Tag Archives: al arish

on orange & other adventures in normalization

i love orange. it’s my favorite color. i even painted my office at boise state university orange a few years ago. but in this region colors always take on new meanings that destroy colors and what they mean. for instance, when i first moved to palestine in the summer of 2005 i discovered that orange was the color that the zionist terrorist colonists in gaza were using to protest their removal from occupied gaza. you still see their orange ribbons on backpacks and and rear view mirrors. these are the same people who are building new colonies and expanding them in naqab, al quds, nasra and everywhere else.

orange

but why am i writing about orange? well, actually it’s not the color i’m speaking of. it’s the corporation. when i lived in jordan (2005-2006) i had a land line in my house from the jordanian national telecom company and i had internet from a company called wanadoo. it seems that in the time since i lived here last, both have been swallowed up by orange (which is why i won’t be having a land line or internet service or cell phone service from orange). for the land lines this is a huge issue: it means that jordan has privatized its telecommunications sector to a foreign company. apparently, this happened two years ago:

The Jordanian mobile operator, MobileCom – a subsidiary of Jordan Telecom Group (JTG) has rebranded under the Orange brand name. Jordan Telecom is 51% controlled by France Telecom which in turn, owns Orange.

“With this move, Orange becomes the sole commercial brand for JTG’s fixed, mobile, and internet services,” said Chairman of the Board of Directors of JTG Dr Shabib Ammari. “Our customers will be enjoying Orange’s competitive range of telecom solutions and top quality services, enjoying the premium offering that will meet their needs to full satisfaction through this single and reputable provider,” added Ammari.

The GSM arm of JTG was first registered on 21st September, 1999 and launched full public service across the Kingdom on 15th September, 2000. The infrastructure was provided by Ericsson.

Orange Jordan has around 1.7 million subscribers according to figures from the Mobile World, which gives the company a market share of 36%.

and orange has fully inserted itself and its brand into jordanian life. billboards are everywhere. there are orange ramadan placemats in restaurants and cafes. and they even have some magazine that i found in my hotel room when i was in amman on my way to the u.s. for a couple of days. it is inescapable. but it is also possible not to participate in this orange branding of jordan, which, according to the jordanian blogger black iris, they aren’t offering such hot service:

Since writing that open letter to Orange Telecom Jordan on their terrible service I’ve noticed the link really flying around the twittersphere. It’s gotten around 1,700 views in the past 48 hours, which, along with the comments and emails people left me, is a real indication that many are simply not happy with the Kingdom’s telecom giant and it’s level of service.

but i think there are other reasons, aside from crappy service, that people in jordan should be up in arms that their national telecom industry was handed over to orange. some of what i am about to say is speculative, but the facts will be backed up with reports. my suspicion about orange was first raised because i know it to be one of the main mobile phone companies in the zionist entity. for many years, it was the only mobile company that palestinians had access too before they created their own network, jawal. orange is not an israeli company, but i have been told it was started by two french jews. i have looked to find out more about the people who started and/or who run orange headquarters, but it has been difficult to find anything out on them. my curiosity is that is suspect they are like howard shultz, ceo of starbucks, who donates a significant amount of his profits to the zionist entity every year. i don’t have any such information yet (though if anyone out there knows the dirt on orange please send it my way! ), but here is what wikipedia has to say about it:

Microtel Communications Ltd. was formed in April 1990 as a consortium comprising Pactel Corporation, British Aerospace, Millicom and French company Matra (British Aerospace soon acquired full control of the company). In 1991 Microtel was awarded a license to develop a mobile network in the UK, and in July 1991 Hutchison Telecommunications (UK) Ltd acquired Microtel from BAe. BAe was paid in Hutchison Telecommunications (UK) Ltd. shares, giving the company a 30% share. Hutchison Whampoa held 65% and Barclays Bank the remaining 5%. Microtel was renamed Orange Personal Communications Services Ltd. in 1994. The Orange brand was created by an internal team at Microtel headed by Chris Moss (Marketing Director) and supported by Martin Keogh, Rob Furness and Ian Pond. The brand consultancy Wolff Olins was charged with designing the brand values and logo and advertising agency WCRS created the Orange slogan “The Future’s bright, the Future’s Orange” along with the now famous advertising. The logo is square because a round orange logo already existed for the reprographics company, Orange Communications Limited, designed by Neville Brody in 1993.

Orange plc was formed in 1995 as a holding company for the Orange group. France Telecom formed the present company in 2001 after acquiring Orange plc (which had been acquired by Mannesmann AG, itself purchased by Vodafone shortly after, leading Vodafone to divest Orange) and merging its existing mobile operations into the company. The company was initially 100% owned by France Telecom (although there were and still remain minority investors in some of the national operating companies). In 2001 15% was sold in an IPO, but in 2003 the outstanding shares were bought back by France Telecom.

so there is no proof or connection to the zionist entity in any way yet. but that is okay. there is proof that their hands are dirty any way. like all cell phone companies that exist in the zionist entity, they are a part of the colonial infrastructure. here is a report from who profits laying out how orange, along with the other cell phone companies participate in colonialism and occupation:

All Israeli cellular communication companies are commercially involved in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Golan Heights. These companies build infrastructure, maintain property and equipment in illegal Israeli settlements, much of it on privately owned Palestinian lands. They all provide services to the Israeli military and to all Israeli settlers, and some provide specially designed services. They use the Israeli control of the Palestinian territory to exploit the Palestinian frequencies and to impose their services on the Palestinian captive market.

Currently there are four Israeli cellular communication service providers: Cellcom, Partner (Orange), Pelephone and MIRS. Cellcom is part of the IDB group, a conglomerate of Israeli and international companies, one of the major players in the Israeli market; Partner is a subsidiary of the Chinese Hutchison Telecommunications International (HTIL); Pelephone is fully owned by Bezeq, the Israeli Telecommunication Corporation; MIRS is a subsidiary of Motorola Israel.

All four have dozens of antennas, transmission stations and additional infrastructure erected on occupied Palestinian land: MIRS holds at least 86 antennas and communication facilities on occupied territory, Cellcom at least 191, Pelephone 195 and Partner 165. As a survey by Yesh Din reveals, many of these antennas and communication facilities were erected on confiscated privately owned Palestinian land. Often, these devices are guarded by Israeli guards, and at least in one occasion, they were used as seeds for a new settlement outpost. Using this infrastructure, the companies provide services to Israelis in these areas, both to the settlements and to the Israeli soldiers operating in the occupied West Bank.

All four, Cellcom, Partner, MIRS and Pelephone, operate service stores in West Bank settlements. Additionally, MIRS is the exclusive provider of cellular phone services to the Israeli army (since 2005 and at least until 2011). This company installs communication units in army vehicles and it builds communication facilities in army bases throughout the West Bank and Golan Heights. The company also offers special rates for service personnel and their family members.

Cellcom, Partner and Pelephone are also operating in the Palestinian market. The conditions of the occupation ensure several advantages for these companies over the Palestinian cellular communication providers. The Israeli authorities do not provide permits for Palestinian companies to install antennas and transmission infrastructure in area C, which is under full Israeli control and constitutes 59% of the entire West Bank, making it virtually impossible for Palestinians to provide cellular coverage in many areas of the West Bank. Additionally, the frequency allocation granted by the Israeli authorities to Palestinian providers is very limited, and the Israeli authorities impose significant limitations on the Palestinian providers when it comes to the import of devices or the on ground installation of communication transmission devices. Even when the Israeli authorities do allow equipment into the Palestinian territory – it is often delayed by months or years, and by the time it arrives to the Palestinian providers it is outdated. Together, these limitations restrict the reception ranges and the overall quality of service by Palestinian providers, and the Palestinians turn to services provided by the Israeli companies, especially when traveling outside of the major Palestinian cities.

The Israeli control of frequencies and the implications of this control have been evident in the case of Wataniya Palestine. In 2007 Wataniya Palestine, a joint venture of Palestine Investment Fund and Wataniya Telecom of Kuwait, was licensed to become the second Palestinian cellular communication provider. On July 28, 2008 an agreement was signed by the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, allocating frequencies for Wataniya’s use. The frequencies were supposed to be released by April 1 of 2009. As of August of 2009, none were released due to ongoing delays from the Israeli government. Consequently, Wataniya Telecom announced that it would back out of its initiative to operate cellular communication services in the occupied Palestinian territory.

According to a World Bank report issued in January of 2008, 20% to 45% of the Palestinian cellular market at that time was in the hands of Israeli companies. In breach of the Oslo Agreements, the Israeli companies do not pay taxes to the Palestinian Authority (PA) for their commercial activity in the Palestinian market. The World Bank report estimated that the lost annual PA tax revenues due to unauthorized Israeli operations amounted to $60 million. Additionally, the PA claimed that these Israeli companies have been targeting West Bank clients and actively selling to the Palestinians in the West Bank although they were never licensed to do so by the PA.

Surprisingly, even when using Palestinian providers, Palestinian customers have to rely on the Israeli companies because of the restrictions on Palestinian construction of telecommunication infrastructure. The Israeli companies collect a percentage surcharge on all interconnection revenues from calls between Palestinian landlines and cellular phones as well as calls between cellular phones of Palestinian operators and Israeli operators. Similarly, Palestinian operators have to depend on the costly services of Israeli companies for any international call, for calls connecting the West Bank and Gaza and for calls between different areas in the West Bank.

For more information, see the Who Profits website at: www.whoprofits.org.

here is a brief summary on orange in the zionist entity by who profits as well (who i normally don’t link to because they are colonists who don’t see themselves as colonists merely because they don’t live in the west bank):

An Israeli provider of cellular phone services.

The company erected more than 160 antennas and telecommunication infrastructure facilities on occupied land in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

The company provides cellular communication services to the settlers and Israeli soldiers in the occupied territory. Additionally, the company enjoys the structural advantages of Israeli cellular services providers over Palestinian competitors in the Palestinian market.

Click here to read the full report about the involvement of the Israeli cellular companies in the occupation.

Involved in:

Palestinian Captive Market
Israeli Construction on Occupied Land
Services to the Settlements

51% of company shares are held by Scailex, which is controlled by Ilan Ben-Dov.

so this is why i am boycotting orange. i don’t need a land line. i have a cell phone from a kuwaiti company (zain) and internet (insha’allah soon) from a jordanian company (umniah). but what i see a lot of in jordan is heavy levels of consumption among a population who does not know, does not want to know, or does not want to sacrifice in the ways one must sacrifice in order to resist. part of this may be because i don’t have internet at my house yet and the only place near my house to get it (i.e., within walking distance) is a mall. so i’m being subjected to my least favorite sort of space with people participating in my least favorite activity all around me as i work in an internet cafe around people who eat and drink and smoke all day while i fast (it is ramadan, but there seem to be lots of jordanians who are not fasting). and i’m thinking a lot about sacrifice. not just because it is ramadan and i am fasting and my empty stomach makes me think about it, but also because i don’t understand why it consumption and globalization have turned the world numb and dumb. the divide between want and need is completely gone. and this is something i find so disturbing. i don’t know why people cannot just say no to so many things.

i also wonder why people cannot say no to normalization with the zionist entity. why they cannot say no on a personal or a collective level in places like jordan. for instance, there was a report in ha’aretz a few weeks ago about a sweatshop owned by zionist terrorist colonists in jordan:

If the term “sweatshop” used to be associated with Asian countries and global brands such as Nike, now such methods of production by exploiting workers have made aliyah. Two Israeli entrepreneurs run a sweatshop in Jordan that produces clothes for leading Israeli brands such as Irit, Bonita, Jump and Pashut, Haaretz has learned.

The National Labor Committee, a U.S.-based workers’ rights organization, has released a report accusing the Musa Garments factory in Jordan of employing workers under inhuman conditions, and charges the company with “human trafficking, abuse, forced overtime, primitive dorm conditions, imprisonment and forcible deportations of foreign guest workers.”

The report exposes what is said to be one of the biggest secrets of the Israeli fashion industry, saying the cheap production costs for Israeli labels is a very expensive price for workers’ rights at Musa Garments.

The report says Mr. Musa, the owner, is an Israeli. But the real owners are Jack Braun and Moshe Cohen from Tel Aviv. The factory is located in the Al Hassan industrial area in Irbid, Jordan. The two employ 132 people from Bangladesh, 49 from India and 27 Jordanians. Chinese, Sri Lankans and Nepalese have also worked there in the past. “They all come for one reason only: To earn as much money as they possibly can to pay off the debts they incurred to purchase their three-year work contracts in Jordan, and send money home to their families,” states the report.

The report explains how the “guest workers” face inhuman conditions from their first day. Management takes away their passports, sometimes for the entire three-year period. Workers who asked for their passports back – or at least a copy – were refused, an illegal act and serious human rights violation.

The conditions are close to slavery. Until December 2008, when the economic crisis hit the company, workers averaged shifts of between 12 and a half and 13 and half hours a day, seven days a week – even though their contracts give them Fridays off. They also had to work on Jordanian national holidays. Anyone who missed a shift was fined three days’ wages, the report claims.

After December last year, the pace of production was stepped up and instead of having to sew 30 pieces an hour, workers were made to sew 40 – for the same wages.

“The public must know that products have a heavy human cost too,” said Dr. Roi Wagner of the Kav LaOved (Worker’s Hotline) organization. “The pursuit of lower production [costs] is very often dependent on violating human rights. The price is paid by Israeli workers whose jobs disappear, and also by the ‘cheap’ workers who produce goods in places where it is easier to abuse them. The manufacturer is not the only one responsible, but also the companies [that buy the goods] and the consumers,” said Wagner.

The list of complaints is long, including subhuman living conditions such as 4-8 people in a tiny dormitory room, no showers and water for only an hour or two a night. There is no heat in the rooms in the winter, and the bathrooms are filthy. The roofs leak.

One of the owners, Jack Braun, claims the truth is completely different. “The report is a total lie,” he said. “The workers went on strike for a reason I don’t know. As a result, human rights organizations arrived and the workers lied – though every one of their claims was proved false. They attacked the Bangladeshi consul and police who tried to talk to them. The conditions we provide them, in terms of work and food and housing, are above and beyond. We always paid them as required – they earn tiny salaries, so why shouldn’t we pay them?” said Braun.

Bonita’s management said they do not work with the company.

Kobi Hayat, one of the owners of Pashut, said: “I do not know of the place since we work through a subcontractor who receives the material from us, manufactures in Jordan and returns the clothes. I have never been there, and I do not know who receives the work, so it is hard for me to discuss the claims.”

a few days later another article appeared saying it was not a sweatshop:

Jordan’s Ministry of Labor on Wednesday rejected accusations that a local factory supplying clothing to Israel was abusing its workers, saying there was no evidence of either human trafficking or forced work.

On Sunday The National Labor Committee, a U.S.-based workers’ rights organization, released a report accusing the Musa Garments factory in Jordan of employing workers under inhuman conditions, and charges the company with “human trafficking, abuse, forced overtime, primitive dorm conditions, imprisonment and forcible deportations of foreign guest workers.”

of course, it is great to see that the government in jordan is concerned about having a sweatshop or human trafficking in their midst. but whee is the outrage over having a zionist terrorist colonist business on their land and in their midst? given that official jordanian policy is that they are at “peace” with the enemy, it makes sense that the government isn’t outraged. but where are the people? compare this to how egyptians responded recently when the government was working on a gas deal with the zionist entity as reported by adam morrow and khaled moussa al-omrani in the electronic intifada:

Opposition figures and political activists have slammed a new deal to sell Egyptian liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Israel at what they say are vastly reduced prices.

“Egyptian gas is being sold to Israel at prices far below the international average,” Ibrahim Yosri, former head of legal affairs and treaties at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry told IPS. “This agreement is proof that the ruling regime is unconcerned with public opinion and is insistent on depriving the Egyptian public of its rightful national assets.”

On 28 July, Egypt formally agreed to sell between 12.5 billion and 16 billion cubic meters of LNG per year to Israel for a period of between 17 and 22 years. The Cairo-based Egyptian-Israeli energy consortium Egyptian Mediterranean Gas (EMG) will supply the gas to Israeli firm Dorad Energy for a total reported cost of between $2.1 billion and $3.3 billion.

Given longstanding popular condemnation of Israeli policies, particularly those relating to Palestinian populations in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank, the deal also stirred political controversy.

“It is absolutely forbidden that we support a country currently at war with Islam and Muslims, and which occupies the land of Palestine,” Nasr Farid Wassil, former Grand Mufti of the republic, was quoted as saying in the independent press. “All economic relations with such a country should be severed.”

Despite its unpopularity, the deal is not the first: under an earlier energy accord, Egypt has been exporting LNG to Israel since May of last year. Extracted from fields in Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula, gas is pumped via submarine pipeline from the coastal town al-Arish to the Israeli port city Ashkelon.

The first accord, signed in 2005, allowed EMG to sell 1.7 billion cubic meters of LNG annually to the Israeli state-run Israel Electric Corporation for a period of 15 years. The sale price was never officially disclosed, fueling speculation by critics that gas was being sold to Israeli buyers at reduced prices.

Egypt is one of the few Arab states, along with Jordan and Mauritania, to have full diplomatic relations with Israel. Nevertheless, bilateral cooperation has remained severely hampered by popular disapproval of Israeli policies.

meanwhile the united states–and hillary clinton in particular–are pushing normalization among african countries with the zionist entity as ips reporters jerrold kessel and pierre klochendler explain:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been busy pursuing one aspect of the Obama Administration’s agenda – carrying to Africa the U.S. message of accountability. With a rather different agenda, Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Liberman also has Africa in his sights.

Whereas the U.S. is pressing a moral message hard – more democracy and less corruption, the Israeli approach is entirely pragmatic.

It’s not the first time Israel has been heavily involved in Africa.

Tanzanian freshmen at the University of Dar es Salaam will be excused for being unaware of the fact that their campus strikingly resembles facilities in Tel Aviv and Beersheba, two of Israel’s leading universities. That’s because the UDSM campus was designed by Israeli architects.

Nearly half a century ago, there was unexpected interaction between sub- Saharan Africa, just emerging from the dark years of colonial rule, and Israel – which had come into existence a decade-and-a-half earlier after ridding itself of a British presence – busily engaged in reaching out to other emerging nations.

Ever since, it’s been a relationship of ups and downs.

The aid to development programmes of Israeli experts, especially in the fields of irrigation, agriculture, communal rural development and medical training, won Israel considerable sympathy, and friends, in many of the newly- independent states. Hundreds of African students and experts underwent specialised training, tailor-made for their societies, in Israel.

But, as was the case in the Cold War era, the Israeli development projects were not entirely altruistic.

There was also the political motive of trying to break the ostracism in which Arab states and their allies in the Third World were encasing the fledgling new Middle Eastern state. This became especially acute following the 1955 conference of the non-aligned world in Bandung in Indonesia, where non- co-operation with Israel was adopted as policy.

There was a strategic dimension too. Israel’s legendary first prime minister David Ben-Gurion and his foreign minister Golda Meir foresaw a policy of encircling the circle of Israel’s regional isolation through alliances with non- Arab states on the periphery of the region – Turkey and Iran and, critically, Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa.

Just back from an extensive tour of South America, Liberman is soon to set out on a five-nation African tour. The Israeli foreign ministry calls it “an out- of-the-ordinary visit”, the most extensive ever by Israel’s top diplomat to the continent. He will criss-cross Africa to take in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Angola and Nigeria.

if you look at the website for the orange company, by the way, or its wikipedia page, you’ll notice that many of the above-listed countries in africa are also being subjected to orange telecom. just say no.

mads gilbert & gaza

so brilliant. so amazing. even riz khan cannot fuck up the interview with his inane and uniformed questions. if you recall mads gilbert was the doctor who came to gaza in the middle of the israeli terrorist savagery on gaza. here he talks about his work and you can see why he is so amazing: especially because he is consistent. apparently he has also helped freedom fighters in other parts of the world too such as the tamil tigers in sri lanka. here is the full interview from al jazeera last night:

meanwhile erin cunningham’s report for ips on aid rotting along gaza’s border with egypt is an important indication of more egyptian-zionist synergy:

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of aid intended for the Gaza Strip is piling up in cities across Egypt’s North Sinai region, despite recent calls from the United Nations to ease aid flow restrictions to the embattled territory in the wake of Operation Cast Lead.

Food, medicine, blankets, infant food and other supplies for Gaza’s 1.5 million people, coming from governments and non-governmental agencies around the world, are being stored in warehouses, parking lots, stadiums and on airport runways across Egypt’s North Sinai governorate.

Egypt shares a 14-kilometre border with Gaza that has been closed more or less permanently since the Islamist movement Hamas took control of the territory in June 2007.

Flour, pasta, sugar, coffee, chocolate, tomato sauce, lentils, date bars, juice, chickpeas, blankets, hospital beds, catheter tubes and other humanitarian- based items are all sitting in at least eight storage points in and around Al- Arish, a city in North Sinai approximately 50 kilometres from Gaza’s border.

Three months after the end of the war, much of the aid has either rotted or been irreparably damaged as a result of both rain and sunshine, and Egypt’s refusal to open the Rafah crossing.

“To be honest, most of this aid will never make it to Gaza,” a local government official told IPS on condition of anonymity. “A lot of the food here will have to be thrown away.”

The Gaza Strip was the target of Israel’s three-week Operation Cast Lead, where both the enclave’s civilian population and an already decrepit infrastructure were pummelled by powerful Israeli weaponry, leaving some 1,400 dead and over 5,000 injured by the time a unilateral ceasefire was called by Israel Jan. 18.

The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) head in Gaza, John Ging, told IPS last week that the stranglehold on relief efforts in the post-war period was having devastating consequences, both physical and emotional, on the strip’s population.

The last Situation Report released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Mar. 30 stated that the “amounts and types of deliveries reaching Gaza continue being subject to random restrictions and unpredictable clearance procedures, creating major logistical problems for humanitarian agencies.”

Food aid and other essential humanitarian supplies for Gaza began pouring into Egypt at the outset of the war, and medical supplies were routed through Rafah – Gaza’s only crossing that bypasses Israel – throughout the assault, while food aid was directed through Israel.

All aid meant for Gaza via Egypt must currently pass through either Al-Auja or Kerem Abu Sellem, Egypt’s commercial crossings with Israel, and is subject to both Israeli-Egyptian trade specifications and Israeli import law.

Much of what is being stored in North Sinai – including food items like lentils, pasta, chickpeas, and juice – has been deemed by Israel to be “non- essential” to life in the Gaza Strip.

Two thousand “family boxes” – containing essential supplies for Palestinian families and donated by the Italian NGO Music for Peace – were recently rejected at the Al-Auja crossing by Israeli authorities because they each contained a jar of honey, the NGO’s President, Stefano Robera, told IPS in Al- Arish.

Representatives from international NGOs currently in both Al-Arish and Rafah say not even a sliver of the aid donated is going through any of Egypt’s transit points, despite assurances by the Egyptian government that the Rafah crossing remains open for “humanitarian considerations”.

OCHA says Rafah was closed to all cargo for the month of March, and was opened for just two days to send blankets and mattresses into the Gaza Strip.

Since Dec. 27, 2008, the day Israel launched its war, just 43 trucks of what OCHA calls “human food products” were sent into the Gaza Strip via Rafah. The first truckload was sent in Jan. 10, 2009, more than two weeks after the war began.

Some organisations coordinating their aid through Egypt say North Sinai governor Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha asked them to simply donate the goods to local NGOs. Other witnesses told IPS that Egyptian security forces tasked with guarding aid supplies have been giving it away to residents of Al-Arish.

The Rafah border crossing opened in November 2005 when Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) signed an Agreement on Movement and Access as part of Israel’s “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip.

In coordination with the PA, Egypt allowed passengers, cargo and humanitarian aid to pass under the supervision of both EU monitors and Israeli security. When Hamas, the Islamist movement democratically elected in 2006, seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, Egypt closed its border with the coastal enclave.

The Egyptian government has since refused to open the Rafah crossing to any cargo or non-medical humanitarian aid, leaving the supplies in a state of political limbo and Gaza’s population grappling with the after-effects of both deadly war and continued economic siege.

Human rights organisations have recently said that not only Israel but Egypt, the EU and the U.S. could be in violation of international law for failing to adhere to the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, and consequently violating the basic human rights of Gaza’s 1.5 million people – particularly in the post-war period.

on strange bedfellows

there has been a very interesting war of words brewing on twitter the past couple days, which began in response to the egyptian regime’s crackdown on resistance against the zionist entity. what began as a war of words between the moral and just hassan nasrallah and the american-zionist tool hosni mubarak has been replicating itself on twitter. at the center of it was @waelabbas, an egyptian blogger, who was recently arrested and beaten up by the egyptian authorities (along with his mother). here is one screenshot of the argument:

picture-12

the tweets pictured above were his directed at particular people and written in general. you have to click on the various @ links to see the replies. the extreme venom this blogger was spewing at nasrallah and anyone else who supports him was deeply disturbing. nasrallah’s speech and what nasrallah was calling for is for arab support for palestinians in gaza, and more generally. but, of course, mubarak has shown his true colors. we know where he stands. there were other bloggers debating, however, in a way that seems more hopeful and helpful: mostly with respect to thinking about panarab unity in support of palestinians. 3arabawy is one such egyptian blogger. another such blogger is a socialist in egypt.

this resistance in egypt against the regime and in ways that supports arab unity more generally is important as egypt seems to be deteriorating daily into more and more of a tool of the zionist-american empire. today, for instance, they confiscated fuel from palestinians:

Egyptian sources reported on Tuesday that Egyptian border policemen located and confiscated 19.000 liters of fuel that were meant to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip via underground tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

The police arrested drivers of four trucks carrying fuel and is said to be chasing two other drivers who left their trucks and escaped.

The arrested drivers were identified as Samir Mohammad Suleiman, Nasser Abdul-Wahab, Al Dosouqy Mohammad Al Dosouqy, and Rashid Mohammad Hasan, the Maan News agency reported.

Also, the Egyptian police confiscated a truck the contained clothes meant to be sent to Gaza.

Sand was placed over the clothes for camouflage purposes. The police located the truck and arrested its driver, Adel Sbeih Oweidh.

Furthermore, the Egyptian police confiscated a truck filled with cement and was parked close to the entrance of a tunnel of the border with Gaza. The driver and others who were with him apparently escaped through the tunnel.

Earlier on Tuesday, Egyptian security sources said that two tunnels were located in the border area, in addition to the tunnel that was used for smuggling cement and concrete.

and now the egyptian zionist regime is harassing the families of those they have arrested because they are accused of working with hezbollah:

Families of Egyptian men detained on suspicion of plotting attacks against Egypt on behalf of the Lebanese group Hezbollah have been warned against meeting with rights lawyers, one of the lawyers alleged on Wednesday.

Officers from Egypt’s domestic intelligence agency, State Security Investigations, telephoned family members and warned them against attending a meeting with rights lawyers in the north Sinai town of al-Arish, according to Sayed Fathi, a lawyer with Cairo’s al-Hilali Foundation for Human Rights.

Fathi, who said he was seeking to represent some of the detainees, told the German Press Agency dpa that family members had planned to meet at the al-Arish headquarters of the leftist Tagammu Party, a local centre for opposition, on Tuesday night.

However, family members had cancelled the meeting following warnings from security officers not to attend.

In remarks published in the independent daily al-Masri al-Youm on Wednesday, Islamist lawyer Montasser al-Zayat said that a purported confession from his client, Lebanese national Sami Shehab, had been false.

i find it fascinating that the mubarak regime is so willing to attack people who are willing to risk their lives to help palestinians resist. but there are other bloggers like antoun issa who gives us a sense of the bigger picture including its shameful use of all that american aid that it never uses to help its own people, many of whom are impoverished:

Boasting a large population, and receiving more than US$2billion in US aid on an annual basis, Egypt should be leading the Arabs on every level. But it isn’t.

The vast majority live below the poverty line, and are hungry and restless. Falling into line with most Arab dictators, Mubarak has splashed his extraordinary wealth on resorts, villas, palaces and an extensive security service that is effectively keeping 80 million Egyptians from storming the Presidential Palace.

The infrastructure is crumbling, and to cut even further at the heart of Egyptian pride, the country’s natural gas deposits are being sold to arch rival Israel at a lower-than-market rate. Freedom is nonexistent, torture and kidnappings are rampant, and the Egyptian people are struggling to put food on their plates. The country’s middle class has dwindled.

To compare with another Arab dictator, such as Saddam Hussein, Mubarak is among the worst. For all his shortcomings, Saddam invested in the country’s infrastructure, and had developed Iraq long before Dubai’s first skyscraper. The Iraqi tyrant also ensured a healthy middle class kept the economy afloat, most of which currently reside in Syria and Jordan awaiting their return. Of course, Saddam wasn’t perfect, his treatment of Shi’ites and Kurds was abhorrent, but Iraq was, economically to say the least, a healthy state before his wild adventures brought the world crashing down upon him. Certainly, Iraq’s growing wealth, economically and militarily, was worrisome for all around it. Fortunately for Iraq’s alarmed neighbours, Israel had a buddy named the US, who successfully lured Saddam into Kuwait and destroyed him.

Mubarak, on the other hand, has showed no interest in developing Egypt’s economy nor investing in its people.

On the regional level, Egypt has gone from discreetly co-operating with Israel to taking public photo shots with Israeli leaders. Its public support of Israel against Lebanon in 2006, and again against the Palestinians earlier in the year riled the Arab public. Hizballah, Syria and Iran took advantage, and made sure every angry finger in the Arab and Muslim world was pointed squarely at Mubarak.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and other angry dissenters in the country, took to the streets and joined the chorus of condemnation of Egypt’s suffocation of Gaza.

Mubarak, suddenly, felt paranoid. I noted in a lengthy feature piece during the Gaza War that public condemnation between Arab leaders is rare. Hizballah’s criticism of Mubarak during the war not only highlighted a change in dynamics, but also signalled a dangerous intent … Iran’s eyes are on Egypt. Well, at least that’s what Mubarak currently fears.

So when Egypt’s intelligence successfully captured Hizballah operatives, it was quick to point out Iran’s grand scheme to subject Arab Sunnis to Shi’ite domination as a justification for its alliance with the country most Arab Sunnis hate … Israel.

But Arab operators are everywhere in the Middle East, including those of non-state actors. Fatah, for example, was caught out spying on Saudi Arabia and Jordan on behalf of the US when Hamas took over its police compound in the Gaza counter-coup. It would be fair to say that Hizballah has been operating networks in fellow Arab countries for years, and most Arab regimes are aware of it.

Hizballah even has operatives in Israel, which prove useful during times of conflict when these cells provide the Shia movement with intelligence on IDF positions. Certainly, that was the case in 2006.

Egypt’s capture of Hizballah operatives, and its public parade, is more a PR stunt to take the heat off its back re Gaza. Nasrallah didn’t seem too concerned when he confirmed the capture over the weekend, calmly stating that Hizballah was providing arms to Hamas, has been doing so for a while, and will continue to do so.

However, the need of Egypt to parade this capture speaks volumes of its paranoia and insecurity. Mubarak knows he sits atop a boiling Egyptian bubble waiting to burst. He fears an Iranian-style and provoked revolution. No doubt, the Egyptian people are capable of it and are perhaps pondering means to depose of their highly detested leader.

Mubarak also knows that his succession plan to pass the presidency to his son, Gamal Mubarak, is a vulnerable point that can be exposed by his foes, domestic and regional. His succession plans have caused much anger in Egypt, and a persisting fear that Mubarak’s rivals may attempt a coup are mounting.

The Sunni Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt stated during the Gaza War that they have no issue with Iran proselytising Shi’ite Islam. In other words, the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition movement, has now cemented its links with Iran.

Is Hizballah trying to destablise Egypt? No, I don’t think so, and I believe the Egyptians know that too. What bothers Mubarak, however, is that Hizballah can destabilise Egypt, and have the team already placed on Mubarak’s turf, awaiting the orders.

when we compare how the egyptian regime deals with lebanese leaders like nasrallah to leaders from the zionist entity we see something quite different. they are unwilling to meet the most visible racist fascists in the zionist entity’s government, but not the others (all of whom are equally racist and fascist):

The hatchet is far from burial between Egypt and Israel’s new Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

In an interview with Russian television on Wednesday Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, warned that his country would not welcome Lieberman so long as his divisive positions remained unchanged.

“When a man speaks he must be aware that the words traveling from his brain to his tongue will have consequences,” said Aboul Gheit, speaking from Cairo.

“Therefore, we will work with the government of Israel but not through the Israeli foreign minister. I do not imagine that he will set foot on Egyptian soil so long as his positions, which we have seen before, remain as they are.”

to understand why lieberman is not any different from any other israeli terrorist politician one must read jonathan cook’s excellent assessment of the ways in which they all overlap (this is from an older article in electronic intifada):

Lieberman, a Russian immigrant, is every bit the populist and racist politician he is portrayed as being. Like many of his fellow politicians, he harbours a strong desire to see the Palestinians of the occupied territories expelled, ideally to neighbouring Arab states or Europe. Lieberman, however, is more outspoken than most in publicly advocating for this position.

Where he is seen as overstepping the mark is in arguing that the state should strip up to a quarter of a million Palestinians living inside Israel of their citizenship and seal them and their homes into the Palestinian ghettoes being created inside the West Bank (presumably in preparation for the moment when they will all be expelled to Jordan). He believes any remaining Arab citizens should be required to sign a loyalty oath to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” — loyalty to a democratic state alone will not suffice. Any who refuse will be physically expelled from Israel.

And, as a coup de grace, he has recently demanded the execution for treason of any Arab parliamentarian who talks to the Palestinian leadership in the occupied territories or commemorates Nakba Day, which marks the expulsion and permanent dispossession of the Palestinian people in 1948. That would include every elected representative of Israel’s Arab population.

These are Lieberman’s official positions. Apparently unofficially he wants even worse measures taken against Palestinians, both inside Israel and in the occupied territories. In May 2004, for example, he told a crowd of his supporters, in Russian, that 90 per cent of the country’s Arab citizens should be expelled. “They have no place here. They can take their bundles and get lost.” His speech could have had second billing with one by Adolf Hitler at a Nuremberg Rally.

Despite Lieberman’s well-known political platform, Olmert has been courting him ever since Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) upset the expected three-way struggle between Olmert’s Kadima party, Labor and Likud in the March elections. Lieberman romped home with 11 seats in the 120-member Knesset, making his party a sparring partner of both Likud and the popular religious fundamentalist party Shas.

According to opinion polls, [Lieberman] is now the most popular politician in Israel after Binyamin Netanyahu. According to reports in the Israeli media, Lieberman has not joined the coalition until now because he has been playing hard to get, making increasing demands of Olmert before agreeing to sign up for the government. His hand has grown stronger too: according to opinion polls, he is now the most popular politician in Israel after Binyamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud party.

In the newly established post of Minister for Strategic Threats, Lieberman — the self-avowed Arab hater — will shape Israel’s response to Iran, leading the chorus threats being made by Israel that it is only a hair’s breadth from dropping bombs, possibly nuclear warheads, on Tehran. After that, he will presumably help the government decide what other “strategic threats” it faces.

While Olmert enthuses over Lieberman, most in the Labor party seem quietly resigned to his inclusion. Labor’s elder statesman and former leader, Shimon Peres, says he has no objections, so long as Lieberman does not challenge the core policies agreed by Kadima and Labor. This, of course, is precisely what Lieberman is doing — it was the price of the bargain he struck with Olmert. Lieberman wants no peace overtures to the Palestinians, and favours the hardline neoliberal economic policies pursued by Kadima.

On Wednesday the Labor leader Amir Peretz, a supposed socialist and former head of the Israeli trade union movement, accepted Lieberman’s entry to the coalition, as Olmert surely knew he would. In typical Labor style, Peretz bought off his conscience by insisting on a package of modest benefits for Arab citizens, the same Arab citizens Lieberman wants expelled. The last time the government made a similar promise to its Arab minority back in late 2001 — when the prime minister of the day, Ehud Barak, needed their votes — the $4 million pledge was broken immediately after the election.

So why are Israel’s politicians, of the left and right, so comfortable sitting with Lieberman, the leader of Israel’s only unquestionably fascist party? Because, in truth, Lieberman is not the maverick politician of popular imagination, even if he is every bit the racist — a Jewish Jorg Haider or Jean Marie Le Pen.

In reality, Lieberman is entirely a creature of the Israeli political establishment, his policies sinister reflections of the principles and ideas he learnt in the inner sanctums of the Likud party, a young hopeful immigrant rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ariel Sharon, Binyamin Netanyahu and, of course, Ehud Olmert.

From their political infancy, the latter three were schooled in the minor arts of Israeli diplomacy: feel free to speak plainly in the womb of the party; speak firmly but cautiously in Hebrew to other Israelis; and speak in another tongue entirely when using English, the language of the goyim, the non-Jews.

But Lieberman, who arrived in Israel as a 21-year-old immigrant, was not around for those lessons. He imbibed nothing of the principles of hasbara, the “advocacy for Israel” industry that has its unpaid battalions of propagandists regularly assaulting the phone lines and email inboxes of the Western media. He tells it exactly as he sees it, even if mostly in Russian.

Inside the Likud party, his political training ground, that hardly mattered. He rapidly rose through the ranks to become director-general of Likud from 1993-96 and soon afterwards to head the office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. For many years he was the darling of the Likud, a party that today exists in two halves: its original incarnation, once again led by Netanyahu; and the renovated, sleeker model, Kadima, founded by Sharon.

But it was in breaking from Likud and founding his own party, Yisrael Beiteinu, in 1999 that Lieberman finally found his voice outside the Likud’s smoke-filled rooms. The audience for his message was as untutored in the deceits of Israeli politicking as Lieberman himself.

Lieberman immigrated to Israel from Moldova in 1978, leading the vanguard of a wave of immigration from Russia and its satellite states that reached a peak in the early 1990s as the Soviet empire broke up. By the time most Russian speakers began pouring into Israel, Lieberman was already well ensconced in the Israeli political system.

Yisrael Beiteinu’s openly racist agenda spoke to the darkest instincts of the one million newly arrived Russian speakers. Many of them poor and struggling to adapt to Israeli culture, they live far from the prosperous centre of the country in their own neglected ghettos, Little Moscows, where the signs and street language are more than a decade later still in Russian. They feel little affinity for the Jewish state — apart from a loathing for everything Arab.

The state has found it easy to manipulate these immigrants’ emotions. They have little understanding of the historic reasons for Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, and like other Israelis learn almost nothing more at school. With no context for appreciating why the Palestinians might carry out suicide attacks, Russian speakers assume the Palestinians are simply the hate-filled barbarians as described to them by their politicians.

When young Russian men do three years of active duty in the occupied territories, all these prejudices are confirmed. One of the largest blocs of Israel’s citizen army, the Russians are assigned some of the toughest spots in the West Bank and Gaza, often their first experience of meeting “Arabs”.

When they return home, they find it hard to make sense of Israeli officialdom’s lip service in distinguishing between Arab citizens, who have some rights in the Jewish state, and the “Arabs” of the occupied territories, who have none. Many Russian speakers wonder why Israel does not simply kill or expel the lot of them.

And this is where Lieberman steps in. Because usefully this is exactly what he not only believes but also openly declares. Lieberman can tap the support of nearly a million voters, a huge reservoir of support for any prime ministerial hopeful trying to assemble the coalition needed to form a government under the fractious Israeli political system.

Neither Olmert nor Netanyahu can afford to say what is really on their minds: that they want to cleanse the region of as many Palestinians as they can manage — most certainly those in the occupied territories, and later the even bigger nuisance of the ones who have citizenship and undermine Israel’s Jewishness.

But instead they can let a Lieberman, the charismatic leader of a popular party who does dare to say these things, join the government with minimal damage to their own reputations.

They can also let him use the platform provided by a cabinet position to shape a new coarser political language in which ideas of expulsion and transfer become ever more mainstream. Until one day the policies Lieberman advocates, reflections of the values he imbibed during his long years spent in Likud, become acceptable enough that a Prime Minister — Olmert or Netanyahu or Lieberman himself — will be able to put them in the government’s programme.

Instead of using words like “disengagement”, “convergence” or “realignment”, Israel’s politicians of the near future may simply call for the expulsion of Arabs, all Arabs.

Even now they do little to conceal the fact that such thoughts are uppermost in their minds. Netanyahu, currently Israel’s most popular politician and the leader of the opposition, has repeatedly called the 1.2 million Arab citizens of the country a “demographic timebomb”. Back in 2002, for example, he told an audience of policymakers: “If there is a demographic problem, and there is, it is with the Israeli Arabs who will remain Israeli citizens … We therefore need a policy that will first of all guarantee a Jewish majority.”

Unlike Lieberman, Netanyahu never spells out what policies he is advocating. But most Israelis understand that in practice, if he felt free to speak his mind, his platform would not look much different from Yisrael Beiteinu’s.

Olmert too uses code words readily understood by his Israeli audiences. In late 2004, in an interview with the Haaretz newspaper, he said: “There is no doubt in my mind that very soon the government of Israel is going to have to address the demographic issue with the utmost seriousness and resolve. This issue above all others will dictate the solution that we must adopt.” He added that he feared the Palestinians would soon be a majority in the area comprising both the occupied territories and Israel, and that then they could launch a “dangerous” struggle for “one-man-one-vote” similar to the one against apartheid in South Africa. He concluded: “For us, it would mean the end of the Jewish state.”

What “solution” was Olmert referring to? Israelis know only too well. Every year since 2000 Olmert, Netanyahu, Peres and other senior policymakers have been meeting at the Herzliya conference, near Tel Aviv, to draw up ideas about how to deal with the demographic threat: the rapidly approaching moment when the Palestinians, either those with Israeli citizenship or the non-citizens living under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, will outnumber Jews.

The solutions they have proposed have been similar to Lieberman’s. Both the disengagement from Gaza and the planned limited withdrawals from the West Bank came out of Herzliya. But so did a range of measures to deal with the country’s Arab citizens: land swaps to lose areas of Israel densely populated with Arabs in return for the settlements in the West Bank; loyalty oaths as a condition of citizenship; stripping the Arab population of their right to vote; and forcing all political parties to subscribe to Zionist ideals.

Israel already has legislation requiring all parties running for the Knesset to support Israel remaining a “Jewish and democratic state.” These are not fanciful ideas; they are now firmly in the mainstream. Israel already has legislation requiring all parties running for the Knesset to support Israel remaining a “Jewish and democratic state”. Technically, the only non-Zionist parties — two Arab parties and the small joint Jewish and Arab Communist party — could quite legally be disqualified from all general elections under the current legislation. They expect that at some point in the near future they will be too.

The two previous prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon, both secretly favoured land swaps in which large numbers of Arab citizens would be removed from the Jewish state. Barak proposed such a scheme at Camp David in the summer of 2000, as several participants later confirmed. And in February 2004 Sharon floated the same idea during an interview in the Maariv newspaper. When it caused a storm, he backtracked, but investigations by the paper revealed that he had been formulating a land swap for some time with his advisers and had even consulted the then Labor leader and his foreign minister, Shimon Peres, on its feasibility.

At the top of Lieberman’s list of demands before agreeing to enter Olmert’s coalition are major changes to Israel’s constitution, including the introduction of a presidential system to replace the current parliamentary system. Israel already has a President, currently Moshe Katsav, who is facing a string of rape and sexual harassment allegations, but the post is entirely symbolic.

Lieberman wants a president who has the authority to make major legislative changes, even constitutional ones, without having to make the backroom compromises to keep together the coalition governments that characterise Israel’s current political system. The president Lieberman has in mind would be more on the lines of an autocratic ruler.

Olmert is apparently sympathetic to Lieberman’s plans to change the political system. It is not difficult to understand why.

and yet somehow egyptian ministers think they are saving face when they say they won’t meet with lieberman, but they will meet with netanyahu. they are the same. the net result for palestinians is the same.

interestingly while the egyptians try to outzion the zionists, it seems that the world zionist organization is quite upset with coca-cola in egypt and is launching a boycott campaign of coca-cola there:

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) condemns the Coca-Cola Company for continuing to engage in immoral behavior and refusing to rectify the wrong it has been perpetrating against a Jewish family, the Bigios. The ZOA calls on the public to boycott Coca-Cola products, and for Jewish members of the public to boycott the company’s kosher-for-Passover products during this Passover holiday.

The Bigios owned property near Cairo, Egypt since the early 1900’s; Coca-Cola had been leasing the property and contracting with the Bigios, until the property was illegally taken from the family by the Egyptian government in 1964 during a campaign of anti-Semitism. In 1979, the Egyptian government ordered that the Bigios’ property be returned to them, but the Egyptian courts refused to enforce the order. In 1994, Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Egypt “purchased” the property when it was “privatized.” When the Bigios contacted Coca-Cola to remind the company of the family’s right to the property and requested to be justly compensated, top Coca-Cola officials cavalierly brushed the family aside.

The Bigios brought a federal court action against Coca-Cola in 1997. Since then, Coca-Cola’s lawyers have used numerous legal maneuvers to avoid reaching the merits of the Bigios’ case. All of their procedural objections have failed – twice in the U.S. Court of Appeals and once in the U.S. Supreme Court.

picture-13

ironically this is the reason many of us boycott companies like johnson & johnson, nestle, and yes coca-cola: because they are on the land of destroyed palestinian villages in 1948 palestine (as in photograph above). but those of us involved in boycott also boycott coca-cola. here is why (from the boycott campaign in lebanon):

According to Coca-Cola’s Hebrew web-site, Abe Feinberg’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) was granted in 1968 the license to sell Coke in Israel as a way to support the Zionist state, despite the losses that an Arab boycott of Coke would mean for the company.

Coca- Cola’s Hebrew web-site details how the company operates in Israel economically, socially, and politically, to enact a Zionist state.

Coca-Cola bought the Golan Heights Winery in 2002 and uses it to distribute wines throughout Europe.

Coca-Cola sponsors Israel’s national basketball team, “in which it invests great amounts of money annually” as well as Israeli national marathons, tennis competitions, etc.

While the local Israeli market is small and unable to generate significant tax revenue, approximately 40% or more of government expenditure goes to military. Thus, little money is left over for other social services. Social giving literally saves the state money.

In 2003, Coca-Cola paid $8.4 million to the Israel Land Administration for land on which to build a Coca-Cola factory in Askalan. To capture Askalan for Jewish-only settlement, 
Israelis ethnically-cleansed
 the Palestinian villages of 
Al-Khisas, Al-Jura, and 
Al-Ni’ilya of their 
5000+ inhabitants 
in Operation Yo’av 
on Nov. 4 -5, 1948. The inhabitants fled to Gaza, and their land was confiscated as national Israeli property.

Furthermore, in July 2002, Coca-Cola announced that, in return for millions of dollars in tax breaks from the Israeli government, it will build a new plant in Kiryat Gat where it will employ 700 more Israelis. Kiryat Gat is built on land of Iraq al-Manshiyya and al-Faluja whose inhabitants were expelled through force in 1949, in contravention of the Egyptian-Israeli armistice which guaranteed the safety of the residents and their property. By international law, the land still belongs to those Palestinians, but Coke paid the rent to the occupiers not the lawful owners.

Likewise, Coca-Cola’s investment in the Golan Heights Winery helps make the occupation economically viable and put economic pressure on the Israeli government not to return the Golan to Syria. Thus, Coca-Cola helps build “facts on the ground” intended to preclude return of occupied lands to the rightful owners.

On October 11th 2001, Coca-Cola hosted at its headquarters in Atlanta, the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Eagle Star Awards Gala at which awards were given out by Israel’s Economic Minister to North American companies that had invested in Israel. In turn, Coca-Cola USA was 
itself honored by the
 Israel Economic Mission 
at the Israel Trade 1997 
Award Dinner.

Money received from licensees is given by Atlanta headquarters to the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, a branch of the United Jewish Charities (UJC). Coca-Cola USA’s donations to the UJC are made by the corporation, not its individual employees. Part goes to finance lobbies that are “strongly proactive and vocal in support of Israel,” and to “send solidarity missions to Israel, allowing thousands of North American Jews to show their support … speaking out on Israel’s behalf when they return.” And “part goes to meet overseas needs through our partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJJDC). These dollars help build the Jewish homeland and 
rebuild strong Jewish communities in over 60 countries around the world….” “Assisting immigration to Israel claims a significant portion of JAFI’s budget, with services such as pre-immigration preparation, absorption centers…and resettlement programs. “JDC also works to help strengthen the social service system as a whole … by offering leadership and management training programs …”

Thus, while Palestinians are denied the right of return and social equality by Israel, money donated by Coca-Cola USA enables Jews to live in Israel as if they really were “the chosen people.”  

“…the Jewish Agency for Israel [has been a] full partner in setting up and supporting the Confrontation Line communities, rescuing Jews from countries in distress and helping them settle in the region…” Since 2000, “Recognizing the urgency of the [post-withdraw] situation, the Jewish Agency has already contributed to the rural settlers of the Confrontation Line by forgiving $40 million in debts.”

if those are not enough reasons to boycott coca-cola (and this is aside from the horrible health consequences from drinking such beverages) i don’t know what is. but there is more. because palestinians think that coca-cola is palestinian because a palestinian businessman set up coca-cola in al bireh here. however here are some startling facts that palestinians should consider before they purchase coca-cola products (aside from the fact that portions of the proceeds go to the same exact places as stated above after giving its portion of the proceeds to its u.s. owner):

Until 1998, Israeli company Central Bottling Company owned the license for marketing Coca-Cola throughout Palestine. Zahi Khoury led Palestinian investors in buying the license for marketing Coca-Cola products in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and in 1998 re-designed the National Beverage Company located in Betounia Industrial Park to produce Coca-Cola products.

The venture cost $20 million. The contract gave Coca-Cola International 15% ownership of the venture and the Palestine National Authority another 15%.

Moving the management of sales to Palestinian to a Palestinian businessman was seen to be in Coca-Cola’s best interests according to Ian Shackleton, Coca-Cola’s Israel manager because, “Sales to the territories have dropped over the past few years, with the decline beginning already from the [1988] Intifada.”

The opportunity for Coca-Cola was not only in Palestine but in the Arab world at large, which had been boycotting Coca-Cola until 1993 for its support for Israel. As it looked to invest $200 million in Arab regional ventures to surpass Pepsi in regional popularity, Coca-Cola needed Palestinians to overcome the long popular objections to the company. However, the venture implicates Palestinians in an important political compromise because East Jerusalem remains under the jurisdiction of the Israeli supplier. In this act, a private company has imposed a political vision that counters international agreement about the legitimacy of Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem. Indeed, this act should be seen as part of Coca-Cola’s wider corporate support for Israeli occupation.

Some questions to consider: Prior to being purchased by Coca-Cola the factory in Ramallah was the site of production for Club refreshments. How many workers were employed by it? How many local competitors are there to Coca-Cola now (beyond the toot, jallab, and other refreshments producers) — we have heard of Star Cola as one locally made competitor? Do you have a sense of how many people they employ? In terms of Palestinian economic productiveness, what would be wrong with people simple switching to these products and their eventually hiring people formerly employed by Coca-Cola?

these are strange bedfellows here with respect to the boycott coca-cola campaign to be sure. but if the zionists want to help us boycott coca-cola more power to them. and there are so many more reasons to boycott coke for its horrible practices in other parts of the world. see killer coke’s website for more of these reasons.

and just to be sure that i am not picking on egypt, but rather its refusal to help palestinians and its collaboration with the zionist-american regimes, clearly jordan is acting up today too:

A Jordanian court sentenced three Jordanians to five years in prison for conducting espionage for Hamas on Wednesday.

A Jordanian judicial source said that Thabet Abu Al-Haj, 37, Azzam Jaber, 36, and Salim Al-Husani, 27, were accused of collecting information about Jordanian military and government installations for Hamas.

The three were convicted of spying on military posts along the Israeli border and the Israeli embassy in Amman.

The court reduced what was originally a ten year sentence, taking into consideration that the three are relatively young and have families.

Two other suspects, Muhammad Al-Khujah, 43, and Taleb Abdallah, 46, were charged in connection to the same activities, but were released in early October.

The five were arrested by Jordan between early August and 25 September 2007. The public prosecution also accused them participated in military and security training in a neighboring country.

The Islamic Front, the political wing of Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan claimed that four of the men were affiliated with the movement.

and the zionists are trying to get in on the action today too by claiming that israeli terrorists who smoke marijuana are supporting hezbollah:

The Israeli Anti-Drug Authority launched an ad campaign linking smoking marijuana with support for Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

In one poster, Nasrallah’s head appears rising like a genie on smoke from a bong.

The poster reads: (In red) “Nasrallah aims at destroying Israel entirely.” The campaign is based on the allegation that Hizbullah funds its activities in Lebanon and alleged activities in Palestinian areas through drug trafficking.

In white font the poster reads: “Hizbullah has the obvious purpose of flooding Israel with venom which forms a strategic danger against Israel. We should not give him the chance to destroy Israel and we should counter drugs internally and externally.”

Hizbullah is the Lebanese resistance group thought to be responsible for forcing Israel to end its decades-old occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000. In 2006 Israel launched an unsuccessful war against organization after it seized two Israeli soldiers.

focus on gaza’s blockade

new episode of al jazeera’s “focus on gaza” with imran garda” this week shows the limitations of these international efforts to “break the siege.” they also report on the continuing siege and its effect on the fishermen of gaza. these gaza fishermen have not been allowed to work as a result of the seige as reported by irin:

A combination of damage to fishing resources caused by the Israeli offensive, and a restriction on the zone in which Gazans are allowed to fish is reducing catches and adversely affecting people’s diets in Gaza, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In January 2009 the Israeli authorities reduced the area in which fishermen can fish from six to three nautical miles from Gaza’s coastline.

In Rafah (southern Gaza) fishing has almost completely stopped due to the damage inflicted on fishing gear and boats during the 22-day war which ended on 18 January.

here is the episode:

of course the savagery directed against gaza by israeli terrorists is not over. not by a long shot. adam morrow and khaled moussa al-omrani detail the ongoing siege and bombing of gaza in recent weeks:

Almost two months after the war on the Gaza Strip, the border area between the battered coastal enclave and Egypt continues to come under frequent Israeli aerial bombardment. Israeli officials say the strikes target cross-border tunnels used to smuggle weapons to Palestinian resistance factions.

“Israel is still regularly launching air strikes on the border area,” Ibrahim Mansour, political analyst and executive editor-in-chief of independent daily Al-Dustour told IPS. “Such attacks represent a violation of all international rules and agreements, including the Egypt-Israel Camp David peace agreement.”

Throughout the course of Israel’s recent assault on the Gaza Strip (Dec. 27 to Jan. 17), the border zone between Egypt and Gaza was pummelled by hundreds of Israeli air strikes. Sources in the area also say that Egyptian airspace was repeatedly violated by Israeli aircraft during the campaign.

The onslaught officially ended with a unilateral ceasefire announcement by Israel. Since then, however, Israel has continued to strike at targets both inside the Gaza Strip – governed by Palestinian resistance faction Hamas – and along the strip’s 14-kilometre border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

“Air strikes on the border zone have continued on and off since the end of Israel’s war on Gaza,” Hatem Al-Bulk, local journalist and political activist told IPS. “Some weeks see as many as three or four strikes on the area.”

The last week has been no exception. According to Israeli daily Haaretz, Israeli aircraft bombed alleged smuggling tunnels on Sunday (Mar. 8 ) in retaliation against three rockets fired into Israel earlier the same day by Gaza-based resistance factions. On Wednesday (Mar. 11) Israeli warplanes again bombed the border area, injuring two Palestinians, according to Palestinian Health Ministry sources.

Local sources near Rafah, which straddles the border between Egyptian Sinai and the Gaza Strip, say the effects of the blasts are frequently felt on the Egyptian side of the divided town.

“Israel is using earth-penetrating munitions against targets in the border zone, explosions from which cause damage on the Egyptian side,” said Al- Bulk, a resident of Al-Arish, located some 40 kilometres west of the border. “Since the beginning of Israel’s assault on Gaza until now, hundreds of homes in Egyptian Rafah have been damaged as a result of Israeli bombardments.

“There are also suspicions that Israel might be using depleted uranium in some of these munitions, which could have a catastrophic effect on the local environment,” added Al-Bulk.

On Jan. 16 – a day before Israel’s unilateral ceasefire – the U.S. and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding with the ostensible aim of combating alleged arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip. In general terms, the accord commits Washington to “accelerate its efforts to provide logistical and technical assistance and to train and equip regional security forces in counter-smuggling tactics.”

and yet the united states of terrorism wants to put conditions on aid that palestinians recognize the zionist entity on its palestinian usurped land (let me count the ways i loathe hillary clinton…):

Some $900 million pledged by the United States to the Palestinians will be withdrawn if the expected Palestinian Authority coalition government between Fatah and Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, Western and Israeli diplomats said Wednesday.

During her visit to the region last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas against forming a coalition with Hamas that will not meet the expectations of the Quartet.

Clinton told Abbas that Congress will not approve funding of a Palestinian government that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence. She added that if those requirements are not met the U.S.-funded program under the supervision of General Keith Dayton training PA security forces would be the first to be axed.

A combination of damage to fishing resources caused by the Israeli offensive, and a restriction on the zone in which Gazans are allowed to fish is reducing catches and adversely affecting people’s diets in Gaza, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In January 2009 the Israeli authorities reduced the area in which fishermen can fish from six to three nautical miles from Gaza’s coastline.

In Rafah (southern Gaza) fishing has almost completely stopped due to the damage inflicted on fishing gear and boats during the 22-day war which ended on 18 January.

shades of hawkish duplicity

this is how the israeli terrorist forces’ (itf) media describes its cold-blooded murder of two young boys, one 15 years old the other 18 years old:

The Israel Air Force killed two Palestinian gunmen who fired mortar shells at the Kerem Shalom crossing on Tuesday afternoon. Four other men were injured in the strike, which took place east of the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.

The Israel Defense Forces reported that IAF jets opened fire at the mortar launching cell and identified a hit. News agencies reported that the Palestinians were hurt in an area used by gunmen to fire mortars at Israel.

Sources in Gaza reported that the Palestinians killed were two brothers, aged 15 and 17, from the village of Shuka near Rafah, and that three of the injured were youths.

now let’s take a look at how palestinian media covers the same story:

Two Palestinian civilians were killed and four others were injured on Tuesday when Israeli helicopters fired on a group of fighters on the road to the disused Yasser Arafat Airport east of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

According to Mu’awiya Hassanein, the director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian Health Ministry, one of the wounded people is in critical condition at the European Hospital in the city of Khan Younis.

Medics said the dead arrived ‘torn to pieces’ at Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital, also in Khan Younis.

Hassanein identified the victims as two brothers, Ramzi and Khalid Ad-Duheiri.

notice the difference? in the first piece the young boys were identified as gunmen. actually, these boys were play ball in a field that used to be the gaza airport. an airport that palestinians in gaza are not allowed to use because of the siege on gaza. the closure that has lasted now for 27 consecutive days.

the difference in reporting–not here necessarily, but globally–and the media blackout due to the zionist state’s blocking journalists from entering gaza was the subject of al jazeera’s program “the listening post” this week:

it’s not just media that the zionists are keeping from gaza. it’s also humanitarian aid. this time on a ship from libya, which was turned back by the itf:

The al-Marwa, carrying food, blankets and powdered milk, attempted to challenge Israel’s tight economic blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has worsened in recent weeks.

But as the ship approached Gazan water at dawn, an Israeli naval ship ordered it to turn back. The al-Marwa headed south and has reportedly docked at al-Arish, an Egyptian port in the northern Sinai just south of Gaza.

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said there was no physical contact with the ship but it was ordered back by radio. “This is a policy we have had for a long time: if somebody wants to bring in humanitarian aid they can do it through the border with Egypt or the Israeli passages into Gaza,” said the spokesman, Andy David.

However, since the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas won parliamentary elections nearly three years ago, Israel has imposed ever tighter restrictions on Gaza.

notice the kafkaesque commentary here, too: the itf spokesperson tells us that humanitarian aid can come through its border crossings with gaza and yet those crossings are closed, have been closed for 27 days. so what exactly are they saying? how do westerners interpret this? do they understand how their doublespeak equals death and suffering for people in gaza?

of course, it’s not just gaza. nabulsis woke up this morning after yet another ground invasion here. last night in the wee hours of the morning the itf assassinated mohammad abu thraa:

Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man formerly affiliated to the armed wing of Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, in Balata Refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus at Midnight on Monday.

The man was identified as 27-year-old Mohammad Abu Thraa, a fighter who had been pardoned by Israel as a part of an amnesty agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

notice that he had been pardoned. and still the itf came into murder him today. and the itf’s counterpart, the illegal israeli settlers, went on their own rampage around nablus today:

Israeli settlers rampaged through five villages in the northern West Bank early on Tuesday, vandalizing mosques, attacking farms and harassing residents.

In the villages of Yatma, Qabalan and As-Sawiya, south of Nablus, settlers slashed the tires of more than 20 cars and also set fire to thousands of shekels’ worth of straw bales, used as animal feed.

In As-Sawiya, settlers wrote slogans insulting Islam and the prophet Mohammad on the walls of a local mosque.

and the same sort of illegal settler violence broke out in khalil today as well:

Several Palestinians and an Israeli captain were injured when settlers attacked Palestinian houses near a controversial settler-occupied building in the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday night.

The sources added that dozens of settlers hurled rocks and beat residents with clubs. An Israeli captain was beaten when soldiers attempted to intervene.

An employee of the Palestinian Red Crescent said that their ambulances transported three injured children to Hebron Public Hospital. The children were identified as 16-year-old Sa’ed Nasser Al-Ja’bari, his 13-year-old brother Makram Al-Ja’bari and 10-year-old Adli Suleiman Al-Ja’bari. Medics said the children had been bruised all over their bodies.

Local sources said the attack took place near the Ar-Rajabi family house, also known as the “House of Contention” in the Ar-Ras neighborhood of Hebron. The Israeli high court has ordered the settlers to leave the house, a command settler groups have vowed to resist.

this is the zionist regime. it’s muted siege on 1948 palestine, it’s devastating siege on the west bank, and it’s brutal siege on gaza. which continues, unabated, ever worsening:

Adel Abu Sido, 31, a taxi driver from Gaza City, stands over his two-week old premature baby, Hadil, dreading her air supply may abruptly stop.

Hadil’s incubator is not reliably providing enough oxygen due to the inconsistent power supply at Al-Shiffa Hospital, the main healthcare centre in the Gaza Strip.

The fuel for hospital generators has nearly run out and a shortage of basic medical supplies has left Al-Shiffa with only 20 percent of the oxygen supply it needs, forcing medical professionals in Gaza to make hard choices, said Gaza health ministry spokesperson Hamam Nasman.

“Fifty percent of hospital equipment at Al-Shiffa has stopped functioning due to the lack of electricity and spare parts since this more than 20-day blockade started,” said Gaza health minister Basem Naim, adding that 95 basic medications are out of stock.

Asthma patients waiting for inhalers are being turned away, as hospital pharmacists scavenge local pharmacies.

“Al-Shiffa Hospital is using its secondary generator nearly 20 hours a day to power the hospital, since there is not enough fuel in stock to operate the primary generator,” said spokesperson Nasman. Under normal circumstances the secondary generator has the capacity to power the hospital only three hours a day.

apparently even international aid workers are complaining about their conditions, which are usually far better than those of palestinians who live in gaza:

Two weeks ago the Israelis issued for the first time a written list of goods that cannot be sent into Gaza for UN humanitarian needs, she said. The list, which has baffled UN officials, includes spices, kitchenware, glassware, yarn and paper.

and in spite of this: silence. silence from the world. complicity from the world. more of the same. and worse. now nato is going to collaborate with the zionist regime’s terrorist military forces:

NATO has authorized a pact to strengthen and expand Israel’s security and political relations with the states in the military alliance.

The authorization of the Individual Cooperation Program (ICP) came ahead of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s meeting with her counterparts in NATO member states.

The ICP incorporates a number of areas in which full cooperation between Israel and NATO will be established, including the fight against terror.

The agreement allows for an exchange of intelligence information and security expertise on different subjects, an increase in the number of joint Israel-NATO military exercises and further cooperation in the fight against nuclear proliferation. It also paves the way for an improvement of collaboration in the fields of rearmament and logistics and Israel’s electronic link to the NATO system.

and will the u.s. speak up about any of this? of course not. we’ve now got confirmation that we will have a hawkish war cabinet. jeremy scahill, one of the rare american voices of criticism and integrity in the u.s. gives us this important assessment of the new obama security-war team:

Barack Obama has assembled a team of rivals to implement his foreign policy. But while pundits and journalists speculate endlessly on the potential for drama with Hillary Clinton at the state department and Bill Clinton’s network of shady funders, the real rivalry that will play out goes virtually unmentioned. The main battles will not be between Obama’s staff, but rather against those who actually want a change in US foreign policy, not just a staff change in the war room.

When announcing his foreign policy team on Monday, Obama said: “I didn’t go around checking their voter registration.” That is a bit hard to believe, given the 63-question application to work in his White House. But Obama clearly did check their credentials, and the disturbing truth is that he liked what he saw.

The assembly of Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, Susan Rice and Joe Biden is a kettle of hawks with a proven track record of support for the Iraq war, militaristic interventionism, neoliberal economic policies and a worldview consistent with the foreign policy arch that stretches from George HW Bush’s time in office to the present.

Obama has dismissed suggestions that the public records of his appointees bear much relevance to future policy. “Understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost,” Obama said. “It comes from me. That’s my job, to provide a vision in terms of where we are going and to make sure, then, that my team is implementing.” It is a line the president-elect’s defenders echo often. The reality, though, is that their records do matter.

We were told repeatedly during the campaign that Obama was right on the premiere foreign policy issue of our day – the Iraq war. “Six years ago, I stood up and opposed this war at a time when it was politically risky to do so,” Obama said in his September debate against John McCain. “Senator McCain and President Bush had a very different judgment.” What does it say that, with 130 members of the House and 23 in the Senate who voted against the war, Obama chooses to hire Democrats who made the same judgment as Bush and McCain?

On Iraq, the issue that the Obama campaign described as “the most critical foreign policy judgment of our generation”, Biden and Clinton not only supported the invasion, but pushed the Bush administration’s propaganda and lies about Iraqi WMDs and fictitious connections to al-Qaida. Clinton and Obama’s hawkish, pro-Israel chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, still refuse to renounce their votes in favour of the war. Rice, who claims she opposed the Iraq war, didn’t hold elected office and was not confronted with voting for or against it. But she did publicly promote the myth of Iraq’s possession of WMDs, saying in the lead up to the war that the “major threat” must “be dealt with forcefully”. Rice has also been hawkish on Darfur, calling for “strik[ing] Sudanese airfields, aircraft and other military assets”.

It is also deeply telling that, of his own free will, Obama selected President Bush’s choice for defence secretary, a man with a very disturbing and lengthy history at the CIA during the cold war, as his own. While General James Jones, Obama’s nominee for national security adviser, reportedly opposed the Iraq invasion and is said to have stood up to the neocons in Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, he did not do so publicly when it would have carried weight. Time magazine described him as “the man who led the Marines during the run-up to the war – and failed to publicly criticise the operation’s flawed planning”. Moreover, Jones, who is a friend of McCain’s, has said a timetable for Iraq withdrawal, “would be against our national interest”.

But the problem with Obama’s appointments is hardly just a matter of bad vision on Iraq. What ultimately ties Obama’s team together is their unified support for the classic US foreign policy recipe: the hidden hand of the free market, backed up by the iron fist of US militarism to defend the America First doctrine.

Obama’s starry-eyed defenders have tried to downplay the importance of his cabinet selections, saying Obama will call the shots, but the ruling elite in this country see it for what it is. Karl Rove, “Bush’s Brain”, called Obama’s cabinet selections, “reassuring”, which itself is disconcerting, but neoconservative leader and former McCain campaign staffer Max Boot summed it up best. “I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could just as easily have come from a President McCain,” Boot wrote. The appointment of General Jones and the retention of Gates at defence “all but puts an end to the 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, the unconditional summits with dictators and other foolishness that once emanated from the Obama campaign.”

Boot added that Hillary Clinton will be a “powerful” voice “for ‘neoliberalism’ which is not so different in many respects from ‘neoconservativism.’” Boot’s buddy, Michael Goldfarb, wrote in The Weekly Standard, the official organ of the neoconservative movement, that he sees “certainly nothing that represents a drastic change in how Washington does business. The expectation is that Obama is set to continue the course set by Bush in his second term.”

There is not a single, solid anti-war voice in the upper echelons of the Obama foreign policy apparatus. And this is the point: Obama is not going to fundamentally change US foreign policy. He is a status quo Democrat. And that is why the mono-partisan Washington insiders are gushing over Obama’s new team. At the same time, it is also disingenuous to act as though Obama is engaging in some epic betrayal. Of course these appointments contradict his campaign rhetoric of change. But move past the speeches and Obama’s selections are very much in sync with his record and the foreign policy vision he articulated on the campaign trail, from his pledge to escalate the war in Afghanistan to his “residual force” plan in Iraq to his vow to use unilateral force in Pakistan to defend US interests to his posturing on Iran. “I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel,” Obama said in his famed speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last summer. “Sometimes, there are no alternatives to confrontation.”

when will people rise up? when will they demand real change and not be blinded by the farce that is this more-of-the-same american hawkish regime?