30 June 2010

Activists Draw A Comparison Between Gaza and Warsaw

29 June 2010 19:04:55

A wonderful example of international solidarity. Activists have drawn exactly the correct lessons from the resistance of the Jewish resistance fighters [ZOB] in the Warsaw ghetto 67 years ago. Of course this was a lesson that Marek Edelman, last Commander of ZOB had learnt some time ago, much to the
annoyance of the Zionist state which in a fit of pique boycotted his funeral.

Those who say that in Warsaw 400,000 Jews were deported to Treblinka and their death miss the point. Both Gaza and Warsaw are/were ghettos. It matters not that the Nazis exterminated the population whereas Israeli leaders are forced to merely deprive Gazan inhabitants of medicine, reconstruction, work and drinking water. What a defence that they aren’t actually exterminating anyone though hundreds if not thousands have died as a consequence of the siege, to say nothing of Israel’s rockets and bombs.

Tony Greenstein

Gaza Freedom Graffiti in the Warsaw Ghetto

Monday 28th 2010

Yesterday, Israeli and Polish activists met in the ruins of Warsaw’s old Jewish Ghetto.
The activists sprayed ‘Liberate All Ghettos’ in Hebrew, followed by ‘Free Gaza and Palestine’ in English on a wall of an original block in the ghetto. The block is across the street from the last fragment of the remaining perimeter wall of the Ghetto. They also hung Palestinian flags from the wall.

This was first time such an action took place in the ghetto.

Yonatan Shapira former Israeli Air Force captain and now refusnik and BDS activist said:
‘Most of my family came from Poland and many of my relatives were killed in the death camps during the Holocaust. When I walk in what was left from the Warsaw Ghetto I can’t stop thinking about the people of Gaza who are not only locked in an open air prison but are also being bombarded by fighter jets, attack helicopters and drones, flown by people whom I used to serve with before my refusal in 2003.
I am also thinking about the delegations of young Israelis that are coming to see the history of our people but also are subjected to militaristic and nationalistic brainwashing on a daily basis. Maybe if they see what we wrote here today they will remember that oppression is oppression, occupation is occupation, and crimes against humanity are crimes against humanity, whether they have been committed here in Warsaw or in Gaza’.
Ewa Jasiewicz, activist with Kampania Palestyna and one of the co-ordinators of the Free Gaza Movement who just returned from participating in the Freedom Flotilla said:

'Yonatan could have been the pilot in the Blackhawk that dropped commandos onto the Mavi Marmara that killed nine activists from our flotilla. I could have been one of them. Poland is full of the ruins of ghettos and death camps and shrines to those who sacrificed their lives in the defence of not just their communities but in resistance to fascism.

People here need to wake up and realise that occupations and ghettos did not end with the end of the second world war. These tactics and strategies of domination and control of other people and lands are present in Palestine today and are being perpetrated by the state of Israel. We have a responsibility to free all ghettos and end all occupations’.
Poland continues to deepen its’ military and political alliance with Israel whilst ignoring its obligations under international law to stop the ghettoization of the West Bank by Israel’s apartheid wall and to ensure the protection of civilians.

Kampania Palestyna together with the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, calls for an end to Israeli impunity and degradation of human rights and international law.

Ewa Jasiewicz said,
‘Poland can no longer be a Greenzone for the normalisation of Israeli apartheid. We all have the responsibility to end the occupation and ghettoization of the Palestinian people’.
Yonatan Shapira said:
I was always taught growing up that the atrocities that happened to the Jewish people here happened because the world was silent. And therefore I cannot be silent. The Jewish people needed to be liberated from the ghettoes, and now Israelis need to be liberated from the crimes of their own government. Each one of us can take part in this global struggle for justice, and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for the sake of not just the Palestinian people but for Israelis too’.

UNISON Votes to Suspend Relations with Histadrut

UNISON’s national delegate conference, which met in the week of June 15th, passed a very strong emergency motion in the wake of Israel’s murderous attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

Conference wasn’t having any of Israel’s justifications, the pretence that its navy commandos were the subject of ‘an attempted lynching’ by the human rights and aid activists. It accused Israel of ‘brazenly lying’. You can’t get much stronger than that!

And even better Conference voted overwhelmingly to suspend relations with Histadrut , following on strong motions on Histadrut which were passed at both the Scottish and Irish TUCs as well as a motion to cut all links with Histadrut by the Universities & Colleges Union (UCU).

Histadrut once again, after its Gaza debacle, again decided to issue a statement giving full support to Israel’s massacre on the Mavi Marmara. It was a particularly disgusting statement. It purported to be ‘aware of the ongoing suffering of the inhabitants of Gaza’ whilst omitting to say it has never even lifted its little finger to relieve this suffering.

And then on cue, it gave full support to Netanyahu, Lieberman and Barak’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla by criticising not the murderers but the murdered:
‘The conduct of the flotilla’s organisers and their methods of action utterly contradict the cooperation and the responsibility to achieve the goal we all aspire to attain – effective humanitarian assistance for the residents of Gaza.’
The breathtaking hypocrisy of this statement – when the Histadrut has done nothing to relieve the blockade itself nor to support those in Israel who have tried to do so, and its use of an agreement with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions last year, whereby it agreed to return a tiny fraction of monies stolen from Palestinian workers to PGFTU – sealed its fate.

Of course Unison has now gone beyond that which Palestine Solidarity Campaign and their trade union organiser, Bernard Regan approve of. Regan believes the Histadrut is a changed organisation and a genuine trade union. The fact that it evinces not a squeak of solidarity with the oppressed is neither her nor there.

Coming on top of the Boycott of Israeli ships by dockers on the West coast of American, Sweden and Norway, it demonstrates that Boycott is once again, thanks to the Israeli government, right on track again.

Tony Greenstein

2010 National Delegate Conference

Conference condemns the attack by the Israeli army and navy on the Gaza Freedom flotilla, which was in international waters 90 miles off the coast of Gaza, in which nine people were reportedly killed. We note that these boats were carrying much-needed humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza. We repeat the demand of Conference 2009 for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza, which has been in place since 2007.

We note that the passengers on the boats were civilians, including a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a holocaust survivor, parliamentarians, activists, artists and other non-combatants. Israel's attack, in international waters, appears to be an act of piracy. We call for an independent international enquiry into the circumstances of this attack, and for the criminal prosecution of those committing and ordering these illegal acts.

We support the strong condemnations of Israel issued by Governments around the world, as well as those statements by trade unions, including the TUC and the ITUC.

Conference reaffirms the demands of last years conference and call for an immediate end to all UK arms sales to Israel, and for recognition of the results of the 2006 Palestine election.

We call for the immediate release of all those detained by Israel during this attack, and for the return of all their seized property.

We note that a further aid boat, the MV Rachel Corrie, which was delayed as a result of an Israeli sabotage attempt, is currently sailing to Gaza, and we support the demand of the Irish government that Israel allow it safe passage to Gaza.

In an attempt to justify this attack, Israel has been brazenly lying, attempting to define it as an attempted lynch of its troops by passengers on the boats. This is a further sign that Israel does not respond to words of condemnation; only action will have any effect.

Conference reaffirms the support of Conference 2009 for an economic cultural and sporting boycott of Israel, and call on Unison to join the scores of unions around the world who have endorsed the Palestinian United Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. Further to that as an immediate sanction for the illegal attack on the Flotilla we call on the Government to expel the Israeli ambassador.

Conference condemns the Histadrut's statement of 31st May which supports uncritically, the Israeli Government's action against the Flotilla and agrees to suspend our relations with the Histadrut pending the outcome of our review of our relations as previously agreed by National Delegate Conference.


25 June 2010

Brilliant Hard Talk Interview with Kenneth O'Keefe of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

It is not often that one comes across an interview which merits the adjective 'brilliant'. However Kenneth O'Keefe's interview with the BBC, in 3 parts lives up to the billing as he lays into Israel’s bare-faced lies to justify its attack on the Mavi Marmara and the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. He points out that yes he helped disarm 2 navy commandos and separate them from their weapons, but that they were given medical treatment and not harmed, despite having killed 2 of his brothers.

O’Keefe, who has been a prominent peace activist and tore up his US passport in protest at the Iraq War, was savagely beaten up by the cowards of Israel’s so-called defence forces.

Below is an analysis of Israel’s fake vidoes and other false allegations, such as that their soldiers were shot or knifed or both. All of these allegations have now disappeared as have photos of arms shipments which dated back years.

Tony Greenstein

The Israeli Media’s Flotilla Fail

On 06.22.10, By Max

My summary of the Israeli media’s shambolic performance following the flotilla massacre was originally published here in Hebrew at Dvorit Shargal’s excellent Israeli media blog, Velvet Underground. The English version follows:

If the raid of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was a disaster for the Israel Defense Forces, its aftermath demonstrated an equally bewildering performance by the Israeli media. The IDF Spokesman’s Office churned out one misleading claim after another, each one more implausible than the next, seeking to implant in the public’s mind a version of events that bore little relation to reality. To a degree, this was to be expected; but it was startling to see how some of Israel’s most respected reporters lined up to serve as military stenographers, barely challenging the IDF’s rapidly changing versions of events. IDF claims about the flotilla passengers’ links to Al Qaida, anti-Semitic statements shouted at the Israeli Navy, and their terrorist intentions were eagerly broadcast by the Israeli media without a second thought. When independent reporters forced the IDF to retract or “clarify” all of these claims, Israeli news outlets refused to correct their errors, or covered them up without acknowledgment.

It so happened that I arrived in Israel for a research trip the day after the flotilla raid. As a result, I was able to do something which I always thought to be a very basic journalistic practice, so basic it’s supposed to be applied routinely: Asking an implicated party in a story to produce evidence for its claims. What I found bewildering is that at least judging from Israeli media reports, few, if any, mainstream reporters applied this practice, and when a visiting colleague did their job for them – nobody bothered to correct or withdraw their original report.

On June 2, the IDF disseminated a press release entitled, “Attackers of the IDF soldiers found to be Al Qaeda mercenaries.” The accusation was not accompanied by any conclusive evidence — the IDF reported that Mavi Marmara passengers were equipped with night-vision goggles (gasp!). This did not stop Yedioth’s Ron Ben-Yishai, who was embedded with the Navy commandos, from amplifying the baseless charge. Citing an “interrogation” of Marmara passengers — “lynchers,” he called them — Ben-Yishai wrote the same day, “Some among the [flotilla passengers] are believed to have ties with World Jihad groups, mainly Al Qaeda.” The article made no reference to any efforts on part of Ben Yishai to investigate this claim, nor did he seem to think to ask why the IDF was about to release dangerous operatives of Osama Bin Laden — presumably they would attack again, wouldn’t they?

On June 3, Israeli journalist Lia Tarachansky of the Real News Network and I placed calls to the IDF Spokesman’s Office to demand further evidence of the Marmara’s Al Qaeda ties. We received identical responses from spokespeople from the IDF’s Israel and North America desks: “We don’t have any evidence. The press release was based on information from the National Security Council.” Hours later, the IDF retracted its claim, changing the title of its press release to, “Attackers of IDF Soldiers Found Without Identification Papers.” Despite the official retraction, Ben-Yishai’s article remains uncorrected.

On June 4, the IDF released an audio clip purporting to consist of transmissions between the Mavi Marmara and a Naval warship. “Go back to Aushwitz!” a Marmara passenger shouted, according to the IDF. YNet and Haaretz reported on and reproduced the audio clip without investigating its authenticity. Forget that the voice uttering the anti-Semitic slur sounded like a mentally disturbed teenager; had reporters performed a cursory search of the IDF Spokeman’s Office website, they would have found a longer clip released on May 31 that featured a dramatically different exchange with the Marmara with no mention of Auschwitz. Further, the voice of flotilla organizer Huwaida Arraf was featured in the “Aushwitz” clip, yet Arraf was not aboard the Marmara (she was on the Challenger One). Could the IDF have doctored audio to exploit public hysteria surrounding the issue of anti-Semitism?

On my blog, I pointed out the discrepancies in the IDF’s footage and raised the question of doctoring. The next day, the IDF conceded that it had in fact doctored the footage, releasing a “clarification” and a new clip claiming to consist of the “full” exchange between the Navy and the flotilla. Unfortunately, the authenticity of the new clip was impossible to verify.

Despite the IDF’s admission, YNet and Haaretz have not corrected their original reports, though Haaretz has at least altered its headline. Once the doctoring was exposed, the New York Times covered the episode in detail, directing international attention to the triumph of independent online reporting and the apparent failure of Israel’s parochial press corps.

On June 7, Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer reported on an IDF press release claiming without evidence that five flotilla passengers had links to international terror. The press release was larded with highly implausible claims, including that Ken O’Keefe, who runs an aid organization with Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, was planning to train a Hamas commando unit in the Gaza Strip. When I called the IDF Spokesman’s Office, I learned that once again, no evidence was available to support their press release. “There is very limited intelligence we can give in this specific case,” Sgt. Chen Arad told me. “Obviously I’m unable to give you more information.” Did Pfeffer demand more evidence? If he did and was answered in the same manner as I did, why did Haaretz publish an unsubstantiated spin as fact?

Joined by Haaretz military correspondents Avi Isacharoff and Amos Harel, Pfeffer became a channel for another daytime deception by the IDF. On May 31, the three reporters produced an article based exclusively on testimony from Naval commandos — the flotilla passengers’ side of the story was ignored — claiming they had faced live fire and lynching attempts from Marmara passengers. Since the story was published, the IDF has produced scant evidence to support either accusation. The article was accompanied by a suspicious photo from the IDF Spokesman’s Office depicting a bearded Muslim man brandishing a knife and surrounded by photojournalists. Daylight beamed in from a window behind the man. Haaretz’s caption, which was sourced to the IDF, asserted that the photo was taken “after” the commandos had boarded the Marmara. However, the commandos raided the ship at night, while the photo was taken during the day. Once again, the IDF’s story was fishy.

I called Sgt. Arad at the IDF Spokesman’s Office to investigate. He told me he had no evidence to support the photo’s questionable caption. Soon after our phone conversation, Haaretz quietly altered the caption, removing its claim that the photo was taken “after” the commando raid. For nearly a week, the false photo caption had remained intact. Why did Haaretz suddenly change it? The only plausible explanation is that the paper received a tip from the IDF Spokesman’s Office. If true, the tip-off suggests a scandalous level of coordination between the Israeli military and the country’s media.

In the wake of the flotilla raid, Israeli journalists had a unique opportunity to lead the global media’s investigation into the bloodbath that occurred on the deck of the Mavi Marmara. After all, no one had better access to the military or the eyewitnesses aboard the flotilla. Instead, too many among the Israeli press corps allowed themselves to be conscripted into the IDF’s hapless information war, leaving the important task of investigating the raid to independent reporters who remembered to view claims by any nation’s military with extreme skepticism.

So why do well-connected, experienced reporters follow the IDF baton so willingly, and fail to follow up when IDF claims are retracted? Is it simple bias, a desire to present their military in the best possible light, a desire so strong they abandon their duty to their readers to verify their information? Are they afraid of sanctions, of losing contacts and access to information? Do they fear personal reprisals? Their readers, and the world media that still relies on Israeli journalism as a vital source of information, need to know.

23 June 2010

Israel’s Quisling Palestinian Authority Tries to Sabotage Resolution Condemning Israel’s Attack on the Gaza Flotilla

It is unbelievable, but unfortunately true. Electronic Intifada, the most reliable and prestigious Palestinian site, has been leaked documents that conclusively prove that Mahmoud Abbas’s quisling PA actually sought to undermine a resolution from Turkey condemning Israel’s attack on the flotilla and even left it to the US’s catspaw Ban ki-Moon , the Secretary General, to decide whether Israel’s Committee of Endorsement, as a ‘credible inquiry’.

No doubt after having criticised the lack of independence of Israel’s Committee of Endorsement, , Banki Moon will do a Gaza using suitably soothing words to cover his withdrawal as the US whips him into line.

If ever confirmation were needed that the Palestinian Authority is no different morally from the Judenrat (Jewish Councils) which collaborated with the Nazis and whose leadership was mainly composed of Zionists, then this is it.

It is ironic that in its attempt to explain away its bias, the BBC used the fact that it had interviewed Palestinians, primarily from the PA, to explain its ‘neutrality’. In reality talking to Abbas and his monkeys and co. is no different from talking to the organ grinder, though it probably makes sense to talk to the one pulling the strings.

If ever anyone had any doubt, then now it is time for us also to break relations with the Palestinian Authority. Professor Manuel Hassassian notwithstanding.

Tony Greenstein

Exclusive: Leaked documents show PA undermined Turkey's push for UN flotilla probe
Asa Winstanley, The Electronic Intifada, 22 June 2010

A document sent to Ibrahim Khraishi, Palestinian Authority representative at the UN in Geneva, proves that the PA attempted to undermine Turkey's push for a UN Human Rights Council investigation in to Israel's attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla (Patrick Bertschmann/UN Photo)

The Palestinian Authority attempted to neutralize a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution condemning Israel's deadly attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, leaked UN and Palestinian Authority documents obtained by The Electronic Intifada show. Israel's 31 May attack killed nine Turkish citizens, including a dual US-Turkish citizen, and injured dozens of others aboard the Mavi Marmara in international waters.

The Electronic Intifada (EI) today publishes one of the documents it obtained, containing proposed amendments to a draft Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution. Annotations to the resolution indicate the Palestinian Authority (PA) stood with European Union (EU) countries against Turkey's calls for robust action to hold Israel accountable.

The PA's apparent collusion to shield Israel will recall for many its efforts to undermine UN action on the Goldstone report last October.

Apparently written by a European delegate, the document's amendments would have seriously diluted Turkey's original wording. The most damaging change would have removed the call for an independent UN investigation under HRC auspices. The document was provided to EI by a source who described how it was obtained inside the UN Office at Geneva, and asked to remain anonymous.

Turkey rejected the EU-PA amendments, and the final resolution on 2 June declared that the council "Decides to dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international humanitarian and human rights law resulting from the Israeli attacks" ("The Grave Attacks by Israeli Forces against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy," United Nations Human Rights Council, Fourteenth session, A/HRC/14/L.1, Adopted on 2 June 2010).

The language in the final resolution was very similar to the January 2009 HRC resolution which led to the Goldstone report, the independent investigation that detailed war crimes committed during Israel's 2008-09 invasion of Gaza.

Yet annotations apparently made by a European diplomat on the draft resolution obtained by EI make it clear that the PA consented to removal of this wording. A PA-backed alternative paragraph instead proposed that the HRC: "Requests the UN Secretary-General to ensure a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to the [sic] international standards."

This difference is key because the Turkish wording specifically calls for an investigation under the authority of the HRC. Yet the weaker EU-PA version would have allowed the UN secretary-general to merely endorse an Israeli-led inquiry provided he considered it "credible."

One of the document's annotations explains that "TK [Turkey] has checked with their capital and they are still under high-level instruction to insist on language as originally proposed." The note adds that "PA and PAK [Pakistan] can agree to both proposals" -- i.e to replace the independent HRC investigation with one merely approved by either the UN Security Council or the secretary-general.

Similarly, while Turkey had -- according to the annotations -- insisted that the resolution specifically condemn the Israeli attack, the "PA and PAK is [sic] OK with the EU proposal" to replace reference to "the outrageous attack by the Israeli forces against the humanitarian flotilla" with the more ambiguous "use of violence during the Israeli military operation." The EU alternative could be interpreted as including condemnation of "violence" by passengers attempting to defend themselves with water hoses or sticks against the unprovoked Israeli military attack in international waters.

Public statements by both French and UK diplomats support EI's interpretation of the document. After Turkey succeeded in getting its wording into the 2 June resolution, the UK and France abstained, and the Netherlands, Italy and the US voted against.

Explaining his country's abstention, French representative Jean-Baptiste Mattei expressed a wish for a "unanimous stand" and said his government "regret that proposals for amendments to the text made by the EU" were not accepted. Peter Gooderham for the United Kingdom concurred with this wish "to reach consensus" and even mentioned he was "grateful for the efforts of the co-sponsors in this regard" ("UN Human Rights Council, Archived Video", Fourteenth session, 2 June 2010).

The Palestinian Authority was one of the resolution's co-sponsors.

Imad Zuhairi, the Deputy Permanent Observer of the PA to the UN in Geneva, said in a phone interview that the position of his delegation was that "no matter if it's Geneva, the Human Rights Council, or the Security Council, there should be a transparent and international independent investigation committee in accordance with international standards."

Zuhairi claimed his delegation had been "not against or with" the EU effort to scupper the HRC investigation. He criticized the Security Council resolution wording as "ambiguous" and said the PA would "reject by all means any internal investigation" by Israel. He added: "what we care for is our [Palestinian] people in the occupied Gaza Strip."

When questioned specifically on the comment in the document that the PA can "agree" to removal of the HRC investigation, Zuhairi said the comment was inaccurate, and said that whoever had written it was mistaken.

However, the annotations in the draft HRC resolution leaked to EI are corroborated by a second leaked document which reveals an earlier attempt to dilute the HRC resolution, but this time directly by the PA itself.

The second document, and the email to which it was attached, were leaked by a source unconnected to the first document. EI was given access to the second document on condition it not be published.

The second document is in the widely-used Microsoft Word format and the "Track Changes" feature has been used, so the exact changes made to it are unambiguous. An examination of the Word document's metadata reveals that it was initially created by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs ("Disisleri Bakanligi") before the PA added its changes.

The email to which it was attached was written by Feda Abdelhady Nasser, a diplomat at the PA's UN mission in New York, and sent to Dr. Ibrahim Khraishi, the PA representative at the UN in Geneva where the HRC is based. It is copied to Riyad Mansour, the head of the PA mission at the UN in New York.

Abdelhady Nasser explains that the attached document contains the PA mission in New York's edits to the draft resolution being proposed for adoption by the HRC.

The document itself proves that the PA representatives replaced the proposed Turkish wording in which the HRC "Decides to dispatch an independent international fact finding mission ..." with much vaguer and more indirect language that: "Calls upon the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to dispatch a fact finding mission ..."

This language would have removed the entire issue from the auspices of the HRC. Taken together, the evidence indicates that the PA was directly involved in trying to dilute and undermine Turkey's robust position and to protect Israel from accountability.

Recent reports suggest that the "investigation conforming to international standards" approved by the Security Council and the US administration will be conducted by Israel itself, observed by Northern Ireland politician David Trimble who recently co-founded an organization called Friends of Israel, and Canadian Brigadier-General Ken Watkin.

A separate investigation by the HRC, as stipulated in the 2 June resolution that passed with 32 votes in favor (three against, nine abstentions) would represent a challenge to the authority of the Israeli investigation. If the Goldstone report is a precedent, an HRC investigation is far more likely to be critical of Israeli actions.

In October 2009, the Goldstone report was finally adopted by the HRC. Despite the PA initially withdrawing support for the South African jurist's investigation into Israel's 2008-09 onslaught against the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud Abbas, who extended his expired term as PA president under contested "emergency laws," was forced into a humiliating U-turn after an outpouring of disgust and protest from Palestinians around the world.

The Attack on Ameer Makhoul and Israeli Palestinians by the 'Only Democracy in the Middle East'

Although I haven’t covered the case recently, because of the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the arrest and torture of Ameer Makhoul is extremely important. I covered this previously prior to the murder of the activists on the Mavi Marmara. This is an article about the appearance of Makhoul at a closed hearing of the court in Israel.

What is abundantly clear is that in Israel, the courts are without exception willing to defer to the security services in their characterisation of peaceful activists and demonstrators as terrorists. On no occasion have they questioned this blanket use of the term, quite the contrary, as in the Gaza invasion, they were willingly complicit in the arrest of people in order to prevent demonstrations.

Even in Britain, despite the many attacks by New Labour, courts still retain an independence which enables them to e.g. refuse the government’s attempt – under New Labour’s next leader, David Milliband, to cover up evidence of torture. In Israel the Courts deliberately remand prisoners for long enough to allow Shin Bet (Internal Security Police) to torture them. They even ban the defence from seeing the medical report on their own clients – as if this can be a threat to national security.

The article below, from the excellent Electronic Intifada site, demonstrates that Israel has effectively become, for its Arab citizens a Police State and for Jewish dissidents it is well on its way to that destination.

Tony Greenstein

Israel indicts tortured rights activist Ameer Makhoul

Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 27 May 2010

A leading human rights activist from Israel's Palestinian Arab minority was charged yesterday with the most serious security offenses on Israel's statute book, including espionage.

Prosecutors indicted Ameer Makhoul, the head of Ittijah, an umbrella organization for Arab human rights groups in Israel, with spying on security facilities on behalf of Hizballah after an alleged meeting with one of its agents in Denmark in 2008.

Makhoul, who had been held incommunicado by Israel's secret police, the Shin Bet, for much of the time since his arrest three weeks ago, appeared in court and pleaded not guilty. In his first public statement, he told the court: "The Shin Bet controls the Israeli justice system."

As a gag order was lifted on the case, his lawyers said Makhoul had been tortured during his detention, including being told by interrogators that they would leave him "disabled." The three lawyers said he had been forced to make a false confession, which they would argue was inadmissible.

Makhoul's arrest had angered many in Israel's Palestinian minority, nearly a fifth of the population, who suspect he is being persecuted for his leading role in promoting internationally the boycott movement against Israel and his prominent opposition to Israel's attack on Gaza nearly 18 months ago.

He has been backed by human rights groups abroad, including Amnesty International, which declared him a prisoner of conscience and accused Israel of "pure harassment."

Makhoul's brother, Issam, a former MP for a joint Jewish-Arab party, told Israel Radio yesterday that Makhoul had been threatened by the Shin Bet back in January 2009, shortly after he organized protests against the Gaza attack. The Shin Bet had told him that they would frame him and "make him disappear," Issam Makhoul said.

Ameer Makhoul's wife, Janan, who saw her husband in court for the first time since he had been arrested, said he was in constant pain and had impaired vision. She added: "He is very exhausted and he told me about the torture he underwent in his interrogation. Thirty-six hours without sleep tied to a chair stuck to the floor."

Makhoul, 52, is charged with assistance to the enemy in a time of war, conspiracy to assist an enemy, aggravated espionage and contact with a foreign agent. According to the indictment, he passed on "strategic intelligence" to Hizballah agents on at least 10 occasions via encrypted e-mails.

The militant Lebanese group is said to have used Makhoul, whose organization is based in the northern city of Haifa, to provide information on security installations in the north.

Makhoul is alleged to have provided details of the locations of two Shin Bet facilities, a Mossad office, a military base and a Rafael armaments factory, as well as trying unsuccessfully to gather information on the security arrangements of Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, and Ehud Barak, the defense minister.

A senior Shin Bet officer told the liberal Haaretz newspaper: "Part of the information that Makhoul transferred could be delivered by anyone with a pair of eyes and Google Earth [a computer program providing satellite images]. But Makhoul, as an Israeli Arab, has freedom of movement and access across Israel."

Prosecutors also accused him of passing on the names of six Israelis as potential spies and providing analysis of trends in Israeli politics and society.

Hizballah, prosecutors suggested, was especially keen to learn about its success in hitting Israeli security installations with rockets during its military confrontation with Israel in 2006.

In a related case, Omar Said, 50, a pharmacologist and political activist, was charged yesterday in a Nazareth court with contacting and transferring information to Hizballah after meeting an agent in the Sinai resort of Sharm al-Sheikh. He denied the allegations and said he too had been forced into making a confession.

Hassan Jaja, a Lebanese businessman living in Jordan, is alleged to have initiated contacts between Hizballah and Said and Makhoul.

The Adalah legal center, which represents Makhoul, said his indictment was based on a confession extracted during nearly two weeks in which he was denied a lawyer, kept in a small isolation cell, deprived of sleep and food, and shackled in a painful position to a small chair.

The combination of methods, known in Hebrew as the "Shabeh," created high levels of mental stress and acute, continuous physical pain, said Abir Baker, a lawyer with Adalah. The interrogation method violates international law and was banned by Israel's high court in 1999.

Hasan Jabareen, head of Adalah, said that, when Makhoul complained of serious pain, the interrogators tied him even tighter, threatening that he would be "left disabled."

Issam Makhoul said the family was concerned that the court had denied his lawyers the right to see a medical report from a state physician who visited him twice during his interrogation.

Baker said recent amendments to Israel's security laws had given the Shin Bet "dangerous powers" to deny suspects the right to see a lawyer for up to 21 days, with limited judicial oversight.

Such powers were being used almost exclusively against Palestinian citizens held in detention, she said, though the state had refused to provide figures on how frequently the law was being employed.

She said, during periods when suspects could not see a lawyer, interrogators were more likely to use illegal torture methods.

A report by the Abu Dhabi-based National newspaper in January 2009 supports Issam Makhoul's claim that his brother was threatened in an earlier Shin Bet interrogation. Makhoul told the paper at the time that a Shin Bet officer "called me a rebel threatening the security of the state during time of war and said he would be happy to transfer me to Gaza."

Makhoul's case, said Mohammed Zeidan, head of the Human Rights Association in Nazareth, had left everyone in Israel's human rights community "afraid." "The Shin Bet wanted to take him out of the game and they have succeeded," he said. "Ameer has been disappeared."

Zeidan added that the case had strong echoes of what he called recent "unwarranted legal assaults" by the Shin Bet on two other Palestinian leaders in Israel.

Sheikh Raed Salah, of the popular Islamic Movement, was arrested in 2003 and spent two years in jail awaiting trial on charges of assisting a terror organization before he was released in a plea bargain in which he admitted only financial misdemeanors.

Since 2007 Azmi Bishara, the leader of the Balad party, has been in exile after he was accused of espionage while out of the country. Critics say the Shin Bet effectively silenced him without having to produce evidence.

"It has become clear over the past few years that this could happen to any of us," he said.

On Wednesday, in a related development, the parliament passed the first reading of a "loyalty bill," introduced by the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, that would strip anyone found guilty of espionage of their citizenship.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

A version of this article originally appeared in The National, published in Abu Dhabi.

20 June 2010

US War Veteran Nicols O’Keefe – Bloodied and Beaten but Unbowed

This one video explains all the lies and obfuscations of Israel. It should be required viewing for BBC Reporters.

Tony Greenstein

After seeing passengers shot at close range they tried to grab the weapons to stop the killing. Kenneth Nichols O'Keefe was later beaten by the Israelis.

A US war veteran said yesterday he confronted Israeli commandos when they raided a Gaza-bound aid ship which he had boarded as a peace activist, Anatolia news agency reported.

Kenneth Nichols O'Keefe, his face bruised and still stained with blood, flew to Istanbul from Tel Aviv, on his way to Ireland, the report said.

"We overpowered three Israeli commandos. They looked at us... They thought we would kill them, but we let them go," O'Keefe said, adding he took the weapon of one of the soldiers and emptied it, according to Anatolia.

The ex-marine said he saw five people being killed on board the Mavi Marmara.

19 June 2010

Will BP’s Gulf Blow-out Ever Be Stopped?

Although this blog mainly carries articles on the oppression of the Palestinians and opposition to Zionism it is, as it states, a Socialist blog, i.e. anti-capitalist. The story of the blowout of BP’s oil well is an important one, because it is a symptom of the destructive capacity of capitalism, which rapaciously eats its way through our natural resources, exploiting them for private profit, regardless of the damage it is doing. And in order to maximise that profit, it arms and supports warrior states like Israel to do its dirty work, aided and abetted by vicious dictatorships such as in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, whose role is to keep the workers and peoples of the area from rising up against those imperial oil interests. Capitalism has never hesitated to blight the landscape and destroy the environment in order to pursue its hunger for profit. From the coal mines of the 19th century to BP today, capitalism has caused one disaster after another, be it environmental or, as in India and Ireland, man-made famines where we had the obscenity of millions starving as food was still being exported from those very states.

This is important because when people focus on ‘the Jewish lobby’ and its influence in Washington they miss the entire point. Israel is supported by the United States, not because its rulers are soft on ‘the Jews’ quite the contrary. There is no reason at all to believe that were anti-Semitism to raise its head, those very same western states which turned back Jewish refugees during the period of Nazism wouldn’t do so again. Israel is supported not because it is Jewish but because it is part and parcel of the coercion of the Arab masses, including the oil producing areas of the Middle East. But to return to BP.

Which is why they have invented a new ‘anti-Semitism’ i.e. opposition to Israel. The traditional form of anti-Semitism is not something they are concerned about, indeed historically Zionism has welcomed anti-Semitism as an ‘incentive’ for Jews to move to Israel.

As BP’s hapless CEO Tony Hayward fluffed his grilling by the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday, it would seem that we now face the appalling consequences of capitalism’s drive for ever greater profits at the expense of the necessary safety measures. If the article below from Mother Jones is correct, then it may well be that there is no solution to the blowout. The whole system appears to be collapsing and the attempt to seal the leak from the top was like closing the end of a leaking pipe. The more you cut off the end flow the more leaks into the substructure building up further problems.

As the American people now face the same destruction of their beaches and environment, they might care to ponder that what they are now experiencing is what the Ogoni people in Nigeria and many others who are the victims of multi-national vulture capitalism have faced. Destruction of the environment and the dumping of waste has been the natural lot of third world peoples. When Trafigura sought injunctions to prevent revelations of how they dumped toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, the courts didn’t hesitate to grant them and western governments were conspicuous by their silence.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the question of oil wells and oil drilling but it would appear that there may be no technical solution to the problem with the possibility that over the years all two and a half billion barrels could eventually leak out. The only solution in sight is for other relief wells to be drilled to syphon off as much of the oil as possible.

Tony Greenstein

Is the BP Gusher Unstoppable?

By Julia Whitty

| Wed Jun. 16, 2010 2:26 PM PDT

Sharon Astyk at ScienceBlogs points the way to a seriously scary comment thread at The Oil Drum, a sounding board for, among others, many petroleum geologists and oil professionals. The comment in question is from a seemingly very knowledgable "dougr." Some of it follows verbatim below. I've highlighted the parts that frightened me the most and left me wondering: Is this why Obama's praying?

You can read the comment in its entirety here, complete with useful links, as well as all the comments (some of which dissent from dougr's claims) made in response. Sharon notes, to the inevitable question of why pass along an anonymous comment: "This one passes my smell test, which is usually pretty good - that doesn't mean I claim commenter Doug R is right - it means I think his information is interesting enough to be worth exposing to a wider audience for clarification or correction." As the Oil Drum staff explains to its own readers regarding this post: "Were the US government and BP more forthcoming with information and details, the situation would not be giving rise to so much speculation about what is actually going on in the Gulf. This should be run more like Mission Control at NASA than an exclusive country club function--it is a public matter--transparency, now!" Amen. Meanwhile, judge for yourself:

"All the actions and few tid bits of information all lead to one inescapable conclusion. The well pipes below the sea floor are broken and leaking. Now you have some real data of how BP's actions are evidence of that, as well as some murky statement from "BP officials" confirming the same.

"To those of us outside the real inside loop, yet still fairly knowledgeable, [the failure of Top Kill] was a major confirmation of what many feared. That the system below the sea floor has serious failures of varying magnitude in the complicated chain, and it is breaking down and it will continue to.

"What does this mean?

"It means they will never cap the gusher after the wellhead. They cannot...the more they try and restrict the oil gushing out the bop?...the more it will transfer to the leaks below. Just like a leaky garden hose with a nozzle on it. When you open up the nozzle?...it doesn't leak so bad, you close the nozzle?...it leaks real bad, same dynamics. It is why they sawed the riser off...or tried to anyway...but they clipped it off, to relieve pressure on the leaks "down hole". I'm sure there was a bit of panic time after they crimp/pinched off the large riser pipe and the Diamond wire saw got stuck and failed...because that crimp diverted pressure and flow to the rupture down below.

"Contrary to what most of us would think as logical to stop the oil mess, actually opening up the gushing well and making it gush more became direction BP took after confirming that there was a leak. In fact if you note their actions, that should become clear. They have shifted from stopping or restricting the gusher to opening it up and catching it. This only makes sense if they want to relieve pressure at the leak hidden down below the seabed.....and that sort of leak is one of the most dangerous and potentially damaging kind of leak there could be. It is also inaccessible which compounds our problems. There is no way to stop that leak from above, all they can do is relieve the pressure on it and the only way to do that right now is to open up the nozzle above and gush more oil into the gulf and hopefully catch it, which they have done, they just neglected to tell us why, gee thanks.

"A down hole leak is dangerous and damaging for several reasons. There will be erosion throughout the entire beat up, beat on and beat down remainder of the "system" including that inaccessible leak. The same erosion I spoke about in the first post is still present and has never stopped, cannot be stopped, is impossible to stop and will always be present in and acting on anything that is left which has crude oil "Product" rushing through it. There are abrasives still present, swirling flow will create hot spots of wear and this erosion is relentless and will always be present until eventually it wears away enough material to break it's way out. It will slowly eat the bop away especially at the now pinched off riser head and it will flow more and more. Perhaps BP can outrun or keep up with that out flow with various suckage methods for a period of time, but eventually the well will win that race, just how long that race will be?...no one really knows....However now?...there are other problems that a down hole leak will and must produce that will compound this already bad situation.

"This down hole leak will undermine the foundation of the seabed in and around the well area. It also weakens the only thing holding up the massive Blow Out Preventer's immense bulk of 450 tons. In fact?...we are beginning to the results of the well's total integrity beginning to fail due to the undermining being caused by the leaking well bore.

"The first layer of the sea floor in the gulf is mostly lose material of sand and silt. It doesn't hold up anything and isn't meant to, what holds the entire subsea system of the Bop in place is the well itself... The well's piping in comparison is actually very much smaller than the Blow Out Preventer and strong as it may be, it relies on some support from the seabed to function and not literally fall over...and it is now showing signs of doing just that....falling over..."

What is likely to happen now?

"Well...none of what is likely to happen is good, in fact...it's about as bad as it gets. I am convinced the erosion and compromising of the entire system is accelerating and attacking more key structural areas of the well, the blow out preventer and surrounding strata holding it all up and together. This is evidenced by the tilt of the blow out preventer and the erosion which has exposed the well head connection. What eventually will happen is that the blow out preventer will literally tip over if they do not run supports to it as the currents push on it. I suspect they will run those supports as cables tied to anchors very soon, if they don't, they are inviting disaster that much sooner.

"Eventually even that will be futile as the well casings cannot support the weight of the massive system above with out the cement bond to the earth and that bond is being eroded away. When enough is eroded away the casings will buckle and the BOP will collapse the well. If and when you begin to see oil and gas coming up around the well area from under the BOP? or the area around the well head connection and casing sinking more and more rapidly? ...it won't be too long after that the entire system fails. BP must be aware of this, they are mapping the sea floor sonically and that is not a mere exercise. Our Gov't must be well aware too, they just are not telling us.

"All of these things lead to only one place, a fully wide open well bore directly to the oil deposit...after that, it goes into the realm of " the worst things you can think of" The well may come completely apart as the inner liners fail. There is still a very long drill string in the well, that could literally come flying out...as I said...all the worst things you can think of are a possibility, but the very least damaging outcome as bad as it is, is that we are stuck with a wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more. There isn't any "cap dome" or any other suck fixer device on earth that exists or could be built that will stop it from gushing out and doing more and more damage to the gulf. While at the same time also doing more damage to the well, making the chance of halting it with a kill from the bottom up less and less likely to work, which as it stands now?....is the only real chance we have left to stop it all.

"It's a race now...a race to drill the relief wells and take our last chance at killing this monster before the whole weakened, wore out, blown out, leaking and failing system gives up it's last gasp in a horrific crescendo.

"We are not even 2 months into it, barely half way by even optimistic estimates. The damage done by the leaked oil now is virtually immeasurable already and it will not get better, it can only get worse. No matter how much they can collect, there will still be thousands and thousands of gallons leaking out every minute, every hour of every day.

We have 2 months left before the relief wells are even near in position and set up to take a kill shot and that is being optimistic as I said."Over the next 2 months the mechanical situation also cannot improve, it can only get worse, getting better is an impossibility. While they may make some gains on collecting the leaked oil, the structural situation cannot heal itself. It will continue to erode and flow out more oil and eventually the inevitable collapse which cannot be stopped will happen. It is only a simple matter of who can "get there first"...us or the well."