Posted by: noticeable | April 20, 2009

US a No-Show at UN Conference

The extraordinary power of the Jewish State was on display again as the Obama Administration and other powerful allies boycotted “Durban II” this week.  Reaffirming the supposition that thinking critically of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians is grounds for accusations of antisemitism, no matter how attenuated, the Jewish State has wielded unprecedented strength in convincing the powerful Western nations to once again ignore the pleas and circumstances of the majority of the world in favor of the interests of the tiny empire.  See AIPAC’s press release below:

AIPAC APPLAUDS OBAMA ADMINISTRATION
FOR BOYCOTTING DURBAN II

Washington, D.C. — The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) strongly applauds the Obama Administration’s decision to boycott the Durban II conference. The event, which has again proven to be a celebration of racism and vile anti-Semitic activity, is further evidence of the U.N.’s inability to demonstrate any semblance of fairness or objectivity on these issues when it comes to the Jewish State. President Obama’s decision not to send U.S. representation to the April event is the right thing to do and underscores America’s unstinting commitment to combating intolerance and racism in all its forms and in all settings. We commend the President, Secretary Clinton and U.N. Ambassador Rice for this principled decision.

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Unilateralism, exceptionalism, patriarchal attempts to tame the Middle East.  Israel’s aggression, and aspirations of expansion, doesn’t end at the Jordan River.  The American invasion of Iraq firmly continued the established right of the first world to enact its will on less powerful others.  Meanwhile, Israel, of late, is flexing its own international strength as illustrated below.

Iran complains to UN about Israeli “threats”
Tue Apr 14, 2009 5:18pm EDT

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, April 14 (Reuters) – Iran demanded on Tuesday that the U.N. Security Council respond firmly to what it described as Israel’s “unlawful and insolent threats” to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, have suggested the Jewish state could use military force to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, as the West suspects it is doing.

Iran insists it is only interested in building reactors that peacefully generate electricity. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has said Israel should be “wiped off the map,” has vowed to continue his country’s nuclear program.

Iran’s U.N. ambassador, in a letter to Mexican U.N. Ambassador Claude Heller, said Israel was violating the U.N. charter and urged the international body to respond clearly and resolutely. Mexico holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council.

“These outrageous threats of resorting to criminal and terrorist acts against a sovereign country and a member of the United Nations not only display the aggressive and warmongering nature of the Zionist regime, but also constitute blatant violations of international law,” Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee wrote.

The letter came two days after Peres told Israel’s Kol Hai radio that Israel would respond with force if U.S. offers of dialogue failed to persuade Ahmadinejad to halt Tehran’s uranium enrichment program.

“We’ll strike him,” Peres said in the interview.

Netanyahu and several of his military aides made clear in an interview with Atlantic magazine last month that the government was weighing the military option in dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Khazaee said the remarks were “unlawful and insolent threats” based on “fabricated pretexts.”

CONSTRUCTIVE DIALOGUE

Marco Morales, spokesman for Mexico’s U.N. mission, confirmed receipt of the letter. He said Mexico circulated it to the rest of the council and would only take the issue further if council member states asked to do so.

Iran said on Monday it would welcome constructive dialogue on its nuclear program with the five permanent Security Council members — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — and Germany.

The council has adopted five resolutions demanding that Iran freeze its uranium enrichment program, three of which imposed sanctions against Tehran. Iran has so far refused to stop enriching uranium.

U.S. President Barack Obama has promised to pursue a policy of engagement with Iran in an attempt to persuade Tehran to suspend its enrichment program. Former U.S. President George W. Bush pursued a policy of isolating Iran, branding it a member of an “axil of evil” with North Korea and prewar Iraq.

Washington cut off ties with Tehran in 1980 after militants seized the U.S. Embassy in the Iranian capital.

U.S. officials, diplomats and analysts say Obama opposes the use of military force against Iran’s nuclear sites but is worried that Israel, which bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osiraq in 1981, might bomb Iranian sites if engagement fails.

If Tehran continues to enrich uranium, analysts say, Obama will have no choice but to support a push for a new round of U.N. sanctions against the Islamic Republic later this year. (Editing by Peter Cooney)

Posted by: noticeable | April 5, 2009

NY Times: Israel on Trial

Law Professor George Bisharat pens a recent NY Times Op-Ed piece addressing the recent testimony by IDF soldiers describing war crimes in Gaza.  What is striking is not that war crimes were indeed committed by Israel (unfortunately extremely commonplace), but the brazen admissions offered by the Jewish State’s officials.

Straight-faced, comments like “anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target” are made and the first world doesn’t take offense, but rationalizes, or worse, as in the case of the U.S., provides the logistical and diplomatic architecture to continue these international crimes.  Interesting mind experiment:  “anything affiliated with Likud is a legitimate target.”

Op-Ed Contributor
Israel on Trial

By GEORGE BISHARAT
Published: April 3, 2009

CHILLING testimony by Israeli soldiers substantiates charges that Israel’s Gaza Strip assault entailed grave violations of international law. The emergence of a predominantly right-wing, nationalist government in Israel suggests that there may be more violations to come. Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians also constituted war crimes, but do not excuse Israel’s transgressions. While Israel disputes some of the soldiers’ accounts, the evidence suggests that Israel committed the following six offenses:

• Violating its duty to protect the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Despite Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza, the territory remains occupied. Israel unleashed military firepower against a people it is legally bound to protect.

• Imposing collective punishment in the form of a blockade, in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In June 2007, after Hamas took power in the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed suffocating restrictions on trade and movement. The blockade — an act of war in customary international law — has helped plunge families into poverty, children into malnutrition, and patients denied access to medical treatment into their graves. People in Gaza thus faced Israel’s winter onslaught in particularly weakened conditions.

• Deliberately attacking civilian targets. The laws of war permit attacking a civilian object only when it is making an effective contribution to military action and a definite military advantage is gained by its destruction. Yet an Israeli general, Dan Harel, said, “We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas government and all its wings.” An Israeli military spokeswoman, Maj. Avital Leibovich, avowed that “anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target.”

Israeli fire destroyed or damaged mosques, hospitals, factories, schools, a key sewage plant, institutions like the parliament, the main ministries, the central prison and police stations, and thousands of houses.

• Willfully killing civilians without military justification. When civilian institutions are struck, civilians — persons who are not members of the armed forces of a warring party, and are not taking direct part in hostilities — are killed.

International law authorizes killings of civilians if the objective of the attack is military, and the means are proportional to the advantage gained. Yet proportionality is irrelevant if the targets of attack were not military to begin with. Gaza government employees — traffic policemen, court clerks, secretaries and others — are not combatants merely because Israel considers Hamas, the governing party, a terrorist organization. Many countries do not regard violence against foreign military occupation as terrorism.

Of 1,434 Palestinians killed in the Gaza invasion, 960 were civilians, including 121 women and 288 children, according to a United Nations special rapporteur, Richard Falk. Israeli military lawyers instructed army commanders that Palestinians who remained in a targeted building after having been warned to leave were “voluntary human shields,” and thus combatants. Israeli gunners “knocked on roofs” — that is, fired first at corners of buildings, before hitting more vulnerable points — to “warn” Palestinian residents to flee.

With nearly all exits from the densely populated Gaza Strip blocked by Israel, and chaos reigning within it, this was a particularly cruel flaunting of international law. Willful killings of civilians that are not required by military necessity are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and are considered war crimes under the Nuremberg principles.

• Deliberately employing disproportionate force. Last year, Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, head of Israel’s northern command, speaking on possible future conflicts with neighbors, stated, “We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction.” Such a frank admission of illegal intent can constitute evidence in a criminal prosecution.

• Illegal use of weapons, including white phosphorus. Israel was finally forced to admit, after initial denials, that it employed white phosphorous in the Gaza Strip, though Israel defended its use as legal. White phosphorous may be legally used as an obscurant, not as a weapon, as it burns deeply and is extremely difficult to extinguish.

Israeli political and military personnel who planned, ordered or executed these possible offenses should face criminal prosecution. The appointment of Richard Goldstone, the former war crimes prosecutor from South Africa, to head a fact-finding team into possible war crimes by both parties to the Gaza conflict is an important step in the right direction. The stature of international law is diminished when a nation violates it with impunity.

George Bisharat is a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

Additonal reading:

IDF in Gaza: Killing civilians, vandalism, and lax rules of engagement, Haaretz, 19 March 2009

9th special session of the Human Rights Council: “The Grave Violations of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including the recent aggression in the occupied Gaza Strip” – Friday, 9 January 2009

In an effort to provide more direction to primary sources relating to Palestine, I am including a link to the 9th Special Session of United Nations Human Rights Council.  It relates to Israel’s latest publicly-criticised aggression in Gaza.  (I am trying to upload the original document, but am having WordPress technical problems doing so.)

Importantly, this Resolution, adopted 9 January 2009, does the following:

  • Strongly condemns the ongoing Israeli military operation carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, which has resulted in massive violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people and systematic destruction of Palestinian infrastructure;
  • Strongly condemns the ongoing Israeli military operation carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, which has resulted in massive violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people and systematic destruction of Palestinian infrastructure;
  • Demands that the occupying Power, Israel, stop the targeting of civilians and medical facilities and staff and the systematic destruction of the cultural heritage of the Palestinian people, in addition to the destruction of public and private properties, as laid down in the Fourth Geneva Convention; and
  • Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on the violations of human rights of the Palestinian people by the occupying Power, Israel.
Posted by: noticeable | April 3, 2009

Funds needed for Tristan Anderson’s medical expenses

Funds needed for Tristan Anderson’s medical expenses

Tristan Anderson, an American citizen, was critically injured during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Ni’lin. Anderson was shot in the head with a tear gas projectile from around 60 meters by Israeli forces on 13 March 2009.

Video of the aftermath available here.

Posted by: noticeable | April 3, 2009

Sledgehammer!

I am completely obsessed with authentic hip hop faithfully combining social change, substance and poetry.  These are artists whose work moves well beyond the characterless music of what many, unfortunately, believe is hip hop.  What passes for rap, routinely, for myself, disappoints.  And I only see it as the squandering of a powerful and convincing art.

Detroit-based Invincible, who has been active in Palestinian activism (among other good things) does not dismay or frustrate me in this regard.  This video actually inspires from the first black and white scenes of a scarred Detroit.  Her flow is top-notch and wordplay is impressive.  Totally recommended.

Posted by: noticeable | January 24, 2009

Obama’s Silence on Gaza no surprise

The pummeling of the Gaza Strip at the hands of Israel and enabled through U.S. supplied weapons and logistics, to date, has not elicited a condemning public comment from the President. Indeed, 44 has called a few allies, but has remained steadfast in the long established American doctrine: reasserting that Israel has the “right to defend itself” before issuing any analysis or comment on the “conflict.”

This is firmly rooted American policy. Dissent will not be tolerated. Discussion is superfluous and must follow a strict elite agenda. To Obama’s defense, he did not run on a pro-Palestinian platform. He didn’t claim to be balanced, objective, or analytical (whatever that can mean in an military occupation where no symmetry exists). But he did campaign on “change”; frequently citing President Bush’s failed foreign policy choices and he mentioned the Middle East often enough. So can the average citizen expect “change” when it comes to the U.S. allegiance to Israel? Students of American Middle East policy would sadly inform us that it is not the case. American and Israeli exceptionality from international norms will remain under the new Administration.

In the aftermath of some of the bloodiest, and boldest, of Israel’s massacres in Palestine, our “change” agent is silent and can be expected to remain so.

Posted by: noticeable | November 11, 2008

Ahmad Yousuf: Obama Aides met with Hamas in Gaza

Multiple sources here, here and here are reporting that, prior to the November 4th election, Obama aides met with Hamas officials.

According to Ahmed Yusuf, an advisor to Ismail Haniyeh, the contacts were, supposedly, initiated first via email and then followed by a meeting in the Gaza Strip.

Wonder what they discussed given Barack’s earlier criticism of Jimmy Carter for talking with Hamas:   “We must not negotiate with a terrorist group intent on Israel’s destruction. We should only sit down with Hamas if they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist and abide by past agreements.”

Posted by: noticeable | November 8, 2008

Obama’s New Pick: Israel

It’s been a minute, I wonder if anybody remembers me.  I’m not fully back, but I’m getting warmed up.  Obama-voting-justice-seeking folks perk up!

Obama picks pro-Israel hardliner for top post
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 5 November 2008

During the United States election campaign, racists and pro-Israel hardliners tried to make an issue out of President-elect Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein. Such people might take comfort in another middle name, that of Obama’s pick for White House Chief of Staff: Rahm Israel Emanuel.
Read More…

Posted by: noticeable | January 6, 2008

The Israel Lobby and Presidential Politics: The Quotes

The U.S. presidential season got an earlier start this time around with the Iowa caucus this week. And while the candidates engage in their usual posturing and attempt to accentuate the “differences” in their opinions on domestic and foreign affairs there is one topic all involved can outwardly agree on: solidarity with Israel.

I was reminded of this conformity yesterday as I started John Mearsheimer’s and Stephen Walt’s new book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. The authors wasted no time showing how “serious candidates for the highest office in the land will go to considerable lengths to express their deep personal commitment to one foreign country-Israel-as well as their determination to maintain unyielding U.S. support for the Jewish state.” The authors go on to write, “None of the candidates is likely to criticize Israel in any significant way or suggest that the United States ought to pursue a more evenhanded policy in the region. Any who do will probably fall by the wayside.”

So what have the candidates said about Israel? (The following quotes and applicable endnote citations can be found on page 4 of Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s new book.)

John Edwards: “Your future is our future” and the bond between the U.S. and Israel “will never be broken.”

Mitt Romney: Talked of being “in a country I love with people I love.”

John McCain: “when it comes to the defense of Israel, we simply cannot compromise.”

Hillary Clinton: In speaking to a chapter of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in New York: “[this is] a moment of great difficulty for Israel and great peril for Israel . . . what is vital is that we stand by our friend and our ally and we stand by our own values. Israel is a beacon of what’s right in a neighborhood overshadowed by the wrongs of radicalism, extremism, despotism and terrorism.”

According to Mearsheimer and Walt, Barack Obama (whose views on Israel were discussed earlier on this blog here) and Bill Richardson have also expressed continued support for the Jewish state.

In essence, what this spells is a continuation of the usual and unquestioned support for Israel regardless of the next president. What will be more troubling is any attempt by Bush’s successor to try to broker an equitable “peace” in the region as all have shown such a deferential position toward Israel. And not one will dare to resist or go against the most powerful lobby groups in the U.S.

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