago corrupted National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting.

 

In contrast, Press TV, like Russia Today and Voice of Russia, airs diverse discussions and opinions on major global issues.

 

UK and US viewers can access all three online. Do so daily for real information and analysis to stay current and well informed - free from Western propaganda.

 

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/.

Abbas, UN Membership and Peace Talks

 Abbas, UN Membership and Peace Talks - by Stephen Lendman

 

Globetrotting to enlist UN membership support, Abbas told Time magazine in Columbia on October 11 that he'll resume talks if Israel accepts the Quartet's proposal.

 

In September, Quartet members established a timeline for "realistic and serious" negotiations with no preconditions to begin in a month. They hope for comprehensive proposals within three months, substantial progress in six, and a firm deal by end of 2012.

 

Notably, the proposal excludes key issues, including settlements, 1967 borders, East Jerusalem as Palestine's capital, Gaza's siege, diaspora Palestinians right of return, and their legitimate elected Hamas government, among others.

 

As a result, it offered nothing new, is offensive and demeaning, and excludes PA demands for halting settlement construction as a precondition. Yet Abbas accepted it despite refusing earlier unless Israel agrees.

 

Quartet members want both sides to negotiate "without preconditions." Netanyahu agreed "with reservations." They include no freeze in settlement construction, recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, and a suggested negotiation timetable.

 

The Quartet wants preliminary talks begun on October 23. Neither side yet agreed.

 

Time reported Abbas saying:

 

"If the Israelis accept the statement of the Quartet, I will accept. I will return back to the negotiating table," despite decades of failure because Israel won't tolerate peace. 

 

Abbas knows it, but he'll pretend that perhaps this time is different despite dealing with an Israeli leader who abhors peace and one or more times said so publicly.

 

There's more, however, said Time. "We are in the realm of talks about talks, very soupy terrain, and it happens that" Palestinians have their own reservations.

 

"Abbas says he still must insist that Israel cease building housing for its citizens on Palestinian territory....Every government in the world except Israel's regards settlement construction as illegal, as well as a huge physical obstacle to peace."

 

George Bush's Road Map, in fact, obligated Israel to halt it. However, once begun over four decades ago, it never stopped and won't now. Netanyahu flatly refuses.

 

Abbas appears to be dancing around an issue he's been adamant about in public statements, saying talks hinge on halting construction. Notably, however, he said nothing during Israel's announced 10-month 2010 moratorium during which building proceeded apace. It didn't even slow. Time neglected to explain it.

 

Instead it quoted Abbas saying halting construction is a "Road Map obligation. It's not a precondition."

 

"Semantics," asked Time? "It has that ring, but from the Palestinian perspective the Israelis have continued to build on - or 'colonize' - Palestinian land (for decades), and (past) negotiations dragged on without producing an agreement that returned" occupied territory to Palestinian control.

 

"This is the story of the negotiations," admits Abbas, but he's willing to resume them anyway. Notably, he was chief Palestinian negotiator in Oslo, ending in acceding to all Israeli demands. Palestinians only won the right to enforce their own occupation. 

 

Nothing in the past 18 years changed. Negotiating with an unwilling partner assures failure. That aside, Abbas also said petitioning for UN membership remains on track separate from peace talks whether or not they resume or what's discussed.

 

On October 11, an unnamed senior PA official told Haaretz he didn't expect talks to resume soon because of Netanyahu's recalcitrance on settlement construction.

 

Commenting also on Palestine's UN bid he said:

 

"This position is not new. As far as we are concerned, renewed negotiations do not cancel (it) at the (UN) General Assembly and Security Council, since they are two separate processes. (We) expect any negotiations to result in a state within the 1967 borders....(T)he two processes are not in conflict with one another."

 

On October 11, Ma'an News quoted PA official Nabil Shaath saying:

 

"(N)ine (Security Council member) states....have confirmed" they'll support Palestine's UN bid. They include China, Russia, Brazil, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Africa, Gabon and Bosnia.

 

Nine are needed to force a US veto. Six confirmed publicly, including China, Russia, Brazil, India, Lebanon, and South Africa.

 

"We should not doubt our allies and we should help these countries in facing US and Israeli pressure to reinforce the stance of these states through constant meetings and to get assistance from the Arab countries who could support these states," added Shaath.

 

On September 23, Abbas formally petitioned the Security Council. Normally it reviews applications for a maximum 35 days. Whether or not America vetos Palestine's bid is irrelevant. It solely recommends. Only the General Assembly admits new members. 

 

Abbas can petition it through the 1950 Uniting for Peace Resolution 377 for an up or down two-thirds member vote to override a potential Security Council rejection. 

 

Whether or not he'll request it is doubtful even though doing so assures Palestine becoming the UN's 194 nation with rights equal to all others. 

 

It's that simple, and could happen in days if a responsible leader backed up his words with commitment for long overdue justice.

 

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/.

Iran Falsely Charged with Fake Terror Plot

 Iran Falsely Charged with Fake Terror Plot - by Stephen Lendman

 

Since Iran's 1979 revolution and US hostage crisis, Washington's been spoiling for a fight. The Carter administration considered invading and seizing its oil fields.

 

Washington exploited Iran/Iraq tensions and encouraged Saddam Hussein to attack. Earlier Iran's Shah was supported. After 1979, US foreign policy shifted.

 

The Carter Doctrine pledged Middle East military intervention if US interests were threatened. Reagan escalated Carter policies short of committing US forces in combat. Saddam then got US backing. A decade of war followed. America pretended support for both sides, but mostly gave it to Iraq.

 

US/Iranian relations remain tense. Washington's sought regime change in Tehran for years. Various confrontational tactics include on and off saber rattling, sanctions, and direct meddling in Iran's internal affairs, perhaps including covert US Special Forces and CIA operatives there causing trouble. 

 

Why not? They do it in dozens of countries globally, using death squads and other destabilizing tactics.

 

Washington also makes baseless accusations of anti-US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. It calls Tehran a threat to world peace, saying its commercial nuclear program plans nuclear weapons development. Unmentioned is Israel's known arsenal and willingness to use it preemptively.

 

US media scoundrels regurgitate official lies and suppress vital truths. New York Times writers and commentators play lead roles. The latest alleged plot is laughable on its face. But it's headline news across America, including on The Times' front page, saying "US Accuses Iranians of Plotting to Kill Saudi Envoy."

 

What's explained sounds more like a bad film plot, saying:

 

Washington "accused Iranian officials of plotting to murder Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States (Adel al-Jubeir) in a bizarre scheme involving an Iran-American used-car salesman who believed he was hiring assassins from a Mexican drug cartel for $1.5 million."

 

Also allegedly involved were plans to bomb Israel's Washington embassy and Saudi and Israeli embassies in Argentina. 

 

But there's more, a "side deal" said The Times between Iran's Revolutionary Guard (its elite military unit) and Mexico's Los Zetas drug cartel to smuggle opium from the Middle East to Mexico.

 

The alleged plans "never progressed," perhaps because there were none, just baseless accusations to further heighten US/Iranian tensions and get hawkish congressional members to call for direct confrontation.

 

On October 11, Attorney General Eric Holder said:

 

"Today, the Department of Justice is announcing charges against two people who allegedly attempted to carry out a deadly plot that was directed by factions of the Iranian government to assassinate a foreign ambassador here in the United States."

 

Accused were Manssor Arbabsair, a naturalized US citizen holding an Iranian passport, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iranian-based member of its Revolutionary Guard Quds Force. On September 29, Arbabsair was arrested. Shakuri is still at large.

 

"The complaint alleges that this conspiracy was conceived, sponsored and directed from Iran and constitutes a flagrant violation of US and international law...."

 

Besides charging Arbabsir and Shakuri, Holder also said Washington "is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions."

 

Both men are charged with "conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism, among other charges."

 

According to Holder, they met a "confidential informant from the Drug Enforcement Administration" in Mexico last May, posing as a drug cartel member.

 

The Washington Post said the "confidential DEA source (called "the Mexican") was described in court papers only as a paid informant who was once charged in the United States with a drug offense. The charges were dropped (in return for his) provid(ing) valuable information in a number of (sting) cases...."

 

Allegedly, Arbasair wired $100,000 to a US bank account "as a down payment for the attempted assassination." Holder also claimed he confessed and provided "other valuable information" with no corroborating evidence to prove what's clearly an Obama administration plot to file bogus charges and heighten tensions with Iran.

 

In fact, Arbabsiar's lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, said her client will plead not guilty if indicted. Apparently he denies involvement despite Holder claiming he confessed. 

 

Iran's UN ambassador Mohammad Khazaee said his nation is "outraged" about clearly baseless charges. In a strongly worded letter to UN Secretary-General Ban K-moon, he wrote:

 

Iran "strongly and categorically rejects these fabricated and baseless allegations based on the suspicious claims by an individual."

 

President Armadinejad's spokesman Ali Akbar Javanfekr said:

 

"The US government and the CIA have very good experience in making up film scripts....It appears that this new scenario is for diverting the US public opinion from internal crises," suggesting it's connected to diluting ongoing anti-Wall Street protests across America.

 

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast called Holder's accusations a "new propaganda campaign" involving a "prefabricated scenario."

 

Hillary Clinton said Washington is "actively engaged in a very concerted diplomatic outreach to many capitals" to counter Iran's denial. She added that the issue has "potential for international reaction that will further isolate Iran," stopping short of calling for direct action.

 

Congressional hawks and America's right wing media do it often on their own.

 

An October 11 Wall Street Journal editorial called the plot "a sobering wake-up call" in America's "war on terror."

 

"Had it succeeded, (it) arguably (would have been) an act of war....The appalling news needs to be placed in the broader context of Iran's behavior," involving "conspiracy to commit international terrorism....It's past time for US policy toward Iran to reflect the reality of what it is dealing with."

 

Obama "underscored that the United States believes this plot to be a flagrant violent of US and international law, and reiterated (his) commitment to meet our responsibilities to ensure the security of diplomats serving in our country."

 

Bill Clinton called the accusations "well-founded."

 

The extremist right-wing Heritage Foundation's foreign policy director James Carafino called the alleged scheme "a belligerent act against the US (that) as such would call for a proportional military response."

 

A more sober Stratfor Global Intelligence called the plot "far-fetched." Cautioning against claims against Iran, founder and CEO George Friedman said doing so "involve(s) substantial political risk." 

 

"Iran has been known to carry out preoperational surveillance in the United States, but it has not yet used this intelligence to carry out a high-profile attack."

 

He added that Iran has nothing to gain from committing a terror attack on US soil and everything to lose.

 

Former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs PJ Crowley commented in the London Guardian, calling the alleged plot "far-fetched....(O)n the face of it (it's) so fantastic that it begs a disclaimer....It's unclear how much Iran would stand to gain by sanctioning or supporting this plot."

 

Former CIA case officer Robert Baer said "the Quds are better than this. It they wanted to come after you, you'd be dead already."

 

Alireza Nader, Rand Corporation Iran specialist, asked "Why would Iran want to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington? (The plot) would be outside the norm."</blockquote>

 

Congressional Reaction

 

Senator Joseph Lieberman (Indep. Dem. CT) called the alleged plot a "profound threat posed by the Iranian regime and the reach of its terrorist activities to American soil."

 

Senator Saxby Chambliss (R. GA) said "In addition to allegedly sponsoring this plot, Iran has supported and provided weapons for attacks on our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. This has continued far too long with no repercussions."

 

Rep. Peter King (R. NY) said "Iran's assassination of a foreign diplomat in our country would have violated both US and international law, and represented an act of war."

 

Rep. Michael McCaul (R. TX) said if true "this would constitute an act of war not only against the Saudis and Israelis but against the United States as well."

 

Rep. Ted Poe (R. TX) on Fox News called the alleged plot "an act of war against the United States."

 

A Final Comment

 

A May 2011 study by New York University's School of Law Center for Human Rights and Global Justice headlined, "Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the 'Homegrown Threat' in the United States." 

 

It discussed what this writer's featured in dozens of past articles on Muslim Americans victimized by false accusations.

 

It explained how, post-9/11, entrapment by FBI plants led to prosecutions of over 200 individuals on bogus terrorism related charges. Washington highlights them as proof of foiling plots that, in fact, never existed.

 

Nearly always innocent Muslims are targeted for their faith and ethnicity for political advantage. Major media scoundrels regurgitate official lies, pretending they're accurate accounts of foiled plots. 

 

That none ever succeeded is reason enough to suggest none existed, but media reports leave that unexplained, let alone the implausibility of some charges.

 

They included blowing up Chicago's Sears Tower, destroying New York landmarks, targeting US soldiers at Fort Dix, NJ, US marines at Quantico, VA, downing National Guard aircraft with stinger missiles, and a Pakistan ambassador's with a surface to air one.

 

Not a shred of evidence provided proof, just the word of FBI informants well paid to entrap and lie, then get America's media to repeat them without questioning the validity of any charges.

 

The likelihood that any country, let alone Iran, would plan terror plots on US soil is preposterous on its face. Cui bono is issue one. Clearly, Iran has nothing to gain and everything to lose by plotting what Holder charged.

 

Yet political Washington and major media scoundrels highlight baseless accusations without demanding clear proof they're true. There is none except for what a DEA agent plant (a former felon) and Holder claim.

 

It's their word against common sense, suggesting the implausibility of what they charge. It also highlight's iconic radical journalist IF Stone (1907 - 1989) saying:

 

"All governments are run by liars and nothing they say should be believed."

 

With his own in Washington in mind, he taught that to young journalism students, suggesting they paste it on their bathroom mirrors so not to forget.

 

It makes sense, as well as avoiding major media liars and using reliable online sites for real information and analysis.

 

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/.

Major Media Liars Report Fake NATO Victories

 Major Media Liars Report Fake NATO Victories - by Stephen Lendman

 

On October 9, BBC claimed National Transitional Council (NTC) forces "made significant gains in the battle for the city of Sirte. (NTC) commanders said they had captured the main hospital, the university and the Ouagadougou conference center."

 

Sirte is "close to falling." After it's taken, NTC officials "say they will declare national liberation, even if Gaddafi remains at large."

 

"NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil told reporters in Tripoli" that Sirte and Bani Walid liberation "will happen within this week."

 

On October 10, BBC headlined, "Sirte ready to fall," repeating the same canard. More on that below.

 

On October 10, AP headlined, "Libyan revolutionary forces celebrate gains but fierce fighting persists over Gaddafi hometown," saying:

 

"Jubilant revolutionary forces have raised their tri-color flag over a convention center in Sirte that long served as a base for (Gaddafi) loyalists, even as fighting rages elsewhere in the fugitive leader's hometown."

 

Sirte commander "Younis al-Abdally....says his troops have surrounded pro-Gaddafi fighters in a small area in the upscale neighborhood of Dollar Street."

 

On October 9, New York Times writer Kareem Fahim headlined, "Fighters Enter City Once Home to Qaddafi," saying:

 

Anti-Gaddafi "fighters battled their way into the heart of this coastal city on Sunday, seizing a sumptuous conference center (and) nearby Ibn Sina hospital...."

 

"By Sunday afternoon, anti-Qaddafi fighters were speaking confidently about their chances of finally taking  (Sirte), as a coordinated ring of troops closed in on loyalists in their remaining pockets."

 

On October 10, Al Jazeera reported a "final push into Sirte," saying "Anti-Gaddafi forces say they've captured more than half of (the city), one of (Gaddafi's) last remaining strongholds."

 

Correspondent Tony Birtley's one-sided report falsified facts on the ground, claiming "70%" of Sirte was captured. His sole truthful comment was "(t)his is not finished yet." 

 

Indeed not, as Gaddafi loyalists are prevailing, contrary to falsified Al Jazeera and Western media reports. They include Al Jazeera saying on October 11 that TNC fighters "punched through (Sirte's) last line of defence," encountering "light resistance and suffer(ing) no casualties...."

 

On October 10, Christof Lehmann's NSNBC said Sirte loyalists successfully resisted NATO terror bombing and rebel attacks for months.

 

"Even Al Jazeera's Hollywood Narrative of the attack on Sirte (was discredited) when the 'embedded grand standing' at a freshly captured university campus (was short-lived by a) message (saying) 'we have to withdraw because there is a massive counterattack coming.' "

 

Gaddafi loyalists continue to show redoubtable staying power against all NATO's might and paramilitary cutthroat army onslaughts. They're in it for the money, other assorted reasons, and all they can loot. They've taken full advantage despite getting pummeled across the country.

 

In Sirte alone since Sunday, heavy fighting killed about 200 TNC fighters. In late evening, "TNC leader Mahmud Jubril (withdrew) 'all fighters with allegiance to him' from the Sirte theater, saying 'it was senseless to sacrifice 200 fighters for a one minute Al Jazeera Victory."

 

Actually, Birtley's report ran about three minutes, none but a sole comment worth hearing.

 

Despite earlier more worthy credentials, Al Jazeera News channel (JNC) compromised them by waging one-sided war against Gaddafi and Syria's Assad since last winter. Abandoning all professionalism and objectivity, it's more a voice for power than truth.

 

On Sepember 20, The New York Times said WikiLeaks disclosures forced news director Wadah Khanfar to resign. Sheikh Hamad Ben Jassem Al-Thani, a Qatari royal family member, replaced him.

 

Qatar funds Al Jazeera. It's also part of NATO's anti-Gaddafi coalition. Sheikh Hamad formerly chaired its board of directors with veto power over program content. With direct programming control, all JNC reporting henceforth will be suspect. 

 

Notably throughout 2011, Khanfar's pro-Western support got some JNC journalists to leave. They were unwilling to report managed news and information like BBC and America's media. With a Qatari royal family member in charge, JNC's fall from grace may reach bottom.

 

NSNBC reported a source it uses saying "an unnamed US intelligence agency has approached TNC leaders, suggesting the division of Libya into a Northern and Southern state" to provide cover for bringing in Blue Helmet paramilitary occupiers. The Security Council authorized them.

 

NATO and rebel war crimes also continue. Besides attacking Sirte's university campus and Ibn Sina Hospital, NATO "bombed a civilian house, killing 22, with 20 others missing." America's media no longer notice.

 

Near Bani Walid, ambushed TNC fighters "took heavy casualties....In Gheryan, Libyan forces successfully attacked a military industrial complex," heavily defended by "troops from NATO countries and Qatar." Key military installations were destroyed.

 

Controlling most of the city, Benghazi loyalists are making slow progress "against heavily entrenched TNC fighters." Unconfirmed reports say city tribal leaders are ready to join Libyan forces.

 

Fighting across Libya continues. NATO and cutthroat rebels commit daily war crimes. The appalling humanitarian crisis worsens. Diplomatic initiatives are absent to end it. "Where is a UN Fact Finding Mission? Where is an African Union Observer in Sirte?"

 

When will courageous African and other leaders say "enough is enough?" When will culpable NATO nations and officials be held accountable for turning Libya into a charnel house? 

 

Largely out of sight and mind, civilian massacres continue daily while Western media yawn, cheerlead, or alternately do both.

 

On October 10, clashes between rebel and loyalist forces occurred in Hadbha, Arada, Abu Salim and other Tripoli areas. Helicopter gunships indiscriminately fired at peaceful anti-NATO demonstrators. 

 

Reports suggest Qatari, Saudi and Israeli Special Forces in Libya. On October 10, "15 TNC fighters were killed outside Bani Walid. All were carrying Israeli" IDs. Late at night, UK "SAS Regiment (forces) entered Sirte to carry out a special operation. Reportedly "16" were captured, another "44" killed.

 

UK, Saudi, Qatari and Israeli forces in Libya provides more evidence "for US and NATO's utter disregard for (UN) principles" and rule of law values. It also justifies Russia and China's opposition with Security Council measures against Syria as a prelude to more conflict.

 

Libyan loyalists keep resisting to liberate their country and rebuild, despite daily NATO terror bombing. 

 

On October 12, NSNBC said despite heavy NATO and rebel attacks, "Sirte is holding out. So is Bani Walid. So is most of Tripoli."

 

Despite heavy clashes there and elsewhere, neither NATO or its hired guns "succeeded (in) break(ing) the Libyan peoples' will and ability to resist." 

 

The battle for Libya shows no signs of ebbing. Further updates will follow key events.

 

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/.

Anti-Defamation League Assails Palestinian UN Membership

 Anti-Defamation League Assails Palestinian UN Membership - by Stephen Lendman

 

For nearly a century, ADL falsely called itself "the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency (fighting) anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry...." 

 

In fact, all along it fronted for Jewish supremacy. After Israel's 1948 creation, it backed Israeli rights over Arabs, including by occupation and belligerently enforced apartheid.

 

One of the 52 Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CPMAJO), ADL disseminates pro-Israeli propaganda.

 

It also conducts smear campaigns against its critics, under the guise of fighting anti-semitism and supporting human rights equitably. Overall, its long history is shamelessly loathsome.

 

Earlier it did political spying for the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Later it did it against the National Lawyers Guild, ACLU, NAACP, the Rainbow Coalition, Greenpeace, the Nation of Islam, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Bay Area anti-Apartheid Network, Asian Law Caucus, CISPES, and 20 Bay area labor unions. 

 

Currently it's assailing Palestinian UN membership. Its web site calls "Palestinian unilateralism an obstacle to peace."

 

It called Abbas' UN address "strident." It said "his calls for peace rang hollow amidst the extreme accusations against Israel, including charges of colonialism (and) ethnic cleansing."

 

In other words, asking UN member states to grant Palestinians long denied rights is "strident." Wanting peace is "hollow" rhetoric, and rightfully charging Israel of colonialism and ethnic cleaning amounts to "extreme accusations."

 

In contrast, he praised Netanyahu for "focus(ing) on Israel's desire for peace (and) called on the Palestinians to come back to negotiations."

 

In fact, like earlier Israeli leaders, Netanyahu deplores peace. They didn't negotiate. Neither does he. Israel demands, take it or else.

 

ADL offered its sanitized version of "(f)acts on the Palestinian campaign to unilaterally declare statehood," saying:

 

1. Israel supports "an independent Palestinian state created through bilateral negotiations."

 

In fact, Israel, at best supports a cantonized Palestine after all valued land Israel wants is stolen. Moreover, Palestinians got statehood in 1988. At issue now is full UN membership. A simple two-thirds majority is needed. Israel has one vote, not veto power or right to dictate terms.

 

2. Palestinians going it alone violates Israeli/Palestian agreements, "and effectively marks the end of the peace process."

 

False. As explained, Palestine IS a state. Now it wants full status rights like the other 193. Peace is an entirely separate issue. Palestinians have wanted it for decades. Israel categorically refuses.

 

3. UN membership "will contravene 'land-for-peace.' "

 

In 1948, Israel stole 78% of historic Palestine, then the rest in 1967. Palestinians want 22% back free from occupation. An overwhelming number of states support them. Israel and Washington remain obstacles to peace and reconciliation throughout the region.

 

4. Core issues will remain unresolved, "including borders, refugees and Jerusalem."

 

Borders must be negotiated. Israel is the only nation without fixed ones. Diaspora Palestinians automatically will be able to return to free Palestine. Jerusalem is an international city under UN trusteeship. Agreement must be reached for Israel and Palestine to share it as their capital. It's not Israel's alone, nor should it ever be.

 

5. Palestinians acting unilaterally won't assure "a viable and sovereign state."

 

False. However, it's no protection from Israeli attacks or assurance its occupation will end easily or quickly.

 

ADL added that Israel expressed "willingness to make concessions for peace." In fact, Israel concedes nothing and deplores peace. 

 

ADL calls Palestinians acting unilaterally "a provocative and hostile action." In other words, after 63 years of futility, pursuing long denied rights is confrontational. 

 

As a result, "Israel has no choice but to oppose UDI by the Palestinians." In fact, except for its General Assembly vote, Israel has no more say than other GA members. 

 

All have equal voting rights unlike the Security Council where one nation can subvert the will of all others. Washington takes full advantage, especially on issues affecting Israel.

 

ADL urged the international community to reject Palestinian wishes. It also encouraged PA officials to repudiate reconciling with Hamas and deal only with Israel. ADL, in fact, encourages failure to keep Palestinians permanently occupied with no rights.

 

ADL Message to Abbas

 

In an open letter to Abbas, ADL director Abraham Foxman railed against PA officials demonizing Israel, saying:

 

"You say you will not come to negotiate until Mr. Netanyahu says in advance that Israel will concede all the territories and stop all settlements."

 

In fact, Abbas and other PA officials made one demand - stop settlement construction on stolen Palestinian land. Otherwise no talks. Netanyahu flatly refuses.

 

"Trust is a two-way street. Let's stop this demonizing. Let's move forward. If you sit down to talk, you may learn that you have far greater reason to trust (Netanyahu) than you thought."

 

Since the 1970s, "trusting" Israeli leaders got Palestinians nothing except to enforce their own occupation. Netanyahu is Israel's worst ever prime minister. He never gave an inch and won't now.

 

Yet Foxman urged Abbas to "come(e) back to the table, by negotiating in food faith and by reaching an agreement that finally ends the conflict and provides for a Palestinian state and a Jewish state living side-by-side in peace and security."

 

Palestinians never wanted less. Israel adamantly refuses. Dealing with racist warmonger Netanyahu assures failure and betrayal. Palestinians aren't trying to isolate and delegitimize Israel. 

 

Under leaders like Netanyahu and extremist Knesset members, Israel is doing it to itself. It's moved so far out of the mainstream, in fact, it may end up self-destructing. 

 

Why else would growing numbers of fed up Israelis be voting with their feet and leaving. Foxman didn't comment nor about Israel's hardline intransigence, refusing ever to negotiate in good faith.

 

A Final Comment

 

On October 4, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) granted "Partner for Democracy" status to the Palestine National Council (PNC), the PLO's legislative body. 

 

It's only the second time such status was awarded. PNC Speaker Salim Al-Za'noon called the decision "historic," saying it could contribute to regional peace.

 

On October 5, UNESCO's executive committee agreed to vote on admitting Palestine as a member. UNESCO's end of October general conference will consider it. France called the move "premature."

 

Hillary Clinton arrogantly wants UNESCO to reconsider it, saying:

 

"I would urge the governing body of UNESCO to think again before proceeding with that vote because the decision about status must be made in the United Nations and not in auxiliary groups...."

 

Israel also opposes it. According to Haaretz, a Foreign Ministry response called it "rejection of the path of negotiations, as well as of the Quartet plan to continue with the political process....A decision like this will not advance the Palestinians in their aspirations to statehood."

 

As explained above, Palestinians got statehood in 1988. Now they want full UN membership. Washington and Israel are going all out to subvert it. 

 

In the end, they'll likely succeed unless Abbas petitions the General Assembly under the 1950 Uniting for Peace Resolution, giving the GA power to override Security Council rejection. 

 

It's up to him and other PA officials - either go for what's easily achievable in days, or bow to Washington and Israeli interests. Smart money says the latter.

 

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/.

Libyans Resist NATO's Killing Machine

 Libyans Resist NATO's Killing Machine - by Stephen Lendman

 

For over six and a half months, Libyans tied down the world's mightiest military force despite overwhelming odds against them and enormous loss of life and human suffering.

 

Established in 1949, NATO was never a "military alliance for peace and security." It was for offense, not defense. Cold War hysteria was contrived to incite fear and assure an arms race for corporate dominance and enrichment.

 

Twenty years after Soviet Russia dissolved, NATO interventions under US control threaten world peace and humanity, lurching from one war to another. 

 

Interdicting for corporate predators, it's a rogue killing machine. Its mission isn't liberation. It's slaughtering, ravaging and pillaging for power and profit.

 

Using a proxy cutthroat mercenary army, Libya was pounded by relentless land and air assaults. A wasteland replaced a once peaceful country. Daily attacks ravage it further. 

 

Corpses pile up on other ones. Human misery is incalculable. Death, disease and starvation haunt the living. Tens of thousands of Sirte residents face ferocious daily terror bombing. 

 

Food, water, medical supplies and fuel were cut off. Indiscriminate mass killing targets civilians. Schools, hospitals, homes and other nonmilitary sites have been destroyed.

 

NATO's war on Libya is one of history's great crimes. Sirte is ground zero, facing genocidal slaughter and mass destruction. 

 

Spread the word! Point fingers! Hold those responsible accountable for unconscionable imperial barbarism!

 

Start with Obama, an unindicted war criminal multiple times over, planning more wars besides others ongoing. Americans also sacrifice liberties and benefits for them. The worst is yet to come.

 

The battle of Libya rages. Brave resistance fighters won't quit. Killing alone sustains NATO control anywhere across the country. Let up and lose it. Unreported by Western media, it's happening city by city, town by town, and village by village.

 

Christof Lehmann's NSNBC provides regular updates Western media and Qatari controlled Al Jazeera suppress, cheerleading instead of denouncing NATO's imperial project across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

 

On October 3, Lehmann said:

 

"Southern Libya is firmly under" loyalists' control. "Fighting continues in Tripoli, North Eastern and North Western Libya." Algerian tribal leaders joined "The War for the Liberation of Northern Africa."

 

As a result, NATO plans expanding the war to Algeria. Lehmann said reports he's getting are that "special operations units and (others) belonging to the 82nd Airborne have been on the ground in Algeria for 'some time.' "

 

On October 2, they "came under heavy attack and received heavy casualties. A C-130 Hercules transport and paratrooper plane were destroyed on the ground."

 

Other intelligence also "provided evidence that Algeria was targeted by NATO....European Embassy chatter" suggests Americans and Europeans are "being psychologically" manipulated to believe Al Qaeda threatens the country.

 

Maybe Haqqanis as well, Washington's latest reason for more war, perhaps against Pakistan where Joint Chiefs head Admiral Mike Mullen claims they're tied to its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

 

NATO, of course, recruited Al Qaeda elements to fight in Libya and elsewhere. The CIA created group is conveniently used as both friend and foe, depending on where and for what strategic purpose.

 

Algeria's pro-Western government apparently willingly cooperates. In contrast, ordinary Algerians, Libyans, Iraqis and Afghans strongly resist.

 

Libya's puppet Transitional National Council (TNC) is "in chaos." Most of its members deserted. About 80% of Tripoli displays Gaddafi's green banner. It's the only national flag with one color and no design, insignia or other markings.

 

Sirte and Bani Walid sieges "are breaking up." Rebels suffered heavy casualties. Former Al Qaeda insurgent/now CIA asset Tripoli military commander Abdelhakim Belhadj "describes the situation as chaotic."

 

Despite omnipotent air power, "NATO is losing the battle on the ground. (Engaging in) heavy clashes around both cities, (resistance fighters) established contact with the military, Tribal and Volunteer Forces that came to their relief."

 

Reports indicate "heavy infighting between TNC forces in Misurata and Benghazi with numerous casualties."

 

On October 2, "heavy fighting erupted in and around" Tripoli's Green Square. Libyan forces seized an ammunition depot. Fighting raged at Tripoli's Mitiga and military airports. Tribal militia fighters "secured several banks in Tripoli and began refunding money" stolen by TNC thieves.

 

POWs were also freed from prisons. As a result, "The Green Flag is flying over 80% of Tripoli." TNC puppet head Mustafa Abdul Jalil is "desperate(ly calling) for unity (under) a new government."

 

Belhadj called his plea "ridiculous in the face of the fact that almost 90%" of TNC members abandoned ship they see going down.

 

Tripoli residents and resistance fighters won't quit. On September 30, Human Rights Watch reported TNC militia groups making arbitrary arrests, and abusing prison detainees across western Libya in makeshift facilities.

 

Assessing conditions in Tripoli, 53 detainees interviewed reported beatings, electric shocks, and other forms of abuse. Arrested without charge, none were prosecuted before judges.

 

Since late August, TNC allied brigades and militias "arrested thousands and held them without proper legal review." Those accused without evidence of serious crimes experienced horrific treatment amounting to torture.

 

Many arrested were Black African guest workers, accused of being Gaddafi mercenaries or loyalists. An alliance of Libyan, Algerian, Moroccan, and Polisario tribes called for liberating North Africa.

 

In 1980, Libya recognized the Western Sahara's Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as do other non-NATO states.

 

TNC fighters fled Derna after taking heavy casualties. About half of Al-Baida was freed. On October 3, reports indicated "heavy street to street, house to house, and room to room fighting in Benghazi with heavy casualties on both sides." Half the city is liberated. TNC forces control its center.

 

A Tobruk TNC detachment sent to help "was literally wiped out....In Sawiah, the green flag is hoisted over a liberated city."

 

In Zliten and surrounding areas, TNC representatives and insurgents were told to leave or be "thrown out by the people." After months of relentless NATO assaults, "an estimated 97% of the Libyan population" stands firmly behind Gaddafi and the legitimate Libyan government.

 

If close to true, Washington is "considerably worse" off than in Vietnam.

 

On October 3, Sirte came under heavy ground and air attack. "After heavy fighting, (it ground) to a halt this morning," suggesting insurgents can't advance despite relentless air support. They're also vulnerable to counterattack.

 

According to Russian intelligence, Tuareg tribal fighters, demonstrated considerable desert warfare skills. Reports said 35 TNC tanks and armored personnel carriers were destroyed.

 

"The Libyan Youth movement....declared war on the TNC (and began) an assassination campaign" to eliminate anti-Gaddafi elements.

 

Libyans now await the next onslaught. Tripoli residents remain committed. Well armed by Gaddafi, they're able to strike back. As a result, TNC forces manning roadblocks "came under sniper fire....resulting in heavy casualties."

 

Libyans know their country was the pearl of Africa "worth fighting for." It's theirs. They want it back and intend to get it.

 

Deaths and injuries mount daily as does mass destruction. NATO turned Libya into an inferno, a hellish charnel house.

 

Never forgive! Never forget!

 

A Final Comment

 

America's media never met an imperial war they didn't endorse and promote. Regurgitating official lies passes for news, commentaries and analysis.

 

As a de facto propaganda ministry, The New York Times leads the pack, calling massacres "liberation."

 

Despite genocidal slaughter and mass destruction, its September 9 editorial headlined, "A New Start for Libya," saying:

 

"There are....signs of progress on military, diplomatic, economic and political fronts....Plans have been drafted for electing a constitutional assembly by early next year."

 

"Considering the situation six months ago, there is reason to be encouraged."

 

Fact check

 

Washington and key NATO allies waged lawless imperial aggression against a nonbelligerent country. Corrupted TNC officials were bribed to establish a puppet regime. 

 

Plans include leadership subservient to Western interests. Occupying, raping and pillaging Libya is planned. Democracy won't be tolerated.

 

Libyans reacted heroically, fighting back to save what's left of their country and rebuild. Protracted struggle lies ahead. Like Afghans and Iraqis, Libyans won't quit until they're free.

 

The Times Libya - Revolution (2011) page offers a litany of distortions and canards. Calling planned NATO aggression "revolution," it mischaracterized hired mercenaries as "rebels." 

 

Gaddafi's response to imperial barbarism was called "extreme violence," not self-defense. Western TNC puppet leaders are portrayed as "a (legitimate) transitional government."

 

Gaddafi's Libya no longer exists. A wasteland replaced a once peaceful country. Dead, dying and injured numbers mount daily. 

 

New York Times correspondents, commentators and editorial writers bear witness to what they know but won't say.

 

It's a Times tradition, presenting sanitized versions of real news, information and analysis. 

 

Its Libya reporting shows how low it sunk, calling a charnel house "a new start." 

 

It's why reliable online sources gain followers to learn what NYT and other major media scoundrels won't say.

 

Make them a regular habit to learn what everyone needs to know - the truth.

 

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/.

Palestinians Protest Israeli Prison Hell

 Palestinians Protest Israeli Prison Hell - by Stephen Lendman

 

Israel treats Palestinian prisoners horrifically. In detention, interrogations include torture, intimidation and other abuses. 

 

"Security prisoners" are punitively isolated for extended periods. Others for any reason or none at all face similar short or longer-term treatment.

 

Administrative detainees are held indefinitely without charges or trial. Children are treated like adults.

 

Horrific conditions include severe overcrowding; poor ventilation and sanitation; no change of clothes or adequate clothing; wooden planks with thin mattresses for beds; filthy blankets; inadequate food in terms of quality, quantity or conformance with dietary requirements; poor medical care; and hindered access to family members and counsel, among other abuses.

 

Last June, Netanyahu announced plans to toughen conditions further. Already they violate international law. Now they've gotten worse.

 

On September 27, Palestinian prisoners went on hunger strike against excessive punitive measures. On October 3, Haaretz headlined, "Palestinian prisoners go on hunger strike, protest worsening Israel prison conditions," saying:

 

Hundreds joined other strikers for better conditions. Around 500 "refus(ed) to eat, rapidly swelling the ranks of the protest which began last week."

 

Thousands of free Palestinians rallied in support. Many spent agonizing months or years in Israeli prison hell themselves. 

 

The Addameer Prisoners' Support and Human Rights Association said prisoners began striking "on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday of every week beginning" September 27. 

 

They also said their disobedience campaign includes "refus(ing) to wear prison uniforms, participat(ing) in the daily roll call, or cooperat(ing) with any other IPS (Israeli Prison Service) demands."

 

Some prisoners went on open-ended strike against abusive isolation. Some endure it for years. Ahmed Sa'adat, Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), has been isolated for three years. Sentenced to 30 years in prison in December 2008, his ordeal shows no sign of ending.

 

Palestinians in Ramon Prison began an open-ended strike to end abusive isolation, collective punishment, harsh restrictions on family visits, imposition of fines, frequent raids, humiliating searches, and shackling prisoners' hands and legs during transfer to and from lawyer visits.

 

Prisoners also want education privileges restored, better healthcare, and punitive harsh treatment ended.

 

A September 30 Adalah/Al Mezan Center for Human Rights/Physicians for Human Rights-Israel joint press release said prisoners are determined to strike "until loss of life" or their demands are met.

 

In recent years, bad conditions got worse, especially under Netanyahu. "Collective abuse of Palestinian prisoners has intensified, and has been anchored in new legislation and draconian regulations." 

 

Cruel and unusual treatment includes:

 

  • political leaders, human rights activists and others subjected to prolonged isolation;

 

  • denial of legal counsel during interrogations that include torture and other ill-treatment;

 

  • restricted judicial review of arrest and interrogation procedures;

 

  • illegally imprisoning Palestinians in Israel;

 

  • preventing Gazan families (as well as some in the West Bank) from visiting incarcerated family members;

 

  • unreasonable fines;

 

  • daily humiliating cell and strip-searches;

 

  • submitting visiting family members to the same procedure;

 

  • unreasonable hand and leg-shackling, including during medical care in hospitals;

 

  • denying the right to buy food in prison canteens;

 

  • denying education, proper healthcare and food;

 

  • blocking television channels as well as denying books, newspapers and other reading material; and

 

  • other forms of abuse and harassment.

 

Ma'an News said 20 or more Palestinians in Ashkelon Prison began striking. All others there will join them in days, as well as Ofer prisoners for three days a week "before joining the total hunger strike, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club."

 

Hamas prisoners in Ramon, Eshe, Nafha and Ashkelon are also participating in what's spreading throughout Israel's prison system.

 

"Director of the Abu Jihad center for prisoners affairs at al-Quds university Fahd Abu al-Hajj said Sunday that the 3,000 or so prisoners would not end the hunger strike until their demands are met, primarily an end to the policy of solitary confinement in Israeli jails."

 

Al-Hajj added that abusive practices escalated under Netanyahu "to exert more pressure on the Palestinian leadership to achieve political gains."

 

PA Minister of Prisoners Issa Qaraqe announced plans to hold sit-ins and marches for prisoner rights. Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine Sheikh Muhammad Hussein urged Palestinian officials and communities to lend support.

 

Striking for Prison Rights in America

 

US prisons are notoriously oppressive. America's media ignore it. Last spring, California's Pelican Bay State Prison inmates went on hunger strike against cruel, inhuman, and abusive treatment, especially affecting isolated SHU-status prisoners. Others did it earlier in 2002.

 

On average they're there two years. Some, however, stay isolated up to 18 years or longer, even decades. No one enduring it comes out whole. The physical and emotion toll is horrendous.

 

On July 1, up to 100 inmates joined other strikers. Thousands in other California prisoners later joined them. After striking last summer for nearly a month, negotiations with the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) were held.

 

CDCR failed to follow through on promises, so prisoners resumed striking on September 26, saying they'll continue until vital changes are made.

 

Pelican Bay strikers have five core demands:

 

(1) End group punishment when one member of a race or group breaks a rule. Pelican Bay abusively uses this to isolate prisoners indefinitely.

 

(2) End debriefing inmates and falsely accusing them of being active or inactive prison gang members without evidence. Debriefing involves ratting on others, whether or not what they say is true.

 

(3) Comply with 2006 US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons solitary confinement recommendations to "make segregation a last resort" and "end conditions of isolation." 

 

As of May 18, 2011, California held 3,259 prisoners isolated and hundreds more in Administrative Segregation, waiting for an available SHU cell. Some inmates stay isolated for decades.

 

(4) Provide adequate food in terms of amount and quality, as well as improved health and sanitary conditions.

 

(5) Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU prisoners, including self-help treatment, education, religious and others. Currently these opportunities are denied.

 

Pelican Bay is a California supermax prison. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) National Institute of Corrections calls the term "supermax" the most common one to describe "special housing unit(s), maxi-maxi, maximum control facilit(ies), secured housing unit(s), intensive management unit(s), and administrative maximum penitentiar(ies.)." 

 

It describes them as:

 

"a highly restrictive, high-custody housing unit within a secure facility....that isolates inmates from the general prison population and from each other due to grievous crimes, repetitive assaultive or violent institutional behavior, the threat of escape or actual escape from high-custody facility(s), or inciting or threatening to incite disturbances in a correctional institution."

 

Other definitions describe "control-unit" prisons, or units within prisons providing the most secure levels of custody for the "worst of the worst" criminals and those threatening national security. 

 

They're maximum security facilities or prison wings in which inmates are held in long-term solitary confinement under constant surveillance by closed-circuit TV. 

 

Former inmates call them prison hell. Making oppressive conditions tougher got Pelican Bay prisoners to stage hunger strikes for relief so far not gotten. 

 

Visit Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity for updates on their status, including a brief history of Pelican Bay.

 

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/.

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