Truth Frequency Radio


Oct 20, 2012

Israeli Navy boards Gaza-bound pro-Palestinian ship

DEBKAfile October 20, 2012, 11:59 AM (GMT+02:00)

Israeli sailors faced no resistance Saturday when they boarded the vessel, which arrived in the Mediterranean with pro-Palestinian activists for another bid to break Israel’s sea blockade of the Gaza Strip.

 

Israeli navy boards activist ship en route to Gaza

Published: 20 October, 2012, 16:48

RT

Finnish ship SV Estelle is seen during an operation off the southern Greek island of Gavdos, south of Crete (AFP Photo / STR)

Israel’s defense forces have boarded a ship attempting to break through the Gaza blockade in “a peaceful operation.” The vessel was carrying Palestinian activists, parliamentarians and humanitarian cargo, said a mission spokesperson.

­Six Israeli naval boats surrounded the SV Estelle’ 38 nautical miles from Gaza while it was still in international waters.

A spokesperson from the Israeli Department of Defense said that they were forced to intervene after the vessel ignored numerous warnings to change course and cooperate with the Israeli authorities.

“After the passengers ignored calls to change course, the decision was made to board the vessel and lead it to the port of Ashdod,” said the spokesperson, adding that no one was injured when the marines seized control of the ship.

The organizers of the activist mission to Gaza announced over the radio that their vessel had come under attack shortly after it was approached by Israeli ships.

There were about 30 people from eight countries on board, including Israeli citizens, lawmakers from Norway, Sweden, Greece and Spain and a 79-year-old former legislator from Canada.

The activists are being transferred to Ashdod port where they will be handed over to police custody and then on to the immigration authorities. Previously, activists caught trying to break through the blockade have been deported from Israel immediately.

The Swedish-owned, Finnish-flagged vessel was reportedly carrying 41 tonnes of cement, books, toys, medical equipment and two olive trees.

A senior Defense Ministry official said that Israel was well within its rights to “operate at sea to prevent the smuggling of arms to terror organizations,” reported Ynet. He denounced the activists as “provocateurs who are drive by hatred for Israel” and dismissed the “humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” maintaining “more than 1,500 trucks carrying tons of goods enter Gaza each week through the land crossings.”

In 2010, Israeli forces boarded a Turkish ship attempting to force its way through the blockade. Soldiers killed nine activists, sparking international outcry and condemnation from the UN for use of “excessive force.”

The UN has called for the six-year blockade on Gaza to be lifted on numerous occasions on the grounds that it represents “a denial of basic human rights in contravention of international law.”

Israeli activists hold signs in support of Gaza near the entrance to the port of Ashdod October 20, 2012 (Reuters / Amir Cohen)
Israeli activists hold signs in support of Gaza near the entrance to the port of Ashdod October 20, 2012 (Reuters / Amir Cohen)

­Victoria Strand, one of the organizers of the mission, calls the Israeli blockade of Gaza “illegal and unfair.”

“We have to challenge this siege as long as the international community does not do so. WHO, the UN, the EU, everyone is saying that the siege is counterproductive, but nobody is doing anything about it, so we have to take civil action against it,” she told RT.

Strand stressed that Israel needs to realize “the blockade is not helping anyone.”

“It does not help people in Israel, it does not help Palestinians and it has nothing to do with the security of Israel, because weapons are floating in through the tunnels,” she explained, adding that Israel also blockades any export from Gaza, meaning the Palestinians can`t produce anything.

 Mika Jamia, captain of Ship Estelle, poses for a picture before the start for Gaza in the port of Naples on October 6, 2012 (AFP Photo / STR)
Mika Jamia, captain of Ship Estelle, poses for a picture before the start for Gaza in the port of Naples on October 6, 2012 (AFP Photo / STR)
 Supporters of "Freedom Flotilla" movement rally in Naples to give tribute and wave off the crew of the Ship Estelle on October 6, 2012 (AFP Photo / STR)
Supporters of “Freedom Flotilla” movement rally in Naples to give tribute and wave off the crew of the Ship Estelle on October 6, 2012 (AFP Photo / STR)

West Bank local elections – further disconnect from Gaza

DEBKAfile October 20, 2012, 10:50 AM (GMT+02:00)

The Islamist Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, is boycotting local elections in 90 West Bank Palestinian communities, their first in six years. Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party faces no real opposition in the vote that will formalize the separation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It is considered a step before West Bank elections for a separate legislature that would represent a definitive disconnect between the two Palestinian territories, after all bids to lead Fatah and Hamas into power-sharing deals stalemated.

 

Sham Israeli Elections: Look Familiar?

By Stephen Lendman, Contributor
theintelhub.com
October 19, 2012

On November 6, America’s sham process occurs. On January 22, Israelis face the same Hobson’s choice. Real choice is excluded from both ballots. Democracy is hypocrisy in both countries.

Congress recessed until post-election. Israel’s Knesset just adjourned. On October 16, Haaretz headlined “As Knesset ends term, we should say ‘good riddance,’ ” saying:

It’s Israel’s most anti-democratic one ever. It “brought the tyranny of the majority to new heights.” Hardline extremists ran “roughshod over vulnerable minorities, first and foremost Israeli Arabs, as well as over civil society groups and human rights organizations.”

They targeted free expression and assembly. They intimidated independent media. They supported lawless settlement expansions on stolen Palestinian land.

“(L)ed by Netanyahu and other senior ministers, (they) searched tirelessly for ways to violate” High Court rulings and make “state prosecution(s) odious.”

Israel’s 18th Knesset trashed rule of law principles. It mocked democratic values. It governed to the right of some despots. It gave Judaism a bad name. It enacted one repressive law after another. It took unprincipled shame to its highest level in Israeli history.

As its term ends, “good riddance” to what no free society should tolerate. Netanyahu, of course, is its worst member. He’s a lawless world class thug.

He makes even sham democracy look like despotism. Israeli Arabs and Occupied Palestinians feel his harshness most. He despises Islam and shows it. He’s unfit to serve. He belongs in prison. He’s an illegitimate head of state.

On October 9, he announced early elections. Originally scheduled for September 2013, he said they’ll occur in three months. He “decided for the benefit of Israel to hold (them) as quickly as possible.”

He doesn’t give a damn about Israel’s benefit, just his own and supportive hardliners. On national television, he lied. He claimed his coalition government couldn’t agree on a 2013 national budget. He said Israel’s “most stable government in decades” is ending.

He claimed it helped strengthen Israel’s security and fortify its economy during hard times. He stressed preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons.

He knows they have no plans to obtain them. Israel’s so-called “stable government” is its most repressive ever. Early elections aren’t because of budget disagreements. Netanyahu wants them when he’s most able to retain a parliamentary majority.

Western and Israeli politics aren’t about issues. They’re about securing power and keeping it.

On October 11, Netanyahu announced elections will occur on January 22. It’s two days after America’s inauguration. Netanyahu openly favors Romney. He and Obama express mutual dislike.

It’s hard imagining why anyone likes either of them. They both head rogue regimes. They rule lawlessness. In 2013, expect no change in either country.

Polls show Obama and Romney closely matched. An Israeli Dialog poll shows Netanyahu’s hardline coalition favored to win. Israelis denied choice seem stuck with him. Dread what’s coming in both countries for good reason.

On October 17, Haaretz contributor Carlo Stenger headlined “Israel’s upcoming elections: No hope we can believe it,” saying:

Israeli voters get sham options like Americans. Reality denies them real ones. Democracy exists in name only. Like Congress, hardliners infest the Knesset like crabgrass besets lawns. It’s dominant and dismissive of rule of law principles. It spurns other democratic values.

Whatever changes show up in January, they’re not enough to matter. “Israeli politics are bound to remain the same. (Its) defining characteristic” reflects coalition religious and political extremism. Together they’re toxic.

Netanyahu looks certain for another term. Repressive Knesset politics will follow.

“What does this mean for Israel’s future? Netanyahu has proven beyond a doubt that he is not willing to move towards a viable Palestinian state. His primary achievement this term has been to put the Palestinian issue on the backburner….”

At the same time, he prioritizes a nonexistent Iranian threat. “In less than 100 days, the people of Israel will decide who will lead them in the face of the greatest security challenges we have known since the state was established,” he claimed.

“Anyone who belittles the threat posed by a nuclear Iran on Israel is not worthy of leading the state of Israel for even one day. Today, unprecedented sanctions are imposed on Iran, which issue a harsh blow to its economy. We now have capabilities to operate against Iran that we did not have in the past.”

Fear is his electoral strategy. So is duplicity. Israelis, like Americans, fall for the scam every time.

Israeli voters ignore reality. They also don’t address “the one, big issue that truly determines Israel’s fate as the democratic homeland of the Jews – the occupation” that’s continued “for more than two-thirds of Israel’s history.”

Failure to act responsibly assures “an inevitable tragedy.” West of the Jordan, Arabs already outnumber Jews. At the same time, they’re treated like sub-humans. No state can survive governing this way.

Claiming territory illegally and governing repressively “means the (eventual) end of the democratic homeland of the Jews.” The “Titanic” Israel is sinking.

Stenger stopped short of admitting it sank long ago. What passes for democracy in Israel is none at all. Netanyahu enforces police state harshness. He’s also recklessly belligerent.

In the last 10 days, multiple air strikes targeted Gaza. Civilian neighborhoods were struck. At least eight Palestinians were killed. Dozens were wounded.

At the same time, Israeli gunboats fired live ammunition at Palestinian fishing boats. Luckily those on board escaped injury. These type attacks happen often. Injuries result and occasional deaths.

Vessels are usually damaged and/or confiscated. Arrests often follow. Imagine being charged with the crime of fishing in their own waters. Imagine the worst of anything in Occupied Palestine.

No one is safe anywhere, any time. Going to school, pray, or shop is hazardous. So is going to sleep. Middle-of-the-night raids target peaceful civilians. No one knows who’s next or when.

On October 17, Radio Bethlehem 2000 said Israeli soldiers invaded Bethlehem pre-dawn. Arrests followed. Other Palestinians were targeted in Ramallah, Nablus, East Jerusalem, and Jericho.

Homes are lawlessly broken into while people sleep. Children are terrified. Some are arrested. Others watch their fathers dragged from bed and beaten.

Democracies don’t operate this way. Despotic states do routinely. Palestinian communities are violated multiple times daily. Palestinians have no rights. Gaza remains suffocating under siege. Children are treated like adults.

State terror is policy. Equity and justice are four-letter words. Freedom isn’t in Israel’s vocabulary. Institutionalized repression most people can’t imagine explains what Palestinians endure daily.

Gazans fear more war for good reason. Full-scale invasion threats are heard. In September, IDF chief Benny Gantz said Israel “is ready to wage a war on several fronts, including Gaza where homemade projectiles are fired on Israeli” territory.

“It is not just military among us who know what to do in war. We must not put the sword in its sheath. Let’s see what is next. Less than 20 km separate us from those who want to hurt Israel.”

Gazans fire homemade rockets in response to Israeli provocations. Usually multiple ones occur before Palestinians act. They do so in self-defense. It’s their right. International law affirms it. Israel calls it terrorism.

There’s more. Netanyahu warned it’s ready to interdict the latest Gaza-bound humanitarian vessel. It’s Swedish owned, operating under the Finnish flag.

On October 6, it sailed from Naples. It’s called Estelle. A banner displayed says “Ship to Gaza.”

Finland’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Risto Piiponen said Israel warned it would “take action to stop the ship from reaching land if it tries to break the blockade.”

“We pointed out that it is a civilian vessel and urged them to practice restraint in any action they take,” Piipopen added. Sixteen activists are on board.

Israel attacks humanitarian missions ruthlessly. On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos murdered nine Turkish nationals in cold blood. Dozens of others on board the Mavi Marmara were accosted, beaten and arrested.

On October 11, Estelle’s logbook headlined “Sailing to Gaza on the waves of freedom,” saying:

“We are on board the Estelle. This sailboat is 90 years old and its presence is felt in this immense ocean as it breaks the waves on its way to Gaza. A little more than a week is left until we reach the coast of Palestine and we know that when we arrive we will not be alone.”

“Thousands of people are following the route of freedom from land. They are passengers on land and they are just as important as the crew and those of us who are on board the Estelle.”

“This sailboat of the Freedom Flotilla is full of solidarity that we breathe and hopefully the people on land also can feel this. Only together can we obtain a better future for all of us. For me, to break the siege on Gaza is one of the best ways to construct a better world.”

Israel calls their mission and others like it a national security threat. Isn’t that what all despotic regimes claim? Israel gets away with it because world leaders don’t object. It’s long past high time accountability was enforced.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected] His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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

California passes resolution defining criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism

(GLOBAL RESEARCH) Last month, the California State Assembly passed a resolution urging state educational institutions to more aggressively crack down on criticism of the State of Israel on campuses, which the resolution defines as “anti-Semitism.” The anti-democratic resolution is the latest step in the broader campaign to stifle and suppress dissent on California’s increasingly volatile campuses.

The California State Assembly is the lower house of the state legislature, consisting of 80 members. The resolution—H.R. 35: “Relative to anti-Semitism”—was passed by a vote of 66 to 80, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats in the Assembly.

The resolution was drafted by Republican Linda Halderman and passed without public discussion. The vote on the resolution came when most students were between semesters and away from their campuses.

The resolution (available here) uses the classic trick employed by defenders of Israel’s Zionist regime: lumping together any criticism of the Israeli state’s policies or of the US government’s support for them with racist attacks on Jews.

On the one hand, the resolution denounces “swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti in residential halls, public areas on campus, and Hillel houses,” and denounces those who accuse “the Jewish people, or Israel, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.”

On the other hand, the bulk of the resolution is dedicated to defining criticism of the state of Israel as “anti-Semitism.” It lists the following as examples of “anti-Semitism”:

• “language or behavior [that] demonizes and delegitimizes Israel;”

• “speakers, films, and exhibits” that indicate that “Israel is guilty of heinous crimes against humanity such as ethnic cleansing and genocide;”

• describing Israel as a “racist” or “apartheid” state;

• “student-and faculty-sponsored boycott, divestment, and sanction campaigns against Israel;”

• “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination;”

• “applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation;” and

• “actions of student groups that encourage support for terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah.”

This list makes clear that the accusations of anti-Semitism are a red herring, employed to attack students’ democratic rights and stifle dissent. The resolution recalls the smear campaign against German author Günter Grass and his poem “What Must Be Said” earlier this year.

Defending the poem, the World Socialist Web Site explained: “Anti-Semitism is the term used to describe racist hatred aimed at the oppression and persecution of Jews—and in the case of the Third Reich, the extermination of Jews. Grass’s criticisms of the war policy of the Netanyahu government are not directed against Jews, nor against Jews in Israel. His overwhelming concern is the well-being of both the Jewish population in Israel and the Iranian people. This is in stark contrast to the Israeli government.

“The Israeli regime does not represent the interests of the Jewish population, but rather a tiny rich and corrupt clique that has always worked closely with American imperialism.” (See Defend Günter Grass!)

The aggressive narrowness of the resolution’s definition of acceptable political discussion, combined with its broad definition of anti-Semitism, prompted the University of California to distance itself from the resolution, though without rejecting or denouncing it. “We think it’s problematic because of First Amendment concerns,” UC spokesman Steve Montiel told the San Francisco Chronicle last week.

The resolution does clearly implicate the First Amendment, which protects not only criticism of the state of Israel, but generally protects anti-Semitic hate speech as well.

Moreover, it must also be said that the State of Israel is, as a matter of fact, guilty of crimes against humanity.

To cite only a more recent example, the 574-page UN Goldstone Report published in 2010 found that the State of Israel had deliberately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza during the 2008-2009 “Operation Cast Lead.” The invasion of Gaza saw 1,400 Palestinians killed compared with 13 Israelis killed. More than 21,000 buildings, factories, and apartments were damaged or destroyed.

Under California H.R. 35, it appears that the Goldstone report is now to be considered “anti-Semitic.”

The resolution also contains a denunciation of “suppression and disruption of free speech that presents Israel’s point of view.” This appears to be a reference to the “Irvine 11” incident last year, in which 11 students shouted down Israeli ambassador Michael Oren during his speech at the University of California at Irvine.

The 11 students shouted, “Michael Oren, you’re a war criminal,” and “You, sir, are an accomplice to genocide.” These students were later arrested, charged, and convicted of the crimes of “conspiracy” and violating Oren’s rights. (See University of California students convicted for protesting Israeli ambassador’s speech.)

The resolution goes on to state that the “Assembly recognizes recent actions by officials of public post secondary educational institutions in California [e.g., the prosecutions of the Irvine 11] and calls upon those institutions to increase their efforts to swiftly and unequivocally condemn acts of anti-Semitism on their campuses and to utilize existing resources . . . to help guide campus discussion about, and promote, as appropriate, educational programs for combating anti-Semitism on their campuses.”

On California’s campuses, as on campuses and workplaces internationally, explosive class antagonisms are increasingly apparent. Massive tuition hikes year after year coupled with job losses and skyrocketing youth unemployment present an entire generation of young people with an increasingly impossible situation.

State authorities in California, which is controlled by the Democratic Party, have watched the large campus protests that took place across state campuses over the past two years with hostility, consternation, and fear.

Over the past year, at the behest of Democratic Party officials, demonstrating students across the state have been attacked by paramilitary police squads armed with batons, tear gas, and flash grenades, with hundreds of students arrested and jailed. The world’s attention was captured when students peacefully protesting tuition hikes at UC Davis were pepper sprayed by police in cold blood.

In the face of increasing tensions and protests, state authorities are moving to clamp down on the campuses, intervening to “guide campus discussion” and criminalize criticism of both domestic and foreign policy. Under the guise of criticizing “anti-Semitism” the state government signaling that the persecution of student protesters will be tolerated or welcomed.

The resolution concludes that “strong leadership from the top remains an important priority so that no administrator, faculty, or student group can be in any doubt that anti-Semitic activity will not be tolerated in the classroom or on campus, and that no public resources will be allowed to be used for anti-Semitic or any intolerant agitation.”

Palestinian Authority to Hold Sham Elections

By Stephen Lendman, Contributor
theintelhub.com
October 19, 2012

Longtime Israeli collaborators Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad scheduled West Bank municipal elections on October 20, 2012. Democracy isn’t on the ballot. Palestinians are skeptical for good reason.

For the first time since January 25, 2006, they’ll vote in an election much different from then. Fed up with institutionalized Fatah corruption and subservience to Israel, Hamas candidates swept to victory.

They won 74 of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s (PLC) 132 seats. Hamas became Palestine’s legitimate government. It remains so despite Fatah’s complicity with Israel. Doing so separated West Bank authority from Gaza.

Ismail Haniyeh is Palestine’s prime minister. Fayyad’s PM appointment lacks legitimacy. He represents lawless coup d’etat authority. Abbas’ term as president expired in January 2009. He remains in office illegally.

Palestinians suffer because of their allegiance to Israel and Washington, not them. Elections this month assure continuity, not democratic change.

On October 10, the Los Angeles Times headlined “Palestinian voters skeptical about value of elections.”

Hebron City Council aspirant Maysoun Qawasmi expressed popular frustration, saying:

“We are seeing the same people running, and they aren’t offering anything new. Voters are looking for independent voices.”

In fact, they want officials representing them, not Israel. Abbas and Fayyad won’t tolerate them. Everything is arranged for Fatah candidates to win. “They always win,” said Qawasmi. “And nothing ever changes.”

One Palestinian perhaps spoke for others, saying:

“I don’t understand how we can have elections in just half the territory. I don’t even know who’s running.”

Given a rigged process, Hamas opted out. Doing so got Abbas/Fayyad to hold elections they might have cancelled otherwise, knowing they might lose. They tolerate no opposition.

They crack down hard against challengers. They mock democratic freedoms. They represent despot authority. They’re complicit Israeli puppet stooges.

They dismissed about 50 Fatah members wanting to run as independents. Prominent former Nablus Mayor Ghassan Shaka’a was bumped illegitimately.

Other PLO candidates running independently were denied funding. They include candidates representing the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and People’s (Communist) Party.

Al Haq human rights group legal consultant, Issam Abdeen, said:

“The sound basis for any election to take place is a healthy, political atmosphere. (It’s) clearly lacking here.”

According to Palestinian Central Electoral Commission (CEC) chairperson Hanna Nasser, the West Bank has over 350 districts. However, 181 won’t participate because only Fatah candidates are running.

In addition, another 78 postponed voting until November. At issue is getting enough candidates to stand in a fraudulent process.

On October 18, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) expressed great concern about upcoming elections. At issue is limited public freedoms and “continuing widespread” PA human rights violations.

On July 10, Palestine’s CEC was “instructed to make the necessary arrangements in order to organize the elections in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by the Council of Ministers in Ramallah.”

After Hamas CEC participation was terminated, “the Council of Ministers annulled their previous decision.” They decided on only West Bank elections.

The most recent local council ones were held in stages from December 2004 to December 2005. In December 2009, the mandate for these elections expired.

Since then, separate West Bank/Gaza authorities appointed local council members directly. Favoritism substituted for democracy.

“As the mandate granted by the Palestinian people in local, legislative and presidential elections has expired, these institutions have lost their authorization to represent the will of the Palestinian voters.”

“Therefore, the holding of renewed elections is the democratic entitlement of the Palestinian people.”

Fatah denies them that right. Abbas and Fayyad take orders from Israel. They salute and obey. Palestinians lose out altogether.

Legitimate general or local elections require certain conditions in place. Transparency is fundamental. So is a free, fair, and open process. The popular will of the electorate must be prioritized.

Public freedoms must be protected. They include “the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly, the right to form associations, freedom of the press, the release of political detainees, and an end to restrictions placed on political activities.”

Nothing resembling electoral freedom is in place. How could it be with democracy excluded from the ballot. Palestine is fractured in two pieces. Abbas repeatedly delayed elections. After promising Fatah/Hamas unity, he backed off and did nothing.

Security forces he controls also compromise human and civil rights. Israeli diktats are prioritized over democratic freedoms and legitimate governance. Palestinians deserve better. They’re denied it under Israeli-enforced occupation rules.

Abbas/Fayyad began corrupting the process months ago. Fatah outliers, other challengers, and Hamas members were targeted. Arrests were made. Palestinians wanting legitimate government were imprisoned.

What’s upcoming this weekend assures continuity of lawless government and Fatah-enforced occupation harshness. Palestinians should opt out and stay home. With choice off the ballot, nothing they do electorally will change things.

Separately, Haaretz headlined “Netanyahu cabinet to adopt part of Levy report on legal status of West Bank outposts.”

All settlements and outposts violate international law. Israel spurns it dismissively. In January, Netanyahu appointed a three-member committee. Former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy headed it.

He excluded fairness and rule of law principles from consideration. Three issues were examined:

(1) Legal aspects of Israel’s occupation.

(2) The 2005 Sasson Report’s conclusion that dozens of outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land were illegal.

(3) Whether Israel’s presence in the West Bank is, or is not, an occupation.

Levy’s report rewrote international law. It claimed that occupation “as set out in the relevant international conventions cannot be considered applicable to the unique and sui generis historic and legal circumstances of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria spanning over decades.”

“Israelis have the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria and the establishment of settlements cannot, in and of itself, be considered illegal.”

It recommended legalizing illegal outposts. It said zoning officials should authorize them without further political approval. It urged no restraints on settlement construction.

Netanyahu praised the report, saying:

“In my opinion, this report is important because it deals with the legalization and the legitimization of the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria on the basis of facts, a variety of facts and arguments that should be seriously considered.”

It’s unsurprising given Likud’s position on settlements, stating:

“The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (all Occupied Palestine) are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel.”

“The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.”

Likud rejects Green Line separation of Israel and Palestine. It incrementally steals Palestinian land. It declared all Jerusalem sovereign Israeli territory.

Likud’s Charter also rejects Palestinian self-determination, saying:

“The Jordan river will be the permanent eastern border of the State of Israel.”

“Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem.”

“The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.”

Levy’s Likudnik standing remains unblemished. He’s more shyster than jurist. He’s little more than a retired Likud Party hack. His opinions are entirely separate from legal principles. Revisionism defined his ruling.

Haaretz said Netanyahu plans to legalize West Bank outposts. Previously he stopped short. No longer. Together with other hardliners they’ll do it to appease settlers ahead of planned January elections.

Doing so will make it easier to steal land, expand settlements, and dispossess more Palestinians. Adopting key parts of Levy’s report effectively annexes all West Bank territory Israel wishes.

Maybe taking it all is planned. Put nothing past fascists like Netanyahu. Some of his policies exceed what some despots would dare.

Surprisingly, Defense Minister Ehud Barak opposes his move, saying:

Approving the Levy report “will backfire on those who support it. The report’s adoption won’t strengthen the settlements in the West Bank, but will instead cause diplomatic damage and will increase Israel’s isolation in the world.”

He urged cabinet members reject what’s now approved. Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich agreed. He called Netanyahu’s move a transparent pre-election stunt. He’ll do more harm to Israel’s security than improve it.

Kadima MK Yisrael Hasson said Netanyahu’s “playing with a flame-thrower over a barrel of gasoline. (He) wants to enslave the State of Israel for the sake of political interests and we will pay the price for that.”

Other opposition party members also expressed criticism. Likud MK Danny Danon said he’s trying to enlist congressional support. He wants Washington to legitimize what’s illegitimate.

Getting it he calls “a rare historical opportunity.” With US elections approaching, perhaps he’ll succeed. No one considers what’s right for Palestinians important.

Decades ago, Washington made them non-persons. Israel did earlier in 1948. Effectively, they’re denied all rights. Occupation harshness demands it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected] His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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

Gaza-bound ship brings on food, activists off Greek coast

European, pro-Palestinian activists plan to break an Israeli blockade of Gaza through a ship carrying food to the besieged strip
AFP , Wednesday 17 Oct 2012
Gaza A sailing ship with pro-Palestinian activists that is planning to break an Israeli blockade of Gaza took on food and passengers off the southern Greek coast, a spokesman said Wednesday.The Estelle, which first set off from Sweden and left Naples in Italy on October 6, stopped in international waters off the island of Crete Tuesday afternoon, where it loaded up with food and passengers.

The ship then continued its journey with five lawmakers on board — one from Sweden, one from Spain, two Greeks and a Norwegian, the spokesman for the Ship to Gaza Sweden movement, Mikael Loefgren, told AFP by telephone.

Thirty doves that are to be freed when the boat arrives in Gaza were also on board.

“They will now sail to Gaza. It’s hard to say when they get there given the type of unpredictable sea we have now in the eastern Mediterranean,” said Loefgren.

He expected the Estelle to arrive in Gaza around Saturday.

Loefgren identified the members of parliament as Ricardo Sixto Iglesias from Spain, Sven Britton from Sweden, Aksel Hagen from Norway, Vangelis Diamandopoulos and Dimitris Kodelas from Greece, as well as former Canadian lawmaker Jim Manly.

An activist for the Free Gaza movement told AFP that Greek coast guards failed to stop two speed boats from leaving the small port of Plakias in southern Crete with the supplies on Tuesday afternoon.

On its way to Naples, the Estelle had stopped in Finland, France and Spain.

Organisers say it carries humanitarian aid and its exact location can be followed on the flotilla’s Ship to Gaza website at http://shiptogaza.se

The voyage was organised by an international pro-Palestinian coalition.

Israel says the blockade of the Gaza Strip is necessary to prevent weapons from entering the coastal territory, which is run by the Islamist movement Hamas.

The first Freedom Flotilla in May 2010 ended in tragedy when nine Turkish nationals were killed after Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, the lead ship, as it tried to break through the blockade.

A second attempt to break the blockade in mid-2011 with a coalition of ships setting sail from Athens failed after Greek authorities intercepted the boats, banning their departure and towing back into port those who tried to leave.

In November last year, the Israeli navy also intercepted two Irish and Canadian ships carrying 27 passengers and crew that were trying to breach the blockade in international waters off Gaza.

Israel warned Finland last week that it would stop the boat by force if it tries to break the blockade.

Israeli air force strikes Hamas base after Palestinian salvo

DEBKAfile October 17, 2012, 6:20 AM (GMT+02:00)

Responding to missile attacks from Gaza on Ashkelon and Sderot Tuesday night, Israel planes struck Hamas bases in the northern Gaza Strip early Wednesday. DEBKAfile: The IDF has gone back to attacking empty Palestinian facilities after they were evacuated in good time to escape casualties.

 

The first US soldiers arrive for big joint exercise with Israel

DEBKAfile October 16, 2012, 8:52 PM (GMT+02:00)

The first group of the 2,000 American troops taking part in a big three-week joint war game with the Israeli army landed at Ashdod port Tuesday. US Patriots are due for delivery soon. The live-fire exercise beginning Oct. 21 will simulate a missile attack on Israel with the Patriots and the Israeli Arrow and Iron Dome anti-missile batteries taking part. It coincides with a high alert on Israel’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon. The Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey will be present for part of the war game.

 

Israel Encourages Settler Violence

By Stephen Lendman, Contributor
theintelhub.com
October 16, 2012

Settler violence is terrorism. Even America’s State Department says so. Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another.

Israeli setter violence is out-of-control. It’s risen sharply in recent years because nothing is done to stop it. Israeli extremists literally have license to attack Palestinian civilians, destroy their property and crops, inflict bodily harm, and at times kill.

Last March, the London Guardian headlined “Israel ‘turning blind eye’ to West Bank settlers’ attacks on Palestinians,” saying:

Settlers conduct “systematic and expanding campaign of violence against Palestinian farmers, families and children with the Israeli authorities turning a blind eye, according to confidential reports from senior European Union officials.”

Two EU reports the Guardian obtained showed “settler violence (more) than tripled in three years to total hundreds of incidents.”

In February, EU ambassadors in Brussels said:

“Acts of settler violence are becoming a serious concern for the Israeli state which has so far failed to effectively protect the Palestinian population.”

The report said attacks rose from 132 in 2009 to 411 last year. Farmers are most vulnerable. In 2011, about 10,000 olive, almond, and lemon trees were destroyed.

Israeli authorities largely turn a blind eye and do nothing. “Over 90% of monitored complaints regarding settler violence filed by Palestinians with the Israeli police in recent years have been closed without indictment.”

Whitewash is official policy. Settlers are free to attack, injure, and destroy. Why not? Who’ll stop them. Every day is Kristallnacht in Palestine. Israeli security forces and supportive Fatah ones conduct their own reign of terror.

Settler attacks alone are out-of-control. “Discriminatory protections and privileges (they get) compound these abuses and create an environment in which (they) can act with apparent impunity.”

Government failure to act encourages violence. Settlers believe they enjoy “tacit support of the state of Israel.”

Farmers in their fields are assaulted. Children heading to or from school or at play are attacked. Most settlers are nonviolent. Too many others hate Arabs and show it.

“Arguably the single most important deficiency in the provision of an impartial rule of law is the difference in the level of protection afforded to settlers and Palestinians,” said the report.

Around 100 militant settler leaders “mastermind” attacks. Israeli authorities fear electoral fallout by deterring them. “In Israeli terms, there (are) negative political consequence(s) to cracking down on settler violence and no political gain” by doing it.

The EU report was one thing. Failure to act against Israel made it toothless. Follow-through never occurs after similar UN reports. One released in July said settler attacks increased 150% since 2008. Apparently it understated how bad things are.

Incidents include violence and destructive acts against individuals, mosques, crops, livestock, and other property. Former IDF head Dan Halutz said Netanyahu does nothing to stop them. “If we wanted, we could catch them, and when we want to, we will,” he added.

Last February, Israeli television reported Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman caught on tape. He was advising extremist settlers how to seek pardons if charged. He’d approve them, he said.

On issues regarding Palestine, Israeli governments (past and present) pursue similar policies. Settler terrorism continues because no one stops it.

Last July, Haaretz contributor Amira Hass discussed it. She touched important nerves. She headlined “The anti-Semitism that goes unreported,” saying:

“Here’s a statistic that you won’t see in research on anti-Semitism, no matter how meticulous the study is. In the first six months of the year, 154 anti-Semitic assaults have been recorded, 45 of them around one village alone.”

“Some fear that last year’s record high of 411 attacks – significantly more than the 312 attacks in 2010 and 168 in 2009 – could be broken this year.”

Last June, 58 incidents occurred – nearly two a day. They included “stone-throwing targeting farmers and shepherds, shattered windows, arson, damaged water pipes and water-storage facilities, uprooted fruit trees and one damaged house of worship.”

“The assailants are sometimes masked, sometimes not; sometimes they attack surreptitiously, sometimes in the light of day.”

Palestinians got “death” and “revenge” threats. Another said, “We will yet slaughter.”

Merriam-Webster calls Semites “member(s) of any of a number of peoples of ancient southwestern Asia, including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs.” So are other Semitic-speaking people.

Anti-Semistism affects Palestinians like Jews. It’s no secret who’s more egregiously treated. “It’s no accident (why) diligent anti-Semitism researchers” don’t explain, said Hass.

Palestinian Semites are harmed, not Jews. In response, “Israeli Defense Forces, the Civil Administration, the Border Police and the courts all stand on the sidelines, closing their eyes, softballing investigations, ignoring evidence, downplaying the severity of the acts, protecting the attackers, and giving a boost to those progromtchiks.”

Palestinians face daily terror threats. Who’ll be attacked next? Will their children get to school and return home OK? How many trees and other crops will be destroyed? Is praying in community mosques safe?

On February 24, 1994, Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Muslim worshippers. Palestinians fear similar incidents for good reason. Even the conservative Washington Post commented. Last August it headlined “Settler violence against Palestinians raises alarm in Israel,” saying:

Jewish youths viciously beat an Arab teenager. “(S)oul-searching about the depths of ethnic hatred in Israeli society” followed. Too bad arrests virtually never occur.

“Israeli authorities (made none following) the Aug. 16 daylight firebombing of a Palestinian taxi….” They did little more than say they suspected extremist settlers. Case closed!

Four Palestinian family members and the driver were severely burned. Hospitalization was required. Netanyahu promised to find those responsible but did nothing. It happens after virtually all terrorist incidents harming Palestinians. Israeli authorities don’t care and show it.

Rarely ever do US media report negatively about Israel. Exceptions prove the rule. Left unsaid is how bad things are. Life in Occupied Palestine means having no one to turn to for protection.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other resistance groups do their best to protect Gazans. They’re no match against Israeli F-16s, attack helicopters, missiles, bombs, artillery shelling, heavily armed invaders, and assault vessels attacking Palestinian fishermen.

West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinians are virtually defenseless. They face three brutal enemies – extremist settlers, Israeli security forces, and PA ones used against their own people.

There’s nowhere to hide. Security is a four-letter word. Systemic violence is a way of life. No one’s sure from day to day who’ll live, die, stay unharmed and free, or know their homes and other property are safe.

Being Palestinian is their mark of Cain. Praying to the wrong God endangers them. Profound insecurity defines their lives. So do fear, intimidation, and institutionalized violence. Terrorism stalks them daily.

It takes a tolls. Palestinians bear physical and emotional scars. Children are especially harmed. Some end up permanently traumatized. Most people outside Occupied Palestine know or care.

Occasional Israeli policies are cosmetic without teeth at best. On October 12, the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) headlined “Israeli Police Forms ‘Jewish Terror’ Branch In The West Bank,” saying:

Netanyahu “form(ed) a unit” to deal with “Jewish Terrorism….” Allegedly it’s to curb settler violence. Previous measures did nothing. Policies with teeth didn’t follow rhetoric.

Protecting Jews alone matters. Palestinians are on their own. It’s been that way during 45 years of occupation. Netanyahu changed nothing. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. In Palestine, there is none.

On October 11, B’Tselem headlined “Five attacks on olive harvesters and damaged olive groves in four days,” saying:

Events suggest “that Security forces (aren’t) prepared (or don’t care about) protect(ing) Palestinian olive harvesters and their property from settler violence.”

In Ramallah and Nablus regions from October 7 – 10, B’Tselem “document five cases of injury to Palestinian farmers and their olive trees….”

Three other similar incidents occurred. Olive trees were either damaged or stolen. Several attacks occurred in full view of nearby Israeli forces. They witnessed them and did nothing.

In two farmer attacks, they violated IDF and High Court instructions. They “prohibit closing off areas to Palestinian farmers and removing (those) attacked by settlers.” Security forces are supposed to investigate these type incidents. Instead they ignore them.

On October 7, 25 olive trees belonging to Abu Fahaida family members were destroyed. The Zayit Ra’anan outpost lies 500 meters from their land. Extremist settlers infest it.

Some showed up the previous day. They confronted family members. Israeli security forces are stationed nearby. Palestinians asked for protection but got none. Following the incident, they complained to police. They’re assured no help there either.

On October 7, ten masked settlers attacked Beitillu village farmers. They came from the nearby Nahliel settlement. They’re suspected of setting their field ablaze.

On October 9, Farata and Amatin area farmers arrived on their land to harvest olives. It’s located near the Havat Gilad outpost. On arrival, they discovered that unknown persons stole their trees and crops.

About 220 trees were taken. Around 130 belonged to Ibrahim Salah. He complained to police with help from Yesh Din human rights volunteers. More on their new vandalism report below.

B’Tselem said Salah can’t reach his land “without prior coordination with the army due to the proximity of the Havat Gilad outpost.” Jewish settler rights alone matter.

On October 9, Qaryut residents discovered over 80 olive trees owned by 10 families severely damaged. Their land lies two km from the Eli settlement. Rabbis for Human Rights reported the incident. They try to help but have little success. Israeli authorities turn a blind eye.

On October 10, Ratib Na’asan, an al-Mughayir village resident, discovered about 100 olive trees he owns damaged. Most were “denuded down to the trunk.”

In an adjacent plot owned by his brother, Jamil, 40 trees were vandalized.

B’Tselem documented earlier incidents. They happen regularly. The only time charges followed, it said, was when one of its volunteers videotaped settlers stealing olives. Perhaps it was evidence too compelling to ignore. It’s also another example of the exception proving the rule.

Even soil is fair game for theft. On October 12, Maan News headlined “West Bank settlers ‘stealing soil’ from Palestinians,” saying:

Israeli authorities ignore it. An unnamed police official said nothing can be done to curb this type theft. In other words, he doesn’t care. Truckloads of Palestinian soil were reported stolen from various locations. Each load is worth 2,000 shekels.

On October 12, Yesh Din headlined “Investigation of vandalism of Palestinian trees: One indictment in 162 investigations,” saying:

Like B’Tselem, Yesh Din documents vandalism. It’s done it since 2005. Only once did charges follow. They came over four years after the incident occurred.

So-called investigations conducted were whitewashes. Rhetoric substituted for action. Settlers are free to commit “ideological” crimes. Palestinians are fair game. They’re denied inviolable international law rights.

Yesh Din, B’Tselem, and other human rights groups show how egregiously they’re treated. Abuses happen regularly out of sight and mind to most people not paying attention.

Western media largely ignore them. Israeli authorities don’t care. Fatah ones do little or nothing to help. Imagine living this way from day to day.

Imagine not knowing whether your property will be safe, destroyed or stolen. Imagine being unsure from dawn to dusk if you and family members will be safe.

Imagine daily fear and insecurity. For Palestinians, it’s their way of life. Most Israelis and Western residents can’t imagine what they endure. Somehow they persist and press on. One day they hope to live free.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected] His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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

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