September 2012 Archives

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Fighting Father Bob Birch writes: I urge you to take the time to read this and to forward it on to your friends and contacts. You may be unable or unwilling to volunteer in Palestine but you will be doing a great service for human rights and justice if you can, at least, make more people aware of the dire situation being faced by Palestinians living under a brutal and demeaning military occupation.

Source: palsolidarity.org…

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Join the olive harvest 2012

02.09.2012 | International Solidarity Movement

At a time of increasing settler violence in the West Bank, the International Solidarity Movement is issuing an urgent call for volunteers to participate in the 2012 Olive Harvest Campaign at the invitation of Palestinian communities.

The olive tree is a national symbol for Palestinians. As thousands of olive trees have been bulldozed, uprooted and burned by Israeli settlers and the military – (over half a million olive and fruit trees have been destroyed since September 2000) – harvesting has become more than a source of livelihood; it has become a form of resistance.

The olive harvest is an annual affirmation of Palestinians’ historical, spiritual, and economic connection to their land, and a rejection of Israeli efforts to seize it. Despite efforts by Israeli settlers and soldiers to prevent them from accessing their land, Palestinian communities have remained steadfast in refusing to give up their olive harvest.

Palestinian and ISM volunteers join Palestinian farming communities each year to harvest olives, in areas where Palestinians face settler and military violence when working their land. Your presence can make a big difference. It has been proven in the past to deter the number and severity of attacks and harassment. The presence of activists can reduce the risk of extreme violence from Israeli settlers and the Israeli army and supports Palestinians’ assertion of their right to earn their livelihoods and be present on their lands. International solidarity activists engage in non-violent intervention and documentation and this practical support enables many families to pick their olives. In addition, The Olive Harvest Campaign also provides a wonderful opportunity to spend time with Palestinian families in their olive groves and homes.

The campaign will begin on the 8th of October and run until the 15th of November.  We request a minimum 2 week commitment from volunteers but stress that long-termers are needed as well.  We ask that volunteers start arriving in the first week of October, so that we will be prepared when the harvest begins.

Training

The ISM will be holding mandatory two day training sessions which will run weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Please contact palreports@gmail.com… for further information.

Ongoing campaigns

In addition to the olive harvest, there will also be other opportunities to participate in grass-roots, non-violent resistance in Palestine.

ISM maintains a constant presence in Hebron, where settler harassment and violence is a regular occurrence. Lately, Israeli army violence has escalated for Palestinians living in proximity to the illegal inner-city settlement. Israeli forces have used the Palestinian neighborhoods for military training and two videos surfaced lately of soldiers brutally assaulting a young man and a child. The annual demonstration for the opening of Shuhada street has also been brutally oppressed by Israeli military forces. Weekly, illegal Israeli settlers are brought on a tour of the Palestinian old city in Hebron, supported by the Israeli army. Every week, the Palestinians are put under curfew and shops are forced to close so that settlers can take a stroll. ISM maintains a presence on these tours for purposes of prevention and documentation, as Palestinians are often assaulted by the radical settlers.

ISM also has an apartment in Nablus from where we work on a number of projects including resisting demolitions in various villages, and supporting Palestinians resisting settler theft of their lands.  In addition to these activities, we participate in the weekly demonstration in Kafr Qaddum, where protesters face excessive force by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).

ISM activists have also been attending weekly demonstrations against the Apartheid Wall, the annexation of Palestinian land and the construction of illegal settlements in Al Ma’sara, Ni’lin, Bil’in and An Nabi Saleh.

Come! Bear witness to the suffering, courage and generosity of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation.

Experiencing the situation for yourself is vital to adequately convey the reality of life in Palestine to your home communities and to re-frame the debate in a way that will expose Israel’s apartheid policies, creeping ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem as well as collective punishment and genocidal practices in Gaza.

In Solidarity,

ISM Palestine 

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Here is Noam Chomsky at his best – surely one of the greatest minds of this present age, and certainly one of the most insightful political commentators and lucid communicators.

Chomsky is surely right – that the only thing Iran threatens in the Middle East is the total regional dominance of the US and Israel.

Why is it so difficult for people to see this? That’s a question for the psychologists to answer (and perhaps the sociologists) but Chomsky uses a clever technique here to help us stand outside our prejudices for a moment and look at the situation in a different light.  How different things would appear if the boot of hegemony was on the other foot!

Let’s push this article around and see if it will help a few more people to open their eyes as to what is really going on in our world!

Father Dave

Published on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 by Common Dreams

link: The US and Israel, Not Iran, Threaten Peace | Common Dreams

The US and Israel, Not Iran, Threaten Peace

It is not easy to escape from one’s skin, to see the world differently from the way it is presented to us day after day. But it is useful to try. Let’s take a few examples.

The war drums are beating ever more loudly over Iran. Imagine the situation to be reversed.

Iran is carrying out a murderous and destructive low-level war against Israel with great-power participation. Its leaders announce that negotiations are going nowhere. Israel refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow inspections, as Iran has done. Israel continues to defy the overwhelming international call for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region. Throughout, Iran enjoys the support of its superpower patron.

Iranian leaders are therefore announcing their intention to bomb Israel, and prominent Iranian military analysts report that the attack may happen before the U.S. elections.

Iran can use its powerful air force and new submarines sent by Germany, armed with nuclear missiles and stationed off the coast of Israel. Whatever the timetable, Iran is counting on its superpower backer to join if not lead the assault. U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta says that while we do not favor such an attack, as a sovereign country Iran will act in its best interests.

All unimaginable, of course, though it is actually happening, with the cast of characters reversed. True, analogies are never exact, and this one is unfair – to Iran.

Like its patron, Israel resorts to violence at will. It persists in illegal settlement in occupied territory, some annexed, all in brazen defiance of international law and the U.N. Security Council. It has repeatedly carried out brutal attacks against Lebanon and the imprisoned people of Gaza, killing tens of thousands without credible pretext.

Thirty years ago Israel destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor, an act that has recently been praised, avoiding the strong evidence, even from U.S. intelligence, that the bombing did not end Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program but rather initiated it. Bombing of Iran might have the same effect.

Iran too has carried out aggression – but during the past several hundred years, only under the U.S.-backed regime of the shah, when it conquered Arab islands in the Persian Gulf.

Iran engaged in nuclear development programs under the shah, with the strong support of official Washington. The Iranian government is brutal and repressive, as are Washington’s allies in the region. The most important ally, Saudi Arabia, is the most extreme Islamic fundamentalist regime, and spends enormous funds spreading its radical Wahhabist doctrines elsewhere. The gulf dictatorships, also favored U.S. allies, have harshly repressed any popular effort to join the Arab Spring.

The Nonaligned Movement – the governments of most of the world’s population – is now meeting in Teheran. The group has vigorously endorsed Iran’s right to enrich uranium, and some members – India, for example – adhere to the harsh U.S. sanctions program only partially and reluctantly.

The NAM delegates doubtless recognize the threat that dominates discussion in the West, lucidly articulated by Gen. Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command: “It is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East,” one nation should arm itself with nuclear weapons, which “inspires other nations to do so.”

Butler is not referring to Iran, but to Israel, which is regarded in the Arab countries and in Europe as posing the greatest threat to peace In the Arab world, the United States is ranked second as a threat, while Iran, though disliked, is far less feared. Indeed in many polls majorities hold that the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons to balance the threats they perceive.

If Iran is indeed moving toward nuclear-weapons capability – this is still unknown to U.S. intelligence – that may be because it is “inspired to do so” by the U.S.-Israeli threats, regularly issued in explicit violation of the U.N. Charter.

Why then is Iran the greatest threat to world peace, as seen in official Western discourse? The primary reason is acknowledged by U.S. military and intelligence and their Israeli counterparts: Iran might deter the resort to force by the United States and Israel.

Furthermore Iran must be punished for its “successful defiance,” which was Washington’s charge against Cuba half a century ago, and still the driving force for the U.S. assault against Cuba that continues despite international condemnation.

Other events featured on the front pages might also benefit from a different perspective. Suppose that Julian Assange had leaked Russian documents revealing important information that Moscow wanted to conceal from the public, and that circumstances were otherwise identical.

Sweden would not hesitate to pursue its sole announced concern, accepting the offer to interrogate Assange in London. It would declare that if Assange returned to Sweden (as he has agreed to do), he would not be extradited to Russia, where chances of a fair trial would be slight.

Sweden would be honored for this principled stand. Assange would be praised for performing a public service – which, of course, would not obviate the need to take the accusations against him as seriously as in all such cases.

The most prominent news story of the day here is the U.S. election. An appropriate perspective was provided by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who held that “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”

Guided by that insight, coverage of the election should focus on the impact of wealth on policy, extensively analyzed in the recent study “Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America” by Martin Gilens. He found that the vast majority are “powerless to shape government policy” when their preferences diverge from the affluent, who pretty much get what they want when it matters to them.

Small wonder, then, that in a recent ranking of the 31 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of social justice, the United States placed 27th, despite its extraordinary advantages.

Or that rational treatment of issues tends to evaporate in the electoral campaign, in ways sometimes verging on comedy.

To take one case, Paul Krugman reports that the much-admired Big Thinker of the Republican Party, Paul Ryan, declares that he derives his ideas about the financial system from a character in a fantasy novel – “Atlas Shrugged” – who calls for the use of gold coins instead of paper currency.

It only remains to draw from a really distinguished writer, Jonathan Swift. In “Gulliver’s Travels,” his sages of Lagado carry all their goods with them in packs on their backs, and thus could use them for barter without the encumbrance of gold. Then the economy and democracy could truly flourish – and best of all, inequality would sharply decline, a gift to the spirit of Justice Brandeis.

© 2012 Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor (retired) at MIT. He is the author of many books and articles on international affairs and social-political issues, and a long-time participant in activist movements. His most recent books include: Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance (City Lights Open Media), Hopes and Prospects, and Profit Over People: Neoliberalism & Global Order. Previous books include: 9-11: 10th Anniversary Edition, Failed States, What We Say Goes (with David Barsamian), Hegemony or Survival, and the Essential Chomsky.

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It seems that Christians are now being targeted by settlers, and church officials are speaking of a ‘teaching of contempt’ that is current in Israeli society.

The ‘price-tag’ attack outlined below is not an isolated incident. Another article published this week tells of a monastery set on fire by angry settlers.

One can only assume that such a teaching will erode popular support for Israel in the US if it is allowed to develop.

Father Dave

Catholic Church condemns ‘price-tag’ attack on monastery, urges Israel to change ‘culture of contempt’

Source: www.haaretz.com…

Statement by top clerics, including Jerusalem’s Latin Patriarch, urges authorities to apprehend those responsible; Netanyahu: Israel will punish perpetrators severely.

By Nir Hasson | Sep.04, 2012 | 6:01 PM

The Catholic Church condemned the so-called "price-tag" attack against an Christians monastery on Tuesday, with high-ranking church offices denouncing the "teaching of contempt" against Christians prevalent in Israeli society.

Earlier Tuesday, the door of a Christian monastery in Latrun, the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Sept-Douleurs, near Jerusalem, was set on fire on morning and anti-Christian slogans were found spray-painted on the monastery’s walls.

The arson and graffiti are suspected to be a “price tag” attack, following the recent evacuation of Migron, a settlement outpost in the West Bank.

Monks residing at the monastery noticed the burning door on Tuesday morning, and called police after extinguishing the flames. Graffiti sprayed on the monastery walls included the words “Migron,” and “Jesus is a monkey.”

In a statement released later in the day and signed, among others, by the Latin Patriarch for Jerusalem Fouad Twal and Gerogio Lingua, Apostolic Nuncio for Jordan, and former Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, the Catholic Church severely condemned the attack, saying it was the results of an Israeli tendency to scapegoat Christians.

"The Christian community awoke this morning… to discover with horror that once again it is the target of forces of hatred within Israeli society," the missive said, adding "what happened in Latrun is only another in a long series of attacks against Christians and their places of worship."

Further on, the statement asked: "What is going on in Israeli society today that permits Christians to be scapegoat and targeted by these acts of violence?," questioning why the unknown assialtants chose to " vent" their anger over the dismantling of West Bank outposts "against Christians and Christian places of worship?"

"What kind of ‘teaching of contempt’ for Christians is being communicated in their schools and in their homes? And why are the culprits not found and brought to justice?" the statement asked, urging Israeli "authorities to act to put an end to this senseless violence and to ensure a ‘teaching of respect’ in schools for all those who call this land home."

The Church’s condemnation was followed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s denouncement of the act, saying in a statement earlier in the day that that attack was "a criminal act" and that "those responsible for it must be severely punished."

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The following declaration was made by the assembly of Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land. It comes as a response to the burning of the Cistercian (Trappist) monastery in Latroun. The Bishops ask, “What is going on in Israeli society today that permits Christians to be scapegoat and targeted by these acts of violence?”

This statement has been published on the official website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Source: en.lpj.org…

Diocese of Jerusalem

Declaration of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land

Why are Christians again the target?

The Christian community awoke this morning, Tuesday, September 4, 2012, to discover with horror that once again it is the target of forces of hatred within Israeli society. In the early hours of the morning, the door of the Cistercian (Trappist) monastery in Latroun was burnt and anti-Christian graffiti was sprayed on the walls.

The monks of Latroun have dedicated their lives to prayer and hard work. The monastery is visited by hundreds of Jewish Israelis each week and they are received with love and warmth by the monks. A number of the monks have learnt Hebrew and promote mutual understanding and reconciliation between Jews and Christians, according to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Sadly, what happened in Latroun is only another in a long series of attacks against Christians and their places of worship. What is going on in Israeli society today that permits Christians to be scapegoated and targeted by these acts of violence? Those who sprayed their hateful slogans, expressed their anger at the dismantlement of the illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank. But why do they vent this anger against Christians and Christian places of worship? What kind of “teaching of contempt” for Christians is being communicated in their schools and in their homes? And why are the culprits not found and brought to justice?

This morning, the Christians in Israel are asking many questions as they grieve and seek consolation and assurances. The time has come for the authorities to act to put an end to this senseless violence and to ensure a “teaching of respect” in schools for all those who call this land home.

Which of you desires life, and covets many days to enjoy good?
Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it

(Psalm 34:12-14)

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This is depressing in the extreme! I thought you could only get away with this sort of rubbish in Australia nowadays!

Let’s be clear about this: criticism of a government’s actions and policies is not an act of racism! Indeed, in this case it is the apparently racist policies of the Israeli government that are the target of our criticism!

Anti-Semitism is a form of racism. It’s attacking a person or a people on the basis of their race. It should not be tolerated by any society, and neither should any other form of racism.Criticism of the State of Israel, on the other hand, on account of government policies that discriminate between people on the basis of their race is surely anything but racist in itself!

It is possible, of course, that criticism of the State of Israel could be thinly-veiled racism, where bogus arguments are manufactured to incite hatred against the race of people associated with the state, but that would need to be shown. Are the criticisms of the State of Israel bogus or are they legitimate? Is the oppression of the Palestinian people an illusion or is it a reality? Are the deaths, the housing demolitions, and the countless humiliations suffered by these people who live under a system that deals differently with persons according to their race some sort of media stunt or are there genuine grievances here that need to be addressed? Surely these are legitimate and important issues to discuss!

God help us when it becomes a crime to ask these questions!

Father Dave

source: www.ws…

California passes resolution defining criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism

By Tom Carter
4 September 2012

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.”