Iran On Eve Of Elections by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach

Dandelion Salad

by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Global Research, March 2, 2008

Muriel Mirak-Weissbach was in Tehran in late February and had the opportunity to talk to political figures, intellectuals, journalists, and the all-too-important “man on the street.” The picture that emerged from this brief visit clashes fundamentally with the line promulgated by the international press, and, therefore, might be worth considering. Muriel Mirak-Weissbach brings us this exclusive report.

Although many detractors will claim that democracy has no value in Iran, the fact of the matter is that the future of the Islamic Republic may be decisively influenced by two rounds of democratic elections: those for the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) on March 14, and and those for the U.S. President, House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate on November 4 of this year. The same detractors will claim that there is no basis for comparison between the two elections, given that the American vote is “free, fair and democratic,” whereas the Iranian elections they see as “fixed.” However, as is often the case with such political prejudices, reality may be completely different.

It was during our visit there that the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohammad ElBaradei, issued his latest report on Iran. The political establishment was elated and the national press joined in the general mood of celebration. As reported in the international press, ElBaradei had said, essentially, that the various unanswered questions regarding Iran’s nuclear energy program, six in all, had been satisfactorily answered.

Most significantly, the IAEA secretary general’s report confirmed that the {method} adopted by that agency and Iran in August, was functional; according to a breakthrough deal made at that time, the two sides agreed that all outstanding questions about Iran’s nuclear program would be put on the table, and that Tehran would answer them, one after the other. Now, after ElBaradei’s largely positive assessment, the United States came forward with “new” questions, based on intelligence gathered not by the IAEA but by American agencies, and, according to reports, agencies of “allies.” The immediate supposition was that among such allied agencies might be Israel and the infamous terrorist organization, Mujahedeen e-Kalq (MKO), which enjoys the protection of Washington. The Iranian authorities immediately denounced such new “intelligence” as suspect or forged, and insisted that ElBaradei’s findings be put on the record.

The United Nations Security Council is going ahead, nonetheless, with its plans for another resolution which is expected to add a few paragraphs to prior resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran. A few more entities will be subjected to economic sanctions, etc. Russia and China will probably go along with the operation, even though both were furious at Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, which had been facilitated and hailed by Washington. Moscow and Beijing agree that Iran has the right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology, but want to stop its enrichment program. Russia’s prompt delivery of nuclear fuel for the Bushehr plant, over December-January, sent this clear signal: yes, we will provide you the means to start up your nuclear plant, but, since we are giving you the fuel, you don’t need to produce it yourselves.

This is a major issue for Iran. As press reports have detailed, and several journalists as well as one government representative emphasized to me in discussions, this is a red line for Iran. The country has had enough experience with the great powers over decades, to know that it cannot trust promises. The 1953 overthrow of the democratically elected government of Mossadeq, by the U.S., on British demand, has not been forgotten. Mossadeq’s “crime” was that he nationalized Iran’s oil, i.e., asserted the nation’s sovereign right to control its energy resources. The “Mossadeq reflex” is very much alive in Iran today. Not only: Iranians remember that, under the Shah, an ambitious program for civilian nuclear energy had been adopted, with the enthusiastic participation of the U.S., France and Germany, only to be trashed after the 1979 Islamic revolution. If Bushehr starts to produce energy, as planned, Iranian officials say, then the country needs to be sure it can continue to guarantee fuel. Recent interruptions in gas deliveries from Turkmenistan, underline the point: Iran has to be self-sufficient, and therefore must maintain its enrichment facilities.

Iranians Go To The Polls

On March 14, over 43.2 millions of Iranian eligible voters may flock to the polls to elect the 8th Majlis, or Parliament. The spin in the international press has been that, since many reformist candidates have been axed from the lists, the entire vote will be a charade. This is not accurate. True, a hefty number of aspiring candidates had been eliminated from the contest, by the Guardians Council, which according to the Islamic Republic’s constitution, has the function of vetting candidates. But it was prevailed upon to readmit a large number, after protests had been lodged. Thus, after 7,597 initially presented their candidacy, 2,200 were disqualified, among them Eli Eshragi, the grandson of revolution leader Ayatollah Khomeini. Following protests, including by former Presidents Seyyed Mohammad Khatami (who called the vettings a “catastrophe”) and Hashemi Rafsanjani, many were reinstated, including Ali Eshragi, who, however, later withdrew. About 4,500 candidates are to run. As one Iranian friend put it to us, the system is a perfect democracy, but “under the umbrella” of the higher authorities, to wit, the Supreme Leader of the Revolution.

Westerners, especially Americans, may self-righteously huff and puff and complain about such procedures in Iran. But they might also take a hard and honest look at the ongoing U.S. election campaign, and reflect on how politically viable candidates like Dennis Kucinich, John Edwards, and Ron Paul, have been marginalized and eliminated, not by any Guardians Council, but by the combination of the press and the money spigots.

As a result of the candidates vetting process, and other factors, the reformists associated with former President Khatami, will not be in a position to win the elections. In all, it is estimated that the Khatami-linked reform candidates will be able to compete in 111 to 120 seats out of 290. Candidates associated with another reform list, the National Confidence Party of Mehdi Karroubi, say they will compete in 160 districts, about 55%. This means that, even if the reformists were to win all races, they would not have a majority in parliament. Their aim, as one reform politician told us, is to establish a strong minority in Parliament, one that will be able to exert influence on the government, although it will not be able to determine policy. (As an American, I often made the mental comparison with the situation in the U.S. Congress, where my Democratic Party gained the majority in 2006, and did nothing with it.) All told, there will be about 16 candidates competing for each seat, and 29 for each seat from Tehran, the most important district.

In the capital, 30 candidates are required for the list, and 30 should be elected to Parliament. The Khatami-inspired reform group have appealed to the Karroubi group, to present a joint list, but this has not materialized as yet. The conseravtives are known as the “Principalists” (Osulqara), that is, those who adhere to the principles of the revolution. This is the faction identified with current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, not all the principalists in the elections are loyal followers of the president. For example, former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, is leading a group from the General Principalists Coalition, but has distanced himself from some of the president’s stances. In an interview with ISNA, the student news agency, he said he had “ideological differences” with Ahmadinejad, and criticized his economic poliices. Larijani will run from the constituency of Qom, the holy city. In sum, there is a lively political debate which has unfolded, particularly over the manner in which Ahmadinejad has promoted the nation’s interests. There are those who, agreeing with his overall policy, would prefer that he adopt a more conciliatory tone. Others differ widely with him on economic policy. Thus, in the elections, it is possible that, even though the conservatives retain their majority, even 65% according to some, it will not be monolithic politically.

Many among the reform politicians fear that the conservative forces will manipulate the vote, as was alleged they had done in the 2005 presidential elections. On February 10, Agence France Press carried a story, picked up from Iranian media, according to which General Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Revolutionary Guards, openly called for voters to support the conservatives. “To follow the path of the Islamic revolution,” he was quoted saying, “support for the Principalists is necessary, inevitable and a divine duty of all revolutionary groups.” He was speaking to officials of the Basij, or Islamic militia, an organization of 10 million, which he heads. Former Presidient Rafsanjani responded by attacking any such interference. “It is one of the main principles of the Islamic republic system,” DPA quoted him saying on February 15, “that the military should not interfere in any elections.” He said that “all those with fidelity to the Islamic republic” should be allowed to run, and that this “also includes different (from the government) political trends.”

The key thing to understand about the political process in Iran is that, despite the constraints of the system, the population is anything but passive, or apathetic. People — in all age groups — are passionately engaged in politics, and most eagerly engage in discussions with foreign visitors, like us, from Europe. One point that they always stress is that they would be happier if there were normal relations with the U.S. and the West as a whole. It is a sobering experience to realize, in meetings with press as well as political representatives, that they are very pro-Western; many studied in the U.S. before the revolution; others, in the younger generation, grew up in the U.S., and returned to lend a hand to their homeland in its struggle to function as a normal member of the “international community.” Anti-Americanism may be standard fare in official rhetoric, but it does not reflect the thinking or sentiments of the general population, at all. If there were a rational administration in Washington, all outstanding issues could be dealt with rationally, and solved, in short order, to the satifaction of both sides.

The Issues

When Iranians go the polls on March 14, they will be be voting for personalities, to be sure, but also for policies. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has enjoyed the support of his people for his unwavering stance on the nuclear issue, but not for the manner in which he has handled it. The reformists are pledging to change this. Habibullah Bitaraf, a reform candidate who was energy minister under Khatami, called for “an active diplomacy” to go along with Iran’s “internationally acknowledged legitimate right to pursue peaceful nuclear technology.” He added his view that, “If our diplomacy was right, then we would not have the current tensions with the West and the sanctions.”

Uppermost in voters’ minds, along with the nuclear issue, is the economic crisis which is hitting not only Iran, but the world as a whole. Inflation has reached double-digit figures. An Iranian Parliament research center put inflation at 22-23% last year. For comparison, the rate is 7% in Saudi Arabia and 9.3% in the United Arab Emirates, both very high. The Iranian central bank is mulling over the issuance of a 100,000 rials note, whereas the highest denomination now is 50,000. Publicly, the authorities are putting on a brave face. Economics Minister Davoud Danesh-Jafari reported on February 16 at a conference in Tehran, that foreign investment in the country had topped $10.27 last year, despite U.S.-led efforts to sabotage the economy with sanctions. He said economic growth had measured an annual 6.7% for the six months to September, and predicted continued growth despite sanctions. Danesh-Jafari also said Iran was looking forward to earning $63 billion in oil income, for the year which ends in March.

But, privately, Iranians complain loudly about the rising cost of living. Given the record oil revenues, generated from an item selling at over $100 a barrel, they want to know, where that money is going. Ahmadinejad is known for having spent a lot of time in his first two years in office, travelling to the provinces, where he has generously distributed funds, for a bridge here, a new highway there, and so on. This will certainly enhance his faction’s standing in the upcoming elections, particularly in outlying rural areas, but it will earn him no applause from city-dwellers, like the Tehran residents, who see their condition deteriorating. Although state subsidies continue to protect the prices of basic commodities, and the price of fuel is among the lowest in the world, young Iranians feel the brunt of the economic crisis the most: university graduates face a lack of job opportunities, and those who do find work, struggle to make ends meet, as rents have soared. Promoting marriage and families, one of the cornerstones of the current government, is no easy task, for purely financial reasons. The vulnerability of the president on economic issues was highlighted when Turkmenistan halted gas deliveries to Iran this winter. The extremely cold temperatures in the country brought on tragedy, as dozens of citizens perished in the cold, without adeuqate heat. In a highly unusual move, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicly reprimanded Ahmadinejad, by explicitly ordering him to implement a law to supply remote villages with gas.

Social issues, though taking a back seat to the economic problems, do matter. Again, in private discussions, Iranians will scoff at the government’s increasing strictness on the dress code, for example. Women who allow too much hair to be visible under their head scarves or shawls, are accused of “bad Hijab,” and may be first reprimanded, then fined and even jailed, if guilty of multiple offences. Such emphasis on enforcing the Islamic dress code is viewed as symptomatic of the government’s tendency to lengthen the list of things that are forbidden.

Considering these developments, it is not difficult to understand why many Iranians may vote against the government. It must be stressed that Ahmadinejad won the elections in 2005, largely because of his promises to represent the poor, the unemployed, the old and the young. Despite his hefty mandate, he has not redefined the structure of economic power in the country, and reports abound of an increasingly prominent role for the Revolutionary Guards in the economy, as well as politics.

Iran’s Regional Role

No fair assessment of Iran’s economic or political problems can be made without factoring in the continuing hostile attitude emanating from George W. Bush’s Washington. Were there normal relations with the U.S., were there no economic sanctions, were there no threats of aggression (encapsulated in Bush’s mantra, “No option is off the table”), then the internal political process in Iran would become even more vibrant and productive. Hopefully, such a change for the better will come with the U.S. elections in November.

One of the leading issues in the U.S. elections is foreign policy towards Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, a debate that educated Iranians are following with great interest. Whether the political pundits in the U.S. want to recognize it or not, a major development has just occurred in the region, which could and should impact the outlook of presidential hopefuls. This is the historic visit of President Ahmadinejad to Iraq on March 2-3.

The Iranian president arrived in Baghdad on March 2, and was given the red carpet treatment by the Iraqi authorities. He met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, as well as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and several other ministers. Unlike the visits to Iraq made by officials of the U.S. occupying power, which are shrouded in secrecy due to security considerations and confined to the heavily guarded Green Zone of the capital, Ahmadinejad’s visit was publicly announced beforehand, and was to include stops in the holy Shi”ite cities of Najaf and Kerbala. In the course of their talks, the two sides made a number of landmark agreements, including Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) on insurance cooperation, credit and trade arrangements (between the Export Development Bank of Iran and the Iraqi Rafadain Bank), and nine joint ventures, in the fields of cement, auto manufacturing, agriculture, food reprocessing, textiles, chemicals, petrochemicals, steel and electricity. Most important, the two sides sealed an agreement to link their power networks, through nine border points, whereby Iran will supply Iraq energy. In addition, Iran is to build a power plant in Najaf. Furthermore, there are plans to develop transportation infrastructure, both road and rail, as well as to expand cooperation in the energy sector.

The visit of the Iranian president to Baghdad cannot be underestimated. It represents not only a current foreign policy and economic policy victory for both sides, but, far more important, it potentially defeats the geopolitical strategy targetting both countries, over the last three decades. It should be recalled that, immeidately following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the U.S. together with Britain, Germany, France et al, moved to support Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran, which opened the eight-year genocidal war. Genocidal, because, in the eyes of the Kissingerian thinktankers who issued the blueprints for the adventure, that war was intended to be a population war: each side was to detsroy the other, much in the same fashion as the British in World War II initially hoped that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union would wipe each other out. Following the 1980-1988 war, the same geopolitical thinktankers hatched the idea of what was to become Desert Storm, to bring Iraq to its knees. The decade of the 1990s ushered in the new, soft policy known as “dual containment,” whereby both regional powers, Iran and Iraq, would be held at bay through political and economic measures. Then came Bush’s genocidal new war against Iraq, coupled with the deadly sanctions regime and permanent threats against Iran.

Whether through war or containment, the consistent policy approach of the geopolitical faction in the U.K. and U.S., has been to play Iran and Iraq against each other, in order to ensure that no cooperation between the two could come into being. That has now been shattered, with Ahmadinejad’s historic visit to Baghdad. Now, Iran will be functioning as a helpful neighbor, contributing to rebuild war-torn Iraq. In a joint press conference March 2 with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Ahmadinejad said his country would rebuild Iraq: “We are willing to make major contributions to the development of Iraq’s railway system, electricity generation, road construction, tourism industry and oil pipelines.” Regardless of how many millions of dollars the various MoU may be worth, they are worth their weight in gold, if seen politically. Not only did they sign the cited MoU, but they pledged political cooperation as well. Ahmadinejad was on the mark when he identified the importance of Iraq for the region: “A united Iraq, a sovereign Iraq and an advanced Iraq is to the benefit of all regional nations and the people of Iran.” Prime Minister al-Maliki reciprocated, saying “There was a high level of trust and I frankly say that the recent Iranian position towards Iraq is extremely helpful.” He also indicated that his government would take appropriate action to expel anti-Iran terrorists in the Mujahedeen e-Khalq and the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan.

If Iran and Iraq are allowed to fulfill the promise of this historic visit, it can only augur well for the entire region. It is to be hoped that the contenders for the presidency in the United States, will welcome the historic Iran-Iraq rapprochement as a harbinger of peaceful developments in the entire region.

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© Copyright Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, Global Research, 2008
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Israeli Extra-Judicial Executions by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, March 2, 2008

At 8:50AM on February 27, an Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at a civilian microbus on the coastal road near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. Six members of the Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades were in it at the time. Five of them were killed. The sixth one was seriously injured.

Twenty minutes later, another aircraft attacked a vehicle in which other Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades members were traveling. They escaped harm by fleeing before missiles struck their car and destroyed it.

On March 1, Hamas reported that Israelis killed 91 Palestinians in February, 83 in Gaza and eight in West Bank, and the killing continues to escalate. The International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) said eyewitnesses confirmed that IDF troops and tanks invaded Jabalyia (in Gaza) before dawn on Saturday. They targeted the refugee camp, struck at resident homes, attacked medical relief workers, fired missiles at cars and in residential areas, and killed at least 37 Palestinians (mostly civilians) and injured 120 others by midday. IMEMC later on Saturday raised the toll to 56 dead and updated it again Sunday AM to 98 as IDF forces continued rampaging without letup.

Haaretz first reported 34 deaths on Saturday, including five children and three women. Later in the day, it upped the total to 50, then 59 and by Sunday noon the total known killed was “more than 70.” AP first indicated 33 deaths, then raised it to 45, then 50 late in the day and 66 by Sunday morning (plus about 200 wounded) and nearly 100 deaths since February 27.

The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported 84 deaths since Saturday, 98 in total since February 27 and over 200 wounded, many with mangled bodies and serious life-threatening injuries. Throughout the weekend, Israeli aircraft struck many targets, including Hamas’ headquarters building (unoccupied at the time) that “completely collapsed” and injured five people, according to witnesses.

Reports continue being updated, and the latest 6PM Gaza time one from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) indicates the following: 101 documented deaths since February 27, including 49 unarmed civilians. They include 25 children and five women. In addition, more than 250 people have been injured, mostly unarmed civilians, and many injuries are serious. Further, there’s been widespread destruction of homes, other buildings and property throughout Gaza. As it usually does, the IDF employs “disproportionate and excessive lethal force in residential districts, with utter disregard for the lives of civilians.”

Under international law, these are crimes of war and against humanity. On March 1, the Palestinian human rights organization, Al-Haq, issued a statement saying: “Many of the recent Israeli attacks constitute war crimes which may amount to grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, for which (Israelis are) criminally responsible” and must face trial. Al-Haq called on the international community to act because “All states have criminal jurisdiction to try (the) accused….by virtue of the principle of universal jurisdiction….No excuse can therefore justify their inaction in view of the unlawful willful killing of (Palestinian) civilians in” occupied Palestine.

PCHR also reported that an Israeli aircraft bombed Abd El-Rahman Mohammad Ali Atallah’s home in Gaza City on Saturday. It was completely destroyed and killed six members of his family, including three women. Six other family members were injured, four of whom were children and one was a “two-day old” infant. The situation is dire, hospitals can’t cope, Israeli forces prevent ambulances from evacuating the injured, supplies of everything are short, morgues are overwhelmed, coffins aren’t available to bury bodies, and overall conditions are impossible for Gazans to handle as they continue being attacked without mercy.

Palestinians in the West Bank are also affected. On Sunday, Israeli forces assaulted protesters:

— in Hebron with live rounds and tear gas, killing a 14 year old boy and injuring 45 others, including 24 children;

— in Ramallah the same way injuring seven teenagers; and

— in Bethlelem as well injuring two boys, one from bullet wounds to the leg and the other from tear gas inhalation. Other demonstrations took place in Jenin, Nablus and other West Bank and Gaza locations. Hundreds of Israeli Arabs also held one in Nazareth, Israel on Friday after the High Court denied a petition to overturn a police ban preventing Israeli Arabs from holding a memorial service for recently deceased George Habash, the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and its Secretary-General until 2000. No violence was reported.

Meanwhile for Jews inside Israel, life proceeds normally as they conduct their daily affairs. So far, the toll on them and IDF forces is minimal:

— a single civilian death,

— two soldiers killed by early evening Saturday,

— two others slightly wounded on Saturday and four others lightly on Sunday,

— seven lightly injured Israeli civilians on Saturday from nearby rocket explosions, and

— two others by shrapnel from an exploding Katyusha rocket on Sunday.

But it’s just the beginning according to Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He said a large-scale invasion is imminent with IDF forces massed on the border, awaiting orders to invade and attack. It won’t be the first time as assaults have gone on for decades. But they became especially frequent after the second Intifada began on September 29, 2000. From then through late January 2008, PCHR documented the extra-judicial killings alone:

— 705 in total;

— 478 of them targeted victims;

— 227 of them innocent civilians; and

— 68 of them (through June 2006) children.

Total Palestinian deaths and injuries from September 29, 2000 through late January 2008 are as follows, according to PCHR:

— 4419 Palestinians killed, including 794 children, 152 women, 25 medical personnel and 10 journalists;

— 11,700 Palestinians injured in Gaza; and

— 13,550 Palestinians wounded in the West Bank;

Palestinians are attacked on any pretext, but February 28 wasn’t typical. A day after a Qassam rocket killed an Israeli in Sderot, Israeli aircraft killed 18 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Five of them were children, and it was after 11 deaths the previous day, including three children. One victim was the son of senior Hamas lawmaker, Khalil al-Haya, a top figure in Gaza and himself a target of previous assassination attempts. Palestinians know what they face – continued attacks from the air or the ground. This is state terrorism, collective punishment, executions without trial, cold-blooded killings, a serious breach of international law and against the 1948 Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide. More on that below, but first some background.

In its June 4, 2001 issue, Israel’s largest circulation (Hebrew) newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, published the following statement from an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman: “We set up a list of Palestinian names of individuals whom the Israeli government has approved for physical elimination, among the names are included members of Hamas, Fatah, Popular Front and Islamic Jihad activists.”

This is official state policy, and Israel’s High Court affirmed it in December 2006. The Court ruled that IDF targeted killings don’t categorically violate international law, and each one must be evaluated on its own merit. Specifically, the three justice panel unanimously stated:

“The State of Israel is fighting against severe terrorism, which plagues it from the ‘area.’ The means at Israel’s disposal are limited. The State determined that preventative strikes upon ‘terrorists’ in the ‘area’ which cause their deaths are a necessary means from the military standpoint. These strikes at times cause harm and even death to innocent civilians….the State’s struggle against terrorism is not conducted ‘outside’ of the law. It is conducted ‘inside’ the law….(We) cannot determine in advance that targeted killing is always illegal….that it is prohibited according to customary international law.”

This and comparable High Court rulings have stunning implications. They affirm Israel’s claim to be above the law with the right to conduct willful state-sponsored killings. The Court’s justification was that the State is waging armed conflict against Palestinian “terrorists.” Their members are civilians who aren’t protected under international law. To be afforded such protection, “A civilian….must refrain from taking a direct part in the hostilities.” Those who violate “this principle (are) subject to the risks of attack like those to which a combatant is subject, without enjoying the rights of a combatant.”

Executive Director, Hannah Friedman, of The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel responded to the decision. She stated: “We are concerned that today’s High Court of Justice ruling will worsen the current situation and create a dangerous path that will lead to an increase in the number of innocent civilians who are killed or injured.” In the past 14 months, it’s been horrendous as violence escalates, international law is ignored, and the world community is mute about mass-murder crimes, overwhelming human suffering, and can barely say more than both sides must end violence and resume peace negotiations.

Israeli Violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention

Israel is a serial international law abuser. Specifically, it commits grave violations of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention that protects civilians in times of war and has done it for decades:

— Article 2 states that “the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them. The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory….even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance;”

— Article 3 prohibits all kinds of assaults on life or physical security;

— Article 27 refers to “protected persons” and states “They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence….,”

— Article 32 prohibits murder, torture and corporal punishment, and

— Article 33 prohibits collective punishment and “all measures of intimidation or….terrorism.”

Geneva and other international human rights laws guarantee what Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: that everyone “has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” It also affirms Article 6 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 stating that every “human being has the inherent right to life.” Violations of Geneva and other internationa laws are crimes of war and against humanity. Israel is a serial offender but has yet to be held to account.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights documented its extra-judicial executions from September 29, 2000 through December 2007 and updates it weekly on its web site – pchrgaza.org. Below are examples, but first some background.

Some Brief History of Israeli Targeted Killings

Without cause, these executions target specific individuals with explicit government approval, and Israelis have done it for decades. During the Mandatory Palestine period, Stern Gang (later renamed Lehi) and Irgun members were underground terrorists with very committed aims – to drive out the British (seen as occupiers), allow unrestricted Jewish immigration, remove indigenous Arabs, and establish the Jewish state of Israel. They carried out killings and bombings, some of which were notorious like Lehi’s 1944 assassination of Britain’s Lord Moyne, the military governor of Egypt. Another was Irgun’s infamous 1946 King David Hotel bombing killing 91 Brits, Arabs and Jews and injuring many more.

Two of their leaders became future prime ministers – Lehi’s Yitzhak Shamir (1983 – 84 and 1986 – 1992) and Irgun’s Menachem Begin (1977 – 1983), but they were wanted men before 1948. The New York Times called Irgun a “terrorist organization,” and the World Zionist Congress in 1946 strongly condemned “the shedding of innocent blood as a means of political warfare.” It was just beginning.

In the 1950s, targeted killings were common and were used to halt fedayeen resistance attacks from Egypt. In 1967, after Gaza and the West Bank were occupied, Palestinians became the favorite target, inside and outside the Territories, and by various means:

— car and mail bombs,

— air attacks,

— commando raids,

— undercover operations,

— poisoning,

— snipers, and

— various other methods, including proxy forces to do Israeli killing.

General Ariel Sharon commanded an “anti-terror” detachment in the early 1970s that targeted Palestinian resistance fighters in Gaza. Through undercover operations, the unit killed 104 Palestinians and arrested 742 others.

After Israeli athletes were killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics, Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan established “Committee X” that used Mossad operatives to find the kill the perpetrators. Thirteen deaths resulted, including a Moroccan busboy in Norway by mistake.

Throughout the 1970s, Palestinians in the Territories were targeted, especially its leaders, and in 1982 Israelis nearly killed Yasir Arafat with car bombs, air attacks and at least once when a sniper had him targeted but got no orders to shoot. His second in command, Abu Jihad (Khalil el-Wazir), was less fortunate. He was key to the first Intifada’s success, an irreplaceable leader, and had to be eliminated. Ehud Barak reportedly got the assignment and headed a commando operation that killed him.

Executions continued in the 1990s, including three major ones with mixed success. One killed Islamic Jihad leader, Fathi Shikaki, in Malta in 1995. Another eliminated Yahya Ayyash, a Hamas Izzaddin al-Qassam Brigades member who was known as “the Engineer” for his bomb-making skills. One embarrassing attempt failed. It targeted Hamas’ Amman, Jordan political bureau chief, Khaled Meshal. Two Mossad agents poisoned him but were captured by Jordanian authorities before they could flee. To secure their release, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to provide the poison’s antidote and release Hamas’ founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, from an Israeli prison.

With the outbreak of the second Intifada, killings escalated markedly. Below are examples, including several high-ranking Palestinians:

— Abu Ali Mustafa – head of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP),

— Mustafa Zibri – the PFLP’s Secretary-General,

— Raed al-Karmi – a Lebanese Tanzim movement leader, and

— many mid-level resistance fighters from various Palestinian groups opposing the occupation.

Examples of Extra-Judicial Executions from September 29, 2000 Through December 2006

All three Israeli government branches support extra-judicial killings and require no evidence to justify them. Officials merely say those targeted are wanted, dangerous, and threaten State security. As a result, security forces kill with impunity and with no regard for the innocent, including women, children, the elderly or infirm.

Consider an egregious example. On July 12, 2006, IDF aircraft attacked the home of Dr. Nabeel Abu Silmiya in the Gaza City Sheikh Radwan neighborhood. The house was completely destroyed and Dr. Nabeel, his wife and seven children were killed – possibly in error, according to IDF. It claimed it targeted Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades leader, Mohammed al-Daif, and a number of his colleagues but struck the wrong house instead.

Multiple killings are common and are carried out against civilian homes, government buildings and structures, and by planting bombs in cars and targeted shootings on the ground. The death toll keeps rising, and PCHR documented specific examples below.

Examples of IDF Executions from January Through March 2007

Five targeted killings occurred in the period during which three others were injured.

On February 1, IDF soldiers killed Jaser Nader Ahmad Abut Zugheib in the Tulkarm refugee camp. In the same incursion, two Palestinians were wounded, one seriously with a bullet in the chest.

On February 21, an IDF undercover unit targeted the al-Bassatin area west of Jenin. It killed Mahmoud Ibrahim Qassem Obaid, an Islamic Jihad al-Quds Brigades leader, by shooting him in the head at close range.

On February 28, another IDF undercover unit executed three Islamic Jihad members as they tried to flee the Jenin refugee camp in a car.

In the examples above, arrests weren’t attempted, and victims were either wounded or unarmed when IDF soldiers executed them Mafia-style by point-blank shootings. PCHR stresses that with no due process and the absence of evidence, there’s no guarantee or even likelihood that targeted individuals committed crimes. They were simply Israeli vigilante justice victims targeting the innocent.

Selected IDF Executions from April Through June 2007

During the period, 25 killings occurred, but only 16 were actually targeted.

On April 21, an IDF undercover unit attacked a car in Jenin killing three Palestinians in it. Two were al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members and the other belonged to the al-Quds Brigades. On the same day, an IDF aircraft-fired missile killed an innocent civilian in his vehicle who had no affiliation with Palestinian resistance groups.

On May 4, Seilat al-Harthiya village, west of Jenin was attacked. Two al-Quds Brigades members and a mentally disabled Palestinian civilian were executed.

On May 20, an IDF aircraft missile struck a Gaza City al-Shojaeya neighborhood meeting hall killing seven members of the al-Haya family and a Hamas activist as well as wounding three others.

On May 29, IDF undercover units killed two Palestinian activists in Ramallah and Jenin and wounded five others.

On June 1, the IDF assassinated an Islamic Jihad member in Khan Yunis.

On June 12, the IDF executed an al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades member in the north Tulkarm Saida village.

On June 24, the IDF killed three al-Quds Brigades members and wounded three civilians.

On June 30, IDF forces executed three al-Quds Brigades members in Khan Yunis.

Selected IDF Executions from July Through September 2007

On July 26, an IDF aircraft struck a vehicle south of Gaza City killing three activists in it.

On August 4, an aircraft-fired missile struck a civilian car near the Rafah International Crossing Point on the Egyptian border. Three al-Quds Brigades members in it were seriously wounded but managed to survive. Moments later, two other missiles hit another civilian car killing the driver and a civilian bystander and wounding 12 others.

On August 20, IDF forces executed four Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades members and two additional Palestinian Ministry of Interior Executive Force members in central Gaza’s al-Boreij refugee camp.

On August 21, IDF air and ground forces killed three Palestinians in al-Qarara village, northeast of Khan Yunis.

On August 22, the IDF executed an Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades member and wounded another east of Gaza City.

During the last week of August, three children were extra-judicially killed in Beit Hanoun. There was no evidence they had any affiliation with a local resistance group.

On September 26, IDF forces executed five Army of Islam members in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood, east of Gaza City.

Examples of IDF Executions from September through December 2007

On October 11, an IDF undercover unit killed one and wounded another al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades member near al-Hamam Square in Jenin.

On November 25, IDF forces executed an al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades member in the Tulkarm refugee camp, east of the town. Witnesses said he raised his hands to surrender but was shot in the neck. Seriously injured, two IDF soldiers beat him violently and let him bleed to death in a coffee shop. A second man was also seriously injured in the attack.

On November 29, IDF aircraft attacked and killed two Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades members northeast of Khan Yunis.

Attacks continue unabated – by air strikes and on-the-ground Mafia-style executions in violation of sacred international law explained above. And a Haaretz February 29 article suggests they threaten to escalate. It quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak blaming Hamas for the increased violence and said it will “bear the cost of our response….(it’s) necessary and will be carried out.” On the same day, Knesset chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Tzachi Hanegbi, said IDF forces must “quickly….topple the Hamas terror regime and take over all the areas from which rockets are fired on Israel,” and they should remain in those areas for years.

Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai went further and threatened a “shoah,” which is the Hebrew word for holocaust. On Israeli radio he said: “the more Qassam (rocket) fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, (the Palestinians) will bring upon themselves a bigger ‘shoah’ because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.” The comment is outrageous, it incites genocide, and it’s a punishable crime in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Gregory Stanton’s Genocide Watch site has a mission: to “predict, prevent, stop, and punish genocide and other forms of mass murder (by) rais(ing awareness and influenc(ing) public policy concerning potential and actual genocide.” Its aim “is to build an international movement to prevent and stop genocide,” and it’s badly needed in Occupied Palestine where Israel has conducted state-sponsored genocide for decades according to Israeli historian Ilan Pappe.

International law expert Francis Boyle agrees and proposed in a March 20, 1998 article that “the Provisional Government of (Palestine) and its President institute legal proceedings against Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague for violating the (Genocide Convention).” He categorically stated that “Israel has indeed perpetrated the international crime of genocide against the Palestinian people (and the) lawsuit would….demonstrate that undeniable fact to the entire world.” Boyle would likely agree that the case today is even more compelling at a time Israeli forces are ravaging Gaza and assaulting West Bank communities as well.

Genocide is hideous in concept and execution, and Stanton explains how it progresses in eight defined stages:

1. Classification – Cultures or societies distinguish between “us and them” to categorize people by race, religion, nationality or other distinguishing characteristic;

2. Symbolization – Classifications are given names or other symbols, such as Jews, Latinos, blacks or Muslims.

3. Dehuminization – A dominant group denies another’s humanity and equates its members with animals, vermin, insects, diseases or, in the case of Palestinian resistance fighters, gunmen or terrorists;

4. Organization – Genocide is always organized; most often it’s by the state using militias, the military and/or other security forces to target victimized groups;

5. Polarization – Extremists incite hate through propaganda and other communication methods, and laws and other measures often target the victims;

6. Preparation – Victims are identified, separated out and targeted for elimination;

7. Extermination – Once it starts, it escalates to mass killing that’s legally defined as “genocide;” and finally

8. Denial – The final stage assures continued genocide will follow with evidence of it suppressed or destroyed. Some genocidal regimes are brought to justice like the Nazis at Nuremberg. Others like Israeli governments since 1948 have gotten away with it for decades with no indication (so far) the Olmert or a future regime will be held to account.

Minister Vilnai affirms that killing may now escalate against a people who’ve been under a medieval siege for months. Talk of peace and ceasefire is hollow, Israel and Washington incite violence and want none of it, and IDF commanders are preparing a large-scale assault to target Hamas for removal. How much longer will this go on? When will the occupation end? How many more killings will be tolerated? When will world leaders take note? People who care want answers. It’s about time they got them.

Global Research Associate Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests.

Feb 25 Program: Seeds of Destruction, US Military Bases Around the World, Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

 

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8242


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Palestine: Horror and shame by Khaled Amayreh

Israel continues to bombard Gaza (videos)

Israel: The time for worldwide boycott is now

Gaza

Israel

Palestine

Forsaking Foreclosures By Dennis J. Kucinich

Dandelion Salad

By Dennis J. Kucinich
NYT Op-Ed
March 2, 2008

We need a plan that is big enough, bold enough and fair enough to deal with the nation’s foreclosure crisis.

For starters, federal aid should be directed toward those communities with the heaviest concentrations of foreclosures and homeowners at risk. Aid should help cover public safety costs imposed by vacant homes. It should help defray budgetary shortfalls for public schools that lose property tax revenue.

…continued

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Dennis Kucinich For Congress: Won’t Back Down (video)

‘Dump Dennis?’ An ad targeting Rep. Kucinich has some dubious claims

Kucinich-Dennis

Contribute to Kucinich for Congress

Zeitgeist, The Movie – Remastered/Final Edition

Dandelion Salad

Question the sources, especially from the first part of this film.  See: Zeitgeist Part One Exposed: The Film, Zeitgeist Refuted Final Cut and/or Debunked: Zeitgeist – Parts I, II and III.

Note: replaced video Aug. 26, 2012

Feb 28, 2008
www.zeitgeistmovie.com

Apr 22, 2012 by Continue reading

Matt Gonzalez at the Fighting Bob Fest in 2005

 Dandelion Salad

exceptionals

Matt Gonzalez who is now Ralph Nader’s running mate spoke at the Fighting Bob Fest in Baraboo, Wisconsin in 2005.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod

.

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Matt Gonzalez is Nader’s Vice Presidential Running Mate (+ vid)

Nader’s Latest Run – Monkey Wrench or Cattle Prod?

Nader the Best Antidote to American Imperialism

Nader did not “spoil” the 2000 election (videos)

In defense of Ralph Nader (video)

Nader-Ralph

www.votenader.org/

5 Years of War and Occupation is 5 Years Too Many!

Dandelion SaladFrom an email from The Declaration of Peace

Iraq 2008:

Hundreds of thousands killed
Hundreds of billions spent
When will it end?

5 Years of War and Occupation is
5 Years Too Many!

Take Action in the Nation’s Capital
and Around the Country!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Countdown to March 19th

Less than 3 weeks to go!
Organize ~ Publicize ~ Plan ~ Prepare … Now!

The Declaration of Peace and United for Peace and Justice encourage your participation in the nonviolent actions that are being organized in Washington, D.C. and across the country during the 5th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Let’s make this the last anniversary –
Act on March 19th!

This is the fifth of seven weekly
“5 Years Too Many”
e-mails.

In this e-mail:

1. * What will March 19th look like in Washington, D.C.

2. ** Events Planned Throughout The Country

3. *** Videos to Inspire

4. **** “5 Years Too Many” Conference Call ~ March 10th, 8:00 p.m.


* What will March 19th look like in Washington, D.C. ?

Focusing on confronting the pillars of war, the nonviolent actions in Washington, D.C. will take place at multiple sites, demonstrating the real costs of war and offering visions for a more just and sustainable world, a world at Peace.

United by common demands and organizing principles, numerous organizations, including CodePink; War Resisters League; No War No Warming; Peace Action; Students for a Democratic Society; Student Peace Action Network; Veterans for Peace; Raging Grannies; Activist Response Team; Iraq Veterans Against the War; World Can’t Wait; and others are organizing several events and nonviolent actions around Capitol Hill.

Actions include:

~ A Veterans March for Peace and Action at the White House

~ Shutting down the military recruiters office

~ ‘March of the Dead’

~ Disrupting the War Profiteers

~ Blockading the IRS

~ Action against torture at the White House

~ And more … Click here for more details.

We’re looking forward to seeing people from all 50 states in D.C. on March 19th, for a powerful day of coordinated, nonviolent action for Peace in Iraq.

What state will you represent in D.C.?

~ For more information about the D.C. actions, see: http://www.5YearsTooMany.org

~ Click here to sign up for the actions in D.C. on March 19th.

~ If your organization would like to help get people from your area to D.C. on March 19th, please e-mail: dc@5yearstoomany.org


** Events Planned Throughout the Country

We encourage those who are not able to make it to D.C. on March 19th to organize and participate in local actions to send a powerful message to the policy makers: It is time to end this war and occupation, NOW!

What is being organized in your area?

~ Find events in your area on the “5 Years Too Many” event calendar and on The Declaration of Peace event calendar.

~ Post your events to the “5 Years Too Many” event calendar and to The Declaration of Peace event calendar.


*** Videos to Inspire

Watch and share these powerful videos.

This War Must End

Sound The Alarm

Click here for other videos.


**** “5 Years Too Many”
Declaration of Peace Conference Call
Monday, March 10 at 8 p.m.

The Declaration of Peace invites you to join us on a facilitated conference call on March 10th to talk to activists and organizers across the country, to share inspiration and ideas.

“5 Years Too Many” Conference Call
Monday, March 10, 2008
8:00 – 9:15 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time)

Phone: 1-712-432-2500

Access Code: 12131415#

Every one of you will matter on March 19th, whether you come to D.C. or organize a local action.

The more people who are actively engaged on March 19th, the stronger the message we will send that day.

What will you be doing on March 19th?
Let us know!

Join the call on March 10th.


“Organize Locally ~ Coordinate Nationally”

Please forward this e-mail to your friends, organizations, listservs. etc.

see

blogswarm March 19, 2008

Full Listing of Blogs in the March 19 Blogswarm Against the Iraq War

Anti-War Protest meets IRS protest at headquarters DC 03.19.08 + videos

Take Action against the war March 19th, 2008 (video)

YELL FIRE = music = Michael Franti & SpearHead = Revolution (video)

Dennis Kucinich For Congress: Won’t Back Down (video)

Dandelion Salad

RIProgressive

Hello Cleveland-Send Dennis back to congress. He is one of the clean politicians that is rebuilding the honest way. He won’t Back Down.

Added: February 29, 2008

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod

.

see

‘Dump Dennis?’ An ad targeting Rep. Kucinich has some dubious claims

Kucinich-Dennis

Contribute to Kucinich for Congress

Israel: The time for worldwide boycott is now

Dandelion Salad

by Omar Barghouti
Global Research, March 2, 2008

On Friday, 29 February 2008, Israel’s deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai threatened Palestinians in Gaza with a “holocaust,” telling Israeli Army Radio: “The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger holocaust because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.”

This date will go down in history as the beginning of a new phase in the colonial conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, whereby a senior Israeli leader, a “leftist” for that matter, has publicly revealed the genocidal plans Israel is considering to implement against Palestinians under its military occupation, if they do not cease to resist its dictates. It will also mark the first time since World War II that any state has relentlessly — and on live TV — terrorized a civilian population with acts of slow, or low-intensity, genocide, with one of its senior government officials overtly inciting to a full-blown “holocaust,” while the world stood by, watching in utter apathy, or in glee, as in the case of leading western leaders.

For an Israeli leader who is Jewish, in particular, to threaten anyone with holocaust is a sad irony of history. Are victims of unspeakable crimes invariably doomed to turn into appalling criminals? Can anything be possibly done to break this vicious cycle, before the state that claims to represent the main victims of the Nazi holocaust commits a fresh holocaust itself?

Before addressing those questions, however, isn’t it exaggerated and pointedly counterproductive, one may ask, to compare Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, no matter how brutal and inhumane they have been, to Nazi genocide? Besides, isn’t each crime unique and worthy of attention in its own right as a violation of human rights, of international law, of universal moral principles? The answer is yes: each crime is unique, and nothing Israel has done to date comes even close, in quantity, to Nazi crimes. But when victims-turned-perpetrators openly admit their intentions to carry out a unique form of offense that they are most familiar with, and they actually commit repeated acts that are qualitatively reminiscent of that crime in their unbridled racism and the ghastly level of disregard for the value and dignity of the human life of the “other” that is inherent in them, then their threats ought to be taken seriously. Everyone is called upon to react, to act in any way to stop this crime-in-progress from reaching its logical conclusion.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), despite its lack of political independence and its disputed mandate, is called upon to immediately exonerate itself from the popular accusation of complicity. Azmi Bishara was among the most prominent of those who issued this harsh indictment, in reaction to the announcement by the head of the PA in Cairo that al-Qaida had infiltrated Gaza, and that the projectiles fired indiscriminately by the Palestinian resistance at Israeli towns and settlements provide the excuse for Israel’s aggression. The credibility of this complicity assertion was compelling enough to prompt Mahmoud Abbas to condemn the Israeli crime in unprecedented austerity and hyperbole, describing it as “more than a Holocaust.”

Arab regimes, especially Egypt’s and Jordan’s, as unelected, illegitimate and subservient to the US as they may be, are still expected to distance themselves from Israel’s lethal war of aggression on Gaza. After all, their continued diplomatic and commercial ties with Israel, as well as their implicit justification of Israel’s crimes through their repeated and gratuitous vilification of Hamas, have convincingly labeled them in the eyes of their respective publics, not to mention the wider Arab public, as accessories in crime.

European governments, chiefly in France, Britain and Germany, have to also answer to the serious charge of collusion in Israel’s crimes against humanity, prevalent among wide Palestinian, Arab and Muslim majorities. They have not only stayed silent in the face of Israel’s willful killing of innocent civilians, many of whom are children, in the course of the last few days in Gaza; they have continued to treat Israel with reverence, celebrating its so-called 60th anniversary, a gruesome event of ethnic cleansing and colonial ruin itself, showering it with economic, political and scientific support that significantly contributes to its impunity.

The US government, on the other hand, cannot be accused of abetting Israel’s acts of genocide in the same league as all the above sinister accomplices. It is and has always been a full and proud partner in planning, bankrolling and executing those crimes against the Palestinians, not to mention its own unmatched criminal record in Afghanistan, Iraq and, before both, Vietnam. When our own Nuremberg moment arrives, when Israeli war criminals are finally prosecuted in an international court, a substantial space in the defense chamber will have to be reserved for US commanders and political leaders. Without American partnership, expressed in immeasurable military, economic and diplomatic aid, Israel could not have committed all its racist and colonial crimes with such impunity.

Going back to the question of whether anything should and could be done to stop Israel, the answer is a certain yes. South African apartheid crimes were challenged not only by the heroic struggle of the oppressed masses on the ground in South Africa; they were also fought by worldwide campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the regime, with all its complicit economic, academic, cultural, and athletic institutions. Similarly, international civil society can, and ought to, apply the same measures of non-violent justice to bring about Israel’s compliance with international law and basic human rights. Even the threat of sanctions has proven effective enough in the past to halt Israel’s repeated campaigns of death and devastation.

If all those images of tens of Palestinian children torn to pieces, all those recurrent episodes of wanton killing and destruction by an occupation army against a predominantly defenseless civilian population, go unpunished, the world may well witness a new holocaust indeed.

Omar Barghouti is an independent political analyst.

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Omar Barghouti, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8237

see

Palestine: Horror and shame by Khaled Amayreh

Israel continues to bombard Gaza (videos)

Abbas: Gaza Attacks ‘A Holocaust’ (+ videos; over 18 only)

Six-month-old baby killed by Israel attacks + Israeli Military Prepares for MAJOR Offensive into Gaza

Israeli Minister Warns of Palestinian Holocaust By Liam Bailey

Mosaic News: 2/28/08 – World News from the Middle East

Gaza

Israel

Palestine

Palestine: Horror and shame by Khaled Amayreh

Dandelion Salad

by Khaled Amayreh
Global Research, March 2, 2008
– 2008-03-01

The torturing to death of a Palestinian Islamist by Palestinian Authority intelligence sends out shockwaves of revulsion while the occupation continues to attack Palestinian society, writes Khaled Amayreh

Members of the Islamic Youth Association, a Hamas-linked organisation, inspect damage to their offices caused by an Israeli army overnight raid in the West Bank city of Hebron.

The popular standing of the Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, suffered a serious moral setback this week when agents of the Palestinian mukhabarat, or general intelligence, allegedly tortured an Islamist detainee to death.

Majd Al-Barghouti, 44 and a father of eight, was reportedly abducted from the local mosque in the village of Kobar near Ramallah two weeks ago for interrogation pertaining to a firearm the mukhabarat alleged he possessed and was hiding.

According to prison inmates, who were being detained in a neighbouring chamber at the mukhabarat headquarters in Ramallah, Barghouti was subjected for eight successive days to severe bodily torture.

“We heard him screaming day and night. His screams were heart-rending, but we could do nothing to help him,” said one detainee who was released following Barghouti’s death.

The torture reportedly included severe beating, using plastic hoses, electric burns, sleep deprivation, and the notorious technique known as “shabh “, or hooding, whereby an inmate is kept in an extremely uncomfortable position for many hours. These are virtually the same patterns of torture used by Israel’s domestic security agency, the Shin Bet, against Palestinian detainees.

On Wednesday, 20 February, Barghouti collapsed and was taken to a private hospital in Ramallah. A doctor there advised mukhabarat agents that Barghouti was in a critical condition and should be hospitalised urgently. The agents didn’t heed the doctor’s advice, insisting that Barghouti was faking illness. They took him back to the torture chamber for another (and final) interrogation session.

On Friday, 22 February, Barghouti died. According to inmates released from mukhabarat custody, he cried out for help for two hours but to no avail. Then his voice grew weaker until it died out completely. Following his death, mukhabarat officials as well as Fatah and PA spokespersons switched to damage control mode, with mukhabarat chief Tawfiq Tirawi claiming that Barghouti was not tortured but died of a heart attack.

Tirawi’s claim was quickly discredited as dozens of journalists — including this writer — as well as doctors, lawmakers, human rights activists and ordinary citizens saw at first hand the large lacerations present all over Barghouti’s body. In addition, Barghouti’s family, outraged by PA fabrications, vehemently denied that Barghouti had had any serious health problems. They insist that Barghouti was simply murdered, knowingly and viciously, by mukhabarat torturers.

During his funeral, thousands of mourners denounced the PA as a “gang of thugs working with Israel against Palestinian interests”. Villagers also closed entrances to the town, and carried Hamas’s green banners in defiance of the PA government.

Obviously disquieted and embarrassed by the affair, PA President Mahmoud Abbas ordered an internal enquiry into the circumstances surrounding Barghouti’s death. Hamas, with whom Barghouti was associated, and the victim’s family, demanded a neutral and professional third party carry out the investigation, saying they didn’t trust Fatah to investigate itself.

On 23 February, several Palestinian parliamentary blocs, excluding Fatah and Hamas, decided to form their own investigation committee to establish the truth about Barghouti’s death. The committee consists of Mustafa Al-Barghouti, a distant cousin of the victim, Bassam Al-Salhi of the People Party, Khalida Jarrar of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hanan Ashrawi of the Third Way, and Hassan Khreisha, an independent lawmaker.

The death of Barghouti, ostensibly from torture at the hands of the mukhabarat apparatus, is bound to undermine the Ramallah-based regime. Barghouti was the scion of a large clan in the Ramallah region and a relative of imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Al-Barghouti. Moreover, many of the clan’s young men are affiliated with the Fatah organisation, and their indignation at what happened could eventually boomerang on Fatah and the PA.

This abhorrent scandal is not the only problem the Abbas regime is facing and which could threaten its very survival. Last week, Mohamed Dahlan, a former Gaza strongman, said in a press interview that Fatah was collapsing as a result of an absence of democratic reforms. Other Fatah leaders have also criticised Abbas’s leadership, calling it “weak” and “detached from reality”.

Meanwhile, the future of the Salam Fayyad government looks increasingly precarious, having effectively alienated large sectors of the Palestinian masses, including the important teacher’s sector, as a result of failing to regularly pay salaries. The government is also accused of “ensconcing itself in a cocoon” while ignoring the real problems facing the people.

This week, the Palestinian minister of culture in Ramallah submitted his resignation to President Abbas, complaining about “an all-out national crisis encompassing every aspect of our life as a people”. He added: “The country is falling down, the national cause is falling down; the rift between Hamas and Fatah is destroying the unity and future of our people. In short, what we have been building for 50 years is being destroyed before our eyes.”

To be sure, no small part of the blame for this situation must be laid at the door of the Israeli occupation. On Monday, even Abbas himself voiced exasperation at Israeli stall tactics. Following a private meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman, Abbas warned that if the Bush administration didn’t make good on its pledge to make 2008 the year to broker peace, “then there will never be any future chances to achieve this goal”.

Israel seems totally unconcerned about what Abbas, or Palestinians in general, think. On Tuesday, hundreds of Israeli soldiers stormed and vandalised half a dozen schools, orphanages, businesses and other premises owned by the West Bank’s largest charity, the Islamic Charitable Society (ICS), in downtown Hebron, in full view of Abbas’s security forces.

The attacking Israeli forces seized buildings, stores and buses, and even chairs and kitchen appliances, all for “security reasons”. Last week, Israeli troops raided dozens of money- changing shops, seizing hundreds of thousands of dollars and Jordanian Dinars.

Local Hebronite leaders described Tuesday’s onslaught as “reminiscent of the middle ages”. According to municipal officials, an Israeli army commander handed school principals a military decree stating that the “Israeli Defence Forces are from now the sole proprietor of the schools and all contents and equipment therein.”

The army brought in huge trucks for moving the looted materials, including computers and teaching materials, to a nearby army base. “They even took the aluminum windows,” said Mu’tasem Shawar, a charity worker.

Further, Israeli soldiers commandeered four school buses and a car, taking them to an unknown destination. The buses were being used to transport orphans from their dorms to school and back.

According to the confiscation order, any Palestinian entering the sealed buildings for whatever reason will be imprisoned for a minimum of five years and have his property confiscated or demolished.

The ICS is one of the oldest charities in Hebron, its foundation going back to the era of Jordanian authority over the West Bank. The charity denies having any connection to any political faction and vehemently denies Israeli army claims that it is affiliated with Hamas.

“We are a Muslim society but we have no connections whatsoever with Hamas or any other political groups. It is clear that Israel is waging an open war on Islam as a religion. This is the only explanation of what happened today,” said Mohamed Qasrawi, an official at the ICS.

Qasrawi said Israel is trying to destroy Palestinian educational and economic institutions in order to subjugate Palestinians to the Israeli occupation. “It is clear they want us to leave, to emigrate, so that Jews will take over our homes, land and businesses. It is Nazism without gas chambers… but the outcome, which is national annihilation, is the same.”

The Israeli army offered no convincing reason for seizure operation. An Israeli military spokesman said: “The seizure of property in Hebron was carried out for security reasons and within the confines of the law.” He added that, “Palestinians harmed by the seizure could appeal to the Israeli courts.”

Anas Al-Kawasmi, a local Palestinian lawyer, dismissed talk about appealing to Israeli courts as “a silly joke”. “How can you possibly hope for justice from an Israeli court when the judge is your enemy, tormentor and grave-digger?”

The ICS has been taking care of as many as 5,000 orphan boys and girls, free of charge. “We secure all their needs, including lodging, food and schooling, as well as sport and recreation. It is for this reason that the Jewish occupiers hate us,” said ICS lawyer Abdul- Karim Farrah. He added: “They [Israel] would like these boys and girls to grow up as drug addicts, prostitutes and delinquents, so that Israeli intelligence could recruit them as informers and spies.”

Farrah challenged the Israeli occupation to provide evidence that the ICS was engaged in illegal activities. “I am sure they know that we are innocent of any violation. They want to punish us for our Islamic identity and for rejecting the occupation. It is the Israeli army that acts like thugs, terrorists and common criminals.”

Since its occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Israel has seized and closed hundreds of Palestinian civil and charitable institutions under the rubric of fighting “terror”. The Fatah- affiliated governor of Hebron, Hussein Al-Araj, said he was “astonished and shocked by this behaviour”.

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

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The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8236

see

Israel continues to bombard Gaza (videos)

Venezuela puts army on high alert + Colombia says it kills FARC commander in Ecuador

Dandelion Salad

Mariné

Venezuela puts army on high alert, closes Colombia embassy

CARACAS, March 2 (Xinhua)

Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, on Sunday formally ordered the nation’s armed forces to be on high alert, the closure of Venezuela’s embassy in Colombia and the mobilization of the nation’s armed forces to the Colombia border.

“We are at a state of alertness. I am putting Venezuela on alert and we will support Ecuador,” Chavez told his regular Sunday broadcast Alo Presidente. “Defense minister: move 10 battalions to the Colombia-Venezuela border. Tank battalions, military aircraft: deploy!” he ordered.

During the same broadcast, Chavez strongly condemned the killing of Luis Edgar Devia, better known by the alias Raul Reyes, who was the de facto foreign minister for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), that nation’s largest armed rebel group.

The Colombian army killed Devia in Ecuadorian territory. Ecuador responded with a protest letter sent via diplomatic channels.

…continued

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Colombia says it kills FARC commander in Ecuador

Patrick Markey | Reuters | March 01, 2008

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s military said on Saturday its troops had killed a top rebel commander in an attack on a jungle camp across the border in Ecuador in a severe blow to Latin America’s oldest guerrilla insurgency.

Raul Reyes, one of seven members of the secretariat of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was killed in an operation that included air strikes and fighting with rebels across the border, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said.

Reyes was considered by analysts to be the No. 2 FARC commander and is the most senior member of the group to be killed in President Alvaro Uribe’s U.S.-backed campaign against the guerrillas fighting a more than four-decade-old conflict.

“We have taken another step toward defeating the celebrity of bloody terrorism, which 50 years ago was ideological, but today is a terrorism of mercenaries and drug traffickers,” Uribe said in a national television broadcast.

…continued

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Frost over the World: Mike Gravel (video)

Dandelion Salad

AlJazeeraEnglish

Mike Gravel talks to Sir David about the forthcoming elections and his struggling campaign.

He dismisses the prospects for change under a Clinton or Obama presidency.

Also in this video, Mushahid Hussain, the Secretary General of the PML-Q, joins Sir David to discuss the outcome of the elections and Pakistan’s political future.Hussein says that Pakistan’s people voted for change but warns that infighting between the political parties will further destabilise the country.

Continue reading

Israel continues to bombard Gaza (videos)

Dandelion Salad

Warning

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This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

AlJazeeraEnglish

Israel continues to bombard Gaza – 01 Mar 08

A fourth day of aerial bombardment by Israeli aircraft is now being backed up now by ground forces making their deepest incursion into Gaza since 2005.

The chief negotiator for the Palestinians says any hope for the peace talks now lies buried in the rubble of Gaza.

More than 80 people – women and children among them – have been killed over the past four days, and international condemnation remains muted.

Nour Odeh has been following the day’s developments.

Israel vows to continue Gaza attacks – 02 Mar 08

More than 100 people have now been killed since Israel launched its blitz of Gaza 5 days ago.

The youngest victim was less than 2 days old.

Israel has vowed to continue the attacks – and despite international condemnation from the UN and from the EU, the country’s defence minister has said an even broader operation “is on the cards.”

Jacky Rowland reports.

Anger explodes in West Bank over Israeli raids – 02 Mar 08

The Palestinian president has suspended further talks with Israel, but there are increasing calls from the streets of Gaza that his Fatah party MUST talk with Hamas.

Nour Odeh now looks at the protest against Israel’s use of force and growing demands for Palestinian unity.

see

Abbas: Gaza Attacks ‘A Holocaust’ (+ videos; over 18 only)

Six-month-old baby killed by Israel attacks + Israeli Military Prepares for MAJOR Offensive into Gaza

Israeli Minister Warns of Palestinian Holocaust By Liam Bailey

Mosaic News: 2/28/08 – World News from the Middle East

Gaza

Israel

Palestine