April 2012 Archives

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Sonja Karkar, editor of Australians for Palestine, writes: There has been a lot happening around Palestinian prisoners

in recent times – public protests for their release, human rights reports documenting torture, prisoners held without due process, without charge or trial, especially the incarceration of children, and  now a wave of hunger strikes that have reached mass proportions.  Yet, there is barely a mention of this in the mainstream media.  Unlike the lone Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, whose capture while on duty made news headlines, almost none of the 5000 plus Palestinians imprisoned in some 30 Israeli prisons and camps, ever have their horror stories given publicity.  Most of them disappear into the black hole of oblivion for years, remembered only by their families.  Yet, that brings Palestinians together, since most Palestinian families have had, or have, at least one family member in jail inside Israel. More than 700,000 Palestinians (about one-fifth of the population) have been imprisoned since the beginning of Israel’s occupation in 1967, the vast majority of them political dissidents without “blood on their hands”.  In fact, more than two-thirds of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s members have been kidnapped without charge, most of them serving their sentences only to be kidnapped again.  Imagine any country’s legislators being rounded up like this and held without charge and ask yourself what the outcry would be.

Contrary to international law, Israel employs these punitive practices to dominate and control, but the media continues to ignore the plight of the prisoners.  And, it is not just the BBC, to which the article below refers.  As the writer says “If this extraordinary, mass feat of unarmed resistance, where more than a thousand men and women are willing to starve themselves to death in the struggle for liberation from an oppressive regime, was taking place in China or Iran [12]  — or any other country not behaving in the interests of the West — it would be receiving constant coverage in newspapers and on television. We would be presented with analysis, comment, talking heads, and we would know.” But not when it comes to Israel.  Israel, it seems, is above the law and the media falls into line, apart from the rare article in the interests of fair reporting. Of course, such articles never make the headlines.  – SK

BBC challenged for ignoring plight of Palestinian prisoners

Image

by Amena Saleem

The Electronic Intifada

25 April 2012

“I had no idea. How could I not have known?”

I heard those words on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day [1]  (17 April) from a teacher, shocked at discovering how Israel abducts, abuses and imprisons Palestinian children — some as young as 12 — in the West Bank because they may or may not have thrown stones at Israel’s wall [2].

She had tagged along with a friend to a talk given in London by [Australian lawyer] Gerard Horton of Defence for Children International–Palestine Section [3], and until that moment had been unaware of the brutalities of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Horton’s lecture focused on a new DCI-Palestine report which documents the various traumas Palestinian children regularly face during Israeli military detention (“Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted: Children held in military detention [4] ,” 14 April 2012).

The answer to her question is fairly simple: this woman — a member of the educated, professional middle-classes — did not know because she relies on the mainstream media, led by the BBC [5], for her news. And that media’s silence on the realities of Israel’s occupation is deafening.

Last week, 1,200 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails began an open-ended hunger strike [6]  in protest at the illegalities and injustices of their incarceration. Another 2,300 refused food for the duration of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Their action came just weeks after Khader Adnan [7]  ended his 66-day hunger strike and Hana al-Shalabi [8]  was released (though banished to Gaza) after refusing food for 43 days, both protesting at Israel’s use of administrative detention [9]  against them.

Several other prisoners remain on long-standing hunger strikes, including 27-year-old Bilal Diab [10] and 34-year-old Thaer Halahleh [11], now into their second month without food.

Extraordinary feat of resistance

If this extraordinary, mass feat of unarmed resistance, where more than a thousand men and women are willing to starve themselves to death in the struggle for liberation from an oppressive regime, was taking place in China or Iran [12]  — or any other country not behaving in the interests of the West — it would be receiving constant coverage in newspapers and on television. We would be presented with analysis, comment, talking heads, and we would know.

But these brave men and women are Palestinian, and the oppressive regime is Israel, and so the media’s curtain of self-censorship has been drawn.

Furious at this lack of coverage, Scottish activists from the We Are All Hana Shalabi Network occupied BBC Scotland headquarters on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day demanding reasons for the blackout (“Report on Glasgow’s BBC occupation and ‘Karamah hunger strike’ march [13],” We Are All Hana Shalabi Network, 18 April 2012)

They were eventually met by Ian Small, a senior BBC official, who told them that the BBC aimed its coverage towards a certain demographic.

“He said that demographic was white-collar and aged over 50,” said Liam O’Hare, an organizer of the protest. “The idea that the BBC aims its coverage towards a certain section of society, when it’s paid for by all licence-fee payers, is a disgrace.”

Occupying the main lobby of the BBC building, the protestors flew Palestinian flags and shouted: “BBC shame on you, put the prisoners on the news.” Later that day, around 300 demonstrators marched from Glasgow’s George Square to the building.

“The BBC is complicit in the occupation through its silence,” said O’Hare. “When you see the magnitude of what Palestinian prisoners are prepared to do to challenge Israel’s apartheid, and then look at the media’s blackout of that, you realize its inherent bias.”

And it’s not just the mass hunger strikes that are kept from us — the mainstream media’s blackout also extends to the weekly peaceful protests by unarmed Palestinians and internationals in villages across the West Bank, protests which demand Israel ends its theft of Palestinian land and which are invariably met with tear gas, skunk water [14]   and rubber bullets by the Israeli military.

Conversely, every time a rocket is fired from the besieged Gaza Strip into southern Israel, the BBC is quick to report, freely adopting Israeli-favored terminology such as “terrorists” and “militants” to describe the Palestinians. Their peaceful, unarmed resistance against their illegal occupation is not, it would seem, newsworthy.

Violence makes news?

When the Palestine Solidarity Campaign [15] asked BBC news bosses for the

reasoning behind this selective coverage, the answer was “violence makes

news.” We pointed out that there is plenty of violence at the weekly protests in the West Bank — it comes from the Israeli forces and results in frequent injuries and sometimes death. In fact, we said, violence by Israel’s military, navy and air force and by Israeli settlers in the West Bank is an everyday feature of life for Palestinians — if violence does, in fact, make news, there’s no shortage of it for the BBC in occupied Palestine.

The BBC could fill its news bulletins every evening with stories and footage of Israel’s violence against the Palestinians — the shelling and bombing of crowded civilian districts by the military in Gaza, the burning of Palestinian olive groves and torching of mosques in the West Bank by settlers, the house demolitions [16], with families forced out at gunpoint, in East Jerusalem [17].

But it chooses not to, and the rest of the mainstream media remains similarly silent. Silent, and in denying its audience knowledge of the horrors of the Israeli occupation and the Palestinians’ incredible resistance to it, shamefully complicit.

Amena Saleem is active with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK and keeps a close eye on the media’s coverage of Palestine as part of her brief. She has twice driven on convoys to Gaza for PSC. More information on PSC is available at <palestinecampaign.org… .

Footnotes:

[1]  <tiny.cc…>
[2] <tiny.cc…>
[3]  <tiny.cc…>
[4]  <tiny.cc…>
[5]  <electronicintifada.net…>
[6]  <electronicintifada.net…>
[7]  <electronicintifada.net…>
[8]  <electronicintifada.net…>
[9]  <tiny.cc…>
[10] <electronicintifada.net…>
[11] <electronicintifada.net…>
[12] <electronicintifada.net…>
[13] <tiny.cc…>
[14] <electronicintifada.net…>
[15]<tiny.cc…>
[16]<electronicintifada.net…>
[17] <electronicintifada.net…>

AFP Link: www.australiansforpalestine.net…
Original Link: electronicintifada.net……

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Father Roy writesPlease read Elizabeth Murray’s essay which is pasted below.  It was published just today.  Scroll all the way down to the bottom to read Murray’s credentials.  Do you think this woman knows what she’s talking about?  From my perspective, she does.  She’s got the current situation figured out.  She knows whereof she speaks.  She’s telling us the truth.  Even so, she could have found a more apt headline.   Peace, Roy

How Obama Recycled a Lie about Iran

By Elizabeth Murray

April 26, 2012 "Information Clearing House" — In June 2007, Middle East expert and University of Michigan professor Juan Cole remarked that bad translations can sometimes start wars. Professor Cole, in this case, was referring to the misleading, yet widely circulated mistranslated remark by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a speech in 2005 — in which he is purported to have said that Israel should be “wiped off the map.”

This old canard — long dismissed by Persian language experts as a gross distortion of Ahmadinejad’s actual words — is regularly trotted out by Israeli leaders and their supporters as proof that Iran’s regime intends genocide against Israel, thereby justifying a military attack on Iran.

However, a literal translation of Ahmadinejad’s 2005 statement would be something like “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,” a reference back to an earlier statement made by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic, as Guardian columnist Jonathan Steele explained in 2006.

Ahmadinejad essentially was predicting that Israel’s rule over Jerusalem would eventually come to an end, much like the once mighty Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s. He and other Iranian leaders have repeated similar predictions since then, but without any suggestion that Iran would attack Israel. [For more, see "Wiped Off the Map – the Rumour of the Century" by Arash Norouzi.]

Earlier this month, Dan Meridor, Israel’s minister of intelligence and atomic energy, conceded the point in an interviewwith Al Jazeera. He agreed that Iranian leaders “didn’t say, ‘We’ll wipe [Israel] out,’ you’re right, but [said instead] ‘it will not survive. It is a cancerous tumor, it should be removed.’ They repeatedly said ‘Israel is not legitimate, it should not exist.’”

Though the “wiped off the map” phrase is a myth, it has been transformed into accepted wisdom in Official Washington by its endless repetition and remains a frequent refrain of U.S. politicians and the corporate media.

For instance, in an appearance last month on MSNBC, Mark Landler, the New York Times’ White House correspondent, said, “The Israelis feel the window for that [denying Iran the capability to build nuclear weapons] is closing and it’s closing really fast, and if they allow it to close without taking military action, they would find themselves in a position where the Iranians suddenly are in possession of nuclear weapons, which they’ve threatened already to use against Israel.” [Emphasis added]

The last part of Landler’s comment was an apparent reference to the Ahmadinejad misquote, with the made-up addendum that Iran has threatened to use nuclear weapons to wipe Israel off the map. In fact, Iran has not threatened to use a nuclear bomb against Israel and has even disavowed any intent of developing a nuclear bomb. [See Consortiumnews.com…’s “Sloppy Comments on Iran’s ‘Nukes.’”]

Also, last month, President Barack Obama repeated the “wiped off the map” fiction in front of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (to considerable applause), all the while assuring his audience of his preference for diplomacy in dealing with Tehran.

In his speech, Obama said: “Let’s begin with a basic truth that you all understand: no Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that … threatens to wipe Israel off the map.”

If President Obama were truly interested in the success of diplomatic engagement with Iran, then why would he continue to issue provocative and propagandistic lies about Iran, especially before the start of delicate negotiations between Iran and the UN P5 +1 (Security Council members plus Germany) regarding Iran’s nuclear facilities?

Loose talk and inflammatory propaganda can only cheapen the United States’ international image, inflicting preemptive harm on whatever prospects for diplomatic progress might be in the offing.

The President’s use of a discredited phrase also brings to mind the careless language depicting a “mushroom cloud” bandied about by then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice as part of President George W. Bush’s effort to whip the American public into a frenzy of pro-war hysteria against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

The late Walter Lippman referred to such tactics as “the manufacture of consent.”

Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, called it “the Big Lie,” that is, a phrase which, if repeated often enough, would eventually pass for the truth.

Having an Iranian leader call into question the legitimacy of the Zionist system of government in Israel and predicting its eventual decline, of course, may be very insulting and offensive to the powers-that-be in Israel, but it is a far cry from a call to attack or wipe out the Israeli population.

This important nuance — acknowledged by no less than a member of the Israeli cabinet — seems to be missing from the discourse of U.S. corporate media and U.S. politicians.

Instead, Ahmadinejad’s criticism of Israel has been deliberately distorted, mistranslated and spun out of context into a physical threat against Israel, ignoring the available factual information that indicates otherwise.

Come to think of it, how did such an inaccurate phrase manage to worm its way into the text of President Obama’s speech to AIPAC? As a rule, presidential speeches are carefully reviewed by experts at the White House, National Security Council and National Intelligence Council for integrity and accuracy. After all, especially in high-profile speeches, the President’s reputation is at stake.

The intelligence officers involved in vetting a speech would have ready access to the Open Source Center’s translation of Ahmadinejad’s 2005 speech from the Persian if they had wanted to ensure the accuracy of the President’s words. Whoever allowed this piece of propaganda to slip through either committed a grave error or had a separate agenda in mind.

This episode brings to mind the criticism of former President Bush for including in his 2003 State of the Union speech a falsehood about Iraq trying to procure yellowcake uranium from Africa – a fiction that helped lead the nation into a costly war and that subsequently brought an apology from CIA Director George Tenet.

In any case, President Obama’s gaffe before AIPAC has certainly done nothing to burnish his reputation (despite the applause it received at the time) because much of the world knows better.

Elizabeth Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

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Father Roy writesAs all of us know, Ralph Nader sometimes runs for President of the United States.  One of the things I admire about Nader is that he’s an independent operator and thinks for himself.  What’s more, he has a clear head and doesn’t hesitate to speak his mind.   Peace, Roy

The Prisoners in Gaza – Their Blackout Nightmare

POSTED APRIL 19, 2012

By Ralph Nader

Have you heard much lately about the 1.5 million Palestinians illegally imprisoned by the Israeli government in the world’s largest open-air Gulag? Their dire living conditions, worsened by a selective Israeli siege limiting the importation of necessities of life – medical items, food, water, building materials, and fuel to list a few – has resulted in an 80 percent unemployment rate and widespread suffering from unlawful punishment, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment in Israeli jails.

The horrific conditions were a result of the Israeli invasion of Gaza in late 2008, ignited by Israel’s breaking of a truce with Gaza on November 4. Fourteen hundred people died, nearly three hundred of them children, and thousands were injured. The terror bombing of the Gazan population smashed into homes, hospitals, schools, ambulances, mosques, subsistence farms, UN facilities, and even the American International School. Israeli bombers destroyed over 30 members of one extended family in their home. That toll alone was three times the amount of Israeli fatalities, which included friendly fire.

The humanitarian crisis in crowded Gaza – about twice the size of the District of Columbia – “is now more dire than ever.” That is the judgment of Norwegian physician and professor of medicine, Dr. Mads Gilbert, who just finished a ten-day speaking tour in the U.S. Dr. Gilbert, returning from a recent visit to Gaza, was one of the only two foreign doctors inside Gaza during the massacre of December 2008 to January 2009.

He says: “During the Israeli attack, I saw the effects of new weapons including drones, phosphorous and also DIME [Dense Inert Metal Explosives], which leave no shrapnel, but I witnessed their capacity to cut a child in two; they also leave radioactive traces.”

Read the rest of the article on The Nader Page